Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hitlery Will Correct Protect the Awful Legacy...,

truthdig |  Yes, self-identified liberals such as the Clintons and Barack Obama speak in the language of liberalism while selling out the poor, the working class and the middle class to global corporate interests. But they are not, at least according to the classical definition, liberals. They are neoliberals. They serve the dictates of neoliberalism—austerity, deindustrialization, anti-unionism, endless war and globalization—to empower and enrich themselves and the party. The actual liberal class—the segment of the Democratic Party that once acted as a safety valve to ameliorate through reform the grievances and injustices within our capitalist democracy and that had within its ranks politicians such as George McGovern, Gaylord Nelson, Warren Magnuson and Frank Church and New Deal Democrats such as Franklin D. Roosevelt—no longer exists. I spent 248 pages in my book “Death of the Liberal Class” explaining the orchestrated corporate campaign to erase the liberal class from the political landscape and, more ominously, destroy the radical labor and social movements that were the real engines of social and political reform in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Democratic and the professional elites whom Frank excoriates are, as he points out, morally bankrupt, but they are only one piece of the fake democracy that characterizes our system of “inverted totalitarianism.” The problem is not only liberals who are not liberal; it is also conservatives, once identified with small government, the rule of law and fiscal responsibility, who are not conservative. It is a court system that has abandoned justice and rather than defend constitutional rights has steadily stripped them from us through judicial fiat. It is a Congress that does not legislate but instead permits lobbyists and corporations to write legislation. It is a press, desperate for advertising dollars and often owned by large corporations, that does not practice journalism. It is academics, commentators and public intellectuals, often paid by corporate think tanks, who function as shameless cheerleaders for the neoliberal and imperial establishment and mock the concept of independent and critical thought. 

The Democratic and the professional elites are an easy and often amusing target. One could see them, in another era, prancing at a masked ball at Versailles on the eve of the revolution. They are oblivious to how hated they have become. They do not understand that when they lambast Donald Trump as a disgrace or a bigot they swell his support because they, not Trump, are seen by many Americans as the enemy. But these courtiers did not create the system. They sold themselves to it. And if Americans do not understand how we got here we are never going to find our way out. 

During Barack Obama’s administration there has been near-total continuity with the administration of George W. Bush, especially regarding mass surveillance, endless war and the failure to regulate Wall Street. This is because the mechanisms of corporate power embodied in the deep state do not change with election cycles. The election of Donald Trump, however distasteful, would not radically alter corporate control over our lives. The corporate state is impervious to political personalities. If Trump continues to rise in the public opinion polls, the corporate backers of Hillary Clinton will start funding him instead. They know Trump will prostitute himself to money as assiduously as Clinton will.

Our political elites, Republican and Democrat, were shaped, funded and largely selected by corporate power in what John Ralston Saul correctly calls a coup d’état in slow motion. Nothing will change until corporate power itself is dismantled.

Just 3% of American Adults Own Half of Guns in the US

guardian |  Exclusive: New survey, part of most definitive portrait of gun ownership in decades, shows just 3% of American adults own half of guns in the US.

Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every American adult, according to the most definitive portrait of US gun ownership in two decades. But the new survey estimates that 133m of these guns are concentrated in the hands of just 3% of American adults – a group of super-owners who have amassed an average of 17 guns each.

The unpublished Harvard/Northeastern survey result summary, obtained exclusively by the Guardian and the Trace, estimates that America’s gun stock has increased by 70m guns since 1994. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who own guns decreased slightly from 25% to 22%.

The new survey, conducted in 2015 by public health researchers from Harvard and Northeastern universities, also found that the proportion of female gun owners is increasing as fewer men own guns. These women were more likely to own a gun for self-defense than men, and more likely to own a handgun only. 

Women’s focus on self-defense is part of a broader trend. Even as the US has grown dramatically safer and gun violence rates have plummeted, handguns have become a greater proportion of the country’s civilian gun stock, suggesting that self-defense is an increasingly important factor in gun ownership.

“The desire to own a gun for protection – there’s a disconnect between that and the decreasing rates of lethal violence in this country. It isn’t a response to actuarial reality,” said Matthew Miller, a Northeastern University and Harvard School of Public Health professor and one of the authors of the study. 

The data suggests that American gun ownership is driven by an “increasing fearfulness”, said Dr Deborah Azrael, a Harvard School of Public Health firearms researcher and the lead author of the study. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

the most intolerant wins: the dictatorship of the small minority

nntaleb |  By some coincidence, the day before the Boston barbecue, I was flaneuring in New York, and I dropped by the office of a friend I wanted to prevent from working, that is, engage in an activity that when abused, causes the loss of mental clarity, in addition to bad posture and loss of definition in the facial features. The French physicist Serge Galam happened to be visiting and chose the friend’s office to kill time. Galam was first to apply these renormalization techniques to social matters and political science; his name was familiar as he is the author of the main book on the subject, which had then been sitting for months in an unopened Amazon box in my basement. He introduced me to his research and showed me a computer model of elections by which it suffices that some minority exceeds a certain level for its choices to prevail.

