Friday, July 31, 2015

Saving Africa

Ebola vaccine results 'remarkable'

Attributable entirely to furious accusations of racism in venues like The Guardian, wherein a duty of the rich white world to save Africa has been so successfully promulgated. 

Here as elsewhere, the left has swallowed gallons of its own Kool Aid.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

George Will on the Iran deal

Reject the Iran deal

Since 1972, U.S. policy toward China has been a worthy but disappointing two-part wager. 

One part is that involving China in world trade will temper its unruly international ambitions. 

The second is that economic growth, generated by the moral and institutional infrastructure of markets, will weaken the sinews of authoritarianism.

Damn silly idea, and neither part is working out.

The Iran agreement should be a treaty; it should not have been submitted first to the U.N. as a studied insult to Congress. 

Wilson said that rejecting the Versailles Treaty would “break the heart of the world.” 

The Senate, no member of which had been invited to accompany Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference, proceeded to break his heart.

It is a treaty that O and his supporters are unconstitutionally trying to sneak though in disguise because it is highly unlikely it could get two thirds support.

In 1951, Hannah Arendt, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany, argued bleakly (in The Origins of Totalitarianism) that tyrannies wielding modern instruments of social control (bureaucracies, mass communications) could achieve permanence by conscripting the citizenry’s consciousness, thereby suffocating social change. 

The 1956 Hungarian Revolution changed her mind: No government can control human nature or 'all channels of communication.'

The famous conservative author of "Dictatorships and Double Standards" famously didn't get the memo, you may recall.

Trump shoots into the lead

Ann Coulter explains why

And NRO

The kind of disparate impact "liberals" are OK with

My Brother’s Keeper

Really?

TR actually was a conservationist. This stuff? Phooey.

Obama wildlife agency wants to speak with Cecil the lion's killer 'immediately'

Strange brew

No one is less interested in ensuring there actually are future generations than liberals.

No one has done or continues to do as much to ensure birth rates fall below replacement level wherever they can by making reproduction as fully voluntary as they can.

Odd, then, that they demand huge and foreseeably useless, very, very costly sacrifices of the West for the alleged but unrealizable purpose of stopping global warming and thus (supposedly) benefiting those same future generations.

The Pope and Hizzoner

Did the West just basically shrug the problem off?

Iran says will ban US experts from UN nuclear inspections

They could not get a decent deal, but nobody wanted war.

Is that what happened?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Communism in Vietnam

David Cameron becomes first British PM to visit Vietnam

David Cameron clearly sees Vietnam as a regime he can do business with

Vietnam may be one of the last five true Communist countries in the world. 

It maintains all the trappings of a dictatorship that tramples on human rights, but Cameron clearly thinks this is a regime with which he can do business.

. . . .

But if Hanoi’s politics have changed little in the past 40 years with Communist rule as dominant as ever, the elderly men running the country have let loose a casino capitalism. 

In a symbol of change, the building in the former Saigon from which US marines and CIA agents were helicoptered at the end of the war is now a luxury area selling Burberry.


Cameron travelled in Vietnam as a young backpacker in the early 90s, and despite the protocol-ridden formalities of the signing ceremonies for Rolls Royce engines and Prudential Assurance, he would find the sprawling metropolitan city quite startling with its bars and vibrant streets. 

The US may have lost the battle to protect south Vietnam from communism, but its capitalism may yet win the war.

Cameron is in Vietnam to get Britain access to the fastest growing middle class in south-east Asia. The statistics of economic transformation are, as Cameron said, extraordinary. 

The country’s growth per head was 350% between 1990 and 2010. It is currently growing by 6% a year and is predicted to be one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. 

Britain’s aid programme, not obviously necessary, comes to an end next year.

Startups burst on to the scene regularly. 

A third of the entire country, 30 million people, are on Facebook – 17 million via smartphones or tablets – and they are estimated to spend two and a half hours a day on the site. 

Vietnam is also a young country. 

Two-thirds of the population was born after the fall of Saigon and the reunification of Vietnam in 1975.

About as communist as China, is Vietnam today.

Ho's legacy is party dictatorship and national unity.

Socialism, not so much.

"Ignominiously pulled out"?

Did Patrick Wintour really mean to fault the US for giving up the fight?

Russian sub identified

Submarine likely to be Som-class submarine, nicknamed Catfish, which sank after collision with Swedish vessel in 1916

Socialism for antiquities

A common view, but not mine.

Sale of Northampton’s Sekhemka statue sets dangerous precedent

The perils of globalization

US bans cilantro imports from Mexican farms littered with feces and toilet paper

Five of eight Puebla farms found with ‘objectionable’ hygiene conditions have been linked to recurrent outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in US since 2012.

Politicians settling scores

Yanis Varoufakis may face criminal charges over Greek currency plan

It's an old story, eh?

The Shining Path? Still?

Peruvian army rescues Shining Path kidnap victims after 25 years' captivity

Wow.

So long after Fujimori did them in.

The politician's syllogism

Something must be done.

This is something.

Ergo, . . .

NY State Senator Working On Legislation For Metal Detectors At Theaters, Stadiums And Malls

Varieties of human

Neanderthals had outsize effect on human biology

These were not different species, of course, but only varieties of human, though they are believed to have been more different, one from another, than the modern races.

