Wednesday, September 02, 2015

if intelligent, high-prestige humans are utterly clueless, where does that leave folks who see what's really going on?

declineoftheempire |  In particular, when we talk about the long-term future of humans the discussion tends to branch into two directions (neither of which are necessarily actually separate).

One is the 'stewardship' route. Here the emphasis is on how we should learn to become good stewards of the planet, not just for our own survival, but also for a rather nebulous greater cause; not upsetting the natural cart, allowing the Earth to maintain a more stable balance in terms of climate and biodiversity. A balance perhaps more representative of the long-term state of the environment without a short-term perturbation like ourselves.

The second route doesn't necessarily obviate the need for home stewardship, but it looks beyond the Earth.

One of our biggest talents, and one of our biggest problems as a species, is that we thrive on expansion. We're resource and space hungry. But instead of trying to curtail ourselves, we have the option of spreading beyond, to the vast and untapped wealth of the solar system. Call it the ultimate manifest destiny if you will, except that it also offers the possibility of preserving our homeworld by altering the fundamental equation of our existence, by outsourcing many of our material needs.

Those are the options, Caleb? Good stewardship or leaving the Earth?

What about Door #3? What about the unfortunately fact that Homo sapiens is hell-bent on destroying the biosphere, and in so doing, taking themselves down in the process?
Caleb does say something about this possibility ... sort of.
Of course, this cosmic pathway could go wrong. We could start altering the environmental state of Mars and mess that up. Or, without care, we could risk destabilizing our global economy and balance of power. After all, we seem to be barely capable of managing 196 recognized countries, adding more offworld states is unlikely to help.
But on a grand scale, for the ultimate preservation of the species, the solar system may be our savior. There's only one surefire way to avoid extinction by asteroid impacts or supervolcanoes, or sheer overcrowding. Put some of us somewhere else.
We might carelessly "risk" destabilizing the global economy and the balance of power. And that's it?
Caleb, you started off with the Holocene (Sixth) Extinction. How did you get from a human-caused mass extinction to "destabilizing the global economy" in only five paragraphs?

just around that signpost up ahead....,

ourfiniteworld |  I gave a list of likely changes to expect in my January post. These haven’t changed. I won’t repeat them all here. Instead, I will give an overview of what is going wrong and offer some thoughts regarding why others are not pointing out this same problem.

Overview of What is Going Wrong
  1. The big thing that is happening is that the world financial system is likely to collapse. Back in 2008, the world financial system almost collapsed. This time, our chances of avoiding collapse are very slim.
  2. Without the financial system, pretty much nothing else works: the oil extraction system, the electricity delivery system, the pension system, the ability of the stock market to hold its value. The change we are encountering is similar to losing the operating system on a computer, or unplugging a refrigerator from the wall.
  3. We don’t know how fast things will unravel, but things are likely to be quite different in as short a time as a year. World financial leaders are likely to “pull out the stops,” trying to keep things together. A big part of our problem is too much debt. This is hard to fix, because reducing debt reduces demand and makes commodity prices fall further. With low prices, production of commodities is likely to fall. For example, food production using fossil fuel inputs is likely to greatly decline over time, as is oil, gas, and coal production.
  4. The electricity system, as delivered by the grid, is likely to fail in approximately the same timeframe as our oil-based system. Nothing will fail overnight, but it seems highly unlikely that electricity will outlast oil by more than a year or two. All systems are dependent on the financial system. If the oil system cannot pay its workers and get replacement parts because of a collapse in the financial system, the same is likely to be true of the electrical grid system.
  5. Our economy is a self-organized networked system that continuously dissipates energy, known in physics as a dissipative structureOther examples of dissipative structures include all plants and animals (including humans) and hurricanes. All of these grow from small beginnings, gradually plateau in size, and eventually collapse and die. We know of a huge number of prior civilizations that have collapsed. This appears to have happened when the return on human labor has fallen too low. This is much like the after-tax wages of non-elite workers falling too low. Wages reflect not only the workers’ own energy (gained from eating food), but any supplemental energy used, such as from draft animals, wind-powered boats, or electricity. Falling median wages, especially of young people, are one of the indications that our economy is headed toward collapse, just like the other economies.
  6. The reason that collapse happens quickly has to do with debt and derivatives. Our networked economy requires debt in order to extract fossil fuels from the ground and to create renewable energy sources, for several reasons: (a) Producers don’t have to save up as much money in advance, (b) Middle-men making products that use energy products (such cars and refrigerators) can “finance” their factories, so they don’t have to save up as much, (c) Consumers can afford to buy “big-ticket” items like homes and cars, with the use of plans that allow monthly payments, so they don’t have to save up as much, and (d) Most importantly, debt helps raise the price of commodities of all sorts (including oil and electricity), because it allows more customers to afford products that use them. The problem as the economy slows, and as we add more and more debt, is that eventually debt collapses. This happens because the economy fails to grow enough to allow the economy to generate sufficient goods and services to keep the system going–that is, pay adequate wages, even to non-elite workers; pay growing government and corporate overhead; and repay debt with interest, all at the same time. Figure 2 is an illustration of the problem with the debt component.

what wikileaks teaches us about the secret structure of u.s. empire...,

newsweek |  The US diplomatic service dates back to the Revolution, but it was in the post–World War II environment that the modern State Department came to be.

