Aug 18 2017

Neo Liberalism and the Ascendancy of Markets Over Humanity

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world
By Stephen Metcalf, The Guardian
Friday 18 August 2017

That Hayek is considered the grandfather of neoliberalism – a style of thought that reduces everything to economics – is a little ironic given that he was such a mediocre economist. He was just a young, obscure Viennese technocrat when he was recruited to the London School of Economics to compete with, or possibly even dim, the rising star of John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge.

The plan backfired, and Hayek lost out to Keynes in a rout. Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936, was greeted as a masterpiece. It dominated the public discussion, especially among young English economists in training, for whom the brilliant, dashing, socially connected Keynes was a beau idéal. By the end of the second world war, many prominent free-marketers had come around to Keynes’s way of thinking, conceding that government might play a role in managing a modern economy. The initial excitement over Hayek had dissipated. His peculiar notion that doing nothing could cure an economic depression had been discredited in theory and practice. He later admitted that he wished his work criticising Keynes would simply be forgotten.

Hayek’s was a total worldview: a way of structuring all reality on the model of economic competition. He begins by assuming that nearly all (if not all) human activity is a form of economic calculation, and so can be assimilated to the master concepts of wealth, value, exchange, cost – and especially price. Prices are a means of allocating scarce resources efficiently, according to need and utility, as governed by supply and demand. For the price system to function efficiently, markets must be free and competitive. Ever since Smith imagined the economy as an autonomous sphere, the possibility existed that the market might not just be one piece of society, but society as a whole. Within such a society, men and women need only follow their own self-interest and compete for scarce rewards. Through competition, “it becomes possible”, as the sociologist Will Davies has written, “to discern who and what is valuable”.

What any person acquainted with history sees as the necessary bulwarks against tyranny and exploitation – a thriving middle class and civil sphere; free institutions; universal suffrage; freedom of conscience, congregation, religion and press; a basic recognition that the individual is a bearer of dignity – held no special place in Hayek’s thought. Hayek built into neoliberalism the assumption that the market provides all necessary protection against the one real political danger: totalitarianism. To prevent this, the state need only keep the market free.

This last is what makes neoliberalism “neo”. It is a crucial modification of the older belief in a free market and a minimal state, known as “classical liberalism”. In classical liberalism, merchants simply asked the state to “leave us alone” – to laissez-nous faire. Neoliberalism recognised that the state must be active in the organisation of a market economy. The conditions allowing for a free market must be won politically, and the state must be re-engineered to support the free market on an ongoing basis.

That isn’t all: every aspect of democratic politics, from the choices of voters to the decisions of politicians, must be submitted to a purely economic analysis. The lawmaker is obliged to leave well enough alone – to not distort the natural actions of the marketplace – and so, ideally, the state provides a fixed, neutral, universal legal framework within which market forces operate spontaneously. The conscious direction of government is never preferable to the “automatic mechanism of adjustment” – ie the price system, which is not only efficient but maximises liberty, or the opportunity for men and women to make free choices about their own lives.

It is a grand epistemological claim – that the market is a way of knowing, one that radically exceeds the capacity of any individual mind. Such a market is less a human contrivance, to be manipulated like any other, than a force to be studied and placated. Economics ceases to be a technique – as Keynes believed it to be – for achieving desirable social ends, such as growth or stable money. The only social end is the maintenance of the market itself. In its omniscience, the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts.

Hayek’s Big Idea isn’t much of an idea – until you supersize it. Organic, spontaneous, elegant processes that, like a million fingers on a Ouija board, coordinate to create outcomes that are otherwise unplanned. Applied to an actual market – one for pork bellies or corn futures – this description is little more than a truism. It can be expanded to describe how various markets, in commodities and labour and even money itself, form that part of a society known as “the economy”. This is less banal, but still inconsequential; a Keynesian accepts this description happily. But what if we bump it up one more step? What if we reconceive all of society as a kind of market?

Markets may be human facsimiles of natural systems, and like the universe itself, they may be authorless and valueless. But the application of Hayek’s Big Idea to every aspect of our lives negates what is most distinctive about us. That is, it assigns what is most human about human beings – our minds and our volition – to algorithms and markets, leaving us to mimic, zombie-like, the shrunken idealisations of economic models. Supersizing Hayek’s idea and radically upgrading the price system into a kind of social omniscience means radically downgrading the importance of our individual capacity to reason – our ability to provide and evaluate justifications for our actions and beliefs.

