Link Roundup, 8/15/2016

From the MIT Technology Review: Stem cell research is not producing treatments at the pace we once expected.

From the Washington Post: Why are people so freaked out in the midst of an economic boom and unprecedented national power? White Christian America is dying.

From Politico: The GOP ‘establishment’ strikes back.

From The Atlantic: Trumpism and the rift between belief and truth.

From Popular Mechanics: Chemtrails aren’t real, in case you were wondering.

From the GOPLifer Archives: Four Inescapable Realities.

Last Friday evening I was interviewed on Chicago’s Radio Islam. Here’s the recording.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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231 comments on “Link Roundup, 8/15/2016
  1. 1mime says:

    To put things into perspective, why and how have our two parties survived over all this time? Is it time for a change? There are those who think that “sometimes a crisis is what the situation calls for”…

  2. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    The sh*t will get deeper with this Stephen Bannon fellow… He is a Manafort waiting to happen.

    “One former Breitbart worker puts it a little differently. Kurt Bardella, who had the site as a client until quitting earlier this year, said Bannon regularly made racist comments during internal meetings.”

    “I woke up and the world came to an end,” he told The Daily Beast. “They have put in place someone who is a dictator-bully –– a figure whose form of management is verbal abuse and intimidation.”

    “He made more off-color comments about minorities and homosexuals than I can recount,” he added.”

    Bardella, who lives in Virginia and was formerly a Republican Hill staffer, said this November, for the first time in his life, he will vote for a Democrat: Hillary Clinton.

    Here is Kurt Bardella’s twitter feed… good stuff to come one can guess as he posts more of his reactions. I suspect we will hear more horror stories.

  3. RobA says:

    One interesting thing that’s going to happen now is that mainstream America is going to be exposed to the toxic alt right in a way it never has before. While most ppl probably have the knowledge that sites like Breightbar or Stormfront exist, I doubt theyve ever really been exposed to the specifics of the toxic rhetoric, or fact free critique common there.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when confronted with the type of filth that Breitbart tends to traffic in.

  4. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    Now is the time Paul Ryan, get off the Trump crazy train.

    Trump has just hired as his new campaign guru, Stephen Bannon, a former member of the infamous Goldmen Sachs, who used to undermine Paul Ryan’s chances for reelection in his recent congressional primary (he however beat his opponent in the end like a drunken stepdad).

    Stephen Bannon also has no experience running a political campaign, esp. a sprawling presidential campaign… coming on board less than 90 days till election.

    Does this indicate Paul Ryan is some sort of masochist?

    So I would say to Ryan and Priebus and all the other Republicans who have opted for cognitive dissonance and putting their fingers in their ears while singing “La, la, la!” when want to discuss their “nominee”…

    How do you expect this spectacle to end now?

    Trump did start this historic freak show while descending down an escalator. Perhaps this video clip below sums up the likely conclusion of the GOP’s electoral prospects in 2016.

    • RobA says:

      I came here to post something similar. Two major things happened on this front in 24 hrs: Trump specifically said he’ll never pivot, and now he’s backing those words uonwith actions in the form of the Breitbart hires.

      Even the craven RNC knows they cannot become the Party of Breitbart. Considering their whole pitch has been “he’s gonna pivot soon….yep…..annnnnnnny day now….” I think they’re going tobhave to pull the plug.

      Maybe not today, but the next indefensible thing (I.e. the next Khan, or ISIS/Obama, or Judge Curiel etc etc) they’ll cut bait.

      Listen to this from Sean Spicer, RNC Spox and resident turd whose always gone above and beyond in defending Trump:

      That’s a big change in rhetoric. Trumps not a legit candidate worth defending on his own merits. He’s now a client who is worth defending because that’s the job of the spox. He’s explicitly saying “well, lawyers defend bad ppl” in the context of how HE can defend his parties nominee. It’s pretty clear they’re ready to throw in the towel.

      And if the RNC is out, Trump is definitely done. Remember, he has no ground game or GOTV. He’s relying solely on the RNC for that

      Frankly, this is a smart move for Trump. He knows the RNC will dump him, and it will give him the perfect way to lose without being seen (in his mind at least) as a “loser”. Its not his fault: it’s the PC RNC who don’t support him and are weak and cave to the Dems that lost it for him. And of course, with that infuriating about half the entire GOP base and tons of grievances to be played upon, Trump will be in perfect position with Ailes and the Breitbart team by his side to launch Trump TV: the ” news” source for those who think Fox News is just too damn Librul. For real….the grotesque CEO can’t even make sexual demands of his female subordinates? What a bunch of PC garbage!! What’s the point of even GETTING tonthe top if you can’t take advantage of it by imposing your sexual will on the purty little things that come to work for you?

      This whole thing goes beyond a campaign shakeup. Trump is basically saying that PAUL MANAFORT is too moderate for his tastes. He needs a REAL righty. Let that sink in.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        This is maybe a brilliant observation on your part if any of it is true RobA… I can’t believe I didn’t see it.

        The explosive reality star, the architect of modern conservative TV news and the head honcho of an influential far-right internet operation. Add in the potential post-election grievances of millions disappointed W.A.S.P.’s… what do you have?

        A most unholy trinity and a baked in audience.

        The foundation for an even more insular and profitable media echo chamber to “inform” and entertain the masses of a dying/marginalized demographic.

        Fox news 2.0 or Trump TV. A way more fun and money making venture than being the president.

        I have always wondered if Trump, who has helped make Obama’s years as president as politically hellish as possible, would really want to go through that gauntlet himself.

        Has the politics of conservative outrage truly transformed into a streamlined Ponzi scheme built on the fears of the hopeless? Is actual political power now less relevant than the opportunity from making cash from a perpetually disillusioned electorate.

        Well played, Mr Trump and company. One of my favorite cartoons of all time might have had this figured out all along.

        Choice line made by Trump’s comic book world counterpart Lex Luthor: “Do you know how much power I would have to give up to be president?”

      • Interesting theory, Rob, and I’m actually inclined to agree with a lot of it, save one key question that you’ve overlooked: Would the RNC actually bail on Trump and forfeit their congressional majorities in the process?

        We all know the reason Paul Ryan’s let himself be dragged through the mud is that he can’t afford to bail on Trump. Doing that would probably be the one thing that would assuredly cost Republicans their House majority, leaving President Clinton and a Democratically-controlled Congress to do whatever they want. That’s tantamount to political sacrilege in their eyes.

        Now some raise the idea of Republicans trying to thread the proverbial needle just like they did in ’96 to at least convince voters to keep a GOP-controlled Congress. Problem with that is, just like you pointed out, that Trump’s put them between a rock and a hard place. The GOP can’t wait until the last minute to make that argument to voters if Trump sinks even more than he has and takes the whole Party down with him.

        On the flip side, if they dump him too early and enrage his supporters, you get the same result anyway.

        You couldn’t ask for a worse “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moment for Republicans. There are no good options. Increasingly, there aren’t even any slightly less bad options either.

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, they are all in bed together. Do not fall for the Paul Ryan “nice” guy bit. He’s in this to win with whoever it takes to keep his position and his agenda rolling. Self-service is the oil that runs the GOP engine….

      • Kenneth Devaney says:

        I agree Rob,
        There is a perverse justice in having the Father of Fox News and head of Breitbart taking the wheel of the car away from the RNC. No more hiding behind the curtains. If I was Reince I would be tempted to wait for the first new atrocity and use it as an excuse to pull the plug on Trump…allow the crazies to declare heresy and splinter off…maybe the RNC could regain control and focus on 21st century candidates who understand it ain’t 1952 anymore. This reference won’t make sense to many but I keep recalling “Run away from the rabbit!”…of Monty Python fame. Allow normal republican candidates begin the detox program and disconnect from Trump and the whole Breitbart/Fox right wing noise machine.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        The latest word/allegations on Manafort now is he may have funneled millions of foreign money into the pockets of U.S. lobbyists… without full disclosure. if that is even remotely true…

        Wow. I think the I.R.S. may want a word with you.

        I’m no expert of laws regarding financial illegalities but I do know transferring secret overseas money to lobbyists to possibly affect foreign policy legislation in the U.S. sounds bad.

        It kinda affects national security.

        You really are not supposed to do that. They may lock up Manafort before they lock up that lady Trump supporters scream to have imprisoned/hung for something, something, something…

    • 1mime says:

      I am going to keep saying this. Republican leadership believes there is still a chance they can win. Do not underestimate how things can unravel for HRC with the smart and nasty triumverate of advisors Trump has added to his team. For every poll we read that looks wonderful for HRC, consider how quickly this race could turn if GOP turnout increases and hers decreases. Sentiment on the hate Hillary side is incredibly strong. I know some of these people and they absolutely will vote.

  5. 1mime says:

    For all his critics, Pres. Obama has quietly moved forward to prepare the United States for a new type of warfare. He may have bungled the Syrian theater, which history will no doubt have a better view of than we can today, but he is fully cognizant of what an emboldened Russia and China mean in terms of military defense. I have also provided the link to an article that preceded this WaPo piece.

    We are embarking on a brave new world and there are many areas that will be affected. Best to prepare….where to stop….how to pay for…..what are the nation’s priorities….

    • RobA says:

      The Syria thing was definitely bungled. But the difference between the bungling OS Syria, compared to the bungling of, say, Iraq, is the difference between forgetting your wife’s birthday, compared to forgetting you HAVE a wife.

      If the Dems had screwed up nearly as much as the GOP, the GOP would be apoplectic. That dynamic plays out many times. Can you imagine what the GOP would be saying if HRC’ campaign manager had even a FRACTION of Manaforts ties to Putin?

      • objv says:

        How about Hillary herself?

        “As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.”

      • RobA says:

        You realize the Clintons don’t make any money from their foundation right? That’s it’s a charity which has helped millions of women and kids in poor countries have access to education and clean water?

        Perhaps there are accounting irregularities, but the balance of HRC’s flaws to Trumps are not even remotely in the same ballpark.

      • 1mime says:

        Good try, Rob.

      • 1mime says:

        There is a rather “stark” difference between the Clinton campaign leadership and the Trump campaign leadership. A rational person might look at this and let it influence their decision as to: (1) what kind of presidential candidate surrounds themselves with people of this ‘ilk”; or (2) what kind of advisors would this presidential candidate likely surround themselves with if elected? Of course, a really, real rational person would not need this self-questioning as they would have already sorted out that how a person campaigns is likely how they will govern, but, the rabidly hate-hillary crowd could care less.

      • objv says:

        Rob, I suppose you also like to send money to televangelists who run charities.

        The main beneficiaries of the Clinton Foundation seem to be (gasp) the Clintons and their cronies. The charity may not directly give them a salary, but it does cover all their travel expenses to the tune of millions every year. They use the charity to funnel cash to friends they want to help such as Huma Abedin who was drawing a salary from both the Clinton Foundation and the State Department at the same time.

        Worst of all they accept money from nations that have histories of terrible human rights abuses especially against women, children and gay men. There is a pattern of “pay to play” where these countries or certain citizens of those countries seem to receive favorable treatment after they have given to the foundation or paid outrageous sums to hear Bill speak.

        For more:

      • RobA says:

        Obvj hmmmmmm NY Post? No thanks.

        I also don’t care what Breitbart has to say about the CF. I listen to non partisan watchdog groups for this kind of info.

        The CF gets an ‘A’ and has only 12% of its donations spent on overhead, which places it among the best charities.

        Typical of the right to demonize a charity that helps millions of women and kids because they despise the ppl it’s named after. Meanwhile, Trump surrounds himself with Putin lackeys and white supremicists.

    • Tom Merritt says:


      Thanks for your comment regarding preparation of the US Military. I frequently see a significant increase in the training tempo. I have previously posted that I live in Seattle and that there is a major army base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near here. A major training facility is located east of the Cascade range in Central WA. I not infrequently go to Nisqually Wild Life refuge near JBLM for birding. Every time I go there including weekends, I notice the increased training tempo, from artillery noise, small arms fire, helicopter overflights, etc. Also whenever I cross the Cascades, I almost always see convoys from between JBLM and the Yakima Training Center. Getting access to the bases for birding is becoming more difficult, because of scheduling. Even the training tempo at the naval air station in the area is increasing. Some of this is due to resumption of normal training following the major deployments of Afghanistan and Iraq, but the tempo is seemingly greater than previous to 9/11. There must be a reason for this training tempo increase. I can only ascribe it to the geo-political situation and preparation for whatever may develop.

      There will be development of new weapons systems in conjunction with expanding training. The US was quietly preparing for WWII much earlier than most people realize. We were developing new weapons systems and reorganizing the military. That preparation is one of the reasons that the US was able to mobilize and expand the armed forces so rapidly, In December 1941, when we entered the war, the US was a minor military power and we almost lost our Pacific fleet. But in 1943, less than two years later the entire tide of the war had changed. That was because the weapons systems were already in the pipeline and the army was prepared. Even the CCC played a role in that the army learned how to organize manpower.

      Most people, including myself, are not aware of some of the undercurrents that are occurring, but there are signs that the US is taking the current geo-political situation very seriously. I imagine that some of you who live in Texas at the big military installations there can also observe these signs.

      • 1mime says:

        Tom, I posted this article for a couple of reasons. First, to point out that while America dithers in this wild presidential campaign, serious problems are festering. Russia has clearly committed to expanding their reach, taunting the U.S. and our allies with encroachment into many areas of strategic interest to them. The second reason is to illustrate for those who have been so deeply, loudly critical of President Obama and his foreign affairs initiatives (or lack thereof), that this is a deeply serious, very pragmatic man who has the wisdom and foresight to prepare our country beyond his administration. I, for one, will miss his steady hand.

        I don’t get to the areas of TX where there are military bases, so I can’t confirm increased activity. Right now, our domestic tensions are pretty all consuming. I have to hope that America has the right people in charge of our military complex and that they are doing all they can to keep our country safe. I do shudder to think of how this could change if a President Trump were in charge, but that’s another subject – even as it is timely.

        We lived in Florida for about 5 years and our home abutted a preserve. The birding was incredible as enjoyed from our elevated back screened porch. It was a treat to watch the great blue heron return home at dusk to her nest of chicks. Her wing span had to be 6′ – an amazing sight set against the wonderful purples and oranges of a sinking sun.

      • Tom Merritt says:


        I completely agree with you regarding that serious problems are festering and that Obama is very serious pragmatic man who is preparing our country for what may occur. I will miss him, too. Russia is clearly attempting to expand its reach. I prefer to categorize it as attempting to build the third Russian empire. The empire prior to WW1 was the first and the Soviet Union was the second. I believe that if Putin believes he has a chance he will move against the Baltic States in the not too distant future. I think China is going to try to take advantage of the US preoccupation with the Middle East and Eastern Europe, to expand its reach. I refer to this dynamic as the current geo-political situation.

  6. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    So the Trump campaign and is doing a mind meld. Great. And he wants the vote of every single African-American voter… while giving a speech in front of an almost exclusive audience of white people about how years of rage over unaccountable police abuse is not the problem… but a recent political movement born out of social media is…?

    Plus it looks like Manafort role (pesky Russian shady deals!) is being diminished and Roger Ailes (Hide your kids, hide your women!) is working more closely with the candidate.

