Several Thoughts On Kavanaugh

While I’m out today, here are some thoughts about the Kavanaugh nomination that, hopefully, haven’t been overtaken by events (and aren’t the same damn thing everyone else is saying). In no particular order:

  1. I think there’s a misunderstanding about the letter of support by the ‘Kavanaugh 65.’ It was meant to defang the charge that he has a drunken pig in his high school and college years (‘he said some bad things then, but since then, he’s matured. Besides, he wasn’t really bad.’). The tell is that, of the forty signatories that have been contacted after the sexual assault allegations broken, only two have stuck with him. They didn’t think attempted sexual assault allegations were coming, though they probably should have. This is yet another reason why you need diversity among your advisors: with a more diverse crew, some of them would have thought he’s an entitled asshole.
  2. Merrick Garland wasn’t accused of sexual assault.
  3. Neither was Neil Gorsuch–and I think he’s an awful judge. But when you limit yourself to the subset of Federalist Society approved judges who also think the president is essentially unaccountable, the talent pool is rather thin.
  4. After decades of hearing about ‘degenerate urban culture’, we should realize that ‘suburban culture’ can be just as degenerate?
  5. Approving Kavanaugh’s nomination sends an awful message to young men. If young men were (hopefully more?) worried that sexual assault could ruin them, some would be less likely to commit assault. How this is a bad thing escapes me. And if you did something like this, your victim has had to live with it, so you should too.

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Posted in The Rule of Law | 5 Comments

Links 9/18/18

Trump_easyfastloser
Links for you. Science:

With a shrinking EPA, Trump delivers on his promise to cut government
New Dwarf Dragons Have Been Found in the Andes
How Birds Survived the Asteroid Impact That Wiped Out the Dinosaurs
There are whales as old as America … but their future may not be as long as their past
The Hidden Link Between Farm Antibiotics and Human Illness

Other:

The tyranny of the majority isn’t a problem in America today. Tyranny of the minority is. (excellent)
Volvo’s self-driving car concept is what our cities don’t need (very good)
Talking About That Generation
Still Confused About Kaepernick? Look What Just Happened in Dallas.
NeverTrumpers
Ken Starr Reminded Us Brett Kavanaugh Is a Political Hack—Just Like Him
We DIDN’T win the war! Like us all, PETER HITCHENS grew up on stories of Britain’s heroic victory over Hitler… but now, without questioning the bravery of our troops, he’s written a book challenging all we think about WW2
Bob Woodward’s Inside Look at Trump’s #MeToo Strategy Illustrates the Crisis Facing American Democracy
A Nation’s Grief Was Hijacked on the Afternoon of September 11, 2001
Digging Into Data on the Student Loan Scam
Ben Sasse Is a ‘Reagan Republican.’ Just Like Donald Trump. He’s just a Republican with milder snake oil waiting for the smoke to clear.
Brett Kavanaugh Exposed As Ken Starr’s Designated Leaker
American Democracy Can’t Fix Itself
A Fuckbonnet For Our Time.
More evidence that Kavanaugh is a professional character assassin
Trump and his flunkies: Why aren’t staffers standing up to him? (this is how narcissists behave)
Dangerous Streets? Take the Bus

Posted in Lotsa Links | 2 Comments

Bloomberg Should Run For President. As A Republican

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to run for the Democratic presidential nomination–and he has a Kunning Plan! (boldface mine):

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of a business news empire, is preparing to run for president as a Democrat, The Times understands.

Mr Bloomberg, 76, a former mayor of New York with a personal fortune of more than $50 billion, has previously considered running as an independent but decided against it in 2012 for fear of splitting the Democratic vote.

He has told confidants that he is planning to join the presidential race, in which several leading business figures could follow the example of Donald Trump and throw their hats in the ring.

“Mike Bloomberg told me he is going to run in 2020,” a source said. “He has the money to see it through while other candidates knock themselves out.”

Yes, exhausting the Democratic Party, only to lose to Trump or some other Republican candidate is an excellent idea. I don’t think Hizzoner would do very well, but he could distract the party from consolidating around a candidate and a platform once things settle down (if they settle down…).

If Bloomberg were truly interested in service to his country, he would run as a Republican. Sane Republicans–and Bloomberg is a Republican–need to take back their party. By “sane”, I mean conservatives who are not theocrats, segregationists, white supremacists, and (Ayn) Randian batshitloonitarians. We need a Republican Party that accepts the science of climate change and is not the political wing of the alt-right and the NRA.

