« For hsh | Main | the art of playing time »

April 26, 2020

Comments

If it was one strapping young buck being able to buy a T-bone, it would be a national outrage.

That should be by Priest, not sure what happened.

Now Priest. It would only be (labeled) a national outrage if the "strapping young buck" was black. Otherwise it would, at most, be "youthful hijinks" -- especially with Kavanaugh hearing the case.

Fintan O'Toole:

Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Um, wj....from the Urban Dictionary:

From a 1976 speech by Ronald Reagan, who complained of "strapping young bucks" using public assistance to buy T-Bone steaks, the phrase is shorthand for "undeserving and lazy black people living off hardworking white taxpayers instead of getting a job." Many commentators have noted that the phrase originated from the auction block. Now used ironically by liberal commentators to identify racist dog-whistles in conservative argument.

My bold.

Some of us have ears too limited to pick up the more subtle dog whistles.

But I do seem to have heard the phrase applied to persons lacking a permanent suntan. Disparaging of athleticism, rather than race.

It'll be bonuses all around at Ashford Hospitality Trust, for their bold leadership and business acumen during these uncharted times.

Who knows when we'll be traveling again, but if anyone would like to boycott, here's the list. Lower down there might even be some I could afford. In a pinch.

wj,

But I do seem to have heard the phrase applied to persons lacking a permanent suntan. Disparaging of athleticism, rather than race.

You grew up in a different place/time than I did.

There's nothing subtle about the phrase - especially to those whose ears it's intended for.

It (all of it, the corporate theft, the casual racist pig shit from the conservative pantheon) will never stop of its own volition.

Heck, as with Janie, we can't even afford to boycott the fuckers.

I'm boycotting all of Trump's hotels and golf resorts too ... via unaffordability .. take THAT, ya bastards, plus, for good measure, I don't care for scoring protocols on the links where I'm already six strokes down on the first tee compliments of the course champion lout in Chief.

I've been boycotting Tiffany's, Christie's Auction House, and various elite top end restaurants all my life and it's not made a dent.

There's a reason all the wrong neighborhoods were burned to the ground after J Edgar shot Martin Luther King in the head .... the Bel Air estates didn't permit underfunded public transportation through the security gates.

It's not likely that fat black welfare queens driving brand spanking new Cadillacs are going to pull into a Residence Inn parking with strapping young bucks in the back seat, walk up to check-in, be apprised of the nightly rate, and ask for a wake-up call, because the job they were forced to get emptying the bedpans of Covid-infected white people at the nursing home to justify even a pittance of healthcare insurance under Medicaid doesn't quite buy a night on the town.

Look, among the trump crime syndicate and it's 40% base among the so-called "American" people, Kenyan witch doctor without an American birth certificate was just their politically correct way of saying that strapping young buck was coming to seduce my wife AND my girlfriend.

To be as bipartisan as possible, my rabbit ears can hear Joe Biden in budget conferences with Thurmond, Stennis, Talmadge, Helms, and Eastland decades ago yucking it up over throwing (ya notice how the verb "throw" is always in operation when it's money going to the social safety net, but the word "reward" is used by republicans when money heads into the bank accounts of their campaign contributors) a few extra bucks at the strapping young bucks in their states, but to Joe's credit, back then you had to humor those racist reptiles to make some progress(ivism).

We don't anymore, so why are we?

back then you had to humor those racist reptiles to make some progress(ivism).

We don't anymore, so why are we?

It appears to me that the main difference today is that the reptiles no longer think they have to compromise at all -- "my way or the highway" seems to be their position of choice. It takes something like a pandemic to get Moscow Mitch's caucus to force him to give at all. So all that's left is the California solution: to vote them into irrelevance, until they return to humanity.

Speaking of the CA solution a la wj, I am a bit concerned that we are going to lose Katie Porter as the Rep from our part of the OC what with the universities all doing remote learning. Would be a shame, because Porter has been remarkably effective. I'd take her as a replacement for Feinstein any day.

Bigger picture, this also has me wondering about the effect of campuses temporarily going non-residential on the overall elections. Will all that gerrymandering be affected by a reduction in the concentration of D voters in college towns, and will the dispersion of all those D voters purple any of the districts that had been engineered to lean R?

One more bit of uncertainty in the election picture.

My guess would be that
a) college towns mostly won't turn red, or even purple. The non-students there tend to be moderately liberal as well. At most, if a moderate Republican contrived to get nominated, he might have a shot.
b) other places may find themselves rather more purple than expected. Specifically, those cases where gerrymandering created narrow majorities, in order to maximize total legislators elected.

On balance, Democrats should come out ahead, provided they exert themselves to get those students reregistered at home.

After a worldwide Blue Screen of Death, reboot, and everything is back online, a lot of things are going to be different. I suspect voter turnout is going to be lower, maybe quite a bit, in November even if the risk of virus infection is at a minimum and/or there's voting by mail.

I refer to anywhere Republicans and the conservative movement have stolen power as Death Row:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8259795/Were-Gods-waiting-room-Florida-Governor-Ron-DeSantis-joke-seniors-sparks-outrage.html

How conservatives think about California breaking away (some of them hoping it's by earthquake along the San Andreas):

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/calexit-may-be-a-long-way-off-but-balkanization-wont-be/

'Course, then there are these guys hoping for Red Dawn.

https://texassecede.com/

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/kelli-ward-arizona-republicans-reopen-covid-protests

I'm willing to don scrubs and perform a reverse kip prefrontal lobotomy on the good Doctor so she stops eating her own brain in public.

I'm gonna skip the whole hand-washing and sterilization rigamarole so beloved by elite liberal regulators while I give her the once-over.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibfBDKiw1ac

She's an Osteopath. They believe in treating the whole person, except the part that is sick.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteopathic_medicine

Unlike Dr. Phil, who gained his medical prestige as a teenager by strapping his little sisters' feet into stirrups in his parents' basement and asking them whether they preferred to call him Dr. Howard, or Dr. Fine, or Dr. Howard as he warned them that they may feel a little pressure.

