Subscribe via RSS Feed

Foreign Entanglements:

[ 1 ] March 24, 2016 |

On the latest Foreign Entanglements, Natalie speaks with Aaron Connelly of the Lowy Institute about Southeast Asia:


In Ted We Trust

[ 136 ] March 24, 2016 |


Hard to see how this doesn’t work out for Republicans.

“People think we’re not going to win in November anymore. All the candidates that had a shot at winning don’t appear to have a shot at winning the nomination. Everyone is resigned to that,” said a high-ranking GOP operative about the thinking among Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio alums as well as Republican party officials and big-money donors.

“People think we lose with Cruz, but we don’t lose everything,” said the operative, who opposes Trump and asked to speak anonymously. “He’s still a real Republican. We don’t lose the House and Senate with Cruz. We don’t lose our soul as a party and we can recover in four years and I’m not sure people think we can recover from Donald Trump.”

Said one high-level operative inside the Koch network: “He’s the devil you know.”

Indeed, many establishment Republicans would rather lose with Cruz and play a long 2020 game than risk having their party and conservative principles hijacked by Trump—a candidate they do not trust even as they recognize his political dexterity and the possibility that he could be just cagey enough to win on Election Day.

If Republicans are just going to give up on winning the presidency, that’s certainly fine with me! And given a decade of extreme gerrymandering, they probably do hold on to the House. It’s looking increasingly likely that Democrats might well take the Senate. But to rely on Ted Cruz to hold your party together? Really? And what is supposed to happen between now and 2020 within the Republican base that is going to make Scott Walker or Marco Rubio palatable to them or competent enough to win? None of this is at laid out.

The idea that Ted Cruz can unite the party is amazing. I’m sure his hatred of undocumented immigrants and plans to cordon off Muslim neighborhoods (which in this nation is what, a few areas of Dearborn?) will really prove to the nation’s voters that Republican senators are to be trusted with governance! Ted Cruz, Party Uniter!

Today in Conservative Reverence for Local Control

[ 129 ] March 24, 2016 |


North Carolina wants to make sure that no subdivision can provide civil rights protections to LBGT people:

North Carolina’s General Assembly voted Wednesday to block cities and counties from passing protections against LGBT discrimination in a wide-ranging bill that could have enormous implications for the state.

HB 2, which passed in a special session, would set a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” The bill offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard.

The bill also pre-empts local employment ordinances governing wages, benefits, employee protections and leave policies. It would prevent schools from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

You’ll note that inter alia local minimum wage ordinances have been preempted as well. The Republican legislature in North Carolina is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Lesser Evils

[ 151 ] March 23, 2016 |

A useful reminder that every single president elected with the support of the left has been a lesser evil. And they almost certainly always will be.

Talking Venture Brothers, “Red Means Stop,” with Elana @ Graphic Policy, 10PM Live

[ 2 ] March 23, 2016 |


The finale of season 6 of Venture Bros. gets the Graphic Policy Radio treatment! All obscure references explained! From defunct NYC nightclubs to Edgar Allan Poe to super-powered Nazis.

Join pop culture and history experts Steven Attewell (whose secret identity is that he’s an actual historian) and Elana Levin (who’s secret identity is that she used to go clubbing) discuss Venture Bros episode 8 “Red Means Stop“.

As usual, player is below the cut:

Read more…

In Conclusion, Voting is a Consumer Choice and Both Parties are the Same Anyway, So If Bernie Sanders Isn’t Nominated, Might as Well Vote Trump

[ 76 ] March 23, 2016 |


Obama’s Department of Labor, Ted Cruz’s Department of Labor, really what’s the difference?

The Labor Department on Wednesday released the final version of a rule requiring employers to disclose relationships with the consultants they hire to help persuade workers not to form a union or support a union’s collective bargaining position.

The department said the rule, which will be published on Thursday and apply to agreements made after July 1, is necessary because workers are frequently in the dark about who is trying to sway them when they exercise their labor rights.

“In many organizing campaigns, decisions that workers make about whether to choose to stand together are often influenced by paid consultants, or persuaders, who are hired by employers to craft the management message being delivered to workers,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a call with reporters. “About 75 percent of employers hire such persuaders, and too often, workers do not know.”

The 1959 law on which the regulations are based already required employers to disclose the hiring of such consultants. But the Labor Department argued that previous administrations had allowed an enormous loophole that effectively exempted consultants who coached supervisors on how to influence employees so long as the consultants didn’t interact with the employees directly.