All but one eventually disappeared.

A different left view of The Donald

The Surprisingly Strong Progressive Case For Donald Trump

Very interesting.

He could be the least bad of a bad lot.

The Republican field, I mean.

A Catholic in Jamestown

Interesting piece.

In the Closet in Early America

Josh Marshall.

Bernie vs Hillary against the GOP

Reason #1 to Vote Bernie: Sanders Does 'Better Than Clinton' Against GOP in Swing States

Let's hope this lead holds and increases.

He's more lefty than I like but she's too far to the right.

Black lives matter. So do others.

Cincinnati Is Preparing For Riots Over Traffic Stop Shooting Death

High crime areas are mostly where this sort of thing happens.

On the whole, that seems to mean black areas.

I have no idea how far race is a factor in the general run of gratuitous police violence.

I am aware of several cases in which the person killed was white and the incident never made a headline, even in the city where it occurred.

But black areas are also where mob violence, rioting, burning, looting, and the like are apt to follow an event of this kind.

Best not to live in such an area, in so many ways.

All the same, and way too often, police violence is so absurd it seems wholly unaccountable, in any neighborhood or locale.

In the present case, for instance, you have to wonder what the heck could have possessed the cop to do this.

On camera, no less.

The cop's own body-cam.

University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing indicted for murder in the shooting death of Sam Dubose

WAPO

Walt, the lion killer

Republicans apparently don't mind hunting, killing animals for sport, or perhaps even this fellow's illegal pursuit of game.

Or so we are to believe.

"Liberals," in contrast, though maybe not liberals or Democrats as a tribe, morally condemn and are outraged by hunting, killing animals for sport, and certainly illegal pursuit of game like this.

C&L

No true Scotsman, er, hunter, er, er

Certainly progressives historically have no problem with at least legal hunting.

Think TR.

Think Hemingway.

Though I don't personally hunt neither do I mind others doing so, even if illegally.

There are a lot of annoying and silly laws.

Think of speed limits.

Think of many of the many, many restrictions on the production, sale, and use of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and for that matter marijuana.

On the other hand, the laws against texting and phone use while driving seem to me neither annoying nor silly.

Do you think the scofflaws who drive with phones stuck to their ears or typing against the steering wheel are all committed libertarians or conservatives?

Really?

People are little given to obedience when they can get away with defiance.

That trait nicely balances their penchant for controlling others in even the most trivial affairs that are, as the saying goes, none of their business.

Daily Mail

Death threats have been sent to the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe earlier this month amid growing anger over the protected animal's slaughter.

. . . .

One of the strongest denunciations came from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which said on its Twitter account that Palmer should hang for killing Cecil.

'If, as reported, this dentist & guides lured #CeciltheLion out of the park with food so as to shoot him on private property because shooting #CeciltheLion in the park would have been illegal, he needs to be extradited, charged, &, preferably, hanged.'

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bernie the not radical on what is socialism.

Interview with Ezra Klein

Against high immigration, against exporting jobs, he sounds like a Scandinavian socialist who thinks his primary responsibility is benefiting the ordinary people of the United States.

He is not quite the cosmolib Ezra and many other post-nationalist liberals and "liberals" seem to want.

He is confused in his ideas about election finance, at least as he puts them here.

He refuses to say whether it would be worth it for the US to go to war to prevent Iran getting a nuke, if it came to that.

He seems less open to the idea of the US as the savior of last resort than many on the left, responding to a question whether we should have intervened in Rwanda by answering the US and the European powers, equally, should have intervened, an intervention that should have involved a strengthened UN.

He seems to favor a two-state solution in Palestine.

Ezra asks a stupid question and gets a stupid answer.

Ezra.

Let me ask you about the economic side of foreign policy. 

I think one of the overwhelming background issues, and sometimes the foreground issue, is whether the economic rise of, particularly, China, but to some degree India and others, necessarily means a diminishment in American power and sway. 

Do you see it as zero sum in that way?

Bernie.

No.

That is the whole of Bernie's answer to this remarkably idiotic question.

Having replied, he immediately shifts the topic and starts to talk about how hot he is to lead the world in cooling global warming.

He favors a massive carbon tax to diminish use of fossil fuels and rig the market, enabling alternative energy sources that are in fact vastly more expensive than fossil fuels to compete.

He does not say how he will prevent or at least limit the inevitable impoverishment of ordinary and working people of America that would result.

He does not say that he will even try, and Ezra does not ask.

Ezra does not ask whether, and he does not say that, the global warming damage to be averted would be greater than the costs he would impose to avoid it.

Ezra raises the question of unequal restrictions on carbon use for the advanced West and the economic giants of the Third World, especially the world's worst polluter, China, but Bernie mostly dodges and insists he does not favor hobbling the West while others nullify our sacrifice by continuing to rely on and expand fossil fuels.

He hopes quick development of alternatives that will actually be cheaper to use than carbon fuels will remove any economic reason for the Third World to want to continue to use fossil fuels, and perhaps his apparent confidence in such a solution explains why he seems wholly unworried that his carbon tax will impoverish America and Americans.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Even a nasty man can be right

He is a nasty man and has always been a nasty man.

