Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Frank Rich Is Right About Trump Candidacy's Upside

... and his critique of Hillary 2016's ham-handedness is spot on, too.

Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

I don't always read Frank Rich, but when I do, I read this article from New York Magazine: "Donald Trump Is Saving Our Democracy"  

Top two favorite EXCERPTS (emphases mine):

[Trump's] impact on our politics post-2016 could be as serious as he is not. Unsurprisingly, the shrewdest description of the Trump show’s appeal has come from an actor, Owen Wilson. “You can’t help but get a kick out of him,” he told the Daily Beast, “and I think part of it is we’re so used to politicians on both sides sounding like actors at press junkets — it’s sort of by rote, and they say all the right things. So here’s somebody who’s not following that script. It’s like when Charlie Sheen was doing that stuff.” As Wilson says, for all the efforts to dismiss Trump as an entertainer, in truth it’s his opponents who are more likely to be playacting, reciting their politically correct and cautious lines by rote. The political market for improvisational candor is as large as it was after Vietnam and Watergate, and right now Trump pretty much has a monopoly on it. ...

A perfect paradigm of how lame old-school, top-heavy campaigns can be was crystallized by a single story on the front page of the Times the day after Labor Day. Its headline said it all: “Clinton Aides Set New Focus for Campaign — A More Personal Tone of Humor and Heart.” By announcing this “new focus” to the Times, which included “new efforts to bring spontaneity” to a candidacy that “sometimes seems wooden,” these strategists were at once boasting of their own (supposed) political smarts and denigrating their candidate, who implicitly was presented as incapable of being human without their direction and scripts. Hilariously enough, the article straight-facedly cited as expert opinion the former Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom — whose stewardship of the most wooden candidate in modern memory has apparently vanished into a memory hole — to hammer home the moral that “what matters is you appear genuine.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sanders' Antidote To Shallow Campaign Coverage

Screen Shot of Sanders Economic Inequality Video

Tired of shallow campaign coverage?  Want to hear more about issues that actually impact most of our lives on a day to day basis?  Well, here you go:

I'm not a Bernie Sanders supporter.  [I actually lean toward Hillary.]  But this video was extremely well done and focuses viewers' attention on REAL issues that impact REAL Americans on a day to day basis, rather than all of the silly stuff dominating campaign coverage. 

This is an extremely compelling, engaging presentation of modern American economic realities.  I'm not with Sanders on doubling the federal minimum wage (although it does need a boost.)  But all of the other points made here are solid.

If you're still not sure why life feels like more of a struggle than it was 10, 20, or even 40 years ago, the info shared here helps bring that to light.  Take 8 minutes and give this video a watch and a listen.  

And if you, too, are concerned about the issues discussed here - even if you're not a Bernie supporter - help share the video on Facebook, your blog, Twitter, and any other social media.  Help make the case to all Presidential candidates and the press that a majority of American voters - left, right, and center - are tired of political, legal, and economic systems that have been rigged to benefit a very, very small share of our population, at the expense of the other 90-some% of us.  

Federal and state taxes paid by the profoundly affluent have been slashed again, and again, and again since the 1960s, each time with the promise that this would unleash growth in US GDP that would mean improved quality of life for ALL of us.  While the average American has experienced improved quality of life is some arenas, those improvements have almost exclusively been due to technological change, cheaper goods due to globalized trade (which hasn't been without a downside), economies of scale, and public infrastructure investment - all factors that had little to no connection to any of these tax cuts.

Slashing taxes on the wealthiest in America has never "unleashed growth" in the way that's been promised.  Data point after data point indicate that US policy promoting GDP growth as the primary concern of economic policy has had no discernible benefits for 90-some% of Americans.  To the contrary, our incomes and wealth after inflation is accounted for have SHRUNK

We need to say ENOUGH.  And if you tend to vote Republican and YOU care about these issues, we REALLY need you to help spread the word.  Because you guys have a much better shot at getting GOP candidates to stop pandering to major corporations, banks and financial services firms with their economic policy proposals.

Short Take: Clock Kid School Officials & LEOs Should Have Texan Cards Revoked

Screen shot

A handful of thoughts about the Muslim Texan kid with the homemade clock, and the predictable attempts in some right-wing corners to minimize the story and shift the focus elsewhere.