    Here is a nice dispirited summary from the National Review:

    “It’s hard to get emotionally invested in the need for Trump to win when the candidate finds a new way to botch things every single day.”

    “If he’s not fighting with a slain soldier’s dad, he’s serving up a dozen tweets about how unfair the media is to him; if he’s not pre-emptively claiming the election will be rigged, he’s implying gun owners will assassinate Hillary Clinton; if he’s not calling President Obama the founder of ISIS and insisting it’s not a metaphor, he’s whining about the debate schedule. Trump’s longtime right-hand man Roger Stone just claimed, without any supporting evidence, that “Scott Walker and the Reince Priebus machine rigged as many as five elections including the defeat of a Walker recall election.”

    “The entire Trump circus is a deep dive into paranoid conspiracy theories and seething resentment that does nothing to advance the cause of limited government or individual liberty. Trump gives his GOP skeptics nothing to latch onto as a sign of genuine hope.”

    The Cleveland Republican convention sh*tshow seems to have never ended, but Ted Cruz is looking a little more deviously smart each day (esp. after he started that booing-fest some weeks ago).

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      A thought just popped in my head when I read a portion of a post on (I gets my entertainment where I can find it). Here is an interesting excerpt:

      “Ayotte and Rubio trying their best to walk the line between embracing Trump to stay on the right side of his fans and crossing Trump to stay on the right side of swing voters. They’re both supporting him, but they both also vow to act as a check in the Senate on whoever the president ends up being next year. Think voters will buy it?”

      So if I am understanding this right, we have the Republican Party possibly transitioning to the argument that voters should vote for responsible/even handed Republicans as a check on the more irresponsible/destructive Republicans (like Cheeto Jesus) who might get elected…

      Does that really make any sense?

      Won’t many voters eventually conclude that if a party is that dysfunctional to propose such an absurd and convoluted approach this election cycle that maybe the safest move is to not vote for Republicans… at all.

      I for one won’t use my precious voting right as some kind of a referee for a party’s internal food fight on election day.

    • RobA says:

      Yeah that “African American outreach” is pretty laughable, speaking to a lily white crowd, talking about basically we need to listen to the “quiet voices, not the loudest demonstrator”. So he’s saying ” dont listen to those racist BLM protestors. I know that “real” black ppl don’t agree with them”.

      Something tells me it won’t work.

      He also thinks if he just says things like “we’re against bigotry” all “The Blacks” will come flocking , despite all his other rhetoric and actions suggest he’s very much FOR bigotry.

      • 1mime says:

        I have no fear of Black people voting for T, but I hope that they GOTV. If the list of bottom feeders enlisted to run T’s campaign is a good indicator of the type of people he will surround himself with if elected.

        Of course, Republicans will sell their souls to have even a prayer of winning, even with people like T’s hired. No price too high to win. Excuse me, Repubs have already sold their souls.

        Things are going to start moving in the T campaign. No way are Ailes and Bannon going to let him go off script or not follow orders. They are full out going for voter agitation to GOTV….”their” vote. Buckle your seat belts, Hillary and company.

        Lifer, what is your take on the addition of Ailes and Bannon to T’s team? How do you see this impacting the campaign?

    • 1mime says:

      There is no doubt that Ted Cruz is deviously smart, and that is why we should all worry about the possibility of a Pres. Cruz.

      • RobA says:

        I don’t think so Mime. He’s smart in a certain devious, clever sort of way. And you can see he’s got the kinds of smarts to, say, do well in school and attend Ivy League schools.

        But he’s not the kind of smart to understand that his brand of Jesus hugging theocracy will never win a presidential election. Cruz genuinely believes that the problem is (and 2016 won’t dissuade him of that) the GOP hasn’t nominated a TRUE conservative, and that’s why they haven’t won an election since Bush.

        That’s wrong. Trump MAY win a general. Cruz never could. No amount of clever could make America vote for a theocrat anynore. The demographics and secularization have made that no longer possible.

        In many ways, we got saved this election because Trump isbsuch an obvious buffoon. It’s not his racism or xenophobia that is turning ppl off. It’s that he’s not very smart, doesn’t listen to advisors, and he lies through his teeth. A savvier, slicker, smarter candidate with the same dangerous platform but without the buffoonery would have probably had a really good chance to win this. But Cruz’s schtick, that of a religious fundamentalists reaching a hidden majority of Americans, has been laid bare by the Trump candidacy. No such constuency exists and ppl who use religion as a voting influencer are a pretty clear minority.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree that the religious-motivated voter group is getting smaller, but they do vote. Add their numbers to other conservative voters who share their discipline on voting, and they are a potent block that cannot be dismissed.

        I hope we never have to test Cruz’ potential but that is wishful thinking, I am sure.

    • RobA says:

      Sir Magpie, from that article you posted:

      “They’re both supporting him, but they both also vow to act as a check in the Senate on whoever the president ends up being next year. Think voters will buy it?””

      No. I definitely don’t think they’ll buy it. The Trump backlash will be, I believe, at least about apolitical party that could ALLOW Trump to happen as much (or more) then against Trump himself.

      In today’s partisan environment, where ppl tend to identify more with a party then a person (which is why split ticket voting has gone way down) I just dont see how a voter sensible enough to see vote against Trump is going to see no problem voting for the party that nominated him in the down ballot races.

      I mean….Trumps the LEADER of the GOP. Who would vote for anyone downballot in the same party if they’re opposed to Trump?

      That’d be like parking your entire retirement fund at Bernie Maddofs firm, just with the request that Bernie himself doesn’t deal with your money. “Well, sure MADOFF is crooked as helll, but I’m sure the ones below him in his firm will be trustworthy. And if he tries to steal MY money, I’m sure his subordinates will keep him in line”

      • 1mime says:

        I hope not, Rob, but the Repub base has been buying what the GOPe has been selling for a long time…..remember Palin? My feeling is that the GOPe is going to watch what this new T leadership team does, and either ride their coat tails or make a counter argument. This is one calculating group of people with one over-arching goal – winning.

    • >] “The Cleveland Republican convention sh*tshow seems to have never ended, but Ted Cruz is looking a little more deviously smart each day (esp. after he started that booing-fest some weeks ago).

      If Cruz can survive his re-election, that is…

      A long-shot at best, admittedly, but you’d be hard-pressed to think that some Senate Republicans wouldn’t be eager to field someone they thought could actually unseat the pain in the ass.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s interesting. Can’t say I’m a fan of Perry either, but given the choice, I’d vote for him over Cruz. Might be a good time for a solid Democrat to run…..let those two tear eachother apart and focus on a blue Senator….

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, you don’t really want to start the “who can live the most lavish life” contest, do you?

        I am sure you noted the date on these photos: 2014? I don’t care how much they paid for their rental. They can afford it. And it is their business.

      • objv says:

        Oops, I meant cheap shot not shop.

        Mime, the point was not who was living the most lavish lifestyle. Trump wins there hands down.

        I was posting some unflattering pics of Hillary in response to the photos above. I thought the one of Ben Carson was verging on racist. Here you have an African-American man who saved hundreds if not thousands of lives when he worked as a neurosurgeon and yet a photo like that implies he is not intelligent. Honestly, aren’t you liberal people supposed to be glad when someone who is of a minority works themselves out of poverty and accomplishes great things like Ben Carson did?

        I was trying to point out that all of us have moments where we are not at our best. Taking advantage of that moment to make someone look stupid – especially someone of the caliber of Ben Carson – isn’t right.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree. Missed the connection. However, we all know Bill didn’t marry Hillary for her looks – or, her figure. Could it have been her brain?

  7. formdib says:

    Steven Pinker, the reason I use the phrase ‘the better angels of our nature’, reminding the world again that every day, in every way, we’re getting better and better:

  8. Griffin says:

    John McLaughlin has died. IMO He seemed like one of those guys who could be right on the money one second (like opposing the Vietnam war) and completely off on another (his “Buchanion” position on social issues) but nonetheless he was a pioneer on modern punditry.

  9. Griffin says:

    Has anybody caught Dinesh D’Souza’s new “documentry” Hillary’s America? It’s apparently every single far-right-wing cliche about the Democratic Party packed into one film. From what I’ve heard:

    -The “Secret history” of the Democratic Party is that they were once the pro-slavery and pro-segregation party! Yes really, this is the secret history he spends most of the movie unpacking, which is readily available on Wikipedia.

    – Ghettos are “new plantations”, set up by Democrats against pro-civil rights Republicans.

    -His arrest and conviction (which was a slap on the wrist) was a frame-up by the Obama administration to silence critics!

    I’ve mentioned before that I come from old-stock Urban Republicans and for most of my life I considered them highly pragmatic and well-informed. Watching my family members go from (mostly) reasonable to saying Dinesh D’Souza films are “impartial documentries” while also being convinvced the mainstream media is highly biased against theem has been a depressing transformation, one I can mostly thank Fox News, talk radio, and guys like Dinesh D’Souza for.

    I really do hate these pundits.

  10. 1mime says:

    This is O.T. but never far from mind……..Zika. Excellent piece on the incredible research being conducted by scientists all over the world – cooperatively. They are moving into human trials as the mice and monkey trials were so positive for the three principle methods being tested.

    Scientists must have very thick skin to labor on with their exacting, exhausting deadlines to develop vaccines to stop globally transmitted diseases and illnesses DESPITE the poltiical gamesmanship being played with funding. They are moving funds away from diabetes, asthma, Ebola, and more in order to move into the human trials with the barest of budget support.

    Shame on Congress! Shame on you!

  11. Shiro17 says:

    I will admit that I agree with Michael Moore here. It makes much more sense to me that Trump is trying to lose than that Trump is actually

    • vikinghou says:

      This reminds me of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.”

    • formdib says:

      I take umbrage with Moore’s article.

      First off, I took umbrage with the article he wrote about how Trump would win in a landslide. I didn’t want to say anything against it because for all I know Trump could have (or still can, in some small but technically far-from-zero probability). Trump may win in a landslide but it wouldn’t have been for the reasons Moore gave. Best not to argue against someone if there is a possibility he could be right, even if for the wrong reasons.

      But, it bears worth repeating, the previous article he wrote about Trump that went viral was that Trump was going to win in a landslide. So that’s the first evidence that Moore is just pulling shit out of his ass as it happens.

      Secondly, Moore is an awful resource for information in basically every way possible. On this site we discuss obnoxious, factless, and disrespectful conservative pundits and question whether the left has anywhere near as bad in spades, and whereas Moore may not have the reach or effect as, say, Rush Limbaugh, he’s absolutely that level of classless.

      The way he shoots documentaries is pretty detested by most documentarians. Documentarians understand that there isn’t necessarily True Truth and that documentaries can show opinions, subjective approaches, and whatever, but there are ethics of representation in documentary that Moore regularly violates.

      He IS entertaining but what’s worth pointing out is that his documentaries are predominantly road-tour movies: he shoots them like comedian or band tour docs. They follow him and him alone, and center the action all around what happens to him. He’s as self-serving as the reality television star at the top of the Republican ticket, and in the process has created his own imprint in the world of documentary to the detriment of everybody. He pretty much turbo-charged the documentary-as-punditry-infotainment style that has been popular since, resulting in more of the very shallow pool of documentary funding to go to ‘issues documentaries’ of a lesser quality than things like Harlan County, USA or other social issue docs that came before. He ruined an entire subgenre and reduced the open pool of funding for actually good filmmakers in one fell swoop.

      And what does he do with that responsibility? Basically stand up comedy. There’s a joke in the film industry that if you want to be an artist-activist, you’ll either be a poor artist, a poor activist, or both. I don’t think that’s true, but it is relevant to Michael Moore: he’s a shitty activist that trades opinion for fact, a shitty artist who makes ethically unsound documentaries, and a shitty stand up comedian who won’t even recognize that’s his real paycheck.

      Thirdly, his argument is unsound. I don’t remember whether it is flypusher or tutta who keeps pushing this point (sorry you two), but I can agree that Trump doesn’t want the responsibility, obligations, or work of being President, and I can agree that he doesn’t want to lose and wants to save face.

      But just like as I’ve mentioned about the false flag operation wish fulfillment fantasy of feckless liberals who refuse to take him seriously, Trump absolutely needs to be taken seriously. Thinking he was a joke is a significant part of why he ran circles around them, and any assumption of Trump that assumes he has self-awareness or shame is in complete disregard to his consistent behavior. Trump may not make sense, but his behavior is what is consistent.

      And that’s where the premises that Michael Moore pushes are false. Trump didn’t just run this year. He’s run four years ago and four years before that. The Simpsons didn’t pull their Trump prediction out of their ass, he signaled ages ago his intentions.

      Moore has him deciding at the end of The Apprentice to use this to leverage a position on television. If so, why is he poisoning the well of democracy itself to do it? Why hasn’t he made his television deal and backed out of the race? Why hasn’t he done any fucking behavior consistent with that plan?

      Moore also then states exactly what we’ve talked about below in this very blog comment tree: “I can’t tell you who told me, but I have it from some friends of friends blah blah blah.” The ‘some people say’ or ‘it feels like’ of Moore’s fucking behind-the-scenes reporters, of whom I can pretty much tell you who they are and what they actually said, because like Moore I’m in the fucking motion picture and television industry and have friends and friends of friends who’ve worked on the fucking Apprentice.

      What conversation Moore had was over dinner with some friend of a friend of a producer having a discussion exactly like this board. Someone sez, “I’m not sure he even wants to be president” and another says, “Yeah really. He just needs more of that reality TV attention now’s he’s off The Apprentice.” And Moore, whose brain is more fat than the fat in his body, took that as God’s Objective Proof and wrote a fucking op-ed about it.

      And that gets me to reason Four, which is part of what I’m talking about with regard to the questions I have about The Atlantic articles that I started below. Now that Trump’s race seems statistically unachievable with real actual data and his poise is breaking down, suddenly many of the articles about “What do Trumpists really want?” “What does Trump represent?” “What’s the history behind Trump?” is turning into “Eh these people were just ignorami all along” “Trump Intellectuals just wanted to feel like they belong” “Trump was never serious and neither should we take his supporters.”

      And that’s dangerous thinking, because that’s what turned the RNC into the Trump Convention in the first place, and it also is dismissive of two real dangers: one is Trump’s behavior itself, and the other is the unrest of the people who support him.

      Whatever discussion happens around Trump, I strongly feel it’s important to recognize and persist in the assumption that he was running seriously and for really reals; that he was seeking the position of POTUS in order to have prestige and attention on a historical level, leverage to rent-seek in his various business entanglements, position of power to push over perceived enemies and threats, and aggrandizement to match his ego. None of this was just a playact, a big fucking joke. He is serious and needs be taken seriously.

      And of course Michael Moore may be vindicated if Trump retreats and calls it all just one big April Fool’s Year prank, but like with the landslide prediction, for all the wrong reasons.

      Because at root of the reason why I despise Michael Moore’s bullshit is because his predominant assumption of the topics and social issues he takes is that people, including his enemies and his audience, are stupid.

  12. 1mime says:

    Lest we forget:

    Note in the body of the article that our very own Sen. Ted Cruz (along with UT Sen. Mike Lee) were responsible for killing a $100M bipartisan funding bill to help Flint, MI. Federal disaster funding ran out Sunday and now water and filters are on the state’s nickel…which the good state has set aside $6 million….let’s see: at $3.4M/month, that $6M will last maybe 5 weeks?

