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Quick Hitters – November 17th, 2015 Edition

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Well since the great Reeder / Delicious experiment failed, maybe I’ll try just posting this manually. If I had more mental energy, I’d craft responses to all these; instead I’ll leave that as an exercise to you, the reader, to imagine what I might have said…


 Rolling up on stage after HRC, O’Malley got in on the action himself. “Last night in the debate, Secretary Clinton, to try to mask her proximity to Wall Street and the huge amount of contributions she has received personally from the major banks of Wall Street, sadly invoked 9/11,” O’Malley said. “She doesn’t have to mask it. It is what it is. That is the sort of economy, that is the sort of economic advice she would follow.”

So far, so ordinary. A lot of the audience, and most of the media, had filtered out after HRC had finished her spot, so there was a corporal’s guard of largely white, largely elderly folks remaining when Cornel West took the stage to pitch Bernie Sanders, and then the day stopped being ordinary for everyone.

“What a blessing it is to be here,” West began. “All of my brothers and sisters of all colors here in central I-O-WA!”

Suddenly, the whole atmosphere of the day changed. Some of the people who’d stuck around looked on in something like awe. Some of them laughed and cheered. And, admittedly, more than a few of them looked as though they’d been hit over the head with a shovel. For West it didn’t matter. He’d started at a higher altitude and he very quickly lit the afterburners.

(click here to continue reading Cornel West Stumps for Bernie Sanders in Iowa.)


Indeed, it’s not clear that the talk of Christian refugees is meant, even by the loudest Republicans, to translate into the appearance of Syrian Christians in America, as opposed to being an acknowledgment that some of the crowds that cheer when they hear anti-immigrant rhetoric might have qualms of conscience. The problem, they can be told, is just that our Muslim-sympathizing, cowardly leaders would bring in the wrong refugees.

Christians are in danger in Syria. Their danger is distinct but not unique. The Yazidis, an even more isolated religious minority, has been a particular target of ISIS. Shiites and Alawites have been targeted, too. Refugee policies have at times rightly recognized the urgent danger that certain religious or otherwise distinct groups are in, and have properly responded. This is something quite different than saying, as Cruz does, that being a Muslim should be a basis for exclusion. Would he let in atheists, for that matter? It seems strange, when moderate Muslims are trying to distance themselves from a milieu of terror, that we would insist that such a thing is impossible. There are international and American laws that recognize people who need protection. There are principles of common decency which do the same. What they do not do is use faith, or the lack of it, as a basis for rejection. (America should have let in more Jewish refugees during the Second World War; that wouldn’t have meant turning away Thomas Mann.) And it is a brutal insult to Syrians who have gone through four and half years of carnage to say that the fact that they are Sunnis gives them some sort of immunity from ISIS or from the Assad regime. There are four million Syrian refugees outside of the country now, and many more inside it. There will likely be some bad people among them. That fact does not obviate their suffering. Taking more of them in can be an unpopular position at a moment when the news is full of speculation that one of the Paris attackers had passed through a refugee camp in Greece with a Syrian passport. But their desperation will not disappear if we lose interest in it; it may just take a different and more destructive form. We have a role in deciding where they will go next.

One of the more dishonest aspects of Cruz’s comments on Fox was his characterization of who the Syrian refugees are. He mentioned an estimate that, in the “early waves” of refugees entering Europe, “seventy-seven per cent of those refugees were young men. That is a very odd demographic for a refugee wave.” Perhaps it would be, if the number were accurate. A bare majority of the Syrian refugees are women, as FactCheck.org noted in September, when Ben Carson and Scott Walker raised similar alarms. About twenty-two per cent are men between the ages of eighteen and fifty-nine—a broad definition of “young.” Cruz is smart enough to know this. He may be referring to a number given for migrants who arrived in Europe, from nine different countries, by taking a specific, dangerous Mediterranean sea route in 2014 (seventy-two per cent). Among the two million Syrian refugees the United Nations has registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, a full thirty-eight per cent are under the age of twelve.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz’s Religious Test for Syrian Refugees – The New Yorker.)

“States lack legal authority to refuse to accept refugees (or any other immigrants) that are admitted by the federal [government],” [Adam Cox, a New York University Law School professor who is an expert in immigration and constitutional law] wrote in an email.

* And, of course…

“There are no barriers, no requirements in the Refugee Act of 1980 that indicate a governor has to give permission to resettle in a state,” [Anna Crosslin, the president of International Institut] said. “That’s all a federal process.”

That’s pretty obvious. We can’t just shut our state borders.

(click here to continue reading Capitol Fax.com – Your Illinois News Radar » Missing the point.)


He’s part news anchor, part gleeful nerd—a formula that’s almost scientific in its ability to deliver hard-core information with chasers of wit. In this, however, he was just giving us a kind of release.

“So here is where things stand. First, as of now, we know that this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes, unconscionable, flaming assholes, possibly, possibly working with other fucking assholes, definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery,” he said. His audience began to laugh. “Second, and this goes almost without saying, Fuck these assholes!” The audience began to cheer. “Fuck them, if I may say, sideways!” He made some definitive hand gestures. Third, he said, nothing these assholes attempt is going to work. “France is going to endure. And I’ll tell you why. If you are in a war of culture and life style with France, good fucking luck!” More cheering. “Go ahead, go ahead. Bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons”—images of these appeared behind him as he spoke—“Marcel Proust, and the fucking croquembouche!” An image of what looked like a glazed-cream-puff Christmas tree popped up. He waved his hands and pointed at it. “The croquembouche! You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friends. You are fucked! That is a French freedom tower!” The crowd howled with delight.

(click here to continue reading Vive John Oliver – The New Yorker.)
Funky Funky Christmas

During a press conference this morning, President Obama used the term “pop off” in reference to people making uninformed and patently ridiculous claims about what should be done with France and ISIS. And, unless I go outside today and witness a Sojourner Truth hologram double dutching with Marilyn Mosby, I’m very confident in declaring that the Black president dismissively referring to his haters the exact same way Loretha Lyon or Draymond Green or your barber or your best friend or you would have will be the Blackest thing that ever happened this week.

So Black, in fact, that instead of attempting to determine and assess exactly how Black it was, I’m more interested in how “folks wanna pop off” found its way into the President’s lexicon. Does he possess a reservoir of culturally relevant slang terms and colloquialisms that he employs when White people aren’t around? We know he code switches — we see it with every seven-step handshake, and his rendition of Amazing Grace during Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s eulogy is a first-ballot entry in the Code Switch Hall of Fame — but he’s also a 54-year-old man who hoops in Sam’s Club Nikes and tucks his shirt into his sweatpants. (No. seriously. He does.) He is, and will always be, cool in a macro sense. But, in micro sense, he, again, is a 54-year-old man who hoops in Sam’s Club Nikes and tucks his shirt into his sweatpants. This is not what cool people do. Cool people do, however, reflexively use “pop off” to address haters. President Obama is a paradox.

(click here to continue reading President Obama’s “Folks Wanna Pop Off” Is The Blackest Thing That Ever Happened This Week » VSB.)


