The 15%, pack mentality & unrolling stupidity

    Smoking still accounts for a half million deaths a year  in the US, 1 of every 5 deaths.1 out of every 650 Americans dies from cigarettes yearly.

    This isn't news. MAD Magazine used to run iron lung parodies in the 60's. We know smoking kills, a lot faster than global warming.

    Driving has 1/15th the number of fatalities, and we make Google self-driving cars take precautions.

    15% of adults - 36.5 million Americans - smoke. More than 16 million have a smoking-related disease - slow suicide.

    You might think it's looking better, only 15% compared to 21% 12 years ago - but that's still an awful lot of stupid. *MORE* people smoke in the 25-44 range than over 65.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Identity Politics is Actually Important

    Since the election numerous critics of the left, some from the left and some not, have identified "identity politics" as a culprit in Democratic political failure and the election of Donald Trump.  Identity politics is a great term for this because it, ironically, covers up more than it reveals.

    Best I can tell, identity politics just means that religious, ethnic and sexual minorities, largely through the Democratic party or left of center political movements, make the case for equal and dignified treatment in society.  This should not be controversial, but it apparently is.

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    Play Ball (Better Luck Next Year)

    1) Focus on things that make a difference - ignore the chatter and buzz, the click-bait and easy gotchas - they just chip away at time. Baseball announcers have to fill a lot of dead air, so can talk about anything from root canals and outboard motors and somehow connect it to the game. My mother called it "diarrhea of the mouth", but in baseball circles they call it "a good living" or "Harry Carey", depending.

    2) Time is money, money is time, and we don't have enough of either. Stop the class warfare over money - money largely wins elections and ball games. Everyone says the players are overpaid, but they still buy tickets and fill the stadium. Care about values, cultivate rich ethical friends, fast track the road to wins.

    (Jesus corollary: as the poor will be with us always, so will the rich and glamorous and obnoxious. Deal with it).

    3) Watch Moneyball, take away key points: a) adapt or die, b) you're not out to replace a player - you're out to buy scores and wins, c) the competition will copy your successful techniques if allowed, d) don't trust the polls - do your own analytics.

    PS - argue about candidate values and flaws and street-cred *after* you win the pennant - until then, make lemonade: get up earlier, hustle after grounders, and don't confuse being a player with being a commentator.

    Did we give up? (when the Germans attacked Pearl Harbor)

    An old yogi asked me once, "is the purpose of suffering to suffer?", presumably to mean it's to learn, as a way to avoid suffering. He continued, "the baby poops its diaper - do you put a flower in it? No, of course you don't put a flower in it - you clean the diaper".

    Yes, to stay on this road is to kill ourselves, spiritually, psychically, maybe if lucky even physically. Gurdjieff talked about a man enthralled with this most beautiful fruit he'd discovered, so much he couldn't put it down, even though the red peppers were killing him. Yes, we as a party and a people do love to hear ourselves talk.

    28 years ago, the Berlin wall came down, freeing millions behind the Iron Curtain soon followed by apartheid crumbling in South Africa and then the Soviet Union itself. The US responded as it usually does, put on its suit, grabbed its briefcase, went out to try to sell these people something - computers, fertilizer, cars, deodorant, stuff. Plenty of stuff.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Donald J. Trump: Beyond the Thunderdome

    I guess I missed it, somehow... the ruination of America, the collapse of society, the onset of post-history.  I thought Donald Trump didn't read much and was not a reflective man, but he does seem have to a taste for Cormac McCarthy:

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    Danny Cardwell's picture

    No Negotiations Without Preconditions

    No Black person with a prominent platform should meet with Donald Trump or representatives from the Trump administration without preconditions. The United States government has a long-standing policy of setting preconditions for negotiating with hostile state actors. This is a policy Black America should employ as we move into the age of Trumpism. The duplicitous nature of Donald Trump’s rhetoric has damaged any credibility his words have. If he’s serious about his outreach efforts (something I doubt) his next move needs to be his best move. The CDC and Pfizer couldn’t make a panacea capable of eradicating his past racial transgressions, or the racially insensitive attacks on Barack Obama, but taking some bold steps in the right direction would be a good start to open the space for future negotiations.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Barack Obama, American Stoic

    If the Founding Fathers had a chance to meet Barack Obama, they would of course be shocked. Even the most enlightened of them were not prepared to imagine an African-American President. And what they would think about his policies is anyone's guess: the Founders' political philosophies were shaped by their political environments, and they wouldn't fit easily into today's debates.