Unbeknownst to the Libertarian Reason Magazine, the dead hand of credentialization in the professions has already been sharply reduced in America.

Before, you could grow up to be anything in America.

Now, even the requirement that you must "grow up" first has been removed like one of Rush Limbaugh's highly convenient anal cysts.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/three-weeks-of-trump-coronavirus-briefings-under-a-microscope-2-hours-spent-on-attacks-45-minutes-on-self-congratulation-and-412-minutes-of-condolences-for-victims-2020-04-27?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

Trump's White House counseled him that four and a half minutes of condolences needed to be reduced or eliminated (the debate is ferocious in the highest places) because it was taxing their supply side empathy, the filth.

Let red state inhabitants drown and die next time the levees break:

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/4/27/1940756/-Florida-Kansas-and-Missouri-bailed-out-ANNUALLY-by-Blue-America-now-whining-about-returning-favor

Do not steal my fucking money.

I think Ashford Hospitality Trust is, or was recently on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, and now perhaps saved by socialism.

Too bad about the municipalities, cities, and states where their properties residing going under, because in Republican America, Socialism is only good enough for the private sector.

TBH, I think we're pretty much a banana republic at this point. The feds will throw some bones to the proles, but the resources of the nation are primarily being directed to people who are already really freaking rich.

Or, you know, 'persons', who may or may not be people. But who are the property of natural human people. Which is to say, some natural human people, and not too many of them, and only the right kinds.

It's kind of Mitt Romney's America, if Mitt was not the personally nice guy that he is, but instead was a vulgar asshole.

I'm looking forward to Trump's exit, but IMO a lot of the rot is structural at this point, and pretty deep.

Money is speech, etc. That ain't gonna change until the guys that said it is are dead and gone.

We - the US - lack the kind of humanistic culture that would be a counter to that. The kind of culture that would respond to a statement like "money is speech" with a loud and ubiquitous "WTF are you talking about?!?".

We don't really have significant common traditions that go back before the beginnings of industrialization and capitalism. Particular regions and demographics within the country do, but as a nation, we don't.

For "money is speech" feel free to substitute any of the various mantras that we hear every day, that basically amount to the idea that our purpose as a nation is to facilitate the opportunity for a fairly small number of people to get really freaking rich.

We're all free to get really freaking rich, of course, but in practice not many will. And because we're all "free to get really freaking rich", it's on you if you don't.

I think we've gotten to the point where the most callous and brutal among us are driving the bus. And I have no idea whatsoever how to change that. Votes alone won't do it, because it's a matter of national character. A matter of culture, and shared values. And I'm not sure we have it.

IMO a lot of the rot is structural at this point, and pretty deep.

I agree that it's structural (and getting more so as fast as McConnell et al can do it). But I'm not sure it's all that deep. "Deep" as in solidly locked into everyone's worldviews.

My guess is that some crisis, and quite possibly this one, is going to end up with a lot of that structure drastically revised. To howls of outrage, of course. But you can only keep the rubes voting subsidies for the rich for so long. Drop people in a situation where they can see what's needed, and then insist that they can't have it, only because the rich need to be richer? Quite possibly won't be pretty (even if it doesn't go entirely along the lines Thullen regularly suggests).

Our work here is done. And bon chance to one and all.

Personally, I consider this a positive development. The further we get this guy away from anybody's health and safety, the better.

"Deep" as in solidly locked into everyone's worldviews.

Doesn't need to be everyone's worldviews. Just the folks that count.

FWIW, I am profoundly pessimistic about the future for this country. We have a lot of money and a great big military, so I don't think anything really catastrophic is on the horizon. Just... profound mediocrity, as regards anything other than money and guns, and a lifetime of hazard for anyone who isn't wealthy.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/4/27/1940793/--Reopen-NC-organizer-tested-positive-for-COVID-19-says-quarantine-a-violation-of-civil-rights

But I do seem to have heard the phrase applied to persons lacking a permanent suntan. Disparaging of athleticism, rather than race.

I have too, wj, but when I hear it in a vacuum, or applied to African-American men, I hear (but don't respond, thank you very much).

So, russell, I strongly disagree with a lot of what you said in your 6:28.

The United States has a hugely complicated, but shared, cultural tradition, and a lot of it is based on the legacy of slavery, and immigration. Lots of music, lots of art, lots of performance art, and a huge body of literature. TV is great here (also bad, but that's what culture is). I love our country, and I love our people. We're not perfect, and we're going through a dark time.

I don't want to compare our country to other countries, which also have great cultural traditions. I'm not going to say that we're "the best" - there are some foreign cultural traditions that I appreciate, and some that I'm not knowledgeable enough to enjoy, but when I do culture, I do American culture for the most part. (Yes, I enjoy Italian opera, and French (especially early 20th c) classical music, and of course German classical music, and So Much Food! And so many other things: Japanese fabrics, Chinese pu ehr tea, Irish holy wells.

There's so much beauty in humanity. Including in our shared humanity, here in the United States. What's most beautiful is our diversity, and that's what's so heartbreaking about what the Trump administration is summoning and whistling for. Obama was the opposite. Let's remember that his presidency was less than four years ago.

And, yes, the same actors (Republicans) who brought us Trump brought us the things you mention (such as Citizens United) that are our dark side (just as all cultures have their dark sides). You are generalizing way too much.

wj, what I meant in my previous comment was that I hear, but don't respond, to the dog whistle. The way it was written seemed like some kind of message to you. That was not my intention.

What's most beautiful is our diversity, and that's what's so heartbreaking about what the Trump administration is summoning and whistling for. Obama was the opposite. Let's remember that his presidency was less than four years ago.