Its origins coincided with the appointment of Henry Kissinger as secretary of state, in 1973. Kissinger’s appointment was unusual in several respects. Kissinger did not just head up the State Department; he was also concurrently appointed national security advisor, facilitating a tighter integration between the foreign relations and military and intelligence arms of the US government.
While the State Department had long had a cable system, the appointment of Kissinger led to logistical changes in how cables were written, indexed and stored. For the first time, the bulk of cables were transmitted electronically. This period of major innovation is still present in the way the department operates today.

The US Department of State is unique among the formal bureaucracies of the United States. Other agencies aspire to administrate one function or another, but the State Department represents, and even houses, all major elements of US national power. It provides cover for the CIA, buildings for the NSA mass-interception equipment, office space and communications facilities for the FBI, the military and other government agencies and staff to act as sales agents and political advisors for the largest US corporations.

One cannot properly understand an institution like the State Department from the outside, any more than Renaissance artists could discover how animals worked without opening them up and poking about inside. As the diplomatic apparatus of the United States, the State Department is directly involved in putting a friendly face on empire, concealing its underlying mechanics.

Every year, more than $1 billion is budgeted for “public diplomacy,” a circumlocutory term for outward-facing propaganda. Public diplomacy explicitly aims to influence journalists and civil society, so that they serve as conduits for State Department messaging.

While national archives have produced impressive collections of internal state communications, their material is intentionally withheld or made difficult to access for decades, until it is stripped of potency. This is inevitable, as national archives are not structured to resist the blowback (in the form of withdrawn funding or termination of officials) that timely, accessible archives of international significance would produce.

What makes the revelation of secret communications potent is that we were not supposed to read them. The internal communications of the US Department of State are the logistical by-product of its activities: their publication is the vivisection of a living empire, showing what substance flowed from which state organ and when.

Diplomatic cables are not produced in order to manipulate the public, but are aimed at elements of the rest of the US state apparatus and are therefore relatively free from the distorting influence of public relations. Reading them is a much more effective way of understanding an institution like the State Department than reading reports by journalists on the public pronouncements of Hillary Clinton, or [White House Communications Director] Jen Psaki.

While in their internal communications State Department officials must match their pens to the latest DC orthodoxies should they wish to stand out in Washington for the “right” reasons and not the “wrong” ones, these elements of political correctness are themselves noteworthy and visible to outsiders who are not sufficiently indoctrinated.
Many cables are deliberative or logistical, and their causal relationships across time and space with other cables and with externally documented events create a web of interpretive constraints that reliably show how the US Department of State and the agencies that inter-operate with its cable system understand their place in the world.

Only by approaching this corpus holistically—over and above the documentation of each individual abuse, each localized atrocity—does the true human cost of empire heave into view.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

we will be lucky to go medieval...,

kunstler |  The tremors rattling markets are not exactly what they seem to be. A meme prevails that these movements represent a kind of financial peristalsis — regular wavelike workings of eternal progress toward an epic more of everything, especially profits! You can forget the supposedly “normal” cycles of the techno-industrial arrangement, which means, in particular, the business cycle of the standard economics textbooks. Those cycle are dying.

They’re dying because there really are Limits to Growth and we are now solidly in grips of those limits. Only we can’t recognize the way it is expressing itself, especially in political terms. What’s afoot is a not “recession” but a permanent contraction of what has been normal for a little over two hundred years. There is not going to be more of everything, especially profits, and the stock buyback orgy that has animated the corporate executive suites will be recognized shortly for what it is: an assest-stripping operation.

What’s happening now is a permanent contraction. Well, of course, nothing lasts forever, and the contraction is one phase of a greater transition. The cornucopians and techno-narcissists would like to think that we are transitioning into an even more lavish era of techno-wonderama — life in a padded recliner tapping on a tablet for everything! I don’t think so. Rather, we’re going medieval, and we’re doing it the hard way because there’s just not enough to go around and the swollen populations of the world are going to be fighting over what’s left.

