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Why I Hate 2016 and Hate Everything About How People are Responding to the Democratic Primary

[ 71 ] February 12, 2016 |

Sady Doyle tweeted this:

I responded:

That mildly snarky tweet caused Sady Doyle to block me on Twitter.

This pretty much sums up why I hate everyone during election years. And it isn’t any better when Bernie supporters are bringing up Benghazi to attack Hillary.

Can people please not be stupid? Please.


By Our Hands

[ 1 ] February 11, 2016 |


The AFL-CIO has started its own online magazine based at Medium. Titled In Our Hands, it hopes to feature a few stories of working Americans at a good-looking website. Is it the be all and end of all union educational efforts? No. But it is the type of the thing the federation should be doing. Hopefully it picks up some traction.

How to Destroy an Organization from Within

[ 140 ] February 11, 2016 |
"SABOTAGE CAN OUTWEIGH PRODUCTION - NARA - 515321" by Unknown or not provided - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

These suggestions for industrial and organizational sabotage are basically just a description of academic life, not to mention LGM board meetings:

  • Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  • Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.
  • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committee as large as possible — never less than five.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  • Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable”and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers.
  • Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw.
  • To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions.
  • Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  • Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  • Work slowly.
  • Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can.
  • Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.
  • Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.

Maybe Stop Trying To Give Your Constituents Mostly Stuff They Don’t Want?

[ 183 ] February 11, 2016 |

It’s easy to make fun of the primary voters that put Donald Trump in the driver’s seat for the Republican nomination:


The idea of Donald Trump as president does indeed seem like the premise of a too on-the-nose Hollywood satire. But it should also be emphasized that he’s closer to the views of the typical Republican voter than an orthodox conservative like Rubio:

One of the important underlying facts of American politics is that rich people tend to have more socially liberal and economically conservative beliefs than the country as a whole. The elite criticism of the structure of party politics usually boils down to demanding that the parties reflect elite beliefs even more closely than they already do. Hence the endless demands for a socially liberal third party that will reduce spending on retirement programs, or the fantasy that America is entering a “libertarian moment.” The truth is just the opposite: The underserved political market is voters who want less libertarianism. They oppose free trade, want to keep every penny of promised Social Security and Medicare, distrust big business, think immigrants hurt the country, and generally distrust the rest of the world.

Trump’s campaign initially emphasized his nativist position on immigration, which caused him to be identified with the Republican right. But Trump has repositioned himself increasingly as the candidate of the populist, disaffected center. Even though Trump has proposed a huge tax cut for the rich, he draws support from Republican voters who are most heavily in favor of raising taxes on the rich. (They have no other candidates to choose from within their party.)

Trump’s populism has slowly intensified. “I don’t get along that well with the rich. I don’t even like the rich people very much,” he recently said. “It’s like a weird deal.” He has proposed to let the federal government negotiate lower prices for Medicare prescription drugs, a plan horrifying to conservatives (and drug companies). Like other Republicans, he proposes to eliminate Obamacare and replace it with something undefined but wonderful. The reason Trump’s vague repeal-and-replace stance makes them so nervous is that he once advocated single-payer insurance, and he has emphasized, in a way other Republicans have not, the horrors of leaving people who are too poor or sick to afford insurance on their own. Trump’s shorthand description of the travails of the uninsured before Obamacare — people “dying on the street” — alarms conventional conservatives precisely because it captures the broad reality of the suffering that justified Obamacare in the first place, and which would intensify if the law is repealed. The Republican fear is that Trump’s vague promise to replace Obamacare with something terrific is not just a hand-waving tactic to justify repealing Obamacare. Their fear is that he actually means it. Trump’s populist positions may place him farther away from the Republican Party’s intellectual and financial vanguard, but they draw him closer to its voters.

People who put a lot of stock in BULLY PULPITING the OVERTON WINDOW have this narrative that even though reactionary Republicans have largely failed in their attempts at dismantling the New Deal, they’ve succeeded in moving public opinion to the right in ways that figure to have a long-term payoff. But the thing is that this isn’t true. 35 years after the election of Ronald Reagan, the agenda represented by the Paul Ryan budget remains massively unpopular among the public as a whole and unpopular even among Republicans. Republicans have remained competitive at the federal level in spite of, not because of, the positions taken by a typical Republican elected official. Republicans remained a viable national coalition after George W. Bush because the wars the base strongly supported and the Medicare expansion they wanted and the upper-class tax cuts they can live with were financed entirely by debt. Had Congress actually tried to finance stupid wars and upper-class tax cuts through massive cuts to popular federal programs, it would be a very different story.

