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Archive for September, 2016

Your Weekend Humor

[ 160 ] September 30, 2016 |


Comes from LGM reader T.J.G.:

Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Bashar al Assad and Gary Johnson walk into a bar.

Johnson says, “Who the fuck are these people?”

…an alternative from WJTS in comments:

Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Bashar al Assad and Gary Johnson walk into a bar.

“What’ll it be?” asks the bartender.

“Molson,” says Trudeau.

“Schnapps,” says Merkel.

“Wine,” says Hollande.

The bartender looks at Assad. “What’ll you have?”

Assad shakes his head. “Nothing, thank you. Alcohol is haram.”

Johnson perks up. “I’m not drinking either! I’m protesting the drink tax they passed last month. See, taxation is theft and…”

Assad starts waving his arms frantically. “Bartender! Bartender! Two Long Island Ice Teas, please, ASAP!”


A Vote For President is Not Just a Vote For President

[ 300 ] September 30, 2016 |


There are candidate-specific reasons why people on the left of the American political spectrum should not vote for Stein or Johnson. We’ll come back to them in another post. But even if Stein and Johnson weren’t rather ridiculous crackpots, there are more general reasons why people on the left of the American political spectrum should not vote for Stein or Johnson. Thomas Geoghegan get at three of the most important ones, and I recommend his piece in its entirely. A couple of highlights, starting with a point that has also been a longstanding hobbyhorse here:

May I pile on the reasons why even the most bitter Sanders supporter should vote for Clinton? Forget the Supreme Court—it’s too obvious. Here are three others:

1. It’s not about Clinton herself. Your vote puts not just Clinton in power but literally thousands of appointees. It may be the deputy administrator in an EPA regional office, or the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the new policy and strategy chief at U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services—or a new member of the National Labor Relations Board, or even chief number cruncher at the Census Bureau.

And the civil rights division of the DOJ. And the EEOC. And the OHSA. And on and on. Very different kinds of people staff executive agencies during Democratic and Republican administration. And these executive branch appointments are hugely important to both policy-making and policy implementation.


And while there’s been enough banging on about that one vacancy in the Supreme Court, think about the lower courts, especially the trial courts. Think of the wage theft or Title VII cases that will be settled—and will keep, say, a pregnant plaintiff out of a homeless shelter. Here’s just a passing news item to tell you what these lower courts do: The other day, three federal appellate judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down a North Carolina voting law that with “almost surgical precision,” to quote the opinion, was intended to keep black Americans from voting. Who were the judges? Three appointed by either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. If you don’t stop restrictive voting laws, how is a Sanders movement ever going to come back?

If Romney had won, not only would be there no Clean Power Plan, the composition of the D.C. Circuit would have ensured that the next Democratic president couldn’t implement one either.

Sure. You think after four years of Trump there will be another Bernie or Bernie-like movement. There won’t. Even assuming Trump doesn’t, in a Putin-like fit, cancel the 2020 elections, by then the country, or what’s left of it, will be beyond your reach. The other side—the real Other Side—has four years to lock down policy with a lock that is bigger than the one on Fort Knox: requirements for balanced budgets, rules on redistricting, changes to the Voting Rights Act, federal voter ID laws, and on and on.

The odd thing is, if you want the Left to come back, you have to put the center-left in power. It sounds paradoxical, but it’s true: Give people a little taste of equality and they will want even more. The women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the huge egalitarian transformations of the 1960s came about in large part because of the much more egalitarian and prosperous country created by the New Deal and yes, the Great Society itself.

Let any Republican get in and it will always go the other way.

Liberals — let lone those further to the left — have never had a majority coalition that could govern without compromise in the United States. But there is a huge difference between administrations that can be pressured from the left and those than can’t. Clinton can be. Trump can’t. And the idea that electing Trump would mean that democratic socialists would then be able to govern without compromise is a puerile fantasy.

Taking the Bait

[ 368 ] September 30, 2016 |


As Paul has noted below, Trump is now on day 4 of his increasingly unhinged and consistently sexist attacks on Alicia Machado. It’s well known at this point that this was the result of a trap carefully set by Clinton, which predictably proved enticing for the ludicrously unprepared Trump. And yet, it seems to be working even better than the Clinton campaign could have imagined:

538, still the most bearish major projection site on Clinton, has her at a 67% chance of winning.

My guess is that in retrospect the debate in general and Trump being unable to resist reiterating his sexist and nutty attacks on Machado will be seen as the point at which any chance Trump had at the White House ended. Since Kellyanne Conway was hired, Trump had remained relatively hinged by his standards. And partly because of the Clinton rules and partly because journalism abhors a vacuum, this meant a lot of space devoted to stories about the Clinton Foundation that didn’t actually turn up anything but nonetheless RAISED TROUBLING QUESTIONS because “we looked into this potential conflict of interest and found bupkis” isn’t the story editors want to publish. This was allowing the race to settle into a generic Dem v. generic GOP race — one in which the former has an advantage in the Electoral College but not an overwhelming one. That dynamic is now over — Trump is doing everything he can to make clear that he’s staggeringly unqualified for the office and to mobilize women and people of color against him. With election less than 40 days away and two debates still on tap, and the latest proof that he’s completely undisciplined and unprepared, I don’t see how he even comes close to making up the gap again. For Senate purposes, however, I hope he keeps his night tweeting habit in full force.

It’s 3 AM. Do you know where your Republican presidential nominee is?

