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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Sunday, May 29, 2016

 

He'll fix the problems with all the dead crops

by Tom Sullivan

Interspersed with Dave Weigel's dispatches from the Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, a clip from Idiocracy came across the Twitter feed yesterday and for some reason it wouldn't get out of my head after that. From Think Progress:

Speaking to an audience in California on Friday, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump told the crowd “there is no drought” in their state.

Trump claimed there isn’t a real water shortage. Instead, he said, state officials are intentionally denying water to farmers in the middle of the state — choosing to reroute the water to the ocean to protect an endangered California fish called the delta smelt. “It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump said. “There is no drought. They turn the water out into the ocean.”
TPM continues:
Trump said that if he were president, he'd have a simple solution.

“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive," Trump said according to USA Today.
"Believe me." (Have we ever seen a candidate with a more obvious "tell"?) Trump is going to surround himself with the very best people. TOP people. He's got this guy, Not Sure. He'll fix the problems with all the dead crops and the dust storms.

We entered the era of post-truth politics years ago. According to fact checkers, 91 percent of what Trump says is nonsense, but really? And Trump has Sarah Palin as his opening act:

Proving once again that she is not merely laughable but deeply disgusting, in another speech in San Diego warming up for Trump, Palin criticized President Obama for going to Hiroshima this week, calling his visit an “apology lap.”

“You mess with our freedom,” Palin bellowed, “we’ll put a boot in your ass. It’s the American way.”

The crowd lapped it up, chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”
How long before one of them pulls an automatic weapon from behind the podium and fires a burst into the air for emphasis?


Saturday, May 28, 2016

 
Saturday Night at the Movies

Goin’ mobile: Top 10 Road Movies


By Dennis Hartley












Since Memorial Day weekend signals the warm-up to the summer travel season, I thought I would address those stirrings of wanderlust by sharing my picks for the Top 10 road movies. As usual, the list is in alphabetical order. So…fill ‘er up and check the oil!


Five Easy Pieces  – “You see this sign?” Thanks to sharp direction from Bob Rafaelson, a memorable screenplay by Carole Eastman (billed in the credits as Adrien Joyce) and an outstanding, iconic performance by Jack Nicholson, this remains one of the defining American road movies of the 1970s. Nicholson was born to play the protagonist in this character study about a disillusioned, classically-trained pianist from a moneyed family, working at soulless blue-collar jobs and teetering on the edge of an existential meltdown. Karen Black gives one of her better performances as his long-suffering girlfriend. The late great DP Laszlo Kovacs makes excellent use of the verdant, rain-soaked Pacific Northwest milieu. And remember where to hold the chicken salad…

Genevieve  A marvelous entry from Britain’s golden age of screen comedies, this gentle and good-natured 1953 film centers on the travails of an endearing young couple (Dinah Sheridan and John Gregson) as they join their bachelor friend (Kenneth Moore) and his latest flame (Kay Kendall) on their annual road trip from London to Brighton as participants in an antique car rally. After the two men have a bit of a verbal spat in Brighton, they decide to convert the return trip to London into a “friendly” race, with a 100 pound wager to be awarded to whoever is the first to reach and cross Westminster Bridge. Colorful, drolly amusing and engaging throughout, especially thanks to Sheridan and Gregson’s charming onscreen chemistry. Oh, in case you were wondering-“Genevieve” is the name of the couple’s antique car! Director Henry Cornelius’ next project was I Am a Camera, the 1955 film that was reincarnated as the musical Cabaret.


Lost in America  – Released at the height of Reaganomics this 1985 gem can now be viewed in hindsight as a spot-on satirical smack down of the Yuppie cosmology that shaped the Decade of Greed. Director/co-writer Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty portray a 30-something, upwardly mobile couple who quit their high-paying jobs, liquidate their assets, buy a Winnebago, and go Kerouac in order to “find themselves”; they’ll “touch Indians” (with a “nest egg” of $145,000). Actually, Brooks’ character fancies their new elective lifestyle choice to be closer in spirit to the protagonists in Easy Rider (except that Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper didn’t hit the road in an RV that featured a microwave with a built-in browning element for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich). Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the “egg” is soon off the table, and they now find themselves on the receiving end of “trickle down”, to Brooks’ chagrin. Like all of Brooks’ best movies, it is at once painfully funny and so very, very painful to watch.


