B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Thursday Leftovers – Plate 7

If I wasn’t such a lazy blogger, these would be full-blown posts, interspersed with actual thoughts of mine, but I am, so belly up to the blog bar…

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Shortly after Snyder became owner, the Skins lobbied the Prince George’s County authorities to authorize a ban on all pedestrians from entering the grounds of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (renamed FedExField after the delivery firm offered Snyder $205 million), even on public sidewalks. No public hearings were held before the ban went into effect. There was essentially no public transportation to the games, so the ban meant fans had no choice but to drive and park in the Snyder-owned lots.

Pedestrian ban/parking monopoly in hand, Snyder jacked the parking rate up from $10 to $25.

Szymkowicz found out about the ban after a friend had given him a pass to sit in the owner’s suite for a Washington/Dallas game at FedEx in 2001, but didn’t have a parking pass. Not wanting to pay $25 for a free ticket, Szymkowicz parked for free at Landover Mall, located about a half-mile from FedEx Field’s front entrance, and walked over, only to be told by police that walking into the stadium was against the law.

The county’s ban was repealed in October 2004. Szymkowicz not only had beaten Snyder, he’d also exposed the owner, who’d positioned himself as an everyfan when he bought the team, as the anti-fan phony he was.

Snyder got up to his old parking tricks again soon, however. Only the venue had changed.

(click here to continue reading The Atlanta Braves Borrowed Their Parking Scam From Dan Snyder.)

Bowers & Wilkins
Bowers & Wilkins headphones, one of many audio devices using a 3.5mm jack in my home or office

Damn, I hope Apple doesn’t remove the 3.5mm headphone jack. I have too many third-party headphones, speakers, musical instruments, etc. that wouldn’t connect anymore. Dongles are irritating to keep track of, and as Jason Snell writes, there doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to removing the headphone jack, not that anyone has come up with anyway.

Is Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone? Nobody really knows, though rumors have swirled for quite a while now. A recent exchange between Nilay Patel and John Gruber returned this debate to the foreground last week.

Of course, the truth is that it’s very hard to talk about this rumor in the absence of actual information. Any move like this by Apple would be accompanied with a raft of other information, including Apple’s rationale, any new features enabled by the removal, and of course adapters for existing hardware. In the absence of all that, people are able to fill in the blanks with bogeymen or rainbows depending on their point of view.

Before digging into the possible reasons for the move, it’s worth mentioning why this is such a hot-button issue in the first place. It’s all about inconvenience. As a standard that’s been around for more than a hundred years, there are a massive number of devices that support the 3.5mm headphone jack. Not just phones and tablets, but computers and amplified speakers and mixers and pretty much any other device in existence that can play audio.

There’s no doubt that if Apple were to remove the headphone jack, there would be some sort of adapter to allow headphones and speakers with headphone plugs to get audio out of an iPhone. But of course, adapters cost money and are easily lost or forgotten and can be bulky and annoying.

(click here to continue reading Searching for a good reason to remove the headphone jack – Six Colors.)

Debt is a finger laying on the scale of the economy. If a college education, for instance, didn’t cost so much, perhaps more small businesses could be launched… 

Young people very well may lead the country in entrepreneurship, as a mentality. But when it comes to the more falsifiable measure of entrepreneurship as an activity, older generations are doing most of the work. The average age for a successful startup-founder is about 40 years old, according to the Kauffman Foundation, a think tank focused on education and entrepreneurship. (In their words, one’s 40s are the “peak age for business formation.”)  The reality is that the typical American entrepreneur isn’t that hover-boarding kid in a hoodie; it’s his mom or dad. In fact, the only age group with rising entrepreneurial activity in the last two decades is people between 55 and 65.

So, why hasn’t Millennial entrepreneurship kept pace with either media expectations or past generations?

The answer begins with more debt and less risk-taking. The number of student borrowers rose 89 percent between 2004 and 2014, as Lettieri said in his testimony. During that time, the average debt held by student borrowers grew by 77 percent. Even when student debt is bearable, it can still shape a life, nudging young people toward jobs that guarantee a steady salary. Entrepreneurship, however, is a perilous undertaking that doesn’t offer such stability. There is also some evidence that young people’s appetite for risk-taking has declined at the same time that their student debt has grown. More than 40 percent of 25-to-34-year old Americans said a fear of failure kept them from starting a company in 2014; it 2001, just 24 percent said so.