Actually, we’ll be lucky if we can go medieval, because there’s no guarantee that the contraction has to stop there, especially if we behave really badly about it — and based on the way we’re acting now, it’s hard to be optimistic about our behavior improving. Going medieval would imply living within the solar energy income of the planet, and by that I don’t mean photo-voltaic panels, but rather what the planet might provide in the way of plant and animal “income” for a substantially smaller population of humans. That plus a long-term resource salvage operation.

not to be left out, the WaPo takes its tuesday editorial whacks at mr. miracle too...,

WaPo |  Trump, on the evidence of past behavior, would take whatever political shape the moment required. But the direction upon which his spinning compass has settled is instructive. His approach has little to do with the Republican Party’s history of religious conservatism. Nor is it rooted primarily in tea party constitutionalism. Trump is pressing a case against corrupt and cosmopolitan elites; against mass and illegal immigration and the dilution of American identity; and against the economic dislocations of free trade and business capitalism. 

Insofar as Trump leads a movement, it is headed in the direction of a more European form of secular, nationalist, right-wing populism. Were Trump to succeed, the GOP would be an anti-immigration party of the white working class. Before he fails — as he certainly will — Americans may long for the good old days of the religious right. 

A number of thoughtful conservatives are attempting to take the good parts of Trump’s message — his unapologetic nationalism, his identification with working-class discontents — while minimizing the parts that appeal to the lowest human instincts. They prefer their Trumpism with a little less Trump. But by leading off with the issue of immigration, by proposing to narrow the protections of the 14th Amendment, by representing undocumented Mexicans as rapists, criminals and sources of infectious disease, by pledging to construct a wall across a continent, by promising the roundup and forced deportation of 11 million people, Trump has made looking on the bright side pretty difficult. In fact, Trump’s political approach is defined by the fomenting of conflict with foreigners: with scheming Mexicans and predatory Chinese. Remove the appeal to base instincts and you are left with little but opposition to entitlement reform.

NYT's attempted psychoanalytic hit-piece on mr. miracle fails to villify and succeeds in making him more sympathetic

NYTimes |  When Hollywood wants us to understand a character, it gives us a Rosebud — an event or an object, like the wooden sled in “Citizen Kane,” that reflects the character’s essence. Mr. Trump’s Rosebud moment, I learned recently from a story on WNYC, happened one day in 1964, when he accompanied his father to the opening ceremony of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

As Mr. Trump recounted the story for Howard Blum in The New York Times in 1980: “The rain was coming down for hours … But all I’m thinking about is that all these politicians who opposed the bridge are being applauded.” Even as a wet-behind-the-ears kid, he wanted the reporter to understand, he couldn’t abide the hypocrisy of big shots. “In a corner,” he continued, “just standing there in the rain, is this man, this 85-year-old engineer who came from Sweden and designed this bridge, who poured his heart into it, and nobody even mentioned his name.

“I realized then and there,” the budding real estate mogul and future Republican front-runner concluded, “that if you let people treat you how they want, you’ll be made a fool. I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.”
Who was that sad sack in the corner? It’s worth asking, because the Trump Rosebud moment reveals more than he perhaps realizes — and not just about himself, but about the people who are swelling his poll numbers.

Othmar H. Ammann was born in Switzerland, not Sweden, in 1879, and came to the United States in 1904. He proposed, designed and oversaw the construction of the George Washington Bridge and was closely involved with others around the country, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco among them. As the chief engineer of the Port Authority of New York and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, he oversaw the building of the Lincoln Tunnel, the Outerbridge Crossing and the Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Triborough, Bayonne and Goethals Bridges.

krugman goes in hard on the GOP clown car...,

NYTimes | There are many things we should remember about the events of late August and early September 2005, and the political fallout shouldn’t be near the top of the list. Still, the disaster in New Orleans did the Bush administration a great deal of damage — and conservatives have never stopped trying to take their revenge. Every time something has gone wrong on President Obama’s watch, critics have been quick to declare the event “Obama’s Katrina.” How many Katrinas has Mr. Obama had so far? By one count, 23.

Somehow, however, these putative Katrinas never end up having the political impact of the lethal debacle that unfolded a decade ago. Partly that’s because many of the alleged disasters weren’t disasters after all. For example, the teething problems of were embarrassing, but they were eventually resolved — without anyone dying in the process — and at this point Obamacare looks like a huge success.

Beyond that, Katrina was special in political terms because it revealed such a huge gap between image and reality. Ever since 9/11, former President George W. Bush had been posing as a strong, effective leader keeping America safe. He wasn’t. But as long as he was talking tough about terrorists, it was hard for the public to see what a lousy job he was doing. It took a domestic disaster, which made his administration’s cronyism and incompetence obvious to anyone with a TV set, to burst his bubble.

