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It’s Happening

[ 200 ] July 25, 2017 |

TrumpCare moves forward. A few notes:

  • Saying that “this is just a vote to debate” is the 2017 equivalent of “I wasn’t voting for the Iraq War, just authorizing Bush to decide.”
  • I don’t think passage is inevitable, by any means, but they’re probably better than 50/50. Portman has never been a viable target for a meaningful nay vote, and Heller and Capito — who are outright liars — just gave up their votes in exchange for nothing. What’s going to be different when it comes time to vote on the next version(s)?
  • John McCain choosing to deliver some outtakes from a failed Aaron Sorkin pilot after casting a vote enabling exactly the procedural irregularities he pretend to oppose was a truly disgusting insult to people’s intelligence. Alas, it still works on the reporters who will never stop fawning over him.
  • McConnell is an incredibly malign political figure, as bad for the country as John Calhoun was. But three Republican votes could have stopped this use of an undemocratic process to move forward on a revoltingly inhumane bill. They all own it.
  • Act as if this can be stopped. There are still multiple votes to be had. Don’t stop fighting.
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“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief

[ 196 ] July 25, 2017 |

It looks like the vote on the motion to proceed on the literal death-political suicide pact the Republicans have been trying to ram through Congress will happen at 2:30. We shouldn’t forget, even as it becomes normal, how disgusting this is, procedurally as well as substantively:

We are hurtling toward a health-care disaster in the next 36 hours or so, for the worst possible reason. Cynicism is seldom completely absent from the operation of politics, but this is truly a unique situation. Republicans are set to remake one-sixth of the American economy, threaten the economic and health security of every one of us and deprive tens of millions of people of health-care coverage, all with a bill they haven’t seen, couldn’t explain and don’t even bother to defend on its merits.

[…]

I’ve often argued that Republicans in Congress aren’t serious about policy, but this is taking their unseriousness to the level of farce. After complaining for years that the ACA was “rammed through” Congress — in a process that involved a full year of debate, dozens of hearings in both houses and 188 Republican amendments to the bill debated and accepted — they’re going to vote on a sweeping bill that had zero hearings and that they saw only hours before, because who cares what’s in it? It’s only the fate of the country at stake. If taking away health-care coverage from 20 million or 30 million Americans is what it takes to stave off a primary challenge from some nutball tea partier, then that’s what they’ll do.

No one would argue that keeping promises isn’t important. But Republicans have elevated the idea of keeping their promise to repeal the ACA to the point where it’s drained of all substance. You can see it in the way they talk about the various iterations of their bill. You seldom hear a Republican defend it on the terms of the bill itself. They don’t say, “Here’s how this bill will bring down deductibles” or “Here’s how the bill will take care of those who lose their insurance” or “Here’s how the bill will lower costs.” That’s partly because their bills won’t do any of those things, but mostly because they just don’t care.

Instead, what they say is, “We made a promise, and we’re going to keep it.” If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) handed them a bill saying that all children on Medicaid would be taken to the desert, buried up to their necks in the sand, and covered in fire ants, at least 40 of them would say, “It may not be perfect, but we have to keep the promise we made to repeal Obamacare, so I’m voting yes.”

Or, as Eric Levitz puts it:

The gambit here is dictated by the same logic that would lead a lovestruck co-worker to stop rehearsing the right words, down the vodka, and drunk-dial Kevin from marketing; or, more appropriately, that would lead a first-time hit man to stop weighing the pros and cons of what he’s about to do, finish the whiskey, and head up the driveway. The point is to make a beeline for the point of no return.

Only, in this instance, when the irrevocable’s been done, there won’t be awkward eye contact by the water cooler, or a single life cut short, but a haphazardly restructured health-care system, 20 million more people without insurance, a gaping new hole in the Great Society, tens of thousands of Americans lost to preventable deaths — and a bit more budgetary space for passing giant tax cuts for the rich.