He even looks like a pedophile or some other sort of dirty old man.

All the same.

The Satanic Verses, if published today, would not be defended by those who protested against Charlie Hebdo’s PEN award, says author

He's talking about fans of and writers for The Guardian.

Salman Rushdie: "Combattre l'extrémisme n'est pas combattre l'islam"

Although, why not, really, come to that?

This is a longish and really interesting interview in L'Express, covering a lot of ground, apparently conducted in New York or someplace else in the US.

Asked why so many in the Occident have gone wrong, he replied quite correctly thus.

On peut déplorer un retour du politiquement correct dans les milieux intellectuels. 

Mais ce dont personne ne parle, c'est la peur. 

Si on ne tuait pas des gens en ce moment, si les bombes et les kalachnikovs ne parlaient pas aujourd'hui, le débat serait bien différent. 

La peur se déguise en respect. 

Demographic trap?

Is the world unable to stabilize or shrink its population without death camps for the elderly, or merely unwilling to bear the expense?

China may bring in 'two-child policy' to tackle demographic timebomb

The one-child policy for China and India, both, made sense.

But it's gone.

Yes, a hate crime

No, not terrorism.

Charleston shooting 'a hate crime'

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bernie the Nazi

Bernie’s Strange Brew of Nationalism and Socialism

Bernie is against free trade, which makes him an "economic nationalist," as the phrase was used ages ago.

And he is in some manner or other a socialist.

So he's a nationalist and a socialist.

And so . . . . .

And since all the free trading he's berating has been with majority non-white, Third World countries, NR joyously smears him with charges of racism, too.

Wow.

Bernie = Hitler.

How about that?

Oh, and NR says this is wicked, too.

Why Liberals Should Oppose the Immigration Bill

It's the economic case people have been making forever, also "nationalist" in the sense alluded to above.

The same people who have made the same case against free trade, most of them in NR's own party, but the Main Street wing, not the Wall Street wing that NR speaks for.

O at the VFW in Pgh

Saw the speech on cable.

He looks tired of being president.

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's not a mistake. It's a choice.

Who is it hurting and who is it enriching?

None of this is an error or the result of misunderstanding or ignorance.

It is an intentional, global attack on the working masses for the purpose of radically increasing inequality, and it's working just fine.

Krugman

Kuttner

To say it's all an error, a delusion, a mistake is to hide the real "economic horror."

It is all totally on purpose.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Serious question

85 pages into Naked Lunch, the restored text, and I ask myself why the hell I'm doing this.

So much for that.

Not every attack is terrorism

The Chattanooga Killings Aren’t Terrorism

William Saletan.

[N]ot every act of political violence is terrorism. 

Terrorism has a specific legal meaning. 

Some definitions, such as the one in Title 18, Section 2331 of the U.S. Code (dangerous crimes intended “to influence the policy of a government”), are so absurdly broad that they could cover almost any politically motivated crime. 

The tightest and best definition is the one in Title 22, Section 2656 of the U.S. Code: “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.” 

That’s the definition our government applies when documenting terrorism overseas.

The typical noncombatant target is an innocent civilian. 

That’s what makes Sept. 11 and the ISIS hostage beheadings clear acts of terrorism. 

By this standard, Chattanooga wasn’t terrorism, because the victims weren’t civilians. 

All four were Marines. 

Three had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

. . . . 

Chattanooga wasn’t the first attack on a military facility in the United States, and it won’t be the last. 

We’ve been hit before, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and in Fort Hood, Texas. 

According to the New America Foundation, 1 of every 3 Americans who have been accused of planning domestic attacks since Sept. 11—that’s nearly 40 people, out of 119—targeted military sites.

I’m glad many of those miscreants are sitting in prison. 

And I’m sorry that a few succeeded. 

But if they’re going to come after us, it’s better that they target our service members than our schools and buses. 

We should aspire to more than winning this war, or the next one. 

We should aspire, all of us, to ending the deliberate killing of civilians.

Greeks should dump the Euro

Greece made the wrong choice

Syriza breaking up?

As Greece Melts into Chaos, Syriza Is Done

Friday, July 17, 2015

Transportation for life for dangerous or career criminals for whom outright execution seems inappropriate

Much cheaper than imprisonment.

But where?

Reservations set aside for the purpose in Alaska might work.

President Obama takes on prison reform

I would like the government to keep us safe from criminals as cheaply and effectively as possible.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Attacking the military is not terrorism

Chattanooga shootings

It's just war or murder (if there is no war), etc.

But not terrorism.

A very thorough take-down of a stupid idea

Putting Women in Combat Is an Even Worse Idea Than You’d Think

The facts make it plain why women should have no role in combat at all.

Socialism, private property, and the "hard line"

Venezuelan hardliner María Corina Machado barred from public office

At a guess, they call her a "hard liner" because of this sort of thing, quoted in Wikipedia.

On 13 January 2012, during the annual State of the Nation Speech delivered by Chávez to the Venezuelan National Assembly, Machado confronted him about shortages of basic goods, crime, and nationalizations of basic industries. 

"How can you say that you protect private property when you have been expropriating small businesses; expropriating and not paying is stealing."

The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution says the following.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Revolutionary socialists universally and some who hold power with electoral legitimacy notoriously and on principle practice expropriation without compensation.

