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Liberal Outrage

The Chump Defense


Republican leaders -- both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, as well as Ryan's predecessor John Boehner, and the chairs of all the relevant committees -- spent years and years lying to everyone in sight about Republican health plans...

Trump, of course, very much falls into that core audience for Republican Party spin. So when Republican leaders said over and over and over again that they had a plan to replace Obamacare with something better, Trump naturally developed the opinion that they had a plan to replace Obamacare with something better. And if they had had such a plan, it wouldn't have been difficult to pass it...

...All that said, Trump is president now. On the campaign trail, he outlined some humane and politically popular ideas about health care policy like that Medicaid shouldn't be cut and that the United States should have a system that covers everybody even if that means the government needs to pay for it.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2017, 10:06 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The Dems' small donor problem

Ryan Cooper.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2017, 6:58 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I don't watch videos

Ryan Cooper has a number of more substantive points, but there's just a practical point against the "pivot to video" movement for me. I can read an article in a 10th of the time it takes me to watch a video, especially in this context where the videos just consist of people talking at me. And the dirty secret is that many people are consuming all of this stuff at work, where you can't really watch videos anyway.

(Once again in this regard i am like a Millennial.)

By fnord12 | August 24, 2017, 9:23 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Ben Carson Running HUD With the Power of Positive Thinking

Cause there's nothing else. No money, no management, no direction.


In the end, Singleton said, Carson accepted out of a sense of duty that came from having risen to success from humble origins: raised by a single mother, a housekeeper, in Detroit. "He's someone born in an environment where the odds were clearly stacked against him, and he believes by personal experience that he could do a lot of good for others." Kemp agreed. Carson accepted, he said, "because he wanted to do something about poverty." If anything, Kemp said, Carson felt more suited to the HUD job than he would to a health-policy one."Being surgeon general or secretary of [Health and Human Services], I don't think he was fully equipped to do that, having been a neurosurgeon," Kemp said. In other words, Carson knew how little he knew about health policy, an awareness he lacked when it came to social policy. "He thought with HUD, 'It's so clear that our approach to poverty has not been completely successful and we can do better, and I think I have some ideas that can be applied,' " Kemp said.

Underlying this rationale were two related convictions. One was the standard conservative bias against expertise and bureaucracy, according to which experts lacked the "common sense" that an outsider from the private sector could provide -- a conviction shared, of course, by the man who nominated Carson for the job. The other was a more particular conviction that he, Carson, possessed extra doses of such common sense by virtue of his biography.

He's a black man who grew up poor. That automatically makes him qualified to run HUD. Clearly.

He's also got some interesting ideas about what slavery was.

There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."

The assembled employees stifled their reaction to this jarringly upbeat characterization of chattel slavery. But in HUD's Baltimore satellite, where many in the heavily African-American office were watching the speech on an online feed at their desks, the gasps were audible.

And when the Trump administration cut the HUD budget by $7 billion, Carson told the HUD employees not to worry, poverty is a state of mind.

But if Carson was troubled by the disembowelment of his department, he showed no sign of it. Even before the final numbers were out, he had assured housing advocates that cuts would be made up for by money dedicated to housing in the big infrastructure bill Trump was promising -- a notion that his fellow Republican Kemp, among others, found far-fetched. "I'm not sure he understood how that would work," Kemp told me. "He was probably repeating what had been told to him." Then, a day after the budget was released, Carson downplayed the importance of programs for the poor in a radio interview with Armstrong Williams, saying that poverty was largely a "state of mind." This, more than anything, seemed to be a crystallization of the Carson philosophy of HUD: that privation would be solved by the power of positive thinking, that his own extraordinary rise was scalable and could be replicated millions of times over.

Two weeks later, Carson went to Capitol Hill to testify on the budget proposal before Congressional panels that would have the final say on the numbers. With Kasper perched over his shoulder, he told both the Senate and House committees that they shouldn't get overly hung up on the cuts. "We must look for human solutions, not just policies and programs," he said. "Our programs must reach out and so must our hearts." The budget, he added, would "help more eligible Americans achieve freedom from regulations and bureaucracy and the ability to govern themselves."

The one thing he seemed concerned about was the possibility of public housing being too luxurious. Yep. That's the problem. Poor people are living too well with their doors that open and close and elevators that only stop working some of the time.

And like Trump, Carson's got his family hanging around, attending meetings, and making decisions. Career employees are leaving. Those who are staying have been barred from doing the work that they normally do. And the HUD secretary running it all is perpetually mentally checked out.

