Winter of Progressive Discontent

    Democrats should be disappointed by Republican Greg Gianforte’s win over Rob Quist in the recently-concluded Montana special election. The concept of moral victories in winner-take-all political races is unpersuasive and particularly so in this case. Yes, Quist got a much higher percentage of the vote than Hillary Clinton did in November. But part of that improvement likely came courtesy of Gianforte's assault on a reporter on the eve of the election. Simply put, one cannot discern a Democratic wave on the horizon in the wake of an over 6 point loss to a ruffian in a state with a Democratic governor and senator.

    For progressive activists, Quist's loss is particularly troubling. Quist followed the script that we on the left edge of the Democratic Party have been writing. He held rallies with Bernie Sanders. He supports Medicare-for-all.

    Danny Cardwell's picture

    Voting While Black: Georgia Edition

    FiveThirtyEight published an article by Patrick Ruffini titled Black Voters Aren’t Turning Out For The Post-Obama Democratic Party. In his piece he argued that the lack of black turnout in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District primary could be a politically disastrous sign for Democrats moving forward. His argument is legitimate but a bit shortsighted. Saying any political party would be in trouble if, demographically speaking, their most reliable constituency stayed home isn’t groundbreaking. Ruffini, like many pundits, looked at the data following the 2016 election and decided that black voter disenchantment with the Barack “Obamaless” Democratic party was the cause for the decline. Why?

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    Man Made of Clay

    Yesterday was the 1-year anniversary of Ali's passing, and I happened to catch an old 1970 documentary on him a week ago, a.k.a. Cassius Clay. Not only did it bring home how little I knew or remembered of him, it brought home how modern he was - how he would have been perfect in our times, not just the convoluted 60's.

    Ali was articulate. That's usually a pseudo-insult when ascribed to black men, but when juxtaposing a young poor nearly illiterate southern black kid turned boxer vs. a New Yorker raised in riches and supposedly Wharton-educated, it's amazing to see the deftness with which Clay-then-Ali could run circles around his opponents and the press outside the ring as inside. He'd shout, he'd sing, he'd rhyme, he'd talk, God would he talk, making up stuff on the spot, or spouting stuff in tandem with his buddies in his entourage, and he'd get in your head till you couldn't get him out.

    He had that psychological thing worked out. He could have easily outplayed that cast of 16 loser Republicans on the stage last year, messing with them, out-bragging them, laying out in plain detail why he's the champ and they're all chumps, but without Trump's weird hand signals and slow repetition and unbelievable braggadocio.

    Bill Maher's much worse than Kathy Griffin

    White Bill Maher used the n-word on a live HBO Show Friday night in what smacks of a ugly effort to bond with Republican Senator Ben Sasse  of Nebraska. Because Maher’s proffered apology came after a day of dithering, it reeks of insincerity. At this point, I'm vacillating between calling for his head for expressing an overtly racist sentiment in the worst possible way and thinking a long suspension might be sufficient.

    Last week CNN fired Kathy Griffin for staging a photograph showing her holding Trump’s bloody severed head. Given that Griffin’s primary CNN gig is co-host with Anderson Cooper of the apolitical New Year’s Eve Live, her dismissal for being crude, gruesome, and offensive to much of the nation is understandable. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that the arty, albeit gory, photograph has real value. Griffin was depicting a fantasy that millions share - a brutal end to America’s destructive bully-in-chief.

    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (per AA anonymous)

    All this jobs jobs jobs talk is starting to get to me when I am constantly reading about extremely low unemployment all around the country. including in red states like Wyoming. What happened is that someone learned to play a wicked poker with the Electoral College by targeting some pockets of long-time resentment about jobs lost 20 years ago or more, places that have not adjusted to reality and refuse to move anywhere but want obsolete jobs to come to them and want to stay in their hood and never change. Likewise we are told we need to cater to the needs of poor segregated minority communities, they don't want to move and mix, want to keep their culcha, but want jobs and services to come to them without paying a lot of taxes. Meanwhile immigrants are willing to come across the world to work and live here. Absurdity after absurdity.

    I know, don't need to say it, it's about well-paying jobs that restore the middle class. But that's not going to happen without education anymore. Not anywhere in the world. (If it ever really did. I grew up in a poor white hood in the late 50's and early 60's where uneducated dad's were always being "laid off" of "third shift" at the factory, so they could never afford to get out of slummy rentals, they kept having kids nonetheless.)

    Bad Boys/Bad Boys (watcha gonna do...)

    All good fun when Trump or Nugent talk about their "2nd Amendment rights" or bombing Planned Parenthood clinics or "bleeding out of wherever", but make poor Barron have a bad dream and our 1st Amendment rights go out the window - as Kathy Griffin's finding out.

    (as if he hasn't watched Chuckie & other horror movies and not that anyone cared about say Chelsea Clinton's feelings when attacking her father. As if they cared about Seth Rich's family when they made up a fake murder scandal...)

