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.

Farewell Barry, and Thank You.

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Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the United States

New York, NY — The other night before going to bed I watched the Netflix original “Barry.” The film was a slice-of-life moment during Barack Obama’s years at Columbia undergrad in New York City.

Last night, I was barnstorming NYC going from protests to anti-inauguration networking events and fundraisers and meeting many people I have never met before. Like so many conversations with friends and complete strangers since November 8th, my faith in the basic decency of the American people was reinforced yet again. I don’t blame soon-to-be (and likely is as you read this) former President Barack Obama for believing in that same basic decency.

Six weeks ago, I had a dream I was a White House aide, serving at the pleasure of the President. It was the series finale of “West Wing: Obama Edition.” I was summoned into the Oval Office, not unlike Charlie Young often was for Jed Bartlet: “what would you have done differently, Troy?”

“Permission to speak freely Mr. President?”

“Granted”, replied the President, on his last night of service after eight years in office.

“Well Mr. President, I would have….pursued something big and grand first, but it would not have been health care reform. At least not if it is going to be the Heritage Foundation’s plan from the early-90s. I would have pursued a carbon tax, put a down payment on a 21st century green economy infrastructure, bailed out homeowners and people instead of big banks, and then given everything that I had to get the world to succeed at Copenhagen in ’09, the “true last best hope” to stem the tide and roll back the worst effects of climate change the world had. Out of those successes I would have then taken the political capital to try and pass single payer healthcare before the 2010 midterms.”

Perhaps we’ll all learn just like Barack that these things are just out of our grasp. Not possible within this political system. But I still have to believe, and hope. 

What I will always remember about the Obama years is something I can be reminded of every day in the friends and company that I keep. I think Time magazine summed it up years ago best…

The Obama victory was not so much about his generation — but the kids two generations behind him, the college kids and recent graduates, blissfully color-blind, who spent patient months as organizers out in the most rural counties… They reminded me, in classic, solipsistic boomer fashion, of my own generation of the remarkable political activists who went down to Mississippi to register black voters and marched against another war, and came to politics in the Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy campaigns of 1968. That generation’s — my generation’s — passion gave us the propulsion to quickly move to the center of political life and the media. The end of their time — our time — in the driver’s seat may have begun in Iowa.

Whether or not Barack Obama goes on to win the nomination — and let’s not forget in the afterglow that this is truly an open question — his field army will endure and, because of their immense skill, they will bend the political process to their will in years to come. And years from now, when they meet in the corridors of power or academia or at the inevitable reunions, they’ll look at each other and smile, and they won’t even have to say the words: We did something amazing back in Iowa, on January 3, 2008, didn’t we?

– Joe Klein, Time Magazine

And this is the central Obama legacy. His policy legacy will very much be in doubt going forward — but the number of talented and inspiring young people that were brought into politics at a time when cynicism was high is what I truly believe will be the lasting legacy of the Obama years. I met so many great people helping get Barack Obama elected President and so many friendships were forged and strengthened.

Allan Branstiter. 

Pat Meacham.

Jered Weber.

Justin Norris.

Carson Starkey.

The list could go on, but I wanted to highlight these five friends and colleagues.

Allan Branstiter and I met in Fargo at an Obama event. He is an Iraq War vet, and in 2007 I revered Iraq War vets (I still do). I had always opposed the war but looked up to each and every veteran I knew. Allan made an immediate impact on me. On some level I must have made an impression on him because he asked me to help him out on his state senate campaign in North Dakota. He was nominated by the Dem-NPL. He said, “you have more connections than I do and I’ll need all the help I can get.” What Allan did not know at the time was that I probably barely had any more connections than he did.

Pat Meacham I have known for years but as you’ll see from the photo below — we spent some time in Iowa together in 2007 and 2010 campaigning and those photos below with then-Senator Obama and Michelle are hanging up at the Lakeside Tavern in Detroit Lakes, MN if you ever are strolling through that part of the country. It’s a wonderful place where I worked as a summer job during college. A lot of my work ethic was built at that place working double shifts with Pat, cooking and talking…dreaming about a better future.

Jered Weber was the only person who agreed to come down to Iowa with me in late ’07/’08 for the caucus because I had an almost fanatical belief that if Senator Obama won Iowa — he would become President. Jered and I struck up an immediate friendship over the campaign, our love of Star Wars, and being raised in small town America.