By min | August 22, 2017, 4:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

How about now?

I missed this when it came out but it seems relevant today:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton will slam Republican Donald Trump for being too friendly with North Korea...

Trump has said he would sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to try to stop Pyongyang's nuclear programme and has criticized the decades-old NATO alliance with mainly European nations as obsolete and too costly for the United States.

..."Donald Trump's statements about North Korea show that he has more interest in making Kim Jong Un like him than backing up our friends and allies in the region," [Clinton aide Jake] Sullivan said, noting that South Korea has worked with the United States on missile defence.

Today, Dianne Feinstein is surprising me in a good way by admitting that isolating North Korea hasn't worked.

By fnord12 | August 8, 2017, 6:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Inequality illustrated

The New York Times has a nice animated chart illustrating the data from Piketty (et all).

By fnord12 | August 8, 2017, 10:48 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Thank you for your service

Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions.

...the distressing trend could have a grim upside: If people don't end up living as long as they were projected to just a few years ago, their employers ultimately won't have to pay them as much in pension and other lifelong retirement benefits.

By fnord12 | August 8, 2017, 10:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Deweaponize the debt limit

Brian Beutler argues that now is a good time.

By fnord12 | August 7, 2017, 12:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

How About We Stop Trying to Find Ways to Blame the Victim?

If someone gets punched by another person, do we ask the assault victim "yes, but did you fight back?" and use that as a measure for how guilty the attacker is. Link

Survivors of sexual assault who come forward often confront doubt on the part of others. Did you fight back? they are asked. Did you scream? Just as painful for them, if not more so, can be a sense of guilt and shame. Why did I not resist? they may ask themselves. Is it my fault? And to make matters worse, although the laws are in flux in various jurisdictions, active resistance can be seen as necessary for a legal or even "common sense" definition of rape. Unless it is clearly too dangerous, as when the rapist is armed, resisting is generally thought to be the "normal" reaction to sexual assault.

But new research adds to the evidence debunking this common belief. According to a recent study, a majority of female rape survivors who visited the Emergency Clinic for Rape Victims in Stockholm reported they did not fight back. Many also did not yell for help. During the assault they experienced a kind of temporary paralysis called tonic immobility. And those who experienced extreme tonic immobility were twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and three times more likely to suffer severe depression in the months after the attack than women who did not have this response.

Tonic immobility (TI) describes a state of involuntary paralysis in which individuals cannot move or, in many cases, even speak. In animals this reaction is considered an evolutionary adaptive defense to an attack by a predator when other forms of defense are not possible. Much less is known about this phenomenon in humans, although it has been observed in soldiers in battle as well as in survivors of sexual assault. A study from 2005, for example, found 52 percent of female undergraduates who reported childhood sexual abuse said they experienced this paralysis.

We have the expressions "deer in the headlights" and "frozen with fear". I'm sure there are plenty of horror movies depicting a victim standing still with their mouth moving silently as the terrible thing approaches. Is it really so amazing that someone who is threatened with sexual assault will experience the same kind of paralysis?

This "rape-induced paralysis," [University of Sydney psychiatrist Kasia Kozlowska] explains, is one of six automatically activated defense behaviors in animals and humans that make up the "defense cascade." Typically, nonhuman animals are programmed to go through each of the states as the proximity of the danger escalates. The stages are: arousal (alertness to possible danger); freezing (momentarily putting flight or fight on hold while assessing danger); "flight or fight"; tonic immobility; collapsed immobility (fainting in fear); and quiescent immobility (a subsequent state of rest that promotes healing). People who experience sexual assault may go through several of these stages, or skip straight to tonic immobility.

Each of the defense reactions, she explains, involves activation of motor and arousal centers in the brain and changes in pain and sensory processing. When flight or fight is possible, motor programs for running or fighting are activated, the arousal system is switched to a high-energy setting and nonopioid analgesia is switched on. This helps the victim either run away or fight the predator. When flight or fight is not possible, immobility motor programs are activated, causing the paralysis. At the same time, the arousal system is switched to a low-energy setting, and the brain is flooded with "opioid analgesia" to reduce the intensity of the fear and pain.

Humans and other animals cannot control these defense mechanisms. In humans who are being raped, tonic immobility may be immediately triggered when their sensory inputs (touch, smell and so on) reach a critical threshold and they feel there is no escape.