ANTALYA, Turkey — President Barack Obama is sending a message to critics he says “pop off” with their opinions about the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State.

He says they should present a specific plan. And if his critics think their advisers are smarter than Obama’s, the president says, “I want to meet them.”

Obama says his sole interest is in keeping the American people safe. He says he’s not interested in doing what works politically or will make him or America look tough.

(click here to continue reading Obama decries critics who ‘pop off’ with opinions on IS – The Washington Post.)


It seems like it has taken an eternity, but the Roosevelt Road raised bikeway is finally getting the green paint and bike symbols that will turn it into a functional cycling route. This Chicago Department of Transportation initiative is part of a streetscaping project that involved widening the sidewalk along Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan Avenue to make room for the two-way bike lane.

(click here to continue reading Eyes on the Street: Roosevelt Raised Bike Lane Is Almost Ready to Ride | Streetsblog Chicago.)


Directly across the street stood a house painted in bright, horizontal rainbow stripes. The house had been bought, in 2012, by Planting Peace, a nonprofit group whose mission, according to its Web site, is “spreading peace in a hurting world.” The Equality House, as it’s known, is home to a group of young L.G.B.T. activists. Planting Peace has worked with former Westboro members to spread its message of tolerance. Megan first visited the house in 2013, after her cousin Libby encouraged her to visit. She sneaked in the back door, for fear of being spotted by her family.

Today, Megan and Grace’s only connection to Westboro is virtual. Although Phelps-Roper no longer believes that the Bible is the word of God, she still reads it to try to find scriptural arguments that could encourage Westboro to take a more humane approach to the world. Sometimes she’ll tweet passages, knowing that church members will see them. After they left the church, Megan and Grace were blocked from Westboro’s Twitter accounts, but they created a secret account to follow them. Sometimes, when her mother appears in a video, Megan will loop it over and over, just to hear her voice.

Fred Phelps died in March, 2014, at the age of eighty-four. Former members of the church told me that Fred had had a softening of heart at the end of his life and had been excommunicated.

(click here to continue reading Conversion via Twitter – The New Yorker.)


In some ways, his story mirrors that of Lassana Bathily, a young immigrant from Mali who hid a group of frightened shoppers from the assault at the Kosher supermarket in January. Both were Muslim, and both risked their lives for others while men claiming to represent their faith caused so much carnage. A contrast that perhaps illustrates the complex nature of Muslim relations in France. I asked him what he thought about the killers claiming their actions in the name of Islam. “This has nothing to do with religion.” “Real Muslims are not made for killing people,” he said. “These are criminals.”

(click here to continue reading Paris attacks: Restaurant worker who saved two women – BBC News.)


Governors of at least 20 U.S. states have now said they won’t accept additional refugees from Syria after the attacks Friday in Paris, which French officials say were masterminded by a Belgian who fought for the Islamic State in Syria. As of Monday evening, governors in five other states said they would welcome refugees as part of President Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 people in 2016 who are fleeing the Islamic State and Syria’s civil war.

That means at least half of governors have weighed in, even though they can’t block refugees from entering the United States (though they could complicate settlement within their states’ borders).

There is one stark, obvious difference between these two groups of states: the party that controls the statehouse. Just one of the 20 governors who oppose taking in more refugees is a Democrat: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

(click here to continue reading Governors Who Want To Ban Syrian Refugees Have Something In Common | FiveThirtyEight.)

Doonesbury - Texas Secession
Doonesbury – Texas Secession

Californium is an upcoming first-person game inspired by science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It seems to be about a writer who “slips” between different realities as his life falls apart.

If you’ve any familiarity with Dick, you’ll know that most of his fiction — which has been made into movies like Total Recall, Through a Scanner Darkly, and Blade Runner — deals with the conflict between paranoid characters and the world around them, which may or may not confirm their darkest fears.

Californium is vividly illustrated by French artist Oliver Bonhomme, wh may be the perfect fit for this sort of surreal story about Elvin Green, a sentimental writer with not too many prospects. You become Green in the story, discovering a break up letter from your wife, an editor who fires you, and other such travails.

(click here to continue reading Upcoming Philip K Dick-inspired game is appropriately bizarre | Cult of Mac.)

For most of U.S. history, cities and towns were not eligible for bankruptcy protection. But during the Great Depression, more than 2,000 municipalities defaulted on their debt, and they pleaded with President Roosevelt for a federal bailout. “All they got was sympathy,” reported Time magazine in 1933. Instead, Roosevelt pushed through changes to the bankruptcy laws that allow towns and cities to file for bankruptcy. They even got their own section of the bankruptcy code: Chapter Nine.

(click here to continue reading What Happens When City Hall Goes Bankrupt? : NPR.)


The long-rumored Apple store at the gateway to the North Michigan Avenue shopping district won’t be a 2.0 version of the famous glass cube that forms an iconic entry into the retailer’s Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan. It would be more like a high-tech version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s quintessentially Midwestern Prairie Style homes, with river views to boot.

Soon-to-be-unveiled plans for the store call for a glass-sheathed temple of computing near the historic Michigan Avenue bridge and grand flights of stairs that would cascade from street level to the walkway along the Chicago River’s north bank. These details are outlined in a report from the city’s Department of Planning and Development, a draft copy of which was obtained by the Tribune.

(click here to continue reading Apple store on Chicago River: An exclusive first look at plans – Chicago Tribune.)https://farm1.staticflickr.com/531/18578039911_eff2134bb6_n.jpg

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2015 at 9:44 am

Donald Trump And His Immigrant Roundup Plan

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They Can't Deport Us All
They Can’t Deport Us All…

If Donald Trump becomes president, gods forbid, the United States as we understand it will cease to exist within four years. Or sooner. For instance, if Trump succeeds against logic, and begins rounding up immigrants, ripping apart families, destroying all sorts of businesses, we will soon become a pariah among nations. Would the nations of the world create a coalition to initiate regime change? Who knows, but it isn’t that far fetched. Our military may be larger than the rest of the world’s, but that is not built upon a firm foundation if suddenly international trade dried up.

Trump has now provided more “specifics” about his immigration plan: a forced population transfer greater than any attempted in history, greater than the French and Spanish expulsions of the Jews in 1308 and 1492; greater than the Nabka of approximately 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from British-mandate Palestine; greater than the 1.5 million Stalin consigned to Siberia and the Central Asian republics; greater than Pol Pot’s exile of 2.5 million city-dwellers to the Cambodian countryside, or the scattering of Turkey’s Assyrian Christians, which the scholar Mordechai Zaken says numbers in the millions and required 180 years to complete.  Trump has promised to move 12 million Mexicans in under two years––“so fast your head will spin.”

Only then will he start building the wall.

We Are workers not criminals
We Are workers not criminals

Last fall, the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of whites believe “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.” A brand new Washington Post/ABC poll finds 57 percent of Republicans support the most massive ethnic cleansing in the annals of humanity (or, what The Washington Post blandly calls “Trump’s tough positions on immigration”).