Justin Norris liked two candidates in the 2008 Democratic field a lot. Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Justin was the first politically involved person I met at Minnesota State and his encyclopedia-esque knowledge about U.S. History and Politics made me remark upon firs meeting him: “jeez, you’re a genius!” His response I will never forget — “nope, I’m just well read.”

I never knew Carson Starkey until my own Army deployment. He was finishing up undergrad while I was overseas. I saw him as basically doing “my story in reverse” and felt compelled to reach out to this humorist that was so dedicated to satire and sarcasm that he made Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert seem tame. If anyone is ever strolling through St. Paul, MN I highly recommend getting to know the Earl of Payne-Phalen.

What is the common thread that brought us together? Or the ties that bind? The Obama campaign and Presidency.

 

Four times I met the to-be President. Four times. Not gloating. But it happened. It turns out that in the end, I’m not much into hero worship. Barack Obama is no hero to me, and I’m no hero to anyone. The only heroes I’ve ever contemplated are the service members of the United States Armed Forces who gave the “last full measure of devotion.” Something tells me that even they would disagree that they are heroes.

**********

In addition to all the amazing and inspiring future leaders and public citizens I’ve met throughout the Obama years, I will also remember the words.

“Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope” are how I will partly remember the Obama years and my role as an American citizen in them.

“Dreams from My Father” is ironically titled you could say, and is a journey a young Barack “Barry” Obama was on that was shaped more by the absence of a Father than anything else. The Obama campaign, like a few things before it, and many things since, gave me a purpose and family away from my own wonderful, but dysfunctional and imperfect family. It brought me back from youthful alienation and into the community of people. Got me away from thinking about just myself. I gave up my pursuit of happiness, because even Thomas Jefferson is not right about everything, and I embarked on a pursuit of joy, which is a far more fulfilling pursuit.

“The Audacity of Hope” was a remarkable journey as well. Where I met amazing people and experienced a Presidential campaign that brought me to three different states, thousands of conversations with people I otherwise would not have met, got me addicted to the “politics of joy”, and impacted my life in ways I’m still pulling together. In the end, Barack was right. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” all along. Not in an egotistical way, but in a democratic way. In the only way a democracy and a civil society can be made more perfect, or truly whole again. With a little help from your friends, asking a little bit more out of yourself, and walking amongst others in a spirit of solidarity, embarking on life’s journey, side by side.

 

Goodbye Barry, and Thank You for serving and inspiring us all to be better citizens.

A Millennial Couple’s Journey From Saint Paul to New York City: Part Three – Morgantown, Mountains, and Entrance to the East Coast

by Troy M. Olson

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Our view entering Manhattan last August.

Morgantown, WV — Jacki and I began the last leg of our journey driving over the Appalachians on what was turning out to be a longer drive than we had planned. We thought we could get to New York City with all of our possessions in three days. However, since we had the Penske truck for five and a very angry cat, we took the more scenic route. We took our time. No regrets at all. Because traveling further south than we needed to allowed us to see family the night before officially arriving.

D.C. Suburbs — I got see my East Coast relatives on the night of August 1st, which was badly needed. Outside of coming back to Minnesota for funerals, seeing the Jones family of Maryland has been the only time this past year I’ve seen family. While I had experienced this lack of familiar connection before during my year long deployment earlier this decade, this time it affected me more because it was self-imposed and I was always just a plane ride away from the Midwest. As Jacki and I get more and more established out here, this is definitely something we will rectify.

The next day was going to be a long one, and Harrison Potter needed some exercise. He met his nearly identical tuxedo twin in McNugget. Several mosquito bites, even more kitty hair loss, and a night spent breaking things and we were ready to get to our new home.

East Coast and Our New Home — New York City, Borough of Manhattan, Harlem.

By midday on August 2nd of last year, nearly a year to the date where Frodo was stabbed on Weathertop (oops…wrong story), we arrived at our new home in the Heart of Harlem and began the arduous process of unloading the Penske truck. I saw the road ahead and it was not pretty. I immediately called the only human being I knew at the time in New York City, my lifelong friend and co-writer of various screenplays, famous pre-mudgeon and Brooklyn film industry alum Zach Kangas. One year later, I’m happy to report I know hundreds of fellow New Yorkers now, to varying degrees. However, only Zach would help me unload a Penske truck.