So the same illusion exists in political discussions, spread by the political “scientists”: you think that because some extreme right or left wing party has, say, the support of ten percent of the population that their candidate would get ten percent of the votes. No: these baseline voters should be classified as “inflexible” and will always vote for their faction. But some of the flexible voters can also vote for that extreme faction, just as nonKosher people can eat Kosher, and these people are the ones to watch out for as they may swell the numbers of votes for the extreme party. Galam’s models produced a bevy of counterintuitive effects in political science –and his predictions turned out to be way closer to real outcomes than the naive consensus.

This idea of one-sidedness can help us debunk a few more misconceptions. How do books get banned? Certainly not because they offend the average person –most persons are passive and don’t really care, or don’t care enough to request the banning. It looks like, from past episodes, that all it takes is a few (motivated) activists for the banning of some books, or the black-listing of some people. The great philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell lost his job at the City University of New York owing to a letter by an angry –and stubborn –mother who did not wish to have her daughter in the same room as the fellow with dissolute lifestyle and unruly ideas. [5]

The same seems to apply to prohibitions –at least the prohibition of alcohol in the United States which led to interesting Mafia stories.

Let us conjecture that the formation of moral values in society doesn’t come from the evolution of the consensus. No, it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance. The same can apply to civil rights.

An insight as to how the mechanisms of religion and transmission of morals obey the same renormalization dynamics as dietary laws –and how we can show that morality is more likely to be something enforced by a minority. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016


thedailybell |  It is fairly clear to anyone who pays attention that the Clintons are part of a larger corrupt system that is dedicated to removing or diminishing nation-states in order to create stronger global governance.

Part of this system involves putting into place destructive mechanisms that undermine the military, politics and even the media.

It is this last point that is important to note here. Hillary’s political campaign has forced the worst kind of biased and inaccurate reporting out into the open.

The most “prestigious” publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times as well as the country pre-eminent thought magazines such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic regularly issue article that almost anyone capable of reading can debunk.

We would argue this is not by accident. The other day (here) we made the point that it seemed Hillary’s elite backers were desperate to ensure her election. We hypothesized that her ability to lead the US into war was seen as most valuable.

It is fairly clear that the world’s economic system is worsening and that central banking actions are undermining whatever shards of solvency are still apparent. Consider this thesis as viable and then accept that it is being buttressed by reports such as the one just issued by Gallup (here) showing that Americans hold mass media in lower respect than ever.

We would argue that these two results are not unrelated. American mainstream media is being torn down on purpose along with the political process to further raze democracy and weaken the West’s functionality generally.

Enough to Make Goebbels Blush

christianmerc |  Given the extraordinary access a "free press" has been given to the president, members of congress and the judiciary, it is all designed to allow the people, the voters, the ones who actually decide who the office holders will be, information that could not be gained individually.  It is their duty to provide the voters with information that might make a candidate unsuitable to hold office; to expose lies and report the truth, regardless of who the other contender for the office might be.  The press is, right now, acting as voters, as imposing themselves into the election and making a determination for the rest of society.  That is not their Constitutional role and despite the great contempt the Constitution seems to evoke among these "elites," it is still a duty, a responsibility, to reveal the flaws and inadequacies of any given candidate for any given office from dog catcher to president and while they fully understand their responsibility when it comes to Trump, they seem at a complete loss when it comes to Hillary Clinton. 

I personally am not all that interested in this election; it is a disgrace, a disappointment to consider either candidate as the best we have to offer; as serious representatives of the American people, but that is not my call and I recognize it. I believe the American people are as disserved by these candidates as they are disserved by the people reporting on the election. 

If there is anything to be said about any of it, it is that we always get what we deserve and our lack of principle, our lack of interest in the political process has led to this debacle.  We are the laughing stock of the world and deservedly so.

Governing the Deplorables

Granny Goodness - sick and contagious with pneumonia hugs little girl on the street

theamericanconservative |  On the day she is said to have been diagnosed with “pneumonia,” Mrs. Clinton delivered a notorious speech in which she denounced “xenophobes,” among others, as fit for a “basket of deplorables.” People who are for open borders and globalism have a habit of dismissing their opponents as xenophobes — that is, people who fear (and therefore loathe) foreigners.