What we should have learned from Katrina, in other words, was that political poseurs with nothing much to offer besides bluster can nonetheless fool many people into believing that they’re strong leaders. And that’s a lesson we’re learning all over again as the 2016 presidential race unfolds.

Monday, August 31, 2015

the kochtopus would FUBAR the SCOTUS if it captured the #45 POTUS

WaPo |  Brian Beutler has an important piece in which he raises an unsettling question: Could the next Republican president nominate one or more Supreme Court justices who would seek to restore a pre-New Deal judicial conception of liberty of contract, with the goal of undermining much of the regulatory state that many Americans take for granted today?

Beutler reports on a movement among legal-minded libertarians to rehabilitate the Lochner decision, the notorious 1905 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a state law limiting the working hours of bakers, giving its name to the “Lochner era” of Supreme Court rulings in which economic regulations established by popularly elected officials were struck down as unconstitutional. The Lochner era is widely seen to have ended during the New Deal, when the Court upheld (among many other things) a state minimum wage law, concluding that liberty of contract is not an “absolute” right.

Sam Bagenstos, a liberal constitutional scholar at the University of Michigan, tells Beutler that “a full fledged return to Lochner” could ultimately undermine a whole host of economic regulations, including minimum wage, overtime, and worker safety laws and even possibly laws protecting customers from discrimination based on race.

One leading libertarian lawyer tells Beutler frankly that the goal is to invalidate much social welfare legislation “at the federal level,” though I would add that a Lochner restoration might invalidate a fair amount of it at the state level as well. Libertarians are frustrated with the Roberts court for its rulings preserving Obamacare — decisions that have been widely interpreted as a sign of Roberts’ judicial restraint and deference to the elected branches — and the hope is that a Republican president will appoint more unabashedly activist judges when it comes to placing limits on federal power to regulate the economy:

watching him demolish three decades worth of failed and fraudulent conservatard "simple math" is pure political gold...,

WaPo |  Critics, including many leading conservative economists in Washington, call Trump’s plans “nativist,” “protectionist” and incompatible with the party’s core pro-market beliefs. They also worry Trump’s ideas could spread to other GOP contenders.

“This is a very dangerous moment, I think, for the Republican Party,” said Stephen Moore, a conservative economist and co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, which has been meeting with candidates to urge them to adopt low-tax, low-regulation policies to grow the economy.

“What Trump is saying about trade and immigration is a political and economic disaster,” Moore said. “He’s almost now making it cool and acceptable to be nativist on immigration and protectionist on trade. That’s destroying a lot of the progress we’ve made as a party in the last 30 years.”

Many Republican candidates beyond Trump have voiced opposition to new free-trade deals, including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated by the Obama administration with several Asian countries. While every GOP candidate promises to secure the nation’s southern border and crack down on illegal immigration, some are now expressing an openness to reducing levels of legal immigration.

Free-market economists have long argued that trade and immigration are critical to growing the U.S. economy. Top Republicans have frequently adopted those beliefs.

But a growing portion of the conservative base -- and, to a lesser extent, the country as a whole -- now blames American workers’ economic woes on competition from illegal immigrants and from low-skilled foreign factory workers abroad.

In a 2014 Public Religion Research Institute survey, 57 percent of Republicans said immigrants mostly hurt the economy by driving down wages, compared with 33 percent who said they help by providing low-cost labor. The nation as a whole split evenly on the question.

figuring out who mr. miracle works for and their agenda - is like a splinter in my mind....,

NYTimes |  For years, Republicans have run for office on promises of cutting taxes and bolstering business to stimulate economic growth, pledging allegiance to a Reaganesque model of conservatism that has largely become the party’s orthodoxy.

But this election cycle, the Republican presidential candidate who currently leads in most polls is taking a different approach, and it is jangling the nerves of some of the party’s most traditional supporters.

The tendency of that candidate, the billionaire developer Donald J. Trump, to make provocative, headline-grabbing speeches has helped obscure an emerging set of beliefs: that he would raise taxes in certain areas, particularly on corporations that he believes do not act in the best interests of the United States.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on American companies that put their factories in other countries. He has threatened to increase taxes on the compensation of hedge fund managers. And he has vowed to change laws that allow American companies to benefit from cheaper tax rates by using mergers to base their operations outside the United States.

Alarmed that those ideas might catch on with some of Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals — as his immigration policies have — the Club for Growth, an anti-tax think tank, is pulling together a team of economists to scrutinize his proposals and calculate the economic impact if he is elected.