Being a determined optimist, I see the current administration as the second phase of our usual 3-steps-forward-2-steps-back**. Irritating as hell, I agree. But I expect to see another 3 steps forward sooner rather than later. Maybe more.

** Actually, I thought Obama represented more like 5 steps forward. That's because I expected it to be another couple of rounds of forward and back before we reached the point of seeing a non-white President. But Trump is, to be kind, basically a cry of despair from those who are losing the cultural evolution and can no longer kid themselves otherwise. If they'd thought they had a prayer of winning, they'd have nominated almost any other Republican candidate in 2016.

Thanks, wj. I really appreciate your optimism, and am trying to share it.

sapient,

Lots of music, lots of art, lots of performance art, and a huge body of literature.

May I point out something of which I am sure you are aware?

A massively disproportionate share of all that is of African-American and Jewish origin. (Not to mention that southern cuisine is also African in origin.)

American culture, in the sense of arts and literature, is anything but white and Christian, though it's fair to note that another prominent group is white southerners. Faulkner is not to be sneezed at.

Yep, byomtov. That's exactly what I meant by "The United States has a hugely complicated, but shared, cultural tradition, and a lot of it is based on the legacy of slavery, and immigration."

Maybe I don't write clearly enough, for which I apologize. But, yes, I agree with you.

White people (including me) enjoy, participate, benefit, and contribute to the cultural life that has been made by all of us, but of course, uniquely, by our African-American and immigrant neighbors and ancestors.

I'm a bit ruffled and perplexed at why you're not thinking of that as "American". I don't think of American = white people.

I don't want to compare our country to other countries

I'm not necessarily comparing our country to other countries. And I'm not talking about culture in the sense of food or music.

I started down the path of a much longer comment, but I'll try to boil it down:

We've lost the idea of the common good, as something politically, economically, and socially desirable. It is freaking gone. If you disagree, show me where you see it.

That is the culture I am talking about.

Sapient,

To be clear, I do think of it as American.

I am saddened that there are those who don't. It's interesting to me that the average African-American's ancestors arrived in North America, on average, well before the ancestors of the typical white American.

We've lost the idea of the common good, as something politically, economically, and socially desirable. It is freaking gone. If you disagree, show me where you see it.

The fact that everyone I know is socially distancing, and that when we go to the grocery store we wear masks, and that a lot of people are making masks for other people, and that we're getting grab and go from restaurants whose folks we don't want to see go to shit. Virginia voted for Democrats in all of its legislature and executive branches in 2018. We're working hard for that to happen in 2020. A lot of horrible bullshit actors who have a lot of money, and a lot of extra money and help from Russia and who knows where else, have distorted our politics.

Yes, there are some sad, sorry people who believe a lot of lies. That's true in every freaking country here, in Europe, in Asia, and in Africa. It manifested itself horribly in WWII, but it's certainly here and elsewhere in spades now. The other continents of the world aren't immune.

You are absolutely full of shit if you think we are "exceptional" in our lack of cultural refinement. Look the hell around the world. Yes, we're in an incredibly horrible place, thanks to historically horrible Republicans (and their payoffs from elsewhere), but also largely to the "lefty" failure of solidarity with reasonable Democratic leaders. When, russell, was the last time you moaned about the "left behind White People"? It was during Obama's administration. "Let's just criticize Democrats until they can't be elected!" Get a clue. Woody Guthrie had it right. You also usually do. This evening, you do not.

To be clear, I do think of it as American

Thanks, byomtov. I respect you a lot. Russell too. I'm clearly having a rage fit.

You all are great to forbear.

You are absolutely full of shit if you think we are "exceptional" in our lack of cultural refinement

Lots of places are kleptocratic train wrecks. Sometimes we are, sometimes we aren't.

Right now we kinda are.

You all are great to forbear.

But actually, you're not so great if you're not going to buy into an ethic that we can be "great" in the way that we define it (which includes what we all value), and sell it.

You know what we had to fight the Nazis? Our flag - the US flag. Yeah, I get it - we're too cool for that. if so, get another plan.

You asked me, russell, to show my work. What's your plan? Massachusetts separatists? Fuck Stacie Abrams?

russell 10:40: weak.

Remember when folks here said [paraphrasing] "of course I'd be all in if there were an existential crisis! I'd be all in for my country!"

Just kidding, right?

Thought so. Now it's: oh, my country doesn't really have identifiable cultural values, so I guess I just have to stand up for particular people I know. Kind of like a sweeter form of the mob.

sapient, just FYI, I'm actually reining in my optimism. Chicken, I guess.

If I'm really being optimistic, I picture McConnell losing his own Senate seat as part of the tidal wave in November. By a wide margin. Unpopular as he is in Kentucky, it's quite possible. And if the suit to rule Obamacare unconstitutional wins before then, taking Kentuckians' beloved kynect with it, he's toast.

fistbump, wj. And knocks on wood.

You know what we had to fight the Nazis?

"We" didn't fight the Nazis. Our parents and grandparents did.

You can only dine out on past achievements for so long.

Look, if it does something for you to rage away at me, have at it. But IMO national governance in this country has largely been captured. by rich greedy mf's who manipulate it to become even richer greedy mf's. The institutional guards against that kind of crap appear to have been insufficient. They've been subverted.

Turning stuff like that around requires something deeper than constitutional rules. It requires a broad consensus that we want something different. That gets to shared values about who we are, how we ought to relate to each other. That's culture. And the basic cultural values - not music and food and whatever, I'm talking about ethos - to counter that is not in evidence, as far as I can see.

It's present, I'm just not seeing a critical mass.

I'm gonna do everything I always have and likely always will do as far as political and social engagement. I'm just making an observation.

What I described just above and in my last few posts is what I see.

I'm glad you and wj are more optimistic. I'm not.

Batshit, Betty. Batshit:

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-slash-funding-bat-human-study-linked-conspiracy-theory-coronavirus

The lessons of history seem quite clear. Industrious and strong societies push the boundaries of power and inevitably decline. All too often this is accelerated by granting wealth and its accompanying political power to an elite few, who unsurprisingly, go on to feather their own nest, reinforce their power and undermine those very attributes that made their society enviable.