Jacki and I arrived in New York last year without guaranteed jobs, very little to our names, too many books to count (let alone, fit in our apartment), and about seven craft beers. Objectively speaking, moving here was insane. One year later though, I know now more than ever that it was the right move.

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What We’ve Learned So Far…  Jacki and I are now employed and more or less have been since the start. In fact, we work every single day in some capacity. Her in finance, and me in real estate. We could not have got here without the love and support of our extended families.

It is not lost on me that many would correctly point out, that we are gentrifiers in our new neighborhood. We are. It is a fact I’m very aware of each and every day. In a city as diverse and concentrated as New York, you end up seeing just about everything you can imagine. It’s easy to disappear into it. Looking back on a journey that took my wife and I from growing up in towns of under 10,000 to the second largest city on Earth (Tokyo, Japan is the largest), I cannot help but feel more connected to our common humanity than I’ve ever felt. Whether it is thinking back to then or looking at now and where we want to go.

Jacki and I have experienced nothing but a very welcoming and positive attitude. The old adage that New Yorkers are aggressive and mean is not necessarily true. I would argue New Yorkers are direct and to the point. While I always retain a good amount of my midwestern passive aggressive, in fact, a good amount of my satirical nature depends on it, the direct and “I’m outta time” nature of this city suits me at this stage in my life.

The one time either of us (Jacki) did face something unpleasant, it led to my favorite sentiment of all this past winter. Jacki was riding the subway when an older (white) woman yelled at her for being new to the neighborhood, for being a gentrifier. Irony being completely lost on this woman, she continued to single out Jacki until eventually, a black man stood up and said: “Everyone is welcome in this neighborhood.” This sentiment is undeniably America on its best days. It should be true for all communities and neighborhoods. Yes communities and neighborhoods. Don’t be fooled by the skyscrapers. Every American city is a series of communities where people find belonging and commonality each and every day, a series of neighborhoods both famous and unknown, new and old, and a series of streets named after Presidents, civil rights leaders, or just made up to be a numbered grid so tourists can’t get lost.

“Everyone is welcome in this neighborhood” is the country that I believe in. I hope it’s the one that you believe in too.

Benefit of the Doubt

Two things. One, I have long promised the third part of a three-part journey of my wife and I moving to New York City. Two, given the events of the past 48 hours, I just cannot bring myself to write that article yet.

There are no words that I can say that are adequate for how I and so many other people feel right now. My feelings are inadequate in comparison to the despair and pain of so many right now. I can only write from my personal experiences and hope to on some level, gain a level of perspective and empathy for the experiences of others. Walk a mile in someone else’s skin Atticus Finch said. But like the long awaited sequel to the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” published earlier this past year, this statement is limiting.

I don’t know what it is like to be a Black American. I cannot even claim to relate to anyone’s pain or experiences. If it were not for my experiences serving in the military, I am the epitome of entitlement in this country absent having the last name of Kennedy, Bush, Rockefeller or Clinton. Those experiences also give me another status. The status of being a veteran. One of the few remaining statuses, jobs, professions still with net-positive approval ratings in the United States of America right now. One of the others in recent polling was that of a police officer, who we often give the benefit of the doubt.

This is not meant to disparage the law enforcement profession, I’m not writing this piece to comment on the specific facts of the case. Countless violence has taken hold of our nation once again. I write now for the third time about violence in this country on this website. Instead of talking about guns I’m going to talk about people.

While I want so much to hide behind the satire that often characterizes Agreeing Loudly, I cannot bring myself to do so. I’ll get to the point directly.

There is something wrong when a country that comprises of the highest GDP on the planet and half of the so-called most elite universities cannot solve issues or improve outcomes that are clear as day.

There is something wrong when statistics show that law enforcement in America are trained eight times more on firearms than they are on deescalation of violence.

There is something wrong when policing outcomes provide racial disparities that fly in the face of basic sense and logic.

As much as I’d like to try and find silver linings, it’s become increasingly difficult the last few days. I’ll get there, but you’ll have to bear with me.

