Subscribe via RSS Feed

Your Afternoon Althouse

[ 46 ] November 23, 2015 |

Via Alicublog: Maybe Donald Trump watched the yoooge 9/11 celebrations in New Jersey through a yoooge telescope in his yoooge penthouse, says law professor who makes other law professors mutter “I’m not with her,” Ann Althouse. You don’t know.

Where was Trump on 9/11? In some high-floor penthouse in Manhattan? I presume he has telescopes to gaze out upon the glorious long views. I would guess that he did have sight lines that extended to the rooftops of Jersey City. Maybe he did personally watch celebrations.

I await clarification. It will be something if he says: I have the telescopic power to monitor Jersey City rooftop parties from my penthouse.

It would indeed be something, as this was after Trump said he watched the celebrations no one else remembers on TV.


Fair and balanced

[ 13 ] November 23, 2015 |


Earlier today I wondered how the media are going to handle the tricky situation created by the fact that the front-runner for the GOP nomination is both a racist demagogue and a pathological liar. How many “journalists” will surrender to the professional bad habit of framing brazen no-two-ways-about-it lies as “controversial” statements, about which there can be a variety of legitimate opinions?

Consider this nugget from Cory Bennett of the Weekly World News Hill:

However, the percentages do, in some ways, align with Department of Justice (DOJ) findings from several years ago. A DOJ study released in 2011 reported that 93 percent of black homicides were committed by other blacks between 1980 and 2008.

In 2014, that figure was roughly 90 percent in 2014, according to the latest DOJ numbers.

The category tweeted out by Trump that doesn’t fit with DOJ statistics is “Whites Killed by Whites,” which Trump’s tweet indicated was 16 percent.

According to the department’s 2011 report, 84 percent of white homicides were committed by whites between 1980 and 2008. That number was 82 percent in 2014.

Contrary to Bennett, the category of interest here is “whites killed by blacks,” which Trump’s tweet claimed made up 81% of all murders of whites (the true percentage is a sixth of that).

Trump’s claims are true “in some ways,” in the trivial sense that they contain assertions that nobody has ever questioned, along with the crazy lies that should be the exclusive subject of journalistic commentary, because it’s the crazy lies that are newsworthy.

In other words, claiming that Trump’s racist lies regarding this subject “in some ways” reflect the actual facts is no different than saying that the claims of Holocaust deniers “in some ways” reflect reality, because after all, as deniers argue, a lot of Jews did die as a result of harsh conditions in labor camps, as opposed to being directly murdered. It’s just that the other stuff about how millions weren’t gassed and shot in an extermination campaign happens to be false.

Mayor of Roanoke not racist, says Mayor of Roanoke

[ 43 ] November 23, 2015 |

Honest n’ truly.

 “It’s just not in my heart to be racist or bigoted.”

But there’s plenty of space in his head.

I anticipated that the statement might receive some coverage in the Roanoke Valley, but I did not in any way anticipate that it would trend internationally over the Internet.

Who knew saying the quiet part out loud would echo so much?

My statement was intended to be respectful — was intended to be respectful — measured and moderate in tone and substance.

Maybe respectful and measured and moderate don’t pair well with demonizing innocent people, invoking with approval a shameful event in American history and lying about that event to make it seem less shameful? Just a thought.

I was thinking of the families of the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the threats to our nation’s capital city when I made that statement yesterday.

I’ll take thumb-fingered appeals to emotion for $500, please!

I did not intend to offend anyone,” he continued, “but I did want to express my concerns about the current situation involving the safety of the American people.

And by anyone, I mean anyone who is more interested in soiling his trews over skaree furinners than sober fact. (And make that $1,000 on the appeal to ur feels!)

Residents of Roanoke and members of the city council called for Mayor Bower’s resignation after his remarks about the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. He has said he won’t resign but will not run again in 2016.