The rarity of Millennial entrepreneurs doesn’t just deflate a common media myth—it could have lasting consequences for the competitiveness of the American economy. Although venture-capital investment has grown in the last decade, the majority of “startups” are really what most people consider “small businesses.” A new bodega, coffee shop, or small construction firm doesn’t seem like a radical act of innovation. But the government considers such companies to be startups, and they’re getting rarer as a handful of large firms dominate each sector of the U.S. economy. Three drug stores—CVS, Walgreen’s, and Rite Aid—own 99 percent of the national market. Two companies—Amazon and Barnes & Noble—sell half of the country’s books. If it is not quite a new Gilded Age for America’s monopolies, it is certainly a new dawn for its oligopolies.

(click here to continue reading The Myth of the Millennial Entrepreneur – The Atlantic.)

Go Teach All Nations
Go Teach All Nations

If you call yourself a Christian, and you enthusiastically support Donald Trump, you are a hypocrite. Plain and simple.

Those who believe this is merely reductionism should consider the words of Jesus: Do you have eyes but fail to see and ears but fail to hear? Mr. Trump’s entire approach to politics rests on dehumanization. If you disagree with him or oppose him, you are not merely wrong. You are worthless, stripped of dignity, the object of derision. This attitude is central to who Mr. Trump is and explains why it pervades and guides his campaign. If he is elected president, that might-makes-right perspective would infect his entire administration.

All of this is important because of what it says about Mr. Trump as a prospective president. But it is also revealing for what it says about Christians who now testify on his behalf (there are plenty who don’t). The calling of Christians is to be “salt and light” to the world, to model a philosophy that defends human dignity, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is to stand for justice, dispense grace and be agents of reconciliation in a broken world. And it is to take seriously the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”

Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling, even if unintentionally, that this calling has no place in politics and that Christians bring nothing distinctive to it — that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that power is the name of the game.

The French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul wrote: “Politics is the church’s worst problem. It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world.” In rallying round Mr. Trump, evangelicals have walked into the trap. The rest of the world sees it. Why don’t they?

(click here to continue reading The Theology of Donald Trump – The New York Times.)

Cell phone-iphile
Cell phone-iphile

Speaking of carelessness:

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, is yet again facing scrutiny for his involvement in the 2013 George Washington Bridge scandal. In the latest “Bridgegate” twist, the New Jersey governor can’t account for the phone he used to send text messages when the bridge was partially shut down—allegedly as political retribution—and during the subsequent legislative hearings, which could harm the failed presidential candidate’s chances of getting tapped for the No. 2 job.

Two of Christie’s former allies, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, are pushing prosecutors to introduce more evidence ahead of their criminal trial in September. Facing charges related to the lane closures, which created a days-long traffic jam roughly two and a half years ago, the duo is seeking the cell phone used by Christie during the scandal, but both the governor and federal prosecutors say they don’t know where it is. Gibson Dunn, the law firm Christie hired for the case, said it returned the phone after clearing the politician in the case, but did not specify to whom it was returned, Bloomberg reports.

News of Christie’s missing cell phone comes less than a day after F.B.I. director James Comey labeled Hillary Clinton “extremely careless” in her use of her private e-mail server while secretary of state, though he stopped short of recommending that criminal charges be brought against her. During his bid for president, Christie—who has allegedly filled the position of The Donald’s “manservant”, among other campaign roles—was quick to condemn Clinton for her e-mail practices. Now, it seems the governor’s national aspirations could be derailed by his own scandal. With a Bridgegate-saddled Christie on the ticket, Trump’s attacks on the former secretary of state would be weakened and introduce further ethical issues to the presumptive G.O.P. nominee’s campaign.

(click here to continue reading “Manservant” Chris Christie Can’t Find His Bridgegate Cell Phone | Vanity Fair.)

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered
Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

and speaking of idiots:

Trump currently dismisses climate change as a hoax invented by China, though he has quietly sought to shield real estate investments in Ireland from its effects.

But at the Republican presidential contender’s Palm Beach estate and the other properties that bear his name in south Florida, the water is already creeping up bridges and advancing on access roads, lawns and beaches because of sea-level rise, according to a risk analysis prepared for the Guardian.

In 30 years, the grounds of Mar-a-Lago could be under at least a foot of water for 210 days a year because of tidal flooding along the intracoastal water way, with the water rising past some of the cottages and bungalows, the analysis by Coastal Risk Consulting found.

Trump’s insouciance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change – even lapping up on his own doorstep – makes him something of an outlier in south Florida, where mayors are actively preparing for a future under climate change.