Socialist-sponsored land reform and redistribution programs have generally been uncompensated.

Likewise socialist-sponsored nationalization and socialization are universally, or all but, uncompensated public takeovers of private property.

The US government holds uncompensated takeovers to be contrary to established international law as well as unconstitutional in the US.

Libertarians and conservatives generally make no secret that they regard government in general as legitimate only as it honors and defends fundamental human rights including property rights - actual lawful property and not only property as acquired under some sort of ideal conditions - and that regime change is justified if government itself systematically and extensively violates human rights in general or in particular property rights.

Nor is it any secret that they regard uncompensated or even inadequately compensated expropriation as exactly such a violation.

Or that they either deny that the usual political rights associated with democracy are among those fundamental human rights or hold they are anyway of considerably less weight than the traditional Lockean list of rights to life, liberty, and property cited and enshrined in the US constitution.

Many on the left, and by no means only the radical left, reject these conservative/libertarian views asserting, defending, and prioritizing private property rights.

It is an interesting question whether and how far liberals, though they are more pro-capitalist and pro-market than even social democrats or democratic socialists, agree with those views.

PS.

It isn't just capitalism that distinguishes between those who control property and can dispose of it as they wish and those who don't and can't.

Absolutely any social order does this, including any version of socialism.

Any order thus empowers some and disempowers others.

If property is theft those who are without it under capitalism or without significant control over it under socialism are alike robbed.

Capitalism disperses this power widely and thus achieves greater empowerment of more people, with results trumpeted in many places such as The Constitution of Liberty.

Socialism concentrates it narrowly.

Comparing our actual experience of both, capitalism - including moderately mixed economies - is much superior to socialism in terms of average utility and usually also in terms of the fate of the worst off group, so far as application of that criterion is not so contentious as to be only imaginary.

Too, capitalism wins the palm for innovation running away.

Too, considering regimes better as they harm or even slaughter their own people less, again capitalist regimes win out by far over socialist ones, globally and historically.

All worth thinking about.

Surrender is not popular

Syriza promised they would never accept continued austerity.

That is how they won the elections and got into office in the first place.

But now they have surrendered and done exactly what they promised not to do.

This is what surrender looks like in the streets of Athens.

Greek Parliament accepts the deal

Trump and Trumpism

Matt Y

MY identifies Trumpism as having two core issues, anti-immigration and protectionism.

The core commitments of economic nationalism, in other words.

To get ahead in American politics you need to appeal to donors as well as to voters, and the constituency for conservatism minus entitlement cuts and free trade while doubling down on racism and xenophobia does not include a ton of rich people.

Which is to say that what Trumpism needs to be politically viable is exactly what Trump can offer — a self-financed campaign driven more by egomania and lust for the spotlight than any concrete notion of economic advantage. 

Trump himself is probably too much of a clown to capitalize on the potential appeal of his agenda over the long term. 

But a Trump-like figure with more of a conventional reputation as a businessman could find himself in a position to garner significant support as a self-financed third-party candidate. 

And while there's no precedent for a third-party contender actually winning a presidential race, there's ample precedent for independent bids altering the course of American politics by inducing one or the other of the major parties to co-opt its agenda.

So the GOP, already anti-immigration on Main Street though not on Wall Street, finally goes all in on that?

And the Democrats, previously anti-free trade, return to their labor-protecting roots?

Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dee-dee

Hillary Clinton’s new paleoliberalism

Matt Yglesias cuts it pretty fine.

MY is a cosmolib who has gone on public record saying he doesn't mind inequality per se.

He is one of those people on the left who are abundantly clear they are for capitalism, but not at all for the bare-knuckle version.

Within that broad tribe he here defines two camps and discusses just where Hillary fits.

[W]ithin the left-of-center camp there is a long-running conceptual dispute between what you might call neoliberalism and paleoliberalism.

The keys to the neoliberal approach that dominated both the Clinton and Obama administrations are, roughly:

1. The main way the government can impact the pre-tax distribution of income is by providing high-quality education to as many people as possible.

2. Financial markets should be regulated to guard against catastrophe, but also should take a leading role in driving investment decisions across the private sector.

3. To the extent that the education path fails to generate a satisfactory distribution of economic resources, progressive taxes should fund redistributive programs to produce a better outcome.

The paleoliberal approach denies most of this, harking back to an era in which government regulation and labor unions played a more direct role in compressing the pre-tax distribution of labor income and the financial sector was deliberately regulated in a heavy-handed way rather than allowed to lead the economy.

This, of course, is not quite how people a bit further to the left - "liberals," as I have called them - use the term "neoliberalism."

Anyway, he says Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are both on the neoliberal side of this divide, and Hillary has publicly moved over to the paleoliberal side, subscribing to such ideas as these.

1. The government should take an active role in writing economic rules that promote high wages, rather than relying on taxes and transfer payments.

2. Financial markets do a poor job of guiding private sector investment (she will frame this as a critique of short-term thinking).

3. Increasing educational attainment is an inadequate strategy for curbing inequality.

I'm not sure about 2 but 1 and 3 of the paleo list certainly seem right, to put it mildly.

But anyway he's not sure she means it.