    Fuck them, and fuck all the news outlets that condemned her and censored the photo but refused to take on Trump and the GOP too hard for all their outlandish, violence inciting asshatery where real people got attacked, like that black guy who got punched at a Trump rally, or the reporter who got decked by a Montana Republican candidate. Whiny little bastards can dish it out but squeal about their kids when they get hit back. Sad!, right Donald? And besides, it was just locker room talk, amirite Kathy?

    (And someone's writing Melania's Tweets for her, so don't get me started on her questioning Griffin's psychological health - at least she got rid of the psychopath in her bed, and now we have to sleep with him)

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    Metamodern Journalism - much to disagree, but... but...

    Running across Seth Abramson's year-old paean to Bernie and metajournalism, I pulled out this gem:

    "In simpler terms, when Bernie Sanders tells Hillary Clinton that universal healthcare, universal higher education, and a living minimum wage are human rights, she may not realize it but that’s the end of the consequential part of the conversation." - I'm not sure Seth is right for the reasons he thinks he is, but it's a salient point - at that moment, Bernie (or frequently Trump), owned the playing field. Much like Trump with many of his absurd contentions. It's not about being completely right - it's about owning the field, the terms.

    I'm reminded of the "would you sleep with me for a million bucks?" "Like duh." "How about $20?" "what do you think I am?" "We already established what you are, now we're just haggling over the price".

    The description of the combined meta-narratives fits in the "Heads I win, Tails you lose" category. Everything makes them look either smart or in control.

    I firmly believe Hillary had a much more detailed, nuanced grasp of policy and liberal ideas - but how to nail those points to the board, have them the game-changers, the new starting point, the "I own you, now we just discuss how bad I own you"? This isn't about Hillary - it's about our next dynamic, "How We Win... from the Very Beginning".

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    Ramona's picture

    Our First Un-American President

    When Donald Trump rode down that golden escalator in June, 2015 and announced he would run for President of the United States, the guffaws could be heard round the world. What a colossal doofus!  A shady real estate mogul, a beauty pageant owner, a dubious celebrity famous for firing people, saw himself as the perfect person to fill the highest job in the land. Clearly the run would be short-lived and hilariously inept.

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    Richard Day's picture

    DENIAL

    I had this great Memorial Day Weekend.

    My son and I watched the Twins game; and we won!

    Somehow when your team comes from behind and wins and is Numero Uno in the standings.

    On Being a Dick - the Artist's Way

    They told me if I voted for Hillary, there'd be corruption, war and economic collapse. They were right - I voted for Hillary, and sure enough, that's where we're headed.

    It was bound to happen - just as the 2008 election led to immediate disappointment in any supposed draining of the swamp, the successive policies were oddly similar to the candidates' who'd been rejected. Jon Stewart noted the candidate's "she's likeable enough" comment "he sounds like a dickish boyfriend".

    This time of course it's more intentionally galling - the stalking on stage & "nasty woman" in the debates and "Parkinson's Disease" & "lock her up" outside were just foreshadowing. In every way that's possible (and not even as hyperbole), the new president is both making a mockery of his own promises and doing exactly what he attacked his opponent for doing - $100 million in Saudi money for his daughter's still-not-formed non-profit is just the latest.

    Let's try that again - on the same day that Jared picked up the phone to "bargain down" a $110 billion jet sale, the Saudis "donated" $100 million to Ivanka's "non-profit" "women's fund". Where's the MSM screaming of quid-pro-quo? Crickets.

    Post-Millennial Bug: NeoJournalism & the New Collusion

    [Recycled Rant to Art Appraiser & Michael Wolraich]

    This new social fact-challenged journalism is not a dissertation, is not your father's evening gazette, is not a bunch of freshman working at the college paper or cub reporter learning the ropes. It's war & politics by other means. It's eat or be eaten, except we're always so close to winning we're lulled into thinking we're almost not losing.

    There are elections being stolen, there are good policies being killed and bad ones being created, and just because we've made a slight dent in righting the record doesn't mean we're terribly succeeding or that the system isn't broke or needs a drastic update to function well in 2017.

    There's a meetup of a rigged media factory, politicians in permanent state of collusion, a bigger influx of money than we ever thought possible, then came a new-found acceptance of blatant lies as both palatable and even a positive to rally behind, and now hacking by a foreign government both stealing and spouting out fake "news" on a broad top-to-bottom scale to make it even worse, yet supposedly we just need to stay grownup and write the truth and we'll prevail. Not even much done on the psychological Kahnemann/NLP/other alternative ways of understanding how we digest (& don't digest) information and are easily deceived.

    tmccarthy0's picture

    How Do We Defeat the Spectacle?

    Let's face it America, we love a good or a bad spectacle, amirite? It is the only thing that can explain how we ended up with Trump. 

    The Society of the Spectacle is my go to work for figuring out the Trump era. Our backward tumble towards intellectual darkness is happening at lightening speed, and it is a little bit scary.  But the Spectacle itself is a shining beacon to individuals craving a modicum of agency over their own lives. 