Motorama   – This blackly comic 1991 road movie/Orphic journey nearly defies description. A rather odd 10-year old boy (Jordan Michael Christopher) flees his feuding parents to hit the road in search of his version of the American Dream-to win the grand prize in a gas station-sponsored scratch card game called “Motorama”. As he zips through fictional states with in-jokey names like South Lyndon, Bergen, Tristana and Essex, he has increasingly bizarre and absurd encounters with a veritable “who’s who” of cult filmdom, including John Diehl, John Nance, Susan Tyrell, Michael J. Pollard, Mary Woronov, Meatloaf and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. What I find particularly amusing is that none of the adults seem to question why a 10 year old (who curses like a sailor and sports a curious bit of stubble by film’s end) is driving a Mustang on a solo cross-country trip. Not for all tastes-definitely not one for the kids (especially since the venerable parental admonishment of “You’ll poke your eye out!” becomes fully realized). Director Barry Shils has only made one other film, the 1995 doc, Wigstock: The Movie.


Powwow Highway  – A Native American road movie from 1989 that eschews stereotypes and tells its story with an unusual blend of social and magical realism. Gary Farmer (who greatly resembles the young Jonathan Winters) plays Philbert, a hulking Cheyenne with a gentle soul who wolfs down cheeseburgers and chocolate malts with the countenance of a beatific Buddha. He has decided that it is time to “become a warrior” and leave the res on a vision quest to “gather power”. After choosing a “war pony” for his journey (a rusted-out beater that he trades for with a bag of weed), he sets off, only to be waylaid by his childhood friend (A. Martinez) an A.I.M. activist who needs a lift to Santa Fe to bail out his sister, framed by the Feds on a possession beef. Funny, poignant, uplifting and richly rewarding. Director Jonathan Wacks and screenwriters Janey Heaney and Jean Stawarz keep it real. Look for cameos from Wes Studi and Graham Greene.


Radio On  – You know how you develop an inexplicable emotional attachment to certain films? This no-budget 1979 offering from writer-director Christopher Petit, shot in stark B&W is one such film for me. That being said, I should warn you that it is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, because it contains one of those episodic, virtually plotless "road trip" narratives that may cause drowsiness for some viewers after about 15 minutes. Yet, I feel compelled to revisit this one at least once a year. Go figure. A dour London DJ (David Beames), whose estranged brother has committed suicide, heads to Bristol to get his sibling's affairs in order and attempt to glean what drove him to such despair (while quite reminiscent of the setup for Get Carter, this is not a crime thriller...far from it). He has encounters with various characters, including a friendly German woman, a sociopathic British Army vet who served in Northern Ireland, and a rural gas-station attendant (a cameo by Sting) who kills time singing Eddie Cochran songs. But the "plot" doesn't matter. As the protagonist journeys across an England full of bleak yet perversely beautiful industrial landscapes in his boxy sedan, accompanied by a moody electronic score (mostly Kraftwerk and David Bowie) the film becomes hypnotic. A textbook example of how the cinema is capable of capturing and preserving the zeitgeist of an ephemeral moment (e.g. England on the cusp of the Thatcher era) like no other art form.


Sideways  – Not unlike the fine wines coveted by one of its main protagonists, this 2004 dramedy from director/co-writer Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) is destined to become richer and more fully appreciated over time (and repeated viewings, as I have discovered). Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church really shine as a divorced, unpublished writer and a soon-to-be-married, middling TV actor (respectively), two middle-aged pals who embark on a road trip through California’s wine country. For the writer, it’s to be a leisurely cruise through the lovely environs, teaching his friend how to appreciate the aesthetic pleasures of the grape, and its subtle variances from vineyard to vineyard. For his less refined pal, it’s one last shot at a boning and grogging debauchery before he ties the knot. When the two hook up with Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen, things get interesting (cue the midlife meltdowns). Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor picked up a deserved Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (based on Rex Pickett’s novel).


