Ramona's picture

    Al Franken Shouldn't Resign

     Yes, I'll say it, and I hope it's not too late: Al Franken should not resign. He shouldn't be forced to resign, either by the Democrats who (rightly) can't abide double standards or the Republicans who would love to see a Democratic knock-down. I can agree that what he did to Leann Tweeden was stupid, gross, and as close to sexual predation as it gets, and still want him to stay where he is.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Then They Came for Bill Clinton (Again)

    Really, liberals?  Really?  More than seventeen years after we movedon.orged this issue, we're going to turn on Bill Clinton? As with most progressive mistakes, this seems to come from a well-meaning place.  We lefties like to be intellectually and ethically consistent and we are trying to make the world a better, more inclusive place, after all.

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    Victory for 3rd Way Democrats?

    Well, it's Monday morning, figuratively speaking, and victory has many fathers & mothers while losing's an orphan, as JFK noted. So putting a stake in the ground...

    Has the centrist Democrat revived over the last year? Let's see how this went - Wilmont Collins won as a black Liberian immigrant in Helena - and a member of Child Protection Services and the Naval Reserves - focused on support for the homeless and increased funding for police and fire departments. Can we split that baby any nicer?

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    On Donna Brazile...

    ...yeah, no, I just can't.

    Except to say that I really don't believe that Bernie Sanders ever expected a warm embrace from the party establishment that he was explicitly running against.

    Also, the warm embrace of the party establishment does not seem to translate automatically into winning the general election, so there's that.

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    Week in Rear View: All the Kingsmen

    Lost almost an hour's worth of link collecting last night trying to summarize the shape we're in, so here's a quick stab as the news keeps piling up.

    Big news last week was Manafort & Gates being indicted last week & finding out Papodopolous had pled and talked some months ago - Rick Gates being key as he stayed on with Trump's campaign to the end, while Manafort slid out earlier to avoid controversy (but never cut connections), while more of Manafort's ties to Russian mafia/power brokers became public. Judge found this week Manafort's release from home confinement denied as risky. But that quickly led to a slew of other revelations.

    Remember, Trump himself notes he hires all the smart people, the rich people. What you're smelling is the stench of burning braincells and crime cells - ain't it grand?

    On Counts and Balances

    As confirmed this week yet again, a piece of salacious gossip spun silly can travel the world before we put our adult hats - analytic minds for Kahneman fans - back on and rein it in. On the "plus" side, as one commenter noted, we now know the DNC was pants, an accident that already 'appened. On the minus side, we now know:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Social Media Sucks and Taibbi and Ames Are Not Rapists

    In 2000, Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames wrote a book called The Exile, about their time in the 1990s running an English-speaking alternative newspaper in Moscow, after the fall of the Soviet Union and during what we now look back on as the rise of oligarchs and Vladimir Putin.  The Exile crashed together the ethos of gonzo journalism from the Hunter Thompson years (still ongoing) with the style of the self-published Zine movement (not yet displaced by blogs) with what we might still recognize as "regular journalism" (which no longer exists, I kid.)

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    Ramona's picture

    Me too: Every woman has her story.

    With the not-so-shocking sexual revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Cosby, Anthony Weiner, James Toback, and, yes, our current president, Donald Trump, comes even more revelations from women who have suffered in silence for years and have now come forward, loud and clear.

    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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    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.

    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".

    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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    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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    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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