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I’m really glad to see Paulsen and Lewis gone (especially Lewis who is particularly ghoulish), but I would be much more confident if the DFL would have kept Walz’s and Nolan’s seats. Many powerful Dems were already convinced of the “suburban strategy” (basically a mad dash away from anything labeled “populist”) and the midterm results are going to make them even more zealous. The problem is that this strategy is based almost solely on moral outrage and that burns people out. It’s simply not sustainable. And while I’m sure they’re good people who know how to say the right things, I don’t trust the political instincts of Craig or Phillips. 
The Sanders wing of the Democratic Party is the most interesting thing to happen to it since Vietnam and there is a real possibility it will be manuvered into irrelevance during the 2020 nomination process. This will make the Dems turn to suburban white collar professionals complete. It will also cede all populism to the right which will open the do…
I’m listening to Christopher Hitchens’ fine collection of essays, “arguably.” I’d read many of these years ago, but had forgotten how good of a writer he was. Listening to him take down JFK is pure poetry. However his post 9/11 theme, that fundamentalist Islam is the threat most comparable to 20th century fascism for the enlightenment influenced democracies, stands on even shakier ground today. His realpolitik version of Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” had our enlightenment influenced democracy with Puritan characteristics as some sort of revolutionary regime spreading the best we can do to some despotic areas. It’s quite a twist that Iraq ended up being a boon to Iran, which caused the gulf monarchies to freak out. Of course Trump and his goons are now trying to make amends by demonizing Iran to an absurd degree. I wonder if America allying itself with al-Qaeda in Syria would be enough to cause Hitchens to rethink some things? Maybe his weird hatred for the Baathists extended to the…
The threat to liberal values (liberal in the philosophical sense) coming from right-wing populism is pretty unconvincing considering that the self-appointed gatekeepers of those values, from EU technocrats to Thomas Friedman to Emmanuel Macron, have pretty well opposed all secularism and republicanism in the Middle East for decades while simultaneously championing the Gulf monarchies. If you compare human rights abuses between places like Iran and Syria (pre civil war) on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the other, it’s a wash. Sure Iran is a theocracy, but it’s a republican theocracy, meaning they’ve fundamentally adopted western thought into their state. Doesn’t that count for anything Mr. Friedman? Nothing the monarchs do seems to matter, but the world is close to over because Hungary, Poland, and Italy embrace some mild illiberalism. Trump can be a mixed bag. Those liberal thought leaders love him when he passes tax cuts, bombs Syria and threatens Iran, but we also have…

Spinning Boris

During the 1996 Russian Presidential election the Clinton administration sent advisers to secure electoral victory for Boris Yeltsin. The election was fraudulent, by all credible accounts, as the deeply unpopular Yeltsin had already effectively sold off the country to the highest bidders causing millions of people to lose their pensions and plunging tens of thousands into life threatening poverty. The general chaos of the Yeltsin years provided the framework for Putin’s rise as the one to bring back order. 
This collusion between the Yeltsin and Clinton governments was such a non-issue there was even a goofy Jeff Goldblum movie made about it. (Google “Spinning Boris.”) 
This basic context, and I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to the US inserting itself into Russian affairs after the fall of the Soviet Union, is almost never given when the media reports on Russia. This is likely because it makes “Russian agents” exposing the DNC’s bias against Bernie Sanders and placing…

Austerity Ecology and The Collapse-Porn Addicts

I just finished Leigh Phillip’s left defense of humanity, “Austerity Ecology And The Collapse-Porn Addicts.” I think it’s important to frame it that way, as one of the main point he makes (and I fully agree) is that the earth doesn’t need us to survive. What we should focus on is our species. And not just surviving, but prospering, even conquering (I know people don’t like that word, but we ought not be scared of power). Phillips goes through every argument that I grew up with, from green austerity to that overpopulation nonsense, and convincingly does away with them. (I read Derrick Jensen was I was younger and had completely spaced out how truly terrible his arguments are. Embarrassingly bad. When I tried John Bellamy Foster I luckily found him too dense to get through. Just like George Ciccariello-Maher is a caricature of your “edgy” left wing professor, Foster is a caricature of what a Marxist is, tough to understand but you should know what he’s saying is super important!) 

Phill…

March, 30th

Trump is a terrible politician. Not only is he incompetent, but he seems to have major ideological shifts from one day to the next. He is, however, a skilled culture warrior. He’s one of the best in modern history, as he’s spent his entire public life crafting this persona of the polarizing yet independent businessman, someone perfectly suited to comment on topics of the day from outside the “swamp” of professional politics in Washington DC. Someone only beholden to the whims of the market, and only limited by the personal effort put forth. Of course it is all total bullshit. Trump is a failure as a businessman, getting by from selling our equivalent of snake oil, but he does understands the (current) liberal ethos far better than the rest of the right. He understands that there is this underlying desire for liberals, the ones with enough power and influence that is, to define the moral boundaries in so many cultural spaces that he can just pick one after the other. If something doesn…

The kids aren’t alright

Some comedian (Doug Stanhope maybe?) has a bit about today’s youth being the first in history to be lamer than their parents. It’s a funny bit, but probably more a correct observation than intended. What are those “crazy kids” up to these days? They’re eating tide pods? Washing their own mouths out with soap I guess. Did they say something naughty? (Or worse yet, “problematic.”) When I see a group of teens I can’t even produce a slight concern for any antic they could be up to, I half expect them to tell me to “stop slouching.” If I run into a college aged group, I’d rather they go get their parents so I can chat with someone who won’t shame me for smoking a cigarette.

Anyway, who knew Quincy Jones would be the one to make America great again?

Hollywood Award Shows are Basically Advertisements for Trump

Given the “resistance” has grounded itself in moralism, it’s perfect Oprah Winfrey is the latest hope. She has trash politics, but gave a speech that sounded wonderful but would have only really mattered before #metoo had “startup” potential. Oprah Winfrey is a retired billionaire in charge of a media empire. She surely could have revealed that Weinstein was a predator, an open secret within Hollywood, without losing her livelihood. Instead she was giving him kisses on another one of those fancy Trump ads. Do we still wonder why calling Trump a hypocrite isn’t the devastating political argument many liberals imagine it to be?

2018 needs reckless speech

I can’t remember which set it is in, but Dave Chapelle seems to be genuinely worried his children will never hear “reckless speech” in his new Netflix special. He isn’t worried about the government, he’s worried about the self appointed cultural police on twitter. The political tradition that once embraced transgression, at least partially, has now turned into a sort of secular version of the “moral majority.” Trump has broken so many brains, morialism is the height of our “resistance” politics. 

We desperately need more reckless speech in 2018.