As a result, the public sphere – the space where we offer up reasons, and contest the reasons of others – ceases to be a space for deliberation, and becomes a market in clicks, likes and retweets. The internet is personal preference magnified by algorithm; a pseudo-public space that echoes the voice already inside our head. Rather than a space of debate in which we make our way, as a society, toward consensus, now there is a mutual-affirmation apparatus banally referred to as a “marketplace of ideas”. What looks like something public and lucid is only an extension of our own pre-existing opinions, prejudices and beliefs, while the authority of institutions and experts has been displaced by the aggregative logic of big data. When we access the world through a search engine, its results are ranked, as the founder of Google puts it, “recursively” – by an infinity of individual users functioning as a market, continuously and in real time.

According to the logic of Hayek’s Big Idea, these expressions of human subjectivity are meaningless without ratification by the market – as Friedman said, they are nothing but relativism, each as good as any other. When the only objective truth is determined by the market, all other values have the status of mere opinions; everything else is relativist hot air. But Friedman’s “relativism” is a charge that can be thrown at any claim based on human reason. It is a nonsense insult, as all humanistic pursuits are “relative” in a way the sciences are not. They are relative to the (private) condition of having a mind, and the (public) need to reason and understand even when we can’t expect scientific proof. When our debates are no longer resolved by deliberation over reasons, then the whimsies of power will determine the outcome.

This is where the triumph of neoliberalism meets the political nightmare we are living through now. “You had one job,” the old joke goes, and Hayek’s grand project, as originally conceived in 30s and 40s, was explicitly designed to prevent a backslide into political chaos and fascism. But the Big Idea was always this abomination waiting to happen. It was, from the beginning, pregnant with the thing it was said to protect against. Society reconceived as a giant market leads to a public life lost to bickering over mere opinions; until the public turns, finally, in frustration to a strongman as a last resort for solving its otherwise intractable problems.

What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics. What can’t be quantified must not be real, says the economist, and how do you measure the benefits of the core faiths of the enlightenment – namely, critical reasoning, personal autonomy and democratic self-government? When we abandoned, for its embarrassing residue of subjectivity, reason as a form of truth, and made science the sole arbiter of both the real and the true, we created a void that pseudo-science was happy to fill.

A little too mystical for me but it does point out why Neo Liberalism is a failure as a Philosophy as well as an Economic Policy.

Aug 18 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Seth Meyers: Statement on Charlottesville

Paul Krugman: Trump Makes Caligula Look Pretty Good

Even before the media obsession with Hillary Clinton’s email server put The Worst President Ever™ in the White House, historians were comparing Donald Trump to Caligula, the cruel, depraved Roman emperor who delighted in humiliating others, especially members of the empire’s elite. But seven months into the Trump administration, we can see that this comparison was unfair.

For one thing, Caligula did not, as far as we know, foment ethnic violence within the empire. For another, again as far as we know, Rome’s government continued to function reasonably well despite his antics: Provincial governors continued to maintain order, the army continued to defend the borders, there were no economic crises.

Finally, when his behavior became truly intolerable, Rome’s elite did what the party now controlling Congress seems unable even to contemplate: It found a way to get rid of him.

Anyone with eyes — eyes not glued to Fox News, anyway — has long realized that Trump is utterly incapable, morally and intellectually, of filling the office he holds. But in the past few days things seem to have reached a critical mass.

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Aug 18 2017

The Breakfast Club (Leadership)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Mongol ruler Genghis Khan dies; Women in U.S. clinch right to vote; James Meredith graduates from Univ. of Miss.; Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ published in U.S.; Actor-director Robert Redford born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.

Rosalynn Carter

Happy 90th Birthday to former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.

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Aug 17 2017

The Antifa

Antifa: A Look at the Anti-Fascist Movement Confronting White Supremacists in the Streets

Part 2

Clergy in Charlottesville Were Trapped by Torch-Wielding Nazis

Terror in Charlottesville, Part 2

Witnessing the Terror in Charlottesville

Yes, What About the “Alt-Left”?
By Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
Aug. 16 2017

Brandy Daniels

It was basically impossible to miss the antifa for the group of us who were on the steps of Emancipation Park in an effort to block the Nazis and alt-righters from entering. Soon after we got to the steps and linked arms, a group of white supremacists—I’m guessing somewhere between 20-45 of them—came up with their shields and batons and bats and shoved through us. We tried not to break the line, but they got through some of us—it was terrifying, to say the least—shoving forcefully with their shields and knocking a few folks over. We strengthened our resolve and committed to not break the line again. Some of the anarchists and anti-fascist folks came up to us and asked why we let them through and asked what they could do to help. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou talked with them for a bit, explaining what we were doing and our stance and asking them to not provoke the Nazis. They agreed quickly and stood right in front of us, offering their help and protection.