Politics is more about concrete policy choices than abstract philosophy, and thus far we've seen relatively little indication of how Clinton would deliver on these ideas in a concrete way that differs from her predecessors.

Joining the congressional Democratic backlash against the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have been one way to do that, but it's a step she rather pointedly declined to take. 

Nor has she embraced liberals' call to expand Social Security, and she's been somewhat cagey about whether she endorses the movement for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. 

She certainly hasn't joined Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley in calling for a breakup of Wall Street's biggest banks.

Many veterans of the intra-Democratic clash on economic policy doubt the sincerity of Clinton's moves to join their camp. 

Ironically, the fact that leading neoliberals like Larry Summers are now singing from a more paleoliberal songbook gives the old-time paleoliberals heartburn. 

They see a ploy by their old rivals to bend with the wind rather than breaking so as to retain control over the highest levels of the Democratic Party. 

Clinton's team is explicitly intending to stay abstract initially. 

Rather than a laundry list of policy initiatives, they want to paint a broad vision that they then fill out over time. 

Only when that happens will we really get a sense of how much Clinton intends to break with the past.

So do we have any actual liberals - not "liberals" -  in the running who are more credibly and clearly on the paleo side?

Way off base

Obama Scolds Major Garrett

“As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran, three held on trumped-up charges ,according to your administration, one whereabouts unknown,” 

Garrett said, “Can you tell the country, Sir, why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation and the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?”

Obama responded: “I gotta give you credit, Major, for how you craft those questions. The notion that I’m content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails. Major, that’s nonsense and you should know better.”

O looked tired, flabbergasted, and furious.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reality based? I think not.

Bernie will beat Hillary and be nominated

So said Bill Curry at Salon in June.

Lies everybody tells us

The weaponized history of the left confronts the racist celebrations of "the Lost Cause."

Salon

Howard Zinn to the rescue; those who uphold his views will correct the lies of the right about the Confederacy, its cause, and its flag.

According to this writer at Salon.

Why didn't he proclaim his disgust with NBF, and his shame that Tennessee officially reveres him?

Monday is "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day."

A very effective and devoted Confederate and a founder of the KKK in Reconstruction days, a terrorist organization devoted to the political exclusion and social and economic subjection of the freedmen and the defeat of Reconstruction.

No one could have forced the governor to issue a proclamation or punished him if he had chosen not to and, in any case, it is certain he did not have to issue a celebratory one, or a cowardly one.

That bust belongs in a museum like a bust of Hitler belongs in a Holocaust Museum, memorializing him as an object of obloquy and horror.

Southern whites still don't get it; southern whites refuse to get it.

The Marble Faun

The House of the Seven Gables was slow enough, but this is totally unbearable.

Page after page of nothing happening at all.

That would be all right, I suppose, if his characters weren't so utterly inhuman, such complete cardboard fabrications.

And the complete sexlessness of his women, his characters, his universe seems extreme even for his era.

Gave up on it about halfway through.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bernie likes the Pope and his global outlook

Money

Too global and too anti-capitalist in tone, for my taste.

A progressive Hillary?

Progressive, yes.

Social democrat, not so much.

Socialist, phooey.

Only in the minimal sense that anybody who's OK with public K through 12, public streets, public fire departments, and the like is that far a socialist.

Certainly better in many ways than any Republican would be.

Hillary gives a speech

Hillary Clinton pledged to fight for higher wages and lift the American middle class on Monday, in a speech that outlined her economic agenda and saw the Democratic presidential candidate take a more aggressive tone towards her Republican rivals.

Speaking at the New School in Greenwich Village, a New York university known for its progressive worldview, Clinton placed income inequality and improving the conditions of everyday Americans at the heart of her pitch to grow the economy and increase wages.

“I believe we have to build a growth and fairness economy,” she said. “You can’t have one without the other.

“We must raise incomes for hard-working Americans so they can afford a middle-class life. We must drive strong and steady income growth that lifts up families and lifts up our country. That will be my mission from the first day I’m president to the last.”

To alleviate the financial burden on middle-class Americans, Clinton emphasized policies such as paid family leave, lowering childcare costs, passing equal pay for women and raising the minimum wage.

There is more.

Transcript

There is actually quite a lot of detail, though she promises more in future.

Much of it locates her clearly to Bernie's right, like her promises to keep and strengthen Obamacare.

Medicare for all? Guess not.

She has a lot to say about managing capitalism, not destroying or replacing it, to make it less risky, less inequitable, and less harsh on the worst off, going beyond Dodd-Frank, for example.

She promises later to provide plans dealing with the rising costs of higher education, and I would expect that, too, to be less lefty than what Bernie has proposed.

Syriza surrenders. The meaning of the eurozone.

[L]et’s be clear: what we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line.

Krugman yesterday

The Germans out to crush the Greeks.

Suppose you consider Tsipras an incompetent twerp. 

Suppose you dearly want to see Syriza out of power. 

Suppose, even, that you welcome the prospect of pushing those annoying Greeks out of the euro.

Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. 

The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. 

This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. 

It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.

Krugman today

American conservatives side with Germany on the Greek issue and would love to inflict similar agony on the American people.

There’s now an effective consensus among Democrats — on display in Hillary Clinton’s planned Monday speech on the economy — that workers need more help, in the form of guaranteed health insurance, higher minimum wages, enhanced bargaining power, and more. 

