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Yesterday

The Story of Jerusalem

Published by marco on

President Trump did something supposedly unprecedented recently: he acknowledged Jerusalem as the de-facto capital of Israel and vowed to move the U.S. embassy there.

When I heard this, I wondered what the uproar was about, since I was sure it wasn’t the first time I’d heard something like this. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, though. I couldn’t remember whether it was Bush or Obama who’d said something similar, or whether they’d said it during their campaign or as President.

Granted,... [More]

Two Days Ago

Born on third, thinks he hit a triple

Published by marco on

This HackerNews comment by notacoward (Hacker News) on the article Entrepreneurs Aren’t a Special Breed – They’re Mostly Rich Kids by Nimmala (Asia Times) offers a lovely analogy for what it takes to succeed as an entrepeneur.

“Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts.

“Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.

“Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want... [More]”

My problem with John Oliver in a nutshell

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The article John Oliver, Dustin Hoffman have heated exchange over sexual harassment claims illustrates exactly why we should be very careful of whom we let carry our flag for us. Many people like John Oliver because he generally punches upward and he’s quite funny. His schtick is wearing a little thin, but he’s still pretty funny.

He took some time off of obsessing over every detail of Donald Trump’s life recently to interview Dustin Hoffman about sexual allegations.[1] When Hoffman said that “it... [More]”

2 weeks Ago

Short take: Greenfield on Peterson

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The article The Non-Apology To Lindsay Shepard, Eh? by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) sums up my opinion of Jordan Peterson better (more succinctly, at least) than I could:

“I’ve never been comfortable with Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson. Much as I agree with his position that people can’t make up their own gender pronouns and demand others use them, under force of law, there’s something unseemly about him. Too self-promotional. Too one-note. Too . . . obvious.”

The article itself is about a professor in Canada... [More]

5 months Ago

The economic theory of human mobility

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The article Katko, Tenney to Donald Trump: Don’t tell people to leave Upstate NY discusses President Trump’s recent statement about Upstate New York:

“When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave. It’s OK. Don’t worry about your house.”

Trump is only one of many people who think that the answer to an utterly failed... [More]

Our tools versus theirs

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We’re told that democracy is the mechanism whereby we can effect change in our society. While true, it is irrelevant in all but the most trivial of applications.

For example, legislators in the US are legally allowed to take money from lobbyists and corporations. There are some restrictions, but, for the most part, bribery is legal. And it seems to work quite well. How does democracy help us combat this? We can elect other people, people that don’t take bribes. What if none are running for... [More]

8 months Ago

Correspondence on Trump/Obama with a friend

Published by marco on

I received a response to some recent articles from a friend. He reads English fluently, but is much more comfortable writing in Italian, while my strengths are reversed. We agreed long ago to communicate bilingually to maximize expressiveness.

In a recent mail, he referenced two of my articles Once more unto the breach and Avoiding Distraction.

His comments are quoted below—I have translated them from the Italian—followed by my responses.

“You exalt the initiative of Trump versus the... [More]”

Public Service Announcement: Redacted Tonight

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I’ve written several times about Redacted Tonight this year already, but I’m damned if that show doesn’t keep topping itself. The shows from the last two weeks have again been well-worth watching, providing unvarnished international news.

Yesterday’s show was about the complicity of mainstream media in the glorification of U.S. violence around the world. Lee shows examples from CNN, MSNBC and FOX where the reporting on America’s weapons of mass destruction is pornographic. A correspondent... [More]

The French Presidential Elections of 2017

Published by marco on

I’ve been trying to get a grasp on the candidates before the election tomorrow. The following article comprises those notes and impressions. Maybe it will help someone else, but be aware that my primary sources are not French (though I did read through a few Wikipedia pages on candidates in French). As always, grain of salt, YMMV etc. etc.

I’ve read more widely, but the citations below come from three articles, Big Stakes in the French Presidential Election: Governance Versus the People by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch) and The... [More] by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch)

Once more unto the breach

Published by marco on

We have more information then ever, but know less. The world is almost bereft of journalists. Almost every single person who you think is a journalist is instead a media personality. They are readers, not thinkers, not analysts. They know almost no history. What they do know is wrong, or viewed through such a strong partisan lens as to make no difference.

Most of what you read in articles is actually partially transcribed press releases. Or partisan think pieces based on them. There is little... [More]

9 months Ago

The Omphaloskepsis of the Faux-left

Published by marco on

Once you become aware of the self-indulgence of first-world media like the New York Times, you can see it everywhere. Their reporting, such as it is, is almost irony-free. It’s fake, a balsam designed to keep you calm and happy in your comfortable first-world cocoon.

Empathizing with the Elite

This is literally the worst thing to happen to anyone, ever.