They all want a wall, they all want to bury criminals under the jail, they all crave war, even if they are not so explicit.Pollsters at YouGov.com found that 29 percent of Americans (and 43 percent of Republicans) “would hypothetically support the military stepping in to take control from a civilian government which is beginning to violate the Constitution.” Which is quite a thing, considering that according to a 2012 Gallup poll 94 percent of Republicans consider Obamacare’s insurance-purchase mandates unconstitutional; not to mention the small technicality that the military taking control of the government for “violating the Constitution” is, in fact, violating the Constitution.

Then there is this. Evan Osnos of The New Yorker happened to be reporting on “white nationalists”—the polite term for neo-Nazis—when the Trump phenomenon began. The fortuitous coincidence ended up unfolding as a natural experiment. Osnos was able to watch in real time as his subjects embraced Trump as one of their own. Usually, such extremists judge Republicans as tweedle-dee to the Democrats’ tweedle-dum. That’s not how they saw Trump. The Daily Stormer neo-Nazi web site endorsed him, advising its readers to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.” The leader of a white-supremacist think tank told The New Yorker: “I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” although he did reflect “an unconscious vision that white people have––that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country . . . he is the one person who can tap into it.”

Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a like-minded publication, observed: “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”
But was Taylor correct? Asked if he would repudiate the endorsement of erstwhile Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Trump’s response was less than resounding: “Sure, I would if that would make you feel better.”

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump and the “F-Word”—by Rick Perlstein.)

Mike Luckovich - Build A Wall
Mike Luckovich

By the way, building a Trump branded wall will not solve anything. It’s just a ridiculous premise.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 11th, 2015 at 9:44 am

Posted in politics

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Ted Cruz Isn’t Fit To Be President, Part 234,234

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God Is Ugly
God Is Ugly

If you had any doubts, Ted “Calgary” Cruz is not fit to be President of the US. At the very least, he should be required to read the U.S. Constitution at least once.

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Friday that he believes anyone who wants to be president must fear God and pray daily.

Speaking at the National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, Cruz joined other GOP presidential candidates for a discussion about the persecution of Christians in the U.S. and around the world. After some very extreme, very weird comments about homosexuality, right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson introduced Cruz to the stage to ask him how important it was for candidates to submit to Jesus Christ as “the king of the President of the United States.”

“Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this country,” responded Cruz.

Atheists are one of the most politically underrepresented groups in the U.S. According to the most recent Pew survey on religious affiliation, about 3 percent of Americans identify as atheist and 4 percent identify as “agnostic,” all part of the nearly 23 percent who say they’re “unaffiliated” with any particular religion. Despite those numbers, there are no openly atheist members of Congress, and only a handful of U.S. politicians who identify as unaffiliated, or who have chosen not to identify a specific religion.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz: An Atheist ‘Isn’t Fit To Be’ President.)

The video footage is here, if you have the stomach to listen to his smarmy voice…

Since Ted “Calgary” Cruz is supposed to be so smart, perhaps he just forgot what Article 6 actually says:

All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the US., shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

(click here to continue reading Article Six of the United States Constitution – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Somebody Please Tell This Machine I'm Not A Machine
Somebody Please Tell This Machine I’m Not A Machine

Maybe Cruz is just talking about oral sex? 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 9th, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Cheese-Eating Job Creators

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Monument to Honore de Balzac
Monument to Honore de Balzac…

Don’t hold your breath, Dr. Krugman. Once a cliché becomes as lodged in the public consciousness as this one about the French being a bunch of wine-slurping slackers, the cliché has a life of its own, facts be damned.

But in truth the French deserve an apology from a lot of American politicians and commentators. If you think that France is a nation where everyone is either lazy or unemployed, compared with hard-working America, you’re not just repeating a caricature, you’re repeating a caricature that’s many years out of date. The French do take more vacations than we do; but in their prime working years, they’re a lot more likely to be employed than we are:


Whenever I mention this fact, I get mail from people insisting that I must be wrong and demanding a correction. Even well-informed commentators seem to be underinformed on this point; for example, Justin Fox, while not wrong in what he says here, doesn’t seem aware that lower French overall labor force participation is entirely the result of early retirement and lower employment among the young — which in turn partly reflects students not having to work in college.

Of course, French employment success isn’t what is supposed to happen in a generous welfare state

(click here to continue reading Cheese-Eating Job Creators – The New York Times.)


Happy Bastille Day!
Happy Bastille Day!

Written by Seth Anderson

November 8th, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

GOP contenders demand greater deference at debates lest they cry on stage

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No Wrong
No Wrong…

Profiles in courage, 2015 edition…

The campaigns reached an early consensus on one issue, according to several operatives in the room: the secure standing of Fox News Channel. Any changes would be applied to debates after next week’s Fox Business Network debate. Among the reasons, according to one operative in the room, was that “people are afraid to make Roger [Ailes] mad,” a reference to the network’s chief.

(click here to continue reading GOP contenders demand greater control over crucial debates – The Washington Post.)

The whole faux controversy really makes me giggle. These 14 grifters jokers running for president of one of the most powerful nations in the world are so afraid of their ignorance being shown up by questions from corporate media talking heads that they whine, weep until they get their way. Their biggest proclaimed nemesis, Hillary Clinton, had to sit through an interrogation lasting 11 hours! With multiple people asking her tough, and often ridiculous questions often only tangentially related to Benghazi! She seemed to do ok, but contrast her 11 hours of testimony with the wails of thin-skinned divas like Donald Trump or Chris Christie who could barely last 2 hours of questions, spread out among the entire field!  Minus commercial breaks!

Several Republican presidential campaigns began mapping out new demands Sunday for greater control over the format and content of primary debates, which have attracted big audiences and become strategically critical for the 2016 cycle’s expansive field of contenders.
The effort was a response to long-simmering frustrations over the debates, the questions and in some cases the moderators, which boiled over this weekend when advisers from at least 11 campaigns met in the Washington suburbs to deliberate about how to regain sway over the process.

Your Choice
Your Choice

I’ve watched all the 2015 debates so far, both D and R, and the Democrats at least mostly answered the questions put forth. The Republicans for the most part ignore the question, and instead launch into their talking points, and start making stump speeches, pre-written, and memorized. Not really a debate at all, rather a jointly staged talking appearance.

In a meeting here Sunday evening following the fallout from last week’s CNBC debate — in which the campaigns blamed both the Republican National Committee and the television network for what they said was an unfair debate — representatives of most of the campaigns met to discuss how to exert more influence over the process.

They emerged with a modest list of demands, including opening and closing statements of at least 30 seconds; “parity and integrity” on questions, meaning that all candidates would receive similarly substantive questions; no so-called lightning rounds; and approval of any graphics that are aired during the debate.

The campaign representatives also moved to take the Republican National Committee out of the debate negotiating process, calling for the campaigns to negotiate directly with the TV networks over format, and to receive information about the rules and criteria at least 30 days before each debate.

Fox Business Network, the host of the next Republican debate, scheduled for Nov. 10 in Milwaukee, has already told the candidates they will not make opening statements, though they will be given more response time.

(click here to continue reading Republican Campaigns Meet in an Effort to Alter Debates – The New York Times.)