 “All of those are anti-growth policies,” said David McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, a group that Republican candidates routinely court. “Yes he’s a businessman, but if those are the policies he implements, they’ll drive the economy into the ground and we’ll see huge drops in G.D.P., and frankly I think it would lead to massive loss of jobs.”

you can't reboot a nullity with a tentacle already reaching from its sphincter to its frontal lobes...,

WaPo |  Walker loyalists say the first priority should be to help the governor rebalance himself as a candidate. That, they say, will require some tough love from his campaign advisers and more discipline in developing answers to questions about issues that are not central to Walker’s core message.

While a few of Walker’s campaign staffers have worked with him before, many are newcomers. Two of Walker’s former top political advisers, Keith Gilkes and Stephan Thompson, are now in charge of the pro-Walker super PAC that is legally separated from the campaign.

The campaign is led by Rick Wiley, a former Republican National Committee political director who grew up in the Midwest and has worked in Wisconsin before. Wiley is frequently on the trail with Walker, and several top supporters say he acts too much like a buddy and not enough like a chief operating officer.

“Every candidate needs somebody that can checkmate them in private, like a Karl Rove and ‘W,’ ” one top donor said, referring to George W. Bush’s longtime political adviser. “Is there some concern about senior experience around the governor, actual presidential experience? Yes, no question.”
Wiley, through a campaign spokeswoman, declined to respond to the comments. A spokeswoman said that while the campaign manager did spend the first full week of Walker’s campaign on the road and has made a few trips since then, he is usually at work in Madison.

Despite the falling poll numbers, Walker supporters are optimistic his campaign can still rebound — particularly if he performs well at the Sept. 16 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
“All campaigns go through cycles, and nobody has ridden all the way to victory,” said Gregory W. Slayton, a major Walker fundraiser who lives in New Hampshire. “There isn’t a candidate out there who hasn’t had really serious issues or challenges.”

mr. miracle plucking suckers off the kochtopus...,

firstlook |  After investing a sizable fortune into building a political machine that now rivals the size and budgets of both major political parties, the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are seeing some of their top operatives take jobs with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

The fact that many of Trump’s political positions are at odds with those of the Koch brothers does not seem to be a factor.

Take Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, who spent many years of his career working for the Koch political network, first as an assistant at the Koch-led group Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1997 and from 2008 through earlier this year as a senior staff member to the Koch’s primary grassroots group, Americans for Prosperity. Over the last seven years, Lewandowski helped the Koch network organize Tea Party events and get-out-the-vote efforts for Republican candidates for office.

Alan Cobb, a strategic consultant for Trump, is the former director of Kansas public affairs for Koch Industries and also worked for years as a vice president at Americans for Prosperity.

Trump is being counseled by lawyer Donald F. McGahn, the former Federal Election Commission chair who just months ago represented the Koch political network during hearings with the FEC. McGahn is listed as affiliated with Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Super PAC set up by the Koch brothers and their lobbyists.

In New Hampshire, Trump’s state director is Matt Ciepielowski, the former New Hampshire state field director for Americans for Prosperity. As National Journal reported, as Trump works to develop a team to win the New Hampshire primary, he has hired multiple AFP staff, and even leased a campaign headquarters in the same office building as AFP’s office in Manchester.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

bro. nathanial speaks on the source of mr. miracle's power...,

costumes a dead giveaway that superheroes are insane - elective politics is cosplay....,

newrepublic |  Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner for president, a fact that has befuddled just about everybody—except perhaps Trump himself—and spawned countless theories: He's leading because Americans are frustrated with politicians and want a straight-talking outsider. Because he shamelessly caters to paranoid conservatives. Because he's famous. He's not politically correct. He never says sorry. He's unfailingly entertaining. And the press can't resist him. But there's another reason that no one has considered yet, a secret weapon that has propelled past charismatic politicians like Bill Clinton and Theodore Roosevelt to the White House: hypomanic temperament