I may be mistaken, but I get the idea that russell is just making that observation about us. We may be well down the road to ruin.

A couple essays I find touch on this matter:

here and here.

wrs, y'all. Stay safe.

Thanks, russell, as usual. As a footnote, I appreciate your spotlighting the fuzzy use of the word "we" -- one of my hobbyhorses.

sapient -- I don't know how to fix the mess, and by being so nasty to people who are probably as close as you have to a group of natural allies (I mean, given the general political leanings here), you've proven that you don't know how to fix the mess either.

"Elect moderate Democrats and never criticize them" is no more practical an answer to our problems than "Abracadabra!" It presumes the conclusion, begs the question, any number of philosophical cliches you want to name.

There's no magic formula. People and politics are complex and always, always, always messy. If your answer to our problems requires the elimination of messiness, then your answer is not an answer.

Just as there's no magic formula, there's no magic figurehead who will come along with all the answers and lead us out of this mess. We might get out of it anyhow, the long, hard, slow way, but I'm with russell: I'm not optimistic, though I haven't given up, either.

Didn't see bobbyp's -- could have just said "wrs and wbps." :-)

I think we need to start with a kleptocracy-plutocracy-oligarchy (and maybe -theocracy or -kakistocracy) Venn diagram before we can tackle this.

What russell said, what bobbyp said, what Janie said. In spades.

Let's hope we're all wrong, and we make, in the wonderful words of Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. But holding one's breath, whatever other steps one takes, would be inadvisable.

And by the way, this:

"Let's just criticize Democrats until they can't be elected!"

is utter bullshit. It's bullshit that Democrats can't get elected (see the last Congressional election) and it's bullshit that by expressing our own range of political opinions, "we" (here at ObWi, or Democrats in general, or whatever) are making any appreciable difference in whether Democrats can get elected in the sense that you mean.

Newt, Rush, Murdoch, Fox, Mitch, Vlad, the Mercers, the Kochs, Breitbart, Alex Jones, swift-boating, etc., ad nauseam -- those are the major forces making it harder to elect Democrats.

Look, if it does something for you to rage away at me, have at it. But IMO national governance in this country has largely been captured. by rich greedy mf's who manipulate it to become even richer greedy mf's. The institutional guards against that kind of crap appear to have been insufficient. They've been subverted.

And, yes, I admitted to a rage fit. Sorry - yes, sometimes it helps to vent.

Yes, we all know that national governance has been captured, and by whom. That's who we know is our enemy, and we have to turn it around. And no, you're right - "we" didn't fight the Nazis, our parents did. "We" let them take our country (which, you are correct, was ripe for the taking). We have to fight them now. And we can't do so with violence, because we'll lose. It will be a long, sustained effort of finding a message and standing behind it with disciplined solidarity.

Yes we can, not no, we can't. Not let's try blue state secession. Who does that help? Who would that harm?

We may, in fact, be down the road to ruin. Embracing that as an inevitability, or failing to recognize our enormous strengths, doesn't seem like much of a plan.

I know that we're on the same page regarding the election, but could we please at least try to hope that there's something worth fighting for? bobbyp cites history. Yes, history. Things change. Who would have predicted in 1945 the European Union? Who would have predicted in 2012 its near demise?


national governance in this country has largely been captured. by rich greedy mf's who manipulate it to become even richer greedy mf's. The institutional guards against that kind of crap appear to have been insufficient. They've been subverted.

Is it really that it has been captured? Or that those who had it captured all along lost the concept of "enough"?**

To my mind, they once understood that, if they didn't share at least some of the wealth (and kept open the possibility for some social/economic mobility), they could lose it all. But they have lost that understanding. And thus may indeed lose it all. For which they will have nobody to blame but themselves.

** Then again, maybe it's just that they lost the concept of competing with each other for status on the basis of anything other than raw dollars.

Newt, Rush, Murdoch, Fox, Mitch, Vlad, the Mercers, the Kochs, Breitbart, Alex Jones, swift-boating, etc., ad nauseam -- those are the major forces making it harder to elect Democrats.

Absolutely! But because they represent a minority, they depend on our acquiescence, which is exactly how they managed to get Trump in the White House.

they depend on our acquiescence,

Don't include me in your "our" nonsense. The fact that they're richer, greedier, more ruthless, more vicious, and generally more powerful than I am doesn't mean that I have "acquiesced."

Closer to home, because I'm not following your flag and jumping on your bandwagon doesn't mean that I have "acquiesced."

You do not speak for me, so don't trouble to say "we."

It has been captured in the past, but in the past the greedy mfs lived in a more local, more territorial world, and it took more work to keep everyone above the survival line. When the stakes are higher and the poor are more immediate, the rich mfs had to exist more fully in the world they shaped. The observance of protocol kept the weak rules functioning.

Global information networks and cheap travel in a relatively open world make it easy for the mfs to opt into privilege and out of responsibility, and screens mediate suffering and help suppress empathy.

I'd say it's a tossup whether we can keep it from falling apart and find some new protocol that restores some form of acceptable balance.

And while I understand the horror of violence, I also don't believe that being forced to resort to violence automatically defines a moral defeat and signals some metaphysical corruption from which there is no recovery. There are tipping points at either side of the scales, and points after which violence is unavoidable, and points before which where violence, properly directed, could prevent greater loss.

But the worlds in which that violence is manifested are multilateral worlds, and our choices and control are limited. Once sides are drawn you only get to choose for your own side.

Violence is always a tragedy, but it's not always a loss, and sometimes a better path can be found from the heart of that tragedy.

Too bad we never know if that's the case until we get there.

And while I understand the horror of violence, I also don't believe that being forced to resort to violence automatically defines a moral defeat and signals some metaphysical corruption from which there is no recovery.