A reader has sent in an essay by Georgetown professor Jason Brennan, in which he argues that we can avoid stupid decisions like the Brexit vote if we institute an “epistocracy,” system through which smart people who know things rule. Excerpt:

In an epistocracy, political power is to some degree apportioned according to knowledge. An epistocracy might retain the major institutions we see in republican democracy, such as parties, mass elections, constitutional review, and the like. But in an epistocracy, not everyone has equal basic political power. An epistocracy might grant some people additional voting power, or might restrict the right to vote only to those that could pass a very basic test of political knowledge.
A literacy test as a requirement of holding the franchise? How could that possibly go wrong? More:
Any such system will be subject to abuse, and will suffer from significant government failures. But that’s true of democracy too. The interesting question is whether epistocracy, warts and all, would perform better than democracy, warts and all.
All across the West, we’re seeing the rise of angry, resentful, nationalist, xenophobic and racist movements, movements made up mostly of low-information voters. Perhaps it’s time to put aside the childish and magical theory that democracy is intrinsically just, and start asking the serious question of whether there are better alternatives. The stakes are high.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

how the turner diaries distilled a big chunk of uhmurkan racetardism down to its fruity essence...,

theatlantic |  Before there was an alt-right, there was The Turner Diaries.

First published nearly 40 years ago, the infamous dystopian novel depicts a fictional white nationalist revolution culminating in global genocide.

The events of the book open 25 years ago today—September 16, 1991, the date of the first entry in Earl Turner’s diary. The fictional diary describes a racist’s vision of a nightmare world, in which “The System”—African American enforcers led by Jewish politicians—attempt to confiscate all guns in the United States. A secretive organization known as The Order rises up to take back the country for white supremacists, eventually winning an apocalyptic insurgency and nuclear war, first taking over the country and later the world. 

The Turner Diaries was created in the 1970s by William Luther Pierce, leader of the neo-Nazi group the National Alliance. Crudely written and wildly racist, The Turner Diaries has helped inspire dozens of armed robberies and more than 200 murders in the decades since its publication.

The Turner Diaries first made headlines when a violent white nationalist gang appropriated the name of The Order, following the tactical blueprint for terrorism in the book. Turner catapulted to national prominence when it was revealed to be a key inspiration for Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people using a truck bomb strikingly similar to one described in detail in the book. Since then, The Turner Diaries has inspired hate crimes and terrorism across the United States and in Europe in more than a dozen separate plots through the present day.  

But beyond the violence committed by its readers, The Turner Diaries was also the seed of significant shift in white-nationalist ideology and recruitment, the effects of which are increasingly relevant today. In “The Turner Legacy,” a new paper for ICCT – The Hague, I examine the complicated history of racist dystopian propaganda and the reasons for Turner’s enduring impact.

alt-right, christian-right, extreme white fright - Teh Geh sadomasochists run wild?

monoskop |  This is the first volume of this study of the fantasies of some of the men centrally involved in the rise of Nazism. The author develops his account by focusing on the representation of masculinity and homosexuality and their relation to the preparations for and conduct of war. He offers a psychoanalytic interpretation of the role of warfare as a search for sensation without desire or pleasure, leading to an image of the body which emphasizes hardness, self-discipline and, ultimately, violence.

