08/19/2015 archive

Not Funny At All

Some people misunderstand my relationship with Donald Trump.  I think he’s a privileged asshole who doesn’t care about anyone except Donald Trump.

I also think he’s astute in his marketing and I’ve worked with the kind of pollsters that businesses buy and they sneer at the politicals.  They work with much larger samples so the demographics are at least 95% confidence (Want to slice them finer?  Get a bigger sample.).  They are not Frank Luntz faux focus groups (there is a whole other art to that I’ll maybe tell you about someday).

Anyway this has less to do with the accuracy of metrics than it does to Trump’s ability to spot an under served market and fill it.

In this case the market is true Teabagger Republicans, the ones that genuinely hate government nearly as much as they hate the Mexicans and other unworthies and think they’ve been disenfranchised and betrayed by their elected representatives.

And this is what I think is the true Trump appeal, the willingness of even the Reds to revolt.  He throws them meat on occasion whether he means it or not.  He’s an actor (or a con man, but they’re basically the same).  On other things he is remarkably libertarian for which they fault him not at all.  This is because he is expressing their fundamental rage with the current regime and refusing to apologize for it.  They feel the Villager Media is completely corrupt (except Faux) thus their genuine outrage at the poor treatment Trump is getting (including Faux).  I think this is a great development.

Trump has shut down the Republicans and exposed the also rans as the corporatist shills they are.  I’m not sure they can ever recover and there’s no reason for him to quit.  He’s running a remarkably frugal campaign based on free coverage.  As long as the polls don’t get embarrassing and they sure aren’t yet, why stop?

I say to you, dismiss Trump at your peril.  Consigning him to the ‘Entertainment’ section does you no credit at all, it merely highlights how badly you’ve missed the point.  Even idiots like E.J. Dionne are starting to get it (the most pretentious piece I’ve read in a while).

The Donald Trump show: 24 hours with the Republican frontrunner

by Paul Lewis, The Guardian

Tuesday 18 August 2015 06.00 EDT

“Fifteen series of The Apprentice has made Trump a polished television performer,” Stone says. “If you look at the show he looks like a decisive, tough leader, in the high-back chair, perfectly lit, perfectly made-up, making decisions.”

Stone, who used to work for Ronald Reagan, recalls how in 1980 a reporter asked the then presidential candidate how an actor could possibly occupy the White House. Reagan replied: “How can a president not be an actor?”

Stone adds: “The voters don’t distinguish between reality TV and politics.”

To the extent to which it can be summarised into a coherent narrative, it is that America is in decline, losing jobs and industry to China and Mexico, and losing oil to the Middle East. Barack Obama is stupid. The other presidential candidates are also stupid, or boring.

They’re all controlled by wealthy donors who pay for their campaigns and are the dark forces pulling the strings. Money is the real puppet-master in America, and Trump knows this because he’s rolling in it, and he’s been controlling politicians all his life.

Now only Donald Trump, a smart, successful, property tycoon and TV celebrity so rich he is beholden to no one, can fix the problem. He will bring jobs, take care of veterans and the elderly, and be the most militaristic person in the room.

The audience loves every second of it, especially those parts that parody the political establishment, such as when Trump does an impression of a stiff politician. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he says, in the mock drone of a monotone politician. His shoulders are hunched, his eyes squinting at an imaginary script near the podium. “Hello,” he says. There are howls of laughter.

“You don’t want a scripted president!” he tells them, as people rise to their feet for a standing ovation and the loudest applause of the night. As the crescendo builds, he adds: “And you don’t want a politically correct president!”

For decades presidential contenders have been coming to the fair to eat corn dogs and slap the backs of farmers, but veterans of the festival will say they’ve never seen anything quite like the pandemonium sparked when Trump turns up.

He is supposed to visit a life-sized cow carved out of butter, but his entourage quickly realise it will be impossible to make a path through the mob. Instead, for close to an hour, Trump and the crush of people around him just meander through the fair in the searing heat.