This Doesn’t Change the Fact That Vince Foster was Killed to Cover Up Whitewater

[ 23 ] November 23, 2015 |


Inside the Clinton faux-scandal factory:

On Wednesday evening, a link appeared in red on the Drudge Report: “NOT FUNNY: Hillary Goes After Comedians for Making Fun of Her …” It led to a story put out by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that has played a key role in the perpetuation of the Benghazi investigation. The piece said that a staffer from Hillary Clinton’s campaign threatened Jamie Masada, founder of the Laugh Factory chain of comedy clubs, over a video compilation of Hillary jokes on the Laugh Factory website. “Besides demanding that the video be taken down, the Clinton campaign has demanded the personal contact information of the performers that appear in the recording,” Judicial Watch said. In short order, right-leaning sites including NewsBusters, NewsMax, Mediaite, the Daily Caller, and the Daily Mail aggregated the accusation.


So I called him. Masada told me that on Nov. 11, he got a call from a man named John—he doesn’t remember the last name—who sounded “distinguished, like an attorney.” John said he represented the Clinton campaign. He asked Masada “who had put him up” to posting the video. In a menacing voice, he told Masada, “This is not good for your business.” John then asked for the email or phone numbers of the five comedians who were featured in the video. “I told him, ‘Eff you,’ and I hung up,” says Masada.

How does Masada know that John was actually from the Clinton camp? He doesn’t. “I’m glad I’m not in politics or any of that stuff; you might know more than I do,” he says. “Maybe it was a prank, I have no idea. Was it real? Not real? I have no idea. He didn’t call back, that’s all I can say.” Nor is Masada sure how Judicial Watch even heard about the call. “The way I understand it, it’s because one of the [Laugh Factory] employees told a couple of people,” he says.


What we have here is a small-scale demonstration of how the Hillary smear sausage gets made. It starts with a claim that’s ambiguous at best, fabricated at worst, and then interpreted in the most invidious possible light. The claim is reported in one outlet and amplified on Twitter. Other outlets then report on the report, repeating the claim over and over again. Talk radio picks it up. Maybe Fox News follows. Eventually the story achieves a sort of ubiquity in the right-wing media ecosystem, which makes it seem like it’s been confirmed. Soon it becomes received truth among conservatives, and sometimes it even crosses into the mainstream media. If you watched the way the Clintons were covered in the 1990s, you know the basics of this process. If you didn’t, you’re going to spend the next year—and maybe the next nine years—learning all about it.

Of course, Doug Henwood finds this story fascinating and would like to subscribe to its newsletter. I wonder if it will be reported as fact in his forthcoming book or it will have to wait for the second edition.

Talking Jessica Jones with Graphic Policy Radio

[ 80 ] November 23, 2015 |

As part of my ongoing mission to talk about the politics of the Marvel Universe whenever possible, I did a guest appearance on Graphic Policy‘s podcast (a fine production which you should all be following) to talk about Netflix’s new Jessica Jones show. For those of you who haven’t binged on the entire thing, don’t worry, each episode only covers one episode – on this initial outing, we’re discussing the pilot, “AKA Ladies Night.”

America’s Got Fascists: This fall’s hit reality TV show (now also known as “reality”)

[ 86 ] November 23, 2015 |


Scott notes that yesterday Donald Trump appropriated a fake graphic created by a neo-Nazi, who had made up some wildly false crime statistics for the purpose of racist fear-mongering.

It was a busy weekend for Trump. On Saturday at a Birmingham, Alabama, rally some of his supporters beat up a black protester, and Trump suggested the victim was only getting what he deserved. He also had this to say:

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

Yesterday, he doubled down on this claim on ABC’s This Week:

There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George [Stephanopoulos]. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.

In response to this toxic nonsense, Stephanopoulous politely demurred, merely noting that “the police say it didn’t happen.” (The relevant exchange takes place between 6:45 and 7:32 here).

Notice that even the Snopes takedown linked above tries to rationalize Trump’s behavior somewhat, by noting that people often think they remember seeing things that didn’t actually happen. (That’s true, but presidential candidates should probably be held to a higher standard, especially if they’re using their demonstrably false “memories” — if this isn’t just a pure lie from Trump, which is more likely — to incite racial and religious hatred and violence).

The media are in a tough spot here, because both the informal propaganda apparatus and a good part of the base of one of the two major parties has decided that a racist demagogue who lies pathologically about everything ought to be president. This means coverage of this person has to be “balanced,” which in turn means you can’t just point out over and over again that Trump is a racist demagogue who lies pathologically about everything, because that wouldn’t sound very balanced now would it?