Trump, who backed climate action in 2009 but now describes climate change as “bullshit”, is also out of step with the US and other governments’ efforts to turn emissions-cutting pledges into concrete actions in the wake of the Paris climate agreement. Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the agreement.

And the presidential contender’s posturing about climate denial may further alienate the Republican candidate from younger voters and minority voters in this election who see climate change as a gathering danger.

(click here to continue reading Water world: rising tides close in on Trump, the climate change denier | US news | The Guardian.)

Until next time…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:48 am

The Struggle to Vote in Kansas

We Will Vote
We Will Vote

I would be more sanguine about Trump’s odds of winning the presidency if not for a few nagging thoughts. Hillary Clinton is a plodding centrist, not a natural politician. I’m still unconvinced the electronic voting machines are immune to shenanigans, and Trump is motivated to explore cheating so as to avoid an embarrassing loss. And the GOP has been methodically undermining voting rights in state after state after state. 

Like in Kansas:

The right to vote is turning into a tooth-and-claw saga in Kansas, thanks to right-wing ideologues’ determination to force new voters to produce a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers as proof of citizenship.

This is unheard-of in most of the nation, where aspiring voters are required only to swear to being citizens under penalty of prosecution for fraud. But in Kansas, the requirement that citizenship be documented has become a grave electoral impediment that is being challenged on two legal fronts.

In the first, a federal district judge in May ordered the state to register thousands of people who had been denied federal voting privileges because they did not produce proof of citizenship when they tried to register at motor vehicle offices. Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the requirement violated the National Voter Registration Act provision that “only the minimum amount of information” is needed to certify a voter. The state is appealing her ruling.

Judge Robinson found that 18,372 qualified voters had been unfairly barred from federal elections — about 8 percent of new applicants. She also found that between 1995 and 2013, there were only three instances in Kansas when noncitizens had voted. This was a humiliating setback for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been a major proponent of the Republican fantasy that voter fraud is rampant.

A separate lawsuit, also in Kansas and brought by voting rights groups, is focused on a brazen attempt to force prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship in state elections as an addendum to the federal government’s voter registration form.

So goes the weakened state of democracy in Kansas. As the courts thrash through the Republicans’ “voter fraud” myth, it is shocking that thousands of qualified Kansans still have no certainty that they will be allowed into the voting booth.

(click here to continue reading The Struggle to Vote in Kansas – The New York Times.)

We can all laugh and roll our eyes at the thought of President Trump, and yet…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:24 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with , ,

Ted Cruz Prepares for 2020 Presidential Run

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Might be worth saving this magazine…

Oh, joy. Being a Senator must be too boring for “Calgary” Cruz, he’d rather have a permanent presidential campaign instead. Well, on the bright side, maybe that Natural Born Citizen case will get settled this time.

Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign ended just two months ago. But his campaign for next cycle is already getting started.

According to a report Wednesday in National Review, the Texas senator is making big changes inside and outside of his Senate office to ready his political operation for a 2020 run. Cruz has been “conspicuously silent” recently, the report notes, but behind the scenes has “supervis[ed] the vast expansion of his electoral enterprise, integrating the operations of his campaign team,” and has instituted staffing changes to reflect his long-term goals.

Among them is Cruz’s decision to bring on a longtime Republican campaign operative—with no Hill-office experience—as his Senate chief of staff. His current chief is departing to work as a senior adviser to two new Cruz-aligned nonprofit groups:

Central to [Cruz’s] plans is the creation of two new affiliated nonprofits, their names to be announced in the coming days, which will effectively keep Cruz’s political machinery humming over the next four years. These groups, one a 501(c)3 and the other a 501(c)4, will be responsible for everything from championing Cruz’s legislative priorities to maintaining his donor database and coordinating his early-state travel. They will be an outgrowth of Cruz’s existing campaign apparatus, the nucleus of which has remained active in the aftermath of his departure from the race on May 3.

(click here to continue reading Texas Senator Ted Cruz Prepares for 2020 Presidential Run – The Atlantic.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:14 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with

Location of Last Season’s Acorn Woodpecker Party was uploaded to Flickr

Castle Rock Trail, Walnut Creek, CA.

From Wikipedia:
The breeding pair excavate a nest in a large cavity in a dead tree or a dead part of a tree. A group of adults may participate in nesting activities: field studies have shown that breeding groups range from monogamous pairs to breeding collectives of seven males and three females, plus up to 10 nonbreeding helpers. Young from a single brood have been found with multiple paternity.