People are laughing and reaching forward to shake his hand or take his photo. They shout things like “We Love You Donald” and “Bring It Home Donald” and “Money, Money, Money, M-o-ney”, the tune of The Apprentice theme song.

It takes five minutes for a Guardian reporter to squeeze through the scrum and ask a question. “You said voters don’t care about policy. Why do you say that?”

Trump looks tickled. “The voters know I have good decision-making abilities,” he says. “They trust me.”

Obama’s Latest Bad Idea: Arctic Drilling

This past Monday, the Obama administration issued the final permits allowing Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. to begin drilling oil wells in the Arctic. This is the same oil conglomerate that lost control of its drilling rig in December of 2012 that crashed onto the Alaskan coast in heavy seas. The disaster also lead to eight felony convictions and a $12.2 million fine

Considering President Barack Obama’s promises to focus on climate change and big speeches on controlling carbon emissions, this has to be one of his most hypocritical decisions. Compounding that hypocrisy, the president has planned a visit to the Arctic region later this month. He is the first sitting president to do so. This decision didn’t sit well with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who expressed her opposition in tweets and at her press conference in Nevada:

I think the very grave difficulties that Shell encountered the last time they tried to do that should be a red flag for anybody. I have been to the Arctic, I have been to Barrow, our most northernmost outpost in the United States and I think we should not risk the potential catastrophes that could come about from accidents in looking for more oil in a pristine – one of the few remaining pristine regions of the world.

In a segment on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow blasted the president calling this decision “the most awkward and ill-timed thing he’s done in a long time”

While we should praise Secretary Clinton for this stand and her environmental platform that put an emphasis on renewable energy, she now needs to take a stand on the KeystoneXL pipeline.

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- Back To School Already?

I’m just not ready for it. I was unhappy when they first started sending the kids back to school before Labor Day, and since then it’s grown into a seething hatred. Not only because the last week in August used to be the week we got vacation, but because…why? What for? This is stupid and inconvenient. They don’t seem to get out much earlier, I can only remember one year where they had to shorten a break or add a day because of snow, so wtf?

First of all, I love summer, and I love it when the boys are home with me, so I am never anxious for that to end. Really, I always get a little depressed as back to school time nears. The minute August hits that first letter shows up with that huge list of supplies they want you to buy. Yeah, that’s what I want to do, go fight the professional parents in the aisles of the local Mart of Wal over the dwindling supply of Duo-Tang folders. one thing I really liked about that little Catholic school Baboo attended, they had a list, but theirs was filled by them at a bulk discount and we got a bill. No worries over crap being picked out, getting the wrong thing, or over-priced garbage. I guess public schools are too big to do something like that? I don’t know, but I would think they’d get a great discount if they did.

This year the kids aren’t half as unhappy as I am. Hell, Baboo seems eager to go back. I don’t remember ever feeling that way…whose kid is this? Sure, I missed some of my friends, but getting to see them, for me, was consolation for having to go back, not just another “great thing” that was going to happen before Labor Day. I don’t get it, but school was never my favorite thing.

Summer is the only season whose end can bring me down. That was true before I ever had kids. The other three seasons can end and I don’t give a hot damn. That’s not quite true, I do feel a little happy when winter is done, but it almost never feels like it is, so it’s not like I throw a party. I don’t want to soft nights and sunny days to end. I don’t want to not be able to float around that silly little pool we have out back. Fall is a bummer, and that’s what I call it, never autumn, because it feels like a dark thing that falls right on me.

It hasn’t been an easy summer, my mom died, Cleetus followed that with a epic case of gastritis that lasted a couple of weeks, and we never did get our income tax return. All the things I promised the kids if and when it came? November, kids…they promise. Pffft. Still, it’s over too soon. We didn’t get to do half the things we wanted to do, or I should say I didn’t. I wanted to give the kids some fun, some good times in spite of everything else. I failed for the most part, not for lack of trying, things just didn’t work out. The kids are so resilient, they’re okay with the summer they had. Me? Not so much.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting 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 “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Even the GOP’s ‘Serious’ Candidates Are Way Out of Step With Mainstream Americans

Republicans are advocating a future that will drag us back to the failed policies of the past.