The system should be focusing on the rapists and their behavior and not on trying to shift responsibility to the victims.

By min | August 4, 2017, 2:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Some good discussion here.

This in particular was interesting, but it almost reaches conspiracy theory levels. IF it's true, it's pretty sick.

For a while it was, achieving impressive gains in health care, life expectancy, education, and social security; radically expanding political participation, bringing the excluded and marginal into the debate and giving diverse social movements access to political power; and charting a foreign policy independent from Washington. Now that model is in ruins. It's easy to criticize Chavismo for riding high oil prices. That critique, however accurate, captures only half the story: Chávez, and his cohort of oil diplomats, largely helped create those high oil prices, revitalizing OPEC, affirming Venezuela's commitment to OPEC production quotas and pricing, and working with non-OPEC energy-producing countries, like Brazil and Mexico, to reverse the neoliberal dream...

...saw high petroleum prices as a way to tax the First World, and then redistribute that revenue through equitable social programs, solidarity, and support for poor energy-importing nations, and an oppositional foreign policy. Thus many of Barack Obama's energy initiatives, especially when Hillary Clinton was at the State Department, were counterstrikes against this repoliticization of oil: promoting fracking, not just in the United States but worldwide; wooing of Mexico away from Venezuela while promoting the privatization of PEMEX, Mexico's state-run oil industry; turning Central America into one big biofuel plantation (that's one of the things the 2009 coup in Honduras was about). It worked.

By fnord12 | August 3, 2017, 5:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Bitter fight

Ryan Cooper on the left's distrust of the 2020 candidates.

Semi-relatedly, i've found this mocking of Mark Zuckerberg's "I Swear I'm Not Running For President" tour to be pretty funny.

Meanwhile, here is some full throated union support from Bernie, who is helping to organize at the Nissan plant in Mississippi.

By fnord12 | August 3, 2017, 12:42 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Hulk like beans!

I try to not do too much vegan advocacy on this blog and i just linked to a related article yesterday, but i won't pass up an opportunity to advocate for that prince of foods, the bean.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 11:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Valentine Moghadam

My level of sophistication on Syria doesn't extend much beyond "we should get the fuck out", but this is a compelling interview.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 1:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Kate Brown

As every centrist politician in the country has been hinting that they're going to run in the Dem 2020 primary, i've found myself wondering how to get around the problem that aside from Bernie and Elizabeth Warren* there's basically no one acceptable to the growing leftist wing. Not just for 2020, but just in general. There's Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison* and a few others in the House, basically no one else in the Senate. The Berniecrats are having a lot of success at local levels and with Our Revolution and Justice Democrats and the like i am hoping that they continue to bubble up. But not a strong bench of people ready now. But the governor of Oregon seems pretty good.

*Foreign policy still being a big problem with these two.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 1:08 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"shocked that $20 'rabbit ears' pluck signals from the air; is this legal?"


Carlos Villalobos, 21, who was selling tube-shaped digital antennas at a swap meet in San Diego recently, says customers often ask if his $20 to $25 products are legal. "They don't trust me when I say that these are actually free local channels," he says.

Earlier this year, he got an earful from a woman who didn't get it. "She was mad," he recalls. "She says, 'No, you can't live in America for free, what are you talking about?'"

Almost a third of Americans (29%) are unaware local TV is available free, according to a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters, an industry trade group.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 12:04 PM | Liberal Outrage & TeeVee | Link

Fast food as government policy

New Republic reviewing Supersizing Urban America.

In the wake of the 1968 riots, Nixon's law-and-order presidency began programs that doled out federal funds to fast food franchises. The administration asserted that black-owned businesses serving fast food would help to cure urban unrest by promoting an entrepreneurial spirit in poor communities. The federal subsidization of McDonald's and other chains to enter urban markets previously considered too poor or dangerous was meant to promote "black capitalism."

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 10:51 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Kevin Drum Misrepresents Research Results on Public Perception of the Homeless

What happened to you, Mother Jones? Link

An article published on July 14 by Mother Jones produced widespread anger. The piece, written by Kevin Drum, began by discussing newly published research from two political science professors on public perceptions of homeless people. Drum addressed the seemingly contradictory findings that people generally support aid to the homeless but also favor banning panhandling and sleeping in public.