Less than 10 minutes later, a much larger group of the Nazi alt-righters come barreling up. My memory is again murky on the details. (I was frankly focused on not bolting from the scene and/or not soiling myself—I know hyperbole is common in recounting stories like these, but I was legitimately very worried for my well-being and safety, so I was trying to remember the training I had acquired as well as, for resolve, to remember why I was standing there.) But it had to have been at least 100 of them this go around. I recall feeling like I was going to pass out and was thankful that I was locked arms with folks so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground before getting beaten. I knew that the five anarchists and antifa in front of us and the 20 or so of us were no match for the 100-plus of them, but at this point I wasn’t letting go.

At that point, more of the anarchists and antifa milling nearby saw the huge mob of the Nazis approach and stepped in. They were about 200-300 feet away from us and stepped between us (the clergy and faith leaders) and the Nazis. This enraged the Nazis, who indeed quickly responded violently. At this point, Sekou made a call that it was unsafe—it had gotten very violent very fast—and told us to disperse quickly.

While one obviously can’t objectively say what a kind of alternate reality or “sliding doors”–type situation would have been, one can hypothesize or theorize. Based on what was happening all around, the looks on their faces, the sheer number of them, and the weapons they were wielding, my hypothesis or theory is that had the antifa not stepped in, those of us standing on the steps would definitely have been injured, very likely gravely so. On Democracy Now, Cornel West, who was also in the line with us, said that he felt that the antifa saved his life. I didn’t roll my eyes at that statement or see it as an exaggeration—I saw it as a very reasonable hypothesis based on the facts we had.

Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin

There was a group of antifa defending First United Methodist Church right outside in their parking lot, and at one point the white supremacists came by and antifa chased them off with sticks.

Rebekah Mennin

I stood with a group of interfaith clergy and other people of faith in a nonviolent direct action meant to keep the white nationalists from entering the park to their hate rally. We had far fewer people holding the line than we had hoped for, and frankly, it wasn’t enough. No police officers in sight (that I could see from where I stood), and we were prepared to be beaten to a bloody pulp to show that while the state permitted white nationalists to rally in hate, in the many names of God, we did not. But we didn’t have to because the anarchists and anti-fascists got to them before they could get to us. I’ve never felt more grateful and more ashamed at the same time. The antifa were like angels to me in that moment.

Mary Esselman

My 13-year-old son and I stood by ourselves on the corner down the street from the synagogue, in front of the Catholic Church, trying to walk back home but interrupted by a stream of white extremist marchers, with their signs and firearms and crazy regalia. I felt like an idiot but tried to look each in the eye and said, “Peace,” and “Peace be with you,” with as much sincerity as I had in me, trying to reach some humanity in them, and they jeered and mocked me, called me what you might imagine, told my son, Luke, that his mom was a this and a that. And now I learn that my son and labradoodle and I, and our little “peace be with you”s are apparently “alt-left.”

Our path home was blocked by them, and we had no choice but to face them. Just us alone on that street corner, and all of them menacing, streaming past us on their way to the rally. Later, when we were a block away from where everyone was clashing and considering going to the front steps of the public library, there was a big line of white supremacists, the leader wearing some kind of yellow spiked helmet, and as they tromped toward the rally, these lovely older women standing beside us wearing sky blue T-shirts that said “Quaker” kind of trotted alongside them gently, holding signs that said “Love.” Alt-left for sure. I was armed with my iPhone and my dog’s leash. Luke was armed with his acne and hormones.

Rev. Seth Wispelwey

I am a pastor in Charlottesville, and antifa saved my life twice on Saturday. Indeed, they saved many lives from psychological and physical violence—I believe the body count could have been much worse, as hard as that is to believe. Thankfully, we had robust community defense standing up to white supremacist violence this past weekend. Incredibly brave students held space at the University of Virginia and stared down a torch-lit mob that vastly outnumbered them on Friday night. On Saturday, battalions of anti-fascist protesters came together on my city’s streets to thwart the tide of men carrying weapons, shields, and Trump flags and sporting MAGA hats and Hitler salutes and waving Nazi flags and the pro-slavery “stars and bars.”