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    How This White House Lies

    Donald Trump is both one of the most gifted liars in American politics, a genius of dishonesty, and at the same time hopelessly bad at lying. His lawless firing of FBI Director Comey shows the ineptitude. Trump led with a story so weak that no one could pretend to believe it and then, within forty-eight hours had abandoned that story for one that was actually more incriminating. A White House that keeps changing its story is in crisis. A White House that changes it story to something more damaging is out of its mind.

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    Orion's picture

    Radical Second Things: This is the Chance for Americans to Rebuild and Take Control

    The United States is in crisis mode and feels like it has since roughly 2014. There were abnormal and bizarre mass shootings like the Aurora shooting in 2012 that seemed to be hinting at something weird but life still seemed normal. When the Obama administration's militarization of the police collided with racial tensions in Feguson, Missouri, however, the U.S. got crazier than I've ever seen.

    Ramona's picture

    Oh, That Trump! What a Guy! Huh?

    So now I'm tussling with what some laughingly call "chemo brain", but even I can see that Donald J. Trump has brought himself around to some heavy shit.  It's as if the whole world is watching, horrified, and all Trump is willing to acknowledge is he's the supreme-top-dog-celebrity-du-jour holding the golden Get Out Of Jail Free card.  Tralalala and fiddle-de-dee. (I'm the President! Can you believe it?)

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    Danny Cardwell's picture

    Yes, Confederate Statues Are Racist Symbols

    Photo Courtesy of Allison Wrabel

    If you live in the Commonwealth of Virginia and were able to enjoy Mother's Day without having to engage in a serious dialog about the white supremacists, Alt-Right Fascists, Neo-Nazis, and the Klan carrying torches in Charlottesville then you were the beneficiary of a gift many people of color didn't receive. The torch lighting ceremony happened the same day the president, who emboldened many them, gave the commencement address at Liberty University- less than 100 miles away. People think I'm talking about a historical period when I tell them I live in the heart of the Confederacy, but since the murder of the AME Emmanuel 9, and the subsequent removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house, there's been a pronounced increase in Confederate flag regalia and white aggression. This weekend in Virginia was indicative of the advantageous societal predisposition white skin affords. Some people miss the point in discussions about privilege because they think there's a big tangible purchase they haven't received, but too often they ignore, or take for granted, the daily subtleties afforded to them.

    Shot across the bow: NY District gets its Russian ruling

    Amidst all the speculation and soft (fake?) news blowing about this week, 1 piece popped out on Friday that you can put a stick in - the Acting US Attorney for Manhattan (Joon Kim) announced a plea bargain for Prevezon and other Russian fronts - especially focused on real estate companies - for laundering money through New York.

    The amount of money in the settlement was trivial - only $5 million, based on New York's part in the $230 million laundering scheme. But it signifies the Attorney's Office's willingness to go after bigger fish even if the Manhattan take was relatively small.

    If you've heard of Prevezon, it's likely due to the stir over the Steele Dossier and involvement of Fusion GPS in both digging out info on the holding company and the involvement of Denis Katsyv, son of the Russian Transport Minister and lobbyist against the Global Magnitsky Act, designed for international ethics enforcement [note - that unregistered lobbying is just one area where US laws may have been broken].

    Fashionistas in our time: an anti-review

    In B School, there's a classic tale of unbalanced industry influence in Vlasic Pickles v Wal-Mart only a decade ago, where Wal-Mart got Vlasic to offer a gallon of pickles at bargain basement prices, and then wouldn't let them stop til bankrupt - a variant of Sinbad's Old Man of the Sea.

    A similar case of riding it to the bottom is portrayed in Andrew Morgan's The True Cost, an expose on the effects of "Fast Fashion", when a Bangladeshi sweatshop manager notes the pressure to lower his cost per shirt from ridiculous to subridiculous, all to allow the US shop to sell a shirt for $3.

    One of the claims of international trade is that the low pay of workers will eventually rise to pull people out of poverty, that a rising tide lifts all boats. This is true in the case of China, which has seen wages rise hugely over the last 3 decades. But it's arguably a fantasy or missing context in the case of the Bengal shop where a female seamstress starts at $10 per month and even after years is forced to send her daughter to live with her mother, seeing her twice a year, in order to afford the cost of living, all the fees from child care to school to food. It's a fantasy in the Cambodian factory where workers asking for $160 a month are locked in a room and beaten. 

    librewolf's picture

    Can We Arrest the Congress for Robbery and Attempted Murder?

    open gravesMy life is on the line as are the lives of millions of others. My continued existence depends upon access to an expensive mix of medications and medical care for I live with a double-lung transplant. My yearly out-of pocket expenses are already over $20,000 a year. With the "improvements" proffered by Trump and the Republicans, that amount will at least quintuple - just for the insurance, and forget about deductibles and co-pays. Without a medical "lifeline" I will die. I suspect that most of us will have someone we know or love who will lose their lives.

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