Open Thread

Here is the basic idea of an open thread. This is where a comment, idea, link, or whatever can be posted when it doesn’t necessarily fit the subject matter of any available post. This also can be where people can lodge their complaints or make suggestions, including possibilities for future posts.

Plus, this would be a good place for rants, as I’ll be less discerning in my moderation of comments here. I encourage open discussion. But there are limits. If your comment creates a negative atmosphere or simply lessens my happiness, then it will not be approved. I will use my discretion. Make sure your comment is worthy of your time and my own.

4,215 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. “In the first two decades of the new millennium, stories of the post-apocalypse have permeated pop culture, from books such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009) and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014) to films and TV programmes such as The Walking Dead (2010-), the Hunger Games series (2012-15) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). While post-apocalyptic fictions of previous eras largely served as cautionary tales — against nuclear brinksmanship in On the Beach (1959) or weaponised biology in The Stand (1978) — today’s versions of these tales depict less alterable, more oblique and diffuse visions of our doom. So why can’t we seem to get enough of humanity’s unavoidable collapse and its bleak aftermath?

    “Dispatches from the Ruins reflects on what these stories — set among crumbling buildings, overgrown lots and barren wastelands — might be telling us about modern fears and fantasies. This Aeon original video is adapted from an Aeon essay by the US writer Frank Bures. Bures is also the author of The Geography of Madness (2016), a book about cultural syndromes across the world. His work has been included in the Best American Travel Writing and appeared in Harper’s, Lapham’s Quarterly and the Washington Post Magazine, among others.”

  2. “As an individual who often writes about race, I am no stranger to the point-scoring against imaginary liberals that Lin attempts. But the Front Porch crew would do well to consider why they need it to be true that a fact-checked discussion of white nationalism is somehow more responsible for our current political moment than, say, individuals who actually voted for Trump or the white nationalists quoted that called my comments into being.”

    https://elizabethcatte.com/2017/05/21/front-porch/

    • Reading the comments, I wonder if they are paid trolls. If the Democratic establishment is still worried about challengers to their control of the party, they might be trying to promote enough negativity in the hope of ensuring they will win upcoming elections.

  3. Maybe it’s different in places with a lot of scandinavians but I feel like true blonde hair is rare in adults, including white Northern European adults. I live in an area where the whites are often German, then some British isles, poles, whatever but I rarely see an adult with natural light blonde hair. Dark blonde sure but not actual blonde

    I’m friends with some Scandinavian Americans from my study abroad who attend university of Minnesota and even they’re dark blonde at best

  4. Very few of the complex residents I met, even ones who had been pursued at length in court by JK2 Westminster, had any idea that their rent and late fees were going to the family company of the president’s son-in-law. “That Jared Kushner?” Danny Jackson, a plumber in his 15th year living at Harbor Point Estates, exclaimed. “Oh, my God. And I thought he was the good one.”

    Jackson said he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Many of the others I spoke with had not voted — in that or any other election. “I’m not a big political person, so I feel like I don’t think I should vote on something I know nothing about,” Alishia Jamesson told me. But eastern Baltimore County was a Trump stronghold, a formerly staunch Democratic territory with many downwardly mobile white voters — and Kushner’s complexes were no exception.

    East of the city, I met Chris Freimiller, a 38-year-old resident of the company’s Morningside Park complex, who was smoking Newports in his car before heading to work at a Rite Aid distribution center. Freimiller complained to me about the persistent leaks from the toilet and the ceiling damage it had caused, and about being hit repeatedly with late fees. He told me he voted for president for the first time ever last year — for Donald Trump. His vote, he said, was motivated by “the racial and police issues. How bad it got with Obama and how he seemed to promote the cop-bashing and the racial divide.” Did knowing that he was sending his late fees to Trump’s son-in-law change anything? “Yeah, actually,” he said. “As if they need any more money.”

    At the Carroll Park complex, I met Mike McHargue, a private investigator, and his girlfriend, Patricia Howell. “They’re nothing but slumlords,” Howell told me of Westminster Management. “They take everyone’s money.” When I asked if they knew who was behind the company, they said they did not. “Oh, really?” Howell said when I mentioned Kushner’s name. “Oh, really. And I’m a Trump supporter.”