Out of my faith calling, I feel led to pursue disciplined, nonviolent direct action and witness. I helped lead a group of clergy who were trained and committed to the same work: to hold space on the frontline of the park where the rally was to be held. And then some of us tried to take the steps to one of the entrances. God is not OK with white supremacy, and God is on the side of all those it tries to dehumanize. We feel a responsibility to visibly, bodily show our solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized.

A phalanx of neo-Nazis shoved right through our human wall with 3-foot-wide wooden shields, screaming and spitting homophobic slurs and obscenities at us. It was then that antifa stepped in to thwart them. They have their tools to achieve their purposes, and they are not ones I will personally use, but let me stress that our purposes were the same: block this violent tide and do not let it take the pedestal.

The white supremacists did not blink at violently plowing right through clergy, all of us dressed in full clerical garb. White supremacy is violence. I didn’t see any racial justice protesters with weapons; as for antifa, anything they brought I would only categorize as community defense tools and nothing more. Pretty much everyone I talk to agrees—including most clergy. My strong stance is that the weapon is and was white supremacy, and the white supremacists intentionally brought weapons to instigate violence.

Aug 17 2017

It’s not TV, it’s HBO!

VICE is kind of HBO’s version of 60 Minutes and because I’ve never had HBO I was unaware of it until recently.

It being HBO they cover topics like Donkey Sex (no, I didn’t watch it, ick) but because of the second piece I’m going to highlight on Charlottesville (which has made the rounds on a few sites) I’ve discovered that a lot of the content is available on YouTube (yes, including Donkey Sex, ick).

This first one is titled A House Divided and examines the current political conflict in the United States and how it got that way.

It’s been nominated for a Primetime Documentary Emmy.

The last one is Race and Terror and has exclusive interviews from both the organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally and groups counter-protesting the march by Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists.

Salon’s Rachel Leah summarizes the Charlottesville piece.

VICE’s Charlottesville documentary on Trump’s “fine people” will terrify you
by Rachel Leah, Salon
Wednesday, Aug 16, 2017

VICE News’ “Charlottesville: Race and Terror” episode opens with images from the white nationalist protest on Friday in Charlottesville. Red-faced white men hold Tiki torches ablaze and chant “white lives matter,” “Jews will not replace us,” and “blood and soil.”

Counter-protestors meet them at the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue, which Trump claimed was the sole reason for the alt-right protest. Police stand back, people are maced. When a VICE reporter asks white supremacist and speaker of “Unite the Right,” Christopher Cantwell, who he was maced by, he responds, “by Commies.”

“I’m here to spread ideas, talk,” Cantwell says, “in hopes that somebody more capable will come along and do that, somebody like Donald Trump who does not give his daughter to a Jew.”

“So, Donald Trump, but like, more racist?” VICE’s reporter questions. “A lot more racist than Donald Trump,” Cantwell responds. “I don’t think that you could feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl, okay?”

Video from Saturday’s protests show Black Lives Matter and anti-facist protestors with backpacks and signs. The white supremacists facing off against them pack helmets, shields and blunt weapons. After authorities force the crowd to disperse by police and declare a state of emergency, Cantwell says, “We’re here obeying the law,” he continues, “and the criminals are over there getting their way.”

“So you’re the true nonviolent protestors?” the reporter asks. “We’re not nonviolent, we’ll fuckin’ kill people if we have to.” Soon, Cantwell’s pledge becomes chilling and devastatingly prescient.

Horrifying footage shows a car ramming through counter-protestors, bodies flying and then bodies on the ground. “We got hit by a car,” one woman screams in disbelief. VICE’s reporter on the scene seems quietly devastated as she talks to the medic who tried, and failed, to save Heather Heyer’s life.

In a final interview with Cantwell after the weekend’s riots end, he says, “We knew that we were going to meet a lot of resistance. The fact that nobody on our side died, I’d go ahead and call that points for us.” He sits next to a bed strewn with no less than four firearms he packed for the protests.

Of Heyer’s death, Cantwell says “I think it was more than justified,” he says. “I think a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here, frankly.”

As frightening as the weekend’s violence was, local activist Tanesha Hudson doesn’t find it shocking, especially for black people who live in Charlottesville. “This is what we deal with everyday being African-American,” she said, “and this has always been the reality of Charlottesville.”

