Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Ask the Blue States about Terrorism

    Here are a few pictures from Copley Square in Boston, where the Boston Marathon ends:

     

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    About Julius Caesar

    So those literary geniuses, Fox News and Donald Trump, Jr., have decided to attack a "New York play" that they allege stages the assassination of Donald Trump. It is, of course, Shakespeare in the Park's production of Julius Caesar. And of course, Fox and Trump's loyal followers don't need to actually see the play to raise an enormous outcry, because denouncing people is too much fun for fact-checking.

    Ramona's picture

    How the G-Man Worked to Bring Down POTUS

    After former FBI director James Comey's testimony on Thursday, there were questions about why he waited so long to go public with all he knew.  He'd had two one-on-one meetings with Trump, along with several Trump-initiated phone calls, all deemed inappropriate, at the very least, by anyone who knows anything about how our system is supposed to work.

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    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.

    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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    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.

    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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    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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    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. 

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Moral Necessity of the Civil War

    So, Donald Trump said some stupid and ignorant things about the Civil War. Not much of that is worth discussing: the man says stupid and ignorant things because, well, he's stupid and ignorant, so there isn't much to analyze. The one part we should stop to think about is Trump's conviction that the Civil War should have been avoided. That's not an idea that he came up with on his own. He doesn't come up with ideas on his own. He picks them up from outside. This idea has been around a long time.

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    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.

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