Kingdom of Fear

We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we’ll kill you.

Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine?”

Hunter S. Thompson in 2004, “Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century”

At the narrowest analysis, these voters are ignorant – or bigoted – or both. I’m not certain what is to be accomplished by wider examination.

The mass of American eligible voters is better than this. And the fight is to protect their rights and access to voting. We already know who is trying to prevent universal suffrage.

The “shithole shutdown” is the right name for what just happened in DC

❝ There’s been a lot of debate over who’s to “blame” for a shutdown…But I am not sure the question of who is to blame for a shutdown will answer the question of who wins a shutdown, assuming anyone does. Both sides will think their opponents are to blame…

Republicans have a natural advantage in a shutdown because they care less how well the federal government works, and the parts of government they care most about — like the military and immigration enforcement — are exempted.

But Republicans are at a disadvantage in this particular case because their position is extremely unpopular — not only do 87 percent of Americans support letting DREAMers stay in the US, but President Trump and congressional Republicans have said, over and over again, that they agree! It is hard to defend continuing a shutdown in order to block a policy you say you want.

❝ The other big problem for Republicans is that everything Trump says every single day of the shutdown will be disastrous for them. Days before a possible shutdown, Trump sent an early-morning tweet that upended the GOP negotiating position on the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This was mere days after he reversed himself and destroyed the deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. How Republicans think they’ll manage a shutdown when they can’t manage Trump’s Twitter feed or even predict his shifting views is beyond me. He might wake up one morning and undercut them completely, and they know it.

Which is why Trump’s new favorite political analysis fits so well.

RTFA for details and order to this conclusion. Worth knowing as completely as Ezra Klein has put it.

Grants to US climate scientists to move to France and “Make Our Planet Great Again”

❝ French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to award a number of US based climate scientists, multi-year, all-expenses-paid grants to relocate to France.

The “Make Our Planet Great Again” grants are part of Mr Macron’s efforts to counter US President Donald Trump on the climate change front.

❝ Mr Macron is unveiling the first winners at a start-up incubator in Paris called Station F, where Microsoft and smaller tech companies are announcing projects to finance activities aimed at reducing emissions.

They are aimed at giving new impetus to the Paris accord and finding new funding to help governments and businesses meet its goals.

More than 50 world leaders were in Paris for the One Planet Summit, co-hosted by the United Nations and the World Bank. Mr Trump was not invited.

Idiots like Trump and the fools who vote for his policies never recognize that the world moves on regardless of counter productive blather and ignorant policies set in motion by dying cultures.

Barry Ritholtz says, “Don’t let the trolls get you down!”

❝ I began sharing my work online two decades ago as one of the early financial bloggers. I started on Yahoo Geocities in the 1990s, Typepad in 2003, and finally on WordPress at my own domain in 2008. That is where the Big Picture still resides…

Alas, a classic case of the tragedy of the commons struck, rendering comments mostly worthless as they were overrun with spam advertising and trolls. Managing them was a giant time suck, with no effective technology solution. It was with some reluctance that I finally decided to close down my blog comments. For the same reasons, you will not find a comment section below my Bloomberg View columns.

❝ Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive officer, seems to be making some progress in the company’s response as it begins cleaning up its act and banning some of the most egregious offenders. It has also given users more tools to help them avoid the worst of the trolls. This is good news for those of us in the financial community, as Twitter is a tremendous resource.

Reading discussions between a few law professors about their Twitter usage (see this and this) reminded me of this. Because I find Twitter to be enormously helpful, I want you to also take advantage of its resources. Here are a few ideas that can help you, too…

RTFA. We can always use more suggestions about dealing with the ego-smitten or simply corrupt folk who take up otherwise useful space online.

How [not] to behave in front of press cameras


Click to enlargeIn livid color by Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

❝ US president Donald Trump sat down for an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office on Wednesday (Jan 17). While the interview ended with takeaways of Trump’s plan ahead for this year’s midterm elections and tensions with North Korea, a truly remarkable exclusive was this photo of Trump and his communication staff engaged in tense tableau while Reuters journalists looked on…

We see Trump, sitting at the Resolute desk, a stern look on his face, finger pointed squarely at his communications director Hope Hicks. Hicks appears to be grabbing a notepad from the desk, and appears apologetic. On the right, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands mouth agape, watching Trump and Hick’s interaction…

❝ The photo’s comic composition is remarkable, with the three figures aligned horizontally as if onstage. One of the Trump administration’s greatest accomplishments in the past year might be its staff members’ past and present efforts to project a stable disposition, even as deeply sourced reporting from inside the White House says otherwise. But here, is the president berating his staff in front of press, while Sanders — the one responsible for explaining his behavior — reacts in dismay? Or is it just a fleeting moment in an undramatic encounter?

Trump thinks he’s the boss of the world. How else would you expect him to act?

New Movie, “Hostiles” — Profound Respect for Native Culture

Scott Cooper’s Hostiles, Starring Wes Studi, Rosamund Pike and Christian Bale is a flawless portrayal of an unflinching, vicious and unforgiving America in 1892.

❝ In countless movie reviews, many of you have undoubtedly heard the term “sitting on the edge of my seat,” to describe a movie that might be cutting edge, causing tension, or even outrage. In this movie Hostiles, I was literally watching this movie, sitting on the edge of my seat, the entire time…

I felt outrage at the reality, laughed at the humanity and grieved for the brutal truth that existed in the world of 1892. I didn’t expect this from this movie as I went into it waiting for the same stale stereotypes often portrayed in westerns or civil war films … Soldiers hate Indians, Indians hate the soldiers. Settlers fear the Indians, everybody tries to kill each other, the end.

Read this whole review by Vincent Schilling. Useful commentary as well as incentive to see the film. Which I shall.

What we lost


Click to enlargeLibrary of Congress

❝ Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X met only once. On March 26, 1964, the two black leaders were on Capitol Hill, attending Senate debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

❝ King was stepping out of a news conference, when Malcolm X, dressed in an elegant black overcoat and wearing his signature horn-rimmed glasses, greeted him.

“Well, Malcolm, good to see you,” King said.

“Good to see you,” Malcolm X replied.

❝ Cameras clicked as the two men walked down the Senate hall together…

❝ The exchange would last only a minute, but the photo remains a haunting reminder of what was lost. They would never meet again before each was assassinated, first Malcolm X and then King.

I met each of these men. Briefly. Once each.

BITD, when I still was a performing artist, I opened for Dr. King on a street corner in the West Side of Chicago. !2-string guitar and all, it was a sunny day in reality and metaphor. MLKjr had come to Chicago to join the fight to end institutional racism, segregated schools in Chicago. Joining Al Raby. Confronting Mayor Daley and part of the racist wing of the Democratic Party. The summer of 1965.

I met Malcolm on another street corner. In 1958 in Harlem. He stood on a step ladder addressing a crowd of a hundred or so. Near Lewis Michaux’s African National Memorial Bookstore. A frequent use for that street corner. I’d taken the A Train to Harlem with my closest friend then. A young Black man working as medical intern for a homebound physician. I was working as a technician in a corporate research lab. We met at night school – both trying to get degrees somehow that might put us in line for better paying work. Both trying to learn more about the nation around us. The racism that chained us together.

Malcolm saw us on the edge of the crowd. And after his speech he came over and asked why we were together. And though his meet was obviously focussed on my friend Daniel, he praised our seeking knowledge, together or separately. Encouraging us.

Both were dead, assassinated within a decade.