Written by Seth Anderson

November 2nd, 2015 at 9:11 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Carly Fiorina Was a Terrible CEO

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Square Pegs
Square Pegs

Speaking of Carly Fiorina and her disastrous regime at HP (and Lucent), here is a good overview of some of the details I only vaguely remembered…

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean of Leadership Studies and Lester Crown Professor of Practice Management at the Yale School of Management, writes, in part:

Here are the facts: In the five years that Fiorina was at Hewlett-Packard, the company lost over half its value. It’s true that many tech companies had trouble during this period of the Internet bubble collapse, some falling in value as much as 27 percent; but HP under Fiorina fell 55 percent. During those years, stocks in companies like Apple and Dell rose. Google went public, and Facebook was launched. The S&P 500 yardstick on major U.S. firms showed only a 7 percent drop. Plenty good was happening in U.S. industry and in technology.

It was Fiorina’s failed leadership that brought her company down. After an unsuccessful attempt to catch up to IBM’s growth in IT services by buying PricewaterhouseCooper’s consulting business (PwC, ironically, ended up going to IBM instead), she abruptly abandoned the strategic goal of expanding IT services and consulting and moved into heavy metal. At a time that devices had become a low margin commodity business, Fiorina bought for $25 billion the dying Compaq computer company, which was composed of other failed businesses. Unsurprisingly, the Compaq deal never generated the profits Fiorina hoped for, and HP’s stock price fell by half. The only stock pop under Fiorina’s reign was the 7 percent jump the moment she was fired following a unanimous board vote. After the firing, HP shuttered or sold virtually all Fiorina had bought.

During the debate, Fiorina countered that she wasn’t a failure because she doubled revenues. That’s an empty measurement. What good is doubling revenue by acquiring a huge company if you’re not making any profit from it? The goals of business are to raise profits, increase employment and add value. During Fiorina’s tenure, thanks to the Compaq deal, profits fell, employees were laid off and value plummeted. Fiorina was paid over $100 million for this accomplishment.

At the time, most industry analysts, HP shareholders, HP employees and even some HP board members resisted the Compaq deal. (Fiorina prevailed in the proxy battle, with 51.4 percent, partly thanks to ethically questionable tactics, but that’s another story.) But rather than listen to the concerns of her opponents, she ridiculed them, equating dissent with disloyalty. As we saw during the debate when she attacked me, rather than listen to or learn from critics, Fiorina disparages them. She did so regularly to platoons of her own top lieutenants and even her board of directors—until they fired her.

These facts have been documented, both with quotes from her own board members and leadership team and with raw numbers in such revered publications as Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and leading tech industry journals. I also have extensive first-hand knowledge of this situation, having spoken at length with two of Fiorina’s successors, past and present HP board members, fellow CEOs and scores of HP employees—including many of her own top lieutenants who contacted me directly, such as her head of employee relations.

And I have to point out the obvious: If the board was wrong, the employees wrong, and the shareholders wrong—as Fiorina maintains—why in 10 years has she never been offered another public company to run?

(click here to continue reading Carly Fiorina 2016: Why I Still Think Carly Fiorina Was a Terrible CEO – POLITICO Magazine.)

Calumet 5-6969
Calumet 5-6969

and on the topic of Lucent:

Yet her celebrated tenure at Lucent has been clouded by what happened two years after she left in 1999. The once-highflying business worth more than $250 billion at its peak nearly collapsed in the face of an accounting scandal and the telecommunications bust. The company laid off 50,000 employees in 2001 alone. Today the company, after merging with Alcatel of France, is worth only about $10 billion.

Lucent, like some its rivals, artificially burnished its financial performance through vendor financing — lending money to customers so they could buy its products. In 2004, the company settled charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission that accused it of perpetrating a $1.1 billion accounting fraud.

“It’s unlikely she would have been considered for the HP job once it became clear that Lucent’s success had more to do with loose credit terms and creative accounting than any reinvention of the company as the Second Coming of Cisco,” Rakesh Khurana, a Harvard professor who studied Mrs. Fiorina’s tenure, said in “Backfire: Carly Fiorina’s High-Stakes Battle for the Soul of Hewlett-Packard,” a book by the financial journalist Peter Burrows.

Still, Scott Woolley of Fortune magazine wrote a deeply reported story in 2010 during Ms. Fiorina’s unsuccessful Senate campaign in California that detailed a questionable deal she championed. Mr. Woolley focused on a vendor-financed transaction with a small company, PathNet, a sale that was valued at as much as $2.1 billion, though PathNet had only $1.6 million in annual revenue. It later filed for bankruptcy.

And Ms. Endlich Heffernan’s book connects Mrs. Fiorina to two other failures while she was at Lucent. In one, Mrs. Fiorina was assigned to run Lucent’s consumer products business. Perhaps that division was always destined for failure — it included Lucent’s handset business just as the world was pivoting to mobile communications. But Mrs. Fiorina orchestrated a joint venture with the Dutch electronics giant Philips Electronics that turned out to be a mess, one that she later told The Wall Street Journal was the biggest mistake of her career.

Then there was Lucent’s 1999 acquisition of Ascend Communications for more than $22 billion. That deal may go down in history as one of the worst. Again, however, Mrs. Fiorina wasn’t in charge at Lucent. Was she consulted on the transaction? Yes. But she didn’t try to object to it.

(click here to continue reading The Influence of Fiorina at Lucent, in Hindsight – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 22nd, 2015 at 11:22 am

Carly Fiorina, HP, Compaq and My Favorite Parenthetical Statement

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Cafe Bernard Loading Zone

Contained in this article about how poorly Carly FIorina ran HP is the following parenthetical statement, one of my favorite asides in a news article, maybe ever…

The centerpiece of those deals was the company’s $24.2 billion merger with Compaq Computer, which divided the HP board and greatly increased the company’s work force, size and breadth of products.

The deal was so personal to Mrs. Fiorina that she referred to HP as “Héloïse” and Compaq as “Abélard,” a pair whose romantic letters became treasures of medieval French literature, which she studied at Stanford. (Abélard was eventually castrated after fights with Héloïse’s family, a detail Compaq executives were unaware of at the time.)

But the merger, which was announced just before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and amid the dot-com downturn, also led to painful consolidation, cost cutting and layoffs that later haunted Mrs. Fiorina’s Senate race.

(click here to continue reading As Profile Rises, Carly Fiorina Aims to Redefine Record as a C.E.O. – The New York Times.)

Ha! I’m not sure who is Astrolabe in this metaphor, btw.

Compaq logo old.svg
Compaq logo old” by Original uploader was Koman90 at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transfer was stated to be made by User:koman90.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


Abelard and Heloise

If college has been a long time ago for you too, here is context:

Peter Abelard (1079 – 21 April 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. He was also a composer. His affair with and love for Héloïse d’Argenteuil has become legendary. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as “the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century”

(click here to continue reading Peter Abelard – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Héloïse (1090?/1100? – 16 May 1164) was a French nun, writer, scholar, and abbess, best known for her love affair and correspondence with Peter Abélard.