The use of consultants has proliferated since the 1970s, and the techniques they deploy to discourage workers from forming unions have become progressively more sophisticated — more akin to modern political campaigns than workplace discussions.

There are consultants “scripting what managers and supervisors say to workers,” Mr. Perez said.

The new rule will require employers to disclose in government filings any consultant they hire to develop plans or policies for supervisors involved in attempting to persuade workers, who create materials that will be distributed through the workplace for this reason, and who lead seminars on how to discourage workers from forming unions or bargaining collectively.

In addition to disclosing the hiring of a consultant, the employers will have to disclose the fees involved. The consultants will also have to disclose the relationships and fees in filings of their own.

This is a great rule. At the end of the article, the writer interviewed Paul Secunda, who is a very smart person and who recently suggested that the DOL also require equal time for union organizers to speak when employers speak to employees about the evil of unions. That’s a really good idea. Maybe the DOL will move in this direction under Democratic presidents. But really, I’m sure Ted Cruz or Donald Trump would do the same. And if they don’t, then Democrats are complicit for some unknown reason and this will heighten the contradictions and bring Full Communism anyway.

The Donald Trump peep show

[ 19 ] March 23, 2016 |

A peep inside (out) Donald Trump, winner of the WaPo’s 2016 Peeps Diorama Contest

In the serious and important city of Washington, D.C., many serious and important people do many serious and important things. But none of the serious and important things is more seriouser or importantish than the Washington Post’s annual Peep Diorama Contest.

First place goes this year to Alex Baker, Leslie Eldridge, and Mary Clare Peate for the whimsical bit of nightmare fuel shown above.

..this satirical take on the Republican candidate’s brain — seen as a command center like the one in the 2015 Pixar film “Inside Out” — was a yuuuge winner, garnering more votes than all the other entries combined. It depicts a moment during the Aug. 6 Fox News Republican debate, as Trump is looking at moderator and nemesis Megyn Kelly.

Between the characters Fear and Disgust, an Anger Peep is poised to press a large red button, while Joy and Sadness are corralled behind a fence. Portraits of former wives Marla Maples and Ivana Trump adorn the interior, which has been trimmed in marble and gold.

I know I have been critical of the Washington Post in the past … hour or so, but I do applaud its efforts to show the public that Peeps are not meant to be eaten.

Follow the link or click on the picture to see a rotatable, magnifiable view of the winner, this year’s finalists and many more pictures of the ways people have exercised their creativity, and kept Peeps out of the food chain.

Phife Dawg

[ 13 ] March 23, 2016 |

The five albums recorded by A Tribe Called Quest represent one of the greatest achievements of American popular music of the last quarter-century. Seeing the news that Malik Taylor died today at age 45 is a horrible punch in the gut. R.I.P.

I’ve said this before, but I can’t recommend Michael Rappaport’s documentary about the band highly enough.
…great list.

Superman Is Not The Bad Guy

[ 273 ] March 23, 2016 |

Pictured: Not the Bad Guy

I don’t want to step on the toes of my esteemed colleague, but one of the things that the release of Batman vs. Superman has brought (along with some truly scathing reviews from journalists now released from their NDA) is more information about how “visionary director” Zack Snyder sees the world. And this information needs to be shared, because it’s legitimately scary.

We already knew from the reaction to Man of Steel that Snyder thinks that Superman needed to kill in order to learn that killing was wrong. This is news to me; I thought that perhaps one could figure that out from basic empathy or perhaps reasoning by extrapolation rather than direct experience. But according to an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Superman killing is ok because:

I went, really? And I said, well, what about [Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens]? In Star Wars they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. That’s gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new Star Wars movie, if you just do the math.

This is genuinely bizarre for two reasons. First, Snyder seems to think that we’re mad at him personally for killing fictional people, when the problem people had is that he didn’t film Superman trying to save anyone. Second, in The Force Awakens, the “they” who are destroying entire planets are bad guys, and shown as such:

And while I can’t believe I have to say this, but Superman is not the bad guy, he’s the good guy. One of the ways we tell bad guys from good guys in movies is that good guys try to rescue people. Superman especially is known for it – in his first appearance in Action Comics #1, he saves a guy who’s on death row from being unjustly executed; in his first film appearance in 1978, he saves Lois Lane from a helicopter crash.

But hey, I hear there’s a book that explains that altruism is for losers.