    Trickle Down” has evolved to a whole new meaning for Flint residents.

  13. vikinghou says:

    In the gossip category, consider Ivanka Trump’s vacation buddy, Wendy Deng Murdoch. Wendy is rumored to be Vladimir Putin’s squeeze, further muddying the waters concerning The Donald’s relationship with Vlad.

    Speaking of Wendy, she’s takes the cake in the golddigger department. Check out the “Personal Life” section of her Wikipedia page. Classy dame.

  14. RobA says:

    Clinton up 9 in Fla

    I really think Trump is going to get more and more unhinged and more bizarre. It’s awfully hard to wake up every morning and fight the good fight for 80+ days when you’re getting destroyed in the polls even if you’re a person of high character and moral fiber. For a narcissist like Trump, it is literally impossible.

  15. flypusher says:

    The RINO stampede grows:

    Better late than never, at least until Nov 9.

  16. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    Just saw this new story on Trump’s latest adviser. Apparently “The Onion” is still pulling the strings on what happens in our reality. It is that absurd but apparently true.

    “Report: Roger Ailes advising Donald Trump ahead of debates”

    Of all the people to get wisdom from, in a lead up to the first debate with the first female presidential candidate, he seeks out that guy. Maybe he doesn’t know of Ailes exploits because he only watches Fox News.

    (Who have spent all 11 minutes on those sexual harassment allegations over the past few weeks)

    Kinda undercuts his arguments against that naughty Bill Clinton.

    Way to go in getting that women’s vote… douche.

    • vikinghou says:

      This is even more ironic when you remember that, during the GOP primary debates, some of Trump’s worst moments involved Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina. Ailes should be perfect advising Trump how to deal with women (ha!).

      • RobA says:

        “Now, the trick is Don, if she corners you, just give her a little pat on the ass and say ‘there, there dear’. Works every time”

      • 1mime says:

        No, you have it reversed, Rob. “Now, the trick is Don, if she (tries to evade) corners you, just give her a little pat on the ass and say (don’t let the door hit you in the *ss on the way out, dear)‘there, there dear’. Works every time”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Just look at that face! Upset, honey?

    • formdib says:

      Well Ailes got in trouble behind-the-scenes, but it’s worth pointing out that he nailed the message at the right pitch and to the right targets on what was on-screen.

      He has the ability to write for Trump the messages that will have impact, tune the Trumpet to the dog whistle pitch; and though Trump doesn’t take to coaching or scripts, he does follow what he thinks will win, and Ailes can help his speeches resonate.

      We can’t rely on Trump chewing his foot AND the scenery for the entire 80+ days left in the general election.

      • 1mime says:

        Agree. Ailes may be a reprehensible womanizer, but he flat knows the business of TV. Rachel Maddow tonight showed 28 year old clips of Ailes and Trump talking so they go back a long way. As deep a hole as Trump is in right now, Ailes may be the only person he would listen to. The Trump campaign’s first ad comes out tomorrow. Remember, he’s been sitting on his $80M bank account. I think with Ailes to help him target his advertising, that could be a game changer….if Trump listens……Ailes is also supposed to be preparing Trump for the debates…Could make a difference.

  17. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    When trying to contemplate the bizarre nature of this election cycle and digest the willful consumption by conservatives/voters of outright falsehoods.

    For example, people are literally mad and disbelieving at the claim that slaves were involved in the construction of the White House (as mentioned during the Democratic convention speech by the First Lady), and voiced their displeasure on fact checking websites.

    They think it is apparently “liberal propaganda”. That type of stuff makes me scream outloud “God dammit! Really?”

    So sometimes I need a break or a hearty laugh.

    Little personal factoid about myself, I like anime (Japanese animation)… big time.

    But I am also fully aware of the gaps in logic, cliches and lack of proper taste that exists in that genre of pop entertainment. Recently I found a delightfully insane parody video that is ironically a delightful riff on our political madness…

    Donald Trump: The Anime

  18. WX Wall says:

    Holy Cow, Glenn Beck is (sort of) a ‘Black Lives Matter’ supporter:

    Maybe there truly is a silver lining to the Trump candidacy if it’s making people like Glenn Beck have a Come to Jesus (the real Jesus) moment.

  19. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Here’s how the coming election is going to break down, per faux news satellite radio:

    Obama will continue to suppress the FBI’s email investigation of Hillary Clinton until after she wins the election.

    The FBI will indict Hillary after the election but before her inauguration.

    Obama will use his executive powers to serve another term in office rather than transition the office to an indicted president-elect.

    Oddly, this will not cause huge problems because the people want Obama to stay, given the alternative.

    No need to thank me. I’m all about public service.

  20. formdib says:

    I’m really interested in this Trumpism article for several reasons.

    This election cycle has been eye-opening for me and has forced me to re-evaluate my assumptions on several levels. I didn’t expect Trump to win the primary, even considering a weak GOP, and I was most blind-sided by the slow entropy of the left from ‘Bernie is finally a representative that I feel truly sticks to the issues I care about and I trust him as a person and would be happy if ANY candidate adopted his policies!” to “IT WAS NEVER ABOUT BERNIE AND $HILLARY’S ADOPTION OF HIS POLICIES ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH.”

    When you find reality doesn’t match your assumptions, to stave off being, you know, like the wingnuts or moonbats, you then look to data and you take a good hard look at your assumptions.

    The reason that Atlantic article is so interesting to me is because I feel this election cycle does present the abject political truth that certain demographics are just simply not getting the representation they feel they want or need. In the same way that a white middle class person has to really work to understand that systemic disadvantages that create meaningful resource and opportunity gaps between white Americans and people of color, this election cycle has taken my not-voiced but only retrospectively understood inherent assumption of “Eh, people who complain about ‘the establishment’ will either grow out of it or will never have any cause specific enough to effect anything” had the face the brutal reality that the sentiment is strong enough to rock this boat, and if you ignore it the whole enterprise may tumble right over.

    I had a meaningful conversation with a coworker relevant to this article. The thing is is that in my work I have a personal rule that “Even if someone gives you ridiculous feedback, treat it as valid. His pain is real, even if his issue makes no sense.” (Source: The specific job I have focuses on relationships and lately deeper thinking on the issue has expanded that principle into personal relationships: “Even if your boyfriend / mother / sister / cousin / friend / ex’s complaint is ridiculous, treat it as valid. The pain is real, even if the issue makes no sense.”

    This is not to be treated as carte blanche for complainers to get attention merely because they complain, nor is the idea of ‘treating it as valid’ mean you’re treating it as ACCURATE, TRUE, or REAL. VALID merely recognizes that the pain is real and the need for self-expression is there. Underlying that pain and self-expression can be something very different than what the person is complaining about.

    So therein lies the problem of both extremes. If you completely ignore the complaints in business, you’re not going to solve a problem for your clients and they won’t hire you again. But if you try to resolve their complaints as stated, you’ll make a mess of the whole project and it won’t work. You have to balance recognizing the complaint itself with a craftsman’s knowledge of what’s underlying it, which is often technical issues the client DOES NOT UNDERSTAND and is therefore invisible to them. All they truly know is that something is not working the way they need it to, and they try to tell you the fix they expect rather than what the problem is that needs solving.

    In relationships this can be even more difficult and even more damaging. If you don’t pay attention to your partner’s complaints because they don’t make sense, at best you can end up being neglectful; denying them the complaints in total can go as far as gaslighting, shaming, or other types of abuse. But trying to fix every complaint as stated and letting your partner walk all over you can also be abusive, with you as the victim.

    So entering this concept into politics, the thing I’m trying to work out this year are,

    “The establishment” is the complaint that underlines a significant portion of the American populations’ dissatisfaction with the functions of the country. These complaints disproportionately come from specific demographics on the right and left.

    However, that Atlantic article on Trumpism to some degree invalidates those complaints, calling out pundits for making ‘seem’ and ‘feels like’ into a reality that should, in the pundits’ view, be treated as more real than data-based or falsifiable objectivity. The other Atlantic article on intellectuals for Trump invalidates intellectuals’ argument that the ‘populace’s pain is real’ by claiming it derives from the need of intellectuals to be accepted by the masses.

    And it’s the position of many commenters on this blog as well as Chris Ladd himself that a lot of this ‘pain’ is really the great white freakout, but I have noticed that many commenters on this blog as well as Chris Ladd agree that there are valid issues behind their ‘pain’ that’s undermining their sense of being sufficiently self-represented (in the Francis Fukuyama sense of self-representation).

    So that’s the challenge I’m noodling over right now. How much ‘pain’ do we validate in order to tackle serious issues in American politics, and how much must be invalidated to prevent the abuses of zero-sum economics or nationalistic violence? And on the left, how seriously do we take the frothing elements of Occupy Wall Street and #feelthebern** versus invalidating them before they tip the Democratic boat over into the sea of crazy?

    * The alternative description I had in mind was “from ‘He can still win, here’s a road to victory utilizing abstract theoretical mathematics even quantum physicists can’t resolve!’ to the sad realization that now many of my close and loved friends actually believe he ‘won’ the primary and it was stolen from him.”

    ** Or Black Lives Matter

    • goplifer says:

      You are absolutely right about this method of analysis. It hits a nerve. Thank you for describing it in such clear detail. Applied to this particular scenario, it takes us to some difficult terrain. How do you mediate a situation in which one person’s complaint is that another person is seeking justice? How do we mediate a zero-sum scenario?

      And that “how much pain do we acknowledge” conundrum is front and center on both sides, but in different ways.

      The Trumpsters are deeply upset about what they’ve lost as the privileges of whiteness gradually erode away. Their loses are material and tangible, along with the less tangible but still deeply felt loss of dignity they enjoyed from watching minorities struggle. Can we create a space for their concerns without perpetuating oppression?

      On the other side are plenty of romantic leftists fighting tooth and nail against the “tyranny” of an empirically-driven world. They want pure food and an end to war and all the guns stacked in a pile and destroyed at next years’ Burning Man. They want to be exempted from the stifling constraints imposed by the squares who actually make the world function. Can their concerns be incorporated into public policy without tens of thousands of kids ending up with measles and other miseries?

      Sometimes it’s ok to ignore people and their concerns. In fact, it’s probably best for everyone, including those people. In a well-constructed political system, these folks’ unacknowledged concerns would fester endlessly, in some isolated corner, while the rest of the world moved on.

      • WX Wall says:


        I think you do a really good job dissecting the ‘pain’ that Trump supporters are feeling but are *way* off-base about what Bernie supporters are feeling. Yes, there are anti-vaxxers, GMO purists, etc. etc. but they are the fringe, even of Bernie supporters. They’re not the source of strength that allowed Bernie to mount a real challenge this year.

        I won’t generalize to others, but here was my journey to “feeling the bern”. I would say there were three significant events:

        1) George W. Bush lied to us to take us into war with Iraq. I fully supported going into Afghanistan after 9/11, but could not believe the blatant, outright lying to go into Iraq. This was not mere mis-interpretation of ambiguous evidence. It was lying. My opinion was that Bush should have been impeached, but regardless, it shook my confidence in the Republican party. Yes, even as a Democrat, I always believed that both our parties at least still had the country’s best interests at heart. And we could at least agree on facts, even if we disagreed on opinion. But after the Iraq War, I couldn’t merely assume that Republicans would at least accept the same facts. This of course has been validated through the years of climate change denial, evolution denial, etc. etc. but what did it for me was the Iraq War.

        2) Jamie Dimon, Dick Fuld, Lloyd Blankfein (Investment bank CEOs) committed gross violations of numerous financial laws. Yet they did not go to jail. Don’t get me wrong: I support capital markets. They’re necessary for the efficient functioning of our economy, and even if we have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to save them, we should. But support for markets should not mean support for individual companies nor individual people. These guys broke the laws, causing misery for millions and threatening a global catastrophe. They still walk free, thanks to the corruption of both Democratic and Republican leaders.

        I hate Reagan, and yet after the S&L crisis, he shut down firms and jailed numerous bankers. Even George Bush, when faced with the Enron scandal (which was a private scandal not involving any public money), slowly but surely incarcerated the top executives of Enron, WorldCom, etc. This shook my belief in “the system” i.e. the supposedly non-political institutions that are supposed to protect a functioning democracy, like an independent Justice Dept, the SEC, the FBI, etc. I mean, Ken Lay (CEO of Enron) was one of Bush’s closest friends and biggest political fundraiser. But the system still managed to put him in jail. That didn’t happen here.

        3) (the biggest) Obama assassinated a U.S. citizen without due process (see Anwar al-Awlaki). Yes, that’s a deliberately incendiary statement, but not factually incorrect. If anything I’ve sugercoated it: Obama also assassinated his 16-year old son (also a born citizen) via a separate drone strike 2 weeks later. And neither one has been accused, even by Obama, of carrying out terrorist acts, only inciting others to terrorist action via his preaching, websites etc (again, I’m not saying he’s a good guy, or that he shouldn’t be rotting away in a jail, but preaching hate, running terrorist websites, etc. is not even a capital offense according to our laws).

        Obama has openly admitted to having a “Kill List” including American citizens who are to be assassinated by drone strike, SEAL team hit, whatever. This is very different from killing American citizens during wartime operations. This is deliberate assassination. People are not allowed to contest their inclusion in this “Kill List” through any judicial process; heck, they’re not even allowed to *know* if they’re on it.

        I may not be a Harvard-trained constitutional scholar, but this is a gross violation of our Constitutional rights. And if some lawyer can figure out some legal argument to say he’s correct, that just means the Constitution needs to be changed, because this is not what I as a citizen have understood nor consented to. The fact that Democrats who (rightly) decried George Bush and his illegal wire-tapping of our phones could now fully support a President who illegally assassinates us using the same legal justification shook my faith in the Democratic Party (not to mention further eroded my belief in the system, seeing as how even the Supreme Court has agreed with Obama and Bush, and the military agreed to follow this grossly unconstitutional order to fire on its own citizens).

        So there you have it. While there was plenty of stuff to chip at the margins of my belief in the political process, these were the big whacks that made me lose faith in both parties and the system we’ve built. FWIW, I’m supporting Hillary because I still have some residual faith in the system, and she won the Democratic primary fair and square. And she will accomplish a lot of progressive stuff I support. But the basic compact between the state and its subjects re: the use of violence, equal protection under the law, and the duty of our leaders to be truthful, is under attack, and talking about environmental or tax policy seems incredibly trivial. In my case, that’s what I mean when I say there’s no difference between [most] Democrats and [most] Republicans.

        I’ve been fully vaccinated, eagerly chomp on GMO foods, and I’ve never been to Burning Man. I also don’t know how to play bongos or dance in a circle in case you think those are also emblematic of Bernie supporters. My pain is real. And if concerns about the constitutionality of Kill Lists, or the erosion of our democratic republic into an elected autocracy, makes me part of the fringe, I’ll happily wear that badge.

      • vikinghou says:

        WX Wall,

        With regard to drone assassinations of citizens without due process, there’s a film you should see. It’s called “Eye in the Sky,” starring Helen Mirren. The script addresses many of the concerns you have expressed, but from a British point of view. The actors’ performances are excellent.