McConnell’s latest scam seems to be to try to pass “skinny repeal” — that is, a plan to effectively destroy the individual insurance market, while leaving Medicaid alone for now. Remember, though, that the Medicaid cuts can and probably would be restored by the conference committee, and once again the country would have to rely on 3 Senate “moderates” not to capitulate in exchange for nothing. And maybe they won’t this time, but the leadership betting that they will has a strong track record of success.

…Dean Heller to vote yea before the crank wears off. MTP almost certain to pass.

The Jobless Future is Going to Be Great

[ 183 ] July 25, 2017 |

If Democrats are going to start articulating pro-worker policies again as central platform planks, they need to get on board real fast to the problems that automation is already causing, problems that will grow rapidly.

Robot developers say they are close to a breakthrough—getting a machine to pick up a toy and put it in a box.

It is a simple task for a child, but for retailers it has been a big hurdle to automating one of the most labor-intensive aspects of e-commerce: grabbing items off shelves and packing them for shipping.

Several companies, including Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay Co. HBC +0.82% and Chinese online-retail giant JD.com Inc., JD +1.79% have recently begun testing robotic “pickers” in their distribution centers. Some robotics companies say their machines can move gadgets, toys and consumer products 50% faster than human workers.

Retailers and logistics companies are counting on the new advances to help them keep pace with explosive growth in online sales and pressure to ship faster. U.S. e-commerce revenues hit $390 billion last year, nearly twice as much as in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales are rising even faster in China, India and other developing countries.

That is propelling a global hiring spree to find people to process those orders. U.S. warehouses added 262,000 jobs over the past five years, with nearly 950,000 people working in the sector, according to the Labor Department. Labor shortages are becoming more common, particularly during the holiday rush, and wages are climbing.

Throwing nearly a million people out of work sounds pretty great! Hard to see any down side. Democrats should just offer some tax credits for employers to train workers. That will pretty much solve the problem!

Seriously, the real answer for this is going to need to be the right to a job, guaranteed by the government as an employer of last resort. I have no real problem with part of the solution being universal basic income, but again, I am extremely skeptical of Americans approving a welfare program that is not based upon work, as it files in the face of everything about American culture and history. Just the federally guaranteed job isn’t enough–free college tuition and the forgiveness of debt, a real industrial policy, the building of a green economy, and federal subsidies of everything from working in a farmers’ market to your local hipster bicycle shop are going to have to be pieces of the puzzle. People need work of some kind, even if self-defined. And they need a decent income and path to dignity. In a fully automated economy, they aren’t going to get it. And before someone says, “Derp, Luddite, Derp,” let me remind you that previous generations’ technological advancements worked because the increased jobs they created in an expanding economy absorbed those job losses. Today, we don’t create jobs to replace those lost through automation. They are just totally lost jobs, except for robot designers. Not solving this problem means massive social upheaval, no doubt channeled through racial violence, xenophobia, misogyny, and religious nationalism.

I have almost no faith that we will solve any of these problems.

Finally, White People are Outraged about Police Violence

[ 97 ] July 25, 2017 |

There’s no question that the killing of the Australian woman by a police officer in Minneapolis is a terrible thing. It goes once again to show that one of the nation’s biggest problems is that the police carry weapons on all occasions. Stripping the police of their guns is one of the biggest moves toward public safety we could take, second perhaps only to repealing the Second Amendment and making it much harder to own a gun.

That said, the white response to this killing as opposed to the response to the routine killing of black people by white cops is grotesque. That’s especially true considering the Minneapolis police murdered Philando Castile a mere year ago. He we have a full page profile on the attractive white woman killed by a Somali-American cop. And now, racist white people are attacking police violence by saying the cop was a “diversity hire” and only if our society wasn’t overrun by POLITICAL CORRECTNESS and all jobs just automatically went to white people except for porters and mammies, that everything would be great.

When victims of police shootings are black, many pundits demand patience, withhold judgment of the officer’s actions, and start looking for dirt on the person killed. Damond isn’t targeted with the same prejudicial scrutiny, and Noor isn’t getting the same wait-and-see defense.