Republicans, however, believe that American workers just aren’t trying hard enough to improve their situation, and that the way to change that is to strip away the safety net while cutting taxes on wealthy “job creators.”

And while Jeb Bush may sometimes sound like a moderate, he’s very much in line with the party consensus. 

If he makes it to the White House, the laziness dogma will rule public policy.

Tsipras is taking the deal, with his tail between his legs, back to the Greek parliament, which is expected to swallow this cyanide pill.

The Guardian all along preferred Greek surrender to Greece defaulting, exiting the eurozone, or even leaving the EU.

They predict he will resign or be forced out of office, along with his failed party of gutless radicals.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Todd Gitlin whitewashes 60's radicalism and his own past to white-wash Bernie, painting them all as LBJ liberals rather than real socialist radicals

The Bernie Sanders Moment

The New Left was not The New Deal and revolutionary Marxism was neither democratic socialism nor social democracy.

And despite the wishes and delusions of those who organized its mass outpourings, the anti-war movement was only about the war and, for that matter, mostly about the draft; it pretty much dried up and blew away when Nixon stopped sending draftees to Vietnam.

There are "liberals" who hate inequality per se and there are liberals who don't, but want to improve the lot of the least well off and for that matter "the 99%."

There are liberals who want to domesticate capitalism for the general good and "liberals" who would love to starve it, shrink it, and drown it in the bathtub.

There are "liberals" who were enthusiastic about Ho Chi Minh, Salvador Allende, Daniel Ortega, and Fidel Castro and liberals who deplored them all.

Putting it this way, I sort closer to the liberals.

Todd and Bernie and a whole lot of the survivors of the 60's sort with the "liberals."

I was right. He is Chauncey Gardner.

Pope: Unfettered Capitalism 'Dung Of The Devil'

Extremism and the GOP

The crackpot right is so deeply embedded in the populace of this country that today's Republicans are a dirtied by them as the Democrats of the early 20th Century.

The House GOP’s Confederate flag fiasco

People vote for these guys.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Greece and the GOP; the lessons of disaster in a very small economy

Krugman

Bernie the red?

The Guardian on Bernie. A bio and rehearsal of his "mind."

They describe him as "hard left," which seems more suitable for Mao and Brezhnev than for a democratic politician, and especially inappropriate for a social democrat, since the members of that tribe are committed both to political democracy and to a heavily regulated "mixed" but mostly and indeed overwhelmingly capitalist economy and, in America, opposed the communists, back in the day.

Is he not committed to those same things, after all?

Well, if he is true to his own past, as reported in The Guardian, as it seems he may be, he may be neither a democrat nor a social democrat, and those of us who thought otherwise - a whole lot of us, including the likes of George Will - have been mistaken.

The Guardian writes as though his views and the fundamentals of his agenda remain unchanged from his activist college days, calls him a "strident progressive" (imagine The Guardian calling anybody a "strident progressive"), and relates his history of urging socialization of various parts of what socialists used to call "the commanding heights" of the economy.

He is and always has been quite unabashed, after all, about his wholehearted admiration for Eugene Debs, probably the most famous leader of America's Socialist Party, personally committed to both democracy and true blue socialism, the real thing, complete socialization of the means of production.

Gene Debs's best run for the White House was in 1912, when he ran in a four-way race against Wilson, Taft, and TR.

He made no secret of his views and took every occasion to damn capitalism, urging the necessity of the total abolition of private ownership of the means of production and the progressive nationalization of them all, beginning with the then "commanding heights" of the economy, in the United States.

But he also ran on an agenda of progressive reforms that were both much more readily realizable and of much more widespread appeal.

PBS

At the 1912 Socialist convention, Debs proclaimed the Americanness of Socialism. 

He pursued an agenda including woman suffrage and restricting child labor, but was most concerned with worker rights. 

He advocated the right to unionize and strike, and was a strong spokesman for workplace safety. 

During a time of disparity between the haves and have-nots, Debs' appeal rested in his charismatic advocacy of the disenfranchised. 

Sound like anybody we know?

From The Guardian's piece.

Given his aversion to intellectuals, it is ironic that two of the senator’s best friends are leftwing academics at the University of Vermont.

One is Gutman, 71, an English professor. The other is Richard Sugarman, 70, who teaches Jewish philosophy and existentialism. 

Two Sundays ago, the trio was on a picnic bench in Burlington’s Ethan Allen park, reflecting on the hectic turn of events.

The previous day Sanders had been in Keene, New Hampshire. Like every other event the senator has attended since announcing his campaign, the town hall was packed.

Sanders spoke for an hour, railing against growing economic inequality, the corporate media, millionaires and billionaires, global warming, Barack Obama’s Pacific trade deal and the Iraq war. 

The Vermont senator promised equal pay for women, tuition-free colleges and universities, an equitable tax system, the right to healthcare for all, an expansion of social security for the elderly, and tough action against Wall Street banks.

Seeing Bernie in that light, certain features of his agenda appear, as the old Stalinist saying goes, "no accident."

For example, he makes no bones about his admiration for the British National Health model - actual socialized medicine, the real thing - but urges for America in his current campaign a much improved Medicare for all, mere socialized health insurance.

