Safe For Work Links To Kill Time At Work

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Happy Friday! Where to start, where to start? How about a Political Parrots teaser?

While there are questions about what President Trump’s transition team knew and when – now we know what Vice President Pence is busy working on. By the way “transition team” is code for Vice President Mike Pence. Bloomberg

Speaking of Pence…Did Sixpence None the Richer write the most 90’s song ever?

Millennial Musings:

Breaking News: Baby Booms are more entitled than…well…everybody. Here’s the proof. Marketwatch

Did the Great Recession divide the Millennial generation? The StarTribune thinks so.

Now you too can avocado-toast shame your Millennial wife. USA Today

Student loan shenanigans, the auto industry is reeling and Goldman Sachs puts out a dire warning this week:

The Department of Education estimates that more than eight million federal student loan borrowers have entered default — described as failing to make payment on their debts for at least 12 months. Marketwatch

NPR looks at U.S. Government Officials Playing Hardball On Student Loan Defaults.

Ford Motor will cut 10% of it’s salaried workers and auto sales dropped nearly 5 percent in the first quarter of 2017. CBS News asks, Why?

Goldman Sachs says that a “correction”, which is code word for everyone loses shit or a collapse of housing prices – is most likely to happen in 4 countries over the next 5 to 8 quarters.

Pop Goes the Culture:

Soundgarden’s first show was with a New York band called Three Teens Kill Four; its second was with the Melvins and Hüsker Dü.  Sadly, with the passing of Chris Cornell there won’t be another show for Soundgarden. Kim Neely interviewed Cornell and bandmates for Rolling Stone in 1992 – and it’s a nostalgic walk down memory lane – drenched in PBR, flannel and rock and roll.

Another reason why sports ball stadiums are a bad idea: Publicly Funded, Billionaire Handouts, Easy Political Gimmick , and Slave Labor. Seriously, fuck the World Cup. Deadspin.com

As if you needed another reason to hate Big-Pharma – they’re infiltrating daytime soap operas…for marketing purposes of course. Vox.com

Star Trek is coming back to small screen:

Political Parrots: 

Remember that crazy guy from the GOP Convention last summer? No, the other one. Nope, not that one. David Clarke is now (apparently/presumably ((Assuming his ties to Russia don’t come to light in the next 7-10 days)) joining the Department of Homeland Security.  Here is a list of horrible incidents connected to him. Fusion

Can former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn ignore a congressional subpoena? Vice.com

The creator of fake news has died. The Ringer

Larry Wilmore talks to Bernie Sanders and asks: Is the Democratic Party a progressive party? The Ringer

News From The Front:

Nathan Bowe asks: Is child care, child protection getting lost in political dust? Dl-Online.com

Now relax and watch:

 

This Week on the Interwebs

The Controlled Burn
A lot happened this week, but I keep coming back to the Joker line in The Dark Knight, sometimes people just want to “watch the world burn.” Not much unites the country these days, but one thing nearly everyone under the age of 45 can agree on, the status quo has not been working for some time.

Beginning a new regular-to-semi-regular series on this website, an internet and news of the week round-up that will be graph-laden and told in a very ad-hoc manner. For the article and commentary news round-up, Pat Meacham has you covered.

Depending on your perspective, this week was either the beginning of Watergate Part II (dir. by Oliver Stone, I’m assuming….), or just another week of the “liberal conspiracy media” trying to ruin the Trump agenda. We’re not doing a very good job as a society of “piercing bubbles” so far, although I will continue nonetheless.

Approval 2 (Boomer Division)
We just crossed the 100 days marker not too long ago, here is where Trump stands, and keep in mind this was before the Comey firing. Most importantly, look at the general trend of the erosion of trust and support for Presidents (in line with eroding support for other American institutions) over the years. Post-Watergate I, partisanship was high but then confidence was briefly restored before returning with a vengeance as soon as the boomer generation assumed complete control of all elected branches of government (Fmr. President Clinton and onward).
Approval 1
Yes, President Trump is different than previous times of polarization and partisanship. He is the most polarizing President in the history of polling. This graph is from right after the inauguration. 
Russia GDP Growth Rate
I don’t pay much attention to the particulars of the Russia investigations. I have no doubt in my mind Putin and Russia wanted Trump elected. Why? 7 straight quarters of negative GDP growth. Russia under Putin has not thrived at all, just the opposite. And if our nation emulates their system we will suffer the same fate (minus differences in natural resources, etc.) and even more stagnant growth (more on this later).