psychoanalyze-aktuell.de |  The book grew out of the spring lecture "The laughter of the perpetrators", which was held on 10 and 11 March 2014 Cultural Minoriten in Graz and as an event of the Graz Academy in cooperation with the Cultural Minoriten PRESS held. The blurb of the book can read that the number UNRUHE RETAIN to a "present tendency (the responses), which is more and more uncomfortable. The progress of modernity inherent in an wear unrest during the past increasingly devalued and the future of their substance is robbed. "
The origin of the material for this lecture and for the design of the book is named at the end of the book by Klaus Theweleit: "This book is made ​​largely of newspaper; written along current newspaper reports on the in and contexts perpetrated murders of recent years and decades between and ; between the killers of IS in northern Iraq and Syria, the genocide of the Tutsi population in Rwanda in the 90s and the murders of the German NSU in the first decade of the 21st century. But older murders are included in the text: the mass murder of Communists in Indonesia of the 60s, the torture of the indigenous population in Guatemala in the '80s, back to the deeds German World War soldiers, provided they under the common viewpoint : the laughter of the perpetrators were (and fall). For many of these events is true: <Everything we know, we know from journalists.> "(P.245)
The collected quotes serve to prove the thesis of the book, which is subtitled "psychogram killing lust". In the journalistic representation of atrocities caused by their rows citation objectivity and compression that makes any displacement impossible and the reader pulls into a voyeuristic close so that in a second, this time the body's defense procedure in the form of nausea and vomiting, the defense against any form is amplified by pleasure through (identificatory) participation in the atrocities. Again, this could be interpreted as evidence of the existence of killing desire, albeit in the form of defense against, understand. This physical reaction makes the book but also a disgrace.
The journalist quotes are indeed consistently taken from current affairs, but it goes Klaus Theweleit but also to the continuation of his thesis of the "male fantasies" that two-volume work of 1977, in which he Fascist masculinity and violent fantasies of soldiers of 2 . WK had analyzed. He describes a certain dominant type of man who is trying to enforce its rule without regard to others with violence and killing. In an interview with the FAZ he says of his latest book itself: "Yes, true, in a way it is also a kind, male fantasies revisited". But this is not so much about this almost universally observable male fantasies of tyranny and killing desire, but also the conditions under which from fantasies action records, with the result that "psyche and physique .... completely absorbed by the act" are (S. 15).
It seems therefore to go to both topics in the book, about the conditions that lead to the emergence of these male fantasies and the conditions which make acts of fantasies. But this does not happen as in a scientific paper, but in the process invented by Klaus Theweleit style that already use found in the "male fantasies". The FAZ (01.09.2016) describes in a comment: "He did this with a completely new method and science sound, in a mixture of literature and psychoanalysis, autobiographical narrative, books, maps and political commentary". 30 years after the publication of the "male fantasies" commented Sven Reichart (University of Konstanz) this style with the words: "In fact, from a stringent structure of the two-volume out of the question. Between numerous books and paintings can be found on 1147 printed pages long source quotes that are sometimes whimsically-associative, sometimes not interpreted. Then there is again the passages in which produced a close relation to the theories and interpretations of Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Reich to Melanie Klein and Gilles Deleuze / Felix Guarttari and the material will be indicated accordingly. The book is anything but linear or written from a single source. Scroll forward or back are appreciated and factored in this permeable written network. Theweleit gave in an interview the advice: . Reichart comes with Benjamin Ziemann to the judgment that "male fantasies" today could apply as well as a book.
This description can also be applied to the new book, "The laughter of the perpetrators, Breivik among other things". It gives the impression that the author finds an empathic access to the inner world of the perpetrators and also the description of contextual factors of the outside world seem like plausible explanations and let hunches of contexts and reasons arise, but as in a collage (eg Kurt Schwitters and others), in where the overall vision and the individual elements continuously alternate.The temptation is then great to look at the individual elements in their details and about losing the overall picture in mind. But what Klaus Theweleit wants to tell us with this book? He speaks of himself, he speaks of us and he speaks of our present.
After Klaus Theweleit the perpetrators are not sick, they do not want it to be. They embody a male form of existence in which unrestrained "power noise Bloodlust killing desire" manifested when they can or could it, and the only: "To stand in the absolute certainty about the law." In "male fantasies" he called the the "soldier" man. Theweleit places him in the ranks of the "Knights Templar" (knight templar = KT - these are also the initials of the author - coincidentally?) Because Breivik had argued thus, he had acted as a Templar. The author concludes: "The killings and mass murders part of the Man type this - always where the floodgates are opened once" (p 225). He contradicts the "social psychologists" who wanted a "violent theorists" it out, "that the killing prepare killer-in-law or suicide bombers except people would be or should be." He vehemently contradicts and says that thenot so was. Although he finds it "worrying" but said that "it is important to acknowledge simply that the murder full trains always of ordinary men in ordinary organizations off and be done." However, the author circling the formation conditions, the predispositions that arise and the wait for "locks" are opened, making the plot file possible closer one. But these are conditions that the human conditioninclude, namely "psychophysical turbulence spätpubertärer adolescents" (p.187). He refers to psychoanalytic insights as Moses Laufer / M. Eglé Laufer in "Adolescence and development crisis" (Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 1994) have argued. To "psycho-physical changes," it is not only by "physical and hormonal changes; ie / the young person has no control over their own bodies "...." and thus also to the bodies of the environment ", but also" because the body of the person concerned (and thus be I -. Note the Rez) be thrown into a fundamental uncertainty looks "(p.187).

Friday, September 16, 2016

the not-seen make-work, waste-work externalities of mass incarceration..,

antimedia |  Though the U.S. population accounts for only 4.4 percent of the world’s population, its prisons held 22 percent of the world’s prisoners at the end of October 2013, making America’s incarceration rate the highest in the world.

And while the cost of today’s federal prisons has surpassed the Federal Bureau Of Prisons’ $6.85 billion budget, state prisons are not far behind. With “[s]tate corrections budgets … nearly [quadrupling] in the past two decades,” Vera Institute of Justice notes, each average inmate now costs taxpayers over $31,000 per year. In 2010 alone, states spent over $5.4 billion on maintaining their prisons.

But while we know everything about government’s prison budgets, few reports shed light on the hidden costs of high incarceration rates.