Male acorn woodpecker with "granary tree" full of acorns

Acorn hoarded by acorn woodpecker
Food and homes
Acorn woodpeckers, as their name implies, depend heavily on acorns for food. In some parts of their range (e.g., California), the woodpeckers create granaries or "acorn trees" by drilling holes in dead trees, dead branches, telephone poles, and wooden buildings. The woodpeckers then collect acorns and find a hole that is just the right size for the acorn. As acorns dry out, they are moved to smaller holes and granary maintenance requires a significant amount of the bird’s time. They also feed on insects, sap, and fruit.

Defense and storing
The acorns are visible, and the group defends the tree against potential cache robbers like Steller’s jays and western scrub jays. Acorns are such an important resource to the California populations that acorn woodpeckers may nest in the fall to take advantage of the fall acorn crop, a rare behavior in birds.
Acorn woodpeckers can also be seen sallying from tree limbs to catch insects, eating fruit and seeds, and drilling holes to drink sap. The acorn woodpecker will use any human-made structures to store acorns, drilling holes into fence posts, utility poles, buildings, and even automobile radiators. Occasionally the woodpecker will put acorns into places where it cannot get them out. Woodpeckers put 220 kg (490 lb) of acorns into a wooden water tank in Arizona. In parts of its range the acorn woodpecker does not construct a "granary tree", but instead stores acorns in natural holes and cracks in bark. If the stores are eaten, the woodpecker will move to another area, even going from Arizona to Mexico to spend the winter.

more:
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I took Location of Last Season’s Acorn Woodpecker Party on July 01, 2016 at 04:09AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 06, 2016 at 10:11AM

Written by eggplant

July 6th, 2016 at 9:25 am

Colleen and George, Castle Rock Trail was uploaded to Flickr

Walnut Creek

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I took Colleen and George, Castle Rock Trail on July 01, 2016 at 04:07AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 05, 2016 at 08:06PM

Written by eggplant

July 5th, 2016 at 7:24 pm

Summer Vision was uploaded to Flickr

Montrose Harbor

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I took Summer Vision on June 18, 2016 at 01:00PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 27, 2016 at 07:06PM

Written by eggplant

June 27th, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Trump Running For President Like He Ran DJT – Into the Ground

Pope Doesn't Want to Wear Her Make Donald Drumpf Again Hat for some reason

 

Poorly, in other words, for everyone except Trump.

Reading between the lines, sounds as if Donald Trump is flailing. The GOP could call his bluff, and let Trump twist in the wind a bit. Trump may be rich, but he’s no billionaire, hence he needs the GOP to make it rain.

Frustrated by flagging donations and criticism from GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he “may go a different route” in funding his general election campaign if need be.

“I need support from the Republicans,” Trump said on “Fox and Friends,” noting that some in the party, including Republican National Committee officials, have “been terrific.”

“But it would be nice to have full support from people that are in office, I mean full verbal support,” he said. “Now with all that being said I may go a different route if those things don’t happen.”

“I can just spend my own money,” he said, likening the strategy to the one he used in the primaries. “I have a lot of cash. So I can do like I did with the others, just spend money on myself and go happily along and I think I’d win that way. There are many people who think I’d do better that way by being a little bit of the insurgent, the outsider and you know not working along. But I want to work along because the RNC has been terrific, Reince Priebus has been terrific and it’s all coming together.”

(click here to continue reading Trump: If GOP Doesn’t Support Me, Fine, ‘I Have A Lot Of Cash’.)

Will the RNC fund him? I wonder. One the one hand, if Trump gets beaten badly by Clinton, the GOP might lose the Senate and even the House, but on the other hand, Trump…

The reasons are many, Trump is horrible with money; a crappy businessman, and stingy with his own money, but the bottom line is that either he needs to sell a building or two, if possible, or set up a Kickstarter…

I Heard You Trying Not To Cry
I Heard You Trying Not To Cry

Donald Trump loves to talk about how rich he is. But according to the latest campaign-finance report, his presidential bid is very, very poor. In the month after clinching his party’s nomination, the “billionaire” businessman raised just $3.1 million and has loaned his campaign $2.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The campaign has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump’s own businesses, on products branded with his name and in direct payments to members of his family. His cash on hand is a paltry $1.3 million. That stands in stark contrast to the Clinton campaign, which announced a haul of nearly $26.4 million. Her cash on hand rang in at $42 million. Even Bernie Sanders, whose campaign is all but over, ended the month with $9.2 million cash on hand—seven times more than Trump—after raising $15.6 million in May. In fact, former candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson still have more cash on hand, as do House members running for re-election, including Peter King, Joe Kennedy, and Lee Zeldin.

