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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

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Some in media are supposedly "going hard" on Trump -- but it's too little and too damn late

Some in media are supposedly "going hard" on Trump — but it's too little and too damn late
A few weeks of slightly tougher Trump coverage, now that he's a loser? That's just media herd mentality in action

DECEMBER 6, 2020 5:10PM

"AP not mincing words," said the viral tweet from Queens College radicalization expert Amarnath Amarasingam.

He linked to the Associated Press story from last Wednesday by Aamer Madhani and Kevin Freking, which started off:

Increasingly detached from reality, President Donald Trump stood before a White House lectern and delivered a 46-minute diatribe against the election results that produced a win for Democrat Joe Biden, unspooling one misstatement after another to back his baseless claim that he really won.

Washington Post media writer Paul Farhi tweeted: "As a colleague put it, this is @ap going hard in the paint."


Calling out Trump's lies should have been job one for political journalists starting well over five years ago. There have been countless occasions in which the press failed in the interim, none more crucial than in their willingness to promulgate Trump's dangerous and willful ignorance about COVID-19 and spiteful misinformation about voting.

Even now, these theoretically emboldened mainstream political reporters still stop short of calling out Trump's enablers in the Republican Party for the same kind of lies and misinformation. .............(more)


Trumpism will continue without Trump -- but its leader is running on borrowed time

Trumpism will continue without Trump — but its leader is running on borrowed time
George W. Bush was far more popular than Trump has ever dreamed of becoming — until suddenly it all went away

DECEMBER 7, 2020 1:30PM

(Salon) One version of conventional wisdom holds that if the Republican establishment had tried harder to control Donald Trump, his supporters might have started to question him and he would have lost his stranglehold on the Republican base. We fondly recall those Republican leaders, led by the right-wing senator and former presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, going up to the White House to tell Richard Nixon it was over, or the Senate's vote to censure red-baiting Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, as events that broke the fever and brought their rabid followers back to reality.

As far as Nixon is concerned, I don't think any of us should be soothed by that example. It was only six years later that the conservative movement that had been turbocharged by Goldwater's 1964 defeat reached the pinnacle of national power with the election of Ronald Reagan. The fever didn't break. It got stronger.

And according to an article in the Washington Post by Yale historian Beverly Gage, we might recall McCarthy as the most hated man in America, but he maintained the support of a third of the country even after he was driven out of politics in disgrace. I wrote last week about the GOP's reluctance to confront McCarthy (and Trump), out of both fear and opportunism. But Gage points out that out of that ignominious defeat, a new generation of right-wing activists was born. And she adds, ominously:

Something similar is likely to happen as Trump departs the Oval Office warning of elite conspiracies and rigged ballots, encouraging his base to see themselves as noble warriors against an illegitimate political order. While the Trump presidency will soon be over, the history of Trumpism is just beginning.


If you think Trump's rallies are filled with ecstatic followers, you don't remember the Bush events in 2004 in which he would land on the field on Marine One to the thundering strains of "The Natural" theme. By the way, Bush actually won his re-election campaign, unlike Donald Trump. And guess what happened after that? Within three years, his war was a train wreck, the economy was in free fall and he had bungled the horrific disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Then the global economy imploded and Bush became monumentally unpopular, seeing his approval rating sink as low as 25% by October 2008, just before the election of Barack Obama.

Will Trump's followers go the way the Bush-loving base once went? I don't know, but it's certainly possible. As I said, for all their grievances and feelings of victimization, Republicans don't like losers. And Donald Trump is most definitely a colossal, historic failure, whose pathetic attempts to pretend otherwise have sealed his legacy as the sorest loser in recent human history. ................(more)


Texas man found dead in woods could have been killed by mountain lion

(Guardian UK) A 28-year-old man found dead in a wooded area in rural Texas was killed by a wild animal, possibly a mountain lion, according to local county officials.

The Hood county sheriff’s office said on Saturday that deputies found Christopher Allen Whiteley’s body on Thursday, a day after he went missing near Lipan, located 50 miles (80km) south-west of Fort Worth.

The sheriff’s office said the Tarrant county medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy and issued a preliminary finding that an animal attacked and killed Whiteley.

Sheriff’s office deputies, Texas game wardens and a US department of agriculture trapper with expertise in “tracking and removing” mountain lions were trying to locate the animal. ....................(more)


Fort Everywhere: How did the United States become entangled in a cycle of endless war?

Fort Everywhere
How did the United States become entangled in a cycle of endless war?