In order to help the U.S. population understand what mass incarceration means to smaller communities, Washington University in St. Louis conducted a study entitled “The Economic Burden of Incarceration in the U.S.,” led by doctoral student and certified public accountant Michael McLaughlin.

According to the study, for “every dollar in corrections spending, there’s another 10 dollars of other types of costs to families, children and communities that nobody sees because it doesn’t end up on a state budget.

Researchers concluded the “annual economic burden” resulting from the high rate of incarceration in America is an estimated $1.2 trillion, or nearly 6 percent of the GDP. This burden is also eleven times higher than what governments take from taxpayers to support state and federal prisons.

the war on drugs is an epic fail

NYTimes |  This short film, narrated by Jay Z (Shawn Carter) and featuring the artwork of Molly Crabapple, is part history lesson about the war on drugs and part vision statement. As Ms. Crabapple’s haunting images flash by, the film takes us from the Nixon administration and the Rockefeller drug laws — the draconian 1973 statutes enacted in New York that exploded the state’s prison population and ushered in a period of similar sentencing schemes for other states — through the extraordinary growth in our nation’s prison population to the emerging aboveground marijuana market of today. We learn how African-Americans can make up around 13 percent of the United States population — yet 31 percent of those arrested for drug law violations, even though they use and sell drugs at the same rate as whites.

Policy makers are joining advocates in demanding an end to biased policing and mass incarceration, and in November, Californians specifically have the opportunity to vote Yes on Prop 64, the most racial-justice-oriented marijuana legalization measure ever. Prop 64 would reduce (and in many cases eliminate) criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, and it’s retroactive — people sitting in prison for low-level marijuana offenses would be released and have their records expunged. In addition, Prop 64 would drive millions of dollars in direct funding and investments to those communities most harmed by the criminal justice system.

food addiction and lack of parental support driving american teens to a life of crime...,

guardian |  Teenagers in America are resorting to sex work because they cannot afford food, according to a study that suggests widespread hunger in the world’s wealthiest country.

Focus groups in all 10 communities analysed by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based thinktank, described girls “selling their body” or “sex for money” as a strategy to make ends meet. Boys desperate for food were said to go to extremes such as shoplifting and selling drugs.

The findings raise questions over the legacy of Bill Clinton’s landmark welfare-reform legislation 20 years ago as well as the spending priorities of Congress and the impact of slow wage growth. Evidence of teenage girls turning to “transactional dating” with older men is likely to cause particular alarm.

“I’ve been doing research in low-income communities for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about the experiences of women in high poverty communities and the risk of sexual exploitation, but this was new,” said Susan Popkin, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and lead author of the report, Impossible Choices.

“Even for me, who has been paying attention to this and has heard women tell their stories for a long time, the extent to which we were hearing about food being related to this vulnerability was new and shocking to me, and the level of desperation that it implies was really shocking to me. It’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time.”

The qualitative study, carried out in partnership with the food banks network Feeding America, created two focus groups – one male, one female – in each of 10 poor communities across the US. The locations included big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington and rural North Carolina and eastern Oregon. A total of 193 participants aged 13 to 18 took part and were allowed to remain anonymous.

Their testimony paints a picture of teenagers – often overlooked by policymakers focused on children aged zero to five – missing meals, making sacrifices and going hungry, with worrying long-term consequences.

Popkin said: “We heard the same story everywhere, a really disturbing picture about hunger and food insecurity affecting the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable young people. The fact that we heard it everywhere from kids in the same way tells us there’s a problem out there that we should be paying attention to.”

The consistency of the findings across gender, race and geography was a surprise.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Poverty Not a Priority for Politicians Pushing Perversion

NYTimes |  The golden main dome of a new Russian Orthodox cathedral now under construction on the banks of the Seine shimmers in the sun, towering over a Paris neighborhood studded with government buildings and foreign embassies. Most sensitive of all, it is being built beside a 19th-century palace that has been used to conceal some of the French presidency’s most closely guarded secrets.

The prime location, secured by the Russian state after years of lobbying by the Kremlin, is so close to so many snoop-worthy places that when Moscow first proposed a $100 million “spiritual and cultural center” there, France’s security services fretted that Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, a former K.G.B. officer, might have more than just religious outreach in mind.

Anxiety over whether the spiritual center might serve as a listening post, however, has obscured its principal and perhaps more intrusive role: an outsize display in the heart of Paris, the capital of the insistently secular French Republic, of Russia’s might as a religious power, not just a military one.

While tanks and artillery have been Russia’s weapons of choice to project its power into neighboring Ukraine and Georgia, Mr. Putin has also mobilized faith to expand the country’s reach and influence. A fervent foe of homosexuality and any attempt to put individual rights above those of family, community or nation, the Russian Orthodox Church helps project Russia as the natural ally of all those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights.