What Trump is doing, in other words, is very politically shrewd. The mechanisms that Republican donors and reactionary ideologues can use to keep members of Congress and most presidential candidates in line — the money spigot, the threat of congressional primary electorates much more conservative than the typical Republican voter — don’t apply to Trump. Cruz and Rubio attacking Trump as a fake conservative is going to run into the problem that the typical self-described conservative voter has views more like Trump’s than Cruz’s or Rubio’s. Trump is in many respects a clown, but he’s also much more plausible insurgency candidacy than the typical dream of centrist pundits, someone who represents a small constituency that is already massively overrepresented. In many respects, Trump’s supporters are acting in a perfectly rational manner, which is why stopping him won’t be easy for Republican elites.

Does Racism Influence Our Response to Terrorist Organizations?

[ 93 ] February 11, 2016 |


Probably. Boko Haram is as if not more deadly than ISIS. But because it is strictly in Africa, the media hardly covers it at all. Yet ISIS is the epitome of terrorism because they kill white people. This is reflected in policy as well, with far more political attention paid to ISIS than Boko Haram.

On November 13, 2015, ISIS members coordinated a bombing attack throughout France that brutally massacred 130 innocent souls from Paris to Saint-Denis. The world sat in disbelief at the audacity of the attacks, and prayers everywhere went out to France.

On January 31, 2016, just earlier this week, the Nigerian terrorist faction Boko Haram savagely killed 86 people in Dalori Village by firebombing huts and burning innocent children alive. Just 5 kms outside of northeast Nigeria’s largest city, a survivor recalled hearing unimaginable screams as their flesh was burnt away from their bodies.

Yet, days later, the executions of these same innocent victims of extremism have not garnered the world’s attention. While the mainstream media response about this tragedy has been underwhelming, the added calamity lies in how the Obama administration has seemingly neglected to treat Boko Haram and the victims of their maniacal violence with the same resources and attention that has been provided to ISIS and victims throughout Europe.

This past October, President Obama deployed 300 U.S. Armed Forces personnel to Cameroon to surveil Boko Haram, but it all seemed ‘too little too late.” The Pentagon recently asked for $7.5 billion dollars to take on ISIS in 2017. Despite the fact that Boko Haram and ISIL are responsible for half of all terrorism deaths, the response to both is clearly uneven in many ways.

We prayed and mourned with France. Global leaders pledged swift justice to those responsible. Every presidential candidate had to address the Paris attacks, including Donald Trump, who used the moment to promote prejudice against Muslims. Most American politicians took a stance on whether or not ground troops should be sent to confront ISIS on the battlefield.
-Boko Haram burns kids alive in Nigeria-

Yet the continual slaughter of innocent Africans has not elicited an equal response from the nation or from the Obama Administration, when in fact Boko Haram is the most deadly Islamic terror group on Earth. This is no exaggeration. In 2014, Boko Haram killed 6,664 people, while ISIS was responsible for 6,073 deaths. Boko Haram is also the faction that kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, which prompted the viral #BringBackOurGirls hashtag.

I know the story here is more complicated than just racism, but this scenario sure reinforces the fact that the United States and its citizens simply care less about Africans than any other people in the world. And then gets reflected in both media coverage and foreign policy priorities.

Fighting Climate Change in Agriculture

[ 7 ] February 11, 2016 |

EF figure 2

Agriculture is a significant driver of climate change, both through the use of fossil fuels and the production of methane from cattle, yet it receives very little public attention when we think about fighting it. So I’m glad to see California start taking the lead on this issue, channeling money to new ways to limit climate change-creating emissions on the state’s farms:

In fact, said Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), protecting the nation’s food supply might be the central reason for the dramatic increase. “I think the governor is concerned with food security,” she told Civil Eats. The more farmers can combine their efforts to mitigate the current problems by reducing the worst greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the farm, she added, “the better we are at maintaining a secure food system.”