The hypocritical nature of conservative media reactions here overshadows a bigger problem: the tendency to treat every police shooting as a case of bad individuals, rather than emblematic of a systemic problem in U.S. law enforcement.

Take the argument pioneered by ex-cop turned right-wing radio host John Cardillo, which has since jumped to Infowars, WorldNetDaily, and other far-right online spaces. Cardillo argues that Noor, who is Somali American, was a “diversity hire” pushed by a class of politically correct administrators. If they wouldn’t have pushed for Noor’s hiring in the first place, the argument goes, Damond would still be alive today. Minneapolis gave deadly force to someone unqualified to wield it, these voices claim, because it made people feel good to have a more diverse police force.

A second, similar reaction has spread along the internet’s right edge, exemplified in notorious Islamophobe Pam Gellar’s coverage of the story. Gellar focuses on Noor’s religious affiliation and points to the specter of “Islamic supremacism,” asking readers to believe that Noor killed Damond because that is simply what Somali Americans do.

These reactions are astonishing in their racism, but the problem goes far beyond that. They also exonerate the police institutions that trained Noor, the conduct regulations that governed his behavior, and the political environment in which he and all other police currently operate.

In these renderings of the case, the important details are all about identity. Instead of a white cop killing an unarmed black man, it’s a black cop killing an unarmed white woman. Noor killed a woman who’d sought his help because something was wrong with him, not because anything is wrong with how the institution of policing conditions officers to behave, think, and react to situations.

If Noor is just one faulty piece in a perfectly fine system, fixing things is as simple as plucking him off the chessboard. No further questions need to be asked about how our public institutions hand out badges and guns; the probe stops at the supposed ills of inclusive hiring and religious tolerance.

I’ll tell you what, I’m just amazed that right-wing responses to police violence are entirely framed by the race of the shooter and victim. Amazed.

The difference in the official response between this and the routine murders of blacks by white cops is striking.

Reality did not disappoint the cynics. Within six days of Damond’s death, an attorney for her family had called her “the most innocent victim” of a police shooting he’d ever seen, and the mayor of Minneapolis had asked for and received the resignation of police chief Janeé Harteau. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a story pointing out that Bob Kroll, the leader of the local police union—who once referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a “terrorist organization”—was being uncharacteristically silent when it came to the culpability of the Somali American Noor. When pressed on why he had been willing to defend the officers involved in Clark’s death but unwilling to defend Noor, Kroll told the Star-Tribune that he hadn’t yet spoken to Noor’s lawyer and therefore didn’t have enough information to comment. “In this case, I don’t know the facts of it,” Kroll told a reporter in a series of text messages. “His attorney is handling and the Federation is remaining silent. This is how our board and attorney decided to handle this one.”

I suppose watching white people begin to realize that maybe police violence is a problem because one of there’s died is a not terrible thing. It would be great if the upshot of this was that white people realized that Black Lives Matter is a real set of complaints about police violence, as well as many other ways black people are discriminated against, and then united with them in a broader fight against police violence. The chances of that happening is approximately the same as John McCain flying back to Washington from brain cancer surgery to save health care for the poor instead of stripping it from them.

Women, Water, and Labor

[ 18 ] July 25, 2017 |

In thinking about both labor issues and global development, the connection between women’s work and water supplies must be central. In much of the world, women work incredibly hard hauling water from often distant sources to homes. In the United States, this was the case into the 1940s, at least in rural America (Caro’s The Path of Power is wonderful on this in describing the Texas hill country and how LBJ was moved by his knowledge of the brutality of this work to fight hard for dams that would bring electricity to his district). It’s not that way today, but because women are so often unequally tasked with reproductive labor, even if they hold paid jobs, that water remains central to their lives. This is a good overview of the issue and why we need to take this problem more seriously.

