More gruel
Link Roundup, 5/23/2017

Link Roundup, 5/23/2017

From Politico (by Geoff Kabaservice): How Watergate helped Republicans.

From The Pulse: Mayor Landrieu’s speech on Confederate monuments.

From The New York Times: The meaning of our Confederate monuments.

From Boston Review: How clean energy is transforming labor markets, leading to healthy joblessness.

From ProPublica: A look at life in one of Jared Kushner’s slum properties.


    1. Speaking from my experience, there are some less than honorably run businesses out there who will try to pad the bill, i.e., add bogus charges and hope you don’t notice. If you push back hard enough they drop it. I can’t say exactly what happened here, but that’s what I was reminded of when reading this. It wouldn’t cost this business much to make these complaints against people who leave early, and if they don’t fight back promptly and in the right way with all the documents, you’ve got them in a hole with a court judgment against them, so the odds they settle get higher. Do this to many people, and all that pillaging can become a nice little cash flow. That poor single mother with 3 children legitimately doesn’t have time to do all the homework on renter’s law, and she’s the perfect target for legalized theft like this.

      I have no problem with the fact that some people are richer than others. But I despise people who already have so much $ that they and multiple generations of descendants will never want for anything, but they keep squeezing more out of people who have almost nothing. Should the torches and pitchforks come out for them, I will have zero sympathy.

  1. This article from The Atlantic on lead poisoning in New Orleans is an amazing read. Mayor Landrieu is mentioned in the latter part and appears to be doing what he can to help. The pathos and utter denial that black people lived with for decades in this city is heart-rending. The attorney who pursued this for over 22 years, Gary Gambel, is a hero, only he wouldn’t agree, because as is so often the case, the plaintiffs, being poor and black, suffered way too much for the paltry compensation they received – if they got anything. An incredible, powerful story.

  2. I was severely disappointed that Quist did not pull it out having contributed to that race. Since I’ve been in Burns, OR and the Malheur NWR for the last week, only getting back to Seattle at 10:30 last night, I’ve had very little time to review any commentary. BTW, Burns and Malheur is where the Bundy occupation occurred in 2016.

    Nevertheless, I’m heartened by Nate Silver’s comment and agree completely with Mary’s comment. One comment I read by a MT Party senior official was that these races are completely winnable, but that the Party must get involved and organized much sooner. One good note is that the Democratic Party’s activity in that race began after Perez became Chair. Also the fact that the Republicans had to spend a lot of money and bring out some big guns to secure the victory shows that they are scarred.

    Regardless, I find it hard to comprehend that the rural areas voted so overwhelmingly for Gianforte, despite the fact that the policies that he supported are so harmful for those areas, particularly in healthcare. I keep thinking that since Obamacare is still in effect, the potential negative impacts of the AHCA have not been felt. Trump did promise “great healthcare” and these people say give him a chance. Plus in the rural areas all the mainstream national media are distrusted and FAUX News is the only media source that is trusted. Of course their coverage is severely biased.

    I keep feeling that the major political divide of our time is rural versus urban. It is similar to the conflicts described in Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”. David Brooks’ column in today’s NY Times, linked below is also interesting:

    He sees the divide as being “Mercantilist America” versus “Talented America”. “Mercantilist America” is a realist contest between America and other Great Powers and is somewhat reactionary; it is somewhat similar to the mental outlook in rural areas. Whereas “Talented America” is welcomes immigration, new ideas and developments; it is somewhat similar to the mental outlook found in the coastal enclaves, including many of the major urban areas. He references an essay by Michael Lind entitled “The New Class War” in American Affairs. That also might be interesting. I’m going to review that. Based on Brooks’ comments and my perception that the major dynamism, innovation and wealth generation is occurring in the urban areas that have embraced the information age, I completely agree.

    I know this rambles some, but I continue to search for some rationale in the recent electoral results.