      • flypusher says:

        ” Their loses are material and tangible, along with the less tangible but still deeply felt loss of dignity they enjoyed from watching minorities struggle. ”

        This gets kicked around a lot in discussions. It is true that if you call someone a racist asshole you’re not going to win their hearts and minds. OTOH, if their self worth requires other people to be treated unfairly, they are racist assholes and they’re also the ones who said they were sick of all that political correctness. So they are equally fair game for blunt speech, and having truth behind it makes it burn. Like others have said, I’m willing to try economic policies that help these lower class Whites, but their hurt feefees over Blacks/Hispanics/women/gays/others getting their piece of the American Dream? Too damn bad. Go be vile racists in your own little echo chambers and leave us in the 21st Century alone.

      • moslerfan says:

        WX Wall, I’d add to your list some economic issues, starting with the long-term establishment favoring of capital over labor on several fronts; shifting of tax burdens from capital to labor, making labor organizing harder through legislation like right-to-work, results from Congress and the courts to restrict consumers’ access to courts and force disputes into arbitration (where the arbitrators are selected by and paid by the corporation) and of course granting corporations rights to free speech and freedom of religion (making a mockery of individual rights). These things didn’t just come from the Republicans, either.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        This may sound rather simplistic compared to the long, thoughtful but rather abstract comments about acknowledging the complaints of White people.

        As a minority, I find that it helps to talk one-on-one to White people who feel bewildered over the changing cultural landscape and at the very least take them seriously and not scoff at them, address them gently and with respect, and we usually find common ground. Never underestimate the power of nice.

        Much of their rage is directed not so much at minorities as it is at the “liberal elite establishment” who think they know what’s best for everyone.

      • rigoletta says:

        One of the problems I have with this discussion is the idea of who exactly makes up the establishment that is being fought against.

        That is something very relative and I think explains where the dividing lines are politically between groups.

        And the mainstream definition of who that is seems to be being defined by white Americans at the extremes. Yes minority groups might get a word in here and there in the conversation but how we see the world isn’t really acknowledged. That ultimately is a huge check on the power of those whites at the extremes.

        They have no connection to the groups that are rising in this country and thus are losing influence.

        Part of the problem for the whites who are freaking out is that the groups they would have to create some connection with to do anything, stopped listening to what they had to say decades ago.

        So all this talk about listening to pain etc. is interesting because it assumes that there is a group of people out there who are actually interested in having that dialogue. I can tell you for many youth, minorities, LGBT Americans they are not.

      • vikinghou says:

        This is an excellent discussion. For me the most depressing aspect is, if history throughout the millenia is a reliable guide, such issues are usually not sorted out peacefully.

      • formdib says:

        Hi Chris, thanks for your response.

        I guess I have two major nitpicks but otherwise agree with your assessment:

        “The Trumpsters are deeply upset about what they’ve lost as the privileges of whiteness gradually erode away. Their loses are material and tangible, along with the less tangible but still deeply felt loss of dignity they enjoyed from watching minorities struggle.”

        So I hear this a lot: that impoverished whites accepted poverty ‘as long as they were better off than the Other.’ This is information I’ve received variously from American History in high school to the present day;

        and I’m not sure I entirely believe it. I don’t think impoverished whites ever felt ‘dignity’ at being, at least, ‘not black’, but more like as impoverished people, they saw any additional competition for their resources as existentially threatening. When you’re small, cohesive in-group, it’s easier to divide up the table scraps in some sort of economic equilibrium, but then some strange looking dude who is not like you appears and asks for food, and you have to feed your family.

        Over time, cognitive dissonance between wanting to share your food with equally impoverished in-group people and being unwilling to share your food with equally impoverished out-group people, the easiest method of resolving is to conclude the out-group aren’t people.

        And then once THAT meme is in place, it starts to institutionalize. Especially if that institution already exists, when the not-people were introduced as slaves in the first place.

        I think you can see it today in the whole “I don’t want my tax dollars going to a welfare queen” voiced from the same people who rely on Medicare. They think their tax dollars should be going to Medicare to take care of them, and the weight of impoverished black people and immigrants on the system may lose them their Medicare: not because they feel better or more dignified taking Medicare knowing that black people or immigrants are lesser people.


        The thing is that that I’m not a psychologist or sociologist, have not dedicated such attention to this issue as you have, and can see how over time more abstract motivations such as nationalist pride and identity politics begin to grow out of zero-sum fear and uncertainty.

        I guess what I’m saying here is that their argument isn’t entirely “Deny black people all justice”, which is the fix that should be dismissed, but is to a major degree, “Don’t take my Medicare”, in which case the US government needs some way of communicating that that Medicare is not going to be taken away in a manner that those worried can trust.

        Secondly, “these folks’ unacknowledged concerns would fester endlessly, in some isolated corner, while the rest of the world moved on.”

        I don’t think it’s a good idea to let anything fester, truly. This one I’ll stand by. You let a bruise fester it might get infected and you lose your leg. Best to take care of it and make sure it heals while you’re doing all those other things.

        And that’s partly what I mean by giving people the recognition that their pain is real, while dismissing the specific argument of the complaint.

      • 1mime says:

        Smart, Formdib, and, kind.

    • >] “So that’s the challenge I’m noodling over right now. How much ‘pain’ do we validate in order to tackle serious issues in American politics, and how much must be invalidated to prevent the abuses of zero-sum economics or nationalistic violence?

      You ‘validate’ pain insofar as economic and social injustices go by providing a comprehensive social safety net so that not a single person in this country will ever know what it means not to be able to provide for themselves and a basic template of protections so that all people will know that discrimination, prejudice, favoritism and the like won’t be tolerated in this country.

      In other words, we need to take Reagan’s infamous “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” and flip it on its head. Spare no expense to give our people the resources and opportunities they need to succeed in life, while recognizing that, frankly, shit happens and when their back is against the wall, they can count on a streamlined, swift acting government to step in and give a helping hand if needed.

      As far as ‘invalidating’ pain goes, you don’t. Circumstances naturally change the approach one should take, but if there’s a situation or condition that didn’t offer an opportunity, I have yet to hear or imagine it. If it’s true that the Orlando shooter was in fact gay himself and his massacre was, at least in part, due to his own self-loathing, we validate that pain by redoubling our efforts to become a more open and accepting society so that one less person shouldn’t have to feel that kind of wretched despair.

      What about nationalistic violence, you ask? First, you crush it. Then, we talk about it, all of us, openly and frankly. Even for one as genuinely apathetic as me when it comes to national pride, it would bring a smile to my face to be able to turn on the TV and see a major news station just having a group of regular people sitting around saying something like this:

      “We all agree that that guy was a white nationalist. He thinks it’s all the brown and black people’s fault that he’s struggling right now. Abhorrent as that is, it’s our failure as a country that he’s just one of thousands in exactly the same situation and doesn’t know what to do with his anger. Here’s what I think we should do to stop that…”

      I never see any of that happen though. We talk our way in circles around it in the media and post a few comments on Facebook and Twitter, but do we ever seriously engage in this “national conversation” that we’re always hearing about? Let’s get it started already. I’m ready.

      • WX Wall says:


        A social safety net might mitigate the physical hardships, but it doesn’t ease the loss of dignity. One of Goplifer’s points is that the white men who are losing their privileges *want* to work, contribute to society, etc. Telling them that they can also go on welfare like “those lazy black welfare queens” (as they view them) isn’t really easing their pain.

        Given that (for example) manufacturing jobs are scarce, and a white male no longer automatically gets that job over a female or minority, what can we offer that white male that still allows him to have the dignity that comes with having a good job, providing for his family, and contributing to his society / neighborhood, etc? For a lot of people, going on food stamps is a soul-killing exercise that invalidates every goal you set for your life. It strikes at the very notion ingrained in many men that their fundamental duty is to provide for their family. They do it only because their hunger (or that of their children’s) overwhelms their pride. If that’s the best we can offer, then it’s no wonder they’d rather stick with white privilege.

      • 1mime says:

        Long overdue, Ryan.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Ryan, as I posted above, the national conversation can be a series of personal, private, one-on-one, even casual and incidental conversations and interactions, conducted with respect and dignity. No need for groups, and no need for national exposure.

      • RobA says:

        WX Wall: this goes to share we’ve discussed that we need to fundamentally redefine how we think about “work” and “welfare” in our discussions about, say, a UBI.

        The simple fact is this: in the very near future, there simply won’t BE enough “work” as it’s traditionally thought of. If we don’t start decoupling the concept of “work” from other concepts such as morality/dignity, of we are going to be an awfully immoral and undignifued society a few decades from now.

        It helps to realize that “old fashioned working class values” are, generally, myths created by the capitalist class centuries ago to make a workforce more open to being exploited.

        Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a satisfaction that everyone can take in hard work, or a job well done, or an honest days work etc. But it’s interesting that, under the traditional “middle class work ethic” the only “work” that’s given this sort of mythical morality is work that earns money.

        Under these old ethics, a man who stays at home creating beautiful paintings, even though they are not selling them, is slothful, lazy, and immoral. The same man who slaves in the coal mines for a pittance is the “salt of the Earth” a blue collar hero, a hard-working man of integrity and character.

        You say this:

        “A social safety net might mitigate the physical hardships, but it doesn’t ease the loss of dignity. ”

        Using the social safety net only has no “dignity” because the system is set up in such a way as to intentionally remove it. That does not need to be the natural way of it. One solution is, as has been debated here, the UBI. If everyone gets it, then there will be no stigma attached, this, no loss of “dignity”.

        And as well, if those white, former blue collar workers now feel a bit undignified after decades of inflicting EXACTLY that same indignity on an entire race of ppl, I’m finding it hard to muster up a ton of sympathy. Black ppl have survived forever with that ” in dignity ” hung on then by certain sections of the white working class. I dont see it as a national tragedy now that a few whites are starting to get a taste of what it’s been like to be black, and they really, really don’t like it.

      • @WX Wall: Wall, that is exactly the kind of preconception that we need to flip on its head. Validating that pain those people feel is all well and good, but we’re never going to take the next step forward as a society if our mindsets are ass backwards in the solutions that we try to apply (ie forcing the square block into the round hole).

        Enacting a UBI in America is, as John F. Kennedy might say if he were still with us, appeals to the people’s pride. It’s a new world now and we expect more from you, not less. Given the resources to live a freer and more independent life than ever before, we expect the people to meet a standard of living and contribution to their country more than has ever been realized in our history.

        I whole heartedly reject the condescending idea that a basic floor of support would sap the desire to work from the American people. Those that would infer such, with all respect, would seem to not have as much faith in the people as I do.

        Recognizing the difficulty in applying yourself to constantly being re-educated, certainly, makes this no small ask, but the pride and dignity of work that you’ve all felt is there with so much more, because you’ll be fulfilling your dreams and recognizing that the ideal of a world where everyone, everyone has an equal chance to live this one life that we’re all given to its absolute fullest is no mere dream. So I ask that you lend me your hand and your voice to bring that dream to reality.

        …Not exactly the most eloquent way I could’ve said it, but that’s what I’d say to those people at least. You get the point anyway.

        @tuttabellamia: tutta, just because that’s one way to do it doesn’t mean that it should be the only way we do it. Why not push things along with national exposure to get more and more people talking about it? I’m all for having meaningful, family conversations around the dinner table, but it’s not enough on its own.

      • WX Wall says:


        That’s true. I also don’t like the demonization of welfare in this country. And the only way that a UBI can escape that is to make it truly universal. It’s instructive that the only welfare programs that aren’t stigmatized are the universal ones of S.S. and medicare. Because everyone expects to get old and use them. They even take pride in their (mistaken) belief that they already paid for those benefits through their taxes (actually, their taxes went to pay for the elderly of that time, and their current benefits are paid by the taxes of currently working folk, just like medicaid and welfare).

        But the Protestant work ethic is alive and well in this country. Witness how American workers sneer at Europeans who take 6 weeks of vacation every year. I can understand American CEOs sneering at the idea, but American workers seem to find a unique pride in being worked like mules for the benefit of a CEO who earns hundreds of times more than them. We also seem to be unique in terms of how much we define ourselves and our lives by our job.

        I would go so far as to say that most Trump supporters wouldn’t begrudge minorities and women their success in the workplace and society in general if they felt it didn’t come at their expense. That is, if the rising tide truly lifted all boats, I bet lots of Trump supporters would be okay (they might not still like Mexicans moving into their neighborhood, but they wouldn’t be yelling so loudly to build a wall and keep them out of the country).

        If a high school educated white male could still find a union manufacturing job that paid well enough to raise a family, he probably wouldn’t care if women and minorities also got similar jobs. The problem is the sense that we’re locked into a Hunger Games-style competition to the death for the type of life that used to come fairly easily (to white males). And in that competition, you’re loathe to give up any advantage you may have because it’s “unfair”.

        What you’re asking for is no less than a transformation of what it means to be successful in America. But perhaps that’s what we need…

        I’m not arguing that providing a safety net saps the will to work. Actually, I’m arguing the opposite: even if you provide a safety net, you’re not helping because what the angry white male really wants is a good job. If he has to assert white privilege to get it, so be it. OTOH, if you want him to give up his white male privilege, you have to show him how to get a job without it. RobA makes a very good point that this is largely a cultural issue, and I agree with that, but until that culture changes, this is the challenge we face in convincing trump’s white male supporters to embrace equality.

      • 1mime says:

        Having a “real” job is the immediate problem, and although that is real enough for those needing them, the far bigger issue is that jobs for low educated people are disappearing, and it is evolutionary, not something that can be pinned on the political process.

        Now, addressing the immediate problem for this working class is a political issue. After all, President Obama proposed twice in his administration (first as part of the initial 2009 stimulus – which was rejected as being “too costly”) and again as he began his second term. As I recall, it was $700-800M package. It couldn’t get past the post.

        The long term problems, those which are occurring through the decline of industrialization with human labor, into the digital/automation phase are actually going to “cost” jobs, or at least, traditional blue collar jobs and probably lots of white collar jobs, too. Think about it. How many of us use a CPA to prepare our taxes these days? Businesses and the uber wealthy do but the rest of us software our tax preparation ourselves. There will be a lost generation. If the political will can be mustered for a bi-partisan UBI or some such social safety net to tide this group over, hopefully many will be able to survive financially.

        The sad aspect to me is that we could be doing more now through re-education/skills training that is relevant to the jobs market that is emerging. It is not happening broadly and this is a real loss for people who are still trainable and educable.

      • @WX Wall: >] “Actually, I’m arguing the opposite: even if you provide a safety net, you’re not helping because what the angry white male really wants is a good job.

        That’s exactly what I’m arguing a UBI gives them:

        Give them money –> Invest in higher education –> Get a better, higher paying job that isn’t soul stifling labor –> Be proud of that

        Now if the problem itself isn’t actually about finding a good job and instead one of class markers and feeling a sense of superiority just because they’re white, then they can rot in obscurity and die for all I care. The olive branch only extends so far before they become a wall that stands in my wall and if and when that happens, I’ll crush them without reservation and without mercy. Period.

      • RobA says:

        WX you said

        “I would go so far as to say that most Trump supporters wouldn’t begrudge minorities and women their success in the workplace and society in general if they felt it didn’t come at their expense.”