I don't disagree. I don't see how we could win a violent war, not unless we could take back the government. Even then, it wouldn't be possible without loyalty.

loyalty

Past evidence would suggest that your idea of "loyalty" means me giving up my voice.

No thanks.

If widespread violence does come to the US, I'm not sure what form it will take. Will it even look like a war? Will it be urban unrest? Will it be something like the cartel violence of our neighbors to the south? Will it be a public/private kleptocracy enforcing corporate will like the Dakota Access confrontations? Will the central government collapse after proving ineffective at controlling identitarian warbands? Will it be business as usual in the big urban centers but a recalcitrant reign of terror in white supremacist enclaves?

Some combination?

It likely won't be blue vs. gray, but there are so many other ugly options that are well within our grasp.

It likely won't be blue vs. gray, but there are so many other ugly options that are well within our grasp.

Which is why it would not turn out well. I suggest we try to move forward with our shared beliefs.

Past evidence would suggest that your idea of "loyalty" means me giving up my voice.

I don't recall you ever having been silenced. And yet ...

Is it really that it has been captured? Or that those who had it captured all along lost the concept of "enough"?

The extent of the capture could be debated, but there has never been a concept of "enough" in a social system that institutionalizes greed as a virtue.

To my mind, they once understood that, if they didn't share at least some of the wealth (and kept open the possibility for some social/economic mobility), they could lose it all.

They never understood this. Roosevelt saved their unrestrained selfish asses. They were kicking and screaming the whole way, and they never forgave him (Herbert Hoover, 1932 to death which see). The institutional roadblocks put in place by the New Deal (cf. unions, higher taxes, the "heavy hand" of federal regulation) kept these assholes from ACQUIRING such vast wealth to begin with.

Something like those constraints is what we need to return to.

what nous said.

Once again, what bobbyp said.

You could add a lot of the history of the human race, for that matter. The wealthy and powerful living within sight of the poor and powerless has rarely inspired much of an inspiration to share.

I don't recall you ever having been silenced

No, but that's what you consistently, implicitly propose every time you say vicious things about anyone who criticizes Democrats, and urge us all to get in line behind some Great Leader and some unitary message or other.


and urge us all to get in line behind some Great Leader and some unitary message or other.

I don't believe in a "Great Leader". I am not the one who seeks a perfect leader. I know that all of our politicians are flawed, although many do very good work. We do [or should] have a unitary message. It can be said a lot of different ways, among them "Stronger Together." And I'm not vicious, which means "deliberately cruel or violent." I've pointed out that although I deeply admire many people here, russell for example, sometimes their rhetoric is disturbing, or at the very least unhelpful. For example, the whole secessionist conversation is, to me, disturbing. I don't ask to silence it, but feel confident in my opinion that it's counterproductive.

Obama was a good president. He was not someone to be followed blindly in all things. He made some mistakes, but he was given far less credit than he deserved. I was lukewarm to Hillary Clinton when she decided to run in 2016. I was aware that many people didn't like her. As soon as she became the nominee, it was going to be either her or Trump. Suddenly, her appeal became a lot more obvious.

Just as with friends, I don't consider anyone perfect (including myself), but when they need my support, I do my best to support them. It isn't difficult. And sure, it's a political blog where we talk about policy and public values, where people sometimes try on arguments for size, and sometimes become angry and heated. That's fine (with me). But the chips have been down, and the stakes incredibly high, which should have become obvious to everyone by the year 2000, if not decades before. It's really tragic that our unitary message can't be: rally round the Democrat in order to beat the Republican. (I understand that the ham sandwich argument is working for everyone this year, and I appreciate it. Wish it had been happening all along.)

By the way, there are still drones. I had to look that up, because we haven't talked about it in years.

Roosevelt saved their unrestrained selfish asses. They were kicking and screaming the whole way, and they never forgave him

To my knowledge, the closest we ever came to a putsch - a literal coup, with military involvement - in this country.

sometimes their rhetoric is disturbing, or at the very least unhelpful

sapient, you continually refer to "our shared values". I don't see, at a national level, shared values. The topics or questions I raise here are an attempt to understand how to address that.

Voting for (D)'s is great, but it doesn't address that. Because the values embraced by (D)'s do not represent a critical mass of opinion here. They do not represent values that are shared by everyone, or even by an overwhelming majority.

We don't all want the same things.

So, what do we do about that?

I don't know. I don't have a plan. I'm not that smart. I'm just asking the question. It's regrettable, to me, if you find that disturbing, or unhelpful, because I have no interest in disturbing you. But, disturbing or not, we have to figure it out.

It doesn't help to not talk about it, either.

As far as near-term tactical stuff, I am 100% about the ham sandwich. If that isn't clear, I'm not sure what else to say about it.

A clarification:

"Because the values embraced by (D)'s do not represent a critical mass of opinion here *in the United States*". They are probably reasonably close to a critical mass here on ObWi.

Do you play much in the way of games, sapient? Because your comments always read to me like someone who has played board games, but who has never really sat down and house ruled a board game or tried to create one from the ground up. Games can be broken even if they had been played productively for years by mutual consent. Just playing another round doesn't fix a broken game.

And as I understand things here, the talk about partition and secession are not threats of violence, but are negotiations or gambits aimed at avoiding violence and as an act of communication with the opposing player. Again, we can't choose how our opponent will choose to play and we can't even make our opponent follow the rules. The actual rules are all just voluntary protocol.

I get that you don't want to abandon the game, but you also can't stop the other side from cheating if they are committed to their action. We either fix the game, force the opponent to follow the rules through coersion, exile the opponent from the game, or we walk away from the game to avoid conflict and coersion.

I'm not sure that I have any sense, sapient, of what might make you walk away from Omelas.

I'm not sure that I have any sense, sapient, of what might make you walk away from Omelas.

Goosebumps...

