The Nuremberg Defense

    It was summer of 1972 and G. Gordon Liddy along with his plumbers had just broken into the Watergate with the help of some disgruntled Democrats, but gotten caught. Meanwhile, the DNC in a futile attempt at unity had forced the Eagleton choice on McGovern only to see it blow up in his face with stories of psychiatry and electroshock.

    Leftbehinds

    Our techno selves are gaining ground, but despite the Kurzweil singularity and all the promises of our cyberfuture, I'm more interested in stuff.

    A few groups reviewed Lennon's Imagine, with the usual questions of whether it's the drippiest sappiest song ever written, or something of noble spirit with timeless scope.

    But me, I'm looking at these pieces I find strewn about and wonder who's going to take care of them, archive them, re-imagine them in other forms and colors and textures and mashups. An old postcard, a record, a nice rock, a ticket from a concert, an unfinished sketch...

    Our humanity will be determined by what we cling onto. No one will save us from the responsibilities of our own space, no one will clean out that room - that bit's ours, to love, honor and cherish, or simply dispose of through neglect. It's us.

    We keep getting stuck in what other people define for us. How about we just think about what we want to think about, develop what we want to develop. At the end of time, it might just be us, a tent, a campfire, and a tin of beans. Who ever needed more?

    Poof. Like Quinn in space - that's all it ever was, just a promise. And we know about promises.

    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.

    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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    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.

    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. 

    Abortion: Unifying Issue

    There are some who focus on class and economic issues, others who look at social fairness and identity politics. Abortion rights are critical to both.

    A UCSF study notes "Women who attempted to get abortions but were denied are three times as likely to fall into poverty than those whose efforts were not blocked," adding " one of the main reasons women sought abortions in the first place was monetary: 45 percent were on some form of public assistance and two-thirds had incomes below the federal poverty line".

    So cutting access to abortion is an attack on the poorest classes,and a direct cause of increased poverty, "statistically more likely to wind up unemployed, on public assistance, and below the poverty line" as well as more likely to stay in an abusive relationships.

    Views on abortion have become a litmus test for the Supreme Court, 31 abortion clinics closed in 2016, as have 75% of clinics open in 1990, especially accelerating since the 2009 assassination of George TIller and the GOP's full-court press 3 years later.

    War by Other Means: Citizens United v. Hillary

    When the Supreme Court ruled for Citizens United in early 2010, it was largely seen as opening the floodgates for untracked money, including corporate gifts, into presidential races.

    The ruling was especially significant for Hillary Clinton, as the challenge to the FEC was over small non-profits being able to pool whatever money to create DIY attack ads on... (drum-roll please)... HILLARY!!!

    Of course the FEC still maintained some control over the process, as PAC money can't be directly coordinated with the candidate - an arm's length relationship must be maintained.

    HA HA HAAAAAHHHH HHEEEE HEEE GIGGLE KERPLAT SNICKER GUFFAW WHEEEE HAWWW WE BE HAVING SUM FUN NOW!!!!!! PANT PANT PANT....

    Sorry, I'm back. Yes, that's what the law claims.

    Now check out the "arms length" relationships for just 1 such PAC, the eponymously named "Make America 1 Again", aka "Defeat Crooked Hillary" or "Keep the Promise I"...

    Interview with the Umpire

    Having put off reading Michael Wolraich's "Unreasonable Men" on the Roosevelt/La Follette saga for almost 3 years, the following exchange sprung from my wish to snapshot my reactions before I forgot, as well as take advantage of having the author in our midst. Being historical but somewhat akin to our times, the book provides the opportunity to look at a more crystallized version of today's issues, institutions and personalities. Rather than trying to keep the cross-hairs on a confusing, ever-moving target, we can evaluate these events more leisurely, with the luxury of hindsight and room to contemplate, without getting mired down in too much "he said, she said", thus avoiding the trap of “having a dog in that fight”. Sometimes our emotional attachment to events seems to be our biggest hindrance to grasping them.

    This "Entrevista" took place over email on Michael's return from Mexico ("don't destroy Dagblog while I'm gone!") largely as a single block of questions focused on the book's events and a couple followups. Many thanks to Michael for playing along and giving us a chance to play hookie from the exhausting current political chaos. A followup installment is expected to dig more into contemporary parallels.

    For readability, my questions and comments are in bold or brackets, Michael's in normal type.

     – Peracles Please

    Unrisible Irrascible Men

    Michael Wolraich's Unreasonable Men is an engaging exercise in political map making, following the fashions of the times with the entrenched interests of every year. The period in this case is the turn to the 20th century up to pre-WWI America, when her social development lagged significantly behind her economic success, but I found myself wishing for similar vignettes in other ages and historical climes. It's not the most weighty of tomes - finished in 1 day - but I'm not alone in not having time for say Carl Sandburg's 6-volume set on Lincoln - Unreasonable Men is more in the spirit of Hamilton, the Musical - a theater piece you can enjoy and put down, though revert to and contemplate with pleasure.