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    Fuck Da Noize

    Yesterday a female CEO/glorified saleswoman "broke LinkedIn"** with a potty-mouth post to blatantly flog her not-so-in-demand and rather niche/regional product. Predictably it got a lot of reads, attention, comments, and a predictable followup post - basically, "so I said fuck, get over it".

    LinkedIn will undoubtedly not "get over it", but *will* absorb the change and suffer another hit to its already waning fortunes as professional-network-turned-Facebook, anticipating the day where it becomes MySpace (read: past tense).

    But the noise is instructive. She did what many insurrectionists will do - drive the bus straight into the wall and laugh about it. The famed article "The Tragedy of the Commons" was based more on shared markets being damaged by neglect, less cared for than private spaces - Adam Smith's non-benign one-handed twin.

    Here the noise is not just the uproar - it's also the cognitive dissonance - the "you can't do that" feeling that destroys our confidence and basic precepts, violates our now (epi-?)genetically encoded values system - taking the last cookie without asking, crossing the street on red, etc., etc.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Actual Reason Markets Do Not Work In Healthcare is... Pain!

    Today, David Brooks asks whether or not markets function well in the American health care system and he seems to think that, when it doesn't, it's largely because health care providers know so much more about health and wellbeing than health care consumers:

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    Was Comey Blackmailed?

    The most obvious question, yet no one's asking it.

    It's not like he didn't know the rules. And it was a complete nothing-burger.

    Did Putin get to Jimmy? Enquiring minds want to know.

    Discuss.

    Danny Cardwell's picture

    The Commerce Clause And Rising Oil Prices

    Article I - The Legislative Branch
    Section 8

    Clause 3:

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    “The authority to regulate commerce includes the right to control nearly all areas of the national economy.”

    Chief Justice John Marshall 1824

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your Public Domain Update for 2017

    Happy New Year all! As every year, I'm writing a blog post for Public Domain Day, listing all of the old books, movies, pieces of music, and works of art that are leaving copyright to join the public domain today. And, as every year in the United States, that list contains nothing at all. Public Domain Day is for people in other countries.

    Money in Politics

    In 1994, Richard Mellon Scaife, a billionaire heir to the Pittsburgh Mellon fortune, embarked on a new $2.4 million effort to hobble the new liberal president called "The Arkansas Project" with fake news, eventually funding the Paula Jones' lawsuit as well that led to Clinton's impeachment, along with a couple "exposé" books on him.

    Scaife did not just embark on his endeavour unwittingly - his ex-OSS (pre-CIA) father had bought a news outlet to disseminate anti-Communist and pro-conservative propaganda worldwide, but had to shut it down once made public.

    Scaife's giving of $620 million by 1999 - worth billions in today's dollars - had from the 70's already created The Heritage Foundation and helped sustain such right-wing mainstays as the Hoover Institute, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), later on NewsMax, FreedomWorks and ALEC. The term "Think Tank" does little credit to the destructively active role these orgs have played in American political life, and Scaife's focused conservative "philanthropy" was unusual for its time, helping to launch the Gingrich "revolution" in 1994 and propped up the new neocon movement post-2000.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Mr. Trump, You're No Teddy Roosevelt

    “I think Donald Trump sees himself larger than life,” said former House Speaker John Boehner recently. “He kind of reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt, another guy who saw himself larger than life.”

