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Archive for June, 2016

Lookin’ for a hot take baby this evenin’

[ 74 ] June 30, 2016 |

Hot! Hot! Hot! Hot!

It is not surprising that Sanders embraces the policies of failed socialist and quasi-socialist governments from decades past. Nor is it that surprising that Trump, whose views on everything are a strange mishmash of gut reactions, prejudice and emotion, finds them appealing. But it is stunning that serious conservative Republicans who are devoted to free-market ideas are backing Trump, looking the other way and crossing their fingers. The cost of doing so is now clear: Trump will transform the GOP into a protectionist, nationalist party. The logical choice for this new party’s vice president is obvious — Bernie Sanders.




Kaine, Non

[ 130 ] June 30, 2016 |


I think this really should be the end of the line in terms of Tim Kaine as VP pick:

Sen. Tim Kaine legally accepted more than $162,000 in gifts when he served as lieutenant governor and governor of Virginia..

The disclosures have been publicly available for years, but they could be under some scrutiny now, since Kaine has been floated as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Virginia Democrat disclosed the gifts from 2001 to 2009, according to reports filed by the Virginia Public Access Project, which Politico reported.

Most of the gifts were for travel to and from political conferences and events. Accepting gifts is legal under Virginia’s lax ethics rules, and Kaine’s aides pointed out there was no suggestion of official favors in return, and he has exceeded the reporting requirements.

“During his eight years as lieutenant governor and governor, Sen. Kaine went beyond the requirements of Virginia law, even publicly disclosing gifts of value beneath the reporting threshold,” a spokesperson told Politico. “He’s confident that he met both the letter and the spirit of Virginia’s ethical standards.”

They were apparently legal, but these gifts are not good politics. They open lines of attack against one of Clinton’s major vulnerabilities. Given that there are numerous other viable candidates and risk-aversion is Kaine’s major selling point, Clinton should pass.

#NeverTrump: Never Stop #NeverTrumping

[ 218 ] June 30, 2016 |


Don’t kid yourself: this perennially effective and powerful movement is brimming with seriousity this time:

Republicans opposed to Donald Trump are plotting a last-ditch effort to deny him their party’s nomination at the convention in Cleveland.

A coalition of delegates, lawyers, rules experts and PACs has formed in what participants say is the most coordinated effort to date to dump Trump from the Republican ticket.

You have to love the “what participants say” line. “Today, Geno Smith, Bryce Pretty and Christian Hackenberg gathered in what participants say is an impressive collection of quarterback talent.”

The organizers are confident of success and say they’re being underestimated.

I am confident that this is impossible.

“This is a laser-guided bomb aimed right at the foundation of the Trump campaign,” said Beau Correll, a Virginia delegate and central figure in the opposition movement.

Oh. And…who?

But despite the gains the groups say they’ve made in fundraising, staffing, coordination and media attention, few are taking their efforts seriously.

Why, despite the gains participants say are being underestimated, are people not taking #NeverTrump seriously? Who can deny their formidable roster of talent?

Conservative media figures Erick Erickson, Steve Deace and Bill Kristol have begun joining the conference calls for the coalition and are fanning the flames in editorials and on the airwaves.

Dammit, I used the Jets QB line too early.

Anyway, as hard as it is to imagine a group of people with this track record of success in #NeverTrumping from succeeding, surely there’s a plan B?

Colorado conservative activist Regina Thomson, who runs a PAC called Free the Delegates, is organizing a floor fight irrespective of the Rules Committee’s decision.

Thomson is overseeing an effort to convince delegates that they’re already unbound. She is talking to delegates about parliamentary rules and how to protest on the convention floor if their representative doesn’t cast a vote in accordance with their wishes.

Another group, called Delegates Unbound, led by GOP strategist Dane Waters, is overseeing a national lobbying campaign focused on contacting delegates before they arrive in Cleveland to urge them to vote their conscience.

Hard to see this not working? But, just as a backup, I have some activists who enjoyed enormous success with a similar approach that #NeverTrump should probably be in touch with.