….while we’re on the subject of the future of U.S. public policy…

And America
From the Willy Wonka Honest Trailer on YouTube–check it out if you have time. Hilarious and also this…
What Obesity Used to Look Like
More than 1/3 of U.S. adults are obese and 17.5% of children, couple this with the damning statistic of 20% of U.S. children being in poverty (obviously, through no fault of their own), compared to 4.8% for the Netherlands, there is a lot of room for improvement beyond meaningless and mostly symbolic statements like: “the children are our future.” The obesity crisis has gone under-reported in the U.S. media and has been but one of many reasons that there is no easy fix to the U.S. health care system.

Speaking of….

Fate of 18 Midterms on Older Boomers
If you think the impact of the AHCA passing will surely deliver both houses of Congress to the Democratic Party, think again. You’re counting on a demographic who has voted reliably Republican or Democrat for some time. 
Truth
Ain’t this the truth….
The Pre-existing condition
Please tell me again how the “children are our future?” And why did Hillary Clinton not run on ending child poverty? “It’s Time” to do X, Y, and Z would have been a far better appeal than “I’m With Her” or “Stronger Together”, but I digress. All of this assumes the elites of the Democratic Party knew what they were doing.
Math Is Hard For Fox News
Fox News has had cosmic justice enforced on them in abundance lately. Scandal after scandal, but they can still trot out their old reliable trademark of using accurate statistics to incredibly mislead people. Jeez… if only former President Obama had pressed the job creation button on January 21st…

While we’re on the subject of President Obama, the following undermine GOP arguments that he spent too much during his administration.

So it looks like it wasn’t wild spending, but rather something else that has caused the new normal of sluggish growth. It certainly isn’t sluggish for the wealthy and big corporations….ah, the “job creator” class, what an utter myth.

Consumers create jobs for the most part and workers create value. And until even the so-called “capitalists” of this country understand that, we’re going to suffer from stagnant growth because…. the masses are nearly out of money because…. see below.

Distribution of Income During Expansion
The story since the late 70’s has been unequal growth, wages not rising with productivity and inflation, and its starting to catch up with us no matter who is in charge. Why? Because Tom Frank is right–there is no “party of the people” right now and hasn’t been for some time (circa late 70’s, notice a trend here?)

This has led to a distribution that looks like this….

wealth in america
Clearly, something will have to give here.

There are some that will keep banging the drums for the “magic”, but most working people pounding pavement and trying to take care of their families know the truth–the link between effort and reward is gone and has been for some time.

Want to know what’s behind the actual American carnage and why none of 45’s and the far-right to Alt-Right cabal’s policies will work? Because there is a fundamental disconnect between the world that elites inhabit, and organized money protects, and the actual reality of what is going on and has been the trend in American life for some time.

And this is why the most relevant historical force in the 2016 Presidential election was not Donald Trump–but rather it was Bernie Sanders.

He has proven that small dollar donations can break the donor class monopoly of our political system, or at the very least has proven you can put up one hell of a fight and maybe next (demographically speaking) things will break your way. If it is not broken up, it’ll be hard for much of anything to be made “great”again, although I’d very much settle for “good” outcomes at this point.

Indeed, Mr. Norris was right. We are cursed to live (or fortunate to live?) in interesting times. Anyone who has been following developments between the Alt-Right and far-left clashing on college campuses lately, or developments like this can conclude that we are cursed to live in interesting times.

So I keep coming back to the Joker and “watching the world burn.”