And a Debs-like commitment to real socialism rather than mere social democracy would explain why his education program is a clear attack on private higher education and would involve massively intrusive further subjection of state public higher education to federal control.

Perhaps he only comes short of Debs in his so far - to my knowledge - complete reticence about the abolition of capitalism, gradual or sudden, piecemeal or all at once.

Other parts of the article in The Guardian show Bernie in a different light, that of a young activist committed to the sometimes absurd national and global causes du jour.

Unfortunately, on many occasions during the Cold War those causes indicated a clear prioritization of socialism over democracy, as in his alignment with the Sandinistas against President Reagan's ultimately successful efforts to end their dictatorial rule in Nicaragua.

Bernie aligned himself pretty firmly and publicly with the Leninist, anti- and undemocratic leftist regimes of that time in Latin America, and their fellow travelers.

Even in that, he still seems to be the same guy.

BS may in fact prefer democratic social democracy, Scandinavian style, to just about everything else (I think it's too socialist) while preferring various forms of Leninism to many versions of capitalism, democratic or not.

Which makes everyone who thinks of him as a social democrat right only with heavy qualifications.

But while he preferred Allende to Pinochet and I, though regretting the General's lurch toward neoliberalism and deploring his ferocity, took the opposite view all the same, he also preferred Allende to the democratic and moderately progressive capitalism of the Chilean status quo ante, which I most certainly did not.

And that preference order makes you wonder about the solidity of his social democratic credentials.

Perhaps his radicalism is really as strident and "hard" as The Guardian says, though you have to wonder what they are playing at, so many pots denigrating a kettle.

And he would certainly not be alone in all that, in today's American left, nearly all of the leading lights of which preferred Allende to Pinochet, the Sandinistas to what came before them and what came after, Uncle Ho to the leaders and regimes of South Vietnam, and so on and so on.

Update.

As I have written before, not only his heart-of-heart politics but even his reformist agenda is too far to the left for me.

I dislike Hillary and will not vote for her in the Pennsylvania primary when the time comes.

But as I reflect further on the matter I may well not vote for Bernie, either, if I vote at all.

And then there is the underlying, painful truth that the nominee does have to defeat a Republican.

It's not at all clear Bernie could do that, anyway, being too far left in the end for most white Democrats and utterly without appeal for non-whites.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Howard Fineman, progressive

I guess I hadn't paid enough attention to notice.

Greece Is Just The Beginning Of The Great Austerity Backlash

It's pretty simple, really.

Austerity crushes the working class and in lesser degree and with some exceptions everybody else who isn't a capitalist.

It makes capitalists richer.

It greatly increases inequality and redirects the economy from production for workers and ordinary people to production for everybody but the workers (or those even worse off) and mostly for the most rich.

On the other hand, inflation is a real threat to anybody with savings and hence to the not-yet-impoverished elderly living on their life's savings, whom it quickly makes impoverished.

Demand-side (Keynesian) efforts to "prime the pump" and expand demand for labor as well as putting money in their pockets risk bumping inflation, but needn't and needn't much.

Besides, knocking the neoliberals out of the saddle, even in Europe, is good for everybody on my side of the class war.

Bloodying their noses makes them less arrogant and less dangerous, and hence less dangerous to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and those same little nest-eggs some of us geezers pinched pennies for so long to build up, old age being the rainiest of rainy days, let me tell you.

The rebellion against austerity is certainly spreading, even in the US.

Austerity Has Failed

Krugman, Reich, Stiglitz, and now others.

Interesting that Bernie has spoken up in favor of the Greek NO vote and the refusal of the Syriza government to knuckle under.

Bernie Sanders: ‘I Applaud the People of Greece’

Has Hillary had anything to say?

The president?

Meanwhile, the following bit in The Guardian allows me yet another in my very long string of I told you so's.

Xenophobia and nationalism could be the Greek vote's biggest winners

Anti-nationalist cosmo-libs have their own priorities, surprisingly not much different from those of neoliberals on the identical questions.

And since the entire European project is one of sacrificing democracy and transferring national sovereignty to the EU, who is really surprised the fans of anti-and supra-nationalism who support it are willing to sacrifice the Greek people to this Moloch, as well?

In America there are leftists who are skeptics both regarding the currency union (the euro) and the entire project of European Unity as it has been undertaken in the decades since WW2.

It seems the sovereignty of individual European nations is not in such bad odor here as it is there.

Are there NO Euro-skeptics on the left in Europe?

Axe the filibuster

I think they should go ahead and do it, for God's sake.

The senate by its composition makes a mockery of majoritarianism and democracy, both; and the filibuster, no part of the plan of the Framers, makes the mockery all the worse.

The constitution is not explicit, but it's clear enough the Framers took majoritarian voting in both houses for granted except where they specified a different requirement, as in the ratification of treaties or votes for impeachment.

On that understanding, the senate is not empowered to abandon majoritarianism by adopting a rule because nothing controlled by the constitution itself can be changed except via Article V, though we have long had and lately much exercised the habit of allowing the Supremes to do that while egregiously claiming they are doing nothing of the kind.

And that means the filibuster is unconstitutional, anyway.