. . . see also Dylan Matthews.

Tens of Thousands of People Flood the Streets…

[ 116 ] November 23, 2015 |

Am I the only one who doesn’t think that this question is naive?

With due respect to the Salon staff, why is this question “bonkers?” Every system of social organization, from anarchist to tyrannical, involves measures both punitive and celebratory. The fascist and communist regimes of the twentieth century insisted upon creating space for joyous celebration, and to some extent they surely succeeded. I read Oates as asking the question of whether and how ISIS manages the same thing. The Western discussion of ISIS concentrates on the punitive and puritanical, with some time set aside for ISIS’ delivery of social services and basic governance, but it has very little to say about how ISIS constructs and maintains a positive, forward looking worldview that can animate followers and attract support.

I think Oates is interested in this subject, and it’s surely an important question to ask.  It’s not clear to me why folks can’t see past their own noses on this issue.

Your Morning Maher

[ 109 ] November 23, 2015 |

Berkleyside, Oct. 28, 2014

If only the silly liberals would recognize that these people are different!

“If you are in this religion, you probably do have values that are at odds. This is what liberals don’t want to recognize,” Maher said. “This idea that somehow we do share values that all religions are alike is bullshit.”

I do not share Bill Maher’s values. But if a bunch of tedious sexist libertarian anti-vaccine Brosephs ever need to flee their country, I think the U.S. should grant them refugee status.

In the Eye of a Hurricane, There Is Quiet…

[ 14 ] November 23, 2015 |
The USS Ronald Reagan

USS Ronald Reagan, by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Elizabeth Thompson – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

My latest at the National Interest looks at some potential sparks for World War V:

Since 1756, the modern-state system has experienced four global wars; The Seven Years War, The French Revolutionary Wars, World War I, and World War II. The longest global peace came between 1815 and 1914, and it has now been seventy years since the last world war.

“World War III” would, in effect, be the fifth World War in the history of the modern state system. What might spark such a war, and how would it escalate into a global conflict? Here are five potential scenarios, none likely, but all possible:

Today In Racist Demagoguery

[ 65 ] November 22, 2015 |


The Donald:

Going back to at least Barry Goldwater’s “constitutional” opposition to civil rights and the strident “law and order rhetoric” of the early 1960s, the Republican Party has specialized in racist dog whistles. But Republican front-runner Donald Trump doesn’t do dog whistles. He specializes in train whistles. Consider the tweet he just sent out with bogus statistics on crime. According to the tweet, 81 percent of murdered whites are killed by blacks. In fact, that’s the reverse of the truth. Most people are killed by members of their own race because crime is motivated by proximity and opportunity. As the Huffington Post notes, “According to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics, 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.”

By wildly inflating the likelihood of a murderer of a white person to be black (an exaggeration of nearly sixfold), Trump is catering to the worst sort of racism. Perhaps the icing on the cake of this anti-black outburst is that the source of information cited in the tweet—the “Crime Statistics Bureau” of San Francisco—doesn’t seem to exist. What remains to be seen is if the Republican Party and the other candidates will repudiate this crude and dangerous race-baiting.

I think we can pretty safely conclude that the wished-for repudiation ain’t happening. And, of course, the media is ready with “shape of the world, both sides differ” stories.

And then there’s this:

Donald Trump is not directly inciting violence. But violence is happening at Donald Trump events — with some frequency. It’s alarming that Donald Trump is not saying, repeatedly, that this is wrong and needs to stop. It is even more alarming that after the August hate crime, and after the repeated incidents at Trump events since then, Trump is willing to say that “maybe he deserved to be roughed up.”

A disturbing postscript: if the Trump campaign had had its way, the incident in Birmingham wouldn’t have been witnessed by a journalist at all. It wasn’t easily visible from the “pen” where reporters were being held during the event; the CNN reporter had managed to slip into the crowd. In the past week, the Trump campaign has started tracking down reporters outside the “pen” and forcing them to return there — and after the CNN reporter taped the fight in Birmingham yesterday that’s what happened to her. The campaign’s attempt to keep reporters from witnessing Trump events from the perspective of attendees is worrisome in its own right. It’s especially worrisome when what’s happening in the crowd at those events could involve someone getting roughed up.