If you read my biography on this website, or elsewhere, I appear as the model student. When I was teenager, however, I was a truant and rebellious. I was an extremely bored kid in middle America who was not being challenged or engaged. I had a blade pulled on me when I was 18 years old by a neighbor for no apparent reason other than I was a young kid (another bias of this country, assuming members of a certain age must be up to no good) hanging out in the neighborhood that I resided in at the time. AL’s own Pat Meacham can verify this story. My neighbor pulled out a blade on me for “his protection.” I was unarmed and completely freaked out. Luckily, the situation resolved itself.

Not long after that, I was driving to vote in my hometown district in the 2004 Presidential Election when a seemingly deranged Vikings fan, perhaps upset of their loss earlier that day, pulled over his car, assaulted me, and took my keys. His alibi was that I was tail-gating him. Perhaps I was. That’s not the point.

The point is that when I think of those two instances where individuals who weighed more than me, were older than me, were in positions of power over me–I wonder if I’d even be alive today if I did not have white skin. Perhaps others would disagree, but I do not think I would be. More to the point, if I had black skin I’d likely be dead.

I was not perfect at this age, but in each of these instances I meant no harm. For the aggressive individual, I was wishing and hoping for them to give me that benefit of the doubt while I was just living my life at the time. It’s the same benefit I hope for if I happened to be driving with a broken taillight.

And that’s the kicker. The benefit of the doubt.

This country as it currently stands, does not give Black Americans the benefit of the doubt. We give law enforcement that benefit. Many even gave vigilante cop school drop-out George Zimmerman that benefit. Some have even gave Cliven Bundy and his band of federal-land holding “patriots” the benefit of the doubt. We rarely give Black Americans the benefit of the doubt though. And this is the ultimate privilege. Getting the benefit of the doubt.

It is a privilege that allows you to live and breathe and work each day, without having to think about the overall statistical unlikelihood that you will be unnecessarily killed. It is a privilege of human safety and comfort that is essential in modern society.

This country is not asking Black Americans to respect and follow the “rule of law” or whatever passes as the rule of law these days. We are asking Black Americans to be perfect, while nearly everyone else gets to have the benefit of the doubt.

Philando Castile did not get the benefit of the doubt. Others have not. Until this fundamental truth is addressed, these tragic events and their tragic aftermath, whether tangentially related or not, will continue in this country.

AP Mass Shooting Template Accidentally Published

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Above is the template picture to be replaced by the site of the shooting picture according to the accidentally published template —  this template picture is proof that most AP journalists are godless communists, that are planning to take your guns with their Star Trek quotes and hippie lifestyle.

Washington D.C. — At approximately noon today, an Associated Press journalist accidentally published the mass shooting in the United States template he had been working from for the past six years of his employment. Below is the text of that template.

**********

In what has seemingly become a daily occurrence in the United States, the latest mass shooting took place at [insert: city or town name here] and while we are still waiting for information to come in, authorities report that the alleged shooter is [insert first-middle-last name of shooter here] and has been [insert: apprehended or shot and killed or in critical condition here]. It is unclear at this time whether he [keep male pronoun throughout, a damn good time-saving assumption Jason!!] acted alone or whether there were accomplices, but we will be staying on top of this as more reports come out.

[First-middle-last name] is a [insert: ethnic or racial background here] and had a history of [insert: “choose your own adventure”story hereif White, disturbed or had history of mental health issues, if Black or Hispanic, potential gang-related activities, if Muslim, obvious references or potential ties and speculation to current terrorist group threatening the new key Middle Eastern region, and if Asian, see white person societal excuse for mass killing and perhaps add stress-related family pressures].

Prominent [insert: Democratic politician here] said that (his or her) “heart goes out to the victims and their families, it is inconceivable that this senseless, tragic, and avoidable violence must continue in our country. I call on my colleagues of both parties to act on sensible and publicly supported gun violence legislation.”

Prominent [insert: Republican politician here] said that (his or younger his) “thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I call upon my colleagues to not jump to hasty conclusions unless it ties into the wider ‘War on Terror’ rubric, and I also call on my colleagues of all faiths and denominations to pray in the House and Senate tomorrow.”