(And so are the senate's rules for the adoption and amendment of its own rules.)

Conservatives set ridiculous filibuster reform litmus test for Obamacare repeal

As for repeal of O-care, no, I don't favor it.

Of course not.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Feminists are crackpots

I understand and even sympathize with the simple lust for money that drives the whole "equal pay for equal work" thing.

But this particular instance reveals just how egregiously laughable are feminist claims as to what is "equal work."

See if the advertisers feel the same way.

U.S. Women Win World Cup, Get Stiffed By FIFA

Women's soccer is to men's soccer as women's baseball is to men's.

There's no women's baseball?

Little League, then.

Oh, in case you are one of the three living Americans above 10 who didn't realize women's sports are lesbian dominated because it's they who so want to be Tom-boys, duh, this may surprise you.

In The Goal, And Out Of The Closet, At The Women’s World Cup

One of those "No, you don't say!" things.

Much like women in the cops, the fire department, and the military.

All that stuff really isn't so much women's liberation as lesbian liberation.

Yes, it's been that way all along.

Many, perhaps most, of the leaders and heroes of the sisterhood have always been lesbians.

Even back in the old days of the Temperance and Sufferance movements.

There was always more than a grain of truth in the jibe that Feminism was just respectable sheep's clothing for a movement of lesbians who wanted to live, work, and play like boys.

Apparently it is now politically OK to admit that.

Maybe we will eventually be able to admit that Bruce Jenner isn't really a woman.

Well, not really really.

No?

The enemy cries "foul!"

Enemies of Greece, the Greek state, the Greek government, and the Greek people denounce the vote on Sunday as unlawful and not valid.

What a load of horse-shit.

EU dismisses Greek referendum as 'not legally correct'

The Greek predicament

Euro-austerity

It's no surprise am radio blames the Greeks, socialism, blah, blah.

Though I was astonished this morning when, sampling a bit of am for the first time in a long time, each of 5 stations in a row had blatherers on doing relentless right-wing blathering against Obama, against Greece, against Governor Wolf, and even against not only women's soccer (the US team just beat Japan in the Women's World Cup) but soccer in general.

US conservatives don't like soccer?

Sure.

And the US left loves it and wants to encourage its popularity here.

It's about cosmopolitanism.

But, anyway, respected discussion shows on American public radio are doing it, too.

Attacking the Greeks, I mean, blaming them.

In the latter case, it's the "big picture," pro-euro, anti-nationalist left pissed off at the more narrowly focused Greek government, trying to save the people of Greece from further devastation by the neoliberal-dominated global, German, and European banks, tools of the notoriously elite-controlled and democracy-deficited European Union.

They are much more worried about the euro unraveling, and then the European Union.

They really don't like the nation state, nationalism, and nationalist politics, especially in Europe, especially (in the end) in Germany.

Better, in the "big picture," in the eyes of this left, that Greece and the Greeks should get beaten to a pulp by the Lords of the Universe than that the European Union should be put in danger.

They seem to have no thought of blaming the bankers, bureaucrats, and government leaders who have refused to budge and have even managed just now to take a scalp, forcing the Greek PM to fire his finance minister.

That ought to be a re-assuring signal to the cosmo-left.

If he hasn't got the sand to stand up for his own team, how will he have the sand to tell them to shove it, when it comes to that?

The real question mark is China

But Western media have been hyping hysteria about Greece.

Panic and blame in China's markets

How far will this go?

Dukes of Hazzard car to lose flag

The flag divides opinion in the US, symbolising racism to its critics - and southern heritage to its defenders.

They are both right.

Tsipras castrates himself for his enemies


Now they know they have his balls in a little jar.

Update 7/6.

Maybe not.

The guy's replacement, though less dramatic in style, is reportedly not very different in his political view and aims.


Heh.

"Meet the new boss . . . . ."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Belated Dad's Day gift

Fitbit

It's the Charge HR my step-daughter gave me, a very cool gadget for basic fitness tracking.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celebrating the Fourth. Not my history

Immigrants and new citizens might celebrate the birthday of their new country.

They might approve - or not - some, much, none, or all of its history.

But at any rate it wasn't and isn't their own history, or the history of their ancestors or their ancestral countries.

To new Americans, certainly it is not true that the entire history of America, from colonial times or from 1776, was their history.

Not the Salem witch trials.

Not the slaughter and deportation of the Cherokees.

Not the Civil War.

Not the era of Jim Crow.

Not Prohibition.

Not Mr. Wilson's war.

And so on.

How much of it is your history, or the history of your ancestors?

Well, when did they get here?

And how much of it did they take part in, support, or approve?

Watching Ken Burns's Prohibition.

The Horrible Regiment of Women, on the move.

PS.

Best night for fireworks in years.

Clear, not hot, no bugs (did the mosquitoes disappear with the bees?).

Happy Fourth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The death of "ought"? Not at all.

Our contemporary secularists can stand a world without God only because they don't see it as a world without morality, meaning, valid ideals, and a true common good.

Eyes firmly shut, they refuse to see these are just more delusions, more lies.

More "wheels in the head," so to speak.

But they will never see that even if they say it.

True activists are always true believers.

Reading Peter Watson, The Age of Atheists.

7/3, I've read enough to regret buying it.

Phooey.