Alas, the LAMESTREAM media feels compelled to allow party bosses to deny this political tidal wave:

Many Republicans interviewed by The Hill privately grumbled about the effort, describing it as a tiny band of disgruntled delegates engaged in a vanity project that would destroy the party if it were successful.

They believe the likeliest end game is that a few skirmishes break out on the convention floor but are quickly extinguished.

Omitted from the article: any mention of an alternative candidate to Trump. I can help! Some participants say that a certain former associate of Kristol’s is tanned, very rested, and ready as she’ll ever be. Hard to imagine that juggernaut being stopped.

There Can Can Be Only One Fewer

[ 98 ] June 30, 2016 |


The field of lying, cynical pro-Brexit hacks chasing the Tory leadership Dave referenced below has been reduced by one:

Boris Johnson has unexpectedly ruled himself out as a candidate for Britain’s next prime minister, after the justice secretary, Michael Gove, sent shockwaves through Westminster with a last-minute bid for the Conservative leadership.

Gove had been chairing Johnson’s leadership campaign, after the two men worked shoulder to shoulder in the campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

But with just hours to go before formal nominations closed at noon on Thursday, Gove announced that he no longer believed Johnson was the right man for the job, and that he would launch his own bid to be the next prime minister.

Build All of the Ships

[ 14 ] June 30, 2016 |
2008년9월27일 해군 세종대왕함기동 (1) (7193823614).jpg

ROKS Sejong the Great. By 대한민국 국군 Republic of Korea Armed Forces – 2008년9월27일 해군 세종대왕함기동 (1), CC BY-SA 2.0,

My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at the South Korean shipbuilding industry:

The Korean shipbuilding industry has plunged into a deep crisis. The three biggest shipbuilding firms—Daewoo, Hyundai Heavy, and Samsung Heavy—posted record combined losses in 2015, and 2016 looks no better. Combined with a major accounting scandal and ongoing concerns about the viability of the market, South Korea could face a major shift in the viability of one of its most important industries.

Where’s the Empathy for Istanbul?

[ 166 ] June 30, 2016 |


I am for one am shocked that when terrorists strike the Istanbul airport, there’s not an outpouring of grief and sympathy from the west. Where’s all my Facebook friends changing their image status to the Turkish flag like they did with the French flag after the Paris attacks? Where’s all the talks about the threat to the glorious Turkish civilization? Where’s the 24/7 news coverage? It’s almost as if these things only matter to Americans if they happen to other white countries! If it’s outside Europe or one of its white settler states, it’s just another thing happening to those people.

In related news, there is no residual impact of colonialism and imperialism.

Random Musings on the Continuing British Fiasco

[ 362 ] June 30, 2016 |

Conservative Party Chief Whip Michael Gove addresses delegates on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, central England, on October 1, 2014. Talk of treason cast a shadow over Britain's Conservative party conference this week, where gossip raged over who might be next to defect to the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP). AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Gove has joined the cast of thousands vying to be the next Conservative Party leader, hence Prime Minister.  Seriously. Yesterday while enjoying a pint or several with fellow bemused Labourites, we figured Gove was the next Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Boris government. After all, he screwed up education and alienated all the teachers, then messed up the justice system, so why not have a crack at what’s left of the economy?

His personal path of destruction has loftier ambitions.

Corbyn is not going anywhere, and will likely face a challenge from Angela Eagle. She will probably lose. I’ve asked this before, but I’m at a loss to understand how he can run an opposition without the support of enough MPs to fill out a shadow cabinet? A country based on an unwritten constitution runs smoothly on tacit norms. Corbyn is ignoring one of those tacit norms. As was brought up in comments yesterday, according to David Ward, Chief Policy advisor to John Smith, the then-Leader didn’t think there was the need to hard code the requirement to resign into the Labour Party rule book when he was redrafting it in 1993:

If the Parliamentary Labour Party had passed a motion of no confidence in John Smith he would have resigned immediately. How do I know this? Because he told me he would. In 1993 during the Labour Party debates on the creation of an electoral college we discussed the lack of a mechanism to eject an unpopular or ineffective leader. He argued there’s no need for one. Without any hesitation he told me that any leader who lost a motion of no confidence in the PLP would have no alternative but to instantly resign.

