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There Is A New Book Out About the Rise of Adolf Hitler

[ 34 ] September 29, 2016 |


Michiko Kakutani has a review of a new book about Adolf Hitler, which discusses the rise of Adolf Hitler:

• Hitler was known, among colleagues, for a “bottomless mendacity” that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message. A former finance minister wrote that Hitler “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth” and editors of one edition of “Mein Kampf” described it as a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.”

• Hitler was an effective orator and actor, Mr. Ullrich reminds readers, adept at assuming various masks and feeding off the energy of his audiences. Although he concealed his anti-Semitism beneath a “mask of moderation” when trying to win the support of the socially liberal middle classes, he specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus. Here, “Hitler adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners,” Mr. Ullrich writes. He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.

• Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising “to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,” though he was typically vague about his actual plans. He often harked back to a golden age for the country, Mr. Ullrich says, the better “to paint the present day in hues that were all the darker. Everywhere you looked now, there was only decline and decay.”

• Hitler’s repertoire of topics, Mr. Ullrich notes, was limited, and reading his speeches in retrospect, “it seems amazing that he attracted larger and larger audiences” with “repeated mantralike phrases” consisting largely of “accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.” But Hitler virtually wrote the modern playbook on demagoguery, arguing in “Mein Kampf” that propaganda must appeal to the emotions — not the reasoning powers — of the crowd. Its “purely intellectual level,” Hitler said, “will have to be that of the lowest mental common denominator among the public it is desired to reach.” Because the understanding of the masses “is feeble,” he went on, effective propaganda needed to be boiled down to a few slogans that should be “persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”

• Hitler’s rise was not inevitable, in Mr. Ullrich’s opinion. There were numerous points at which his ascent might have been derailed, he contends; even as late as January 1933, “it would have been eminently possible to prevent his nomination as Reich chancellor.” He benefited from a “constellation of crises that he was able to exploit cleverly and unscrupulously” — in addition to economic woes and unemployment, there was an “erosion of the political center” and a growing resentment of the elites. The unwillingness of Germany’s political parties to compromise had contributed to a perception of government dysfunction, Mr. Ullrich suggests, and the belief of Hitler supporters that the country needed “a man of iron” who could shake things up. “Why not give the National Socialists a chance?” a prominent banker said of the Nazis. “They seem pretty gutsy to me.”

This has been excerpts from a review of a new book about the rise of Adolf Hitler, which discusses the rise of Adolf Hitler.


The Losers of Globalization

[ 42 ] September 29, 2016 |


It’s amazing to me that the media and policymakers, not to mention a whole bunch of commenters on this thread, are just waking up to the fact that globalization is not great for everyone, that there are real losers, and that dealing with job loss and long-term unemployment is a real thing that maybe we should deal with before it fuels racial nationalism and extremist political movements. It’s almost like we shouldn’t believe that corporate-generated policies will benefit everyone! And that’s not just in the United States, it’s not just in Mexico, and it’s not just in Bangladesh. It’s everywhere around the world.

But trade comes with no assurances that the spoils will be shared equitably. Across much of the industrialized world, an outsize share of the winnings have been harvested by people with advanced degrees, stock options and the need for accountants. Ordinary laborers have borne the costs, suffering joblessness and deepening economic anxiety.

These costs have proved overwhelming in communities that depend on industry for sustenance, vastly exceeding what economists anticipated. Policy makers under the thrall of neo-liberal economic philosophy put stock in the notion that markets could be entrusted to bolster social welfare.

In doing so, they failed to plan for the trauma that has accompanied the benefits of trade. When millions of workers lost paychecks to foreign competition, they lacked government supports to cushion the blow. As a result, seething anger is upending politics from Europe to North America.

In the United States, the Republican presidential aspirant Donald J. Trump has tapped into the rage of communities reeling from factory closings, denouncing trade with China and Mexico as a mortal threat to American prosperity. The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has done an about-face, opposing an enormous free trade deal spanning the Pacific that she supported while secretary of state.

In Britain, the vote in a June referendum to abandon the European Union was in part a rebuke of the establishment, from laborers who blame trade for declining pay. Across the European Union, populist movements have gained adherents as an outraged response to globalization, imperiling the future of major trade deals, including a controversial pact with the United States and another with Canada.

“The trade policy of the European Union is paralyzed,” said the Italian minister of economic development, Carlo Calenda, during a recent interview in Rome. “This is a tragic situation.”

The anti-trade backlash, building for years, has become explosive because the global economy has arrived at a sobering period of reckoning. Years of investment manias and financial machinations that juiced the job market have lost potency, exposing longstanding downsides of trade that had previously been masked by illusive prosperity.