The suite of proposed agricultural programs include existing strategies such as methane digesters on dairy farms, and new ones, like the Healthy Soils Initiative, which aims to increase soil organic matter and carbon sequestration. They would all receive an unprecedented allotment of funds from the state’s cap and trade program, which allows large GHG-emitting businesses in California to buy and sell allowances beyond the state-wide cap. According to CalCAN, there is currently $1.7 billion in cap-and-trade funds that have yet to be allocated.

So why the remarkable increase? Merrill points to a landmark 2012 study from the University of California at Davis that made a compelling argument for the value of climate-smart farming practices, and showed—among other things—that more GHG emissions were released from urban land than irrigated farmland. She adds that the state’s land trust and conservation communities have also rallied behind sustainable agriculture and helped inform decision makers about the undeniable connections between farming and climate change.

But most supporters of the proposed budget aren’t too concerned about why the change is happening—they’re just glad to see that it is.

Of course there are lots of questions about effectiveness, implementation, whether cap and trade systems can work at all to fight climate change, etc. But this is where the political energy and ability is to try anything at all and experimentation is a very good thing at this stage. Hopefully this will lead more states to try it. Although Oklahoma and Texas will probably see this and up their methane emissions out of spite.

More About Mount St. Mary’s

[ 11 ] February 11, 2016 |

The survey also asked students if they have a learning disability.  The third commenter on that link identifies another law Mount St. Mary’s may be violating, besides the ADA:  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

[SL] Longtime friend of the blog Carrie Shanafelt observes:

The violations of tenure and academic freedom at Mount St. Mary’s are bad enough, but they are cover for the original betrayal. In case you haven’t been following, the university began distributing a survey to students that contained questions about mental health and depression, and were told that the results would not be used against them. However, students who admitted to feelings of helplessness and sorrow were to be encouraged to drop out of the school before they could count against retention rates. When President Newman said “You just have to drown the bunnies…put a Glock to their heads,” he was referring to at-risk students with severe emotional distress. The faculty members who are being terminated are the ones who passed this advice along to student journalists, who published it in campus media. This is at a Catholic university where the administration signs off its emails in the name of Christ. Don’t waste your time looking for the part in the Gospels where Jesus says about depressed people, “put a Glock to their heads.”

The Most Terrifying Editor’s Note In History

[ 62 ] February 11, 2016 |


Next up: the thrilling return of David Horowitz!

Camille Paglia’s incisive [sic] and iconoclastic [sic] writing on politics and pop culture has been part of Salon’s fabric from the beginning. Her always-provocative column appeared here regularly between 1995 and 2001, then once more from 2007 through 2009. We’re thrilled to announce that she will join us here again, on a biweekly basis, to discuss the presidential race, the culture world, and everything in between.

Ah, yes, her return in 2007. The reviews were ecstatic:

A cursory glance reveals:

Vicious insults to the English language: 3 (”enthused” is not a word, with good reason; “surfeited” means that there’s “more than enough”, you don’t then have to tell me; “drearily prolix” is the worst two-word phrase I’ve ever heard in my life, and I’ve read Camile Paglia.)

Points at which she demonstrates her ignorance of the difference between being interesting and being on a job interview: 3 (plugging her unreadable piece-of-shit book; then naming both publishers; finally, celebrating her ghastly old Salon column – which was, oh by the way, THE WORST THING EVER – with the air of Napoleon returning to Paris.)

Episodes of egregious self-aggrandizement: 1 (1940-present)

Moments of unintentional comedy: 1 (complaining that the blogosphere is “numbingly predictable and its prose too often slapdash, fragmentary or drearily prolix,” and then yammering on for another 50,000 words about how geocaching is the Promethean spectacle of Dionysian abandon on a field of mythic American post-feminist manhood and how Madonna has succeeded where Spinoza failed, or whatever.)

I can see God has more suffering in store for me, and so I say to Him, with steady chin and steely eyes, “Bring. It. On.” Seriously, I gather that someone somewhere actually reads this shit for reasons not related to masochism, and this person needs to sit down and figure out how their life got so disasterously off track. The ability to appreciate Camile Paglia is – like the ability to enjoy the show ‘24′ on any level at all – a sign of a diseased soul, which can only be cured by the generous application of John Tesh world music videos.