Bloomberg wouldn’t win a Republican primary either, but he would do a great service to his country by arguing against current mainstream Republican policy (some of it, anyway–he is a conservative). But he’s too vain and arrogant to get this, so fucking around with working people’s lives it is then…

Posted in Conservatives, Democrats, We're Really Fucked | Leave a comment

Links 9/17/18

Trump_whensupremecourtjustice
Links for you. Science:

How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?
The Bizarre Fad Diet Taking the Far Right by Storm
National park officials were told climate change was ‘sensitive.’ So they removed it from a key planning report
Not One More Generation
Erik Hauri, scientist who found water on the moon, dies at 52

Other:

Teacher sexually assaulted inside DC charter school, put on unpaid leave (“Garbee exited the teaching profession and entered law school.” Well done, education reformers!)
Beyond Obamacare: Democrats have plans, GOP is out to destroy them
They Figured That Out All By Themselves
A government institute gave China’s biggest celebrity a low ‘social responsibility’ rating. She hasn’t been seen for months.
‘Designing Women’ Creator Goes Public With Les Moonves War: Not All Harassment Is Sexual
I Am Horrified That Brett Kavanaugh Used Girls From My School as a Prop (I’m still getting used to woke Washingtonian…)
A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come
There Is Nothing More American Than Burning Your Dumb Sneakers
Montgomery County says no new homes in Silver Spring because the schools are full
How LeBron James Might Help Explain A Surprising Find About The Early Middle Ages
Michael Olenick: Debunking Yet Another Misleading Gun Study
Here’s Why That Fire at Brazil’s National Museum Probably Can’t Happen Here
The Kavanaugh hustle
Thanks, Obama?
Les Moonves and the myth of uncontrollable male desire
‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ Is Sort of Brainless
Americans Are Shifting The Rest Of Their Identity To Match Their Politics
Schumer needs to be willing to play as dirty as McConnell to win back the Senate, save the judiciary (yes, he does)

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

U.S. Foreign Policy Always Requires An Opponent. Sanders Found A Good One

Senator Bernie Sanders coined a good phrase in a recent op-ed, “the international authoritarian axis“–though I would have gone with “the axis of authoritarianism” (boldface mine):

At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the world’s top 1% now owns more wealth than the bottom 99%, we are seeing the rise of a new authoritarian axis.

While these regimes may differ in some respects, they share key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests. These leaders are also deeply connected to a network of multi-billionaire oligarchs who see the world as their economic plaything.

Those of us who believe in democracy, who believe that a government must be accountable to its people, must understand the scope of this challenge if we are to effectively confront it.

It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the rightwing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold on to power.

This trend certainly did not begin with Trump, but there’s no question that authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the leader of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy seems to delight in shattering democratic norms.

In addition to Trump’s hostility toward democratic institutions we have a billionaire president who, in an unprecedented way, has blatantly embedded his own economic interests and those of his cronies into the policies of government.

Other authoritarian states are much farther along this kleptocratic process. In Russia, it is impossible to tell where the decisions of government end and the interests of Vladimir Putin and his circle of oligarchs begin. They operate as one unit. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, there is no debate about separation because the natural resources of the state, valued at trillions of dollars, belong to the Saudi royal family. In Hungary, far-right authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán is openly allied with Putin in Russia. In China, an inner circle led by Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated power, clamping down on domestic political freedom while it aggressively promotes a version of authoritarian capitalism abroad.

We must understand that these authoritarians are part of a common front.

And every good foreign policy opponent can’t just be ‘over there’–it needs a domestic effect:

The truth is, however, that to effectively oppose rightwing authoritarianism, we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last several decades. Today in the United States, and in many other parts of the world, people are working longer hours for stagnating wages, and worry that their children will have a lower standard of living than they do.

Our job is to fight for a future in which new technology and innovation works to benefit all people, not just a few. It is not acceptable that the top 1% of the world’s population owns half the planet’s wealth, while the bottom 70% of the working age population accounts for just 2.7% of global wealth.

Together governments of the world must come together to end the absurdity of the rich and multinational corporations stashing over $21tn in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and then demanding that their respective governments impose an austerity agenda on their working families.

It is not acceptable that the fossil fuel industry continues to make huge profits while their carbon emissions destroy the planet for our children and grandchildren.

It is not acceptable that a handful of multinational media giants, owned by a small number of billionaires, largely control the flow of information on the planet.

It is not acceptable that trade policies that benefit large multinational corporations and encourage a race to the bottom hurt working people throughout the world as they are written out of public view.

It is not acceptable that, with the cold war long behind us, countries around the world spend over $1tn a year on weapons of destruction, while millions of children die of easily treatable diseases.

In order to effectively combat the rise of the international authoritarian axis, we need an international progressive movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power

We must take the opportunity to reconceptualize a genuinely progressive global order based on human solidarity, an order that recognizes that every person on this planet shares a common humanity, that we all want our children to grow up healthy, to have a good education, have decent jobs, drink clean water, breathe clean air and live in peace.