In his Historia Calamitatum, an autobiographical piece written around 1132, Abélard tells the story of his seduction of Héloïse, whom he met when in 1115 he himself, like Fulbert, became a canon in Paris.

It is unclear how old Heloise was at this time. She is described as an adolescentula (young girl), and so it is often assumed that she was about seventeen at the time, having been born in 1100-1. More recently, however, Constant Mews (and subsequently David Constant) have suggested that the age of seventeen is a seventeenth-century fabrication with no supporting contemporary evidence, and that she was probably as old as 27 at the time. The main piece of evidence for this is that in a later letter, Peter the Venerable writes to Heloise that he remembers her when he was a young man and she was a woman; this, they suggest, implies that Heloise was at least as old and possibly older than Peter. Given that Peter was born in 1092, it would mean that Heloise would have been nearer 27 at the time of the affair. They suggest that this makes more sense of Abelard’s later comment that he sought to seduce Heloise because she was the most famous woman in France for her studies – because, as they suggest, she would have been unlikely to have acquired this reputation by the age of 17. More tentatively, the extent of Heloise’s accomplishment in Greek and Hebrew, and her mature response to the relationship, might indicate someone older than 17.

Abelard tells how he convinced Fulbert to let him move into his house, telling Fulbert that he could not afford to live in his current house while studying, and offering to tutor Heloise in return. Abelard tells of their subsequent illicit relationship, which they continued until Héloïse became pregnant. Abelard moved Heloise away from Fulbert and sent her to his own sister in Brittany, where Heloise gave birth to a boy, whom she called Astrolabe. It is almost unknown what happened to Astrolabe in later life. He is never mentioned by Heloise in her letters to Abelard, and Abelard’s only reference to him outside the Historia Calamitatum is in the verses of advice addressed to him, and thought to have been written about 1135. His death-day is recorded in the necrology of the Paraclete as 29 or 30 October, but no year is given. He is mentioned only once in a later letter, when Peter the Venerable writes to Heloise: “I will gladly do my best to obtain a prebend in one of the great churches for your Astrolabe, who is also ours for your sake”.

Abelard agreed to marry Heloise to conciliate Fulbert, although on the condition that the marriage should be kept secret so as not to damage Abélard’s career; Heloise was initially reticent to agree to the secret marriage, but was eventually persuaded by Abelard. Heloise returned from Brittany, and the couple were secretly married in Paris.

Fulbert, however, began to spread news of the marriage, in order to punish Abelard for the damage done to his reputation. Heloise attempted to deny this, but this ongoing situation eventually caused Abélard to place Heloise for her own safety in the convent of Argenteuil, where Heloise had been brought up. Fulbert and his friends, however, believed that Abelard had simply found a way of getting rid of Heloise, by making her a nun. So, to punish Abelard, a group of Fulbert’s friends broke into Abelard’s room one night and castrated him.

After castration, filled with shame at his situation, Abélard became a monk in the Abbey of St Denis in Paris. At the convent in Argenteuil, Héloïse took the habit at Abelard’s insistence and much against her own wishes. She eventually became prioress there, but she and the other nuns were turned out in 1129 when the convent was taken over by the Abbey of St Denis. At this point Abélard arranged for them to enter the Oratory of the Paraclete, a deserted building near Nogent-sur-Seine in Champagne which had been established by Abelard himself in 1122 (though he had subsequently moved to become Abbot of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys in Lower Brittany). Héloïse became abbess of the new community of nuns there.

(click here to continue reading Héloïse (abbess) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 22nd, 2015 at 7:24 am

The Republican Agenda is Unpopular With The Majority of Americans

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Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)
Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)

There are two ways to look at the 2016 primary season:

When gloomy Republican Party leaders regrouped after President Obama’s 2012 re-election, they were intent on enhancing the party’s chances of winning back the White House. The result: new rules to head off a prolonged and divisive nomination fight, and to make certain the Republican standard-bearer is not pulled too far to the right before Election Day.

But as the sprawling class of 2016 Republican presidential candidates tumbled out of their chaotic second debate last week, it was increasingly clear that those rule changes — from limiting the number of debates to adjusting how delegates are allocated — had failed to bring to the nominating process the order and speed that party leaders had craved.


(click here to continue reading Party Rules to Streamline Race May Backfire for G.O.P. – The New York Times.)

Caught Perceiving The Idea
Caught Perceiving The Idea

There is the political equation analysis, a zero-sum game:

The prospect of a long and contentious nomination fight is only one reason for concern. The three-hour debate, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near here, suggested that Republican leaders had yet to realize their hope of keeping primary contenders from moving far to the right, complicating a general election bid, as happened to Mitt Romney in 2012. The candidates staked out conservative positions on a variety of topics — immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage and vaccinations for children — that, if appealing in such early Republican states as Iowa and South Carolina, could prove problematic in a general election.

In the starkest sign of how unsettled the situation is, what once seemed unthinkable — that Mr. Trump could win the Republican nomination — is being treated by many within the Republican establishment as a serious possibility. And one reason his candidacy seems strong is a change by the party in hopes of ending the process earlier: making it possible for states to hold contests in which the winner receives all the delegates, rather than a share based on the vote, starting March 15, two weeks earlier than in the last cycle. Ten states have said they will do so.

If Mr. Trump draws one-third of the Republican primary vote, as recent polls suggest he will, that could be enough to win in a crowded field. After March 15, he could begin amassing all the delegates in a given state even if he carried it with only a third of the vote. And the later it gets, the harder it becomes for a lead in delegates to be overcome, with fewer state contests remaining in which trailing candidates can attempt comebacks.

Or there is another perspective: the Republican agenda for America is so toxic that they want to hide it from voters, because if voters realize what the Republican plan is, then nobody will vote for Republicans. In other words, once voters hear what the GOP nominees are saying, there is no way in hell a majority of non-mouth-breathing citizens will vote for the Republican candidate.

Conservative positions …could prove problematic in a general election. 

No shit.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 19th, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Posted in politics

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Ted Cruz and Kim Davis Needs to Read the Bible Again

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Keep Your Confidence
Keep Your Confidence

Gregg Easterbrook has an excellent essay in The New Yorker about the phony Christians publicly rallying around Kim Davis and other members of the Christian Taliban who want to impose Evangelical Law which is basically Sharia Law. I’d also like to hear Mike “Sanctimonious” Huckabee answer why if his faith is so important, he is without a beard…

It’s undeniable that the earliest scripture books, the ones Christians call the Pentateuch and Jews call the Torah, don’t like same-sex relations. At the Garden of Eden, God decrees that a man will be the husband and a woman the wife. (See the second and third chapters of Genesis, ideally a scholarly translation such as the New Revised Standard; this article cites the N.R.S.V.) In Leviticus 18:22, the text states, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” In 20:13, Leviticus specifies that both parties in male-male sex shall “be put to death.”

That seems open-and-shut, though one might wonder why Davis, Cruz, Huckabee and the like seek only to deny gays marriage, rather than execute them as God decreed.