Donald Trump continues to bring comic relief and mean-spirited bombast to the Republican campaign trail. But while Trump is a continuing spectacle, he also makes (a tiny bit) more sense than his rivals when he indicts US trade policies or scorns the influence of big money that turns politicians into puppets.

Nevertheless Trump, despite his current lead in the polls, isn’t likely to be the Republican presidential nominee. William Galston, the Wall Street Journal’s designated Democratic pundit, last week suggested that there were five “plausible” Republican candidates-Senators Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ted Cruz (Texas), Governors Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and John Kasich (Ohio), and dynast Jeb Bush. In the most recent edition of his 2016 candidate rankings, conservative Charles Krauthammer, while not dismissing Trump, suggests that Walker, Rubio, and Bush stand in the first tier of the Republican run-off.

But these “plausible” Republican candidates hold views that are dramatically at odds with interests and values of the vast majority of Americans.

Ellen Brown: Trumping the Federal Debt without Playing the Default Card

In a post on “Sovereign Man” dated August 14th, Simon Black argued that Donald Trump may be the right man for the presidency:

   [T]here’s one thing that really sets him apart, that, in my opinion, makes him the most qualified person for the job:

   Donald Trump is an expert at declaring bankruptcy.

   When the going gets tough, Trump stiffs his creditors. He’s done it four times!

   Candidly, this is precisely what the Land of the Free needs right now: someone who can stop beating around the bush and just get on with it already. [..]

How can the country remain strong with very little debt, without defaulting on Social Security, Medicare, or the federal debt itself?

There is a way. The government can reduce the debt by buying it – and ripping it up. The debt can be bought either with debt-free US Notes of the sort issued during the Civil War, or with US dollars issued by the Federal Reserve in the form of “quantitative easing.”

The vast majority of the money supply today is created by banks when they make loans, as the Bank of England recently acknowledged. Banks create money by “monetizing” debt, turning loans into the digital deposits that make up most of the circulating money supply. The government could push the reset button by monetizing its own debt, turning it into what it should have been all along – debt-free, interest-free dollars.

Michelle Chen: Prison Education Reduces Recidivism by Over 40 Percent. Why Aren’t We Funding More of It?

Giving prisoners access to financial aid for college tuition is the first step towards “de-carceration.”

Prison isn’t the most intellectually stimulating environment, but the dimmest corners of the criminal justice system may actually be a perfect place to liberate an otherwise wasted mind. A new initiative by the White House to issue Pell Grants to incarcerated students is about to test just how truly corrective our so-called corrections system can be.

The plan to extend Pell Grant access in prisons is described as a “limited pilot program” authorized through a federal financial aid waiver program under the Higher Education Act. Incarcerated adults could apply for grants of up to $5,775 for tuition and related expenses, at college-level programs offered in prison facilities nationwide. Designed to allow for studying long-term effects of education on recidivism, the program moves toward restoring access to Pell Grants for incarcerated people, which Congress removed in the mid-1990s.

College behind bars remains a tough sell to some law-and-order conservatives-hence the charmingly titled counter-legislation, the “Kids Before Cons” Act. Generally, however, the idea of de-carcerating the prison population appeals to an ascendant libertarian streak among Republicans because, in fiscal terms, textbooks and professors yield better returns on investment than weight rooms and laundry duty.

Joan Walsh: That big Fox News debate meant nothing: Trump continues to dominate his cowardly rivals

The non-Trump contenders continue to hope for a miracle: the frontrunner departs, and they inherit his support

I enjoyed the Aug. 6 Fox debate as much as any Democrat, but the results are in: As is typical with debates, the GOP wrangle watched by 24 million Americans changed pretty much nothing. [..]