Only Broke-Assed Losers With Nothing of Their Own Cry Over Cultural Appropriation

WaPo |  “I am hopeful that the concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ is a passing fad: people with different backgrounds rubbing up against each other and exchanging ideas and practices is self-evidently one of the most productive, fascinating aspects of modern urban life,” Shriver said during her speech, a statement that reminds us “cultural appropriation” is just another way of saying “culture.” Except for the isolated tribes of the deserts and the rainforests cut off from outside contact, all human cultures borrow from other human cultures. Some traits are absorbed, others rejected. What remains is, simply, “culture.”

Unfortunately, the debate is likely here to stay, as evidenced by the outraged walkouts during Shriver’s speech and the Brisbane Writers Festival’s hasty efforts to arrange a new event: a “right of reply” designed to counter Shriver’s devastatingly hurtful opinions.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied seemed to speak for many of the aggrieved when she denounced Shriver on the Guardian’s website. Indeed, she was so flummoxed by Shriver’s opinions that she doesn’t quite seem to recognize the irony of this passage in an essay penned after the triggering episode:
The fact Shriver was given such a prominent platform from which to spew such vitriol shows that we as a society still value this type of rhetoric enough to deem it worthy of a keynote address. The opening of a city’s writers festival could have been graced by any of the brilliant writers and thinkers who challenge us to be more. To be uncomfortable. To progress. [emphasis added]
It seems clear that Abdel-Magied wasn’t looking for a challenge or to be made uncomfortable, but for someone willing to reinforce her preconceptions.

That the Brisbane Writers Festival was not a safe space for Magied is neither here nor there. Far more troubling is the mind-set behind her meltdown, the suggestion that writers should write only about their own experiences, that characters from different backgrounds should be treated with kid gloves. As Shriver noted in her remarks, authors currently face a Catch-22: They are required to include a smattering of non-white characters lest they face accusations of erasure or whitewashing, yet not delve into them too deeply or make them leads, lest they be accused of appropriation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mr. Miracle HAS BEEN Talking About Poverty - Granny Goodness Been Talking About Deplorables...,

NYTimes |  Poverty in the United States is deeper than in all other wealthy nations. Yet neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has a specific anti-poverty agenda.

Mr. Trump has said that more jobs will help cure poverty — which no one disagrees with. His promises to create jobs, however, are hollow. Historical evidence and economic analysis indicate that his agenda — less trade, less immigration and huge tax cuts for the wealthy — would harm job growth. Even his recent attempts at a middle-class agenda, including subsidies for child care, and paid maternity leave have been fatally flawed. The former skews toward high-income earners and the latter relies on states to come up with the money.

The failure to talk frankly about poverty is especially regrettable in light of this week’s Census Bureau report.

U.S. Won't Provide For Its Own Veterans, But Makes Historic Provisions For Israel

reuters |  The United States and Israel have reached final agreement on a record new package of at least $38 billion in U.S. military aid and the 10-year pact is expected to be signed this week, sources close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The deal will represent the biggest pledge of U.S. military assistance made to any country but also involves major concessions granted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to officials on both sides.

Those include Israel’s agreement not to seek additional funds from Congress beyond what will be guaranteed annually in the new package, and also to phase out a special arrangement that has allowed Israel to spend part of its U.S. aid on its own defense industry instead of on American-made weapons, the officials said.

Israel’s chief negotiator, Jacob Nagel, acting head of Netanyahu’s national security council, arrived in Washington overnight in preparation for a signing ceremony with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, according to one source familiar with the matter.

Nearly 10 months of drawn-out aid negotiations have underscored continuing friction between U.S. President Barack Obama and Netanyahu over last year's U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran, Israel's arch-foe. The United States and Israel have also been at odds over the Palestinians.

But the right-wing Israeli leader decided it would be best to forge a new arrangement with Obama, who leaves office in January, rather than hoping for better terms from the next U.S. administration, according to officials on both sides.

Hillary Clinton: Boycotting North Carolina Is Noble and Just; Boycotting Israel Is Bigoted and Hateful

theintercept |  Could someone explain why it’s noble, enlightened, justifiable, and progressive to boycott an American state, but hateful, bigoted, retrograde, and evil to support a boycott of a foreign country that has been imposing a brutal, discriminatory, and illegal occupation for many decades, a boycott that is led by people with virtually no political rights? How did that happen? Hillary Clinton is far from the only person espousing this bizarre distinction — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as but one example, is punishing companies that support a boycott of Israel while forcing state employees to honor the boycott of North Carolina — but what could possibly justify U.S. politicians drawing the moral and ethical lines about boycotts in this manner?