(By which I mean that this gave me goosebumps).

As far as near-term tactical stuff, I am 100% about the ham sandwich. If that isn't clear, I'm not sure what else to say about it.

I know that. I know too that you are an incredibly gentle, kind, and principled person who wants to improve the odds for everyone around you. Most people here are empathetic and good people, even those with whom I disagree way more than I do with you.

I don't know. I don't have a plan. I'm not that smart. I'm just asking the question. It's regrettable, to me, if you find that disturbing, or unhelpful, because I have no interest in disturbing you. But, disturbing or not, we have to figure it out.

Of course we do, and of course it isn't about my feeling of being disturbed. It's more who would benefit, and who would be harmed by secession, and how would it play out? Let's figure that out first. Let's figure out how the toxic (not just "they want different things", but toxic) elements of our society would continue to perform under whatever scenario that suggestion would bring. Perhaps it would be the first move in a scenario where there would then be a war that we could win. Unlikely and extremely costly, but possible.

"Because the values embraced by (D)'s do not represent a critical mass of opinion here *in the United States*".

They represent the majority of the people. That's a critical mass in a democracy. They don't represent a majority in each state because of flaws that we've discussed. They are very close to winning the electoral college if we subtracted voter suppression and ratf'ing. Look what happened in Wisconsin when people had to risk their lives to vote. They stepped up. They voted our way. I would suggest that before we resign ourselves to saying that we have no shared values, we try just a little harder.

Thanks, and I'm sorry if I seemed vicious.

And as I understand things here, the talk about partition and secession are not threats of violence, but are negotiations or gambits aimed at avoiding violence and as an act of communication with the opposing player.

Okay, perhaps I'll try to look at it that way. They seem like invitations to violence and suffering to me.

I'm not sure that I have any sense, sapient, of what might make you walk away from Omelas.

Good question. Maybe a better question is how to save the child.

Let's figure out how the toxic (not just "they want different things", but toxic) elements of our society would continue to perform

What I find challenging in the current moment is teasing apart the actually toxic stuff - e.g. fascists, white supremacists, latter-day Klansmen, people who generally just want to watch the world burn - from people who legitimately have different interests from "people like me".

There are a lot of people who are not toxic in the sense of wanting to kill people who aren't like them, but who simply don't buy in to the pluralistic ethos that is a big part of what the (D)'s advocate.

Or, who really just Do Not Want public interference in their lives. Or want it reduced to the smallest possible amount, even if that means they lose out on some things.

There are a lot of cultures in this country. And by "culture", again, I'm not talking about music or art or food, I'm talking about fundamental beliefs about what the basis of a political community is, and what obligations the members of that community have toward each other.

"Opinions vary" as the NYT might say.

It's a really big challenge. People Like You And Me might not be right about everything, and in a lot of cases who's "right" or "wrong" might not actually be relevant.

In some ways I think the obviously toxic stuff is kind of a sideshow. It's really dangerous, like a mad dog is dangerous, but it's also relatively easy to factor out, in and of itself.

The rest of it is what I see as the hard part.

There are a lot of people who are not toxic in the sense of wanting to kill people who aren't like them, but who simply don't buy in to the pluralistic ethos that is a big part of what the (D)'s advocate.

I don't agree with this. I agree that they tell themselves that they aren't toxic, but they buy into it. They can see what's happening. They choose to believe that it's not them.

I'm not allowed to point out people here, and their inconsistent beliefs about things without being called out as vicious and being banned, so I'll refrain. But anyone who isn't at least willing to cast a vote for a Democrat, and has looked around at people in concentration camps, and Barr, and corruption, and lying, etc., and can't stand the thought of voting for a less-than-perfect person. I mean, c'mon. They are complicit. No, they won't admit it to themselves - of course, they're "nice". But no, actually, not nice. Sorry. There is evil and stupid. Pick. If they're nice, they're stupid, and they don't like being called that either.

This is not a mystery. They don't "want different things". They do not give a s* about people suffering. They aren't willing to help fix it. That's toxic.

By the way, not calling out a commenter by name, but there was a person who went on some anti-Chinese rant about how irresponsible it was for China to let people fly into the US. This commenter didn't respond when I pointed out that the commenter's own governor let a bunch of yahoos from the state go to Mexico on a chartered plane to infect a lot of people. Nice, right? Of course, very nice. Wants different things.

What I find challenging in the current moment is teasing apart the actually toxic stuff - . . . - from people who legitimately have different interests from "people like me".

I would note that this isn't precisely binary. Someone can have legitimately different interests, but hold back from going all in on them because doing so would be toxic. But still wish to push those different interests to some degree. Or they can go all in, in spite of that making things toxic for others. (Or for society as a whole.)

No, not irresponsible. Criminal, that was the word used. Not to stick up for authoritarian governments who put an entire giant ethnic group into concentration camps. But let's pick the right battles.

Oh, right, can't pick the concentration camp battle, because that's something we're emulating more obviously.

Now go away or I will shame you a second time!

No worries, nous. Vicious?

I'll just leave this here, I hope everyone is well:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MkVrRYjUS30&feature=youtu.be

I'd just observe that in the current situation, unless you want people going out and making a protest, whipping people up and getting all ranty is probably the last thing you want to do.

As far as some anti-Chinese rant, I wish I had noticed that and I might have also replied. One of the things to realize is not everyone sees the same things that you do. Can be a hard lesson to learn (as many teachers who are doing online classes are discovering) but it is a worthwhile one.

They choose to believe that it's not them.

I'm sure that's true. I'm just saying that it's possible not be, or vote for, or embrace all of the policies of, (D)'s, and still not be a toxic human being.

At least, I think it is.

Now go away or I will shame you a second time!

LOL

I'll just leave this here, I hope everyone is well

I more than appreciate the thoughts expressed by the song, and I wish you and yours well also.