To be clear, I’m not using my authority as a professor of psychiatry to call Trump mentally ill. Hypomanic temperament is not an illness. It is genetically linked to bipolar disorder and manifests the same traits as mania—but crucially, does so to a less severe and more functional degree. Historically, hypomanic temperament has received little attention compared to bipolar disorder, but the founders of modern psychiatry—Eugen Bleuler, Emil Kraepelin, Ernst Kretschmer—first described these personalities around a century ago. "Hypomanics," as I describe them in In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography: 
are whirlwinds of activity who are filled with energy and need little sleep, less than 6 hours. They are restless, impatient and easily bored, needing constant stimulation… and tend to dominate conversations. They are driven, ambitious and veritable forces of nature in pursuit of their goals. While these goals may appear grandiose to others, they are supremely confident of success—and no one can tell them otherwise…. They can be exuberant, charming, witty, gregarious but also arrogant…. They are impulsive in ways that show poor judgment, saying things off the top of their head, and acting on ideas and desires quickly, seemingly oblivious to potentially damaging consequences. They are risk takers who seem oblivious to how risky their behavior truly is. They have large libidos and often act out sexually. Indeed all of their appetites are heightened.
This description doesn't just match Clinton; it also sounds an awful lot like Trump. He reports, for example, “I usually sleep only four hours a night,” which by itself is usually a pretty reliable indicator of hypomania, and something he boasts about: “How can you compete against people like me if I sleep only four hours?” He claims to work seven days a week, and in a typical 18-hour day makes “over a hundred" phone calls and have “at least a dozen meetings.” “Without passion you don't have energy, without energy you have nothing!” Trump has tweeted. Hence his taunt of Jeb Bush as “a low energy person,” by contrast. Like most hypomanics, he is distractible. “Most successful people have very short attention spans. It has a lot to do with imagination,” he once wrote. He is correct. The same rapidity of thought that helps engender creativity makes it difficult to stay on one linear track of ideas without skipping to the next. Like most hypomanics, he follows his “vision, no matter how crazy or idiotic other people think it is.” Trump sees himself as a person of destiny and no one is going to talk him out of it. Trump's inflated self-esteem is illustrated by the fact that his net worth is reported by Forbes to be $4 billion, a fraction of the $10 billion he claims. It’s not just hyperbole: Hypomanics' wild optimism systematically distorts their perceptions.

Dripping with arrogance, Trump is an uber-aggressive alpha male who gleefully dominates, bullies, and colorfully disparages his competitors and critics. His hypomanic energy gives him that elusive charisma: Whether you love him or hate him (and charismatic figures produce such polarized responses) he makes himself the center of attention, the most exciting figure on the stage, who consumes all the oxygen in the room.

mr. miracle BEEN saying true things about other denizens of the psychopathocracy

cbsnews |  On Saturday, he took aim at top aide Huma Abedin, who has been embroiled in the recent controversy over Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure at the State Department, and accused her of sharing classified information with her husband. Abedin's husband, the former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, also suffered a few Trump insults. 

"[Abedin's] receiving very, very important information and giving it to Hillary. Who else is she giving it to? Her husband has serious problems and on top of that, he now works for a public relations firm," Trump said Saturday in a press conference following an appearance at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA) convention in Nashville.

Trump added that Abedin was "married to a guy who is obviously psychologically disturbed," referencing the lewd photo scandal that forced Weiner to resign from Congress in 2011. Trump had previously donated $2,000 to Weiner's 2010 congressional campaign, according to the Washington Post.

"So how can she be married to this guy who's got these major problems? She's getting her most important information, it could be, in the world. Who knows what he's going to do with it? Forget about her," the Republican contender continued. "What she did is a very dangerous thing for this country, and probably it's a criminal act." 

A recent investigation found that while Abedin, a current Clinton campaign staffer, worked for the former secretary at the State Department, she had forwarded at least one email that contained potentially classified information.

Trump went after Clinton herself, for comments likening some Republican views on abortion to be expected "from some of the terrorist groups."

"I thought what Hillary Clinton said about terrorists and Republicans being terrorists was a disgraceful statement and she should take it back," Trump said. "She insulted many, many great people."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

relentless criticism of mr. miracle reveals the fundamental weakness of his critics...,

WaPo |  This cartoon, which comes from the pen of Clay Bennett, the editorial cartoonist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, expresses the belief of almost all of the Republican establishment.

Sure, Donald Trump is leading in the polls everywhere right now, but so was Howard Dean at this point in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary race. And Dean wound up flaming out with Democrats making the "Dated Dean, Married Kerry" bumper sticker a very real thing.

So, eventually, the thinking goes, Trump's support will flame out. The Summer of Trump will turn into the fall of discontent (or something). People who say they are for Trump now are having a laugh but will come to their senses when the actual time to vote nears and they start caring about things like electability. Or Trump will fundamentally disqualify himself in some meaningful way some time soon.

The "sober up" metaphor, of course, isn't entirely new. Seth Meyers has predicted that same thing.

msnbc - following npr's lead - continues shrinking its cathedral big boxes to tiny pop-ups...,

WaPo |  If nothing else, the Sunday move reduces Sharpton’s broadcast time from five hours per week to one hour per week. His activist stature on MSNBC just sustained an 80 percent drop. The clash between Sharpton’s incarnations emerged in striking ways during MSNBC’s coverage of the cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner — instances where Sharpton functioned as an advocate for the families and helped to organize protests. “He has an important voice for any audience, but especially for our audience on justice, civil rights and equality issues and we want that voice to be part of menu of things that MSNBC has to offer,” says the NBC News source.