    1. Makes total sense to me. DNC did the same thing with an excellent Dem candidate in KS, James Townsend, who lost by seven points but came literally from nowhere and had no help except grassroots. Like Chris noted earlier, the DNC probably didn’t even “get” the value of the Saudi “orb” photo op….I’ll hand it to the GOP – when they sense Dems are getting too close, they not only fork out the dough but they also bring on their big names to stump for their candidate. It is obvious to me that we either need a new progressive party because the only action that’s happening is at the grassroots level, and it is all volunteer driven.

      1. Insofar as volunteers go, that’s really how our politics should be going anyways. It says a lot about how much things have declined that we’ve gotten so used to this idea that our politicians should feel so far away from the ordinary lives of people. Citizens should always be actively engaged in their politics (not too much of course, or else we’d all go crazy in no time), do their due diligence in serving for a time and then hand the proverbial baton off to the next person.

        That aside, I dunno ’bout a new progressive party. As far as I’m concerned, our two-party system has long since reached its limit and we’re in for a very tumultuous time as we try to sort through the wreckage.

        Personally though, I find watching Republicans far more interesting than the Democrats right now. As disaffected moderates and honest conservatives leave in droves, all you’re going to have left are the racists, nationalists, and leeches clamoring about “political correctness”, “duh libural media”, and “BUT BENGHAZI AND THE E-MAILS…!!!!” to feast off the true believers like the money grubbing assholes they are.

        Question is where do the ones with a functioning prefrontal cortex go? Conservative commentators like Jennifer Rubin are openly calling for a new political home, but I honestly don’t know where that is. Do some try to forge a conservative coalition within a burgeoning Democratic Party or do they form their own new party, and if so, what does that look like and how long does it take?

      2. Grassroots activism is imperative to the democratic process. We may not always like where that goes (Tea Party? White Nationalists? Religious Right?) but it is fundamental to democracy.

        I’ve been interested in the political process since my high school involvement. I do think political structures are important but I am totally open to a new iteration. Popular vote would go a long way towards negating the need for the “party apparatus”, but as Chris has noted in prior posts, there is something to be said for some type of valid, vetting process. The problem is that the process has been too exclusive and rigid in its requirements of those who it nurtures.

        Indivisible and other grassroots organizations are doing yeoman’s work but those who are leading them are busting their butts trying to organize this roiling mass into a cohesive, effective group. At the very least, the value is that more people have been attracted to the political process and hopefully this will be reflected in better informed, more engaged citizens, and more people seeking office and voting. Because – when it all boils down, one man one vote doesn’t guarantee a wise choice, but it does bring more well-informed people into the process, if allowed to function absent voter suppression and with active voter participation.

        I don’t have a solution but I do care as we all do about what is happening to the institution of democracy in America. All I can do individually is to pay attention, think deeply, engage on issues that are important to me and important to my community and country, and hope at some point rational thought will prevail.

  3. NUMBERS UPDATE: Despite Democrats’ loss in Montana last night, our trusty numbers man, Nate Silver, has pointed out that Dems are performing at a whopping +15 in congressional special elections so far. To put that in context, that’s a whole lot more than either ’06 or ’08.

    If Democrats can head into ’18 with numbers like those, gerrymandering’s blowback effect could take hold and Republicans could stare down the barrel of losing a whole lot more seats than people are expecting.

      1. With all respect, that’s not fair at all. 2/3 of Montana voters had already cast their votes before Election Day and anyone who wanted to change their vote wouldn’t have been able to.

        Even with all that, Democrats managed to cut Trump’s margin in Sky Country by more then half. Regardless as to the “deplorables” that, in their sick frame of mind, weren’t offended by what Gianforte did, I firmly believe there were many, many more who were put off by it and that you can talk to and earn their votes.

        That aside, we’ve got a huge opportunity in Georgia’s 6th next month. It’ll be much less difficult to win there than in Montana, so let’s give it our all and push Ossoff over the top. 🙂

      2. You want to blame someone? Look at the DCCC which spent a whopping $600K on helping Quist. The rest was direct small donor contributions which were substantial (just like with Orsoff), but then the GOP Congressional PAC dropped another 3-4 million into the race, had high profile MOC and others stump the state for Gianforte.