Aug 17 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: The Other Inconvenient Truth

Donald Trump chose Trump Tower, the place where he began his presidential campaign, as the place to plunge a dagger into his presidency.

Trump’s jaw-dropping defense of white supremacists, white nationalists and Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., exposed once more what many of us have been howling into the wind since he emerged as a viable candidate: That he is a bigot, a buffoon and a bully.

He has done nothing since his election to disabuse us of this notion and everything to confirm it. Anyone expressing surprise is luxuriating in a self-crafted shell of ignorance.

And yet, it seems too simplistic, too convenient, to castigate only Trump for elevating these vile racists. To do so would be historical fallacy. Yes, Trump’s comments give them a boost, grant them permission, provide them validation, but it is also the Republican Party through which Trump burst that has been courting, coddling and accommodating these people for decades. Trump is an articulation of the racists in Charlottesville and they are an articulation of him, and both are a logical extension of a party that has too often refused to rebuke them.

Trevor Timm: Did you visit this anti-Trump site? The US government wants your IP address

In an unprecedented and dangerous move, Donald Trump’s justice department is threatening to violate the first and fourth amendment rights of over a million people by issuing an overboard surveillance request aimed at identifying alleged anti-Trump protesters.

The justice department is demanding that web hosting provider DreamHost hand over, among many other things, 1.3m IP addresses – essentially everyone who has ever visited an anti-Trump protest site called disruptj20.org that was organizing protests surrounding Trump inauguration in January.

Dream Host revealed the surveillance demand on Monday on their blog, also saying they were going to court to challenge the order. Dream Host called it “a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority” and explained that the “information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution”.

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Aug 17 2017

The Breakfast Club (Differences)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Hurricane Camille hits Gulf Coast; President Clinton admits relationship with Monica Lewinsky; Gold found in Canada’s Yukon; Robert Fulton’s steamboat ride; Rudolf Hess dies; Actor Robert DeNiro born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

William James

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Aug 16 2017

The New Berlin Wall

Who ever thought they would be living in a “Homeland”? I suspect not many World War II vets.

Proposed Law Would Turn US Borders Into Unblinking Eyes With A Thirst For Human DNA
by Tim Cushing, Tech Dirt
Wed, Aug 16th 2017

Some senators are looking to turn US borders into the equivalent of London: cameras everywhere and a host of new incursions into travelers’ and visitors’ privacy. Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica “outed” the not-yet-introduced bill — titled “Building America’s Trust Act” [wtf] — since the supporting lawmakers have yet to formally announce their plans to make the US a worse country to live in, much less visit.

The one-pager [PDF] for the bill [PDF] (which is 186 pages long) makes it clear what the objective is: more surveillance, more boots on the ground, and green lights for law enforcement agencies located anywhere within 100 miles of the nation’s borders. The bill calls for more judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and inspectors, as well as walls, levees, fences — whatever might further separate the US from its bordering neighbors (but only the southern one, apparently).

First off, there will be an increase in aerial surveillance. The bill calls for an increase in manned flight hours, as well as mandating drone flights at least 24 hours a day for five days a week. This would be in addition to increased use of surveillance equipment that can be mounted on vehicles or carried by humans. The DHS will also be allowed to draft the National Guard to perform border patrol duties and construct fences and walls and set up/monitor surveillance equipment.

The list goes on and on. (And on.) Customs and Border Patrol (and any agencies assisting it) will be exempted from 30 state and federal laws governing (among other things) use of public land should it be determined these ecology-protecting statutes “interfere” with the CBP’s border patrolling efforts. The bill would also exempt border security efforts from the normal federal bidding process, allowing agencies to use non-competitive means to hire employees and source contractors. The bill would also raise staffing levels, providing for signing bonuses of up to $10,000 per new hire and an expanded waiver of the CBP’s polygraph test requirement.

The law would allow border security agencies to obtain Defense Department surveillance gear, with an eye on round-the-clock surveillance in some form and increased gathering of biometric information.

This will be fed by the DHS’s biometric entry-exit collection, meaning it won’t just be foreign visitors adding to the pile of biometric data. The law calls for the program to be put in place at all high traffic ports of entry (including major airports) within two years. As we’ve seen from previous pilot programs, there’s no good way to ensure US persons aren’t swept up in the biometric scanning. All we have are assurances these “inadvertent” collections will be siloed off from the DHS’s foreigner collection.

Customs authorities will also be given power to demand biometric info from visa applicants and DNA will be collected from all detained immigrants, whether or not they’re criminally charged. This information will then be shared with the State Department and the FBI.