There are those who have settled into the world as it is and those (overwhelmingly under 45) who are dreaming of the world as it should be. I think the common thread that binds a lot of millennials, most Gen-X’ers, and younger folks together will be our desire to “burn it down.”

The key difference will be what type of burn. At the outset I showed a “controlled burn” that farmers utilize to help the soil and rotate crops. I believe the controlled burn is far preferable to what the Alt-Right is and wants, which I will call the “moral hazard burn.”

The Moral Hazard Burn
That’s all for now, folks.

Take care of each out there. And stay tuned for Agreeing Loudly and the Margin of Error.

Purely Satirical Country Announced as Finalist for 2017 Mark Twain Prize

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The United States of America, a country of about 320 million people, has become a finalist for the 2017 Mark Twain prize given to excellence in humor.

New York, NY —

Hoping to join the ranks of Richard Pryor, Tina Fey, George Carlin, and other luminaries and icons of comedy, America, under the title of “Murca” has enjoyed near-universal praise from humor and literary critics for its commitment to the unique brand of satire that has allowed brilliant deadpans such as Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and Lily Tomlin (who once endured an insane barrage of abuse on set from film director David O. Russell, seriously this happened) who also won the award.

No one is quite sure when this country, which began its history in 1776 and transformed into the United States of America after the Declaration of Independence, began its full performance piece, ranges estimate anywhere from 1966, to 1980, to 2015, when the most recent Presidential campaign began. Future cultural treasure Carson Starkey noted on Facebook in recent years that “all conservative policy solutions operate as high-brow, sophisticated satire.”

He definitely has a point that a country engaging in policies of forever war, tax giveaways to plutocrats, all in the midst of a second Gilded Age and increasingly unsustainable levels of economic inequality, couldn’t possibly be a “serious” country when the major policy proposals to combat these realities are more forever war, tax giveaways to plutocrats, corporate socialism, and now it appears, forced consumerism.

“Clearly, at some point probably in 1955, when William F. Buckley founded the National Review to, or perhaps 1966, when major U.S. states began electing actors as Governors, a long-game socio-cultural satire of performance art was planned to squander away the broadly shared wealth of the post-war economy and progress being made toward racial and class harmony”, Starkey explained.

The grand crescendo of the “Murca” performance piece was the entire 2016 election cycle up until present day, when a Macy’s Tie Salesman and professional con artist was elected as Head of State of this entirely satirical country, making the final plunge into irony, satire, and reality merging as one comic unit. Hoping to follow up the performance piece, the writers and planners of “Murca” are hoping to extend the high-brow satire all the way to “Earth” throughout the next four years.

The committee that hands out the award is a little confused on who exactly should be awarded it. “With 320 million people involved in what I think is the most brilliant and long-lasting performance art in human history, we’re not quite sure who should speak on behalf, but we’re leaning toward the Head of State and Government himself, President Donald Trump.”

The President tweeted out that he would be honored to receive the award on behalf of the United States of America for its performance piece: “Murca”

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 9.36.14 PM

Editorial clarification: “Murca” is merely nominated, but has not yet won. Getting information correct these days in an era where technology has made things so much easier is but one of the many reasons the committee saw fit to nominate the United States of America for the Mark Twain Prize in humor.

Episode 46: And the Award Goes to…

 

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On this month’s episode of Agreeing Loudly Coast to Coast, Bill Nentl makes his triumphant return from his multi-month suspension. In celebration of this momentous occasion, the Agreeing Loudly brain trust (minus one Pat Meacham) discuss their thoughts on who will win Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards, the latest Trumptastrophes, and some more public policy they think would make the world a better place.

Will Bill be able to make it through one episode without being suspended again? Tune in now to find out! Hate using your data for podcasts, then download it instead.

The Agreeing Loudly Reboot

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Catch the Agreeing Loudly Coast to Coast (ALC2C) flagship podcast on a monthly basis now, via iTunes, AgreeingLoudly.com, stitcher, etc. Follow us on Twitter and be sure to tune into the Margin of Error podcast as well, featuring AL.com contributors Alan Branstiter and Carson Starkey.

