Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Apres Moi Le Deluge - Do The Rich Think They Have An Escape Plan?

therealnews |  And the role of finance in deciding who gets to run as a heck of a lot more powerful than any Russians.
RANA FOROOHAR: Yeah. That’s, that’s absolutely true.
PAUL JAY: So very dangerous times. And now we haven’t even talked about in this whole conversation the issue of climate change. There was a time in ’07-’08 when even finance seemed to get what a danger this was. Then the crash comes. And now it’s, like, it’s not even on the political agenda.
RANA FOROOHAR: Well, you know, the only, I would argue the only reason finance cared about climate change in ’07-’08 is that we were having an oil boom. And whenever oil prices go up, finance gets more interested in green technologies because they suddenly seem to make sense economically. If you think about wind, you know, I don’t know the exact figures, but wind power, say, costing, you know, the equivalent of $40 a barrel of oil, or whatever the equivalent would be. Those technologies become more cost effective as the price of oil soars. And so that’s why you saw a lot of interest. But then when oil, which is very cyclical, right, very volatile, when it tanks you see all the money flow out of the sector, out of the clean energy sector. And I expect that’s how it would be now.
It’s too bad, because, you know, we haven’t really talked about what are the alternatives to this financial, financialized capitalism. One of the kind of amazing, like, duh, low-hanging fruit things that we could do is have a green stimulus program. Joe Stiglitz has talked about this, many others have talked about it. It would be the easiest, quickest, smartest way to actually create some real growth in the economy, transition off of fossil fuels. You know, just, just implementing the best technologies available today in all homes and schools, institutions, would create so many jobs and so much growth that it could really help jumpstart the economy in a true ground-up way.
PAUL JAY: There’s no better example of the complete irrationality of this system that that would even make Wall Street money. I mean, capitalists would make money out of a new green economy. But the politics of it is you’re going to have to take on the Koch brothers. There’s a lot of money being made now in war. I should say getting ready for war, and wars. And as rational as that is, and it wouldn’t even be anti-capitalist. Like, you could have a big green economy. People could make money out of it.
RANA FOROOHAR: And in fact, China—
PAUL JAY: You can, you can, and China’s to some extent doing it.
RANA FOROOHAR: China’s, is starting to try and do this. I mean, I have a lot of, you know, issues with China, policy-wise. But one thing that they’ve been very smart on is making these green technologies, green batteries, solar panels, wind, making these strategic sectors and really connecting the dots between workers, businesses, funders, job creators, et cetera.
PAUL JAY: So get into the heads of these people who are making these decisions.
RANA FOROOHAR: Do I have to?
PAUL JAY: They have kids. They have grandkids. They got to live in this world. I know they’re making an orgy level of money. But they’ve made it. And I know I’m not suggesting that there’s ever an end of wanting to make money. I’ve asked people who have ridiculous amounts of money, why are you still trying to make more money? And it comes down to because that’s who I am, and what else am I going to do. I mean, there’s some that decide to start giving it away and do philanthropy. And, but even then are still very concerned about making more and making more. But more importantly, how do, do you ask, how do these people go home at night and not be concerned about climate crisis, and war, and financial meltdown? How do we not worry about that?
RANA FOROOHAR: You know, I think it’s, it’s a worry that if it exists, it gets kind of tucked in the back pocket some, somewhere. One thing I’ve been hearing from a lot of very wealthy people these days, since the election, actually, is that they all have escape plans. You know, I mean, there was a very interesting story, actually, in the New Yorker by Evan Osnos who I knew, actually, when he was a reporter in China. And he covered the ways in which rich people are buying up ranches in New Zealand and creating bunkers in the Bahamas, or wherever they’re going, thinking that they’re somehow going to be able to avoid the apocalypse when it comes. There’s actually a business that operates in New York. It’s a boat that will come, you can apparently pre-buy, this sounds like the biggest scam in history to me, but you can pre-buy tickets if there’s some political crisis or some danger moment, and they’ll come and pick you up and whisk you up the Hudson.
Now, you know, which rich people think there’s going to be their seat waiting when there’s a real problem, I don’t know. But I think that that that goes to this idea that the wealthy have come to believe, frankly like, you know, the French, perhaps, in the 18th century that—

What Is The Purpose Of Food-Powered Make-Work?

evonomics |  There’s a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a corporate lawyer who didn’t think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it.  Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It’s even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It’s as if they are being told “but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?”

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the – universally reviled – unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Donald Glover's Succinct Annihilation Of Rhyming, Posing, America....,

NewYorker |  The video, which was released online as Glover performed the track on live television, turned the single into a pessimistic statement on American entertainment—both the making and consumption of it. As such, the artist inculpates himself. In the video, Glover is shirtless and his teeth gleam. He plays a kind of deleterious tramp, all instinct, skitting around an airy parking hangar. Dance is its own language; the choreographer for the video, Sherrie Silver, has taught Glover to contort his body in a manner that induces memories of the grotesque theatre of jigging and cake-walking. Sometimes the movements and how they activate his muscles make him look sexy, at other times crazed. His manic elation erupts into violence at a speed that matches something of the media consumer’s daily experience. Glover strikes a pose, and then, in time for the rhythm drop, shoots a black man in the head from behind.

A moment ago, the victim had been strumming a guitar. Glover carefully places the gun on a lush pillow held out for him by an eager school-aged black child. The awful syncopation of murder and music recalls Arthur Jafa’s seven-minute video “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death,” from 2016, in which footage of a police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back corresponds to a climax in Kanye West’s “Ultra Light Beam.” This is what it’s like, Glover’s video seems to say, to be black in America—at any given time, vulnerable to joy or to destruction. When his character is not dancing, he is killing. The camera amiably follows Glover and a new set of companions, a troupe of uniformed schoolchildren doing the gwara gwara, and then a slew of viral dances. The reprieve ends abruptly when, in another room, Glover is passed another gun, a rifle this time, and murders the members of a black choir. The ten actors fall down in a gruesome heap, reminding us of the night we got word that a young white man had killed a gathering of black worshippers at a church in Charleston. And then Glover is dancing again—this time, with cars burning and police chaos beyond him. The song ends with an eerie melody from Young Thug, who is almost-singing, “You just a big dawg, yeah / I kennelled him in the back yard, yeah.” At the video’s end, Glover is running for his life, the police gaining on him. I’ve been watching it on a loop.

BostonGlobe |  Diving down into the pop-culture id, Glover plays games with the politics of racial personae, the ways they can be appropriated and reappropriated by a racist culture, and the traps into which a trapped people can fall. He casts himself as the swaggering bad boy here, conjuring a centuries-long history of black male image, self-image, used image. 

The body movements and facial contortions reach back to the mother country, through Jim Crow and Juba and America’s sorry legacy of minstrelsy, through Alvin Ailey and “Thriller” and modern street dance — the dance is many-sided, many-streamed, lethal; it’s beautiful and grotesque. The machine-gunning of a gospel choir and Gambino’s crotch-grabbing, his lyrics sardonically boasting “Grandma told me, Get your money, black man” all taunt rap culture’s obsession with machismo, material success, and the glorification of gun violence — memes that are then taken up, reified, and reiterated both by black audiences and by a panicked, powerful white mainstream anxious to define and diminish.

Taken as a whole, “This Is America” functions as a double-edged machete, slicing into a divided culture’s twinned illusions and acknowledging the cartoon as a further form of bondage. Jim Crow mutates into Bad Mutha, burns the culture down, dances across its ashes, and still he ends up running for his life down a dark alley, pursued by an out-of-focus white mob. For a black audience (I’m assuming) it’s a familiar story, and Glover only connects the dots in fresh, unholy ways. For white viewers, those who have the comfort of rarely, if ever, being uncomfortable in their skins in public, this is history written with a different kind of lightning.

The response to this dead-serious work of satire has been exactly what it should be, confused and conversational, struggling toward clarity. In the words of one Twitter onlooker, “Donald Glover is doing what Kanye [West] thinks he’s doing.” (Arguments ensued.) Justin Simien, the writer-director whose wonderful Netflix show “Dear White People” parses the conundrums of black college life with wry empathy, weighed in with an epic interpretive “love letter” to “This Is America.” A white reader would learn a great deal by simply going online and reading the multiplicity of black responses to this video.

When BeeDeeism Hoists Itself By Its Own Little Petard...,

theburningplatform |  A famous line from the movie The Usual Suspects is “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Even after all these years, it turns up in comment sections and social media. It is a good line to have in mind when thinking about who is actually ruling over us. In America, our elites have spent a very long time convincing us that there are no elites. The fact is though, every society has an elite and it is usually a stable, semi-permanent one. The people in charge tend to stay in charge.

Here’s an interesting bit of data that underscores the stability of a nation’s elites. In the 16th century, the Spanish conquered the area that is now Guatemala. The Spanish were not settlers like the English, so a local Spanish elite came into rule over the conquered people, who were often used as slaves in mining and agriculture. Since 1531, 22 families have controlled Guatemala’s economy, politics and culture. Another 26 families have served as a secondary elite, often marrying into the core elite.

The result is one percent of the population, descendants of the Conquistadors, has controlled the country for over 400 years. This dominance has been locked in by a set of marriage rules, that created a self-perpetuating marriage strategy. For example, both the bride and groom had to bring a certain amount of wealth into the marriage. The result was both families would negotiate marriages much in the same way it was done in medieval Europe. These rules have their roots in the Siete Partidas, that dates to the 13th century.

Of course, elite families marrying one another is not a new idea, but it is more than just wealthy families using marriage to solidify alliances. There is a biological factor to it. The people in the elite got there originally by having elite cognitive skills. Modern elites like to throw around the term meritocracy, but they know biology counts for a lot. It’s why you don’t often see a member of the elite marrying one of the servants. Arnold learned that lesson. The one on the left is from the maid, while those on the right are with a Kennedy.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Creating Racism: Psychiatry's Betrayal

cchr |  Is racism alive today?

In the United States, African-American and Hispanic children in predominantly white school districts are classified as “learning disabled” more often than whites. This leads to millions of minority children being hooked onto prescribed mind-altering drugs—some more potent than cocaine—to “treat” this “mental disorder.” And yet, with early reading instruction, the number of students so classified could be reduced by up to 70 percent.

African-Americans and Hispanics are also significantly over-represented in US prisons.
In Britain, black men are ten times more likely than white men to be diagnosed as “schizophrenic,” and more likely to be prescribed and given higher doses of powerful psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs. They are also more likely to receive electroshock treatment (over 400 volts of electricity sent searing through the brain to control or alter a person’s behavior) and to be subjected to physical and chemical restraints.

Around the world, racial minority groups continue to come under assault. The effects are obvious: poverty, broken families, ruined youth, and even genocide (deliberate destruction of a race or culture). No matter how loud the pleadings or sincere the efforts of our religious leaders, our politicians and our teachers, racism just seems to persist.

Yes, racism persists. But why? Rather than struggle unsuccessfully with the answer to this question, there is a better question to ask. Who?

The truth is we will not fully understand racism until we recognize that two largely unsuspected groups are actively and deceptively fostering racism throughout the world. The legacy of these groups includes such large-scale tragedies as the Nazi Holocaust, South Africa’s apartheid and today, the widespread disabling of millions of schoolchildren with harmful, addictive drugs. These groups are psychiatry and psychology.

In 1983, a World Health Organization report stated, “…in no other medical field in South Africa is the contempt of the person, cultivated by racism, more concisely portrayed than in psychiatry.”

Professor of Community Psychiatry, Dr. S. P. Sashidharan, stated, “Psychiatry comes closest to the police…in pursuing practices and procedures that…discriminate against minority ethnic groups in the United Kingdom.”

Dr. Karen Wren and Professor Paul Boyle of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, concluded that the role of scientific racism in psychiatry throughout Europe is well established historically and continues today.

Since 1969, CCHR has worked in the field of human rights and mental health reform, and has investigated the racist influence of the “mental health” professions on the Nazi Holocaust, apartheid, the cultural assault of the Australian Aboriginal people, New Zealand Maoris and Native American Indians, and the current discrimination against Blacks across the world.

Psychiatry and psychology’s racist ideologies continue to light the fires of racism locally and internationally to this day.

This report is designed to raise awareness among individuals about this harmful influence. Not only can racism be defeated, but it must be, if man is to live in true harmony.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Weaponized Autism: Fin d'Siecle Programmer's Stone

melmagazine |  We know that people on the spectrum can exhibit remarkable mental gifts in addition to their difficulties; Asperger syndrome has been associated with superior IQs that reach up to the “genius” threshold (4chan trolls use “aspie” and “autist” interchangeably). In practice, weaponized autism is best understood as a perversion of these hidden advantages. Think, for example, of the keen pattern recognition that underlies musical talent repurposed for doxxing efforts: Among the more “successful” deployments of weaponized autism, in the alt-right’s view, was a collective attempt to identify an antifa demonstrator who assaulted several of their own with a bike lock at a Berkeley rally this past April.

As Berkeleyside reported, “the amateur detectives” of 4chan’s /pol/ board went about “matching up his perceived height and hairline with photos of people at a previous rally and on social media,” ultimately claiming that Eric Clanton, a former professor at Diablo Valley College, was the assailant in question. Arrested and charged in May, Clanton faces a preliminary hearing this week, and has condemned the Berkeley PD for relying on the conjecture of random assholes. “My case threatens to set a new standard in which rightwing extremists can select targets for repression and have police enthusiastically and forcefully pursue them,” he wrote in a statement.

The denizens of /pol/, meanwhile, are terribly proud of their work, and fellow Trump boosters have used their platforms to applaud it. Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec called it a new form of “facial recognition,” as if it were in any way forensic, and lent credence to another dubious victory for the forces of weaponized autism: supposed coordination with the Russian government to take out ISIS camps in Syria. 4chan users are now routinely deconstructing raw videos of terrorist training sites and the like to make estimations about where they are, then sending those findings to the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Twitter account. There is zero reason to believe, as Posobiec and others contend, that 4chan has ever “called in an airstrike,” nor that Russia even bothered to look at the meager “intel” offered, yet the aggrandizing myth persists.

Since “autistic” has become a catchall idiom on 4chan, the self-defined mentality of anyone willing to spend time reading and contributing to the site, it’s impossible to know how many users are diagnosed with the condition, or could be, or earnestly believe that it correlates to their own experience, regardless of professional medical opinion. They tend to assume, at any rate, that autistic personalities are readily drawn to the board as introverted, societal misfits in search of connection. The badge of “autist” conveys the dueling attitudes of pride and loathing at work in troll communities: They may be considered and sometimes feel like failures offline — stereotyped as sexless, jobless and immature — but this is because they are different, transgressive, in a sense better, elevated from the realm of polite, neurotypical normies. Their handicap is a virtue.

Normotic Illness Culture: Programming the Social Validation Feedback Loop

CounterPunch |  Sitting alone in my room watching videos on Youtube, hearing sounds from across the hall of my roommate watching Netflix, the obvious point occurs to me that a key element of the demonic genius of late capitalism is to enforce a crushing passiveness on the populace. With social atomization comes collective passiveness—and with collective passiveness comes social atomization. The product (and cause) of this vicious circle is the dying society of the present, in which despair can seem to be the prevailing condition. With an opioid epidemic raging and, more generally, mental illness affecting 50 percent of Americans at some point in their lifetime, it’s clear that the late-capitalist evisceration of civil society has also eviscerated, on a broad scale, the individual’s sense of self-worth. We have become atoms, windowless monads buffeted by bureaucracies, desperately seeking entertainment as a tonic for our angst and ennui.

The old formula of the psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott is as relevant as it always will be: “It is creative apperception more than anything that makes the individual feel that life is worth living.” If so many have come to feel alienated from life itself, that is largely because they don’t feel creative, free, or active.......
Noam Chomsky, in the tradition of Marx, is fond of saying that technology is “neutral,”neither beneficent nor baleful in itself but only in the context of particular social relations, but I’m inclined to think television is a partial exception to that dictum. I recall the Calvin and Hobbes strip in which, while sitting in front of a TV, Calvin says, “I try to make television-watching a complete forfeiture of experience. Notice how I keep my jaw slack, so my mouth hangs open. I try not to swallow either, so I drool, and I keep my eyes half-focused, so I don’t use any muscles at all. I take a passive entertainment and extend the passivity to my entire being. I wallow in my lack of participation and response. I’m utterly inert.” Where before one might have socialized outside, gone to a play, or discussed grievances with fellow workers and strategized over how to resolve them, now one could stay at home and watch a passively entertaining sitcom that imbued one with the proper values of consumerism, wealth accumulation, status-consciousness, objectification of women, subordination to authority, lack of interest in politics, and other “bourgeois virtues.” The more one cultivated a relationship with the television, the less one cultivated relationships with people—or with one’s creative capacities, which “more than anything else make the individual feel that life is worth living.”

Television is the perfect technology for a mature capitalist society, and has surely been of inestimable value in keeping the population relatively passive and obedient—distracted, idle, incurious, separated yet conformist. Doubtless in a different kind of society it could have a somewhat more elevated potential—programming could be more edifying, devoted to issues of history, philosophy, art, culture, science—but in our own society, in which institutions monomaniacally fixated on accumulating profit and discouraging critical thought (because it’s dangerous) have control of it, the outcome is predictable. The average American watches about five hours of TV a day, while 60 percent of Americans have subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Sixty-five percent of homes have three or more TV sets.

Movie-watching, too, is an inherently passive pastime. Theodor Adorno remarked, “Every visit to the cinema, despite the utmost watchfulness, leaves me dumber and worse than before.” To sit in a movie theater (or at home) with the lights out, watching electronic images flit by, hearing blaring noises from huge surround-sound speakers, is to experience a kind of sensory overload while being almost totally inactive. And then the experience is over and you rub your eyes and try to become active and whole again. It’s different from watching a play, where the performers are present in front of you, the art is enacted right there organically and on a proper human scale, there is no sensory overload, no artificial splicing together of fleeting images, no glamorous cinematic alienation from your own mundane life.

Since the 1990s, of course, electronic media have exploded to the point of utterly dominating our lives. For example, 65 percent of U.S. households include someone who plays video games regularly. Over three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone, which, from anecdotal observation, we know tends to occupy an immense portion of their time. The same proportion has broadband internet service at home, and 70 percent of Americans use social media. As an arch-traditionalist, I look askance at all this newfangled electronic technology (even as I use it constantly). It seems to me that electronic mediation of human relationships, and of life itself, is inherently alienating and destructive, insofar as it atomizes or isolates. There’s something anti-humanistic about having one’s life be determined by algorithms (algorithms invented and deployed, in many cases, by private corporations). And the effects on mental functioning are by no means benign: studies have confirmed the obvious, that “the internet may give you an addict’s brain,” “you may feel more lonely and jealous,” and “memory problems may be more likely” (apparently because of information overload). Such problems manifest a passive and isolated mode of experience.

But this is the mode of experience of neoliberalism, i.e., hyper-capitalism. After the upsurge of protest in the 1960s and early ’70s against the corporatist regime of centrist liberalism, the most reactionary sectors of big business launched a massive counterattack to destroy organized labor and the whole New Deal system, which was eating into their profits and encouraging popular unrest. The counterattack continues in 2018, and, as we know, has been wildly successful. The union membership rate in the private sector is a mere 6.5 percent, a little less than it was on the eve of the Great Depression, and the U.S. spends much less on social welfare than comparable OECD countries. Such facts have had predictable effects on the cohesiveness of the social fabric.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Sorry Feed - Neoliberal Negroes in Choppa Suits Are Harmful Parasites

ineteconomics |  LP: How does the neoliberal turn manifest in black megachurches like those led by popular ministers like T.D. James and Creflo Dollar?
LS: Even when Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive and running the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, there were different tendencies within black churches. Some, while not necessarily supporting the Jim Crow regime, definitely kind of acquiesced to it and were not interested in having their churchgoers be involved in anti-racist politics. At the same time, you had people using the church to connect to a really radical critique of capitalism and white supremacy. 

In the 70s and into the 80s, this radical-to-left tendency is becoming less and less important in black churches. What you see instead is the growth of churches that use the Bible as a kind of self-help guide and promote the prosperity gospel, which holds that if you follow the Bible, you will become not only spiritually but materially wealthy. The flip side is that if you don’t follow the Bible, you’ll become poor. So somebody like Creflo Dollar [founder of the World Changers Church International based in College Park, Georgia] argues that you’re poor because you don’t have the right mindset. That’s naturalizing poverty. 

Related is the growth of black megachurches with as many as 10,000 or even 20,000 members. They have their own community development corporations. Some of them actually look like corporations in their design and require a significant outlay of capital in order to operate. So even if they are not proposing the whole prosperity gospel, they have to propose some aspect of it in order to exist. 

LP: It seems burdensome that in addition to paying taxes, churchgoers end up funding social services through tithing.
LS: States and local governments are now outsourcing some of their social service provisions to churches. This is problematic for several reasons. One is because of the important distinction between church and state. It’s all too likely that a church would use the resources to proselytize instead of provide services. Also, churches provide a function of spiritual guidance – they aren’t bureaucracies. People who work in churches don’t know how to deal with poverty or public housing provisions.
We wouldn’t expect a charity to fund NASA: the scale of the challenge is something that no private entity could actually fulfill. Well, it’s the same with social service provision. When people pay their tithe, the resources might really go to social services instead of lining somebody’s pocket, but those services are nowhere near what’s needed to deal with inequality. In a way, it demobilizes people when you connect this to the rhetoric that suggests that people are poor because of their own choices, it makes it more difficult for people to organize not just for more social services, but to get at structural dynamics. 

LP: What does it take to challenge the neoliberal turn? What have we learned about what’s effective and what’s not?
LS: Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about a wrong-headed approach that posits that the reason we have gains is because of leaders like him who spoke to power and as a result were able to galvanize hundreds of thousands of folks in the South and the North to overturn the Jim Crow regime.
If you really look at the history, what you find instead is really deep organizing. What that charismatic leadership cannot do is build deep, enduring institutions to build the political capacity of regular folks. These institutions tend to have at least some modicum of democratic accountability. With the charismatic leadership model, there’s the idea that everything the leader says is correct. There are very few ways to hold them accountable or even create debate about strategies or tactics. But in a robust model of organizing, people can actually create conditions to lead themselves and engage in making decisions, whether we’re talking about labor issues, racial inequality, or #MeToo and gender inequality. 

Communications NATO: Psychological Defense of the Status Quo

defenseone |  Fending off disinformation will get even harder when a new Russian news outlet launches in the United States this month. Going by the unwieldy name of “USA Really. Wake Up Americans,” this private counterpart to the Russian government’s RT is owned by the media company RIA FAN, which previously resided at the St. Petersburg “troll factory” the Internet Research Agency.

“Why do we even allow RT to broadcast in our countries?” asked Ilves. Why, indeed. But as “USA Really” shows, even if EU or NATO member states collectively revoked RT’s broadcasting licenses, Russian disinformation would not go away. The EU is trying to provide some sort of coordinated response. According to an April 26 statement, the European Commission will introduce a Code of Practice for online platforms; it will, for example, require the platforms to be transparent about political advertising and to identify and close fake accounts (“bots”). The EU also runs the three-year-old East StratCom Task Force.

That’s an excellent start, but it’s dwarfed by Russia’s massive and highly sophisticated information operations. Though the East StratCom Task Force does a valiant job documenting mostly Russian disinformation, it consists of only 14 people. In a new report on Russian disinformation campaigns, the RAND Corporation advises governments to increase their populations’ media literacy. That’s a laudable goal, but a long-term one. So who will go head-to-head with Sergey Lavrov, the way NATO would confront, say, Russia’s armed forces if they made aggressive moves? And what if other countries or entities (say, ISIS at its zenith) attack us with propaganda campaigns? We can’t hang the job on our own news media. “You can’t press news organizations into the service of the nation,” noted Prof. Robert Picard, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

And yet our citizens consider disinformation a serious threat. In a Eurobarometer poll conducted in March, 83 percent of EU citizens called fake news a problem for democracy. NATO has proven that a defense alliance can withstand severe military threats, but because today’s national security threats no longer involve only armed forces, our defense most be more wide-ranging too. Indeed, earlier this year Sweden announced that it will establish an Agency for Psychological Defense.
What we need now is a cross-border defense alliance against disinformation — call it Communications NATO. Such an alliance is, in fact, nearly as important as its military counterpart. (And militarily non-aligned countries such as Sweden and Finland could join too.)

Democracy is Dangerous to the Powerful

truthdig |  Let’s face it: Democracy is dangerous to the powerful who rely on big money, institutional leverage and mass media to work their will. The insurgencies of this decade against economic injustice—embodied in the Occupy movement and then Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign—are potentially dire threats to the established unjust order.

For those determined to retain their positions in the upper reaches of the Democratic Party hierarchy, democracy within the party sounds truly scary. And inauthenticity of the party—and its corresponding heavy losses of seats from state legislatures to Capitol Hill during the last 10 years—don’t seem nearly as worrisome to Democratic elites as the prospect that upsurges of grass-roots activities might remove them from their privileged quarters.

As Sanders told a New York Times Magazine reporter in early 2017: “Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

Twenty-five years ago, the so-called New Democrats were triumphant. Today, their political heirs are eager to prevent the Democratic Party from living up to its name. At stake is whether democracy will have a chance to function.

A fundamental battle for democracy is in progress—a conflict over whether to reduce the number of superdelegates to the party’s national convention in 2020, or maybe even eliminate them entirely. That struggle is set to reach a threshold at a party committee meeting next week and then be decided by the full Democratic National Committee before the end of this summer.

To understand the Democratic Party’s current internal battle lines and what’s at stake, it’s important to know how we got here.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Racialized Variant of Marx’s Reserve Army of the Unemployed

nakedcapitalism |  Back to NAFTA (North American Free-Trade Agreement) for a moment: imagine yourself working a line job at an auto factory with a family, a mortgage and kids to raise. One day in 1995 the boss comes forward with three displaced Mexican immigrants in tow to tell you that they have been offered your job at one-third of your wages as other factories are being closed to be reopened with ‘new’ workers in Mexico. This type of manufactured economic ‘competition’ breeds social divisions even without Bill Clinton railingagainst ‘criminal aliens.’

This isn’t to understate the social iniquity of institutional racism. But it is to question the liberal / progressive canard that working class racists have any material bearing on its existence or persistence. Racial animosity certainly exists— four hundred years of white terrorism against blacks is historical fact. But as argued below, capitalism can cause institutional racism outside of racial animosity.  And the ‘deplorables’ canard is especially offensive given the role of liberal economists in engineering the economic facts that racism and xenophobia are being exploited to explain.

In the current era, when NAFTA was passed, Mexico was floodedwith American industrial corn. Its lower cost destroyed the peasant economy in Mexico by rendering locally grown corn ‘uncompetitive.’ This cut the peasants whose livelihoods depended on selling their corn out of the cash economy. Millions of suddenly ‘freed’ peasants went to work in maquiladoras or fled North in search of work as undocumented workers. Without racial or national animosity, NAFTA created a new sub-class of industrial labor.

In the context of labor coerced through manufactured circumstances (work for us or starve) and control of government by the industries doing the employing, the idea of market wages is nonsense. And therein lies the point. The ‘free-market’ way to entice labor is to pay the wage that people are willing to work for— without coercion. The ‘capital accumulation’ theory behind NAFTA— that sacrifice is required to accumulate the capital that makes capitalism function, (1) begs the question: function for whom and (2) was also used to justify slavery.

A crude analogy would be to set the CEOs of major corporations on life rafts in the middle of the ocean and let them ‘compete’ with one another for bread to eat. A ‘market’ would have been created for bread, so how is this not ‘free-market economics?’ These CEOs could be dubbed a ‘criminal flotilla’ intent on invading the U.S. and political talking points could be traded regarding whether or not they are actually human. As with NAFTA, few, if any, would likely volunteer for the privilege. This is how ‘natural’ the economics behind NAFTA are.

By the time NAFTA was fully implemented the powers-that-be behind its central policies busied themselves creating racialized explanationsof Mexican immigration to the U.S. In their telling, NAFTA had nothing to do with the millions of Mexicans leaving Mexico for the U.S. or for the rapidly declining fortunes of American workers who suddenly faced competition for their paychecks from people willing to work for whatever they could get. ‘Criminals’ and ‘freeloaders’ were coming for American jobs went the carefully-crafted storyline.

The actual engineers of NAFTA were corporate lobbyists, ‘free-market’ economists, industrialist-friendly Republicans and Wall Street-friendly Democrats. There wasn’t a working class racist, a ‘deplorable,’ to be found amongst those crafting these policies of mass economic displacement. Liberal / progressive champions Paul Krugman and Bill Clinton were enthusiastic supporters of NAFTA and ‘free-trade.’ Paul Krugman, in particular, rode herd over critics of so-called free trade claiming superior knowledge. And Bill Clinton decries Trumpian xenophobia while being one of its major causes.

Of current relevance: (1) different classes of workers were created and placed in competition with one another to benefit a tiny ruling elite, (2) the interests of this elite were / are centered around pecuniary and political gain, (3) after implementation racialized explanations were put forward in lieu of the original economic explanations used to sell these programs and (4) these explanations followed the creation of the racialized ‘facts’ they were conceived to explain. The temporal sequence is important— mass immigration from Mexico and the destruction of the American working class were well-underway before racialized explanations were put forward to explain it.

What bearing does this have on institutional racism and its causes? The neo-colonial economic model is about coercing labor apart from whatever racial and / or national animosity might exist. American industries could have offered market wages to the Mexican peasants that NAFTA targeted until they agreed to work for them— this is the way that labor ‘markets’ work. But instead they chose to ‘free’ several million people from subsistence economies to compete with previously displaced Mexican labor and American industrial workers with the result that wages were lowered all around.

The argument was made at the time, and is still made today, that ‘everyone’ benefits from massively disrupting the lives of millions of people with trade agreements. Theoretical proof is put forward in terms of dollars / pesos of GDP gained. Left out is that the Mexican peasant economy wasn’t monetized and therefore its loss wasn’t counted. Even on its own terms NAFTA was a loser. And imposing these outcomes from above makes them profoundly anti-democratic. In other words, even if the outcomes were as promised, the decisions were made by its largest beneficiaries, not those whose lives were disrupted.

Having Upgraded His Wardrobe and Paid in Full - Jordan Peterson's 15 Minutes Nearly Over...,

WaPo |  The world is wretched with weak men. Slouchers, slackers, chumps, low-status dudes who have amassed a crumpled pile of inferior habits and made the world a messier place. 

Or so Jordan Peterson will tell you. But fear not, the doctor is here to help, preaching his thoroughly footnoted gospel of order and discipline, one rule at a time — in a popular book, in lectures far from his ivory tower roost and, most potently, on YouTube.

The man of the moment, the self-proclaimed “professor against political correctness,” sits in his Manhattan hotel aerie before another sold-out talk based on his best-selling “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.” The University of Toronto clinical psychologist also sold out his date at Washington’s Warner Theatre on Friday, so he’ll return next month to lecture there again. Plenty of men are listening. Even Kanye West, who amid his still-unspooling existential crisis on Twitter, shared an image of his computer screen, on which a tab for a Peterson video was visible. 

Peterson elicits nearly every opinion except indifference. “The most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now,” wrote David Brooks in the New York Times, calling him “a young William F. Buckley.” Critics, and there are plenty, raise serious doubts.

“He takes a really simplistic approach toward gender inequality. It feels like a dressed-up version of misogyny,” says Gary Barker, a developmental psychologist who has studied ways to promote gender equality and violence prevention. “The scary part is it doesn’t provoke men to be better but to live with this inequality and get what you can out of it.”

Peterson rails against victimhood and “radical left-wing identity politics.” He’s an opponent of regulated equality and a skeptic of the notion of male or white “privilege.” Like many thought leaders who flirted with socialism in their youth, Peterson crusades against anything that he thinks smacks of Marxist tendencies and groupthink, which means a lot of inveighing against “postmodernist” scholars, who are probably a bigger nuisance at faculty confabs than in the lives of his fans.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Trump In Dallas Tomorrow...,

abcnews |  President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will both speak at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday.
White House official said Monday that Trump will attend the group's annual meeting. Trump has been a strong supporter of the NRA and enjoyed their backing in his 2016 campaign. Pence had already been scheduled to address the group.
After a deadly shooting in February at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Trump suggested he was open to new gun control measures. He held a meeting with senators, declaring that he would stand up to the gun lobby and calling for a "comprehensive" bill.
But Trump later backpedaled from those sweeping statements, offering a more limited plan. After he advocated increasing the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon to 21, Trump tweeted there was "not much political support" for the idea.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Misunderstanding Yeezy-us-ness....,

LATimes |  Last year, John Tooby, a founder of evolutionary psychology, was asked by the website what scientific concept should be more widely known. He argued for something called the "coalition instinct."

In our natural environment, humans form coalitions. Coalitions are slightly different from tribes, families or nations, in that those are all groups we are involuntarily born into. Coalitions are the teams we join.
"Coalitions," Tooby explained, "are sets of individuals interpreted by their members and/or by others as sharing a common abstract identity." The coalition instinct is a bundle of "programs" that "enable us and induce us to form, maintain, join, support, recognize, defend, defect from, factionalize, exploit, resist, subordinate, distrust, dislike, oppose, and attack coalitions." Most animals don't have this instinct, and none has it as finely honed as humans do.

Because coalitions are formed to protect the interests of their members, we have a remarkable ability to forgive behavior when it is done by our teammates and condemn the behavior when it is done by members of a rival coalition. "This," Tooby said, "is why group beliefs are free to be so weird."

ChicagoTribune |  Here’s some advice for conservatives who are jumping to Kanye West’s defense. Don’t get caught up in the Kardashians’ mess.

There’s a good chance the recent Twitter fest between West and Donald Trump has nothing to do with politics. Most likely, it’s about television ratings.

Conservatives had to pinch themselves to make sure this was really happening. West appeared to be telling African-Americans that Republicans are really cool, and that they should give Trump — and the party — a chance. That’s what the GOP has been saying for years.

Fox News commentator Jesse Watters declared that West had “loosened the grip the Democratic Party holds on the black vote.”

Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Instagram, “Kind of a big deal. Seems like a cultural turning point.”
Liberal A-listers weren’t hearing it, though. Rihanna, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar were among those who unfollowed West on Twitter. Chance the Rapper tried to rein West in and got caught up in his own word battle with Trump. John Legend also urged his friend to rethink his tweets.
It was useless. Over the weekend, West went a step further and met with conservative commentators Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens. Trump Jr. tweeted a photo.

Look, everyone knows how hard it is for right-wingers to find celebrities who are willing to pose for a picture with Trump, much less one who will tweet that he “loves” him. We get why they’d get all excited that West called Trump his “brother.”

We understand why conservatives have tried to claim West as one of their own since he admitted that he would have cast his ballot for Trump in the presidential election — if he had bothered to vote. Unfortunately, voting isn’t on his agenda.

When it comes to Trump, West clearly is an anomaly that America may never fully understand. His wife’s family, on the other hand, is an open book.

If there is one thing you can be sure of, it’s that the tweet fest that roped in Chance the Rapper, Legend and a sitting U.S. president would make great fodder for “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Crushing On Yeezy And Hating On Michelle?

villagevoice |  Conservatives raging at a comedian who hurt their feelings, as they did over White House Correspondents’ Dinner entertainer Michelle Wolf last weekend, is pretty much standard behavior for the folks who think everyone else is the snowflake. But the spectacle of white right-wingers rejoicing over the recent pro-Trump ravings of Kanye West may confuse you, especially considering they probably know him more for his many public self-embarrassments than for his music. Why would members of a white revanchist movement fawn over a black rapper who famously said George W. Bush didn’t care about African Americans?

Well, for one thing, conservatives conveniently abandoned Bush years ago. For another, it all makes more sense when you consider their historic lack of popularity with black people and their weird jealousy over it.

Even if you only casually follow politics, you know that since the days of Nixon’s Southern strategy Republicans have had a contentious relationship with people of color. This has only gotten worse under Donald Trump, a hyper-obvious racist whose rants about Colin Kaepernick and John Lewis, not to mention his treatment of Mexicans, Muslims, and Puerto Ricans, have helped speed the GOP’s conversion into the White People’s Party.

Thanks to gerrymanders and white rage, Republicans have so far been able to hold their majorities just fine without black support, so it’s fair to assume they feel about black votes the way James Baker felt about the votes of Jews. But the conservatives who use the GOP as a host body are more conflicted.

On the one hand, many conservatives reflexively portray blacks as violent thugs who must be subdued by militarized police, particularly right after a racially charged news story has engaged their lizard brains, or if they are Heather Mac Donald.

On the other hand, conservatives seem genuinely hurt and confused when black people call them names like “white supremacist.” You can see this most clearly in their annual aggrieved Martin Luther King Jr. Day essays in which they either try to claim MLK as one of their own (“King’s Orthodox Christianity is one of those inconvenient truths that a lot of people on the left tend to ignore” — Da Tech Guy) or tell black people to stop persecuting them with their contempt (“MLK Day proposal: Give the race card a rest” — Michelle Malkin).

Sure, white conservatives applaud when Charles Murray tells them black people are their intellectual inferiors, but in their view that’s just science (and free speech!), not anything to take personally. And anyway, it’s the liberals who are the Real Racists, keeping blacks enslaved on what conservatives like to call the “Democratic plantation,” from which conservatives only want to rescue them by ending affirmative action and food stamps, which will give them the bootstraps they need to succeed.

Yet despite this helpful hectoring, most blacks keep voting Democratic, so conservatives sulk and brood, only occasionally brightening when a black celebrity says something that can be charitably interpreted as right-wing. Bill Cosby, with his pull-up-your-pants shtick, was their go-to for years, but for obvious reasons you see much less of that now. Chris Rock is their usual backup; here’s National Review’s Kyle Smith kvelling, “When he speaks about the destructiveness of porn he sounds like Ross Douthat.” (And I thought I was the only one who found Douthat hilarious!)

So when West busted out his pro-Trump tweets last week, notwithstanding that he also said, “I haven’t done enough research on conservatives to call myself or be called one,” the brethren were juiced. Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell are all well and good, but here was a black guy ordinary people had actually heard of and could stand to listen to!

Also, West wasn’t just saying things that could be read, if one squinted and had had a few drinks, as conservative policy statements. In fact, West didn’t stipulate any conservative policies that he approved of. (I’m not sure he knows what they are.) Yeezy was just saying out loud, in a variety of peculiar ways, that he loved Trump and his dragon energy.

The Democratic Party Has A Diversity Problem...,

BostonGlobe |  “She is the most unpopular politician in every single competitive district in the country,” said Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm. A March NBC poll found her approval rating in the low 20s. (House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, is also unpopular, with an approval rating just three points higher than hers in the NBC poll.)

Pelosi said the GOP strategy shows the “bankruptcy” of the opposition’s ideas and the negative ads only help her cause. “The more they do it, the more money I raise,” Pelosi said. “Because I have a following.”

She says Democrats are running on an economic message of raising the minimum wage, boosting education, and strengthening the health care system. But Democrats are mostly counting on a Trump backlash to provide big gains in midterm elections.

Pelosi is a master fund-raiser, pulling in tens of millions of dollars that Democrats will use to help House candidates across the country, even those who are skeptical of her leadership. In a show of force, she raised more than $16 million for Democrats in the first quarter of this year. 

Even Pelosi’s fiercest critics admit she is a whiz at raking in money and at counting votes. She’s managed to keep her fractious caucus together in the Trump era, increasing her clout in spending talks and wresting key concessions from Republicans even while in the minority.

But some in the party are questioning the message it sends to the grass roots that the top three House Democrats are all in their late 70s and have been in power for years, despite running on a message of change in the midterms. 

“I think there’s a strong desire out there in America for new leadership in Washington, not just getting rid of Republicans but getting new leadership in the Democratic Party,” said Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, one of the loudest voices in the party calling for Pelosi to go.

NYTimes |  Democrats venerate diversity as they do no other value. Yet the party’s Senate leader is a white man, Charles Schumer. Many will wonder whether a party that now gets nearly half of its votes from nonwhite people — 46 percent of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vote was from nonwhites — should be led nationally by two white people.

The full picture is actually even a little weirder. Mr. Crowley would not be a shoo-in should Ms. Pelosi not be able to get the votes. There are two others who want the job: Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the current No. 2 and Ms. Pelosi’s rival of 50 years; and Tim Ryan of Ohio, who challenged Ms. Pelosi two years ago for the minority leader job and lost, 134 votes to 63.

So, should Ms. Pelosi decide not to seek the speakership again, the main contenders to replace her, at least as of now, would be three white men. For a Democratic Party leadership post in 2018! That sounds more like a race for Queens borough president in 1961.

To me, though, the diversity issue isn’t even the main problem. Even if two white men ended up leading the Democrats, no one would doubt that the Democratic Party is the multiracial party. That much is well established, and presumably Mr. Crowley (or whoever) would name a Rainbow Coalition-ish leadership team and surely have a woman as his No. 2.

The bigger problem is geographic. If Mr. Crowley became the House Democrats’ leader, the Democrats would be led by two legislators from New York City. And that is deeply weird.

The Democrats are coming off an election in which their presidential candidate won only 487 of the nation’s 3,141 counties. Four years before, Barack Obama won just 689 against Mitt Romney. The party is in severe geographic retreat, and it has happened with alarming speed.

If I told you that Democrats once controlled the governors’ mansions in the unlikely states of Tennessee, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma, what year would you think I was referring to? Maybe 1987? Nope. Up through the 2010 elections, Democrats governed all these states. Likewise, the Democrats had a House majority until those elections. They controlled seats in large swaths of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, both Dakotas, Indiana, West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio.

They held up to 257 seats in those days. They got decimated in 2010 and 2014, and maybe there just wasn’t that much they could have done about it. But they could have identified some young comers from swing and heartland states and elevated them to positions of greater prominence than they did. For example, in the 114th Congress (2015-2016), the Democrats had nine leadership positions — and only one was held by a representative from a state that didn’t have a coastline.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Deeze Heaux Tryna Shift Attention Away From Their Stank Selves....,

WaPo |  On Saturday night, Washington journalists hobnobbed with politicians and celebrities at the black-tie White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — and then spent Sunday arguing about whether comedian Michelle Wolf was too harsh toward President Trump, who uses his presidential pulpit to mock the journalists.

Late Sunday night, Washington time, nine journalists in Kabul were among at least 29 people killed in suicide bombing attacks. That brings to 24 the number of journalists killed worldwide so far this year, following 46 last year — a year that also saw a record high of 262 journalists jailed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

This ugly juxtaposition ought to shame Washington media. It isn’t just about the dinner, though that spectacle needs to be replaced with something appropriate for this grim time in our profession. What’s needed is a change in the way we think of ourselves as journalists.

Journalists are, with good reason, resistant to the role of advocate. But at a time when Trump is leading a successful movement to discredit the free press at home, advocating the First Amendment isn’t a conflict of interest. And at a time when the Trump administration is helping autocrats undermine journalists around the world, campaigning for our jailed and murdered brethren doesn’t compromise our journalistic independence.

On May 3 of last year — World Press Freedom Day — the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, gave a speech announcing that freedom and human rights may be “our values” but they are “not our policies.” He continued: “If we condition too heavily that others must adopt this value . . . it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.” (Just last week, Trump described North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, leader of the most repressive regime on Earth, as “open” and “honorable.”)

As the president attacks the press as the “fake news media” and the “enemy of the American people,” so far this year , two journalists in the United States have been arrested, eight have been attacked and nine have received subpoenas. The Trump administration has charged two people for leaking under the 1917 Espionage Act. 

Media Coverage Decisions Based on Access and Judgement Calls

theatlantic |  Roughly two weeks ago, a Twitter user with fewer than 1,700 followers began publishing screen grabs of anti-gay posts from a defunct blog once written by Joy Reid, who hosts a weekend morning show on a cable-news network. Like the vast majority of Americans, I’d never watched the show AM Joy on MSNBC—I do not typically enjoy cable-news channels, or for that matter, the morning.

But despite having zero interest in what the host wrote years ago; or whether she was hacked, as she claimed, or lying, or deluding herself; or whether her show would stay on or be suspended or get canceled, I couldn’t escape the story.

I tried, reader.

No matter how it turned out, I could see no greater purpose that it would serve, no insight it would clarify, no ill it would vanquish, no good it would advance. So I ignored two articles and two stories in New York Times, least items in. Then, 12 days in, national news stories were still being published! Defeated, I decided to probe the why of it all. Was any larger purpose served by all the coverage? If not, is there an identifiable way in which the press should change its approach?

On reading the coverage, I gleaned insights from a few stories. I grant that few were indefensible. And I understand how structural features of the news ecosystem fueled the story. For example, coverage by one news outlet spawns coverage by others that don’t want to get beat; once any outlet covers a story, it is more likely to publish more stories, in part to update its audience on new information; and while commentators have a responsibility to direct people to what is important, part of the job is also conceding that one often cannot control what’s in the news, or what folks seize upon and cause to trend on social-media sites—but that even too-popular stories can offer opportunities to make tangential points of importance that readers will be unusually primed to ponder.

So it isn’t that I find fault with all the journalists who published on Joy Reid.

What’s more, I share many of the underlying concerns that sparked some of the coverage. I oppose homophobic stereotypes. I agree people should not claim hackers are responsible for their words and that public dishonesty is a transgression in journalism. I think there is a role for journalists to hold members of their own profession accountable. And I agree with those who insist that if a conservative were in Reid’s place, there would be furious calls on the left for her termination. (I am a consistent critic of such calls regardless of is involved.)

But even grasping many of the factors that fueled coverage and sympathizing with folks who reacted to some of them does not change my overall assessment.

Coverage decisions are judgment calls.