        I agree there are many Trump supporters who feel this way. I also think there are probably just as many who think that ANY success minorities and women get is ALWAYS at their expense, even if it isn’t.

      • formdib says:

        “Spare no expense to give our people the resources and opportunities they need to succeed in life”

        We may have a trillion dollar economy, and I’m no Austrian economics type guy, but how much sparing no expense can there be before the nation can’t afford it?

        I’m still not sold on the math of a UBI. $15,000 per year X 320million Americans = $4.8trillion, or more than double our current budget BEFORE accounting the costs of military, regulatory, and other administration — and universal healthcare. It’s basically a third of our GDP and furthermore would require very strict immigration controls. I’ve stated other parts about it I’m hesitant to embrace and have read the counterarguments and are currently noodling over it.

        Anything less than a UBI comes with requisite increases in bureaucratic complexity (for means testing), which creates loopholes and blind spots.

        I’m not the type of person to embrace the Nirvana fallacy: I’m okay with less-than-perfect solutions if their results are more effective and more ethical than previous solutions. But ‘spare no expense’ is an abstraction that dismisses the very real implications that ‘expenses’ represent resources and resources aren’t unlimited (note: I’m not saying ‘are limited’ on purpose).

      • 1mime says:

        I am going to keep putting my 2 cents in on this: a UBI has many merits, but I believe in terms of real value to the American people, universal health care should come first. Then, and only then, should UBI be discussed. There is not enough money at current tax rates, (which the House will not increase and they WILL be in charge come 2017 still) to do everything we need and must do. Something has to give.

        If it were possible to ask each and every American what was most important to them – a UBI of $12-15K/yr or universal health care with no cap, I would be most interested which program the majority of Americans would choose.

      • @formdib: >] “We may have a trillion dollar economy, and I’m no Austrian economics type guy, but how much sparing no expense can there be before the nation can’t afford it?

        With all respect, please don’t take the words “sparing no expense” so literally. I meant that we should pour every conceivable effort into a workable, affordable plan to give all our citizens the resources they need to make the most of their lives, nothing more.

        >] “I’m still not sold on the math of a UBI. $15,000 per year X 320million Americans = $4.8trillion, or more than double our current budget BEFORE accounting the costs of military, regulatory, and other administration — and universal healthcare.

        Your numbers are way off. First of all, even if you go by Charles Murray’s original plan, only people aged 21-50 would be eligible for the basic income, and then if you follow Lifer’s numbers in his original post on the Welfare State, a UBI would cost roughly around 2.4 trillion. You say it would be double that, not even seeming to take into account any savings of potential tax increases to stave off the cost.

        >] “Anything less than a UBI comes with requisite increases in bureaucratic complexity (for means testing), which creates loopholes and blind spots.

        Means testing has proven time and again to be a woeful waste of money by Republicans who never seem to tire of demonizing poor people and minorities. It will be a welcome relief when a UBI becomes a reality in this country and we can put that sordid strategy behind us.

        Other than that, I’m with you.

      • formdib says:

        Okay, I have quite a few responses here basically for this entire thread.

        First, I’d like to thank everyone for their thoughts as this is a very compelling discussion and I didn’t expect my abstract question to engender such specific dynamics. You’re all great writers and thinkers and I appreciate hearing your opinions.

        @Rob: “if those white, former blue collar workers now feel a bit undignified after decades of inflicting EXACTLY that same indignity on an entire race of ppl, I’m finding it hard to muster up a ton of sympathy. Black ppl have survived forever with that ” in dignity ” hung on then by certain sections of the white working class. I dont see it as a national tragedy now that a few whites are starting to get a taste of what it’s been like to be black, and they really, really don’t like it.”

        That’s still, to some degree, a bit of cosmic karmic eye-for-eye. It is a national tragedy that whites are starting to get a taste of what it’s been like to be black for the same reason that it’s a national tragedy that black people experience what it’s like to be black. Nobody deserves it regardless if they were the ones who caused it.

        ‘Punishment’ in justice, at least as I see it, is about taking bad agents out of their agencies (imprisonment or dis-accreditation) or rebalancing unfair resource or advantage allocations (restitution). It’s not about beating a person because they beat a person, treating someone less than human because they treated others less than human, or other vindictive measures. That sense of ‘justice’ is pleasurable in movies, but it doesn’t solve anything.

        @Ryan: “I whole heartedly reject the condescending idea that a basic floor of support would sap the desire to work from the American people. Those that would infer such, with all respect, would seem to not have as much faith in the people as I do.”

        I am one of those who argue that it would and my argument comes from observation rather than ‘faith’ in people.

        A lot of the commentary above your post that quotes this contends with this notion of the dignity and desire to work and its role in our society: how far that extends into human nature and how much of it needs to be confronted to the advantage of a workable UBI situation.

        As a filmmaker, I absolutely resonate with the idea that “a painter could make a painting for no money and is considered a freeloader but the miner has ‘dignity’ earning terrible wages for terrible work.” In that sense of work, yes, there will always be productive populaces in any UBI situation.

        But no, NOT everybody will be productive and the proof is that even in our current system, not everybody is productive. Some people really do actually really actually really just sit on their ass and play video games all day. I’m friends with their siblings. That is what they do. There is no way to create an economic ”productivity” around them the way the makers of the video games are economic producers even if the video games are freeware. Their only economic activity is consumption, and producers don’t need people to be SOLELY consumers for them to be consumers. Producers tend to be bigger consumers of their industries, actually.

        Any UBI system enacted has to be passed with the full knowledge that there are just some people who are going to sit around, eat, smoke weed, and fuck. I’m not saying anything about their age, demographics, or backgrounds because that’s irrelevant: it’s equally as likely in all demographics. Some people don’t get off the couch until the threat that the couch will be taken from them: the parents, the significant other, the landlord, or whomever is finally like “I’m sorry but you need to pay rent or I’m cutting electricity to your video game.” Then they begrudgingly exit the game and do their work so that they can maintain playing the video game.

        Video gaming is a good example of this because the digital token achievements of videogames replace the sense of ‘dignity’ and ‘dream chasing’ that everyone else is talking about here. They’re literally psychologically designed to get you to press buttons beyond your physical limits. See: gambling.

        It’s not just video gaming, the Internet itself is a novelty engine that can take up the majority of people’s lives. Addictions of various types and health detriments. Parties rather than networking.

        And yeah, the culture of work will persist for several generations, but without incentives, that instrinsic value will fade.

        Flat out, unless you design a UBI around the assumption that some people literally will not do anything to your country’s economic advantage, that UBI will fail. If it expects EVERY actor to put in theirs based off of abstract values like dignity and national pride, it will fail. So the UBI has to be cut from resources of increasingly narrow groups of producers.

        And I’ve already heard the counterargument that the data says otherwise, but what data on this can be tested in any closed system that doesn’t have the intrinsic assumptions of the ‘value of work’ based on a put-in-what-you-take-out resource allocation, i.e. modern employment? All of the tests of UBI I’ve seen are in small, remote, and impoverished communities who want to pull themselves out of poverty. They haven’t exactly tested UBI on middle class white kids who already live off of $15,000 a year to sustain playing video games.

        I can hear how that comes across as condescending, but I feel it’s realistic based off of my personal observations. I’m still trying to keep an open mind that I’m operating under false premises and need to see the ‘data’ from a different viewpoint.

        I also am open to the idea that if we decide that it’s not immoral to just let people play video games or gamble or do coke until the end of their (rapidly foreshortened) lives, then hey, let ’em.

        There’s also the notion that whereas that stuff may be pleasurable initially, eventually those activities will catch up to them, they’ll regret it, and try to change course. And that changing course can happen later on in life.

        I agree with those ideas as well, but either way waiting until your mentally or physically ill before engaging in productive activity drastically reduces the number of opportunities you have to be productive, and the quality of the productivity itself. It’s not as economically useful to a society for an uneducated (or publicly educated but eventually left alone and not-up-to-date) fifty year old with bad health to start being productive as it is a recently educated 18 year old with a desire to build a safety net so they can play video games all day when they’re fifty, even if we talk about ‘productivity’ as doing neat social interactions / transactions like making their first paintings.

        And any incentive you build into UBI makes it not U. Every incentive becomes mean-testing.

      • @formdib: >] “But no, NOT everybody will be productive and the proof is that even in our current system, not everybody is productive. Some people really do actually really actually really just sit on their ass and play video games all day. I’m friends with their siblings. That is what they do. There is no way to create an economic ”productivity” around them the way the makers of the video games are economic producers even if the video games are freeware. Their only economic activity is consumption, and producers don’t need people to be SOLELY consumers for them to be consumers. Producers tend to be bigger consumers of their industries, actually.

        You’re right when you say that there are going to be a few bad apples in a potential UBI scenario, but that’s the same for any broad based social program. It’s inevitable, but just because we’re not going to get 100% of what we want is no reason to fret.

        Also, for the record, I never said nor am I expecting us to get every single American to contribute to the fullest of their potential. Even I’m not that optimistic.

        >] “And yeah, the culture of work will persist for several generations, but without incentives, that instrinsic value will fade.

        I have to quote one of Lifer’s arguments here and reference that the “instrinsic value of work” is precisely the argument made against child labor laws. It’s ridiculous.

        A UBI provides a base level of support for people to provide for themselves on, nothing more or less. It isn’t meant to provide a high quality standard of living, and people, broadly speaking, have always striven for something better and for more than what they’ve got. It’s a fundamental part of the human experience, ingrained into us right to our cores.

        Look at insanely rich people like Warren Buffet, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah, Bill and Hillary Clinton (!!!), Bill Gates, etc, etc. If any of them wanted to, not a single one of them would have to work a single day more in their lives and could just live off their capital with a pretty damn good standard of living. And yet they don’t. Why?

        Because they want to do something with their lives. Broadly speaking, that’s how the overwhelming majority of people think as well, and they want to do something meaningful. Give them the resources to do that, like with a UBI, and they won’t let you down.

        >] “I can hear how that comes across as condescending, but I feel it’s realistic based off of my personal observations. I’m still trying to keep an open mind that I’m operating under false premises and need to see the ‘data’ from a different viewpoint.

        We’re seeing more and more initiatives to test the impact of a UBI. Ontario, Canada is one of the more recent ones. So let’s wait to see what the data shows.

      • 1mime says:

        If I could weigh in with another point on the UBI – it is a fallacy to think that people will not respond differently to a UBI. Some will use it to laze around, others will do just enough additional work to meet a little higher quality of life, others will use it only as a safety bar and not even touch it because they won’t need to or want to. If the premise behind the UBI is to put a floor beneath all Americans so that each person is assured of not being hungry, is able to have some kind of shelter, and for those so inclined, to pursue other dreams or activities without having to work two jobs – that sounds like a fine goal. Affordable? Probably not without making adjustments in priorities and increasing revenue but that is long overdue anyway.

        Factor in what we all know is coming – more people than jobs. You either have to really get down with sterilization or birth control or you’re going to have people sitting around who’d like to work but can’t find a job….sort of like we have today, but worse.

        My preference still rests with implementation of universal health care with no cap which will not only help people stay healthy, but will save them money. We will have more data as the UBI concept is tested elsewhere. Let’s not forget that the U.S. has over 320M people. That doesn’t have to preclude a UBI or universal healthcare, but it certainly should make us approach the process with great deliberation and an overwhelming mandate for our people.

      • Griffin says:

        “I’m still not sold on the math of a UBI. $15,000 per year X 320million Americans = $4.8trillion, or more than double our current budget BEFORE accounting the costs of military, regulatory, and other administration — and universal healthcare. It’s basically a third of our GDP and furthermore would require very strict immigration controls. I’ve stated other parts about it I’m hesitant to embrace and have read the counterarguments and are currently noodling over it.”

        Lifer’s proposal is a negative income tax. It would only apply to Americans who are at least 18 years of age and make less than $30,000 a year. Even if it was in the form of a UBI it would not apply to those under 18, and it would likely be closer to $12,000 than $15,000.

        “But no, NOT everybody will be productive and the proof is that even in our current system, not everybody is productive. Some people really do actually really actually really just sit on their ass and play video games all day.”

        And their consumption will always be more important than their labor. Besides wouldn’t this apply to Trust fund kids as well? If this is your main concern should we make it impossible for people to live off of family wealth as well?

        If somebody is scratching by in such a way that they make less than current UBI proposals their labour is mostly useless, and will become increasingly such. We’d be better off with them going back to school or learning a trade, which is harder to do if they have to work full-time. Why do you care so much how random slackers spend their day when there’s potential for real creative growth from people who would otherwise be stuck doing pointless work?

      • formdib says:

        “Lifer’s proposal is a negative income tax. It would only apply to Americans who are at least 18 years of age and make less than $30,000 a year. Even if it was in the form of a UBI it would not apply to those under 18, and it would likely be closer to $12,000 than $15,000.”

        And I’m more into a NIT than a UBI. I don’t think we need to be giving $8000 (a common redditor UBI number), $12000, or $15000 a year to billionaires even if we need to really press in the ‘U’ as much as possible.

        And despite being ‘means tested’, a NIT is administered the same way the UBI is: through the IRS, using automatized tax filing, for which anyone can opt out and file their taxes directly.

        “And their consumption will always be more important than their labor. Besides wouldn’t this apply to Trust fund kids as well? If this is your main concern should we make it impossible for people to live off of family wealth as well?

        I’m not concerned with people not working on any sort of moral grounds. The only reason I care about whether people work is making sure the NIT is sustainable. My argument is that initial generations will take to it quite well, but subsequent generations MAY (arguably, worthy of study and second guessing) progressively devalue work, requiring ever more productivity technology be developed by ‘owners’ (and thus subsidizers of the entire system) who will be increasingly disincentivized to produce that technology due to increasingly less chance of profiting in any meaningful way from it.

        That is to say, that the economy will enter a depreciation trap.

        But it’s interesting that you mention trust funds because actually, that just solidifies my point. I have three different examples of how trust funds make for bad productivity to detriment of an in-group.

        First though, in answer to your question about “wouldn’t this apply”, no because trust funds are private and administered in private services. A trust fund recipient could choose to work or not work and that’s up to the her and her family to determine the assorted values, sustainability, and morality thereof. It doesn’t affect the entire pool of national citizens to nearly the same degree.

        But so and so anyway however, I used to work in the United Arab Emirates, which is actually a pretty good example of a state that administers heavy social support frameworks to their citizens. Emiratis get paid by the government to go to school, open businesses, build houses, have children, plant trees in their yards, get married… they’re guaranteed government jobs, and the government does a lot of work to try to get them to invest in businesses. This is all in order to transition from an oil based limited resource economy to a wealth / ownership society less than 50 years after having transitioned from a tribal / agrarian society to an actual nation (seriously, the UAE is only 44 years old and didn’t have paved roads until the 1980s).

        Those incentives and supports are not a UBI or NIT, and are more bureaucratic with their attempts at pushing work and investment, but where I’m going with this here is,

        Emiratis don’t work.