    1. I could not believe my eyes at that video. What an utter and complete childish asshole he is and raised with no manners at all. There is a reason I call him a “manbaby”. This little spectacle and his embarrassing little note at the Holocaust Museum, which sounded like something you’d say about Disneyworld are clear indicators he is unfit for office and possibly senile too.

      Der Spiegel isn’t mincing words.

      1. @kayray…Yeah, just read that article. I think option 5 is being debated by many many intelligence agencies, worldwide. I was really hoping that in one scenario in the last couple days 22 leaders walked into a room, 21 walked out, and when questioned, no one saw anything.

  4. So I had to smile today. NY Times is now reporting that the puppet tyrant told the Filipino tyrant that the U.S. has sent two subs to the Korean Peninsula. Given that any carrier task force has at least one, more likely two subs attached to it, not exactly earth-shattering news.

    More likely there are half a dozen Los Angeles and Virginia class subs within 400 miles of North Korea, plus at least one Ohio class of the 4 converted to a cruise missile sub, plus at least one ballistic missile sub on standard patrol. I would not want to be a sonar guy right now trying to keep all the traffic straight.

    But this does demonstrate the complete lack of understanding the puppet tyrant has of the toys at his disposal, or the reticence the intel and military folks have of telling him anything.

    1. Few people realize how much fire power a carrier task force has and the composition of those forces, despite the general information being readily available. The Russians and others are very much aware of that however. So this was hardly a compromising leak.

      Nevertheless, it does show Trump’s complete lack of understanding and of his infantilism.

      1. Unarmed – your point regarding secrecy is well taken. But take a carrier strike force, for example. While the exact composition of the Korean force is secret, there are websites such as ‘where are the carriers’ and ‘Janes’ that describe the general composition of a carrier strike force. That is not classified. One who has general knowledge of military operations can draw inferences. The problem is the isolation of the general citizenry from the military and the military from the general citizenry combined with the lack of interest of most of the citizenry. Much of the citizenry wants a very shallow review of the news and lots of nonsensical talk such as the content FAUX News delivers. Only when something affects people personally do they pay any real attention.

        Trump was in that category before becoming President. Now like any little boy he is fascinated with the toys and wants to brag. That characteristic was easily discernable before the election and was apparent in the debates, even though the debates were mainly sound bites and “gotchas” without any substantive discussion of the issues.

      2. Tmerritt – I realized after posting this commenting that it didn’t relate well to your point and thought about a second comment to clarify but then changed my mind and hoped nobody would notice. ;>)

        So, I hadn’t thought about where subs were and whether they were part of a carrier group. I kind of pictured all surface ships.

        Which brings us to your point about what the citizenry knows, doesn’t know, or thinks it knows. Based on my experience, it is difficult to discern the truth about where we are as a country. Especially, as you say, with fox and crazy AM radio.

        Maybe, if we make through our present situation, we’ll discover a way of countering the lies. Including lies like “we need get rid of career politicians and run the country like a business”.

        I just started reading “Democracy for Realists” by Achen and Bartels. The subtitle is “Why elections do not produce responsive governments”. I’m almost afraid to read it. I’m afraid it might strengthen Chris’s points about “Politics of Crazy” and our slide toward “Idiocracy” to the point that I give up. The thought that we may have been playing three card monte all this time saddens me.

        I agree it was obvious what his presidency would look like. I’m not looking forward to a conversation with a trump voter that says “Who knew?”

    1. Quite literally the best explanation for removing these horrible pieces of history. If these so-called defenders of history want their statues then they would support a the telling of of the awful institution they fought to defend and the lives of Americans.

    2. It is a thing of beauty and I hope it gets into the history books. The myth of the Confederacy needs to be purged, because it is an infection that keeps plaguing us. That does not mean destroying or forgetting about these statues/monuments. I’d put them in a museum. Included in the display would be the history of each piece- who made it, who erected it and any commentary from that time on why, where it stood and for how long, and concluding with these recent stories about how/why they were moved and people’s reactions to it (from both sides). All the story, all the context.