(click here to continue reading Trump’s Campaign Is So Broke It Couldn’t Afford a Condo in Trump Tower – The Daily Beast.)

Just Around The Turn
Just Around The Turn

Trump’s one publicly traded company, i.e., the only company of his with financials that outsiders can examine, did horribly, and lost money for everyone except the Trump clan.

Drew Harwell reports:

It was promoted as the chance of a lifetime: Mom-and-pop investors could buy shares in celebrity businessman Donald Trump’s first public company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.

Their investments were quickly depleted. The company known by Trump’s initials, DJT, crumbled into a penny stock and filed for bankruptcy after less than a decade, costing shareholders millions of dollars, even as other casino companies soared.

In its short life, Trump the company greatly enriched Trump the businessman, paying to have his personal jet piloted and buying heaps of Trump-brand merchandise. Despite losing money every year under Trump’s leadership, the company paid Trump handsomely, including a $5 million bonus in the year the company’s stock plummeted 70 percent.

Many of those who lost money were Main Street shareholders who believed in the Trump brand, such as Sebastian Pignatello, a retired private investor in Queens. By the time of the 2004 bankruptcy, Pignatello’s 150,000 shares were worth pennies on the dollar.

“He had been pillaging the company all along,” said Pignatello, who joined shareholders in a lawsuit against Trump that has since been settled. “Even his business allies, they were all fair game. He has no qualms about screwing anybody. That’s what he does.”

(click here to continue reading As its stock collapsed, Trump’s firm gave him huge bonuses and paid for his jet – The Washington Post.)

Trump is used to running his business deals like a tin-pot dictator, siphoning funds off the top and letting everyone else pick up the expenses. So there is no surprise his presidential campaign is exactly the same model. 

Trump campaign expenses in May, per @FEC report:

Hats: $208k

Online advertising: $115k

Data management: $48k

Communications consulting: $38k

(click here to continue reading Kenneth P. Vogel on Twitter: “Trump campaign expenses in May, per @FEC report: Hats: $208k Online advertising: $115k Data management: $48k Communications consulting: $38k”.)

and:

Recipients of payments from Trump campaign with “Trump” in name, through May 31. Doesn’t include Mar-a-Lago/planes.

Trump expenses
Trump expenses.jpg

(click here to continue reading Derek Willis on Twitter: “Recipients of payments from Trump campaign with “Trump” in name, through May 31. Doesn’t include Mar-a-Lago/planes. https://t.co/JF6skaWYGF”.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 21st, 2016 at 10:14 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Why Paul Ryan Can’t Quit Donald Trump

Circular Reasons

Circular Reasons

Paul Ryan’s ideas are so toxic to the voting public, he can never articulate these ideas. He’s been a flim-flam man for so long, he’s probably forgotten what it is like to be honest. Perfect for the party of Donald Trump, in other words.

The details of Ryan’s vision have always remained somewhat foggy. The conservative revolution Ryan has in mind isn’t a popular or cultural one; it is entirely legislative. And the predicate for enacting it isn’t to sell a set of ideas to the public, but to steel the spines of legislators to vote for Ryan’s ideas no matter what the public thinks.

Ryan’s revolutionary ideas themselves aren’t entirely clear, either, though that wasn’t always the case. Before he became the undisputed intellectual leader of the conservative movement in the Obama era, he laid out a series of specific and radical reforms–including Social Security and Medicare privatization–in a 2008 bill called the Roadmap for America’s Future. When it fell to him as chairman of the House budget committee to draft a governing agenda for the whole party, though, many of the details vanished.

Ryan still wants to devolve Medicare into a subsidized system of competition between insurance carriers, but only for seniors in the distant future. He still wants to hand Medicaid over to the states and slash its budgets by hundreds of billions of dollars. He still wants to cut income tax rates for the wealthy to about a third of their current level. He still wants to spend lavishly on the military. But when asked how to pay for it all, he’s exceedingly vague. He promises to cut tax expenditures, but doesn’t say how or which ones. He promises to slash the domestic discretionary budget (which disproportionately benefits the poor), but won’t say which programs, or by how much.