        Trust me. I’ve worked with them. That’s the sort of statement that makes me nervous to say depending on company because I’m worried of sounding racist or condescending, but after two years of banging against their bureaucracy I feel I can make that statement as a critique of their system. I understand that I’m a Westerner with a cultural background in work, but I’m not talking like “they don’t work because we have miscommunications and they seem lazy to me” (the same way Baby Boomers may complain of Millennials, for instance), I’m saying, “they don’t work because they’d only show up to the office one hour per week, and use their office time to drink tea and hang out with their friends, and this is a fucking problem because I needed them to sign paperwork so that I could get the thing done that they hired me to do.”

        They don’t work for several reasons, none of which I think are actually morally bad ones or reflect poorly on their character. They don’t work because:

        > They don’t need to, the government covers their health and living.

        > Their country’s advancement is built on the work and labor of immigrants. The ‘blue collar’ work is done by ‘third world nationals’ (Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Chinese) and their white collar work is done by Westerners, predominantly British.

        Their investment class or wealth is managed by the royal family and a few particularly interested Emiratis here there who throw their money into the occasional Hollywood production so that they can see their names up in lights, and then call themselves ‘filmmakers’ without having ever touched a camera or stepped on a set, meaning:

        > they have no culture that moralizes work. Their government is very much into wealth, but its not into endeavor. They predominant cultural interest in being successful has more to do with advancing the culture itself onto the world stage; it has nothing to do with individual success or attainment, which they can all basically rest on within the country. They want to be so influential that ‘Westerners wear dishu-dashus the way Emiratis wear tee-shirts’ (this is a literal quote from one of the Sheikhs from an interview I read in Gulf News).

        For them, wealth is self-representation, not productivity like for Americans. Certainly Americans value wealth, but the wealth is the result of the productivity — ‘the fruit of your labor’. For them, the goal is to not need to raise fruit trees at all but let the fruit just come to them.


        There’s more I can get into about their system of welfare that’s beyond scope, but also of particular interest is what their system means to this concept of ‘nationalism’ that we’ve been talking about on this website. See, the royal family can afford to give the wealth of their nation to the citizens because there aren’t that many citizens.

        From Wikipedia:

        “In 2013, the UAE’s total population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates.”

        As I’ve already mentioned, ‘the work’ is done by expatriates and they DO NOT RECEIVE the welfare. There are certain labor laws that protect the workers but we’re talking about the UAE — look up ‘wage slaves + UAE’ and have fun with that.

        I don’t know how to officially become a citizen but purportedly (from coworkers’ conversations) it’s pretty much impossible and is deeply based in genetic family trees. You’re not Emirati unless you’re born Emirati, and if an Emirati marries a non-Emirati their children will probably not be considered Emirati — but if they marry a full Emirati, then maybe their children will be.

        I’m not saying any sort of NIT or UBI has to be based off of genetics or ‘white nationalism’, but national identity becomes a matter of logistics under heavily supported systems like the UAE’s. We would have to determine in clearer fashion the passages and limits to citizenship and be very aggressive about regulating it, and for that matter if the United States’ citizens turn out to be less productive than sustainable for a NIT, then we’re going to have to embrace a sort of immigrant labor system more like the UAE’s and less like ours’: one where the ‘expatriates’ come in with full knowledge that they will never receive the ‘wealth’ of the country, only an income that they take back home.

        I’m not saying we’d have to turn into the UAE, but employing a UBI system requires deeply confronting our assumptions and cultures around one of the most American values that infuses our history: the idea that anyone who wants to come and work their way into the wealth of the country and remain, should be able to.

        The second thing that is worth noting about the cultural differences between the UAE and US that is relevant to this board’s discussions is the eye-opening experience I had being Arab-side of the Arab Spring. I was there, in the UAE, during the beginning of that thing — and in fact the Egyptian demonstrations had hit the international news stations after I accidentally wandered through a couple on my vacation to Egypt about two weeks beforehand.

        Now WESTERN media continually claimed that popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa were about ‘democracy’, and the Arabs I knew well enough to ask absolutely agreed. The problem is how you define democracy.

        Note that the Arab Spring really didn’t launch off in the UAE. Why?

        I’ve just told you in great detail. The difference between the UAE and, for instance, Bahrain, is that the Emirati royal family took their oil revenue and converted it into wealth for their citizens, whereas the Bahraini royal family took their oil revenue and told their citizens to fuck off and find their own oil well — which would belong to the royal family anyway so seriously fuck off.

        Hence ‘democracy’. The Arabs were never looking for systems of governance involving ballot systems and candidates for aspects of disputed self-representation. They just want self-recognition in the form of sharing in the wealth enjoyed by royal families. ‘Voting’ is beside the point. As long as they get their fair share, they’re good to go.

        Now let’s discuss Trump’s base. What do they want from ‘democracy’?


        I still have two other examples of trust fund v. productivity but I think the Emirati example covers a lot of the questions the UBI conversation raises about how to organize humanistic social safety nets in a more in-depth way. The other examples are my experiences living among the trust fund hipsters of Brooklyn NY and the film industry and are a lot less interesting or meaningful.

        The only area that that stuff brings up that’s important is, since we’ve been talking data and whether testing wealthier groups on UBI is the same as testing impoverished groups, is to look to see if there’s any data on the productivity of trust fund recipients and for that matter intergenerational wealth.

        I have certainly read a lot of articles about these things but my takeaway from them has been that it’s not clear.

      • Griffin says:

        “I’m not concerned with people not working on any sort of moral grounds. The only reason I care about whether people work is making sure the NIT is sustainable. My argument is that initial generations will take to it quite well, but subsequent generations MAY (arguably, worthy of study and second guessing) progressively devalue work, requiring ever more productivity technology be developed by ‘owners’ (and thus subsidizers of the entire system) who will be increasingly disincentivized to produce that technology due to increasingly less chance of profiting in any meaningful way from it.”

        There is nothing inheriently “productive” about work. The CEO who works 30 hours a week makes far more than the janitor who works double that because capitalism does not reward “work”, it rewards your ability to extract or accumulate capital (“Work smarter not harder”, or, in the case of many CEO’s, know the right people).

        Creating something that allows me to live the rest of my life as a wealthy person will always be a pretty powerful incentive, and I’m not seeing any UBI/NIT proposal extreme enough to cause the kind of massive depreciation you’re talking about. Right now the guy who could be an innovator is working a dead end job at McDonald’s to make ends meet when he could be going to school. If you want to see an economy stifling potential creativity I’d argue this one is a better example than a capitalist economy with a basic income in place.

        As for the trust fund thing is seems alot of your argument is moral, with concerns about people becoming full-time redditors. Sorry if I misread that.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Sometimes people in pain describe their situation in dire language that doesn’t reflect basic agreed-to reality, such as the sun is indeed shining at this moment.

      Perhaps the dilemma of how to treat/ interact with/ respond to those in pain can benefit from therapeutic approaches.

      One approach used by some shrinks is to listen and then to kindly observe that while the person in pain has been in terrible situations in the past, right now he/she is safe.

      Let’s call this form of mindfulness extreme vetting of reality.

      But Americans are not an introspective lot.

      Our national history is frequently told in terms of technological progress and frontiers that had to be conquered, to effect change.

      Brave, hardy, strong, patient people change a nation.

      Would our friends in the painful throes of change be helped if we counseled them to see themselves as pioneers? Would their pain lessen?

      I’m with fly. No racism, no misogyny. Change them out of existence. If your existence depends upon them you need serious self-examination of your self worth. I support your therapy, I don’t support your racism and misogyny.

      I don’t know how anyone can expect to live a life without changing in response to the world as it changes.

      • formdib says:

        Actually, I have a shorter tl;dr for my opinion on UBI versus productivity.

        If you want to see the world under UBI, visit reddit. That is what people will do all day. The ‘painter’ will be replaced by the memesters.

    • Griffin says:

      About the paranoia being a sign of real suffering, here’s Hofstadter’s paper on “pseudo-conservatism”, which I’ve brought up in other comment sections but seems too relevent here to avoid.

      “The restlessness, suspicion and fear manifested in various phases of the pseudo-conservative revolt give evidence of the real suffering which the pseudo-conservative experiences in his capacity as a citizen. He believes himself to be living in a world in which he is spied upon, plotted against, betrayed, and very likely destined for total ruin. He feels that his liberties have been arbitrarily and outrageously invaded… He is disturbed deeply by American participation in the United Nations, which he can see only as a sinister organization. He sees his own country as being so weak that it is constantly about to fall victim to subversion; and yet he feels that it is so all-powerful that any failure it may experience in getting its way in the world — for instance, in the Orient — cannot possibly be due to its limitations but must be attributed to its having been betrayed.3 He is the most bitter of all our citizens about our involvement in the wars of the past, but seems the least concerned about avoiding the next one. While he naturally does not like Soviet communism, what distinguishes him from the rest of us who also dislike it is that he shows little interest in, is often indeed bitterly hostile to such realistic measures as might actually strengthen the United States vis-à-vis Russia. He would much rather concern himself with the domestic scene, where communism is weak, than with those areas of the world where it is really strong and threatening. He wants to have nothing to do with the democratic nations of Western Europe, which seem to draw more of his ire than the Soviet Communists, and he is opposed to all “give-away programs” designed to aid and strengthen these nations. Indeed, he is likely to be antagonistic to most of the operations of our federal government except Congressional investigations, and to almost all of its expenditures. Not always, however, does he go so far as the speaker at the Freedom Congress who attributed the greater part of our national difficulties to “this nasty, stinking 16th [income tax] Amendment.”

      As this paper was written in the 1950’s Hofsadter had access to fewer resources than today, however his conclusion was that the flexible nature of “class” in the United States as well as the lack of a secure national identity was much (but not all) of the cause of this psychological pain. Obviously the loss of tangible benefits that came to “pseudo-conservatives” in older political systems would throw far more fuel on this fire, as is probably the main cause of this movement today.

  21. RobA says:

    Well this could get interesting: wasn’t it chief justice Roberts who said something like “race is no longer an issue in America” when they gutted the VRA act which directly lead to all these voting restrictions were seeing now?

    McCory is seeking an emergency injunction to reinstate the voting restrictions the NC SC just struck down.

    As the chief justice alone handles emergency requests, which means Judge Roberts is going to hear the case directly. No doubt, slimy McRory thinks Roberts will grant the injunction, due to his vote gutting the VRA.

    I personally think CJR is a decent person and he may surprise with a refusal, which would be pretty extraordinary, as he would be basically repudiating himself.

    Remember, though, this was all before BLM and Trumpism and police brutality etc etc. Even a few years ago, it was still possible that a privileged elite elder statesman actually COULD believe that we were in a post racial society. It would be fascinating if he basically said that “I thought we were in a post racial world. I was wrong. It looks like these voter fraud laws actually WERE designed to suppress minority votes”.

    I believe there is enough evidence over the past 2 years that a fair and open minded person who actually DOES care about America could reasonably have such a change of heart, even if they genuinely believwd we WERE in a post racial world.

  22. 1mime says:

    BIG post today by The Weekly Sift blog. Lots of sections, lots of incredible links. You’ll want to spend some time on this. Also, great take down on the charges re the Clinton Foundation.

    • formdib says:

      One of the links from that article:

      “Oath Keepers”? Isn’t that, like, one of the sub-groups of particularly violent Death Eaters in Harry Potter or some shit?

      That sounds so much out of a fantasy horror novel the only appropriate response to any stern-faced idiot to call themselves that is this:

      “Have you looked at our caps recently? … They’ve got skulls on them.”

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, and that’s what has so many people worried. Trump has carefully constructed his “rigged election” rhetoric so that if/when he loses, his warriors are free to do what they need to do…..

      • Sigh.

        Black hats with skulls on them are a much older symbol than the Nazis, even though that’s the context in which they became famous. The symbol originates among German resistance organisations against occupation by French troops during the 19th century; and from a grassroots movement which combined a rebirth of German art with nationalism and the growth of militia organisations. Like many national symbols, it was hijacked by the Nazis.

        One of the frustrations of modern German identity is that the Nazis tainted so many of the symbols. The black-red-gold flag was about the only thing they didn’t use, due to its very strong liberal connotations.

      • formdib says:

        I hear you about Nazi symbolism (the swastika symbol being one of the most famous versions of institutional appropriation completely destroying a peaceful native symbol) but the target of my reference of that joke are ‘The Oath Keepers.’

        The Oath Keepers. Yes, I can see how they have historical antecedents they’re drawing from to come up with that name, but in context of today’s society, it’s still a stupid name. There’s no ‘oath’ to ‘keep’ that’s relevant to our modern problems.

      • Ah, I get you. Sorry, I missed the joke.

        Oath Keeper is a silly, propagandistic name. Then again, given that these are people stupid enough to plan an insurgency against the most powerful military on the planet despite possessing no heavy weaponry of their own, it’s probably about their level. I’m surprised that their websites don’t have the HTML written in crayon.

  23. Archetrix says:

    I hope this isn’t a repost. This is an interesting article.

    • 1mime says:

      Fine article, Archetrix. The subtle message appeared at the end, “They’re all putting in their markers for the fight that begins on November 9 — the day after Election Day……There’s no more fun than fighting other Republicans.”

      Lifer, tell us more!

      • Archetrix says:

        I am wondering what behind-the-scenes machinations Ted Cruz is conducting so that he is the last one standing atop the smoldering ruins.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer has commented on that numerous times. He’s ominously quiet….Remember, Cruz was second in number of delegates and would be the easiest “heir-apparent” should Trump either bail or be deposed….As much as I dislike/worry about a Trump presidency, I have always worried more about Cruz. He’s smart and he’s a zealot. I’ll take a philanderer over a zealot anyday (-;

  24. RobA says:

    Very Christ like attitude by Brownback. He rescinded a decades old discrimination protection XO that included gender and sexual orientation.

    “…..Brownback then issued a subsequent order that bans discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age, but excluded sexual orientation and gender identity from that list.

    “This Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did,”

    I guess he asked himself: ” What Would Jesus Do…….if his poll numbers were slipping hard and his tax cuts were in danger of being wiped out in the November election?”

    And he realized Jesus would have thrown red meat to the base by stripping actual living human beings of basic protections under the law.

    And these ppl wonder why millenials have absolutely no time for religion. Why would we? The only group we see consistently doing horrible, shitty things to fellow citizens are religious ppl. Not only that, they actually commit their horrible shitty deeds in the NAME OF their religion.

    That’s not a group most ppl my age want to emulate.

    • Fair Economist says:

      Temporal power for religion leads to unbelief. It’s an old and pretty reliable rule. (Mosque attendance in Iran has plunged to West European levels). If the trend to secularism cuts the influence of these ostentatiously religious “Christians” the trend to secularism will probably reverse.

  25. Griffin says:

    What Sean Hannity and Brett Stephens fight over Trump can tell us about the GOP post-election, and why Stephens is a hypocrite when he doesn’t also admit his part in Trump’s rise:

    Also during the interview I noticed you refered to LBJ as a conservative, Blue-Dog Democrat but was he? The usual concensus on the Democratic side is that domestically there has not been a Democratic President as liberal as he was post-1969, what with the Great Society and Civil Rights Act and all.

    • goplifer says:

      Johnson, like just about every other prominent Southern politician, was pretty staunchly conservative. And then suddenly he wasn’t.

      It’s tough to find a single link summarizing his pre-Presidential record. Nobody really talks about it much. His pre-Presidential life is pretty interesting.