    As a Roosevelt scholar, I beg to differ. Theodore Roosevelt did not see himself as larger than life; he was larger than life. We don’t celebrate him because of his ego; we celebrate him because he was a hero who embodied and championed the virtues that we Americans admire: honesty, courage, compassion, and resolve.

    Read the full story at The Daily Beast

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    The Unchangeable Hopelessness of Being

    [To Terry]. Eight years ago midnight New Year's Eve, I watched fireworks flying across the remote mountains with a queasiness in my belly as the world's economies melted down and Obama prepared to assume the presidency, and I meditated and prayed for his success as only an atheist can do, feeling that if the elements could pull together in some kind of Shakespearean concoction, we'd find a way out of this madness.

    It's been a maddening 8 years with occasional somewhat neutered success. The bailout that extended the tax breaks "stimulus" madness, retaining trader bonuses, forked stimulus cash straight to banks that never got used, diverged into largely unpunished mortgage theft after the dust had settled, and as a side-show had Washington bean counters combing over Detroit business trying to understand cars only in terms of cashflow, investors (gotta give the previous owners 100 cents on the dollar), and retirement plans. The health care that'd been derived from Hillary's campaign turned into an industry-friendly mixed cocktail, only after 2 years of favors and invites to all the objectors that never quite showed up in the end. That Nebraskan Senator who helped shove the no-abortion-benefits into the package and then got voted out of office anyway - all those Blue Dogs are gone now, but Obama still played the deficit scold compromise game with the Republicans that they largely won, tying hands for greater social programs. Rahm made it clear that unions no longer had a sure place at the table.

    A Visit from St. Vlad

    'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the site
    Not a blogger was stirring, no postings in sight.
    The comments were lined by the masthead with care
    With hopes for some non-Trump discussion as fare
    While readers rolled restlessly slumped in their beds
    Damning hangover headaches that chastened their heads.
    My alias and I had just poured a nightcap,
    thinking we'd hack out some politically motivated crap.
    When out in the blogosphere there arose such a natter,
    A tweetstorm with fake news that filled it with chatter.
    Off to my Facebook I flew in a rage
    To offer my musings on each open page.

    Ramona's picture

    In the Battle for America the Internet is our War Room


    It's been a while, I know, but I'm back in the saddle, ready to do my thing, hoping I can do it without an overabundance of whining or spitting at people. (Not that that's what I've been doing.) But first I need to say this up front and out loud:

    I despise everything Donald Trump says and does and what he stands for (whatever that might be at any given moment), and I'll never accept that he is anything close to what a half-way decent president of the United States ought to be.

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    Bring on the Lepers

    I stopped by an exhibit in the station this eve, a nice large format profile of dozens of homeless and the sheltered, their stories - the guy who finds out he's adopted when he finally gets his various documents on leaving high school, the woman who manages to free herself from an abusive husband only to lose her leg to disease and get thrown out of guest work in England, another who can't manage to stay off the juice, one's a mechanic who works hard but always finds himself on the wrong end of some scam or people who don't pay the bills. They describe their day, how they survive and pass the time. I see similar folks in front of the station, handing out their magazines trying to earn a few coins of respectable money in return for their soup and sandwich. Some have started giving tours to tourists and locals, showing the city from the homeless point of view, even though one's a struggling male prostitute with AIDS, others have different impediments that make it unusual for them to mingle and present their world.

    "There are a million stories in the naked city - this has been a few of them". A few that cut through.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Rage and Outrage Economy

    The Daily Beast asked me to write about the relationship between Carl Icahn and Donald Trump.  I responded with a piece about how Icahn's decades of shareholder activism are the foundation for Trump's corporation-focused Twitter rants.

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    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Man positive oncoming train won't really hit him

    When Norm Rixon woke up this morning, he expected it to be like any other morning with some coffee, news and time with Shifty, his dog. Instead, he awoke tied to train tracks in a dusty location outside Joshua Tree, Calif.

    "I did not expect that," said Rixon, 32.

    Despite his predicament, Rixon said he felt confident things would work out for him.

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