All of that was to be decided after Republicans won the White House. That was Ryan’s game plan when he was budget chairman; it remained his game plan as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012. And the plan seemed to be well within reach when Republicans finally consolidated control of Congress in 2015, and a raft of talented candidates were lining up to fill the last piece of the puzzle: the presidency.

It’s impossible to fully grasp Ryan’s thinking without understanding how close he feels he’s come to realizing a decades-old dream. That dream, as Grover Norquist told CPAC four years ago, culminates with the election of a figurehead. “We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget…We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate…Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Why Paul Ryan Can’t Quit Donald Trump | New Republic.)

In a just universe, Donald Trump will lead to an overwhelming loss to the Republican Party, putting the GOP as the minority party for decades in both House and Senate. 

Written by Seth Anderson

June 20th, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Sit Like An Egyptian was uploaded to Flickr

Wells St., I think

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I took Sit Like An Egyptian on April 24, 2011 at 08:39AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 18, 2016 at 03:26PM

Written by eggplant

June 18th, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Donald Trump Is Too Lazy to Be a Successful Fascist

That Horse Is Long Gone
That Horse Is Long Gone

Fun line from a Frank Rich column about how far the GOP elite is out of touch with its voters, hence Trump’s sweep of the primaries, and how Ronald Reagan was no hero of the GOP elite either, up until he won: Donald Trump is too easily distracted to be successful fascist.

But there’s little evidence that many grassroots Republicans now give a damn what any Bush has to say about Trump or much else.

The only conservative columnist who seems to recognize this reality remains Peggy Noonan, who worked in the Reagan White House. As she pointed out in Wall Street Journal columns this spring, conservatism as “defined the past 15 years by Washington writers and thinkers” (i.e., since George W. Bush’s first inauguration) — “a neoconservative, functionally open borders, slash-the-entitlements party” — appears no longer to have any market in the Republican base. A telling poll by Public Policy Polling published in mid-May confirmed that the current GOP Washington leadership is not much more popular than the departed John Boehner and Eric Cantor: Only 40 percent of Republicans approve of the job performance of Paul Ryan, the Establishment wonder boy whose conservative catechism Noonan summarized, while 44 percent disapprove. Only 14 percent of Republicans approve of Mitch McConnell. This is Trump’s party now, and it was so well before he got there. It’s the populist-white-conservative party that Goldwater and Reagan built, with a hefty intervening assist from Nixon’s southern strategy, not the atavistic country-club Republicanism whose few surviving vestiges had their last hurrahs in the administrations of Bush père and fils. The third wave of the Reagan Revolution is here to stay.

Were Trump to gain entry to the White House, it’s impossible to say whether he would or could follow Reagan’s example and function within the political norms of Washington. His burlesque efforts to appear “presidential” are intended to make that case: His constant promise to practice “the art of the deal” echoes Reagan’s campaign boast of having forged compromises with California’s Democratic legislature while governor. More likely a Trump presidency would be the train wreck largely predicted, an amalgam of the blunderbuss shoot-from-the-hip recklessness of George W. Bush and the randy corruption of Warren Harding, both of whom were easily manipulated by their own top brass. The love child of Hitler and Mussolini Trump is not. He lacks the discipline and zeal to be a successful fascist.

The good news for those who look with understandable horror on the prospect of a Trump victory is that the national demographic math is different now from Reagan’s day. The nonwhite electorate, only 12 percent in 1980, was 28 percent in 2012 and could hit 30 percent this year. Few number crunchers buy the Trump camp’s spin that the GOP can reclaim solidly Democratic territory like Pennsylvania and Michigan — states where many white working-class voters, soon to be christened “Reagan Democrats,” crossed over to vote Republican in Reagan’s 1984 landslide. Many of those voters are dead; their epicenter, Macomb County, Michigan, was won by Barack Obama in 2008. Nor is there now the ’70s level of discontent that gave oxygen to Reagan’s insurgency. President Obama’s approval numbers are lapping above 50 percent. Both unemployment and gas prices are low, hardly the dire straits of Carter’s America. Trump’s gift for repelling women would also seem to be an asset for Democrats, creating a gender gap far exceeding the one that confronted Reagan, who was hostile to the Equal Rights Amendment.