By Daniel Immerwahr
NOVEMBER 30, 2020

(The Nation) Shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic struck the United States, a reporter asked Donald Trump if he now considered himself a wartime president. “I do. I actually do,” he replied. Swelling with purpose, he opened a press briefing by talking about it. “In a true sense, we’re at war,” he said. Yet the press and pundits rolled their eyes. “Wartime president?” scoffed The New York Times. “It’s far from clear if many voters will accept the idea of him as a wartime leader.” His “attempt to adopt the military mien raised more than a few eyebrows,” NPR reported. What few noted at the time is that Trump, of course, was a wartime president, and not in a metaphorical sense. He presided—and still does—over two ongoing military missions, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. More quietly, thousands of US troops patrol Africa and in recent years have endured casualties in Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan. US planes and drones, meanwhile, fill the skies and since 2015 have killed more than 5,000 people (and possibly as many as 12,000) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

Why is it so easy to screen these facts out? The relatively low number of US casualties plays an obvious role. Yet surely what matters more is how relentless the slow drip of news reporting is. The United States has been fighting in so many places, for so many vaguely defined reasons, that it’s easier for some to forget the combat altogether and ask instead whether a virus made Trump a wartime leader. In two presidential debates, neither candidate even mentioned the fact that the United States is at war.

But it is, and it’s unsettling to reflect on just how long the country has been. Students who entered college this fall have lived their entire lives during the Global War on Terrorism and its successor campaigns. The decade before that saw American deployments in the Gulf War, the Balkan conflicts, Haiti, Macedonia, and Somalia. In fact, since 1945, when Washington cast itself as the global peacekeeper, war has been a way of life. Classifying military engagements can be tricky, but arguably there have been only two years in the past seven and a half decades—1977 and 1979—when the United States was not invading or fighting in some foreign country.


Can the United States free itself from its endlessly recurring wars? Deescalating or, as Vine puts it, “deimperializing” won’t be easy. There is an intricate worldwide system of security pacts built around the US armed forces, there are cadres of civil servants and military strategists who are used to making war, and there are huge defense contractors with lobbying power. None of those will go away easily. .............(more)


The Forever Grievance: Conservatives have traded periodic revolts for a permanent revolution

Commentary: Conservatives have traded periodic revolts for a permanent revolution

The Washington Post

The tea party movement was just getting started when I began writing a history of the Republican Party in 2009. I viewed the movement as the latest iteration of a basically cyclical populist phenomenon. It would push American politics to the right, I thought at the time, but eventually its impact would dissipate. The country would then swing back toward the center for a number of years until the next conservative counter-reaction.

But the tea party never really faded away. It mutated. It became the Trump movement, which is likely to dominate the Republican Party and have a major impact on politics for years to come. If the best guide to conservatism was once Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s The Cycles of American History, now it might be Leon Trotsky’s The Permanent Revolution.

Conservatism’s familiar pattern of advance, consolidation, retrenchment and renewal has vanished. In its place is something that looks like #MAGA Forever.


The tea party cohort was notable mainly for its anti-institutionalism and breaking of norms. Its principal accomplishment was the Budget Control Act of 2011, with its spending caps and sequestrations, but its more symbolic action was the 2013 government shutdown. That negativity carried into the formation of the House Freedom Caucus in 2015. The caucus was not much more ideologically conservative than other GOP factions, but it was distinctive for its determination to destroy bipartisan cooperation, deny Obama any legislative achievements or real legitimacy, and dethrone Boehner, who appeared too willing to cut deals with the Democrats.


The party’s constituents – especially the non-college-educated, working-class citizens who make up much of the Republican base – need the government’s help with their problems. And the party’s long-term viability may be in doubt if a strategy of mindless, implacable obstruction endangers the stability and prosperity of the country, causing too many voters to consider it an existential threat. ...........(more)


Trump the fascist artist: How the MAGA crowd is motivated by aesthetics, not ideas

Trump the fascist artist: How the MAGA crowd is motivated by aesthetics, not ideas
A Marxist philosopher named Walter Benjamin foresaw the rise of Trumpism more than eighty years ago

DECEMBER 5, 2020 7:00PM

(Salon) More than eighty years ago, a then-obscure German philosopher wrote an essay that foresaw the essential reason behind President Donald Trump's enduring political appeal. His name was Walter Benjamin; born to a Jewish family in Berlin, Benjamin was present for a pivotal moment in history, and watched Hitler rise to power. By the time he wrote his most famous essay, he was an exile living in France amidst financial hardships, having recognized that the Reichstag fire three years earlier signified that the Nazis had achieved total power in Germany.