All the Fox debate really did was prove that Trump can make Roger Ailes say uncle, after savaging Megyn Kelly and siccing his misogynist supporters on the popular anchor. It also gave Democrats great footage for fall campaign ads, where we can expect to see Walker looking like a sociopath as he explains why he doesn’t care about saving mothers’ lives, and Rubio shrugging off the troubles of rape and incest victims who become pregnant.

As I wrote earlier, they’re all Todd Akin now – and they probably have about as much chance of becoming president as Akin did.

Heather Digby Parton: The GOP plot to destroy “birthright citizenship”: Everything you need to know about Trump & Walker’s hideous plans

Anti-immigrant hysteria reaches a fever pitch in the Republican Party, which now takes aim at the 14th amendment

Back when he was considered by all the smart people to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Governor Scott Walker made a huge gaffe when he told Glenn Beck that he was not only repudiating his previous tepid support for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, but that he now believed even legal immigration should be curbed. [..]

When Walker made his comments, many in the GOP were shocked and objected strenuously. Sen. Orrin Hatch called it “poppycock” and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said “we want legal immigration…it’s enriched our country immeasurably. It’s who we are. It’s the fabric of our success.”

That was in April of this year and what a difference four months makes. The new GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, has made immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, and curbing legal immigration, a policy he endorses, is only one of several highly controversial policies he’s proposed in his recently released “immigration plan.” He is also for deportation of all undocumented workers and plans to repeal “birthright” citizenship, which would require a constitutional amendment.


Sex Education: We’re Doing It Wrong

The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver tackled the issue of sex education, or lack there of, in American schools.

Here are some of the mind-blowing things Oliver points out that are wrong with America’s sex education:

   Only 22 states require that sex ed be taught in their schools, and just 13 of these specify that the instruction be medically accurate.

   In Mississippi, a state with the second-highest teen pregnancy rate ( 76 pregnancies per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 ) , teachers are forbidden from demonstrating how to use a condom.

   Lots of schools fail to address the needs of gay students. (A recent survey found that only 48% of schools addressed sexual identity and sexual orientation.)

   Many states now advocate for abstinence-only, and Congress recently increased its funding of abstinence education from $50 million to $75 million per year.

In the show, Oliver claims that sex ed should be held to the same standard as any other discipline. “You wouldn’t accept a history class not being historically accurate,” he says. “Prince started the American Revolution in 1984, and his purple reign lasts until the present day. Class dismissed.”

The Breakfast Club (Touch The Sky)

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

Soviet hard-liners mount a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev; Nazi Germany ratifies Adolf Hitler’s powers; U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers convicted by Soviet tribunal; Comedian Groucho Marx dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.

Princess Merida, Brave

On This Day In History August 19

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 19 is the 231st day of the year (232nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 134 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1909, the first race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now the home of the world’s most famous motor racing competition, the Indianapolis 500.

The rectangular two-and-a-half-mile track linked four turns, each exactly 440 yards from start to finish, by two long and two short straight sections. In that first five-mile race on August 19, 1909, 12,000 spectators watched Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win with an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour. The track’s surface of crushed rock and tar proved a disaster, breaking up in a number of places and causing the deaths of two drivers, two mechanics and two spectators.

The surface was soon replaced with 3.2 million paving bricks, laid in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar. Dubbed “The Brickyard,” the speedway reopened in December 1909. In 1911, low attendance led the track’s owners to make a crucial decision: Instead of shorter races, they resolved to focus on a single, longer event each year, for a much larger prize. That May 30 marked the debut of the Indy 500–a grueling 500-mile race that was an immediate hit with audiences and drew press attention from all over the country. Driver Ray Haroun won the purse of $14,250, with an average speed of 74.59 mph and a total time of 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Just The Nightly Show (Bureau of Land Management)

Tonightly our panel is Mike Yard, Christan Greer, and Lil Duval and we will be talking about #BlackLivesMatter.

The Whitely Show


Oh, you want to know what Jon is doing?