That voice will have less opportunity to showcase its activism, meaning that the sources he formerly interviewed on “PoliticsNation” may opt for other shows on the network. “If you’re an Eric Garner family member . . . you might be more comfortable on [Sharpton’s Sunday show] but you might want to get on the ‘Today’ show,” said the NBC News source.

Sharpton’s Sunday show starts on Oct. 4, and his current gig ends on Sept. 4. MSNBC executives proudly note that the host never missed a single show — which could be a tribute to Sharpton’s nails-man diet (daily intake: a salad and whole wheat toast). Tonight the network is throwing a “little party” to celebrate the host’s tenure; hold the starches!

Friday, August 28, 2015

an obsequious fawning barnacle attacks mr. miracle on behalf of the molluscs....,

fp |  As you drive in through Queens, where LaGuardia Airport and the World’s Fair grounds once stood, you see emerging amid the cranes and the scaffolding the outlines of the Trump Presidential Resort and Casino. Gambling has been legal across America since shortly after his election, providing most of the funding for many of the new president’s signature major projects, from the gilding of customs halls to extending health insurance coverage to include free Hair Club for Men and most forms of plastic surgery for women (or as the new president called it, his “Be Kind to Dogs Act”) to ensuring that every public high school in America has the “Trump bare essentials,” including a heliport, cafeteria cocktail waitresses, and laser teeth whitening for disadvantaged students.

Through all the glitz, however, you notice that the city is starting to take on many of the other grimmer hallmarks of past Trump development projects. Like Atlantic City, it seems full of busloads of the elderly being led past assorted hookers, small-time hoods, and Elvis impersonators. Yakov Smirnoff is the toast of Broadway. And, of course, the city has embraced one of Trump’s favorite financing techniques — bankruptcy. (Just “taking advantage” of the country’s laws, as he likes to put it. Or as he memorably put it in his first inaugural, “Only a schmuck wouldn’t use those laws to cancel the nation’s debt. Serves those Chinese investors who bought U.S. Treasurys right. Am I the nation’s best deal-maker, or what?”)

It is not very luxe on the southern border either. There, a 30-foot-high wall dressed up with the finest gilded barbed wire on top (“I have the biggest heart. The biggest.”) extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. There is just one small door situated between Ju├írez and El Paso. Over it a sign reads “Servant’s Entrance.” Next to it is a small stand with copies of what has become known as the Trump Constitution, available in “English and Mexican.” One notable alteration is that the 14th Amendment has been deleted. (“Some top legal minds think you can fix the whole problem with white-out. So, that’s what I did. If someone wants to sue, they can sue. Good luck winning now that I can print my own money. Am I the world’s best problem solver, or what?”)

The place where the shine has really come to America, however, is clearly in the White House. Everybody in the country remembers the hourlong television special that featured first lady Melania Knauss-Trump taking Americans on a Jackie Kennedy-like tour of the renovated grounds and “world class” executive mansion. With fountains like those at Las Vegas’s Bellagio (“only classier, much, much classier”), the actual Hall of Mirrors from Versailles (“I made Hollande an offer he couldn’t refuse”), and monitors/screens in every room that stream an around-the-clock live broadcast of a presidential reality show that now is showing on every C-SPAN channel (“And the ratings are killer! I am crushing Dancing with the Stars.), it is not the first Trump Palace, but is now certainly the biggest. (Admittedly, it nearly burned down during Trump’s first state dinner when well-known hothead turned Secretary of State John Bolton actually spontaneously combusted, setting Chinese President Xi Jinping on fire while he was eating the “double” Big Mac the president had promised him. But as the president said, “Fire, what fire? Next question.”)

mr. miracle says "tax the molluscs and help the people!"

WaPo  |  Here's what he told Bloomberg Politics in a television interview Wednesday:

"I would say that the hedge fund people make a lot of money and they pay very little tax. I'm about the middle class. I want the middle class to be thriving again. We're losing our middle-class. ... I would let people that are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they're paying very little tax, and I think it's outrageous. I want to lower taxes for the middle class."

Asked if he was proposing to raise taxes on himself, Trump replied: "That's right. That's right. I'm okay with it, ready, willing. And you've seen my statements. I mean I do very well. I don't mind paying some tax. The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. The middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys. But I know people in hedge funds, they pay almost nothing, and it's ridiculous, okay?"

That doesn't sound like a Republican candidate for ... almost anything, really. It sounds like Warren Buffett, the billionaire who became a public spokesman for President Obama's efforts to raise taxes on the rich.

Economic policymaking in the Obama era has been dominated in part by a knock-down partisan fight over whether couples earning $450,000 or more should pay a top tax rate of 35 percent or 39.6 percent. The next Democratic nominee will almost certainly propose raising that rate even more. The Republican nominee will almost certainly propose to cut it.