In 1936 — as Hitler was violating international treaties with impunity and preparing Germany for war (a threat that many Western powers did not take seriously) — Benjamin, a Marxist and a Jew who was thus obviously opposed to the Nazis, postulated that modern fascists succeed when they are entertainers. Not just any entertainer — a circus clown or a juggler-turned-fascist wouldn't do. Specifically, modern fascists were entertainers with a distinct aesthetic, one that appeals to mass grievances by encouraging their supporters to feel like they are personally expressing themselves through their demagogue of choice.


The key passage from Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," which was published in 1936, deserves to be quoted in full:

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life.


Trump's is an approach that goes beyond mere rhetoric and enters the realm of performance art, a fact that Trump himself unintentionally acknowledged during his first speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention, when he urged his supporters to chant "12 more years" in order to "really drive [liberals] crazy." That moment epitomized precisely how Trump has transformed traditional political rhetoric into performance art: Instead of simply making the case for his candidacy or advocating for certain ideas, Trump focused on creating a moment in which he would entreat his followers to join him in a performance — not for a major political point, but simply to elicit a desired emotional response from their supposed common enemy. It was the type of performance art that Trump has perfected: To act like a troll, and encourage his supporters to act like trolls, and thereby create an act of mass catharsis through creative self-expression that did absolutely nothing to address any legitimate economic or social concerns that his supporters might have. ..............(more)


How Sharks are Fed at Aquariums


Trump has turned the GOP into the party of 'cowards' and 'eunuchs': Republican strategist

On MSNBC Saturday, Republicans strategist Rick Tyler tore into his party for allowing themselves to be used by outgoing President Donald Trump for his own ends.

“Rick, talk to me about this,” said anchor Ali Velshi. “For those who are not Republicans or consider themselves conservatives, explain to me what you believe the motivation is in sitting and watching this Republican clown car with a seized engine and tires blowed out going off a cliff? Why would any Republican want this to happen? I get Jennifer’s point that maybe Trump is more popular than some of them are, but there is life after Trump, and shouldn’t Republicans who have had a political party for a very long time be thinking about that?”

“What you’re seeing is a party of cowards,” said Tyler. “I don’t know if there’s rehabilitation for eunuchs, a party of eunuchs, but I don’t think there is. This party has self-destructed and destroyed itself, although I would say that you underestimate the legal team. I’m looking to give them a contribution, and I’d encourage many people to give Rudy … as much contribution and money to keep this clown show going, because I’ve never seen anything like it.” ........(more)


The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier

The Jobs Report is a Mess, December Will Be Messier
by Wolf Richter • Dec 4, 2020 •

The cut-off date (Nov. 14) kept much of the hit from the Covid spike out of the data. Then there are the long-term hits to the American job market, such as rampant globalization.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Everyone seems to be baking the highly anticipated potential future vaccines into the economic cake, but what has been happening for weeks is a spike in Covid cases across the US that has already triggered economic restrictions, including various versions of stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County, San Francisco, and some other Bay Area counties, with restaurants closed for outdoor dining, strict capacity restrictions in retail stores, and many other restrictions. These moves are ahead of the State of California’s new framework for dealing with the spiking infections.

Other states and cities have similar programs, either on the front burner or on the back burner. The Covid spike has already crimped economic activity and jobs over the past few weeks and is going to do more severely going forward.

But the jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was based on surveys of “establishments” for the pay period through November 12; and on surveys of households for the week through November 14.

So the data we got today largely missed the labor market consequences of the spike in Covid cases. Those consequence are coming in the next employment reports, starting with the report for December. ..............(more)


The Economic Recovery Is Hitting a Wall

(Slate) The only silver lining to Friday’s very grim jobs report is that it might—potentially, maybe, just possibly—be ominous enough to make Congress agree on a new relief package, assuming that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t been entirely consumed by political nihilism.

Employers added just 245,000 workers to their payrolls in November, the government reported, down from 610,000 the month before, and 711,000 in September. While the official unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.7 percent, that largely reflected Americans dropping out of the labor force, so they were no longer counted among those who were jobless and looking for work. The plunging hiring numbers suggest that the country’s recovery is finally hitting a wall as surging coronavirus cases and cooling weather put a chill on economic activity.

In just one more sign of long-term danger for the economy, a greater share of job losses are becoming permanent. The “core unemployment rate” calculated by Indeed.com economist Jed Kolko—which excludes temporary layoffs—increased to 6.2 percent in November.


Total hiring was weighed down a bit because the federal government laid off 93,000 temporary census workers. But even excluding the public sector, the picture was still pretty grisly: Private payrolls increased by just 344,000, down from 877,000 in November. Retailers, restaurants, and bars shed jobs, on a seasonally adjusted basis, suggesting a rough holiday season ahead. ..............(more)


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