Now there’s someone Salon should be trying to lure out of retirement.

The punchline to her latest column, ostensibly about Sanders/Clinton but really about her as always:

The revolt of pro-sex feminists against the feminist establishment began with lipstick lesbians in San Francisco in the late 1980s and spread nationwide by the 1990s. I came into open conflict with feminist leaders after my first book, Sexual Personae, which had been rejected by seven publishers, was released by Yale University Press in 1990. Steinem, who obviously hadn’t bothered to read it, compared that 700-page tome about literature and art to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and said of me, “Her calling herself a feminist is sort of like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic.” That’s the way the feminist establishment worked—the automatic big smear.

For nearly 25 years, Hillary Clinton, with her simmering subtext of contemptuous bitterness about men, has been pushed along and protected by a host of powerful women journalists in print and TV, Steinem chums or sympathizers who have a lot to answer for. Charmed by Hillary in their exclusive dinners and private chitchats, they encouraged her presidential ambitions. But after two national campaigns, it should be obvious that Hillary has no natural instinct or facility for understanding and communicating with the public on the scale that the presidency demands. Sexism has nothing to do with it.

The first and last sentences of the final graf are an exhibition of self-refutation worthy of comparison to the true greats like Adler/Cannon.

Mark Judge Makes Me Defend Conservatives

[ 114 ] February 11, 2016 |

Stealing from Stevie Nicks is no way to make a quilt, son.


…wherein Mark Judge takes a few scraps off of Stevie Nicks’ handkerchief hem dresses and tries to make a big old country quilt out of them. I imagine him taking sad little scraps of lace and flinging them at each other, wondering dazedly why they aren’t coming together. OK, enough with the tortured metaphors, let’s get to it: Mark Judge is saying feminists and conservatives don’t let guys have enough guy time. I am…skeptical of this assertion.

Male bonding without women, or what one British journalist calls “lad’s night out,” is an essential part of male well-being. Both feminists who hector men to spend every moment with them—making sure all activities are of equal time—and conservatives who argue that a man’s entire life should revolve around his family, are both presenting ideas that are harmful to men.

A.) No such feminist exists. Period. Full stop. But that’s not the part that interests me about this silliness. It’s the part that makes me defend fucking conservatives that interests me. Because B.) there is no flavor of conservative that would object to bros just hanging with bros in a totally not gay way. That is a not a thing. Even those weirdos who were getting together in stadiums to jack it to Jesus and pledging to lead their families wouldn’t have anything against bros just getting together and maybe showering together after a vigorous round of sportball.

In other words, there is literally no one in the world who has a problem with bros just hanging out with bros and maybe tenderly kissing a bro on the cheek when it gets to that really emotional part in “Rudy.”


An article in the Telegraph that revised the study noted: “Males also look after each other, the study for the journal PNAS noted. While men may do this by watching each other’s backs, for monkeys this means picking insects and fleas out of each other’s fur.”

That last detail is telling, and separates us dudes from our female counterparts. I went to an all-boys high school, and it’s noticeable how physical our friendships still are, even decades after we graduated. At reunions we tend to fall back on the age-old male expression of affection—light punches on the shoulder, a bear hug, even playful wrestling after a few beers.

Wait. I think I’ve seen this movie. I think it was called “Bros Just Being Bros 5,” and it was hot.

Last year a few of us met at our school’s homecoming game and the subject of that year’s reunion came up. We were sorting out the details—a trip to the beach—when one of the guys asked: What about wives and girlfriends? Should they be invited?

The decision was instant and near unanimous: No. All it took to make the right call was a reminder of last year’s monkeyshines: the drinking, pick-up games, late night skinny dipping in the ocean, frank talk about women and sex. We needed to pick the insects and fleas off of each other, and that was best done without girls.

I imagine so, as appealing as I find the idea of de-lousing men.