  5. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/05/26/democrats-lemmings-search-cliff-why-you-shouldnt-bet-ranch-2018

    The political mainstream of both parties is either ignoring the extent to which they’ve alienated the people, or they don’t care. Here’s just one finding from a landmark study called the Smith Project that summarizes people’s dim view of both political parties: “Americans overwhelmingly agree (78%–15%) that both political parties are too beholden to special interests to create any meaningful change.”

    The analysis also found that “American voters strongly believe that corruption and crony capitalism are among the most important issues facing our nation—almost equal to jobs and the economy. Political alienation has existed for decades, but it now envelops over three-fifths of all voters. These are the numbers that precede a political upheaval. (emphasis added)

    This kind of alienation explains how Trump got elected by less than 27% of the eligible voters. The passionately ignorant minority responded to his limbic hymnal of hate, greed, fear, blame, jingoism and xenophobia and showed up; the progressive majority—offered pre-packaged, pseudo-progressive pablum—did not.

    Make no mistake, Democrats lost because turnout was low. And turnout was low because progressives were turned off by their choices—or rather, lack of choices.

    Nowhere is this more evident than in the presidential vote in 2016. Despite the headlines about a large turnout, it’s clear that many people weren’t thrilled with their choice, and turnout was lower than anticipated. In fact, in fourteen states, candidates in down ballot races received more votes than candidates for president.

    That is, people voted for down-ballot candidates but left the top of the ticket blank. And it would have been the case in fifteen states, but Nevada allows voters to choose “none-of-the-above.” This was unprecedented, and it confirms the public’s rejection of politics as usual found in the Smith Project and in virtually any poll addressing the issue.

    The fact is, the majority of Americans hold progressive views on an issue-by-issue basis.

    This is why Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America. He says what he means; he doesn’t equivocate; he backs progressive policies without reservation; he doesn’t take money from dark money Super PACs. The Smith project and nearly all poll addressing voter preference tells us these are the qualities American voters are looking for.

    That means many of these sidelined voters could be easily wooed back to voting if Democrats would only run true progressives. In fact, one of the reasons the Democrats have been losing ground at all levels of government since the 70’s is because they’ve abandoned the New Deal policies favoring people, and adopted raw deal policies favoring plutocrats.

    So you would think the Democratic Party would be embracing the progressive wing of the party and backing progressive positions and candidates.

    But you’d be wrong.

  6. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/05/24/thunderbolt-resistance

    “(A) strong progressive agenda is the way forward…” —Christine Pellegrino, after flipping NY GOP legislative seat

    These are places that Democrats must win to begin reversing the setbacks of 2016. On paper, they might look like hard places to prevail. As Newsday noted, “Typically, Democrats would hardly compete in the 9th, a horseshoe-shaped district on the Nassau-Suffolk county line that includes Massapequa, West Babylon, Babylon Village, West Islip and West Bay Shore.”

    Trump did not just win New York’s 9th District in November. He swept it, with a 23 percentage point lead over Hillary Clinton. In the same election, the veteran Republican legislator who held the seat was reelected with a 37 point lead over his Democratic challenger. The incumbent later stepped down, forcing the special election. Democratic leaders had been looking a more predictable candidate, but Pellegrino and her backers elbowed their way into the fight.

    Pellegrino, a founding member of the group Long Island Activists, which was “born out of the Bernie Sanders movement,” ran an edgy anti-corruption campaign that recognized the mood of voters who are frustrated with politicians of both major parties. “We’re sick and tired of the seemingly endless string of corruption scandals that flow from Albany,” said the candidate, who added that, “I’m embarrassed to explain to my children every time another elected official or political party leader is arrested for corruption and abusing the public trust to line their own pockets.” Pellegrino talked up public education–while ripping into the standardized testing schemes she has opposed for years as a leader of New York’s opt-out movement–and positioned herself as a passionate defender of the environment.

    It worked. The progressive won 58 percent of the vote her conservative foe’s 42 percent.

  7. https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/25/how-us-flooded-the-world-with-psyops/

    Essentially, the psyops idea was to play on the cultural weaknesses of a target population so they could be more easily manipulated and controlled. But the challenges facing the Reagan administration in the 1980s led to its determination that peacetime psyops were also needed and that the target populations had to include the American public.

    The Reagan administration was obsessed with the problems left behind by the 1970s’ disclosures of government lying about the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses both in overthrowing democratically elected governments and spying on American dissidents. This so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” produced profound skepticism from regular American citizens as well as journalists and politicians when President Reagan tried to sell his plans for intervention in the civil wars then underway in Central America, Africa and elsewhere.

