Michael Maiello's picture

    The Starship Troopers Phase of Trumpism

    In 1997, Paul Verhoeven took a militaristic Robert A. Heinlein novel and satirized it as a movie.  When it came out, a lot of the audience missed the joke. Since then, a cult following has brought people along and now everybody gets it.  A big part of the Starship Troopers joke is society's compulsion towards military service. Mankind has branched out into the stars and found wars to fight. In order to preserve an all-volunteer military while compelling people to enlist, the "Terran Federation" has come up with a new form of governance:

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    John Kelly Another Victim of Trumpism.

    President Barack Obama did not call General Kelly after Kelly’s son died in combat. There was a White House breakfast for Gold Star families months later where General Kelly sat with First Lady Michelle Obama. General Kelly left the breakfast out of his 12 minute speech yesterday, leaving the impression that there was no interaction with the Obamas.

    Reforming Weinstein's Hollywood

    Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein is a serial sexual harasser, exercises zero anger management, and abuses nearly everybody with whom he has contact. He is one among a number of powerful, or once powerful, Hollywood men who share some or all of these behaviors and characteristics. Trying to avoid the rapists, gropers, and grinders is, therefore, a very serious dilemma for women in the entertainment industry. Sadly, it’s not the only one.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Amongst Its Diverse Weaponry Are...

    “A powerful social media network that, with no physical presence, allows it to spew propaganda, claim responsibility for terrorist attacks, and not just inspire attacks but also help plot and execute them remotely.”

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    Prayer for Atheists & the Culture Wars

    I was thinking of Doc's comment about how prayer is different from meditation, and as the left becomes largely secularized and often atheistic, this difference can have knock-on effects.

    Meditation is more like the hollow bamboo tube - the taking what the universe offers. American ethos isn't like that - we're a demanding bunch, with a "don't tell me what to do mentality". Submissiveness doesn't play well in the heartland.

    Danny Cardwell's picture

    The Insanity Of Gun Violence

    Every few weeks our lives are interrupted by breaking news about innocent people being gunned down in classrooms, movie theaters, night clubs, churches and most recently an outdoor concert. During these highly stressful times, we stop what we are doing to reflect on the preciousness and fragility of life, we offer our prayers and condolences to the families affected by the tragedy and we tell ourselves this isn’t America. We recite this claim with the convictions people give to their religious mantras.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    What Is Praying?

    I have been too angry to write about the mass murder in Las Vegas, and too angry to write about the empty and reflexive offerings of "thoughts and prayers" that now follow every murder like it. But let me take this opportunity to talk about the question of what prayers are, and how they might be different from thoughts. America's general enthusiasm for religion masks deep, sometimes nearly bottomless religious differences, and so many, many people talk about praying, but use that word to mean very different things: sometimes contradictory things. What is praying, anyway?

    Homage to Catalonia: the Conspiracy Factory

    This week we were met with scenes of police removing protesters in Barcelona, with outcries of heavy-handidness by Madrid. Absent the cries of police brutality was any suggestion of how police should handle the unwanted job of removing thousands of protesters, and what is an acceptable level of force - critical to me, as I'd meditated for 2 weeks on horrid images of US police wailing on and pounding a black man's head into the pavement for two minutes, along with unneeded body slams say of a skinny girl in a tight skirt.

    More important, I didn't hear any discussion of what I'd been hearing for weeks - that Putin's bots had turned to fomenting dissension and turmoil in Catalonia, hoping for a final split that would give the EU another crisis to leave it on the ropes. This is impressive,as the story of how Russia manipulated the US election keeps snowballing as one unlikely scenario after another gets divulged.

    The outcome of Catalonia's unapproved referendum will be predictable - the people who will show up will be overly in favor of secession even as the majority may be iffy, and the supposed police overreaction will be presented as proof that Catalonians need independence *now*, fait accompli. Meanwhile Putin must be sniggering in his kofje - not a complaint in sight.

    Trump's VOICE: Open it to Gun Massacre Victims

    The VOICE program serves the needs of Americans harmed by "illegal aliens." It was set up as part of Trump's plan to Make America Great Again. It does not serve victims of mass casualty events perpetrated by citizens.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    There Was a Shooting and Who Wants This Fight Again?

    Honestly, I have nothing to add about 58 people (58?  Really?) being murdered at a music festival by somebody with a weapon of mass destruction.  It's all just too repetitive, isn't it?

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    Hef & the Culture Wars

    There are a million words to be written about the misogyny of Hugh Hefner's mission, many already being jotted down. There's a lot of humor and contempt to be had still for a grown man that liked hanging around in PJs far into adulthood. There's something to be said for his early civil rights support, as testified by Dick Gregory and others. And that lead me to the territory I'd like to address, as it goes to the crux of our recent NFL morass, the need for BLM, last year's election, and a host of other issues.