(click here to continue reading Ronald Reagan Was Once Donald Trump — NYMag.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 18th, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Darling Lauretta Duerrstein is dead

one comment

Our Darling Lauretta
Our Darling Lauretta

I was randomly browsing my undeveloped photos, as I frequently do, and ran across a photo I shot at the Saint Boniface Catholic Cemetery a few months ago.1 Googling the name of “Lauretta Duerrstein” to make sure I was spelling it correctly, ran into this essay written by Julia Crowe, from 1990, that begins:

Darling Lauretta Duerrstein is dead. She died before her eighth birthday. Nearly a hundred years later I sat on her grave trying to sketch her stony likeness. She holds a headless dove on her left arm, while her right hand rests on a petrified stump. A bonnet and flowers lie strewn at her dainty stone boots. Her eyes stare beyond the shadows that shift across her long hair.

As the city’s past is torn down and paved over, I can still find remnants of its history in the cemeteries. But my pencil is too slow to trace the wind-worn inscriptions of immigrant names before they recede into the stone. I sat in the scratchy grass not knowing where to begin my drawing.

(click here to continue reading Cemetary Boy | Our Town | Chicago Reader.)

When I visited the cemetery, the grave had a fairly new toy monkey. Who put it there, I wonder? A relative? A sympathetic parent? 

Footnotes:
  1. January, 2016, to be precise []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 17th, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque

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The Paul Ryan Delusion

Bedtime Story - drawing by Barry Blitt
Paul Ryan reads a Bedtime Story – drawing by Barry Blitt

Paul Ryan and other believers in Republican orthodoxy, ie, faith in the Laffer Curve, Supply Side economics, tax cuts for rich, expansion of military, ad nauseam, seem to be deluded about many things1 but the most amusing is their belief that they will be able to tame Donald Trump. Good luck with that buddy. 

Ryan Lizza writes, in part:

There are essentially two Republican parties right now: the Party of Donald J. Trump and the Party of House Speaker Paul Ryan—who has, nonetheless, endorsed Trump for President. One of the ways in which members of the Ryan faction delude themselves is by believing that Ryan’s policies would dominate if Trump were President and Ryan remained Speaker of the House.

As with Ryan’s optimistic predictions about House Republican unity, there is no reason to believe that a future Republican President would share the House G.O.P.’s view of Congress’s role. But it’s an especially absurd assumption when it comes to Trump, who has displayed authoritarian instincts and has argued that he will exceed Obama in using the powers of the executive branch.

More important, Trump’s agenda is not Ryan’s. The Speaker has been regularly unveiling policy reports on the Republican House agenda, and Trump, who seems oblivious to the Ryan project, has been shredding the ideas with his public comments. Two weeks ago, Trump argued that Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge, couldn’t do his job because his parents were born in Mexico. A few days later, Ryan was scheduled to speak in a predominantly black neighborhood in Washington, D.C., about his new and much-touted policy proposals to address poverty. He ended up using the event to describe Trump’s claims about Curiel as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He immediately added, though, that he was still supporting him for President, in part because he thought that Hillary Clinton was worse.

(click here to continue reading The Paul Ryan Delusion – The New Yorker.)

Hillary worse? Really? Really? That’s the reason you support the regurgitated Cheeto false-god? Talk about choosing party over country.

Footnotes:
  1. that the country shares their corporate tax-cut fetishes, for one []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 17th, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Posted in politics

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Trump Likes To Keep A Fat Guy Around

Fat Blak n Happy
Fat Blak n Happy

Donald Trump likes to keep one fat guy around. Seems legit

There was a fat contestant who was a buffoon and a fuckup,” recalls the midlevel producer. “And he would fuck up week after week, and the producers would figure that he’d screwed up so badly that Trump would have to fire him. But Trump kept deciding to fire someone else. The producers had to scramble because of course Trump can never be seen to make a bad call on the show, so we had to re-engineer the footage to make a different contestant look bad. Later, I heard a producer talk to him, and Trump said, ‘Everybody loves a fat guy. People will watch if you have a funny fat guy around. Trust me, it’s good for ratings.’ I look at Chris Christie now and I swear that’s what’s happening.”

(click here to continue reading Apprentice crew members on their old boss, Donald Trump..)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 16th, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Posted in News-esque

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Why Healthcare Companies Are Leaving Kansas for Missouri

Remembering Your Infinite Course
Remembering Your Infinite Course

And speaking about why Donald Trump is the Republican Party of 2016, and how belief in Voodoo Economics is the underpinning of the GOP con, there is the real world example of Kansas. A Tea Party governor, a Tea Party legislature, and free reign to implement all those Koch and ALEC inspired schemes for going on five years now. 