From there, the law adds other politically-charged stipulations, like an entire subsection entitled “Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act.” Also of note: the bill would allow law enforcement to seize everything from cash to bitcoins if they’re suspected to be “criminal proceeds.” It also strips away any mens rea protection from accusations of money laundering, allowing the government to seize money/charge suspects with a federal crime whether or not they knowingly engaged in criminal activity.

The whole package is basically a 186 pages of surveillance expansion and xenophobic legalese. The sole benefit of the bloated bill is it consolidates so many anti-foreigner objectives into a single PDF, saving opponents the trouble of having to track a few dozen similarly-minded bills. The limits on the collection and use of biometric data are almost nonexistent and there’s nothing in it specifically ordering agencies to keep US citizens out of the data pile. A number of law enforcement agencies have already offered their endorsement of the bill, suggesting it’s spent some time being circulated among proponents. Now, it’s in the hands of the rest of the county where it’s unlikely to see as unqualified support. It’s a Patriot Act but for the border — a hysteria-based bill that panders to the president’s desires.

I disagree with Tim Cushing in this- not only is there “no good way to ensure US persons aren’t swept up in the biometric scanning” it is in fact precisely the point. Of course there’s “nothing in it specifically ordering agencies to keep US citizens out of the data pile”, that’s a feature- not a bug.

Remember the Berlin Wall was never about keeping NATO Forces out, it would have been totally useless for that, defeated in minutes.

It was to keep the East Germans trapped.

Aug 16 2017

America Didn’t Listen. Here We Are Now

Hillary Rhodman Clinton was right but like Cassandra, America didn’t listen to the truth about Donald Trump. This is a speech she gave in Reno, NV last year. Every word she said about Trump in that speech was true and is now playing out not just in the US but around the world, for all to see the incompetent, racist, narcissistic psychotic Donald Trump is. So here we are now. Trump’s unhinged press conference yesterday afternoon was the prime example. His ego was damaged because the media wouldn’t stop criticizing him ounce again with his display of lack of moral fiber after the white supremacists demonstration in the college town of Charlotte, Virginia that took the life of a peaceful counter protester and injured dozens. Trump sided with the neo-Nazis and doubled down in his unscheduled news conference at Trump Tower in New York.

Listen again to what America refused to hear.

What digby said:

It was stark and true. And it was written off by too many as some kind of paranoid rant designed to cynically manipulate the populace into voting for the unrepentant, corrupt warhawk Hillary Clinton whose cough showed she was unfit to be president.

She wasn’t the only one who sounded this alarm. Many of us tried to get the word out and were dismissed as hysterics while the media persisted in their pursuit of a “both sides”, “but her emails” narrative that made no sense whatsoever.

And now here we are

Partial transcript (thanks to digby) below the fold.

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Aug 16 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Can Jeff Sessions provide justice for Heather Heyer?

White supremacy has never been far from the surface in this country’s tortured history. It got new life during last year’s presidential election, fueled by then-candidate Donald Trump’s dog-whistle racism, campaign rallies encouraging violence, and policies of mass deportation and “law and order.” And it exploded into plain sight when Saturday’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly.

President Trump’s initial response to the horrific events — a vague condemnation of violence and hatred “on many sides” — was a disgrace. It was also unsurprising. After all, the marchers were espousing a racist ideology, defined in part by the poisonous belief that white people are the real victims in today’s “politically correct” society, whose goals are being actively advanced by some in Trump’s administration. On Saturday night, the Justice Department announced that it would open a narrow civil rights investigation into the murder of Heather Heyer, who lost her life protesting the abominable views on display in Charlottesville. But it is fair to question whether the department is up to the task given that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in just six months in office, has transformed it into a political weapon that is being used to roll back hard-won progress and resist efforts to ensure full civil rights and equality for all.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s lasting legacy is to embolden an entirely new generation of racists

f there was one silver lining to President Trump’s election, it was supposed to be this: Those who voted for Trump because of, rather than despite, his demonization of Muslims and Hispanics; who fear a “majority minority” America; and who wax nostalgic for the Jim Crow era were mostly old white people.

Which meant they and their abhorrent prejudices would soon pass on — and be replaced by generations of younger, more racially enlightened Americans.

The white nationalist rally this past weekend in Charlottesville clearly proves this to be a myth. Racist grandpas may be dying out, but their bigotry is regenerating in today’s youths.

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