I think sometimes that good wishes are mistaken for good effects. I'm not trying to stick it to you, but I think sometimes that your sincere good wishes are offered as a way to deflect, whether intentionally or not, from the substance of some of the things we talk about here.

I absolutely recognize that you wish other people well. And, in the values that you present here as your own - your American dream, and the policies that it results in, and the people you end up supporting as a result - I also recognize effects that have left a lot of people in a bad place.

At least, as I understand our common history of, say, the last 40 or 50 years.

Other than people who actually are toxic - people who actually and intentionally wish harm to others - we all want people to do well. To be happy, to be healthy, to have enough, to thrive according to their own abilities and desires.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

All of that said - and not to dismiss all of that - details matter. Substance matters. Intentions are not sufficient, regardless of how benevolent.

Good intentions are better than bad intentions. But not sufficient.

Stay well everyone.

They never give up.

That's why we have to crush them.

Rephrased: That's why they need to be crushed.

ht JanieM :)

Out here in the 48th soviet of Washington, watching MSNBC interview Billy fucking Kristol...what a fucking joke. He needs to be venomously shunned, and angrily laughed out of the room, not given air time.

godallfuckingmighty. Our politics are so broken.

Nearly one-third of Americans believe a coronavirus vaccine exists and is being withheld, survey finds
https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/24/coronavirus-one-third-us-believe-vaccine-exists-is-being-withheld/3004841001/
...Twenty-nine percent said it's either probably or definitely true that a vaccine that prevents coronavirus infection exists and is being withheld, according to the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. An even greater percentage, 32%, said they believe treatment that cures coronavirus infection exists but is being withheld. Around 7 out of 10 Americans said those statements are untrue...

The new model Frum has been publishing very interesting stuff.

Why Mitch McConnell Wants States to Go Bankrupt
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/why-mitch-mcconnell-wants-states-go-bankrupt/610714/

Worth reading in full.

the crazification factor

From Nigel's Atlantic link:

United States senators from smaller, poorer red states do not only represent their states. Often, they do not even primarily represent their states. They represent, more often, the richest people in bigger, richer blue States who find it more economical to invest in less expensive small-state races. The biggest contributor to Mitch McConnell’s 2020 campaign and leadership committee is a PAC headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey. The second is a conduit for funds from real-estate investors. The third is the tobacco company Altria. The fourth is the parcel delivery service UPS. The fifth is the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical corporation. The sixth is the home health-care company, LHC Group. The seventh is the Blackstone hedge fund. And so on and on.

(This is just an aside, not intended to distract from the larger point: UPS, huh? I wonder how his thoughts on the USPS are influenced by that funding source.)

32%, said they believe treatment that cures coronavirus infection exists but is being withheld.

I read stuff like that and I always wonder: To what end?

I mean, with some conspriacy theories, I can at least understand the goal of the supposed conspiracy, and how someone might benefit; even if the theory itself is batshit crazy. But something like this? Cloud cookooland.

Well, of course it is to be given only to the deserving. But if it became public knowledge, everyone would want it and cheap too. And the general panic is by far not great enough to fetch a sufficient price for it even if government could be trusted not to intervene in price gouging shenanigans.
Or it is feared that the stuff would turn people liberal or gay or less gullible or something else not desirable.

I'd venture that some of those people who believe that cures exist and are being withheld don't think there is a conspiracy in place, but rather that someone has discovered the cure and the bureaucrats at the fed are forcing them through extra trials and slowing everything down.

And people like the assholes in Bakersfield are reinforcing that impression when they complain about the elites being too cautious.

They never give up.

They want all the cookies.

That may seem reductive, but sometimes it's helpful to simplify in order to maintain focus.

They want all the cookies.

I'd venture that some of those people who believe that cures exist and are being withheld don't think there is a conspiracy in place, but rather that someone has discovered the cure and the bureaucrats at the fed are forcing them through extra trials and slowing everything down.

I admit, I could see that happening eventually. But the sign would be the cure/vaccine being rolled out around the rest of the world. Even if our Federal bureaucrats came down with another case of Not Invented Here, like they did over tests for the virus. But so far, not plausible cures elsewhere either.

They want all the cookies.

Many years ago, when Native Americans were in the news a lot because of "Dances with Wolves," a Native woman told an interviewer something along the lines of "When whites invaded our lands, and broke every treaty they signed with us, we realized they didn't want to 'share,' or 'have part of, or 'respect Indian claims.' They wanted it all. They wanted everything. They meant from the start to take everything that was ours."

The attitude isn't new. It's now directed at everyone who isn't them.

From a grad school colleague of mine on FB:

There has been some good reporting on Tyson and the meatpacking industry the past couple days, particular on the labor violations, monopolistic consolidation, and the gruesome costs of overproduction. But to understand the problems with Tyson, you have to start with the normalization of stock buyback schemes in the name of shareholder value.

Over the last four and a half years, Tyson has spent nearly $4 Billion buying back stock from its shareholders, many of whom are members of the Tyson family or the company's executive team.

On some particularly grievous occasions, more than half of the company's earnings for a quarter were immediately transferred into the hands of individual shareholders.

Stock buybacks enrich investors both by cashing in retired shares at a premium and by increasing the price of the remaining shares. From the moment Tyson began its outrageous buyback program in September 2015 to January of this year, it succeeded in more than doubling its share price, from $42 to $92.

Now, sure, when Tyson bought back $132 Million in shares in December of 2019, the company could not have known that the COVID-19 outbreak was about to begin. But that's exactly the point.

If Tyson executives had been merely half as greedy over the past five years, they would have had an extra $2 Billion (or more) in their corporate coffers to spend reinforcing their supposedly broken supply chain, instituting safety measures in their factories, etc.

They would have been able to do this without borrowing against future revenues and thus might've prevented the shorting and selloff of their shares, which dropped the market price by 43%.