    Hefner founded the Playboy Club in 1953, not in tinseltown as we recall today but in Chicago, the thriving center of the Midwest.in our still glorious post-war phase. It was a conservative place in a conservative era. It's easy to think of the 50's as some Happy Days thing, Richie Cunningham all fresh and speckled, I like Ike kind of lovely romance with paradise and God-given but deserved success. But most here know that dream of the suburbs and the lucky trip to Vegas was a hyped-up myth, that the house didn't pay out nearly as often as stated, that half the "lucky ones" strolling in and out were shills. And instead of carefully crafted Walt Disney features and Elvis rockumentaries, it was as much about Lenny Bruce and Last Exit to Brooklyn and Naked Lunch and the  National Guard called out to LIttle Rock to enforce integration and McCarthyism and tons of other foul stuff covered with a sanctimonious wholesome totally marketed image in a Golden age of marketing. This was "Family Values", aka "we're Christian and you're not".

    Pawns in the Game

    While watching the documentary Don’t Look Back about Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England, I was struck, as so many others have been, by the dichotomy between Dylan the young man and Dylan the artist. As a man, he comes across as immature, petulant, and sometimes downright nasty. As an artist, his musical genius shines through every guitar strum, harmonica chord, and whiny nasally sung note. In one uncomfortable hotel room scene, Dylan wields his multifarious talents - he’s a master songwriter, lyricist, guitar player, and troubador - as weapons against the outclassed Donovan. But Dylan also evinces humanity, humility, and empathy in his public performances.

    Wanking Weiner

    Well, someone's got their schadenfreude going big time. Anthony Weiner's going to serve hard time, despite having destroyed his marriage and his party's campaign, undergone treatment, expressed remorse in no uncertain terms, for showing his wanker over the internet to purportedly an underage girl*.

    [*there's a whole load of suspicion over whether Russians and/or Republicans set  the known sickie Weiner up with an "underage girl" who seemed to have a Master's degree in English lit from her non-too adolescent literary references. But I guess for now we have to assume it's partly true, police penchant for lying or not.]

    Now let's compare this sentence with say Brock Turner, who raped a comatosely drunk college classmate (didn't even know her name) behind a dumpster, left her with her clothes wrapped around her ankles and her bare ass in the pine needles while Brock the perp tried to run away from 2 Swedes who fortunately happened to notice the ruckus.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Some People Are Not Duelable

    I'm not a big proponent of bringing back customs and manners from hundreds of years back. The centuries I study were much worse to live in than this one. But there is one concept from Ye Olden Days that (suitably retooled), I have always found pretty useful. That is the concept of people being "not duelable." I use it in my academic writing. I use it in my daily life. I occasionally teach it to graduate students. And it turns out to be a concept that both the Age of Twitter and the Age of Trump badly need.

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    librewolf's picture

    For the Friends of Stratofrog

    There are many here who likely remember Stratofrog from TPM days. Some have kept in touch. I bring sad news that Stratofrog has a glioblastoma - an aggressive cancer of the brain. Diagnosed 2 weeks ago today, symptomatic for about 6 weeks, it is estimated that she has only a few weeks to live.

    She is handling this with tremendous grace and strength, with love at the top of her priorities. She sends out an embrace to all her friends, including those who are in the circle of never seen but gladly met.

    On The Lecture Circuit

    Here's what I know about the lecture circuit from being a part of it back in 82. I was a salaried employee, which in that world meant I was a step above the people who got paid an hourly wage, in a mid level national computer company. When my team got sent out to Indianapolis or Colorado Springs we were on an expense account. We didn't stay at Trump Towers quality hotels but we sure didn't get put up at a Motel 6. We didn't eat at diners. The company paid for fancy restaurants. I still remember the coconut breaded shrimp, the lobster, the filet mignon. I'm not talking about Red Lobster or Olive Gardens. We went to quality restaurants that I haven't been able to afford since.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Equifax and the CFPB

    Two days before we found out that credit reporting agency Equifax had been hacked and 143 million consumer records were compromised, I received an alert from my credit card company that somebody had attempted to buy $200 worth of merchandise at a Foot Locker in Queens.  Later, the Equifax website did acknowledge that my information may have been compromised.  I took the necessary steps to change cards and passwords.

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    jollyroger's picture

    Remember September 26. 1983? Coulda' been your last day.

    In case you missed it, the world almost ended that day, because Soviet satellites misreading sunlight  reflected from clouds for missile afterglow triggered a system call for a retaliatory launch.

    Without peradventure, we all owe to the (truly lamented) S. Petrov, our good times from the cited date on..

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Record Levels of Median Income (Not What It Seems)

    Last week, we learned that the median household income in the U.S. 2015 had jumped by around 5% to $56,000 a year. The news was greeted with good cheer and David Brooks even wrote a column in the Times proclaiming that capitalism is not broken.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Amazon Should Go to H--

    I expect you've all noticed that Amazon has started up a race to the bottom among suitor cities who would like to house it's next headquarters.  I think I've come up with a better spot...  I can't take the credit, though. Hail Satan!

    My third McSweeney's piece!

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