Collecting water takes time. Simply to get water for drinking, bathing, cooking and other household needs, millions of women and girls spend hours every day traveling to water sources, waiting in line and carrying heavy loads — often several times a day.

The new UNICEF/WHO report states that 263 million people worldwide have access to water sources that are considered safe, but need to spend at least 30 minutes walking or queuing to collect their water. Another 159 million get their water from surface sources that are considered to be the most unsafe, such as rivers, streams, and ponds. Water from these sources is even more likely to require over 30 minutes to collect.

In a study of 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, UNICEF estimated that women there spent 16 million hours collecting water each day. Women in a recent study in Kenya reported spending an average of 4.5 hours fetching water per week, causing 77 percent to worry about their safety while fetching and preventing 24 percent from caring for their children.

When children or other family members get sick from consuming poor-quality water, which can happen even if the water is initially clean when collected, women spend their time providing care. These responsibilities represent lost opportunities for women’s employment, education, leisure, or sleep.

Water is heavy. The World Health Organization recommends 20-50 liters of water per person per day for drinking, cooking, and washing. That amounts to hauling between 44 and 110 pounds of water daily for use by each household member.

And in many places, water sources are far from homes. In Asia and Africa, women walk an average of six kilometers (3.7 miles) per day collecting water. Carrying such loads over long distances can result in strained backs, shoulders, and necks, and other injuries if women have to walk over uneven and steep terrain or on busy roads.

Of course, there are many issues getting in the way of ensuring clean water supplies and the author suggests the exclusion of women from decision making is a real problem.

When communities initiate programs to improve access to water, it is critical to ask women about their needs and experiences. Although women and girls play key roles in obtaining and managing water globally, they are rarely offered roles in water improvement programs or on local water committees. They need to be included as a right and as a practical matter. Numerous water projects in developing countries have failed because they did not include women.

And women should play meaningful roles. A study in northern Kenya found that although women served on local water management committees, conflict with men at water points persisted because the women often were not invited to meetings or were not allowed to speak.

Women who raise their voices about water concerns need to be heard. In Flint, Michigan, women were critical to revealing the city’s water crisis and continue to push for changes.

We also need broader strategies to reduce gender disparities in water access. First we need to collect more data on women’s water burden and how it affects their their health, well-being, and personal development. Second, women must be involved in creating and managing targeted programs to mitigate these risks. Third, these programs should be evaluated to determine whether they are truly improving women’s lives. And finally, social messaging affirming the idea that water work belongs only to women must be abandoned.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called empowerment of the world’s women “a global imperative.” To attain that goal, we must reduce the weight of water on women’s shoulders.

And who knows, maybe someday we will live in a country that once again values making sure even our own citizens have clean water, not to mention the rest of the world.

Trump Planning to Get Rid Of Sessions Because He’s Not Authoritarian Enough

[ 140 ] July 25, 2017 |

When the president is an authoritarian who thinks the Attorney General should work for him personally — not over overlooking crimes related to his administration but punishing his political enemies over nothing — it’s hard for even really bad ones to be bad enough:

President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks.

Members of Trump’s circle, including White House officials, have increasingly raised the question among themselves in recent days as the president has continued to vent his frustration with the attorney general, the people said.

Replacing Sessions is viewed by some Trump associates as potentially being part of a strategy to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and end his investigation of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

On Tuesday, Trump renewed his attack on Sessions, accusing him on Twitter of taking a “VERY weak position” on alleged “crimes” by Hillary Clinton and intelligence leakers.

The president had taken another swipe at Sessions on Monday, calling his attorney general “our beleaguered A.G.” and asking why Sessions was not “looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?”

Both points are notable. Sessions was once considered one of Trump’s closest advisers and enjoyed access few others had. Now he is left to endure regular public criticism by his boss.