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

why are people poor?

newyorker |  At least since the Moynihan Report, in 1965, Americans have tended to answer the question “Why are people poor?” by choosing one of two responses: they can either point to economic forces (globalization, immigration) or blame cultural factors (decaying families, lack of “grit”). These seem like two social-science theories about poverty—two hypotheses, which might be tested empirically—but, in practice, they are more like political fairy tales. As Kelefa Sanneh wrote earlier this year, the choice between these two explanations has long been racialized. Working-class whites are said to be poor because of outsourcing; inner-city blacks are imagined to be holding themselves back with hip-hop. The implicit theory is that culture comes from within, and so can be controlled by individuals and communities, whereas economic structures exert pressures from without, and so are beyond the control of those they affect.

This theory is useful to politicians, because political ideologies function by identifying some people as powerless and others as powerful. The truth, though, is that the “culture vs. economics” dyad is largely a fantasy. We are neither prisoners of our economic circumstances nor lords of our cultures, able to reshape them at will. It would be more accurate to say that cultural and economic forces act, with entwined and equal power, on and through all of us—and that we all have an ability, limited but real, to harness or resist them. When we pursue education, we improve ourselves both “economically” and “culturally” (and in other ways); conversely, there’s nothing distinctly and intrinsically “economic” or “cultural” about the problems that afflict poor communities, such as widespread drug addiction or divorce. (If you lose your job, get divorced, and become an addict, is your addiction “economic” or “cultural” in nature?) When we debate whether such problems have a fundamentally “economic” or “cultural” cause, we aren’t saying anything meaningful about the problems. We’re just arguing—incoherently—about whether or not people who suffer from them deserve to be blamed for them. (We know, meanwhile, that the solutions—many, partial, and overlapping—aren’t going to be exclusively “economic” or “cultural” in nature, either.)

It’s odd, when you think about it, that a question a son might ask about his mother—“Where does blame stop and sympathy begin?”—is at the center of our collective political life. And yet, as American inequality has grown, that question has come to be increasingly important. When Rod Dreher asked Vance to explain the appeal of Trump to poor whites, Vance cited the fact that Trump “criticizes the factories shipping jobs overseas” while energetically defending white, working-class culture against “the condescenders” who hold it in contempt. Another way of putting this is that, for the past eight years, the mere existence of Barack Obama—a thriving African-American family man and a successful product of the urban meritocracy—has implied that the problems of poor white Americans are “cultural”; Trump has shifted their afflictions into the “economic” column. For his supporters, that is enough.

Vance is frustrated not just by this latest turn of the wheel but by the fact that the wheel keeps turning. It’s true that, by criticizing “hillbilly culture,” “Hillbilly Elegy” reverses the racial polarity in our debate about poverty; it’s also true that, by arguing that the problems of the white working class are partly “cultural,” the book strikes a blow against Trumpism. And yet it would be wrong to see Vance’s book as yet another entry in our endless argument about whether this or that group’s poverty is caused by “economic” or “cultural” factors. “Hillbilly Elegy” sees the “economics vs. culture” divide as a dead metaphor—a form of manipulation rather than explanation more likely to conceal the truth than to reveal it. The book is an understated howl of protest against the racialized blame game that has, for decades, powered American politics and confounded our attempts to talk about poverty.

Often, after a way of talking has obviously outlived its usefulness, a period of inarticulateness ensues; it’s not yet clear how we should talk going forward. “Hillbilly Elegy” doesn’t provide us with a new way of talking about poverty in post-globalization America. It does, however, suggest that it’s our collective job to figure one out. As individuals, we must stop thinking about American poverty in an imaginary way; we must abandon the terms of the argument we’ve been having—terms designed to harness our feelings of blame and resentment for political ends, and to make us feel either falsely blameless or absurdly self-determining. “I don’t know what the answer is, precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better,” Vance writes. “We hillbillies need to wake the hell up.” As do the rest of us.

Global Beta Test: Who Supplies the Slums with Grenades, Guns, and a Soundtrack?

weforum |   Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, is home to just 8% of the world’s population, but registers 33% of its homicides. At the city scale, residents of cities in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela are most at risk. An astonishing 47 of the 50 most homicidal cities in the world are located in Latin America.

So what are some of the wider implications of this morbid retreat into the data of violent death? At the outset, it is a reminder that a comparatively modest number of countries (and cities) are dramatically more at risk of terrorist and homicidal violence than others. Clearly, greater investment in diplomacy, crisis management and conflict prevention is urgently needed, alongside improved intelligence sharing within and between cities. This would certainly be more cost-effective – both economically and in terms of live saved – than hardening potential targets from asymmetric attacks in Western cities.

Perhaps even more important, the data shows that homicidal violence is a much larger problem than terrorism. What is more, it is just a handful of cities – most of them in Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Africa – that account for the lion’s share of murders globally. If lethal violence is to be reduced in these areas, the issue must be prioritized by national and municipal authorities, with a focus on driving down inequality, concentrated poverty, youth unemployment and of course corruption and political and criminal impunity. Doubling down on the world’s most violent cities could do much to drive down the global burden of violent death.