    Maleing it in: Masculine Mystique & the Savior Complex

    Elaine Chao, Washington veteran, noted at Politico's recent "Women Rule" that, 'Men don’t prepare that much, so why do we have to?' and continues "“I prepare so much more than some of my male colleagues,” Chao tells POLITICO editor Carrie Budoff Brown in the latest “Women Rule” podcast interview. “And I know women who are prepared more and we get ridiculed and it's like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She's just preparing so much. She's such an automaton. Can't she just like, wing it?’”"

    The reason, of course, is our millennia-old mythos of men being born for glory and greatness, ready to roll, walk-ons for greater things. We call this "The Natural", like that Robert Redford movie.

    You might think of it as Magic Johnson vs. Larry Byrd - roughly comparable skill & success, but in popular lore largely "the guy with the screaming God-given talent vs the Hoosier who always had to work so hard". 

    Charting Progress: Workers' Pair of Dice

    In discussing Kaep & whether he's being blackballed, I came across some graphs at Business Insider showing the typical NFL player's increase in salary - and the steadily decreasing chance he'll make it there:

     

    And then I thought of the implications for workers in general - what's our expected salary and performance trajectory, how many times will we be "traded", or have bad seasons or not make the cut in spring training and be pushed down to the minors?

    Where would *you* chart? Because we have the technology, the analytics to chart *everyone*, whatever industry. Like in sports, we have a window of productivity, peak performance, and then we often fall off or find a different groove and work from there.

    Projection Some: Russia's Sea Change

    In 2014, with Russia's shipyard lease in Crimea to expire in 2017 and the deal to extend it another 30 years on the rocks with Yanukovich's ouster, Putin brazenly occupied the peninsula militarily, invoking historical precedents and the image of "Greater Russia". But despite Donbas Ukrainians dreams of uniting with Russia, Putin's heart didn't seem to be into the conflict so much as reinvigorating Crimea, and the only significant action since was a brief push towards Mariupol in the presumed attempt to give Russia an easy land route to Crimea. But aside from laughable attempts to get Russian tourists to keep Crimea afloat economically with horrendous lines at the ferry, the Russians started rebuilding their Sevastopol fleet, where most of their global naval power is housed, within weeks of occupation (scroll down for better pics of the whole fleet).

    But perhaps Putin had a change of heart or wisdom about maintaining the bridge or land route to Crimea, as Russia's new $1.4 billion base is meant to open in 2020, not in Sevastopol, but in Novorossiysk heading down the Black Sea's east coast towards Sochi - firmly in undisputed Russia.

    This Black Sea investment might not have seemed the greatest idea what with Russia's relationship with Turkey on the rocks, but suddenly amidst significant surprise, Russia's Turkish relations vastly improved (with Turkey & Russia now arrying out naval maneuvers together in lieu of the short-term gas embargo). Erdogan also took advantage of the "beginning of a beautiful relationship" to crack down on Islamic dissenters at home and take off the gloves as to Kurdish rebels in Syria. [Some think Erdogan is just playing East off West, but it's hard to see what he wants from the West at this point, aside from a foil and scapegoat]. Putin's obvious benefit? Anything in the Black Sea comes out the Bhosporus Straits, i.e. through good ol' ancient Byzantium, aka Istanbul.

    KEEP CALM & CARRY ON, ISIS EDITION (PT 4)

    When I began this as diary as a "series", I pointed to Mosul as a metaphor for Nov 8, 2016, and true to form, the chaos of the ensuing weeks have thrown me off - but constructively so.

    Sadly and ironically, the progress on the "battlefield", Mosul's ancient tightly wound streets booby-trapped for maximum obstruction, has been replaced by the PR & propaganda battle over what really happened March 17, though largely this battle has been lost already - whatever the allies do now, they will be mostly remembered for civilian casualties, despite all the extraordinary painstaking effort they've taken to avoid them.

    And that should give Democrats great pause as well - the seeming victories over Trump & the Republicans the last few weeks can be ephemeral and imagined, with a PR loss pulled from the clutches of victory. As one person noted, giving Flynn immunity to testify can be a huge trap, and that's just 1 possible trip-up point. But I'm more interested in the idea of "cooperation" vs. "collusion" in how we go forward.

    Too Big to Fail: Why Government as a Business Doesn't Work

    Much is being written about Jared Kushner leading another task force to make government run like a business, with the usual caveats about how it's likely to fail. Included are all the usual right and wrong reasons about government not being a business. But the lack of failure is the biggest point.

    American business is successful precisely because so many businesses fail, and are replaced by new trendy companies with just as much chance of failing. Amazon, one of our great recent "success" stories, didn't make a profit for years, and now 20 years later only pulls in profits of maybe 1% of revenues. Uber's much worse, with a 2016 loss of perhaps $3 billion. It's hard to imagine US voters putting up with such poor results. And those are the *good* examples.

    KEEP CALM & CARRY ON, ISIS EDITION (PT 3)

    "Gaslighting" is a meme based on an old movie where you're led to question your own sanity & ability to judge anything.

    In my short previous installment, I noted the fighting in Syria & Iraq taking place in the new mags & tabloids and internet as well. Rather than subsiding with the near elimination of ISIS from Mosul, the conflict exploded onto front pages in the last day not due to what happened, but more due to what may have transpired. As has become rule over the last year or more, your take on the matter will depend on where you fit in the political spectrum and what walled-off garden of social & traditional media you're imbibing.

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