Trump’s suggestion, too, that his top law enforcement official investigate a former political rival is astounding, and even his allies have said in the past that such a move would be unheard of in the United States. Trump, after the election, had backed away from the idea of possibly prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

Sessions’s tight relationship with Trump and the White House has unraveled since he recused himself in March from the Russia probe. The president had privately complained about that decision for weeks, and in an interview with the New York Times last week he said he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general had he known that Sessions would do such a thing.

As with Comey only worse, Sessions obviously deserves to be fired, which doesn’t make his being fired for a rare moment of displaying integrity any less disturbing.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 112

[ 118 ] July 25, 2017 |

This is the grave of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Wilbur Wright was born in 1867 in Indiana and his younger brother Orville was born four years later in Dayton. Neither finished high school, which was hardly uncommon at the time. They got involved in the printing business in Dayton, publishing a series of short-lived newspapers, including Paul Laurence Dunbar’s paper for Dayton’s black community, and other publications. None of these were particularly successful, but, again, there was nothing unusual about newspapers coming and going in the Gilded Age. They became interested in the new phenomenon of bicycling and opened a bike shop in Dayton in 1892. By 1896, they were making their own bicycles. At the same time, they became interested in flight, as it seemed increasingly possible that humans could cross this frontier. They paid attention to the continued advancements toward flight in Europe and began to experiment themselves. As early as 1900, the Wright Brothers began traveling to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for flight experiments. They of course succeeded in 1903, making them first people to fly. Wilbur was the first because he won the coin toss. It was only 3 seconds, but flight it was. They had more success 3 days later, once flying for 12 seconds and, more importantly, getting a picture of it. Of course, people wondered if this was even flying. The Dayton Journal refused to write a story about it, believing that this was not long enough to count.

The next couple of years saw the continuation of sort of flying. They continued building early airplanes and having very limited success. But by the fall of 1905, they flew for as long as 38 minutes. This was real flight and finally people began paying attention. Part of the reason they had trouble attracting attention is that this was a strictly entrepreneurial enterprise. They wouldn’t fly for reporters because they feared people stealing their ideas and they wanted to sell the technology to a company. People openly declared they were lying, especially in Europe. In 1906 and 1907, they made no flights at all because of their obsession of selling a technology no one had seen in action. The U.S. military blew them off entirely. Finally, in 1908, they convinced the military to open a contract to build a flyer, which they won, and also agreed to a contract with a French company. Before securing the contracts though, they had to fly with a passenger. The media heard about it and finally the lid was blown off the invention. At that point, they went to France and did several public demonstrations, becoming stars of the day. Of course, these planes were tremendously unstable. At the first demonstration for the military, the plane crashed. Orville was seriously injured, the military officer died of a skull fracture. Still, they managed to succeed in building the planes they contracted for and they became successful, with President Taft inviting them for dinner at the White House.

Typically however, they became involved in all sorts of conflicting patent claims. All of this undermined Wilbur’s health. Instead of dying in a plane accident, which I always assumed was the cause for his early death, he died of exhaustion and typhoid fever in 1912, at the age of 45. Orville, not a very good businessman but knowing that, sold the company in 1915 and moved back to Dayton. He made his last flight as a pilot in 1918 and then retired. Both brothers were close to their sister Katharine, also buried here, but when she finally married in 1926, the only sibling to do so, Orville felt personally betrayed and refused to attend the wedding. She died three years of later pneumonia and he only saw her once before then. Orville also had a lot of regrets later in life over the use of airplanes in war, especially after the horrors of World War II. He didn’t regret inventing it however. He died in 1948.

The continuing battle between Ohio and North Carolina on license plates and the back of quarters to claim the home of flight is largely a pissing match between two states with very little else to offer and should be made fun of by everyone from better states.

Orville and Wilbur Wright are buried in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.

Stripping Health Insurance From 23 Million People to Pay For Upper-Class Tax Cuts Is So Mavericky

[ 163 ] July 24, 2017 |

I’m sure you’ll be surprised by how the story turns out!

Sen. John McCain, recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, will make a dramatic return to the Senate Tuesday to cast a critical vote on health care legislation.