For example, the article You May Want to Marry My Husband by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (New York Times) is about as manipulative as they come—and privileged. The author writes about... [More]

Avoiding distraction, part I

Published by marco on

Since the last election, America has become obsessed with synonyms for propaganda—fake news, alternative news—a focus that is, ironically, propaganda. Anything that doesn’t fit a particular worldview is fake news. The sources that trumpet the most about this are the ones I would trust the least: when did CNN or the CIA become purveyors of truth? This newly popular obsession is a distraction.

 Ted Rall 'Protesters Against Trump'After a week of tweets and executive orders, we see that Trump thinks he really did mean a bunch of... [More]

10 months Ago

Bernie Sanders on the EPA, military and the ACA

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In 12 minute, Bernie provides some very good context and puts some budget numbers in perspective. He takes Trump to task about how he lies about supporting the environment and what his budget increase for the military could pay for.

Bernie Sanders' […] Response To Trump's Speech To Congress (YouTube)

Bernie says that the $83 billion extra that Trump wants for the military for next year could also pay for all qualified public-university students as well as make a good start on helping other students with their loans. That 83 billion could pay for single-payer... [More]

George W. Bush’s newest book

Published by marco on

 Portraits of courageIt could have been better-timed—April 1st is still almost a month away—but George W. Bush has published yet another book, this one called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.[1]

This is a book of Mr. Bush’s paintings. His subjects are American soldiers. Just their faces, if the cover is any indication. To be honest, I think he’s gotten better over time. He’s definitely found his own style. We’re a long way from those odd bathtub and shower paintings.

 Bush inception showerAs... [More]

Lee Camp > John Oliver

Published by marco on

I’m still watching John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, but I feel he’s slipping. He’s retreating to the safety of slagging on Trump almost exclusively which is both not very funny and not very helpful. Oliver is fading into the same vanilla and safe faux-leftism that characterized his ideological predecessors Jon Stewart and, to a lesser degree, Stephen Colbert.

Both Stewart and Colbert loved the military. By the end of their respective runs, their opposition to military adventures was not no... [More]

Russian Naval Attack (j/k)

Published by marco on

CNN is fake news. CNN is pure government propaganda. They may not be stumping for the current administration, but they’re definitely pushing somebody’s war-hawk agenda. Remember, CNN was born in the cauldron of the first U.S. Gulf War: it knows where the money is. It would be only too happy to make a ton of money reporting a juicy war with Russia. Don’t believe for a minute that CNN has any scruples.

I will prove this with a single article I found as the top search result for “Russian boat... [More]

Snubbing the New York Times

Published by marco on

As it appears, the New York Times, The LA Times, CNN and other august news-gathering organizations like Politico and Buzzfeed have been barred from a press briefing. Clearly the republic teeters. When The Gray Lady is snubbed, can internment camps be far behind? As you would expect, this immediately became a first-amendment, nay, a constitutional issue for the faux-Left, with the NYT at the forefront, hoisting its own banner high.

I don’t think press briefings are in the Constitution, though,... [More]

Voting with your feet, not your mind

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It would seem that the country is ripe for revolution, given the coverage of protests and unrest since the inauguration of The Donald. But the title of the article Incumbent Reelection Rates Higher Than Average in 2016 by Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley (UVA Center for Politics) reveals the sad truth. Whereas Americans have learned how to march again, they still don’t know how to to use their civic tools to get what they want.

“This election cycle, 393 of 435 House representatives, 29 of 34 senators, and five of 12 governors sought reelection (several of... [More]”

Redacted Tonight continues to do a great job

Published by marco on

[135] The REAL Reason the U.S. Wants War with Iran, Standing Rock News, Capitalism Failing (27m) by Lee Camp (YouTube)

This is yet another well-written, darkly comic and information-packed show by Lee Camp and his crew at Redacted Tonight on RT.[1] In this show, we hear that a bipartisan resolution easily passed the Congress, authorizing the executive to do anything in its power to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. I thought it was Trump that trying to dismantle the hard-won treaty with Iran? Apparently, it’s the entire government.

This was passed on January 3rd, 2017, when Obama was still in power and... [More]

Publishing Note (Off-topic)

Published by marco on

I’ve been approached by some loyal fans of the blog as to when I will react to the cavalcade—the tumult—of events that most definitely qualify as public policy & politics. President Trump and his flying monkeys have been very busy indeed.

It’s not that I haven’t been paying attention. I’ve been reading a lot. I publish my reading list on Instapaper and you can see the list of articles I’ve liked (RSS newsfeed) as well the firehose of all articles I’ve read (also an RSS newsfeed). I also... [More]

11 months Ago

Lee Camp and Dean Baker cover the news the way it ought to be (covered)

Published by marco on

Lee Camp is definitely in the lead when it comes to incisive coverage of politics with a humorous edge, as pioneered by The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Unlike those two shows, he goes farther while staying on-point and not being partisan: his hate is pure and in sufficient supply for all responsible parties alike. For example, there’s his recent show on the inauguration and the march, which was really, really good.