[ 372 ] September 30, 2016 |


If you guessed tweeting up a storm about how Alice Machado is a “disgusting” slut, while trafficking in crazy conspiracy theories about how Hillary turned her into a US citizen so she could make him look bad, you win a lifetime supply of free tuition to Trump University.

One of the more impressive things about this is that Trump likes to make a big deal about how he doesn’t drink, so this is all being done while sober, assuming being drunk on 180-proof narcissistic rage doesn’t count.

Insane Clown Posse

[ 165 ] September 29, 2016 |

Fear of a Trump presidency has reached such heights that people are seeing frightening characters with garishly painted faces and weird hair everywhere they turn.

Another clown sighting has been reported in an Arkansas county, authorities say.

Cross County Sheriff J.R. Smith said Tuesday night that his office had received one unverified report involving four people traveling around as clowns on West Merriman Avenue in Wynne.

It’s the Great Clown Scare of 16, and clown is the new black. It will also be known as the year that really sucked for anyone who makes a living as an actual clown.

And perhaps it will be the year someone has to go to court to defend their 1st Am. right to wear big floppy red shoes and a rubber nose.

In a statement, Smith said he has zero tolerance for the reports, referring to dressing up as a clown as an act of “foolishness.”

T.V. sit-com idea: The Clowns of Hazzard. Two cousins, professional clowns by trade, twit the local sheriff and tear around the countryside in their teeny weeny clown car. Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!

Clown sightings have been reported in different parts of the state since late August amid such reports in multiple Southern states.

“If someone wishes to dress up and conceal their identity with the intent to scare or harass our citizens, they will be arrested and transported to the sheriff’s office,” he said.

I know where I’m not going for Halloween.


[ 10 ] September 29, 2016 |




SEK: Bunch of fleas died.


SEK: You did.


SEK: No, they weren’t.


SEK: The horror, the horror —


SEK: You killed them, for real.


SEK: Do you feel itchy anymore?


SEK: That’s because I put the flea medication on you.


SEK: No, it was supposed to kill them.


SEK: No argument here.


SEK: They weren’t your friends, they were —


SEK: Hold on a minute, now —


SEK: What dreams?


SEK: I just gave you a treat five minutes ago, you don’t need —



Dept. of Corrections

[ 172 ] September 29, 2016 |


The following has been added to the article linked here at Tucker Carlson’s International House of Pancakes and Conservative Journamalism:

Correction: The star of Apprentass 4 was Angel Dark, not Alicia Machado

The headline remains “Porn Star Campaigns For Hillary Clinton,” the fact that Alicia Machado is not a “porn star” notwithstanding, and that fact that who cares anyway notwithstanding.

In related news, Newt Gingrich and Jonah Goldberg defend Donald Trump because Alicia Machado was clearly not attractive enough to be Miss Universe.

You know who else the elites thought they could control?

[ 99 ] September 29, 2016 |


If you’re into schadenfreude (why do the Germans always come up with the best words for the most reprehensible things I wonder?) consider the present position of the GOP elites in re Littlefingers:

Early last week, if you squinted hard enough it was possible to see the Republican Party beginning to unite behind presidential nominee Donald Trump. It was not overwhelming support, nor was it the full-throated endorsement a partisan might want for the party’s nominee. It was more tepid, trending towards lukewarm. . .

Then came Monday night, and a Trump performance that ranked as likely the worst ever turned in by a major party nominee in a presidential debate. All of a sudden, you could not find anyone besides Rush Limbaugh and congressional back-benchers like Marsha Blackburn to defend the GOP’s standard bearer.

For example, RNC chairman Reince Priebus — who ahead of the debate tried his hardest to put a positive face on the pile of rotted orange peels in a suit that his party nominated by suggesting that 14 season finales of his reality show “The Apprentice” had prepared Trump for the debate — has been missing in action since Monday. His Twitter feed, which he has regularly used to slam Clinton, has been almost entirely silent.

GOP congressional leaders have said as little as possible. Paul Ryan, whose relationship with Trump has been tenuous, tried to have it both ways. He called the nominee’s performance “a unique Donald Trump response to the status quo” — but also suggested he should actually, you know, prepare for the next debate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell said Trump did “just fine,” which is what a Southerner says when he means the exact opposite.

The Republican leitership remains on the horns of an exquisite dilemma. If Trump appeared to have a good shot at winning they would of course be throwing their purported principles overboard faster than Usain Bolt being chased by a grizzly bear. Lesser of Two Evils, he can grow into the office, he doesn’t really mean any of that super-racist stuff, and so forth. Heck, Ted Cruz was already there a few days ago (what a thoroughly disgusting character he is — and don’t be surprised if he’s your 2020 nominee).

Conversely, if Trump looked like a sure loser they’d be “distancing” themselves in whatever way they would calculate was best suited to avoiding a downballot blowout, so that they could claim subsequently that they never really supported him anyway, that his nomination was some sort of one-off freak Orange Swan event, etc. (Paul Ryan has been preparing to pull this stunt for months, and he’s going to get away with it, just watch).

But instead they’re getting middled. Trump is probably going to lose, but it’s still far from a forgone conclusion. This is, from the GOP elites’ perspective, the worst possible situation in terms of their own unctuous groveling v. frantic ass-covering calculus.

It’s a lot of fun to watch if you’re into that sort of thing (Except for the whole “Trump could still win” downside, which is admittedly harshing my schadenfreude mellow).

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

[ 166 ] 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

[ 126 ] 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

[ 121 ] 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

[ 52 ] 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.

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