McCain’s office announced Monday night he will return Tuesday. His return will amount to a surprise to most Republicans, who expected him to miss the crucial vote and return to Washington at a later date. But he could help the GOP deliver a critical vote to begin debating health care legislation, which is on the verge of collapsing.
“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea,” his office said in a statement.

He wouldn’t be flying in for a vote that was a lost cause. I’d put the odds of BCRA passing at over 50% now, perhaps well above.

As is implicit in Erik’s title — I think we can omit the “recent” — John McCain is the ultimate example of the worthlessness of the theater critic school of political punditry.  McCain has been a party-line hack for virtually his entire political career.  And the two significant exceptions weren’t about principle. He supported campaign finance reform to deflect from his role in the Savings and Loan crisis. And he cast some meaningless votes against Bush’s early agenda out of personal pique from the campaign. That’s it. His reputation for being a “maverick” comes entirely from making noises about being independent before voting the party line. Flying in to vote to deny more than 20 million people the healthcare he’s currently benefiting from to pay for an upper-class tax cut will be the ultimate culmination of a disgraceful political career, and the countless pundits and reporters who bought his act fell for a ludicrously obvious con.

Of course, there’s a chance that he could do the right th…Christ, I can’t even finish typing this.

 

 

Surprise Scheduling

[ 30 ] July 24, 2017 |

One of the many indignities low wage workers suffer is with their schedules. Whether the constant shift of their schedules week to week, reporting to work and being sent home after an hour if business is slow, and surprise scheduling are all practices that should be banned. They seriously interfere with the ability of an individual to live a dignified life. New York City at least is moving in the right direction on this issue.

The text message came as Flavia Cabral walked to a McDonald’s restaurant in Manhattan for her 6 p.m. shift on a May evening. It was from her manager. Business was slow and she was not needed.

Cabral said she was not too surprised. Her work hours fluctuate almost weekly, though losing an entire shift at the last minute happens only once every few months. This time the canceled shift took a $63 bite out of her average $350 gross weekly earnings from two part-time jobs.

“Every week you’re guessing how much money you’re going to get and how many days you’re going to work,” said Cabral, 53, who has been employed at McDonald’s for four years.But a measure of relief is coming for Cabral and 65,000 other New York City fast-food workers whose schedules and incomes often change with little or no notice.

New York recently became the largest U.S. city to require fast-food restaurants to schedule workers at least two weeks in advance, or pay them extra for changes.

The law, which the restaurant industry vigorously opposed, also requires employers to allow 11-hour breaks between shifts, offer part-time staff additional work before hiring new employees, and pay retail workers to be “on call.” It takes effect late this year.

Great work by SEIU on this, which continues to support the fast food workers movement even if they don’t get dues money from new members.

This sort of thing should be a central part in a Democratic Party’s new agenda of basic rights for workers. By itself, advocating for such a federal law would not be all that compelling in terms of GOTV, but as part of a larger package that included the $15 minimum wage, a new law placing the Obama overtime regulatory standards into the legal code, a federally guaranteed job, and other pro-worker planks that would reset corporate power in this country, they would go far to rejuvenating their appeal among the working classes of all races.

Possibly the Last Act in the Most Overrated Career in Recent Political History

[ 110 ] July 24, 2017 |

I hope John McCain can muster one last expression of concern before returning to Washington cast a critical vote to deny tens of millions of Americans the health care they need while he attempts to recover thanks to his great health care plan.

Extra mavericky!

Finally, Economics Departments Will Teach Free Market Capitalism

[ 45 ] July 24, 2017 |

For whatever reason, the University of Utah was a long resister in the dominance of the free market fundamentalism that has made the field of Economics a joke. Luckily, there has been some meaningful pushback against this new orthodoxy in the last decade, but many Economics departments are still dominated by right-wing hacks. That was never the case at Utah. That’s why the Beehive State became a center of global Marxism in its governance and voting preferences. Anyway, the Koch Brothers have finally solved this problem by funding an entirely new Economics department devoted explicitly to full 100% hackdom. In supporting this, the Deseret News provides arguably the worst newspaper editor op-ed I’ve ever read.