In lobbying federal and state governments for essential service and worker safety waivers, as well as other government subsidies, Tyson is claiming that it is a vital cog in the U.S. food production infrastructure. If this is true, than it should not be allowed to enrich executives over the short-term at the expense of its long-term solvency. It should not be allowed to electively waste meat products during a period of rising nationwide food precarity because it finds the present distribution model insufficiently profitable.

Milton Friedman, 1970, in the NYT: the only social responsibility of business is to increase its profits

Jensen and Meckling, 1976, "Theory of the firm": executives and board members are agents of shareholders, and their purpose is maximizing shareholder value

The above were changes - significant changes - to the general understanding of the raison d'etre of for-profit corporations. They have since become reflected in corporate law and practice.

They represent a fundamental change in our basic values as a society. Economically, socially, politically. They represent a change in culture.

I don't really care if people get rich. Provide useful goods and services, create value, make a lot of money, fine with me. Enjoy the fruit of your labor. Fly first class, drink nice wine, get your shirts custom made, have a nice car and a couple of houses. Retire at age 40, paint watercolors, and bake interesting artisanal bread. Whatever floats your boat.

Live it up.

I care when folks want all the damned cookies.

The above were changes - significant changes - to the general understanding of the raison d'etre of for-profit corporations. They have since become reflected in corporate law and practice.

They represent a fundamental change in our basic values as a society. Economically, socially, politically. They represent a change in culture.

Unlike certain massively insecure (and with reason) individuals, we can step back and say: "This was a mistake." And back out those changes to the law and to corporate practice. And we should.

Certainly, it won't be easy. But if memory serves, making the change originally wasn't all that easy. The culture resisted changing. Just . . . not enough.

The resistance has already started in many business schools (not enough, but I know enough to know the wind is shifting). But it may take time to shift the narrative, and there's a glut of B-school assholes who resist retraining and have already fully embraced their "truth."

A bunch of those assholes are running the country and holding the president's passy for him.

"Businesses are accustomed to being criticized for neglecting their responsibilities to society. Complaints that private enterprise puts profit before people have long provided reliable applause lines for politicians and assorted activists, and material for the briefs of crusading public-interest attorneys. But in the past few years, the concept of corporate social responsibility—increasingly part of the curriculum in America’s schools of business and management—has established itself as a political and social force to be reckoned with. This can be seen in recent proposals in Congress and elsewhere to offer tax breaks or regulate differently firms that shoulder their “social responsibilities.”
...
In other words, perhaps commercial activity—as distinguished from other forms of behavior, such as personal philanthropy or government action—confers unique benefits on society. Realistically, all sorts of problems in society can be viewed as within the purview of corporate activity. But in Friedman’s view, the response of corporations to these problems will and must be different because of the nature of profit-seeking business. “The crucial question for a corporation is not whether some action is in the interest of the corporation, but whether it is enough in its interest to justify the money spent,” he wrote. Companies, then, bring a search for efficiency and economy to the task of solving problems. This search represents a fundamentally different way of addressing social problems from the means employed by governments, charities, churches, or families. To erase the distinctions between corporations and other institutions is potentially to lose the unique problem-solving opportunities that free enterprise creates. In effect, private business is fulfilling its “social responsibility” if, and only if, it tries to make a profit."

Do Corporations Have Social Responsibilities?: Free Enterprise Creates Unique Problem-Solving Opportunities

“The crucial question for a corporation is not whether some action is in the interest of the corporation, but whether it is enough in its interest to justify the money spent,”

So tell me Charles, how is that not also a crucial question for a natural person? (With, perhaps, a caveat for "time and money" vs just "money".) Or do you wish to argue that people have no responsibility beyond their own self-interest either? And what a nasty world to live in that would be.

To erase the distinctions between corporations and other institutions is potentially to lose the unique problem-solving opportunities that free enterprise creates.

Well this is simply propaganda. Look at it this way: Unleashing corporations from all social binds is to potentially (love that word) denigrate and constrict all other forms and approaches that human problem solving behavior may take. The profit maximizers will pick all the easy fruit and leave the seeds and stems for others. They will privatize profit and socialize risk. They will seek to expand the sphere of cost externalities.

In short, they will maximize and institutionalize social irresponsibility.

In effect, private business is fulfilling its “social responsibility” if, and only if, it tries to make a profit."

Back in the early 19th century when corporations were becoming a "thing" they were commonly chartered by government (their creator) with an explicit social purpose, and it was up to the creative minds of these so called job creators to figure that out and still make a few bucks along the way.

Sadly, we have forgotten that concept.

"But perhaps most importantly, stock buybacks are a brilliant example of the free-market system offering a win-win to both parties. In other words, when the corporation purchases its own stock, the money from that exchange has to go somewhere. Presumably, the investor that just received the money would re-invest in another company that would be more inclined to use that money on investments in labor, R&D, or capital. After all, not all companies are at equal stages of development.

Some companies may be mature and not have a plan to expand. In that case, rewarding shareholders through stock buybacks makes more sense than unnecessarily forcing an expansion. Other companies might be earlier in development and would need to fund investments in order to expand. But to force a company to invest in capital that it might not otherwise need would be an inefficient use of resources—not to mention, an outrageous overstep of government power."
There’s Nothing Inherently Bad about Stock Buybacks: Stock buybacks get cash out of companies that don’t have plans to grow and into companies that do.

The crucial question for a corporation is not whether some action is in the interest of the corporation, but whether it is enough in its interest to justify the money spent,” he wrote.

The crucial question for a corporation is not whether some action is in the interest of the corporation, but whether it is enough in the public interest to justify the guarantees against personal liability for its investors that the public grants to it.

There’s Nothing Inherently Bad about Stock Buybacks

There's nothing inherently bad about COVID-19. It's just a bunch of RNA wrapped in a ball of lipids with protein spikes.

It's when it hits your lungs that the problems start.

I'd take libertarianism a lot more seriously if it hadn't been so thoroughly co-opted by the folks that want all the cookies.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad