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LGM: How the Left Has Become a Cult!

[ 199 ] March 20, 2017 |


According to this clownish performative centrist, various LGM writers are indicative of why the left has become a cult that can’t unite the nation. Why? Because we say mean things about Trump voters. His conclusion:

This is the modern Left. Intolerant and absolutist. It’s their way or the highway. Disagreement with them means your views are illegitimate (e.g., racist, sexist) and you might be insane (e.g., xenophobic). It makes them look more like a cult than a successful political movement. They are a gift to the 1% and their servants in Washington.

Totally dude. Allow me to speak for my co-bloggers that we all just so glad to wield this kind of power. It goes well with our giant checks from the Clinton Foundation.

I await everyone’s comments on this one.


Black Organizing in the Americas

[ 54 ] March 20, 2017 |
Civil police officers detain suspects after a store was looted during a police strike in Recife, May 15, 2014. Road blocks and marches hit Brazilian cities on Thursday as disparate groups criticized spending on the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament and sought to revive a call for better public services that swept the country last June. Pernambuco state police called a strike over their demands for better salaries and benefits. REUTERS/Igo Bione/JC Imagem (BRAZIL - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP) BRAZIL OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN BRAZIL - RTR3PDI5

Civil police officers detain suspects after a store was looted during a police strike in Recife, May 15, 2014. Road blocks and marches hit Brazilian cities on Thursday as disparate groups criticized spending on the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament and sought to revive a call for better public services that swept the country last June. Pernambuco state police called a strike over their demands for better salaries and benefits. REUTERS/Igo Bione/JC Imagem (BRAZIL – Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP) BRAZIL OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN BRAZIL – RTR3PDI5

There’s a really useful forum at NACLA on considering Black Lives Matter as a movement with hemispheric roots and importance. From the intro:

The Black Lives Matter movement is not a U.S. cultural export to Latin America and should not be treated as such, for the assertion that “Black lives matter” is far from new in the Americas. From the maroon communities of Jamaica, Suriname, and Brazil to Black independence movements starting with the Haitian Revolution, Black peoples across the Americas have long articulated a demand that Black life, personhood, and autonomy be valued and respected. Today’s movements are only the latest iteration in the long Black struggle for liberation.

As observers of contemporary waves of heightened hemispheric Black activism, we were surprised to find few talks, symposia, and syllabi that consider the issue of Black life mattering from a transnational perspective. Several questions emerged out of preoccupation with an unsettling observation: despite distinct socio-historical contexts, African descendants across the hemisphere face remarkably similar issues—from gentrification to displacement and segregation, cultural appropriation, labor discrimination, to institutionalized racism and the enduring presence of structural barriers to educational attainment and economic parity. From Baltimore, Maryland to Buenaventura, Colombia, Black people contend with what historian Forrest Hylton, in his book Evil Hour in Colombia, refers to as “the unresolved legacies of conquest, colonization, and slavery”—legacies that manifest as police surveillance and brutality, disproportionate rates of incarceration, poor health outcomes, and lower life expectancies. One need only read reports by Human Rights Watch, the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, and the Brazilian Public Security Forum to find a host of sobering statistics that corroborate the need for and imperative of today’s social movements that center Black lives.

Well, I’m Convinced!

[ 41 ] March 20, 2017 |


If you can’t emulate Bill Belichick’s ability to construct an offense, you can emulate his terrible taste in presidents:

As confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch got underway Monday in Washington, D.C., noted legal scholar John Elway sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on his Broncos letterhead endorsing Gorsuch for the nation’s highest court.

This leads is to the tweet from an NFL reporter with the greatest chance of being quoted on this blog in its history:

Is Siemian the well-done steak of QBs and Paxton Lynch the vodka-flavored ketchup, or vice versa? The Denver offense was certainly more of a dead horse than a battleship.