Is banding together as a generation from coast to coast each week too much for you? It sure was for us. But is once a month the ticket? I agree.

AL.com announces its new format of one podcast per month. Less is more, unless you are Marvel or Star Wars, in which case more is more and we’re going to make you double-dip until the end of time because you cannot help yourself.

If once per month doesn’t do the trick, and you want more high-brow pointy headedness instead, go on over to our Friends of the Podcast section or click here to check out Margin of Error. Simultaneously overeducated and under-qualified, MoE continues on similar threads and themes we have discussed at AL.com and on the podcast but goes more in-depth, more thorough, and generally speaking, is the NPR to ALC2C’s MSNBC or Fox News.

Tune in to the 8th episode where The Margin of Error will be featuring an interview with a contributor from Rick Perlstein’s and Thomas Frank’s “The Baffler” magazine. Join them (and us) on a relentless and unforgiving journey on our way to advertising dollars, pointy-headed intellectualism, and further millennial musings from public citizens, because someone has to be….

Furthermore, stay tuned to AgreeingLoudly.com for an Election Predictions and Analysis article in the next week and much more to come after that.

Agreeing Loudly Presents “The Lost Nixon Tapes”

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Portrait of President Richard M. Nixon

While we are awaiting the regular launch of the 2nd season of the Agreeing Loudly flagship “Coast to Coast” podcast with Pat, Bill, Jered, and various special guests — we thought we’d clue everyone in on some fantastic developments that our “Spotlight” team has been working on — the “Lost” Nixon Tapes. Like Presidents before him and some since, 37th President Richard M. Nixon taped nearly his entire Presidency. After the watergate scandal and being the first and only U.S. President to resign the office before his term was up, Nixon fought hard to protect the release of his tapes. Even today, not all of them have been released. Which brings us to now… our “Spotlight” team has discovered a cache of “Lost” Nixon White House tapes. Here is the first video below. For best results, since the audio is difficult to understand given that it was recorded decades ago, put your subtitles on.

 

My Endorsement in the Often Overlooked Cat Primary

by Troy M. Olson

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Harrison J. Potter (S-NY), in his Manhattan office.

While Americans from coast to coast are distracted by the Presidential primaries, an often overlooked cat primary is happening.

I’d like to use this space to show my support for Harrison J. Potter, of the SophistiCat Party, for the office of Emperor of the World.

Harrison has overcame great difficulties in his life to get where he is today, and if you hear it directly from him, the stories are legendary.

His Mother abandoned him in a rainstorm in rural Minnesota, he convinced his adoptive Mother to take him in as a mentor to her kittens. He used his natural size advantages to grow even stronger, and used his charm to convince the humans to bring him into the house. This is the kind of charm a cat will need to lead the cat revolution.

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Potter, 7, originally of Minnesota, often draws strength from his hero, Alexander Hamilton. Harrison considers himself an adherent to a Strong Central Food Source, internal furnishings for a variety nap choices, and is adamantly opposed to his unsophisticated feral opponent.

“Harry” as he is often affectionally called by the people, is strong willed, a self-starter, vocal, very vocal, and knows exactly when to turn on the charm. He will negotiate much better trade deals with Siamese Cats, and will use his impressively sharp teeth to ward off clumsy humans who might be stepping on your tail.

This November, I strongly urge you to vote Potter!

This message has been paid for by Harry for Cat Emperor.

Game of Thrones as U.S. Politics

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A few days ago, former Politico CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei, in response to what he saw as a two-party system in American politics that predominately caters to economically comfortable buffoons, proposed that we create a third party. The problem with radical centrist VandeHei’s proposal, is that his third party ideas, in addition to promoting unpopular policies bordering on insanity, would basically create a third major American political party that predominately caters to economically comfortable buffoons.