John Smith was acutely aware that the PLP is the part of the Labour Movement that directly represents millions of Labour voters. He knew that any leader lacking the support of Labour MPs would not have the slightest chance of persuading voters to elect a Labour Government. That’s why he favoured the adoption of an electoral college made up of the three pillars of the Labour Movement; MPs, ordinary members, and the affiliated unions that created the Party in the first place. This system gave the elected leadership a powerful link with trade unionists, members, MPs and their voters. If that link collapses, as it now clearly has with Jeremy Corbyn, then resignation is the only responsible course of action.

To quote a local Labour Councillor and a friend of mine:

The Labour Party leader effectively is leader of three things: the Party at large, the Parliamentary Party, and the Labour Party staff (although Ian McNicol, General Secretary is de jure in charge there). Just in terms of organisational functionality, if they cannot command substantial support in two of those three areas, then their ability to lead the Party as a whole is nullified.

The Labour Party itself is supposed to be the democratic representative arm of the Labour movement, whose official constituent parts include Trades Unions, various socialist societies, the Co-op Party, and unorganised disparate groups and individuals. Obviously this more disparate movement changes over time. It’s primary purpose is to elect representatives of this movement to positions in Parliament, Councils, and other elected positions. For someone so steeped in the Party, I can only be either astonished that the present leader doesn’t recognise this, or assume he ignores it.

Fortunately for Labour, the chances for a snap election following the naming of the new Conservative leader are receding, with both Johnson and Crabb on record as stating it won’t happen. Apparently the Conservative backbenchers don’t want an election having just had one nearly 14 months ago. The overly optimistic amongst us might read into this that they’re worried. I’m not one of those people. This does, of course, bring to the fore questions regarding democratic legitimacy and quite likely contradicts statements made by several of the contenders back when Gordon Brown supplanted Tony Blair. (Side note: the now notorious “Blairite” Tom Watson orchestrated the coup that deposed Tony Blair in 2007. Such is the loose relationship with reality exhibited by some Corbynistas).

UPDATE: While three days old, Owen Jones on the plight of Labour and the left in Britain. Sobering.

Finally, in skimming the comments from yesterday’s post, I’m delighted that the Daria reference was picked up. I should watch that again.



2016 Forecasting

[ 161 ] June 30, 2016 |


A useful interactive model. I suspect it overstates Trump’s chances — the models can’t know about Trump’s organizational issues — but I think we can agree that the chances of Trump winning are 1)low and 2)way too high given the stakes.

I suppose he’d have a pretty good handle on what not to do…

[ 26 ] June 29, 2016 |

This could potentially be a valuable service for a certain kind of religious leader:

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but it sure doesn’t feel that way when your pastor or church starts making the headlines. In today’s world, if you’re a Bible-preaching church, then it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be faced with a communications crisis of your own. Even the most squeaky clean church is susceptible to mistakes, sin, false accusations, or worse.
We’ve prepared an all-inclusive training package and downloadable resources to help your church establish an effective PR strategy and crisis plan. You’ll learn tried and true techniques that will help prepare you and your church to handle every day communications crises.

Who would you trusting to help you keep the con going protect your church?

Justin Dean is the Chief Advisor at DOXA Media Group and co-founder of That Church Conference. Previously, Justin served as the Communications Director for Mars Hill Church in Seattle where he oversaw all content, communications, social media, and public relations.

Yes, that Mars Hill.

Which One of You Stinkers Wrote this Parody Opinion Piece for The Washington Post?

[ 357 ] June 29, 2016 |


“Jim Ruth,” probably

Jim Ruth?” Yeah, right. Fess up, LGMers.


For many of us, Trump has only one redeeming quality: He isn’t Hillary Clinton. He doesn’t want to turn the United States into a politically correct, free-milk-and-cookies, European-style social democracy where every kid (and adult, too) gets a trophy just for showing up.

Which one of you imps went through a checklist of wingnut bugaboos and talking points and put them in the most Onion-esque configuration possible? FESS UP.