But here’s the thing. Christian theology says the New Testament amends the Old: what happened in the days of the apostles amends what came long before. Acts 13:39: “By this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Acts is the founding text of Pentecostalism.) Jesus overturned existing law about sin, the Sabbath, the afterlife and many other matters. His ministry proclaimed “a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” (II Corinthians 3:6.) “Letter” in this context means archaic law—that is, the law Davis, Cruz, and Huckabee want applied today.

When conservative Christians justify opposition to gay relations by citing ancient scripture, by the most amazing coincidence they don’t mention the other stuff there. The ancient passages that denounce same-sex relations also denounce eating shellfish and trimming one’s beard. The Christian who says God forbids homosexuality – then shaves before going out for dinner at Red Lobster – is speaking from both sides of his mouth.

In Leviticus, the Old Testament book that calls homosexuality an abomination, God not only sanctions but encourages slavery. Leviticus 25:44–46 , spells out rules for seizing, holding, and selling slaves. And there’s no estate tax: slaves may be kept “as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property.” In Deuteronomy 21:18–21, near the passages on the abomination of same-sex relations, ancient scripture directs that a disobedient child be taken by his parents to the city gate and stoned to death.

If banning homosexuality is “God’s authority” to a modern Christian, ritual murder of children ought to be as well. So why don’t today’s Judeo-Christians believe in slavery and filicide? For mainstream Jews, some ancient doctrine has been reinterpreted by rabbinical commentary or civil law; for Christians, premises of ancient scripture have been amended. This happened first via the middle prophets Isaiah and Hosea, who came centuries after ancient scripture—biblical tip: the key that unlocks the beauty of Abrahamic faith is the seldom read Book of Hosea—and then through the ministry of the Redeemer.

What does the New Testament say about homosexuality and gay marriage? Silence on the latter; on the former, there’s one reference. In his Letter to the Romans, verses 1:26-27, Paul observes of idol worshippers, “Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

(click here to continue reading Kim Davis Needs to Read the Bible Again – The New Yorker.)

Either Or
Either Or

Ms. Davis and Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz, and the rest are not following their own religion’s text, in other words. Do they wear blends of wool and cotton? Are the men clean-shaven? Yes, so they have chosen to ignore parts of Leviticus, and commandments in other books, the parts that are inconvenient to their hypocrisy, surprising nobody. 

Furthermore, in the New Testament, Paul was pretty anti-sex – including between men and women. As Easterbrook continues:

many church-married, monogamous, man-woman, devout Christian couples engage in acts once thought perversion. Beyond this, Paul frowned on all sexual interaction, including by men and women married to each other. (I Corinthians 7:29.) The apostles evinced no interest in any form of carnality. Jesus never wed, and if he experienced erotic longing, the specifics are lost to history. The Old Testament is chock-full with lust and rape: by the New Testament, it’s as if sex has gone out of style. Those who beheld Jesus bathed in the glory of the resurrection believed the long-dreamt golden age about to arrive. Sex just didn’t seem terribly important compared to that.

Biblical Accuracy
Biblical Accuracy

and the Bible is so contradictory to our modern society, most practitioners pick and choose which parts to ignore, and which to follow:

Of course, believers of all stripes pick and choose. Liberal Christians avert their eyes from Christ’s near-absolute ban on divorce, in Matthew 5:32. Wealthy Christians ignore their Redeemer’s warning that the rich are barred from heaven, in Matthew 19:24. Most Christians would rather not know that Jesus said to give to panhandlers, in Luke 6:30. Right now, the mainly Christian leaders of the European Union don’t seem concerned that Jesus said that only helping the destitute counts in the eyes of God. (Christ says, in Luke 6:33, “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”) Republican candidates thumping their chests about how admirably Christian they are skip the fact that Christ banned exactly such puffery. (Matthew 6:1 reads, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”) The Israeli right pounds the table about ancient scripture, but skips Exodus 22:21: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Iota Eta Sigma
Iota Eta Sigma

Parenthetically, Kim Davis broke another commandment and is breaking it every day she stays married to her current husband, as noted by Steve Wells:

But there is another fact that isn’t as well known: Kim Davis’s current husband is one of her former husbands, which means that her current marriage is an “abomination before the Lord.”

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 24:1-4

The Bible says nothing about same-sex marriage.* But it clearly says that Kim Davis’s current marriage is an abomination to God. Maybe she should rescind her own marriage license, rather than refuse to give them to others.

* It just says that sex between males is an abomination.

** I wonder which abomination is worse to the god of the Bible? Kim Davis’s marriage or sex between males?

**And that Bible-believers should kill men who have sex with men. (Rather than just refuse to give them marriage licenses.)

(click here to continue reading Dwindling In Unbelief: Kim Davis’s marriage to her former husband is an “abomination before the Lord.”.)

Bottom line, the members of this sect should read their own sacred texts a bit more closely, or else just shut up. Preferably both…

Written by Seth Anderson

September 13th, 2015 at 9:44 am

Posted in politics,religion

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Those Who Despise The Constitution Should Not Remain In Office Nor Run For President

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Jesus Hoards
Jesus Hoards

You’ve probably heard about Kim Davis, an elected official in KY who has unilaterally claimed the extra right to decide which biblical injunctions people should follow, based on her interpretation of particular verses, and not others. Note that Kim Davis swore an oath to her god to uphold the Constitution, the same document that does not mention God. In other words, she is sinning when she breaks her oath. 

As Noah Feldman puts it:

Whom you swear the oath by is different from what you swear to do. Officials in the U.S. definitively don’t swear to uphold God’s law. They swear to uphold the Constitution, which never mentions God at all. And they swear to uphold laws enacted under the Constitution — which means laws that are in compliance with the establishment clause that prohibits any established or official religion.

That’s the main reason the framers didn’t include God in the oath of office. It would’ve contradicted the proposition in the Constitution that said no religious test would ever be required to hold office under the Constitution.

But by saying she won’t issue the marriage licenses while serving in office, Davis is also, if I may humbly say so, committing a sin: violating an oath she made before God to uphold the Constitution and laws of the U.S. The Constitution requires her to issue licenses for gay couples. Every moment she disobeys the Constitution, she is violating her oath. The Bible doesn’t look kindly on oath-breaking. The only way for her to emerge from the state of sin is to resign.


(click here to continue reading What the Oath of Office Means to a Kentucky Clerk – Bloomberg View.)

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy
Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

and as Andy Ostroy writes in his open letter to Kim Davis:

You have no inalienable rights here under the United States Constitution. In fact, the Constitution protects the very people you are discriminating against, not you. The Supreme Court has affirmed that fact, despite your ignorance, intolerance and ill-advised protestations.

We have laws in America which we all must abide by. We can’t arbitrarily decide which laws to follow and which ones to ignore. That’s called chaos. Let me ask you this, Kim: in a country founded on the principle of separation of church and state and religious pluralism, would any of the following situations be acceptable to you?:

-can an Orthodox Jew refuse to issue marriage licenses to reform and conservative Jews because, according to his religious belief, these are not “real Jews?”

-can a radical Mormon insist on issuing licenses to polygamists?