Perhaps It’s Time to Start Treating Self-Interested Republican Assertions With Some Measure of Skepticism

[ 55 ] March 20, 2017 |

Judy Miller 409

Earlier today, I alluded to the story published in the New York Times — a couple days after it devoted 5 out of 6 above-the-fold A1 stories in two days to James Comey’s letter informing Congress that Anthony Weiner had a laptop, which might mean Hillary Clinton was a crook — dutifully repeating the claim of the anti-Clinton within the FBI that “the hacking into Democratic emails…was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.” This decision has…not held up well. Today I was reminded that Eric Lichtbau, one of the marks reporters behind the Oct. 31, was also responsible for one of this Clinton Rules Classic:

A top aide to Hillary Clinton at the State Department agreed to try to obtain a special diplomatic passport for an adviser to former President Bill Clinton in 2009, according to emails released Thursday, raising new questions about whether people tied to the Clinton Foundation received special access at the department.


It’s common at this point in the Clinton Foundation pseudo-scandal cycle for the person in my position to point out that there’s no quid pro quo and no evidence of wrongdoing, and then for the skeptics to say that corruption can take more insidious forms than a quid pro quo. But honestly, what questions does this raise?

It certainly doesn’t raise the question of whether Clinton Foundation staff got special access to passports from the State Department. It answers the question. They didn’t, as the story says.

Nor does this raise any questions about conflicts of interest with donors or use of foundation resources for private gain. Bill Clinton was doing a little statesman-like work. His staff hoped that, in light of his close personal ties to the secretary of state, he could do that work with official diplomatic credentials. They were told no.

There is no scandal. There is no question. There’s only the presumption of guilt and the Clinton Rules.

On August 9th, Lichtbau went on NPR to discuss “[t]he assertion that the people at Judicial Watch…are making is that this shows that at a minimum, her people, her top advisers seem to have kept this chain of communication open and that there were discussions about favors and access and influence.” He apparently worked on the story for a while, finding absolutely no misconduct by Clinton or any of her aides, or indeed by anybody. But rather than just admit he had been sent on a snipe hunt by anti-Clinton fanatics and either not publishing a story or publishing a story clearly stating that Clinton had done nothing wrong, he and his editors just went ahead and wrote a story with a headline and lede implying that Clinton was corrupt when the facts showed no such thing.

I feel the performance of the New York Times political desk during the 2016 campaign raises troubling questions and casts troubling shadows.

Kindly, Moderate, Nonpartisan Neil Gorsuch

[ 80 ] March 20, 2017 |


Hmm, let’s check in on the man the president installed by the FBI and the 19th century slave power chose to nominate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court:

Jennifer Sisk, a Denver attorney who took a class taught by Gorsuch at University of Colorado law school, wrote to Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) claiming that Gorsuch said firms should engage in illegal and sexist hiring practices.

Gorsuch’s alleged comments arose during a class discussion involving a hypothetical about a female law student who wanted to work at a law firm and also intended to start a family with her husband. According to Sisk,

[Gorsuch] asked the class to raise their hands if they knew of a female who had used a company to get maternity benefits and then left right after having a baby. Judge Gorsuch specifically targeted females and maternity leave. This question was not about parents or men shifting priorities after having children. It was solely focused on women using their companies.

I do not remember if any students raised their hands, but it was no more than a small handful of students. At that point, Judge Gorsuch became more animated saying “C’mon guys.” He then announced that all our hands should be raised because “many” women use their companies for maternity benefits and then leave the company after the baby is born.

The judge, according to Sisk, “argued that because many women left their companies we all knew women who purposefully used their companies.” Gorsuch also allegedly “outlined how law firms, and companies in general, had to ask female interviewees about pregnancy plans in order to protect the company.”

I’m sure Hillary Clinton’s nominee would have had similar views! In what will be the first of many such links, also note that Gorsuch has other terrible views pretty much any Republican nominee will share.

As Erik says, the correct Democratic response here is not complicated: not a single vote.

Today in the Criminal Injustice System

[ 35 ] March 20, 2017 |

The grotesque protection of police violence against any limits or consequences continues unabated.

Andrew Scott and his girlfriend were playing video games in their Florida apartment late at night when they heard a loud banging at the front door. Scott, who was understandably disturbed, retrieved the handgun that he lawfully owned, then opened the door with the gun pointed safely down. Outside, he saw a shadowy figure holding a pistol. He began to retreat inside and close the door when the figure fired six shots without warning, three of which hit Scott, killing him. Scott hadn’t fired a single bullet or even lifted his firearm.