Be Awake to All Evil

[132] The First Orange President, Obama Left Dictator's Toolkit, Women's March by Lee Camp (YouTube)

Trigger Warning: show is broadcast by RT, the... [More]

CSPAN interview with Chris Hedges (2013)

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I’ve been watching a lot of Chris Hedges lately. Below is another video, this one from 2013, in which he discusses a wide range of topics from his essays, his many books as well as questions from callers.

Brace Yourself! The American Empire Is Over by Chris Hedges on October 2013 (YouTube)

“I share the right-wing’s critique of Obamacare. It’s a disastrous bill. It was written by corporate lobbyists. 2000 pages of it. It is essentially the equivalent of the bank-bailout bill for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, $400 billion in subsidies. Meanwhile, the White House... [More]”

Mark Blyth on Global Trumpism

Published by marco on

In the article Discussion between Mark Blyth and Wendy Schiller on Nov. 9, 2016 I transcribed quite a bit of Mark Blyth’s discussion of Trump’s recent electoral victory. In the video linked below, Blyth holds forth on similar themes, but 1.5 months before the election. Again, I’ve transcribed what I consider to be very nicely phrased and salient points from the 1.5-hour video below.

Global Trumpism by Mark Blyth on September 29, 2016 (Watson Institute/YouTube)

When discussing how to reason about the world economy, he showed a slide that he’d cadged from an IBM for... [More]

1 year Ago

Discussion between Mark Blyth and Wendy Schiller on Nov. 9, 2016

Published by marco on

The following video is well worth investing 90 minutes.

Mark Blyth and Wendy Schiller – Election 2016: What Happened and Why? on November 9th, 2016 (YouTube)

Mark Blyth is absolutely brilliant. Here are some choice quotes that I manually transcribed.

“How is all of this going to play out? Where is it all connected? Well, here’s a simple way of thinking about it. From 1945 to 1975, we targeted a particular economic variable called “full employment”. And there’s a thing called the Lukas Critique, which basically says that if you keep targeting something, people will game it. And they did:... [More]”

A philosophical and political discussion with Cornel West and Chris Hedges

Published by marco on

The following video is well worth investing 90 minutes.

Chris Hedges and Cornel West in Conversation − Wages of Rebellion | The New School on October 14th, 2015 (YouTube)

I can’t even summarize this. Watch all of it. If you don’t understand it, be worried, then rectify the situation. Because they explain exactly what’s going on. With no deviation and no exaggeration. I was surprised to see how reasonable West has gotten. He was on the Obama bandwagon for a few years.

Here are some choice quotes that I manually transcribed.

“It’s not a radical movement’s job to seize power. Its job is to make power fear... [More]”
Chris Hedges

Propaganda about Obama’s love for Palestinians

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 I figure that’s a better title than “Obama administration takes a significant step toward ending the occupation”.

I heard from a few sources that the U.S. Congress finally voted against funding Israel. That is patently untrue. What actually sparked this rumor is that—for the first time ever—the U.S. allowed a vote in the U.N. Security Council to proceed against Israel. Congress had nothing to do with it. The budget for Israel stands. The U.S. didn’t even vote against Israel. Instead,... [More]

A tutorial for reaching across the aisle

Published by marco on

In response to a link to the article and video Why Trump supporters stand by debunked claim (CNN) and the ensuing comments, I posted the following discussion.

Initial remarks

The citations below are from the aforementioned comments.

  • “Ill-informed” <> Stupid
  • “Their feeling that they are getting screwed”: It’s not just a feeling, though, is it? Isn’t it more accurate to say that they *have noticed* that things are going from bad to worse. They understandably want to make things better. They grasp at... [More]

President Trump

Published by marco on

I haven’t been asleep. I’ve noticed that Trump was elected president of the United States. I’ve been following the hyperbolic reactions and speculations. Predictions of doomsday have been loosed with abandon.

Most of this coverage comes from the same heedless simpletons who’ve failed miserably as journalists umpteen times. But this time, we should listen to them because what they have to say is important. Any opinion that lines up with their own is valid—regardless from whom it comes (i.e.... [More]

Syria: Hillary’s lever to topple Russia

Published by marco on

In An Ocean of Misdirection, Vote Hillary or we’re all gonna die!, The left’s answer: blame everything on the Russians and Trigger-happy: Hillary Clinton vs. the World, I tried to organize my thoughts about the upcoming election, with dubious success. In this article, I focus more on the direct danger that a Clinton administration may be for the world, especially with her expressed intent in Syria.

Killing to Cure

 Ted Rall: July 29th, 2016The article The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks... [More] by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch)

Trigger-happy: Hillary Clinton vs. the World

Published by marco on

In An Ocean of Misdirection, Vote Hillary or we’re all gonna die! and The left’s answer: blame everything on the Russians, I tried to organize my thoughts about the upcoming election, with dubious success. I discussed the intense propaganda effort behind demonizing everything that is not Hillary. In this article, I try to build a more solid case against that tremendous push.

Female Dissent

Taking on Clinton these days is not so easy, especially for those on the left. In the US of A, if you’re... [More]