Our job is to reach out to those in every corner of the world who share these values, and who are fighting for a better world.

Obviously, this is not a foreign policy white paper. But Democrats have not had a good conceptual framework for foreign policy for a very long time, especially one that ties back into people’s lives within the U.S. That framework has led to a continued muddle of, not to mention a defensive crouch from, failed Republican policies (e.g., people born after Sept. 11, 2001 can now join the military and fight in Afghanistan). Replacing ‘terrorism’ with the authoritarian axis as the foreign policy bete noire will be an improvement (to the extent it is used to fight white collar crime, it would be wonderful). Besides, the authoritarian axis is a good phrase–and its definition overlaps with Republican policies, which puts them in the defensive crouch (“Why are Republicans defending the axis’ ability to pollute our country?” and so on). And if Democrats are able to conduct investigations and show how Il Trumpe is a bagman, a money launderer, well…

I think Sanders might have cracked the foreign policy nut.

Posted in Democrats, The Rule of Law, The Soviet | Leave a comment

Links 9/16/18

Trump_bestGDP
Links for you. Science:

Radical open-access plan could spell end to journal subscriptions (‘Radical’ because it would harm Nature’s business model…)
This is how computers “predict the future”
Eight bird species are first confirmed avian extinctions this decade
The keto diet is a recipe for disaster
Bogs are unique records of history – here’s why

Other:

To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library
The Republican Approach to Voter Fraud: Lie
The “Human Rights Campaign” Has Totally Betrayed Its Constituents
Sanders: SCOTUS Nominee Kavanaugh a Threat to Workers, and Women
(Early) Monday Joint Mark Helprin/Ross Douthat/Geoffrey Kabaservice Smackdown!
Jim Carrey is right. If Canada can provide health care to everyone, the U.S. can too.
I knew Brett Kavanaugh during his years as a Republican operative. Don’t let him sit on the Supreme Court.
Mainstream Macroeconomics and Modern Monetary Theory: What Really Divides Them?
Board boots business-backed council candidate from D.C. ballot, citing signature fraud
Massachusetts Ban Of Corporate Money In Politics Stands
Hundreds of illegally rejected ballots gave Kris Kobach primary win, voting activist says
So No One’s Going to Ask Brett Kavanaugh How He Got Into Massive Debt by Allegedly Buying Baseball Tickets?
Stephen Miller’s Childhood Rabbi Rebukes Trump Aide In Rosh Hashanah Sermon
Illusion of control: Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work
Duncan and DeVos Are Both Wrong, We Need Old-School Reform

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

The Conservative Con Rolls On

While the left, construed very broadly, needs to keep an eye on the #Resistance grifters, they have nothing on conmen like Alex Jones (boldface mine):

Kelly Jones compared Mr. Jones’s marketing to that of a televangelist, preaching to his faithful, selling cures and soliciting donations. His customers buy in — and then they buy. For every threat he raises, there is a solution for sale….

“Preppers” are an important market segment for Infowars, and ads on its website bring better response than on other conservative media shows, said Chad Cooper, who owns Infidel Body Armor, based in San Tan Valley, Ariz. He spent about $5,000 a month on Infowars advertising for his civilian body armor line until recently, when he suspended his advertising because Infowars started selling ads to too many of his competitors.

While he does not take in Mr. Jones’s show — “he’s a nutter,” he says — “I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the phone with these Alex Jones people who order from me,” and described them.

“They’re nonbelievers in what the media tells them. They think there’s more to the story,” he said. “They think there’s aliens, and the government knows about that and they’re not telling them. They’re all religious, and they’re very concerned about the direction the government is going.”

He’s really good at scaring people,” Mr. Cooper said of Mr. Jones. “He gives them that sense of urgency — they need to hurry up and do something. Now.

…Mr. Jones’s image and credibility as a provocateur are closely linked to his credibility as a marketer of supplements and other products.

Consequently, sales of the fluoride-free toothpaste he promotes might decline if he recants his bogus claim that fluoridated water causes cancer and stunts the brains of children. Demand for Infowars-branded gun components that can be purchased without a firearms permit might fall if he backs off his predictions of a looming civil war.

There’s obviously fertile ground to be plowed here, but that doesn’t happen without conmen like Jones who profit, in his case, financially, from this scaremongering. This is nothing new: former Republican Governor Huckabee is, well, another supplements huckster, and there’s a lot of fools gold in the hills of the Quiverfull movement.

If their marks weren’t fucking up the country, I would feel bad about their being fleeced.

Posted in Bidness, Conservatives | 2 Comments