Meditations on reading the transcript of Donald John Trump’s meeting with the Washington Post

[ 59 ] March 23, 2016 |

Donald Trump is that kid who shows up in your basement and wants to play your electric guitar even though he doesn’t know a single chord. He insists that he’s awesome and can totally rock out better than anyone ever, “better than Jimmy Hendrix, even” — and when he says the name you know he’s thinking “Jimmy” and not “Jimi,” because that’s how goddamn dumb he is. But he won’t shut up about your guitar — seriously, he goes on about it for, like, two hours.

Finally, you roll your eyes and placate the mulleted intruder, because he’s eating all your cereal right out of the box with his gross little hands, and you have no idea where they’ve been (but really you do, you just can’t think about it anymore), and you realize it’s only a matter of time before he gets bored and tries to fuck your sister again or your mom or something worse. So you give him the guitar, show him a couple of power chords, and tell him to “take it easy” as you plug him into the amp.

He ignores you, of course, and attacks the guitar like it owes him $20 and a handjob. The breakfast sausages that pass for fingers bend the strings unreasonably, and he’s got that white guy Blues Face going on, and his hair is bobbing like a worn 7-11 mop, and you can’t even look because you’re suddenly embarrassed for the entire human race. Meanwhile, your amp is spitting out black clots of noise that sound like what self-loathing would sound like, or like the audio track to a crush fetish video. You don’t know it yet, but upstairs, your dog is shitting on the kitchen floor.

Trump, the stupid dicknose, actually does a windmill and totally misses the strings, and the pick goes flying across the room, but he’s like, “Nah, fuck it, I meant to do that,” so he drops down to his knees and shoves his fist in the air and screams “Yeah!” like he’s that guy from Metallica and not the absolute worst person in the world at that moment and most moments bracketing either end of that moment. The feedback scrapes the basement walls for another ten seconds or so, and upstairs, another dog turd drops.

Trump stands up as you’re reaching for the bleach bottle, swoops his pig knuckles through his hair, and grunts, “Heh. Fucking awesome, I’ve gotta get one of these,” as you drop the cap and take your first swig.

Salchicha oaxaqueña.png

By Nsaum75 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

“I Prefer My Authoritarian Racial Profiling to be Less Vulgar”

[ 51 ] March 23, 2016 |


Jeb! Bush has a candidate he wishes to endorse:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign on Wednesday morning, urging Republicans in a statement to prevent Donald Trump from securing the nomination.

“Ted is a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests,” Bush said in a statement, according to Politico.

“For the sake of our party and country, we must move to overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena, or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee and reverse President Obama’s failed policies,” Bush continued in the statement.

Here’s a useful summary of Cruz’s response to the Brussels terrorist attacks:

Following the attacks, Trump renewed his calls for expanded torture and excluding Muslim immigrants. Ted Cruz, not to be outflanked on the right, began with his customary denunciation of President Obama for refusing to use sufficiently inflammatory terms to identify the enemy (“we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to even name it”). Sensing this might not be enough, he unveiled a new commitment, to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” This is a breathtaking idea that merits deeper examination as evidence of what is now the policy stance of the putatively non-crazy candidate of one of our two major parties.

The great benefit enjoyed by the United States over Europe is its multicultural character, in which citizenship is not identified with a racial group. That multiculturalism has allowed American Muslims to assimilate much more easily than in Europe, which makes Americans safer — though not, of course, perfectly safe — from terrorism. Looking at this state of affairs, with a dangerous, ghettoized European Muslim population and a much less threatening, well-assimilated American Muslim population, Cruz proposes to treat American Muslims like European ones. He endorses racial profiling of “Muslim neighborhoods.”

Cruz does not even justify this policy as a response to radicalization. He proposes to do so, in his words, “before they become radicalized.” Cruz’s belief is that subjecting a non-radicalized population to discriminatory policing will prevent rather than cause its radicalization.

This is the kind of madness that now prevails for foreign-policy logic in this party. Cruz, of course, has appointed raging paranoic Frank Gaffney as a foreign-policy adviser. Gaffney has called Barack Obama “America’s first Muslim president.” Perhaps Cruz envisions the special law patrols to include the neighborhood of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to prevent the (further) radicalization of its Muslim occupant.

However, Cruz will engage in these systematic and counterproductive violations of civil liberties and civil rights with more formal language. The Republican establishment has its man!

…via Patesh in comments, Obama: “As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance. Which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America.” Perfect.

Why Trump?

[ 210 ] March 23, 2016 |


Clare Malone tries to explain. The negative correlation between Trump support and income seems particularly important.

Page 30 of 2,273« First...1020...2829303132...405060...Last »