The figure outside was Deputy Richard Sylvester. He failed to identify himself as a law enforcement officer at any point. He had no warrant and no reason to suspect that Scott or his girlfriend had committed a crime. He did not attempt to engage with Scott at all after he opened the door; he simply shot him dead. And on Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that Scott’s parents and girlfriend cannot sue Sylvester because the officer’s conduct was not “clearly” illegal.

The court’s reasoning? Qualified immunity, a constitutionally dubious doctrine that bars individuals from suing the government for violating their rights unless those rights were “clearly established.” And what, exactly, constitutes a “clearly established” right? It’s almost always possible to argue the point either way. Consider the events that led up to Scott’s killing. Sylvester had been pursuing a speeding motorcyclist who, he suspected, might be the same motorcyclist who’d recently committed armed assault and battery. (He had no legitimate reason to suspect this particular motorcyclist was the suspect in question.) Sylvester found a motorcycle at Scott’s apartment complex and decided it was the one he was looking for, even though a license plate search revealed no incriminating information. He and three other officers drew their guns and pounded on Scott’s door. When Scott opened it, Sylvester shot and killed him.

Being a cop is a license to kill. It’s no wonder that the profession attracts so many thugs and racists.

Comey Comedy Classics

[ 57 ] March 20, 2017 |


With notably rare exceptions:

The FBI director said he cannot say more “about what we are doing and whose conduct we are investigating” because the investigation is ongoing and classified.

“We just can’t do our work well or fairly if we start talking about it while we’re doing it,” Comey said.

It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need was someone who wasn’t a Republican hack in charge of the FBI.

As you’ve probably heard, in addition to taking his standup act on the road Comey also confirmed what he was expected to confirm:

FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”

Hmm, interesting. I’m so old I remember when the FBI was going out of its way to imply that Russia was not trying to influence the 2016 elections like it was last October.


FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress that the FBI launched its investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. elections nearly nine months ago.

He said the FBI started investigating the matter in July and that its work was still in the early stages.

It’s ridiculous how badly the New York Times got played, and it’s outrageous that Comey let the false impression created by the story stand while he was going out of his way to smear Clinton based on nothing.

Ken Burns, George Will, and Public Arts Funding

[ 140 ] March 20, 2017 |


That the NEH, NEA, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting provides a lot of benefit to society for very little money and that closing these agencies down does nothing meaningful to change the federal budget is clear to anyone who is not evil. But in case anyone is on the fence, the impact that Ken Burns’ Civil War series had is a good reason to support these agencies, especially considering that it was popular with both liberals and conservatives.

Ken Burns is probably America’s most well-known documentarian, making traditional, history-rich multi-part films about important periods in American history and facets of American culture. Anyone who’s watched PBS has probably watched one of Burns’s documentaries, which span topics ranging from jazz, baseball, and the national parks to Prohibition and the Roosevelts. At this point, “PBS documentary” is basically synonymous with Burns’s name.

Burns’s films have also received a lot of funding from both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, both of which were targeted for elimination (along with the National Endowment for the Arts) in President Trump’s budget proposal. The Jazz series received funds from the CPB, NEH, and NEA, in addition to private, corporate, and foundation funding. Jackie Robinson received a grant from the CPB alongside other sources of private funding. Prohibition received funds from the CPB and NEH.

Thanks to funding from the CPB, NEH, and NEA, Burns’s documentaries are widely available to watch. A good place to start is with his seminal 1990 nine-episode documentary series The Civil War, which was restored and rebroadcast in high definition in September 2015.

The film took five years to complete, and 40 million people watched it when it was first broadcast in 1990 — that’s roughly equivalent to the number of people who watched Game 7 of the World Series in 2016. It won 40 major film and TV awards, including two Emmys and two Grammys. Both the CPB and NEH contributed funding for the project.

The film is credited with an uptick in public interest in the Civil War — though some historians have found the account of the war presented in the film by historian Shelby Foote to be romanticized and reductive. Commemorating the restored edition in Time, Jeffrey Kluger wrote that it “explained an incalculably important chapter in American history to a generation that needed the tutorial.”

Before we get to Shelby Foote, we need to talk about George Will. Burns has used Will as a talking head in multiple films. He was in the Baseball series, which OK I guess, although I don’t think we ever need to listen to Will. More infuriating was his use in the Roosevelt series. Why do I want to hear George Will talk about FDR? What possible useful thing does he have to say about the man? Given that he opposes the entire existence of the New Deal state, that’s a really weird and poor choice. And of course Will’s response to the Trump budget is to embrace destroying the NEA. And while it’s true that he doesn’t take on the NEH or CBP, you can’t deal with one without the others. For Will of course this is all about the culture wars. Piss Christ is every work of art. Will’s right-wing stereotypes of national funding of art, as limited as it is, are part and parcel with the broader attack on the very agencies that allow him to appear in Burns’ series.

Of course a big part of the problem here is Ken Burns. He is strongly attracted to conservative figures for his films, even if they are often more cultural conservative than politically. Will is of course outrageous for a series on the Roosevelts. But this started a long time ago when he made Shelby Foote nationally famous late in life. Foote of course was a huge apologist for Nathan Bedford Forrest and provided a strong Dunningite voice in a series that was mostly pretty good at centering slavery and the African-American experience. This juxtaposition of telling stories that expand the American narrative of freedom while embracing conservative voices is typical of Burns. The repeated use of Stanley Crouch, a man who thinks hip hop is the Great Satan, in a documentary on jazz and then again when talking about Jack Johnson, who pushed all sorts of boundaries of offensiveness that the modern Crouch would find outrageous if repeated today, is another example of this. The whole Jazz series was exceptionally conservative for that matter, forcing the last 50 years into one episode where the continued experimentation in jazz was bemoaned because evidently we should all be listening to Wynton Marsalis turn jazz into a classical canon only relevant to old white people.

So while, yes, Ken Burns’ work is a huge success for the NEH and PBS and should absolutely be held up as relevant in this current political battle to save these agencies, let’s not also forget that Burns himself is a deeply problematic figure who employs people who would like to destroy the type of work he wants to create.

Democrats and Gorsuch

[ 68 ] March 20, 2017 |


Democrats don’t seem to be united on how to deal with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, which is “no way, no how.” Richard Blumenthal gets it:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Sunday that he would filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and “use every tool that we have” if Gorsuch fails to disavow litmus tests on abortion and guns, among other things.

Gorsuch’s multi-day confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET on Monday.

Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, began by saying on MSNBC Sunday that Gorsuch would have to tell the committee that a ban on any religion is unconstitutional. Judges have said that religious bias motivated President Donald Trump’s recently blocked travel ban.

“Even if he can’t comment on the specific immigration case, he has to at least show that he respects the principle that the government can’t discriminate on the basis of religion; that a Muslim ban would violate the Constitution,” he said.

Blumenthal said he would hold Gorsuch to the same standard on Roe v. Wade, which set a precedent establishing abortion as a fundamental right, and gun control laws.

Michael Bennet on the other hand:

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will get some bipartisan cover at his confirmation hearing next week — even if for just a few minutes.

Gorsuch, a Denver native, will be introduced by both Colorado senators — Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican — before he delivers his opening testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. It’s long been tradition that a nominee’s home-state senators give the introduction during the high-profile confirmation hearings. The third person who will introduce Gorsuch is former Obama acting solicitor general Neal Katyal, who has written op-eds and letters to the committee endorsing Gorsuch’s nomination.

Aides to Bennet, who has faced political pressure to vote for Gorsuch, stressed that his introduction has no bearing on whether he will support President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee. Indeed, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced then-nominee Samuel Alito before the Judiciary Committee in 2006, but ultimately voted to filibuster him.

Gorsuch comes from a Colorado power elite family and his mother was Reagan’s absolutely nightmarish EPA director. So he is getting a lot of pressure from the Colorado political class. But who cares. He was just elected to a second term. Come 2022, no one is going to care how he voted on Gorsuch on the right because they aren’t going to support him anyway. Colorado is moving pretty rapidly to the left and voting to confirm is only going to hurt him with his base. Moderates won’t care either way in five years. While I realize Bennet has not said he will vote for Gorsuch, he’s also been fairly favorable in his public comments. He needs a lot of pressure to vote no. Gorsuch will almost certainly be confirmed. Given that it is a stolen seat, it needs to happen with zero Democratic votes which forces Republicans to blow up the filibuster.

You Are the Sucker, Appalachian Edition

[ 358 ] March 20, 2017 |


Getting it good and hard:

During the campaign, Donald Trump billed himself as the “last shot” for coal country. He alone could save regions like Appalachia that had long suffered from poverty and dwindling coal jobs. And voters in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky believed him — choosing Trump over Hillary Clinton by wide, wide margins.

So it’s striking that President Trump’s first budget proposal would slash and burn several key programs aimed at promoting economic development in coal regions — most notably, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration. In recent years, these programs have focused on aiding communities that have been left behind as mining jobs vanished.

Even some of Trump’s staunchest allies were livid at the proposed cuts. “I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the President’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive,” said Rep. Hal Rogers, a senior House Republican from a key coal-mining district in southeastern Kentucky.

So what gives? It’s possible Trump just didn’t put much thought into these reductions — and didn’t realize (or didn’t care) that he was backhanding his biggest supporters. Or it’s possible Trump genuinely believes he’s going to bring back coal jobs in Appalachia, as he’s promised, and hence figured there’s no need for all those other government programs.

Except Trump can’t bring back all the mining jobs that have disappeared over the past 30 years — it’s just not feasible. That’s a promise he won’t keep. And now he’s cutting the region’s safety net, too.

A lot of people are going to suffer because Republicans systematically lied to voters that believed them.

Those Thighs Won’t Rub Themselves!

[ 217 ] March 19, 2017 |


Here’s a minor innovation in translucently-sourced HILLARY CLINTON IS TOTALLY RUNNING FOR MAYOR stories:

Earlier this week, TMZ reported that Clinton is reportedly “thinking” about a run for NYC mayor. “We’re told she was talking to people in her close circle to gauge the level of interest and support in a Clinton candidacy… Our source made it clear … judging from the meeting, so far it’s just talk,” TMZ wrote.

The rumor that Democrats and those in her inner circle were urging her to run originally surfaced in January from the conservative website NewsMax, which just so happens to be owned by a “friend and donor” to Bill Clinton’s campaign. Mainstream outlets like the New York Daily News and the New York Times picked up the story, although reporters hedged their bets that such a run would be unlikely. Either way, the hopeful buzz doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

“Friend and donor of Bill Clinton” is one way of describing the publisher of NewsMax. A much more accurate way of describing him would be “one of the most influential members of Donald Trump’s inner circle.” What an amazing coincidence that rumors of Clinton running all come from anti-Clinton or anti-deBlasio sources!

Anyway, isn’t this all kinda last month? I thought that Hillary Clinton was going to maintain unilateral demonic possession over the Democratic Party by leveraging Chelsea Clinton’s inevitable run for — House backbencher? Parks commissioner? Larchmont school board? Something like that there. And we know she’s running because she sent some negative tweets about Donald Trump? Frankly, I don’t know why the Democratic Party should even bother to hold primaries in 2020 when Chelsea will control the outcome from the Hastings-on-Hudson city council anyway.

Dumbasses of America

[ 323 ] March 19, 2017 |


The genre of “let’s talk to idiotic white voters who support Trump even though he will decimate their lives” is already more stale than bread baked on November 8. However, it does lead to the occasional special anecdote that truly sums up the stupidity of many white people.

Blake Yelverton is taking a break with a burger that doesn’t cut any corners. Cheese and bacon and everything. He’s 23, a burly young man with a big red beard, and he works on his father’s cow farm.

“I don’t believe it’s the federal government’s job to provide health care,” he said. “It’s communism, socialism anyway.”

Yelverton hopes Trump trashes the whole thing, and he’s not too fond of the GOP plan being discussed in Congress either. “They’re doing a lesser evil of Obamacare,” he said.

His insurance?

“I’m on my parents’ plan,” he said.

So, Yelverton, it turns out, benefits from Obamacare. That’s because the law allows parents to keep kids on their insurance until age 26 — a widely-popular element of Barack Obama’s signature health law that Republicans intend to keep in their replacement plan.

Confronted with that information, he pauses for a moment.

“I haven’t been to the doctor in four or five years,” he said.

Smart kid.

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