-can a devout Catholic county clerk refuse to issue you a marriage license after your next (4th) divorce because he believes that marriage is sacred and considers you a sinner?

-can an Atheist refuse to issue licenses to Christians because her religious belief is that organized religion is the root of all evil?

These situations are as absurdly unconstitutional as your attempt to deny gays their legal right to marry because of your personal religious beliefs. The irony is, as a thrice divorced “traditional marriage” proponent, you have degraded this institution more than any gay couple likely ever will. No one’s stood in the way of your choice to marry four times. How dare you prevent others from marrying?

(click here to continue reading An Open Letter to Kim Davis | Andy Ostroy.)

 Don't Ask Me To Believe In Too Many Things

Don’t Ask Me To Believe In Too Many Things

More troubling to me than Christian Taliban like Ms. Davis are the candidates for the GOP nomination who gnash their teeth at the US Constitution, and who would rather have their Evangelical Law supersede the American government. A variant of Sharia Law, but one that elevates right wing Christian precepts and theology above established jurisprudence. These radicals should lose their citizenship and be deported. Bomb throwers like Ted “Calgary” Cruz:

Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” [Ted Cruz] said. “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. . . . I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally.”

Tyranny? Our system of government gives the Supreme Court final say over constitutional matters, and, though Cruz doesn’t like it, the court ordered states to recognize same-sex marriages. In fact, the high court specifically declined to give relief to Davis, and the federal judge who ordered her jailed for contempt of court is a George W. Bush appointee and son of a former Republican senator.

Now Cruz, who took an oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution,” wants people to defy the Supreme Court’s authority? Who is the lawless one?

Cruz isn’t the only Republican candidate seeking the nation’s highest office while encouraging people to ignore its laws. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, declared: “I thank God for Kim Davis, and I hope more Americans will stand with her.”

(click here to continue reading Lawbreaker Kim Davis and the lawless Ted Cruz – The Washington Post.)

These morons should be banned from running for president, at least under the auspices of a major party. Let them run as an independent on the Destroy the United States and All It Stands For Party. Hmm, maybe they already are…

These morons too:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, too, supported Davis, and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) called her jailing “absurd” and said stands such as Davis’s are “an important part of the American way.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that “you have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there. It’s a fundamental right.”

 Our system of government allows for freedom of speech, mostly, and freedom of religion, mostly, but if you are an official of the government, you have a clear obligation to support the system itself. You’ve taken an oath, remember? 

Here is the oath Kim Davis took:

“I, ….., do swear that I will well and truly discharge the duties of the office of ………….. County Circuit Court clerk, according to the best of my skill and judgment, making the due entries and records of all orders, judgments, decrees, opinions and proceedings of the court, and carefully filing and preserving in my office all books and papers which come to my possession by virtue of my office; and that I will not knowingly or willingly commit any malfeasance of office, and will faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor, affection or partiality, so help me God.”

and here is the Senator’s oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

(click here to continue reading 5 Briefing on Oath of Office.)

Sounds to me like Senator Cruz and his craven pals are breaking this oath, and thus should be impeached themselves, and barred from running for public office in the future…

Written by Seth Anderson

September 5th, 2015 at 9:35 am

The Trump Endgame is Disruption

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Washing the Trump
Washing the Trump off our shoes…

The truth is that presidential campaigns usually at this stage in the process are tedious affairs, filled with stump speeches that rarely change, and most sane people can safely ignore the process until the primary season actually begins. Donald Trump running as a candidate of the Trump Party1  has upended all that. I don’t see any plausible path for a Trump electoral college victory, thanks be Kant, but I’ll admit Trump has made the 2016 election more interesting. In a gapers block sort of way, but still, more interesting than having to wade through double speak from John Ellis Bush Bush2 and Carly Fiorina and the rest of the clown car.

Trump could change the race by stamping his image upon the Republicans in a way they cannot escape. Trump has made himself the symbol of racism against Latinos in the United States. He is absolute brand poison. Democrats are already airing television ads connecting other Republican candidates to Trump.

Another, more potent way Trump could determine the outcome of the race is by running a third-party candidacy. An independent Trump is the perfectly designed Republican-killer. He appeals to a constituency (white nativists) that forms a crucial component of the Republican base, but which bears almost no authentic support for the party’s anti-government domestic-policy agenda. He has the celebrity and money to sustain such a run. An independent Trump run would virtually eliminate any chance of Republican victory.

Republicans’ success requires the party to steer a course between these two outcomes — one damaging, the other ruinous. They must keep Trump within the party without allowing him to contaminate the party. Such an outcome is certainly possible. It will not be easy. More unnerving for Republican power brokers is the fact that the success of their project lies mainly in Trump’s hands. And what Trump is even trying to achieve is difficult to ascertain.

There are two broad possibilities that explain Trump’s campaign. The first is that he has no real plan. His presidential run is the extension of his broader public persona — a bid for attention and to carry out grudges. Trump is running to spite the reporters and pundits who predicted he would never actually enter the race. Or perhaps he started out trying to grab attention, and simply kept going. Or he actually wants to be president in some vague way, and believes or hopes the force of his personality will carry him through. Or he just hates Jeb Bush a lot — one “Trump associate” told the Washington Post that Trump “has two goals: One, to be elected president, and two, to have Jeb not be president” — and would drop out of the race if Scott Walker or Marco Rubio supplants Bush.

(click here to continue reading What Is the Trump Endgame? — NYMag.)

Fox News and its allies have created the Trump monster, and now it is ravaging their carefully crafted Potemkin villages of Tea Party supporters and rage-fiends. I guffaw. I guffaw nearly to the point of tears…

  1. and sometimes as a Republican, depending []
  2. Jeb! is a strange name to give oneself – the John Ellis shortening I get, but why put your surname into your nickname? []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 31st, 2015 at 8:20 am

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Politics and the Fuzzy Middle

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Not A Simple Binary Choice


As part of an interesting and long discussion of politics and tech nerds by David Roberts, he makes this historic point:

In postwar, mid-20th-century America, there was a period of substantial bipartisanship, and it powerfully shaped the way political and economic elites think about US politics. The popular picture of how politics works — reaching across the aisle, twisting arms, building coalitions behind common-sense policy — has clung to America’s self-conception long after the underlying structural features that enabled bipartisanship fundamentally shifted.

What enabled bipartisanship was, to simplify matters, the existence of socially liberal Republicans in the Northeast and Democrats in the South who were fiscally conservative and virulently racist. Ideologically heterogeneous parties meant that transactional, cross-party coalitions were relatively easy to come by.

Over the past several decades, the parties have polarized, i.e., sorted themselves ideologically (that’s what the GOP’s “Southern strategy” was about). Racist conservative Democrats became Republicans and social liberals became Democrats. The process has now all but completed: The rightmost national Democrat is now to the left of the leftmost national Republican.

Crucially, however, the process of polarization has been asymmetrical. While almost all liberals have become Democrats and almost all conservatives have become Republicans, far more Republicans self-identify as conservative than Democrats do as liberal, and consequently the GOP has moved much further right than the Democratic Party has left.