      1. I have read that there were many who wanted to raze the crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but more who recognized (as you do) the important historical and humanitarian lessons the site offers to remind the world that cruel and despotic people can and have inflicted despicable horror upon innocent people.

      2. Honestly, I’ve always been a bit conflicted as to whether Auschwitz-Birkenau should be maintained or not, but it’s not up to me nor anyone else save for the survivors of the unspeakable horrors of that place, and their descendants too, of course. If they want it preserved for all the future to see, then that’s what should happen.

        That aside, Confederate monuments and/or statues are a completely different story. Whereas Auschwitz-Birkenau was preserved as a means to teach people a valuable lesson, these statues were meant as a means to deceive and to oppress. They’re an effort by the worst kinds of sore losers to say that the fight is not yet lost and that the dream of the Confederacy is not yet over.

        There is nothing to be gained from their preservation. Far to the contrary, it’s better for our education and that of our children that these statues should come down so a more honest, unfiltered knowing of Confederate history can be told.

      3. EJ

        Speaking only as myself, I would not want Auschwitz to be destroyed, and its story to become something that exists only in history books. It’s a chapter of German history that we need to keep in mind as a nation: when we fall too much in love with our own strength, this is what happens.

        Does America have museums of slavery in its major cities? Do schoolchildren get taken to them to learn about its evils?

      4. Fly – That was a profound article. I read it when it initially was presented and thought that this article/this experience needs to be assigned reading and discussion in our schools and colleges. Somehow, many in America have either chosen to not grow in their cultural awareness, or they have not been taught that they should. Just as Mitch Landrieu’s excellent speech (on race really) stirred hearts and minds, so did it probably engender disdain. America sorely needs to learn to listen, relate, appreciate not only our history at its finest, but at its worst in order to continue to protect freedom. Thank you for re-posting this article.

      5. Let’s remember what symbols were, and were not, systematically destroyed in the De-Nazification project after WW2. It is a crime in Germany to display a swastika, and not a minor one. All of the monuments and statues erected to honor Nazis were destroyed. It has become an obscure tourism niche to go find traces of Nazi art, like the eagle, that still remain.

        Keeping Auschwitz (which is not in Germany, recall) is precisely the kind of memorial that is still generally supported. And Mayor Landrieu makes reference to these kinds of context-preserving symbols. Preserving the plaques on the old New Orleans slave markets is probably a good idea. Having Robert E. Lee on a grand pediment overlooking the city sends a rather different message about the meaning of our history.

        I see the complexity in this, but it’s time for these glorifications of white supremacy and slavery to take a more appropriate place in our history. For almost all of these monuments, that place is probably in a smelter.

      1. Yes, and sadly, that was almost a decade ago and look how little people took his message to heart. Still, people in positions of authority need to continue to share the message of the value of diversity and respect. Obviously, the message isn’t resonating with enough people to effect permanent change. Time and younger, more open-minded generations are needed.

  5. In special election news tonight, Democrats pulled off a legitimate surprise upset in New York’s 9th Assembly district, flipping a previously held GOP seat (which is to say that no Democrat has ever held this seat, ever) in a district that Trump won overwhelmingly.

    Also, Democrats flipped another previously GOP-held seat in N. Hampshire’s state House. Again, this was in otherwise friendly Republican territory and a seat that no Democrat has ever held before now.

    Democrats are looking to notch a major win in states like Montana and Georgia, surely enough, but keep an eye on these local races. Things are happening.

    1. Note that the teacher’s union was very supportive in the 9th assembly….underscoring the value of unions to Dem candidates. Of course this fact has no relevance on all the union-busting efforts by conservatives….who have their own unions – they’re much smaller of course, but they have far more money to spend. I hope Orsoff wins in GA and Quist in Montana, but both will be close. Just wait until people in individual ACA health plans who are over 40 take a peek at the estimated premium increases in their health care plans….think maybe these people who voted Trump before will not exact revenge at the ballot box? If not now, never.

  6. If Republicans want to impeach Trump, fine, but Democrats should give them very little help. Trying and failing (the likely result) would be bad for Democrats. Better to leave Trump hanging around the Republican’s necks, and try to neutralize him–a doable thing given his ineptitude.