Members of this new silent majority, many of us front-wave baby boomers, value hard work and love the United States the way it was. We long for a bygone era when you didn’t need “safe spaces” on college campuses to shelter students from the atrocity of dissenting opinions, lest their sensibilities be offended. We have the reckless notion that college is the one place where sensibilities are supposed to be challenged and debated. Silly us.

Stop. My sides.

Who’s to blame for the Trump phenomenon? There’s culpability on both sides of the aisle for the absence of bipartisanship that fueled his rise. The left blames the policies of a fragmented, delusional, right-wing GOP. But the left bears responsibility, too.

OK, nobody’s come forward to confess to punking The Washington Post yet? You’re scamps. 

So why then would rational, affluent, informed citizens consider voting for The Donald? Short of not voting at all — still an option some of us are considering — he’s the only one who appears to want to preserve the American way of life as we know it. For the new silent majority, the alternative to Trump is bleak: a wealthy, entitled progressive with a national security scandal in her hip pocket. In our view, the thought of four to eight more years of a progressive agenda polluting the American Dream is even more dangerous to the survival of this country than Trump is.

Well, anyway, good job. It was a fun read. Thanks for the laugh, “Jim Ruth!”

So come Nov. 8, you’ll find many of us sheepishly sneaking into voting booths across the United States. Even after warily pulling the curtain closed behind us, we’ll still be looking over our shoulders to make sure the deed is shielded from view. Then, fighting a gag reflex, we’ll pull the lever. We hate Donald Trump. But he just might get our vote.


[ 16 ] June 29, 2016 |


SEK: You got me how?


SEK: How so?


SEK: Should I be worried?


SEK: Jesus Christ — peed all over what?


SEK: My “round paper”?


SEK: Whereabouts?


SEK: The bathroom?


SEK: You peed all over my “round paper” in the bathroom?


SEK: So I need to buy more toilet paper?


SEK: You would be so be disappointed, if only you knew…

What are the meanings of “working class” in America today?

[ 291 ] June 29, 2016 |


This question is inspired by David Brooks’ latest pseudo-anthropological musings regarding the subject. (A curious feature of this column is that it’s obvious Brooks is discussing the white working class, but he never acknowledges this).

There’s now a rift within the working class between mostly older people who are self disciplined, respectable and, often, bigoted, and parts of a younger cohort that are more disordered, less industrious, more celebrity-obsessed, but also more tolerant and open to the world.

Trump (and probably Brexit) voters are in the first group. They are not poor, making on average over $70,000 a year. But they perceive that their grandchildren’s world is quickly coming apart.

Now obviously the phrase “working class” has multiple meanings in American politics and culture, but defining a cohort that has an average household income of $72,000 (about 30% above the national average) as working class stretches any plausible definition well past the breaking point. And Brooks’ cavalier use of the term underlines how amorphous this concept — a key one in contemporary political discourse — can be.

Anyway, what does “working class” mean in America today? I haven’t studied this question systematically or even thought about it much, which is probably representative of how most Americans think, or rather don’t think, about class matters in general. So these suggestions are very much off the cuff: (Note that the point here isn’t to describe the “real” working class, which strikes me as a pretty meaningless endeavor, but rather to suggest what the most widely held views of the concept are).

(1) No college degree, especially no four-year degree. It’s difficult or impossible to be working class if you’re a college graduate (The status of an associate’s degree is somewhat ambiguous in this regard.) In fact that’s probably the single biggest function of college in American culture: to work as as an all but formal class sorting mechanism.

(2) Working a job that doesn’t make much money and doesn’t confer much social status, with those involving significant physical labor or heavily managed customer interaction being the prototypes.

(3) Renting rather than owning one’s residence.

(4) Little or negative net worth.

All of these are of course subject to lots of exceptions, caveats, and gray areas, and it’s certainly possible to be considered working class while not fitting into one or even more than one of these categories. But it’s a start. Thoughts?

. . . In what ways is the concept of working class captured by the white collar/blue collar/pink collar/schema? Can a white collar job be working class?

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