Occasionally on a lad’s night out there’s mention of who’s missing, and more than a few of them are guys whose wives won’t let them out to play with their old friends. Inevitably when we do see these men they look exhausted and stressed out. Someone needs to take their wives aside and explain that women may need decompression just as much, but as the more vocal and expressive of the sexes they probably don’t build up as much of a head of steam as we guys do. Feminists of course will take this (like everything else) the wrong way—I’m mansplaining why women don’t feel stress, etc.—but it’s actually a compliment. Women communicate their feelings to each other better than men do. They are able to talk to each other for hours, discussing not only all the things men do—politics, movies, sports—but also drill down into their emotions and feelings.

Ladies, hate to say it, but he’s got us dead to rights here. I know I’m almost never stressed. Why would I be what with all the Chardonnay parties and lingerie tickle fights I’m constantly having with my girls?

For dudes it’s not as easy. We usually let things come to a boil, leaving us to rely on each other for true relief.

Again, I’ve seen this movie.

As a writer for the Guardian put it, the lad’s night out is “just the easiest, lowest lingua franca for uncommunicative men to say they love each other while drunkenly singing along to “Wonderwall.”

Dude, the only objection to this is that “Wonderwall” was relevant about twenty years ago. Other than that, I say go for it. Sing with your bros all night long. In a totally not gay way.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 17

[ 11 ] February 11, 2016 |

This is the grave of William Clark, copper capitalist and Gilded Age plutocrat.


I have discussed Clark before. He was a miner turned capitalist in Montana who became one of Montana’s three Copper Kings. He’s remarkable not so much for that, but for being the personification of Gilded Age corruption. Clark really wanted to be a senator. Of course, in the 1890s, senators were chosen by state legislatures. So he did what any Gilded Age capitalist who wanted to be a senator would do. He bribed them. Supposedly, he later said, “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale.” This was no doubt true. But he was so corrupt that even the Senate, where there was no shortage of open corruption, would not seat him. He became for Mark Twain, the single symbol of the corruption of the period. He later still returned to the Senate, this time not so openly buying people off. He served a term. All of this inspired the 17th Amendment, which some of the right oppose today, being totally fine with rich people subverting democracy and buying off state legislators to control the Senate. None of this affected his massive wealth of course, as the grave above demonstrates.

William Clark is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York

It’s So Hard to Be a Capitalist in 2016

[ 102 ] February 11, 2016 |


Above: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

I just feel so bad for the head of Goldman Sachs. He’s so sad about Bernie Sanders’ success:

The head of Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday that Bernie Sanders’ insurgent candidacy “has the potential to be a dangerous moment.”

Lloyd Blankfein, who is chairman and CEO of the bank, was speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
In January, Sanders was asked by Bloomberg Politics to list an example of corporate greed, and he listed Blankfein.

“I don’t take it personally since we never met,” Blankfein responded.

But he added that Sanders’ attacks on the “billionaire class” and bankers could be dangerous.

“It has the potential to personalize it, it has the potential to be a dangerous moment. Not just for Wall Street not just for the people who are particularly targeted but for anybody who is a little bit out of line,” Blankfein said. “It’s a liability to say I’m going to compromise I’m going to get one millimeter off the extreme position I have and if you do you have to back track and swear to people that you’ll never compromise. It’s just incredible. It’s a moment in history.”

Where “a dangerous moment” means “Bankers might actually be held responsible when they commit crimes.”

Does the head of Goldman Sachs speaking out against Bernie Sanders do anything but give him more credibility with the American public? I mean, not the American public that counts of course, by which I mean Washington elites. But the part that doesn’t count.

It’s a family affair

[ 102 ] February 11, 2016 |

Q. What do you call three Bundys in the slammer?

A. A good start. (Autoplay adverts at link because USAToady.)

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the father of Ammon Bundy, the leader of the occupation at an Oregon wildlife refuge, has been arrested after flying into Portland International Airport.

He was detained by the FBI and booked into Multnomah County Jail on Wednesday night, the prison’s records show. The four remaining occupiers of the wildlife refuge said they would turn themselves in Thursday morning.


The 74-year-old, who intended to travel to Burns, close to the wildlife refuge, faces federal charges related to a standoff at his ranch with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2014, The Oregonian reported. The newspaper, which said Bundy owes $1 million in grazing fees and penalties, said he faces a charge of conspiracy to interfere with a federal officer and weapons charges.

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