In the end, it is important to recall that the threats of urban fragility are broader than a narrow focus on the prevalence of lethal violence. If cities are to become more resilient – to cope, adapt and rebound in the face of shocks and stresses – they will need to contend with a wide range of threats, not just terrorism and homicide. This is as much about promoting good governance as reducing structural social and economic risks in cities that give rise to extremism and murder. At the very least, it implies rethinking the role of cities as not just a site of violence but a primary driver of security in our time.

the first monday in may

thetimes |  It’s the most exclusive party in the world — the Oscars of the fashion industry and the red carpet with the highest stakes — but what actually happens beyond the velvet rope at Anna Wintour’s Met Gala has remained a mystery to the likes of you and me.

Until now. A new documentary, The First Monday in May, follows the Vogue editor along with the fashion curator Andrew Bolton as they plan the Metropolitan Museum’s 2015 costume exhibition and the party to end all parties that will launch it to the rest of the world.

“There’s something surreal about the spectacle of all those people in such a heightened atmosphere,” says Rossi. “One of the theses of the film is that celebrity and haute couture combine to transcend their individual parts and become something even more powerful together.” Therein lies the event’s allure for the rest of us plebs: its mystique and its sheer stardust quota. Does it live up to the hype?

The first rule of the Met Gala has always been that you don’t talk about the Met Gala — or rather, you do, but only in suitably glowing terms. The few celebrities who have offered any other opinion of the annual bash haven’t been invited back.

Gwyneth Paltrow once described it as “hot, crowded and un-fun”; the comedian Tina Fey called it a “jerk parade” full of “all the people you would punch in the whole world”. For the rebel comic Amy Schumer, it was “people doing an impression of having a conversation, dressed like a bunch of f***ing assholes”.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Police Unions Blocking Reform and Undermining the Rule of Law

NewYorker |  Police unions emerged later than many other public-service unions, but they’ve made up for lost time. Thanks to the bargains they’ve struck on wages and benefits, police officers are among the best-paid civil servants. More important, they’ve been extraordinarily effective in establishing control over working conditions. All unions seek to insure that their members have due-process rights and aren’t subject to arbitrary discipline, but police unions have defined working conditions in the broadest possible terms. This position has made it hard to investigate misconduct claims, and to get rid of officers who break the rules. A study of collective bargaining by big-city police unions, published this summer by the reform group Campaign Zero, found that agreements routinely guarantee that officers aren’t interrogated immediately after use-of-force incidents and often insure that disciplinary records are purged after three to five years.

Furthermore, thanks to union contracts, even officers who are fired can frequently get their jobs back. Perhaps the most egregious example was Hector Jimenez, an Oakland police officer who was dismissed in 2009, after killing two unarmed men, but who then successfully appealed and, two years later, was reinstated, with full back pay. The protection that unions have secured has helped create what Samuel Walker, an emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and an expert on police accountability, calls a “culture of impunity.” Citing a recent Justice Department investigation of Baltimore’s police department, which found a systemic pattern of “serious violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal law,” he told me, “Knowing that it’s hard to be punished for misconduct fosters an attitude where you think you don’t have to answer for your behavior.”

For the past fifty years, police unions have done their best to block policing reforms of all kinds. In the seventies, they opposed officers’ having to wear name tags. More recently, they’ve opposed the use of body cameras and have protested proposals to document racial profiling and to track excessive-force complaints. They have lobbied to keep disciplinary histories sealed. If a doctor commits malpractice, it’s a matter of public record, but, in much of the country, a police officer’s use of excessive force is not. Across the nation, unions have led the battle to limit the power of civilian-review boards, generally by arguing that civilians are in no position to judge the split-second decisions that police officers make. Earlier this year, Newark created a civilian-review board that was acclaimed as a model of oversight. The city’s police union immediately announced that it would sue to shut it down.

Cities don’t have to concede so much power to police unions. So why do they? Big-city unions have large membership bases and are generous when it comes to campaign contributions. Neither liberals nor conservatives have been keen to challenge the unions’ power. Liberals are generally supportive of public-sector unions; some of the worst police departments in the country are in cities, like Baltimore and Oakland, run by liberal mayors. And though conservatives regularly castigate public-sector unions as parasites, they typically exempt the police. Perhaps most crucial, Walker says, “police unions can make life very difficult for mayors, attacking them as soft on crime and warning that, unless they get their way, it will go up. The fear of crime—which is often a code word for race—still has a powerful political impact.” As a result, while most unions in the U.S. have grown weaker since the seventies, police unions have grown stronger.