The newly established Marriner S. Eccles Institute for Economics and Quantitative Analysis at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business will provide some philosophical balance to the university’s educational offerings and scholarship on economics, and it will further position the university to produce what Utah needs — an educated workforce.

The institute, which was made possible by gifts from the Eccles family and Koch foundations, is an unequivocal win for students, the state and the University of Utah’s burgeoning world-class business reputation.

For the better part of a century, Castro’s Cuba and the University of Utah’s economics department seemed like the last bastions of Marxist thought in North America — with the latter being subsidized by local tax dollars.

Teaching Keynesianism is basically Castro. And anything left of that, well, those people were basically advising Pol Pot.

In recent years, prominent Marxist scholars such as Emery Kay Hunt and Hans G. Ehrbar have defined the ethos of the university’s unorthodox department. Even today, the University of Utah remains one of the few universities to still offer some economics courses from a Marxian perspective.

Oh. My. God. Marxian economics. How will 19 year old kids from the Salt Lake suburbs survive this onslaught on their common sense?

Now, thanks to a generous $10 million gift from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Marriner S. Eccles Foundation, along with a matching $10 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation, local students will be exposed to a more academically vibrant suite of economic ideas.

The plutocrats, riding to our rescue like the Mormons to the wagon train at the Mountain Meadows Massacre! Oh wait…

Major Utah employers such as Goldman Sachs, Qualtrics and many others now thrive on well-tuned data analytics. Taylor Randall, dean of the David Eccles School of Business, explained that in the process of designing its new major, the business school researched what skills students would need to remain competitive in the local workforce. The research is reflected in the degree’s pragmatic, economics-oriented curriculum.

With the involvement of the Koch Foundation, there will undoubtedly be some who claim that the new institute is now ideologically beholden to the well-known conservative brothers Charles and David Koch. For example, after the Koch Foundation announced a separate gift at Utah State University earlier this year, protesters projected an image of the billionaire brothers on the side of the school’s building with text, reading: “SOLD! Utah State University Respected research institution! $25,000,000.” But, that ignores the commitment to education and gifts to 300 institutions, including Stanford, Harvard and Brown, that the Koch Foundation has provided.

Yes, the fact that the Koch Brothers are buying influence across the nation clearly demonstrates that they aren’t buying influence in Utah? Sounds like our editors need courses in logic as much as they do economics.

The NRA: America’s Second Largest White Supremacist Organization

[ 105 ] July 24, 2017 |

The Republican Party is of course the nation’s largest white supremacist organization. But the NRA is second. And in case you thought the goal of this organization was to protect gun rights, let’s be clear that it is only part of the answer. The goal is to give white people lots of guns to “protect” themselves from scary black people.

Grant Stinchfield, a host at the NRA’s online television network, made more incendiary comments about Black Lives Matter activists allegedly stoking “racial hatred” against white people.

Via Media Matters, Stinchfield began a segment on his show by noting that “race relations are strained here in America after eight years of Barack Obama,” although he conceded that they are “nowhere is near as bad as it is in South Africa where white families are being tortured and killed almost every day in racist violence.”

That said, Stinchfield’s guest, Chuck Holton, cautioned viewers to remain vigilant because Black Lives Matter activists could stoke enough animosity to inspire similar violence against white people in the United States.

“Right, you know the parallels between what’s happening in South Africa and the blatant racism and violence we’re seeing from people like the Black Lives Matter crowd,” he said. “If we continue to let this get out of control, to go down this path of this racial tension, this racial hatred that is being forced on the American culture by the Black Lives Matter crowd.”

If you want to argue that the NRA’s real ideology is scaring white people so that gun manufacturers can make more money, that’s fine too, but there’s no fundamental difference except for the level of cynicism involved.

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