These are huge policy problems and Dylan Matthews and Annie Lowrey impinging the morality of those who point them out isn’t going to make them go away. The entire rhetoric around globalization coming from the elite class remains “this is awesome, we need more, let’s double down.” Yet nowhere through the last half-century of officially sanctioned capital mobility has the American government at the very least taken the disruption to the working classes seriously. I can’t speak to European responses in recent decades, although it’s clear the instability is also affecting those places. In the United States, globalization has happened part and parcel with unionbusting, with rapidly growing inequality, and with the creation of the New Gilded Age. The destruction of good American jobs as a result of globalization has had a very real negative affect on the American working and middle classes. If it has also meant cheap goods at Walmart, OK I guess except for the workers dying to make them, but the economic problems of the United States are very real. Inequality is a lit torch to previously existing racial and social divides. Ultimately, most people in your nation have to believe that life is getting better for them. If they don’t, they will act. That is what we are seeing in 2016. And those actions aren’t likely to be treat others in a very kind way.

This doesn’t mean that we can put globalization back into the box, even if we wanted to. But it does mean that unemployment, job creation for the very people who lose their jobs through globalization and automation, and the creation of a much more robust social safety net has to be a policy priority equal to or greater than passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And it’s just not. In the United States, for a family to get even basic help other than standard unemployment insurance, they have to be truly struggling, to the point of not eating. That’s not acceptable. We are just starting to wake up to this as a problem. Meanwhile elites in both parties embracing more and more globalization, seemingly clueless to the terrible damage of communities at home, not to mention the exploitation of global workers. At least domestically, they are now beginning to pay the cost. We will see if they learn. I am skeptical and I fear for the nation’s future.

The Libertarian Jill Stein

[ 77 ] September 29, 2016 |


When I ranked Gary Johnson above Harambe in terms of his grasp of basic policy issues, I may have been too generous.

Stop and Frisk

[ 43 ] September 28, 2016 |


Simon Balto has a rejoinder to Donald Trump’s fearmongering call to institute stop and frisk policing in Chicago. See, Chicago has a long history with this. It’s not a good history.

Legally constructed in the 1960s, stop-and-frisk was forged in a political moment that, much like our own, was governed by racial fears and anxieties, and against a backdrop deeply contoured by a black-led movement that demanded the radical transformation of America. In Chicago, this was an age of black in-migration to the city, white hostility to the new black presence, a vibrant local civil rights movement—including a nearly year-long open-housing campaign partly led by Martin Luther King, Jr.—and, ultimately, a blowback that saw many whites retrench into steely resentment.

Guiding the police force against that tumultuous backdrop was Chicago Police Department Superintendent Orlando Wilson. Already a renowned criminologist when he took over the department in 1960, Wilson was a thoughtful man and, at least overtly, a steady racial moderate. Nevertheless, as a progenitor of what’s called “preventive policing,” Wilson aggressively called for proactive rather than reactive policing. Under this model, police departments shifted from a focus on responding to crimes already committed, and toward eliminating potential crimes by confronting “suspicious persons” on the street. In so doing, Wilson and others enacted policies that usually ended up singling out black communities as problem areas, and that saddled them with unique forms of surveillance and control. Stop-and-frisk was the centerpiece of this.

The fault lines were immediate. Within a black community that was becoming increasingly mobilized in response to racism and inequality, people could not have known that Chicago’s violent crime rates would get significantly worse after implementation of stop-and-frisk, but they suspected that crime rates would not be significantly improved. Moreover, many of them correctly forecasted that it would be black people who would overwhelmingly face the effects of stop-and-frisk. Black Illinois House member and future Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, the ACLU and others cited a litany of reasons for this – not least because black people were uniquely vulnerable to CPD officers harboring anti-black racism. This assertion received the strongest possible stamp of affirmation in 1967 and 1968, when a Ku Klux Klan cell that included the Illinois Klan’s Grand Wizard was found operating within the CPD.

But those arguments against stop-and-frisk drowned in a sea of favorable white opinion. Although it would not become official policy until 1968, the real breakthrough for stop-and-frisk in Chicago came in 1965 when a number of political processes collided to give the issue a particular saliency.

Superintendent Wilson, continuing to see stop-and-frisk as necessary police policy, ramped up lobbying efforts to get it protected by the courts as a legitimate police prerogative. Tellingly, the political leaders who were quickest to offer their support were from Chicago’s white suburban ring, not the city proper. Republican politicians from Melrose Park, River Forest and other suburbs led the initial charge to see a stop-and-frisk bill introduced into the state legislature.