      Johnson made his way into office demonizing (and suppressing) labor unions, taking a tough stance on Communism, and voting against every Civil Rights bill he ever faced. He hated and openly derided the Kennedys right up till he joined the ticket (and then only more quietly). He was a classic old-school Southern conservative.

      His Administration stunned just about everyone, especially his former Senate colleagues from the South, who came to hate him. His second term was a sad, miserable affair.

      • Shiro17 says:


        How much of that was because of Kennedy’s death, and a desire to try and fulfill his legacy afterward?

      • 1mime says:

        That’s consistent with what I have read, Shiro. Johnson had to be stunned by the assassination and maybe he had a “come to jesus” moment…or, maybe he reached way back to his roots – dirt poor – knew he had the skills to legislate the changes, and just did it.

      • >] “How much of that was because of Kennedy’s death, and a desire to try and fulfill his legacy afterward?

        The more I read about Johnson, the more he feels like a political chameleon, malleable and open-minded enough to drift wherever the political winds deemed. It takes no small measure of personal grit and fortitude to do that, and there’s an almost FDR-esque element in his willingness to experiment, but LBJ’s efforts seemed to lean more towards personal gratification rather than overt love of country.

        He certainly didn’t like JFK and the feeling was more than mutual (purely a marriage of political convenience so Kennedy could have Texas in his column in November). Re-watching Kennedy’s State of the Union addresses, Johnson’s eyes practically seem to glaze over, as if he can’t wait for the damned thing to be over.

      • Griffin says:

        Interesting I know he was considered more conservative than Kennedy but I didn’t know he was an all-out Southern Conservative. Too bad about Vietnam destroying him before his third term, who knows what else he could’ve done domestically.

        It’s interesting how long Texas stayed Blue despite the perceived betrayal, what with uber-liberal Hubert Humphrey winning there in 1968 instead of either Nixon or Wallace. In fact Wallace seemed to get virtually no support in the Lone Star state outside of the most Eastern part of Texas that was closest to the deep south. The deep south states seemed to turn anti-Democrat on the national level far more quickly.

      • Fair Economist says:

        No, the first part of Johnson’s second term was the period of his greatest legislative successes, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Voting Rights Act. The southerners did turn against him, but what made the last year or two of his term “sad and miserable” (and that part was) was Vietnam, which turned the left against him too.

      • Creigh says:

        Sounds like an LBJ bio would be worth reading. I’m definitely intimidated by Caro’s four volumes, though…

      • vikinghou says:

        Have any of you seen the play or the movie “All the Way?” It’s about Johnson’s personal and political struggle surrounding passage of the Civil Rights Act. Very compelling. It opened last year’s season at the Alley Theatre, and it was interesting to observe the audience reaction. There was definitely a generational and racial divide. After the play I rode the elevator with an elderly white couple. They thought the play was well done but didn’t enjoy reliving that period of American history. I stayed mum.

      • 1mime says:

        I saw the movie, Viking. Johnson was such a mixture of crassness and genius. He was definitely not a good president to have in time of war….that was not his skill set. Domestic policy obviously was his forte and he did this incredibly effectively. Interestingly, HRC brings both qualities to the table – foreign affairs expertise (even if one doesn’t agree with her, she at least understands the process unlike T), and definitely wonkish on domestic policy and government function. She’s so pilloried for her shortcomings by those who “hate” her (whatever justification they have for doing so) that anything she accomplishes will be considered quite the achievement…

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        The first part of this program said when LBJ was a teacher in south Texas, he bought supplies for his students because they couldn’t afford them.

        Part 2 shows tomorrow on channel 8 in Houston:

        Lbj: American Experience
        Part 2 #402

        Wednesday, August 17, 02:30 am on HD

        Duration: 1:54:53

        Description: Revisit the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson who used his mastery of the legislative process to shepherd a collection of progressive programs only to have his visions of a Great Society swallowed up in the quagmire of Vietnam.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, Bobo. I’ll tune in. Like Johnson or not, I am a great admirer of his Great Society Legislation.

        Frontline, which produces well researched documentaries, has one airing on PBS Sept. 27 profiling Trump and Clinton. This link will give you more info and you may be able to view a trailer.

  26. If I might offer a slightly unnerving prospect as to who the Republican nominee might be in 2020…

  27. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    A rich, repulsive (in both looks and thoughts) New York state real estate jerk who cheated on his wife, who had posted horrible things on the internet, who makes bigoted comments, who then decides in his later years to run for the highest office in the land as a Republican… almost certain to lose.

    No. I am not talking about that guy, I am talking about Carl Paladino.

    There is a new controversy where Carl Paladino is defending… the other guy, Trump.

    Handling the Trump campaign response to Carl Paladino re-igniting the Khan Gold Star family controvery is… Paul Manafort.

    Holy sh*T.

    That’s the guy who worked with that thieving dictator (Viktor Yanukovych) in Ukraine before he was deposed.This is all kinds of wrong. I heard that guy liked his furnishings extra expensive, extra tacky, drizzled in gold.

    Where have we seen that before?

  28. Creigh says:

    Whaddya mean chemtrails aren’t real? I’ve seen them. H2O is a chemical..

    • tuttabellamia says:

      And Pluto is a planet. I know it in my heart.

      • texan5142 says:

        According to Disney he is a dog, not a planet.

      • antimule says:

        To be fair, definition of a planet is pretty arbitrary. Like Europe is a continent and India isn’t for some dumb reason. It is not set in stone like definition of atom.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Tutt…to me, Pluto will always be a planet…I’m like a climate change denier on this issue.

      • As an astrophysicist, may I butt in here to briefly point out that Pluto is very definitely not a planet?

        I’m happy to explain why at length, if need be.

      • 1mime says:

        I’d be interested in your explanation, EJ. The one for space dummies…

      • There are two things that happened at roughly the same time, which together made us decide that Pluto should never have been called a planet.

        Until several years ago, there was no real definition of “planet”. Schoolkids learned to recite the names and orders of the nine planets. They ignored the other objects in the solar system that were large enough to be considered for that list (Ceres, for example) simply out of historical precedent. At the time this was okay.

        A decade or so ago, when we started to discover objects that orbited other stars, this stopped being okay. We needed to come up with language which could describe those objects. This meant that amongst other things, we needed to be able to define what a planet was.

        The second thing that happened around the same time was that the Californian astronomer Mike Brown discovered another object out on the edges of our own solar system, near where Pluto orbits. He named it Eris. At first some people thought that Eris might be a moon of Pluto. As Brown’s team studied Eris, they realised that it has more mass than Pluto does. Strictly speaking, if the two orbited each other that would make Pluto its moon. (It turns out that they don’t orbit one another, but nobody knew that at the time.) Something had to be done.

        These two conversations reached a head in a group chaired by the great Neil DeGrasse Tyson. After much argument it was decided that we needed a rigid definition of what a planet was, rather than just the traditional list that schoolkids learned.

        The new definition was in three parts, as follows:

        A) The planet must be large enough to have formed into a sphere under its own gravity.

        B) The planet must orbit the sun.

        C) The planet must have cleared its orbit.

        Parts A and B are nice and simple; they mean that comets and moons are not planets, and everybody’s mostly okay with that. Part C, however, was very controversial. Orbit-clearing is a well-understood phenomenon, but the guidelines on whether it’s been cleared are fuzzy.

        For example, Earth orbits at a distance of 1AU. Once, there were many other things which orbited at 1AU; however over millions of years the Earth has either pulled them into collision courses, pushed them out of the orbit, or made them orbit the Earth (like the Moon.) Earth does not tolerate competition. She has very definitely cleared her orbit, and can be said to be a planet.

        On the other hand, Ceres is the largest asteroid. However, the other asteroids which orbit at the same distance have far more combined mass than she does, and have not been forced out of her orbit in the same way. Ceres has definitely not cleared her orbit, and cannot be said to be a planet.

        Similarly, Pluto has not cleared her orbit. Eris was the first other object spotted in that distant outer region past Neptune, but others have been found, by Mike Brown or by other astronomers. Both Pluto and Eris are too weak to force the other one out of that orbit, meaning that neither can clear the orbit and so can’t be called a planet.

        However, while we can clearly say that Earth has cleared her orbit and so is a planet, whereas Ceres and Pluto have not and so are not, there could well be cases which fall somewhere between the two. We don’t have a hard and definite way of deciding this, which has made some people unhappy.

        Pretty much everyone in the profession, however, is of the opinion that we can’t reinstate Pluto as a planet without making it much harder to clearly classify planets around other stars. We can certainly not reinstate the nine-planet list that you learned in school: even if we dropped the requirement that planets have to clear their orbits, that would mean that Ceres and Eris (plus a potential few other, smaller objects) would have to be added to the list.

      • 1mime says:

        Thank you EJ for that celestial tutorial! Very clear explanation. Out of curiosity, I googled Pluto and found a wonderful array of opposing views on the “planet status” of Pluto….I’m afraid Pluto will always be controversial, despite your excellent explanation.

        BTW, you mentioned Neil DeGrasse Tyson. If it wouldn’t deprive the world of such a great astrophysicist, wouldn’t Tyson be a fabulous President! Oh, to have a man of his intellect, humor, and vision leading our nation!

      • I am a huge fan of Tyson’s, but democratic leadership may be the wrong place for him. He has some quirks and flaws which are easily overlooked within science but would become deeply problematic in politics.

        That said, in a world where Johnson and Orbán can get elected, and Trump can take over a major party, perhaps I’m being too harsh to Tyson.

      • 1mime says:

        To be sure, EJ. Still, I long for a presidential candidate with Tyson’s strengths: intelligence, wit, fearlessness. It might be a disaster but boy oh boy would the ride be fun!

    • vikinghou says:

      Astronomers say that there may be a Neptune-size planet orbiting further away than Pluto (i.e., a new 9th planet). Apparently the new planet’s year is about 15,000 Earth years.

  29. Stephen says:

    I listen to the radio interview. Chris is as good a talker as he is a writer. I enjoyed the great white freak out remark about when Obama won in 2008. I remember talking to my Black coworker and friend while we were sorting out Florida’s vote back then. He had voted Obama and I had voted McCain, Saying that Obama was a centrist like McCain both would tend to govern in the center so it was ok either way. I guess I missed that great white freakout.

    • Has a bit more of a soft-spoken voice than I would’ve thought. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Chris’s voice is just as I imagined it in my head when I read his writing.

        And no Texas twang, either.

      • 1mime says:

        I had the exact same reaction, Ryan. But when you consider how thoughtful Chris is, the soft-spoken voice fits.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      great white freak out

      I was sure opposition to Obama must have some deeper foundation, but I came to the great white freak out conclusion, too. He made them question every single one of their accomplishments.

      I wonder how much of the decades of hostility toward Hillary Clinton is chronic oppositional defiant disorder, mistaking Hillary for mom — or wife, for that matter.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I posted a theory (“speculation”) a while back about how some college-educated men “seem” to support Trump because they live vicariously through him, for saying all the obnoxious things they would love to say but their college-educated wives wouldn’t approve, and how Hillary represents their disapproving wives.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        It was my own theory/speculation.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Here’s a repost:

        tuttabellamia says:
        July 19, 2016 at 3:43 pm
        Fly, the scary thing is that some people seem to admire bullies. It’s like they’re living vicariously through Mr. Trump.

        I don’t know if you remember that article I posted from the WSJ about college-educated couples enduring marriage crises because the husband supported Trump while the wife hated him.

        A recurrent theme was that the husband was absolutely thrilled over Trump’s being so ballsy about saying whatever he wanted, and the wife being shocked and angry at the husband, wondering, Who is this man I married?

        The tiny hints I kept picking up from the interviews was that the husband felt repressed by his wife, and he enjoyed being able to speak his mind vicariously through Trump, to say all the rude stuff he always wished he could say but couldn’t because his wife disapproved, and he saw Mrs. Clinton as the wife who would control him.

        Pop psychology on my part. Just my observations and personal interpretation. Body language, anyone?

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Ah, yes. I remember that post. 🙂

        What does it mean when rudeness is freedom?

        Being polite is cheap, it’s free. Why then is rudeness so important?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Because rudeness is truth?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        And the truth shall set you free.

        Rudeness represents freedom of speech for the speaker but by being rude he/she throws the burden of rudeness onto the listener, who is hurt and therefore NOT free.

        So, the solution is to put the burden back on the speaker, by either being rude back, or NOT being rude back, but firm, therefore taking the high road but still putting the speaker in his place.

        Rudeness should have a price for the speaker.

    • JeffAtWolfcreek says:

      ‘Great White Freakout’ was the highlight. I almost fell out of my chair laughing. The delivery was beautifully understated and dry. Made it even funnier.

  30. Turtles Run says:

    This article is an interesting read on the way the TEA Party became a cash cow for every snake oil salesman in the country. For years we have made snide jokes about the fleecing of the rubes by the likes of Palin and every group with “Freedom” “Patriot” in their title. But to see it laid out so openly was shocking.

    • RobA says:

      Yeah we discussed it a bit further down thread.

      Hard to believe how blatant the scam is. Was there ever even really a tea party? Or was it all just noise and grift?

      • All great movements start small. You have a relative handful of people who believe in a cause, organize themselves and take it as far as it can go. You see that in the Civil Rights Movement, promotion of women’s rights and potential through the Junior League, LGBT equality that spans numerous groups across America and the world, etc, etc.

        The Tea Party started out like that, except in their case they had no real cause. At their core, they were just a bunch of pissed off (mostly) old people railing against the government. So-called “causes” like debt and deficits, the ACA, and “big government”-esque initiatives were just talking points to further sustain that anger; whatever was useful at the moment.

        That’s what made taking advantage of them so easy. The Tea Party was a blank canvas that was left on the side of the street for anyone to walk up and paint it whatever color they wanted. It certainly doesn’t help that “movement conservatism” as currently understood within national Republican politics is little more than a ponzi scheme with the base being the marks.

      • 1mime says:

        In TX, there still IS a Tea Party. And, it is active.

    • Stephen says:

      I get flim flam from the left as much as the right in my email folder. Cash is cash, and the con men will take it from ideologues in either direction. I have in my past been pretty omnivorous in my politics.

      • RobA says:

        What scammy cause from the left generates even a FRACTION of the money stolen from the RWNJ’s?

        This false equivalence has to stop. The lunacy on the current right is not remotely comparable to the same on the left.

      • JeffAtWolfcreek says:

        Exactly. Because a bowling ball and a feather both have mass doesn’t make them weigh the same.

    • WX Wall says:

      I love it! Talk about being hoist on one’s own petard.

      Politicians created PACs to get around finance laws because they’re supposed to be independent *wink* *wink*. Then lo and behold, they find there’s a bigger class of shyster who’s willing to create PACs that are, you know, independent and in it for themselves. And then the politicians cry to the FEC that these PACs are independent and not helping their election. They were never supposed to help specific elections. Those shysters are being truer to the law than the politicians.

      My only hope is that PACs like this manage to drain away so much cash from politicians that they’ll finally ban them, forcing more of the money to go through better regulated channels.