    While Reagan saw Central America as a “Soviet beachhead,” many Americans saw brutal Central American oligarchs and their bloody security forces slaughtering priests, nuns, labor activists, students, peasants and indigenous populations. Reagan and his advisers realized that they had to turn those perceptions around if they hoped to get sustained funding for the militaries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as well as for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, the CIA-organized paramilitary force marauding around leftist-ruled Nicaragua.

    So, it became a high priority to reshape public perceptions to gain support for Reagan’s Central American military operations both inside those targeted countries and among Americans. […]

    Another figure in Raymond’s constellation of propaganda assets was media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who was viewed as both a key political ally of President Reagan and a valuable source of funding for private groups that were coordinating with White House propaganda operations. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

    In a Nov. 1, 1985 letter to Raymond, Charles R. Tanguy of the “Committees for a Community of Democracies – USA” asked Raymond to intervene in efforts to secure Murdoch’s funding for the group. “We would be grateful … if you could find the time to telephone Mr. Murdoch and encourage him to give us a positive response,” the letter said. […]

    The original priority of “Project Truth” was to clean up the images of the Guatemalan and Salvadoran security forces and the Nicaraguan Contras, who were led by ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza’s ex-National Guard officers. To ensure steady military funding for these notorious forces, Reagan’s team knew it had to defuse the negative publicity and somehow rally the American people’s support.

    At first, the effort focused on weeding out American reporters who uncovered facts that undercut the desired public images. As part of that effort, the administration denounced New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing the Salvadoran regime’s massacre of about 800 men, women and children in the village of El Mozote in northeast El Salvador in December 1981. Accuracy in Media and conservative news organizations, such as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, joined in pummeling Bonner, who was soon ousted from his job. But such efforts were largely ad hoc and disorganized.

    CIA Director Casey, from his years crisscrossing the interlocking worlds of business and intelligence, had important contacts for creating a more systematic propaganda network. He recognized the value of using established groups known for advocating “human rights,” such as Freedom House. […]

    During his Iran-Contra deposition, Raymond explained the need for this propaganda structure, saying: “We were not configured effectively to deal with the war of ideas.”

    One reason for this shortcoming was that federal law forbade taxpayers’ money from being spent on domestic propaganda or grassroots lobbying to pressure congressional representatives. Of course, every president and his team had vast resources to make their case in public, but by tradition and law, they were restricted to speeches, testimony and one-on-one persuasion of lawmakers. But President Reagan saw the American public’s “Vietnam Syndrome” as an obstacle to his more aggressive policies. […]

    The importance of the CIA and White House secretly arranging private funds was that these supposedly independent voices would then reinforce and validate the administration’s foreign policy arguments with a public that would assume the endorsements were based on the merits of the White House positions, not influenced by money changing hands. Like snake-oil salesmen who plant a few cohorts in the crowd to whip up excitement for the cure-all elixir, Reagan administration propagandists salted some well-paid “private” individuals around Washington to echo White House propaganda “themes.” […]

    The combination of the propaganda and psyop programs underscored the powerful capability that the U.S. government developed more than three decades ago for planting slanted, distorted or fake news. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

    Over those several decades, even as the White House changed hands from Republicans to Democrats to Republicans to Democrats, the momentum created by William Casey and Walter Raymond continued to push these “perception management/psyops” strategies forward. In more recent years, the wording has changed, giving way to more pleasing euphemisms, like “smart power” and “strategic communications.” But the idea is still the same: how you can use propaganda to sell U.S. government policies abroad and at home.

  8. https://realdemocracyhistorycalendar.wordpress.com/2017/05/22/real-democracy-history-calendar-may-22-28/

    May 25, 1787 – US Constitutional Convention convenes

    Convention delegates (all white, male, property-owners) had originally come together merely to amend the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. Constitution. Merchants opposed the powers of individual states under the Articles to define the terms of trade. The new Constitution transferred state powers regarding trade to the federal level – creating what many believed was the template for modern-day so-called trade agreements that seek to transfer power regarding trade from the federal level to the international level.

    The Constitution that emerged from the 1787 Convention did not include the Bill of Rights, which later became the first 10 Amendments. Numerous other anti-democratic provisions of this Constitution are outlined at http://poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_DEC.html

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