Conservative whites, freaked out by hippies in the ’60s, blacks in the ’70s, communists in the ’80s, Clintons in the ’90s, Muslims in the ’00s, and Obama more recently, are now more or less permanently freaked out, gripped by a sense of “aggrieved entitlement,” convinced that they are “losing their country.” (If only someone would come along and promise to make it great again!)

As the GOP has grown more demographically and ideologically homogeneous, it has become, in the memorable words of congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, “a resurgent outlier: ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; un-persuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

As the ongoing Republican primary is revealing in gruesome detail, asymmetrical polarization seems a long way from burning itself out.

(click here to continue reading Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics. – Vox.)

The political center does not exist – in any real sense – and our constitution empowers the rural minority to have an oversized say in deciding policy.  

 No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts

Also, this:

Third, in practical coalitional politics, the “center” will tend to be shaped not by rational thinking but by money and power. If there is any space left for bipartisanship in US politics, it is around measures that benefit corporate elites.

The right-wing base has a coherent position on climate change: It’s a hoax, so we shouldn’t do anything about it. The left-wing base has a coherent position: It’s happening, so we should do something about it. The “centrist” position, shared by conservative Democrats and the few remaining moderate Republicans, is that it’s happening but we shouldn’t do anything about it. That’s not centrist in any meaningful ideological sense; instead, like most areas of overlap between the parties, it is corporatist.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 30th, 2015 at 9:27 am

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Trump Is The Face of the Base of The Base Culture

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Autumnal Waste
Autumnal Waste

This paragraph by Paul Krugman made me laugh:

Joe Weisenthal asked me why Donald Trump is riding so high in the polls; as he said, my answer was subtle and nuanced.

But seriously, why is anyone surprised? Year after year the GOP base has been fed fantasies about death panels, senior figures have flirted with birtherism and routinely peddled conspiracy theories whenever good news arrives about health reform or the economy, a centrist president has been portrayed as a socialist who hates America, sitting governors have deferred to craziness over military exercises. Oh, and the unemployed have been blamed for their own plight, food stamp recipients and the disabled portrayed as malingerers. Then along comes Trump, who embodies the base’s values, its intellectual outlook, its deep lack of empathy for the unfortunate. And up goes the cry: “Don’t base voters realize that he’s not a serious figure?”

(click here to continue reading The Face of the Base – The New York Times.)

Donald Trump is the bloviating embodiment of the Tea Party, and all those who supported it for their own nefarious ends. I’m laughing, I just hope I won’t be crying in November, 2016…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2015 at 2:48 pm

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Donald Trump Joins the Race

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Charles Pierce writes an essay on the inevitability of Donald Trump joining the Republican Clown Car, 2015 edition, and you should certainly click through to the short piece, and read it yourself. He concludes:

[Trump] is the inevitable result of 40 years of political conjuring, mainly by Republicans, but abetted by far too many Democrats as well. He is the inevitable product of anyone who ever argued that our political institutions should be run “like a business.” (Like whose businesses? Like Trump’s? Like Carly Fiorina’s Hewlett Packard?) He is the inevitable product of anyone who ever argued why the government can’t balance its books “the way any American family would.”

Bozo The Clown
Bozo The Clown

He is the inevitable result of the deregulated economy that was deregulated out of a well-cultivated wonder and awe directed at the various masters of the universe. Sooner or later, all of this misbegotten magical thinking was going to burp up a clown like Donald Trump. Sooner or later, the conversion of the institutions of the national legislature into vehicles for polite ratfcking was going to burp up a Trey Gowdy, who will interrogate not the actual Sid Blumenthal, but the one that exists in thousands of fundraising letters and chain e-mails. The politics of this country have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of hallucinations today. Wish I could say I was surprised.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Joins the Race.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 17th, 2015 at 2:55 pm

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A Trans-Pacific Partnership Overview

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Shipping containers, Seattle.

More details about the TPP, and more reasons for Democrats1 to oppose it.

Have you heard? The TPP is a massive, controversial “free trade” agreement currently being pushed by big corporations and negotiated behind closed doors by officials from the United States and 11 other countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The TPP would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “trade” pact model that has spurred massive U.S. trade deficits and job loss, downward pressure on wages, unprecedented levels of inequality and new floods of agricultural imports. The TPP not only replicates, but expands NAFTA’s special protections for firms that offshore U.S. jobs. And U.S. TPP negotiators literally used the 2011 Korea FTA – under which exports have fallen and trade deficits have surged – as the template for the TPP. In one fell swoop, this secretive deal could:

In one fell swoop, this secretive deal could:


Although it is called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is not mainly about trade. Of TPP’s 29 draft chapters, only five deal with traditional trade issues. One chapter would provide incentives to offshore jobs to low-wage countries. Many would impose limits on government policies that we rely on in our daily lives for safe food, a clean environment, and more. Our domestic federal, state and local policies would be required to comply with TPP rules.

The TPP would even elevate individual foreign firms to equal status with sovereign nations, empowering them to privately enforce new rights and privileges, provided by the pact, by dragging governments to foreign tribunals to challenge public interest policies that they claim frustrate their expectations. The tribunals would be authorized to order taxpayer compensation to the foreign corporations for the “expected future profits” they surmise would be inhibited by the challenged policies.

(click here to continue reading Trans-Pacific Partnership.)

especially since corporate America is so gung-ho for the agreement:

As big a setback as Friday’s vote on Capitol Hill was for President Obama’s efforts to advance his trade agenda, it was an even bigger rebuff for the leaders of American business.

While there are deep divisions over trade policy among Democrats, and to some extent among Republicans as well, corporate America has been nearly unified in its support of a deal that would lower various barriers to trade and investment between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations.

Though many sought to put the best face on the vote, business groups and chief executives were quick to voice their displeasure with the House’s rejection of aid to workers harmed by imports, which could doom prospects for eventual approval of a wider trade pact.

(click here to continue reading Business Leaders React With Dismay to Defeat of Trade Bill – NYTimes.com.)

You Are A Wanderer By Trade
You Are A Wanderer By Trade

But still, the Democrats are to blame, not the Republicans who have majorities in both House and Senate…

Although certainly a minority, a few business groups oppose the trade pact. Unions, environmental groups and many liberals are also opposed. Many critics cited the job losses that followed the signing of North American Free Trade Agreement more than two decades ago.

There was also some applause for the defeat from groups like the American Sustainable Business Council, a network of progressive business organizations.

“The T.P.P. would give multinational corporations unprecedented power to evade safeguards that protect consumers, workers and the environment. It would hurt smaller, innovative businesses,” said David Levine, the group’s co-founder.

While most economists generally support the White House’s trade agenda, some on the left have kept up a steady drumbeat, warning that it has been structured primarily to advance the interests of Wall Street and major corporations doing business abroad.

(click here to continue reading Business Leaders React With Dismay to Defeat of Trade Bill – NYTimes.com.)

Yeah, economists like the NYT’s own Paul Krugman, who isn’t mentioned in this article, but who says he is against the TPP. 

  1. and Republicans []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 13th, 2015 at 10:28 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,