      • 1mime says:

        It would definitely require self-interest to motivate conservatives to amend C.U. They “own” this ruling. However, those politicians who are in the positions of greatest influence are likely to benefit most from the PACs who hide beneath C.U. Won’t get much help from them…will require a bi-partisan effort and lots more Dem seat pick up in the House to get this moving.

  31. RobA says:

    Prediction: this is the week the dam breaks. By Friday, Paul Ryan will have unendorsed.

    Trumps speech right now is so terrible, I’m sure Jeb Bush is thinking about crafting a “low energy” tweet.

    Trump looks and sounds like a defeated man.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Rob – I saw this guy on msnbc and his comments made my jaw drop. He says “maybe I was part of the problem”. My brain sizzles trying to calculate the balance of stupidity vs dishonesty on his part.

        The intra-party fight is so hard to grasp in real time. It is surreal. It’s like when my dog spoke to me for the first time.

    • RobA says:

      I would’ve thought at such a low point in the campaign, Trump would’ve atreadnthe speech written for him at least once. It’s obvious thisnis the first time he’s read it.


      On a related note, he’s now going on about “we should’ve kept the oil! I said all along, we should’ve kept their oil!”

      And then in the next statement, he goes “in the old days, it used to be TO THE VICTOR GO THE SPOILS!!!”. Yeesh.

      I shit you not. The GOP nominee is giving a speech about how America, the richest country in the world by far, should act as the world’s biggest and sleaziest looter, going after the wealth of much poorer nations and ship that wealth back to America. They should also act as the world’s biggest protection racket, shaking down allies in return for protection. ” nice oil field ya have there…..shame if something happened to it”

      What a disaster this

    • Paul Ryan likes to say that no endorsement is a “blank check”, but unless Trump comes out on national television and says that Jesus sucks, it ain’t gonna happen. The whole rationale is that doing that would throw the House to the Democrats, and right now that’s all that Republicans have going for them.

      Speaker Ryan is not a man of principle, he just plays one on TV.

  32. Bobo Amerigo says:

    The article on Trumpism has rhetorical particulars that I particularly like 🙂

    As cited, the use of ‘fear’ and ‘seem’ by speechwriter Noonan gives her license to position her opinion as fact — you know, something backed up by data.

    I have some compassion. I too use ‘seem’ sometimes when posting because I don’t have immediate access to data and/or I’m a little to preoccupied to look it up.

    The author (a journalism professor) illustrates how we need to be attuned to writing and speech designed to influence without much factual backing.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Here’s a similar recent article from the the ATLANTIC:

      • 1mime says:

        In other words, “some” intellectuals gravitate towards Trump because he says those things that they “think” but don’t say? That’s deep.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        It’s interesting to me that Chaim Perelman (with Olbrechts-Tyteca, a woman with little English-language information about her) developed revolutionary theories of rhetoric and audience while he was hiding from the Nazis. [He was invited to lecture in the states; she was not.]

        Nazi Germany must have been a massive existential crisis for intellectuals. If centuries of deep thought and education were not protection from a despot, what the hell could be? Some went along to get along, others didn’t.

        I wonder if conservative thinkers here are feeling something similar.

        Scholars think disappointment with traditional philosophical logic led Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca to consider values, justice and action in their philosophy of rhetoric. They came to see rhetoric as the bridge between a life of the mind and a life that included action.

        They also considered truth to be partial, fluid and contradictory, which must frighten the pants off fundamentalists of any stripe. I find it a little scary, too, but I think they are correct.

        I see politicians and advertisers who understand truth in this way use [partial, fluid, contradictory] truth to build affinity with audiences with differing values.

        Does that mean at least one group is being lied to? Or is it building a coalition for action?

    • 1mime says:

      Actually, all we need to keep us honest is Fifty (-; He’s quite good at challenging opinion not identified clearly as such. People on this blog are well read, knowledgeable and have strong opinions. It is easy to forget that our views are not always “the facts”, but deductions we have formed based upon wide reading and critical analysis. Whenever possible, opinions should be attributed and supported. Sometimes, all one has is an “educated” theory and only later do we find documentation that reinforces it. I believe it is fair to say most of us fall into this category from time to time. Well articulated thoughts, opinion or fact, are always interesting to me.

    • formdib says:

      “As cited, the use of ‘fear’ and ‘seem’ by speechwriter Noonan gives her license to position her opinion as fact — you know, something backed up by data.”

      People here have seen the documentary “OutFOXed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” right?

      This was a 2004 documentary that took several internal memoes, interviews with people who’d worked at FOX News or been on shows there, and days worth of footage from the broadcasts themselves to break down their approach and style.

      One of the more memorable moments that stuck out to me is when OutFOXed showed how FOX News had perfected the rhetorical “Some people say…”

      An example would be, these days, “Well some people say Obama is a Muslim.”

      It’s a useful tactic because it’s both true (‘some people’ can be literally anybody, including yourself’) and fact checking doesn’t necessarily challenge that truth (‘some people’ might be wrong but they still say it, so there it is on its face).

      Anyway, this is yet another way things we see today have precedence in the development of conservative thought that came before.

  33. Just read your “realities” post from 2014. That post says it all! The GOP is based on non-facts. You have said that many times and i doubt anyone reading this blog would disagree!

    BUT how can the GOP change? as you say, no republican can get elected past a primary questioning the GOP belief in obviously wrong opinions. during the 2012 debates, the Republican candidates were asked who of them believed in evolution. Not one raised their hand. Evolution? We are not talking about some scientific theory thrown out to be discussed in a classroom in some left wing little New England liberal arts college. We are talking about Evolution! An undisputed fact!

    A Republican who questions these facts, who does not agree, will never get elected. So what happens. The GOP goes the way of the Dodo bird?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Human, I think after a while people don’t really believe what they think they believe. It’s not belief or even opinion — it’s stubborn, entrenched mindset about hearing and saying certain key words.

      It’s loosely based on what’s heard from parents and in church, with some media thrown in, reinforced by being around others who “speak the same language,” and then politicians, who probably don’t believe everything either, say what their constituents want to hear, and you get a vicious cycle of self-reinforced “belief” that has gone past true belief.

      It becomes mechanical after a while. People need to step back and let sink in what they have been saying, and then decide if this is what they truly believe.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So, should leaders “lead” as they think best, even if it’s not in agreement with their constituents, or should they be led by their constituents’ demands ? What is the true role of a lawmaker?

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, the quintessential question in politics. I’ll answer by taking a step back in time. I encountered this question several times throughout my four years as an elected school board member. There were many forces that competed for attention and our votes. The school district was under a de-segregation order which meant decisions had to meet federal guidelines. State and local guidelines had to be followed while also tending to our respective constituents needs and desires. In my district, there was a large, vocal private school constituency which demanded that their rights as taxpayers be protected. I was also *blessed* with a large portion of the membership of the local Chamber who demanded responsible use of tax dollars and performance outcomes in return for their support on bond initiatives and other ballot measures. Given this diverse constituency, you can bet that before I cast my votes on issues, I had done my homework. I can only imagine how much more complex politics is at the state and national level.

        You quickly learn the lesson of “not being able to please all of the people all of the time”. In those cases where I voted in the minority position, it was usually principle or equity-based, which I do not regret to this day. We did not have to deal with was party politics, as people voted more for “the person” than party as they do today.

        My opinion is that elected officials should be knowledgeable about and responsible in addressing their constituents’ needs and desires, but they also have a larger responsibility to broad-based decision-making – pragmatism demands this. Often, the “few” have “few” champions and then your vote becomes one of principle rather than popularity.

        One of the invaluable lessons I learned by serving in office is that issues are seldom clear cut and that consensus is legitimate and important for government to function effectively and fairly. Obstruction for the sake of obstruction, hurts everything and everyone. I expect my elected representatives to make informed decisions and I expect them to put country before party. If they cast a vote that is purely partisan, they better be able to defend their decision(s) on the merits rather than party loyalty. As a constituent, I have the right to vote them out of office if I do not feel they have been responsible. Would that more voters shared that philosophy.

        Sorry for the long trip down memory lane, but it has shaped and informed my experiences and views in politics and seemed appropriate in answer to Tutta’s astute question.

    • RobA says:

      The evolution thing is pretty mind blowing. It’s really.not that complicated a theory if you understand it.

      Even if you ignore all the scientific data (the hundreds of thousands of fossils which are always in chronological order based on the rock they’re found in. I.e. a more evolved form of a species has not once been found in rock older then a less evolved. They always go from less evolved to more evolved) the proof is simple enough. Just look at human offspring. Are human offspring identical to their parents? No? Well then, we’ve established that changes to the genetic code occur with every generation. Once that’s established, it’s a pretty sensible assumption that even tiny changes, spread over hundreds of millions of years, will inevitably result in forms that look nothing like their ancestors.

      Once we realize that humans aren’t a clone species, with offspring exact replicas of their parents, evolution becomes inevitable.

      • Stephen says:

        Rob evolution is just an organism surviving through change. They can get simpler as much as more complex. An example off the top of my mind is malaria. It once was a plant put when it became a parasite it lost it’s ability to do photosynthesis.It is simpler than it’s ancestor. It is obvious from fossils that organisms evolve over time. But every observed genetic change has been bad for the organism. But there must be some good ones over time. And no one can explain how life started. Or how complex organelles in cells could come into being. We really have limited knowledge. I have lived long enough to see theories prominent in my youth disproven over my lifetime and new ones conceptualized. I have learned a little humility.

      • 1mime says:

        And then, I read today’s headlines in the Houston Chronicle where the “number of TX children exempted for non-medical reasons (for vaccination) increased 19-fold since 2008 – to 45,000 children!

        Further, there are 18 states that allow exemptions from vaccines for personal beliefs, and only 2 states (Mississippi and W. Virginia – the poorest of the poor) who “don’t grant exemptions from immunization requirements on religious grounds!

        All states allow exemptions for medical conditions, which is wholly understandable and appropriate. The rest? They are a health threat.

        Anti-Vaxxers as a group blow my mind. Forget evolution, this is here and now. They intermingle their children in the general school population and public spaces and risk resurgence of previously controlled childhood diseases. “A 2015 TX bill to eliminate the state’s conscientious exemption never got a hearing.”

    • Kenneth Devaney says:

      My take away from reading Chris’s articles here and the thoughts expressed on this site is the recognition that all of the air has been let out of the tire of one of our national parties. The party’s principles have been replaced by identity which doesn’t require adherence to principles but rather association, specifically with other straight, white christians…preferably male. Its a belief system based on association no facts required. I am seeing with more clarity thanks to this site the same phenomenon happening in my party…and it scares me. The millennials will be heard one day soon and they have not been tempered by the kind of thoughtful political discourse I grew up hearing between republicans and democrats arguing over facts that both parties acknowledged. Certainly not the type of discussions we are privileged to have here.

      Right now, only one party says the grass is green and the sky is blue while the other is no longer just visiting Fantasy Island but has shown up with their luggage. As a result there is no pressure on my party to risk initiating change…they are winning, why stick their necks out too far for Black Lives Matter or real regulatory reforms for a better business climate.

      I don’t know how the Republican party retrieves itself but we need to find a way to breath life into a real conservative movement soon.

      • Ken Rhodes says:

        How does the Republican Party retrieve itself? Here’s what I think:

        There are still a lot of us who remember Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren, et al. The folks I think of as real “conservatives.”

        Some of us who remember are still in politics. John Kasich, for example, who seems to have an inkling that running the government involves actual governance, which in turn involves deals and compromise. Some who remember need to get out front, with a BIG financial contribution, and others with a BIG burst of political activism.

        And it needs to happen soon, I fear, because lots of us who remember are already old, and some of the ones who could have done it best are already too old (e.g., Robert Dole). Soon, there won’t be anybody left who will appreciate that the reality-based conservatives like Chris are the “real” Republicans, and the bible-thumping carry-overs from the Spanish Inquisition are, in fact, the RINOs.

      • JeffAtWolfcreek says:

        Swing and miss. John Kasich’s running of the Ohio government resulted in a nightmare of under performing private schools and new abortion restrictions. Not compromise but instead a ramming through of conservative social values that most Ohioans disagree with. On the other hand, he eliminated state income taxes for my small business so… I would never vote for him but I will take the money. No jobs will be created, I was only paying a few thousand in state taxes to start with but it might let me take the family on a cruise.

      • 1mime says:

        It appears that Kasich’ lasting importance to the GOP presidential primary process is that he was able to pull off being the “sensible” voice in the crowd. I simply do not see how any candidate who supports the strict abortion platform that he does can ever be a viable presidential contender. America’s social values are shifting so rapidly on this issue and other former rigid puritanical positions, that there is no going back. As Lifer says, “political orphans”.

      • 1mime says:

        Every time I start to become the least bit comfortable in this political environment, I force myself to read a couple of conservative newspapers or journals….WSJ is probably one of the most respected, but since Murdock purchased it, its slant has moved way right. You can take any one issue, say ZIKA funding, and read the WaPo (which I consider a fine paper) or the NYT (equally so) and then read about the same issue in the WSJ. You will be amazed to see just how many different POV exist. If you compare the reader comments, you will be thoroughly blown away.

        My point is this. Lifer’s blog is a great forum – intelligent, civil, fact-supported. It’s easy to get lulled into a false security that the rest of the world is tracking the opinions of commentators here…they are not. Come here for a great discussion but with full understanding that this is a special place. Sadly, the world is a much bigger place than GOPlifer and is filled with some pretty reprehensible people who are just as adamant about their opinions as we are, just more crass and inane in how they express themselves.

  34. vikinghou says:

    Concerning the article about the decline of white Christianity, I was very dismayed to read that Trump has pledged to repeal the law that prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from participating in political activities. I hadn’t heard that one before. Many churches are already getting away with murder in this domain. Removing the law altogether would be a disaster.

    • 1mime says:

      Now we know where his evangelical appeal emanates is coming from. What separation of church and state.

    • RobA says:

      I’m a big fan of rescinding tax free status from churches in general. Why do they deserve such special rights?

      • Creigh says:

        I don’t think taxing businesses is a good idea (vs simply taxing the individuals who benefit from business activities), but as I understand it, taxes are almost invariably assessed on profits, and what business do churches have making a profit in the first place?

      • 1mime says:

        Why do (churches) deserve tax free status?

        Because god told them so?

  35. tuttabellamia says:

    Chris, my world revolves around news radio and commentary, so I look forward to hearing your voice.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      I enjoyed hearing the interview.

      • 1mime says:

        I just finished listening to it. It was a treat to put a voice with the word. Very thoughtful conversation, and consistent with your posts. I think there are a lot of us who are dog-paddling, looking for lifeboats, Chris! I also admire the fact that you appeared on a Muslim radio station. That must have a few GOP eyes rolling! People are hungry to understand why things are as they are. Hope you have more opportunities to share your wisdom and experience in this regard.

        I was especially interested in your observations about the damage that a dominant one-party state can do for the rights of minorities and oppressed. Your concept suggests a coalition of moderates who would appeal to the very groups who are being neglected. The same could be said for one-party red states. But, aren’t we really talking about a new party here? Pulling moderates from the existing parties?

        People in America are tired of the constant bickering, lack of governance, and rigid ideology. If ever there was an opportunity for something like this to succeed, surely it is now.

  36. antimule says:

    Fortunately now we have CRISPR, hope that will do something.

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