Perhaps the most important booster in the long term, though, was Democratic Mayor Richard Daley, whom Wilson successfully recruited to the stop-and-risk cause that same year. Daley refracted stop-and-frisk through his own racial lens and used it to his own ends. He’d been bleeding white voters and was electorally vulnerable, and so stop-and-frisk appeared at that juncture as a way to win the trust of white voters who thought that he hadn’t been tough enough on race and crime. The holder of famously tremendous political clout in Chicago, he joined with Wilson to work across the partisan aisle for the bill’s passage.

The bill failed to pass through in 1965 and was vetoed by Democratic Governor Otto Kerner in 1967, but the coalition and the dynamics that would see it succeed were set in place. By 1968, the same year that the United States Supreme Court enshrined it into law in Terry v. Ohio, stop-and-frisk’s supporters saw it become Illinois law. It has persisted as a profoundly controversial policy measure ever since.

Of course everything Trump said about race in his debate was calculated to scare white people. It’s as if his entire view of the inner city comes from repeated viewings of Colors and New Jack City. Which it might. And given the number of white people who are scared of black people, he might ride that vision straight into the Oval Office.

Privatization in the Age of Inequality

[ 27 ] September 28, 2016 |


Everyone should check out the report released today by In the Public Interest on how privatization increases inequality. Here are the five key findings:

Creation of new user fees: The creation of new user fees to fund public services disproportionately impacts the poor. As government budgets have declined, some jurisdictions have tried outsourcing services to private companies and allowing those companies to charge fees to the end-user to subsidize or completely fund the service. Many of the services that use this contracting and payment structure are those that poor individuals and families must use or are subject to through their interactions with the government.

Increase in existing user fees: Residents of jurisdictions that have privatized critical public services such as water or transit have experienced steep increases in their rates—such increases particularly harm low-income residents and those on fixed-incomes.

Privatization of the social safety net: Programs that provide and deliver critical support to the poor are often the subject of privatization experiments, many times with tragic results. Because these programs assist those who have little to no political power, these programs are low hanging fruit for privatization.

Decreased wages and benefits: Privatization increases income inequality through the decline of contracted workers’ wages and benefits. When governments directly provide a service, they often provide living wages and decent benefits to workers. When private companies take control, they often slash wages and benefits in an attempt to cut labor costs, replacing stable, middle class jobs with poverty-level jobs.

Increased socioeconomic and racial segregation: The introduction of private interests into public goods and services can radically impact access for certain groups. In some cases, as the public park example in Section 5 shows, privatization can create parallel systems in which one system propped up by private interests typically serves higher-income people, while another lesser quality system serves lower-income people. In other cases, the creation of a private system, such as charter schools in a school district, siphons funding away from the public system meant to serve everyone. In some situations, poor individuals and families can lose access to the public good completely.

The report as a whole is highly disturbing and alarming. Whether we are talking about charter schools or hiring private agencies to manage funds for foster children or bringing in private contractors for any number of social services, privatization of our public services is a universally awful idea that centers profit in the hands of the few who make that profit on reducing wages and benefits, avoiding unions, hiring recent college graduates to replace long-term workers, and other strategies that have contributed to the broader crises of inequality and a lack of quality jobs in the economy. Yet the mania for privatization continues. Grover Norquist wins.

Reading Election in the Year of Trump

[ 104 ] September 28, 2016 |


Maureen O’Connor’s reflection on Election is brilliant:

I imagine that how anyone feels about the end of Election will be a Rorschach blot reflecting how you feel about feminism, men’s rights, and who is entitled to what. After some mildly dirty maneuvers, Tracy wins the election. But when Mr. McAllister sees her elated reaction to discovering her win before it has been officially sanctioned, he is so disgusted that he snaps. As Reese Witherspoon bounces around in an over-the-top display of teen-girl giddiness, Broderick intones: “The sight of Tracy at that moment affected me in a way I can’t fully explain. Part of it was that she was spying. But mostly it was her face.” As in, the face of a happy girl who is proud of an accomplishment earned against the odds. “Who knew how high she would climb in life? How many people would suffer because of her? I had to stop her.” What follows is a comedy of errors that, I expect, is not quite as funny now as it was 17 years ago. McAllister rigs the election; Tracy stands up to accept her win; McAllister announces a different winner; and the teen girl is, for the second time in her life, undermined by a lecherous male authority figure who abuses her power to take away what should be hers — her academic life, her love life, her extracurricular accomplishments, her sexuality, her self-esteem — and hands it to some undeserving guy who thinks about his penis a lot. It’s very bleak.