1. Breitbart, for people who bemoan leftists' "victim mentality," you sure are quick to trot out examples and ask why President Obama hasn't also called THESE families who were the victims of BS at school, implying that it's because he doesn't care about white people, or non-Muslim people, or what have you.

2. The fact that the teacher became aware of the clock "when it's alarm went off in class" should have been their first clue that this wasn't a bomb. Because when a bomb's alarm goes off, the bomb goes BOOM.

3. The adults who looked at this contraption - which is only comprised of electronics and contains no plastique, no massive quantities of fertilizer, no ordnance, no other variety of materiel, and no incendiary device whatsoever - and thought that it was a bomb should be ashamed to consider themselves Texans.  Surely, good Texans are more familiar armaments than THAT by the time they complete elementary school.  

4. In a different story, a school official or law enforcement officer explained that the child was arrested because when asked about it, he said it was a clock, and didn't give any other explanation for it.  It's unclear what sort of other explanation he should have given for it, since it was, in fact, a clock.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Short Take: Another Racially-Motivated Police Brutality Case

James Blake practicing for the 2010 US Open / Photo: Paul VanDerWerf, CC BY 2.0

On Monday, a plain clothes NYPD officer thought this guy standing around in front of a nice hotel was a credit card fraud suspect.  So clearly, he had to apprehend the suspect by bum rushing him.  Because, y'know, you can never be too careful - white collar criminals are renowned for their deadly encounters with police.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, the bum-rushee was actually professional tennis player James Blake, not a fraudster, and not the actual suspect (who, it turns out, wasn't even the perp.)  Oops.  TMZ obtained security camera footage from the NYPD (below.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New York Times Political Editor FIRED for Botched Hillary Coverage, But Will Remain Political Editor

Photo: Alec Perkins, CC BY 2.0

You're right - that headline doesn't make sense.  But neither do a couple of stories and at least one headline that essentially made that very assertion yesterday.
Screen shot

This Daily Newsbin article is a good example of why you shouldn't believe everything you read, especially in the modern hypermedia age.  Anybody with a device and a data connection can now publish any old wild speculation that jumps into their heads, where it can often find an audience eager to further disseminate it.  This story has almost 11,000 shares already, and it just went up yesterday.

I read the New York Times' statement about editorial personnel changes in the Washington Bureau yesterday.  Newsbin’s assertion that Carolyn Ryan was “fire[d] … over inaccurate criticisms of Hillary Clinton” is odd and completely illogical.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fellow Liberals, Please Stop The Casual Anti-Semitism: "Wall of Shame" Edition

Dear Liberal Friends - especially my fellow progressive Christians,

I was disappointed to see some of you passing this lovely infographic around Facebook today (slightly modified, below.)

We’re supposed to care about human rights, human dignity, and compassion.  We're supposed to oppose the spread of hateful propaganda.  Yes?
Anti-Semitic infographic appropriately categorized by RadicalCentrist.us

So Jewish Israelis are "ruthless savages"?  Who are "inflicted [sic] with an insatiable greed"? 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

America Is Too Great For Donald Trump's Hate-Mongering

This is not who we are as Americans.

Trump's just warming up to full-fledged rage. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Israeli columnist Chemi Shalev recently drew an interesting parallel between Donald Trump's current anti-Latino/Hispanic propaganda and European anti-Semitic propaganda of a century ago.  

I disagree with his column’s larger thesis.  But this example of old European anti-Semitic propaganda he included got me thinking about the fear-mongering propaganda we hear increasingly here in the U.S.:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Trump’s Fortune is Built on Undocumented Immigrant Labor (Exhibits 1 & 2) - So Why's He Suddenly So Mad About Them?

Americans deserve a more intellectually honest discussion about our immigration policies.  But Trump isn't the guy we want leading it.

200 undocumented Polish immigrants helped demo the building Trump replaced with Trump Tower / Photo: Brad CC BY 2.0

Donald Trump made most of his fortune in industries that employ substantial numbers of undocumented workers: real estate development, commercial real estate management, golf courses, and hotels/resorts.  So it seems likely that he’s made millions of dollars with the help of cheap labor from unauthorized immigrants. 

So far, a few stories have surfaced involving cases of Trump knowingly, if indirectly, employing unauthorized workers.  His employment of 200 undocumented Polish workers years ago.  His contemporary use of a number of unauthorized workers to build his new DC hotel.  More such stories seem certain to come.