It is expected that the current round of conversations that we’ll hold nationally and publicly will result in a [insert: exact lay out of non-action and explanation of absolutely nothing changing] and this will be a hot-button issue on the campaign trail this fall, although [insert: statistic about how few people actually care about this when they vote to reaffirm the prevailing notion that nothing will change here.]

 

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?

Continue reading

In Our Post-Factual World, Kayfabe is King

by Carson Starkey

Nation_of_Domination
“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.

Kleiner Mann Joe Blue Collar, Was Nun?: The Way Forward for Those Who Don’t Care About The Heritage Foundation’s Agenda

By Carson Starkey

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Darren McCollester | Getty Images

Hans Fallada’s “Little Man, What Now?” was first published in 1932. Johannes Pinneberg, the protagonist, faces constant economic anxieties, petty humiliations, and social disillusionment in post-World War One Germany. He travels through a broad range of emotions, but most of all, he feels disconnected and abandoned…abandoned by faceless, uncaring “leaders.” As he sees it, somebody should be looking out for him. He doesn’t hold grandiose, sophisticated ideas about public policy, history, economics, or politics. He wants a steady job, a place to live free from his repulsive mother-in-law, affordable healthcare for his wife Emma, and food for his son Horst. He’s not angry about socialism, trade unionism, or fascism. He’s angry that self-declared “serious” people in government can’t or won’t protect him from avoidable misery. A fair number of scholars assert that the book acts a broad explanation for the future political success of fascism in Germany. Johannes Blue Collar wasn’t obsessed with waging expensive, seemingly endless warfare or subjugating everyone that disagreed with him politically. He just wanted to pay his bills and maintain some measure of human dignity. Of course that was true in 1932. It has been true throughout the course of human history. It’s true today. Which brings us to Joe Blue Collar in contemporary America and his broad interest in, if not sympathy with, Donald Trump.

What has been most intriguing, in my view anyway, about the rise of Trumpism (broad, detail-free populist declarations about making America great) are the reactions among Establishment or respectable conservatives. “Establishment conservatives” has come to mean Republican Party voters that favor millionaire welfare checks, eternal warfare with Muslims, and racial segregation without the burden of supporting a politically inexperienced, orange-skinned, toupee-adorned grifter who plies shoddy products at Macy’s. Now that Trump is going to be the Republican presidential nominee, respectable conservatives are melting down in highly public, Mel Gibson-esque spectacles that reveal the ugly yet honest ideological foundations of American conservatism. Respectable, establishment conservatives claim to care about intellectually serious matters like Supreme Court nominees, small government, or fiscal restraint…although no evidence exists to support the contention that those same conservatives have ever worried about such matters in the past three quarters of a century, unless we mean preserving low tax rates for rich people or criminalizing the existence of non-white people. No, what rankles self-proclaimed grown-up conservatives about Trump is that he’s giving away the inside game by verifying an uncomfortable suspicion that Heritage Foundation “scholars” have always attempted to suppress during campaigns. That is, most self-proclaimed conservative voters don’t care about the Ayn Rand agenda. While abolishing taxation, dissolving social insurance, and building Pax Americana are important causes to people who work at The Wall Street Journal, all that Jane or Joe Blue Collar care about relates to making financial ends meet. Which makes conservative aristocrats angry bordering on hysterical.

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Vorwärts: Post-Super Tuesday Hope for Sanders Supporters

by Allan Branstiter

Sanders addresses his supporters prior to Super Tuesday. | AP Photo

If you spend any time working in, volunteering for, or being around campaigns it’s way too easy to get inured to the cloud of cynicism that permeates every aspect of 21st-century American political life. I know that I’m all too guilty of giving up on candidates and writing off the American electorate’s dedication towards meaningful leftist reforms. During last night’s “Agreeing Loudly Coast to Coast” Super Tuesday extravaganza (you can watch it below or follow this link) I and some of my colleagues essentially declared Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign over. While I still believe Sanders’s path to victory is insurmountably narrow, there is hope . . . there is always hope.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I’m an enthusiastic reader of Jacobin magazine. Today, political scientist and author Corey Robin offered five theses arguing that Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign is not dead. Definitely read them yourself, but in sum they are:

  1. Close contests in Nevada, Iowa, and Massachusetts could have easily given seven states to Sanders and eight states to Clinton by now. These close contest demonstrate that Sanders’s best asset is his supporter’s energy and passion, while Clinton’s most potent weapon is her “aura of inevitability.” Don’t give into to the inevitability.
  2. Exit polling in Massachusetts show Sanders gaining support among racial minorities, the working and middle classes, first-time voters, independents, very liberal and moderate voters, and unmarried women (he nearly tied Clinton among women in Oklahoma). Clinton’s support comes from those making more than $100,000 per year, liberal voters, self-identified Democrats, and married women – all demographics who reliably turn-out to vote. Vote early; vote often.
  3. Sanders’s support comes from more people than white men. He won more female support in Vermont and New Hampshire, 41% of non-white voters in Massachusetts, and (maybe?) half of the Latino votes in Nevada. When Sanders wins a state, he tends to win in all demographic categories.
  4. The racial divide in this primary campaign is a real problem; however, non-white voters tend to be divided according to generation, with older voters supporting Clinton and younger voters supporting Sanders. According to a Reuters poll below, Sanders now enjoys more support among young African American voters than Clinton. Sanders also does well in racially diverse states outside the South, which shouldn’t be discounted, but will be won by the GOP in the 2016 general election (thanks, Shelby County v Holder). Future states look better than the South for Sanders.
  5. Outside the South, Sanders has won or came close to winning every single state. Moving forward, the electorate looks much friendlier for him. Don’t believe Nate Silver and Vox. This can still be won.
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Support for candidates among African-American voters ages 18 to 34. | via Reuters

That said, I hope Sanders does well. While he is, in the words of my comrades Carson Starkey and Troy Olson, an “imperfect vessel,” I hope he’s the Democratic party’s nominee in 2016. Much of this is based on the rationality of my pinko heart and pinko soul, but it is also based upon the pragmatic rationality of my mind and the fear of my brown body.

To me there is no case for losing in 2016, even as a thought exercise. There is no better time than now than to begin reforming the ills of the political system’s inequalities and the excesses of American capitalism. If Sanders or Clinton loses it will be the most vulnerable who will suffer the most from it. A Sanders victory, imperfect as the man is, will energize and legitimize Progressivism in the United States. And while I am less certain that a Clinton victory will do the same, I know Americans will bode well in a nation she governs. The same cannot be said for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or the increasingly irrelevant Marco Rubio.

So hope for Sanders victories from here on out because you have to. Better yet, hope, vote, unionize, and bring a friend. Unless they’re a Republican. In that case don’t swap shifts with them so they can vote on election day.

To Kill A Mockingbird: 2016 Edition

by Troy M. Olson (with deep regrets)

2016-02-20 00.26.21

Atticus Finch is an over-worked and underpaid public defender with 175 thousand in student loan debt due to the escalating costs of undergraduate and legal education.

The other main characters, Jem and Scout, are the names of his cats, because he cannot afford to start a family. When Tom Robinson is unfairly and unjustly arrested for jaywalking, being shot once in the shoulder during the arrest, chaos breaks out in the sleepy area of Maycomb County, Alabama.

Infuriated by this injustice, activists around the country organize from Maycomb to Mist County in Minnesota, exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble with the stated goal of getting the attention of policy-makers.

In response to this lawful assembly, local white people have been complaining that they were slightly inconvenienced while shopping and buying things they did not need, because protesters were getting in the way of things and stuff…. In response, a counter-protest movement of those claiming to be dedicated to constitutional principles and the values for which this country was founded upon springs up. 

While slowly making his way home late at night to feed his starving, but beloved cats, Jem and Scout, Atticus watches the television and inter-web reports of his local Congressman standing alongside the leader of the counter-protest movement. 

Once Tom Robinson is unfairly charged for jaywalking, public defender Atticus Finch, under pressure from the DA’s office, his superiors at the PD’s office, and the local political machine, considers whether to take the plea bargain rather than pursue a full trial and vindication for Tom, who he knows is innocent of the trumped up charges of a minor crime. 

Fearful of the political and professional fall out and the crowded caseload and court docket in front of him, Atticus rules against his better judgment, seeing few realistic alternatives, and a plea deal is reached.

The End.

Rest in peace, Harper Lee (1926-2016)

May your timeless masterpiece, and its central character, Atticus Finch, continue to inspire us all to work together for a better world.