Despite VandeHei’s insane call for a third party that is very similar to the two we already have, and despite basically calling for an age of an actual American empire, as opposed to a half-hearted attempt at one, the idea of multiple official and unofficial factions and alliances often seen in European parliamentary democracies is appealing and far more interesting to anyone who has studied political science. In honor of “Game of Thrones” sixth season premiere, Carson Starkey and I waxed philosophic on what multiple factions, personalities, and regions would look like if we were comparing American politics to the Kingdoms of Westeros and beyond. Enjoy!

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Donald Trump and Right-Wing Drag

by Allan Branstiter

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The Trump campaign’s drag qualities aren’t simply painted on The Donald’s orange face. It can also be found in the cartoonish enthusiasm and beliefs of his supporters.

About a week ago I joined others who were drawing connections between Donald Trump’s campaign performances and the spectacle of professional wrestling. While I still think that notion of kayfabe—the ability of a wrestler to portray staged events as real—and wrestling’s ability to appeal directly to the audiences emotions explains quite a lot about Trump’s popularity, I think another form of “low-brow” popular spectacle can help us understand the Donald. Simply put, Donald Trump is the queen of right-wing drag.

This idea crossed my mind as I was reading Jonathan Chait’s recent post about the current schism within the Republican Party. Chait argues that the Trump vs. #NeverTrump divide does not follow the long-standing traditional ideological differences between the GOP’s ideological center and fringe—nor is a geographic division between northeastern Rockefeller Republicans and the Solid South. “Instead,” Chait writes, “the divide runs high-low, splitting conservatism as an idea from conservatism as an instinct.” So what does this have to do with drag?

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In Our Post-Factual World, Kayfabe is King

by Carson Starkey

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“By Any Means Necessary”

At some point in the not-so-distant future, The Nation of Domination will “interrupt” a Donald Trump rally/speech. They will appear suddenly in a doorway, bathed in spotlights, wielding baseball bats, chains, and tire irons. They will begin marching towards the main stage, advancing on scattered groups of terrified, hysterical, elderly white Fox News viewers to the sounds of NWA’s “Fuck Tha’ Police.” Images of Barack Obama transforming into Malcolm X will adorn the venue’s Jumbotrons.

Moments before The Nation can reach Trump’s podium to complete their attack on freedom and destroy America, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chuck Norris, and Hulk Hogan will emerge from behind a curtain on the stage. They will be armed with American flags and steel chairs emblazoned with “Made in America,” as well as the United Steelworkers logo. Their spotlights will be larger. They will be surrounded by pyrotechnics while Bruce Springsteen’s immortal “Born in the USA” seizes control of the sound system, drowning out the evil, morally deficient, food stamp-encouraging hippity hop jungle music of the savage, unpatriotic attackers. Michaels, Austin, Norris, and Hogan will dispatch every member of The Nation with a combination of their signature finishers, and blows leveled with their white nationalist accouterments.

After Hogan levels Farooq/Ron Simmons with a dose of freedom, “Barack Obama” (played by Jay Pharoah) and “Hillary Clinton” (played by Kate McKinnon) will descend from the rafters, screaming “DEATH TO AMERICA!” The Illegitimate Kenyan Pretender and the Chief Feminazi Conspirator of Benghazi will attempt to aid their subversive nonwhite comrades.

Before Obama Hussein and Jane Fonda Clinton can enslave Real America, “George W. Bush” (played by George W. Bush) and “Dick Cheney” (played by Dick Cheney) will emerge from a previously undetected space beneath the stage. Bush-Cheney will overwhelm Obama-Clinton with respect for traditional values, devotion to capitalism, and freedom. Bush and Cheney will incapacitate Obama with a double vertical suplex through a table. America’s greatest cowboy hat-bedecked duo will complete their triumph with a double powerbomb of Clinton from atop of the main stage, onto a conveniently placed stack of Rachel Maddow books.

America’s glorious heroes will embrace. The crowd will shriek “TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP!” Trump will raise his hands high in victory, humbled by the show of conservative solidarity, and ready to win a general election.

Get used to saying “President Trump,” an America without social insurance, and seeing a whole lot more of Vince McMahon for the next eight years.