I haven’t read the Perrotta novel, but I actually think (though there is substantial dispute on the point) that it’s true to the spirit of Payne’s film, which understands why its characters resent Tracy but subtly but clearly portrays the sexism and irrationality underlying it.

Mao Mao

[ 96 ] September 28, 2016 |

Counter-factuals are fun…

Modern scholarship on the history of the CCP has demonstrated that Mao rarely, if ever, had complete control over the Party machinery. He struggled through his entire tenure against competitors, both bureaucratic and ideological. Many of the decisions Mao made had strong support from the rest of the CCP, and emerged more from consensus that from authoritarian diktat. Nevertheless, the CCP and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) bore the special imprint of Mao’s ideological conviction and genius for infighting.

What if Mao had died in 1949, shortly after the declaration of the existence of the People’s Republic of China? How might China’s domestic and foreign policy have fared in the absence of the Great Helmsman?

Albums that Changed Your Life

[ 426 ] September 28, 2016 |


I thought we could all use a reset, a palate cleanser, post-debate, so how’s this? What are 10 albums that changed your life? By “changed your life” I mean had a profound impact on you, shaped how look at music, shaped your tastes, that you played a million times. A lot of my choices  are from my tweens/teens/20’s, because that’s naturally when you’re gonna form your opinions about music. I have a feeling I’m going to regret narrowing this down to ten choices, but I think if we go beyond this, things will just get unwieldy. If this thread is popular I’d also like to do a “10 Songs that Changed Your Life” thread.


  1. Duran Duran–Duran Duran
  2. Stevie Wonder–Musicquarium
  3. The Beastie Boys–Paul’s Boutique
  4. Public Enemy–It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
  5. Fishbone–Truth and Soul
  6. Redd Kross–Third Eye
  7. Red Hot Chili Peppers–Mother’s Milk
  8. Jane’s Addiction–Nothing’s Shocking
  9. Bryan Ferry–Bete Noire
  10. Arrested Development–3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of…


Mission accomplished

[ 162 ] September 28, 2016 |


Donald Trump has told a crowd of 7,500 that he was holding back during the first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton because he did not want to embarrass her.

He insisted that every poll showed him winning the debates but cited only internet surveys to prove this; every scientific poll taken in the aftermath of the debate showed a majority of viewers believing the Democratic nominee had won.

The Republican nominee’s unhappiness with coverage of his widely panned performance showed. Three times in the course of a rally in Florida, Trump called out “the corrupt corporate media” and gestured towards his supporters to turn towards the press pen to boo, hiss and even, in one instance, shout “go to hell”.

I get a feeling we’re going to see the real Donald Trump in the next debate, as opposed to the guy on Monday night, who so easily could have been confused for Edmund Burke.

Christ, What a Pathetic Operation Tucker Carlson Is Running

[ 336 ] September 28, 2016 |

joe-pantoliano-the-sopranos“One. She was a who-were.”

Shorter some Daily Caller hack: “It’s fine that Donald Trump fat-shamed Alicia Machado, because she’s also a slut.”

Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination is truly a mystery that will never be explained.

Why Yes, I Would Like to Subscribe to Your Newsletter

[ 65 ] September 28, 2016 |

As the Lars Ulrich of LGM, I get lots of electronic mail:


Well, if a medical degree in ophthalmology, combined with residence in Dallas, TX, isn’t enough to create interest in someone’s commentary about the election, then just what the heck is?

EpiPen Gougers Dissemble To Congress

[ 81 ] September 28, 2016 |


This is…less than surprising:

Mylan NV on Monday clarified the profit it said it made from its lifesaving EpiPen drug, days after House members badgered the company’s CEO to justify the device’s steep price increases.

Testifying before a congressional committee last week, CEO Heather Bresch said Mylan’s profit was $100 for a two-pack of the injectors, despite a $608 list price.

But in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal, Mylan said Monday that the profit figure presented by Ms. Bresch included taxes, which the company didn’t clearly convey to Congress. The company substantially reduced its calculation of EpiPen profits by applying the statutory U.S. corporate tax rate of 37.5%—five times Mylan’s overall tax rate last year.

Without the tax-related reduction, Mylan’s profits on the EpiPen two-pack were about 60% higher than the figure given to Congress, or $166, it said in a new regulatory filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday. The company said it expects to sell about 4 million EpiPen two-packs in the U.S. this year.

It’s Donald Trump’s America — we just live in it.

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