Trump is leading in the polls because in all this, he’s not an outlier within his party. It’s the inevitable song that was going to be played on Nixon’s piano. “Mainstream” Republicans are more likely to one-up him than repudiate him.

…The racist fake stat Trump re-tweeted came from an explicit fan of Hitler. The parody novel we’re living in continues to be a little too on-the-nose.

Labor’s Decline and Fall

[ 20 ] November 22, 2015 |


Above: Sewing workers strike, 1937

If you haven’t read Rich Yeselson’s discussion of why organized labor has declined so far from its postwar height, you should do so. It’s a pretty right-on analysis that combines how mechanization and efficiency has undermined unions throughout the developed world with the unique political scene of the United States that has led to a much more fundamentalist hatred of unions among employers than Europe (which the sociologist Kim Voss notes in her comparison between the U.S., Britain, and France extends back to the Knights of Labor era in the U.S.) that has created a political scene in this nation that has always made it harder for unions to succeed. The the South has always had outsized political influence here makes it all the harder.

With the brief exception of the late 1930s followed by the anomalous period of the Second World War when the government needed the active support of unions to maximize military production, labor has never had a juridical and statist presumption that it should institutionally survive, let alone flourish. For much of its history, and to this very day, the courts, business, and conservative media and politicians have sought to diminish labor’s power, if not crush it outright. With the exception of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (which opponents immediately sought to undermine and whose legal fate was unresolved for two years), there has never been a statist framework in the US that explicitly sought to ensure labor’s institutional viability across the branches of the federal government and state governments. And without that statist presumption, unions had to confront what historian Nelson Lichtenstein has labeled a special form of “American exceptionalism”: “the hostility managers have shown toward both the regulatory state and virtually all forms of worker representation.” Lichtenstein goes onto note that the absence in the U.S. of “self regulation or cartelization” found in Europe and parts of Asia. Decentralized “competitive disorder” made non-rationalized wage and benefit increases imposed by firm-by-firm unionization (rather than the sectorial model of collective bargaining found in Europe in which the extra cost burdens of unionization was socialized across economic sectors) a great threat to companies and triggered a particularly vicious, sometimes violent, response. The brief period of labor’s zenith did not diminish the desire of its enemies to undermine it—on the contrary, it was a persistent provocation: a reminder of the power business had lost and wished to regain. Thus when, via the decline in manufacturing and a corresponding loss of political influence, unions weakened in the 1970s, the business class seized that moment and, by the construction of politically and intellectually influential think tanks and a massive increase in their congressional lobbying, counter-mobilized to crush them. It only took a decade or so of labor’s increased vulnerability to prove how wrong Eisenhower’s benign notion was that “only a handful of unreconstructed reactionaries” wished to bust American unions. In fact, the entire business class of the United States, large and small companies alike, wished to bust American unions and when, given a chance to do so, seized it.

The structural reasons for union diminution, i.e., trends in political economies that affected the entire advanced world, are well known, if sometimes distorted and misread under the rubric, “globalization.” Yes, millions of first world jobs in manufacturing and mining have disappeared since the Second World War. Manufacturing and mining jobs peaked in 1953 at about a third of total employment. After a steady decline through the 1973-74 recession, they briefly returned to a 22% figure in 1978, but a steady decline from there accelerated in the 21st century. Today, manufacturing represents fewer than 9% of all jobs (although productivity increases make manufacturing a significantly larger share of GDP). Many of these jobs did go overseas. But many others were just lost to productivity gains. In mining, for example, there are, perhaps 80,000 jobs today compared to over a half million—almost all of which were unionized–in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Coal provided close to 2/3rds of our energy then—making the imperious president of the United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis, one of the most powerful people in the country, Now, coal provides under a third of our energy and, as climate change policy becomes more pressing, it is an industry which, like tobacco, has taken on an anti-social cast.

Very much worth your time.


[ 8 ] November 22, 2015 |


In about twenty minutes I’ll be going on Midrats to talk the procurement process.  Listen in!  Or listen later!

Page 5 of 2,149« First...34567...102030...Last »