Sliding north, we find ourselves in the failed state of Kansas, now in the fifth year of the Brownbackian Dark Ages, as such things are reckoned. Somehow, the fact that Kansas’ status as a supply-side lab rat has dropped the state down a political garbage chute the likes of which hasn’t been seen since they shredded the Articles of Confederation is beginning to seep under the guardhouses of the gated communities. The head of a healthcare company is fleeing to the Missouri border and he’s not shy about telling the world why. 

From Pathfinder Health Innovations CEO Jeff Blackwood

It wasn’t just that Brownback was conservative; it was that he is seen as a tool of the Koch brothers and ALEC, a conservative think tank and lobbying organization. Brownback used his influence and funding to eliminate “moderate” republicans from the Kansas legislature and install his hand-picked conservative cronies. He couldn’t do the same with the Kansas Supreme Court, which has ruled a number of the conservative legislature’s laws as unconstitutional, so Brownback’s administration decided to threaten to cut off funding to the court system and is actively pursuing legislation to impeach the Supreme Court.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government. Under Brownback’s direction, Kansas implemented an unprecedented tax cut in 2012, eliminating taxes for LLCs and professional firms (for full disclosure, PHI is a C Corporation) and making the largest cuts in the highest tax brackets. He shifted taxes to create a heavier burden on property and sales taxes, which typically represent a larger burden on lower income brackets. Brownback declared that this tax cut would be a “shot of adrenaline” for the Kansas economy, but the reality is that the tax cuts have had the opposite effect. Kansas lags neighboring states in job growth. For 11 of the last 12 months, Kansas has dramatically missed revenue targets, falling deeper in debt and facing another round of degraded bond ratings.

The worst part is that the burdens for the shortfalls rest on the shoulders of those who can least afford it – children and the developmentally disabled.

This guy says it flat out–Brownback has engineered the failure of government in Kansas to prove to himself and to the world that government inevitably fails. It’s not often that you see it made that plain, and now it’s time to point out that enough voters in Kansas showed up and re-elected this cluck in what only can be seen now as a suicide pact.

 

(click here to continue reading Why Healthcare Companies Are Leaving Kansas for Missouri.)

Discarded Cautions
Discarded Cautions

and a brief refresher of the Return of Voodoo Economics from Paul Krugman:

During his failed bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination George H. W. Bush famously described Ronald Reagan’s “supply side” doctrine — the claim that cutting taxes on high incomes would lead to spectacular economic growth, so that tax cuts would pay for themselves — as “voodoo economic policy.” Bush was right. Even the rapid recovery from the 1981-82 recession was driven by interest-rate cuts, not tax cuts. Still, for a time the voodoo faithful claimed vindication.

First, voodoo economics has dominated the conservative movement for so long that it has become an inward-looking cult, whose members know what they know and are impervious to contrary evidence. Fifteen years ago leading Republicans may have been aware that the Clinton boom posed a problem for their ideology. Today someone like Senator Rand Paul can say: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.” Clinton who?

Second, the nature of the budget debate means that Republican leaders need to believe in the ways of magic. For years people like Mr. Ryan have posed as champions of fiscal discipline even while advocating huge tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations. They have also called for savage cuts in aid to the poor, but these have never been big enough to offset the revenue loss. So how can they make things add up?

Well, for years they have relied on magic asterisks — claims that they will make up for lost revenue by closing loopholes and slashing spending, details to follow. But this dodge has been losing effectiveness as the years go by and the specifics keep not coming.

(click here to continue reading Voodoo Economics, the Next Generation – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 16th, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Chris Christie Fetches Donald Trump’s Burger and Fries

Watch it Rot - from October 2006
Watch it Rot – a McDonald’s hamburger from October 2006, a metaphor of course.

OMG, I would love to see this clip. I wonder what the good citizens of New Jersey think about it? Are they happy that Governor Christie is busying himself with other, important matters like waiting for Donald Trump to pat him on the head? Or do they wish he was still doing the job he is currently being paid to do?

Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, another of Trump’s opponents early in the campaign, has transformed himself into a sort of manservant, who is constantly with Trump at events. (One Republican told me that a friend of his on the Trump campaign used Snapchat to send him a video of Christie fetching Trump’s McDonald’s order1 .)

(click here to continue reading Occupied Territory – The New Yorker.)

Did Governor Christie sneak some fries? Good lord, how the self-righteous have fallen…

Footnotes:
  1. *Christie’s office denies this account. []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 15th, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Posted in humor,politics

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