    1. I agree Creigh, I can see long term benefits to allowing this nightmare for the republicans go on for a while.

      There is enough volatility in the crazy part of the political spectrum to keep most of the damage from happening.

      I have mixed feelings about allowing some budget cutbacks to be pushed thru. Some of them would cause short term hardships in “trump country” and I wouldn’t want to punish people forever for their mistakes, but it would create screams if disability payments were cut back or if new requirements were attached.

      As long as no lasting damage is done to the economy and we don’t nuke or get nuked, maybe the non crazies should give the crazies some rope.

      By the way, David Brin says this, if you missed it.

      I have stopped assigning party names to the actors in the political scene. Crazy and non crazy seems more fitting.

      1. We’re thinking along the same lines! There is no doubt, when you look at what Trump promised to working class Whites, and what’s said by his budget and the actions of the GOP in Congress, that these people are on course to be totally screwed over. But there’s one set of promises Trump is absolutely following through on, the stigginit portion of the platform. He promised the base scapegoats on whom he would inflict the pain, and even though the courts have stymied a bunch of the stigginit agenda, the base sees that he’s trying, and they love him for it. The question is what level of pain from the Ryan-McConnell-Trump-trickledown-screw over does it take to overcome the joys of stigginit?

    2. Davin Brin has a good post on that:

      Where I in Pelosi’s shoes, and Ryan has requested my presence in a clandestine meeting to discuss impeachment, I would tell him- “I’ll give you 30 yes votes. The rest of the Dems are voting no or present.” That way lots of GOP fingerprints are still on any articles of impeachment. The 30 (or whatever #) yes votes would be for the House members from the most liberal districts, so that they can keep their bases happy.

  7. More generally, the only reason why animals don’t live in edenic bliss is because any increase in food automatically causes increase in population. Until the normal state of suffering re-asserts itself. Same seems to happen with humans.

      1. Actually, the trendline is down almost everywhere, perhaps most dramatically in China and Japan, followed by India. The only places where fertility is still rising are a few pockets of the most extreme poverty in Africa, along with Haiti. Basically, wherever modernity arrives, with basic personal freedoms, literacy, and median incomes above roughly $5/day, fertility declines. Population growth is a lagging indicator. China’s population won’t begin an absolute decline until 2026, but its a cliff after that. Japan is already tipping over that cliff.

      2. The lag times are really long before population starts to decline, though. It’s at least very plausible that population will still be increasing in 2100. Africa in particular is likely to have a lot more growth left.

        For all the concerns about population cliffs it hasn’t yet happened. Places like Japan and Germany are basically flat. Russia started to go down – and then the birth rate soared and it started growing again.

      3. As important as it is that the world control population growth for any number of obvious reasons, it is equally important that we care for those who are born. We cannot afford to waste one life. This requires adequate health care, education, and equal opportunity. How many of those born die due to preventable diseases? Lack of potable water? Unnecessary war? Adequate pre-natal care? Safe deliveries? Safe neighborhoods?

        Is it possible that we are focused on the wrong end of the equation?

      4. That had been correct until a few years ago. Japan’s decline in absolute population started in this decade.

        German population decline has only been delayed by immigration.

        But that’s population, not fertility. Fertility (birth/replacement) rates have been negative for some time in much of the west. Population declines haven’t kicked in yet because of gradual increases in lifespan.

      5. EJ

        That’s certainly true of Germany. We’re increasingly reliant on imported labour in order to balance our ageing population. Some of that imported labour is in the form of temporary migrant workers from Turkey, Poland and Romania; but as those countries modernise we’re having to look further afield.

        This annoys the xenophobes, which doesn’t break my heart.

  8. > How clean energy is transforming labor markets, leading to healthy joblessness.

    Problem with all such schemes is overpopulation. I can see the world of (maybe) 500 million humans living like that, not 7 billion. I seriously doubt clean energy can transform the world with as many people as we have. Maaaybe fusion power if we ever get it to work.

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