Drum's controversial passage came when he attempted to reconcile these views with this reasoning (emphasis in original):

The researchers solved their conundrum by suggesting that most people are disgusted by the homeless. No kidding. About half the homeless suffer from a mental illness and a third abuse either alcohol or drugs. You'd be crazy not to have a reflexive disgust of a population like that. Is that really so hard to get?
The profound problems with Drum's argument are self-evident. To begin with, it relies on a crude, ugly stereotype of homeless people -- as well as addicts and people with mental health problems -- that makes it hard to believe Drum ever interacts with any people in any of those groups. The work I've done with homeless people over the last two years confirms what should be extremely obvious: Many people end up living on the street because of some combination of economic hardship, bad luck, job loss, and a lack of family support; any decent human being reacts to their plight with sympathy, empathy, and compassion -- not disgust.

Worse, the reasoning in the Mother Jones article implies that people are naturally and justifiably disgusted by those who lose their homes, struggle with addiction, or have mental health afflictions. Who still thinks this way? It's as if a caricature of some 1950s retrograde moralizer was reincarnated as a 21st-century columnist for a magazine named after a fiery pro-labor revolutionary.

But perhaps the most serious problem is one raised by the researchers on whom the Mother Jones article purports to rely. In an email to me, which I promptly posted on Twitter, one those researchers -- professor Spencer Piston of Boston University -- objected that the Mother Jones article profoundly misrepresented their research:

Especially infuriating to me is that he misinterpreted our scholarship to do so. We argue that media coverage of homeless people often portrays them as unclean or diseased, which activates disgust among the general public. But he cites our research as proof that homeless people are inherently disgusting -- which perpetuates the very problem in journalism our research was trying to solve.

The article goes on to print the full response the researchers sent The Intercept for publication. Feelings of disgust for the homeless are a learned behavior that are, at the very least, exacerbated, if not caused by, the negative way they are portrayed in the media. And here comes Mother Jones basically saying, "Of course! The homeless are disgusting." *smacks forehead* Great self-reflection there, Kevin Drum. I'm also starting to question your reading comprehension abilities.

The response from Mother Jones' editor-in-chief shows how the magazine continues to miss the point.

[Clara Jeffery] had only this to say: "Piston and Clifford's point is that 'support for these counterproductive policies is driven in part by disgust.' Kevin was attempting, in a very brief post, to challenge readers and policymakers to contend with those shortcomings of compassion."

Uh, no. They were actually challenging you, the media, to overcome your shortcomings in they way you report on the homeless.

By min | August 2, 2017, 10:39 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Dead meat zones

Toxins from manure and fertiliser pouring into waterways are exacerbating huge, harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf.

(No jokes about the dead zone being "roughly the size of New Jersey".)

By fnord12 | August 1, 2017, 2:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The Center doesn't exist

We get articles like this every few years, but Dem consultants don't ever seem to listen (for obvious reasons discussed in the article).

By fnord12 | August 1, 2017, 9:58 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Eds and Meds

Interesting article on the relationship between cities and universities. (I do wish the article expanded more on the "and their attendant medical centers" portion.)

By fnord12 | August 1, 2017, 9:52 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Walker Giving FoxConn Special Dispensation

To pollute. And he's also giving them a $3 billion tip for their troubles in the form of subsidies. Link

Walker, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have in recent days touted Foxconn's announcement that it will open a new manufacturing plant in Ryan's Southwest Wisconsin congressional district. None of them, however, mentioned that the legislation providing the taxpayer subsidies included blanket waivers from Wisconsin's environmental statutes.

Under those laws, companies are prohibited from discharging materials or otherwise polluting wetlands without a specific permit to do so. Under the bill that Walker has put forward, companies within the new "economics and information technology manufacturing zone" will be allowed to discharge material into non-federal wetlands if it relates to the construction or operation of a manufacturing facility. Walker has called a special session that will discuss his bill tomorrow.

Another section of the bill outlines how existing Wisconsin law requires companies to obtain a permit to disturb or transform nearby waterways. According to the official analysis of the bill by analysts in the Republican-controlled legislature, the new legislation will allow Walker's administration to waive those permitting requirements "if they relate to the construction, access, or operation of a new manufacturing facility" in the zone where Foxconn is planning to build its facility.

A separate section of the bill exempts new energy utilities built inside the Foxconn development zone from facing regulatory oversight by the state's Public Service Commission. Those provisions also exempt regulation of the building and relocation of high-voltage transmission lines, according to state legislative analysts.

By min | August 1, 2017, 12:13 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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