Unless, that is, the GOP nominates the richest candidate in its field.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

cathedralized media and politics not dispassionate, they're vindictive, conniving, and passive aggressive...,

theatlantic |  His statements are completely consistent with his approach to both his business and entertainment careers, which was to connect with people’s guts at the expense of their reason. In his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, Trump explained his modus operandi: “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies.  People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do.  That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.  People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.”

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about the “anger”and “frustration”of Trump’s supporters. But it’s not just anger. Tapping all of the passions, including avarice and lust, is the unifying theme of his career. And therein lies the problem.

People have been wrestling with the problem of the passions in politics as far back as Plato and Aristotle. Plato described three parts of the soul—the appetites (like lust), the spirited (military courage), and reason. Reason was a charioteer trying to control the “dark steed” of the passions. The only way to control the appetites was to force the horse to the ground and whip him until he bled.

It’s a violent metaphor, but the ancient diagram has proven stable, continuing today in modern brain science, and even the Pixar movie Inside Out, which tracks the teenage protagonist’s struggle to understand and control her inner impulses.

The problem of the passions in politics was central to the thinking of America’s founders, as well. Take James Madison, the father of the Constitution. As a boy studying with his tutor Donald Robertson, Madison first learned the idea that “our passions are like Torrents which may be diverted, but not obstructed.”

In college, Madison was taught by the great Scottish cleric John Witherspoon that passions originated in an object of intense desire. Passions of love included admiration, desire, and delight. Passions of hatred were envy, malice, rage, and revenge. Most important however was the “great and real” distinction between selfish and benevolent passions. A benevolent passion, Witherspoon taught, came from the happiness of others. A selfish passion stemmed from gratification (like Donald Trump’s stroking of his own ego)—and was the most dangerous to a republic.

The passions are slippery for anyone seeking to control them, particularly in democracies with free speech. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be tamed.

system of governance a fraudulent house of cards unable to withstand honest aggression...,

usatoday |  Donald Trump says he's not a bully and, clinically, he may be right.

On Wednesday, Trump was again defending himself following the latest in a series of spats with network television personalities — this time with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who Trump's security detail booted from a news conference the previous night in Iowa.

"I am not a bully,'' the real estate magnate and Republican presidential candidate said on the TODAY show.

Americans may describe the billionaire businessman's behavior in many ways, but psychologists and experts told USA TODAY that textbook bullying shouldn't be one of them. The greater challenge, the bullying experts say, is explaining the reasons for Trump's popularity in a culture that is supposed to frown on naked aggression.

"Bullying is the repeated, intentional harm of another person who has less power than you do,'' said Dewey Cornell, a forensic psychologist and bullying expert at the University of Virginia.
"If it’s him and Rosie O’Donnell going at each other, they may have comparable power,'' he said.
Patti McDougall, associate professor of psychology at the University of Saskatchewan echoed that, saying "bullying does not happen when you’ve got two equals in a fight.''

Most of Trump's targets — from prominent media figures like Ramos and Fox News's Megyn Kelly to fellow presidential candidates — have societal power in their own right.

Trump has singled out Kelly, one of the nation's most-watched cable news hosts, ever since she pointedly questioned him during a Fox News debate. He later insinuated she was menstruating at the time and, since then, he's hurled insults at her, including retweeting a message on Twitter that called her a "bimbo."

The attacks became too much for Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who on Tuesday called on Trump to apologize.

presstitutes vexed cause mr. miracle won't quit or submit...,

rollingstone |  His signature moment in a campaign full of them was his exchange in the first debate with Fox's Kelly. She asked him how anyone with a history of calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals" could win a general election against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton.
"I've been challenged by so many people," Trump answered. "I frankly don't have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, the country doesn't have time either….We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico….We lose to everybody."

On the surface, Kelly was just doing her job as a journalist, throwing Trump's most outrageous comments back at him and demanding an explanation.

But on another level, she was trying to bring Trump to heel. The extraction of the humiliating public apology is one of the media's most powerful weapons. Someone becomes famous, we dig up dirt on the person, we rub it in his or her nose, and then we demand that the person get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness.

The Clintons' 1992 joint interview on 60 Minutes was a classic example, as was Anthony Weiner's prostration before Andrew Breitbart and Chris Christie's 107-minute marathon apologia after Bridgegate. The subtext is always the same: If you want power in this country, you must accept the primacy of the press. It's like paying the cover at the door of the world's most exclusive club.

Trump wouldn't pay the tab. Not only was he not wrong for saying those things, he explained, but holding in thoughts like that is bad for America. That's why we don't win anymore, why we lose to China and to Mexico (how are we losing to Mexico again?). He was saying that hiding forbidden thoughts about women or immigrants or whoever isn't just annoying, but bad for America.