Sullivan's Travels – A unique and amazingly deft mash-up of romantic screwball comedy, Hollywood satire, road movie and hard-hitting social drama that probably would not have worked so beautifully had not the great Preston Sturges been at the helm. Joel McCrea is pitch-perfect as a director of goofy populist comedies who yearns to make a “meaningful” film. Racked with guilt about the comfortable bubble that his Hollywood success has afforded him and determined to learn firsthand how the other half lives, he decides to hit the road with no money in his pocket and “embed” himself as a railroad tramp (much to the chagrin of his handlers). He is joined along the way by an aspiring actress (Veronica Lake, in one of her best comic performances). His voluntary crash-course in “social realism” turns into much more than he had originally bargained for. Lake and McCrea have wonderful chemistry. Many decades later, the Coen Brothers co-opted the title of the fictional “film within the film” here: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Trip – Pared down into feature length from the 2011 BBC TV series of the same name, Michael Winterbottom’s film is essentially a highlight reel of the 6 episodes; which is not to denigrate it, because it is the most genuinely hilarious comedy I’ve seen in years. The levity is due in no small part to Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, basically playing themselves. Coogan is commissioned by a British newspaper to take a “restaurant tour” of England’s bucolic Lake District, and write reviews. He initially plans to take his girlfriend along, but since they’re going through a rocky period, he asks his pal, fellow actor Brydon, to accompany him. This simple narrative setup is basically an excuse to sit back and enjoy Coogan and Brydon’s brilliant comic riffing (much of it feels improvised) on everything from relationships to the “proper” way to do Michael Caine impressions. There’s unexpected poignancy as well-but for the most part, it’s comedy gold. The director and both stars reunited for their equally enjoyable 2014 sequel, The Trip to Italy.
Vanishing Point   – I don’t know if anyone has ever done a study to see if there was spike in sales for Dodge Challengers in 1971, but it would not surprise me, since every car nut I have ever known who throws around phrases like “cherry” or “big block” usually gets a dreamy, faraway look in their eyes when I mention this cult classic, directed by Richard C. Sarafian. It’s best described as an existential car chase movie. Barry Newman stars as Kowalski (there’s never a mention of a first name), a car delivery driver who is assigned to get a Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco. When someone wagers he can’t make the trip in less than 15 hours, he accepts the challenge. Naturally, someone in a muscle car pushing 100 mph across several states is going to eventually get the attention of law enforcement-and the chase is on. Not much of a plot, but curiously riveting nonetheless. Episodic; one memorable vignette involves a hippie chick riding around the desert on a chopper a la Lady Godiva, to the strains of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” (riveting!). Cleavon Little plays Supersoul-a blind radio DJ who becomes Kowalski’s guardian angel and provides a sort of Greek Chorus. The enigmatic ending still mystifies.






 
"Why would he talk about my foolishly perceived fascism?"

by digby

















I'll just leave this here:

Mr. Trump dismisses the labels used by those like Mr. Weld, a longtime Republican now mounting a quixotic campaign for vice president as a Libertarian. “I don’t talk about his alcoholism,” Mr. Trump said through a spokeswoman, “so why would he talk about my foolishly perceived fascism? There is nobody less of a fascist than Donald Trump.”

Yeah. That actually happened.

Here's the story from the New York Times, the paper of record. It's about the rise of fascism around the world, including here. Especially here. You might even want to buy a dead tree copy so you can save that article. It might be worth something some day.

.
 
It's all rigged. Even the drought.

by digby




















Please tell me again how brilliant this guy is. Malevolent and crafty? Sure, in some ways. But this is a moronic thing to say even to Republicans.
Trump said state officials were simply denying water to Central Valley farmers to prioritize the Delta smelt, a native California fish nearing extinction — or as Trump called it, "a certain kind of three-inch fish.”

“We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump told thousands of supporters at the campaign event.

“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive."
I guess he's going to use his massive divining schlong.


.
 
A congenial feedback loop 

by digby
























That graphic is from the latest Pew Poll on where people get their news.I suspect the ramifications of this are going to be quite substantial. If you get your news from your social media feeds you end up getting only one side of the story.  Everyone has their own little Fox News:

A majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2012, based on a slightly different question, 49% of U.S. adults reported seeing news on social media.


But which social media sites have the largest portion of users getting news there? How many get news on multiple social media sites? And to what degree are these news consumers seeking online news out versus happening upon it while doing other things?

As part of an ongoing examination of social media and news, Pew Research Center analyzed the scope and characteristics of social media news consumers across nine social networking sites. This study is based on a survey conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, with 4,654 members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.

Reddit, Facebook and Twitter users most likely to get news on each site. News plays a varying role across the social networking sites studied. Two-thirds of Facebook users (66%) get news on the site, nearly six-in-ten Twitter users (59%) get news on Twitter, and seven-in-ten Reddit users get news on that platform. On Tumblr, the figure sits at 31%, while for the other five social networking sites it is true of only about one-fifth or less of their user bases.

We've seen the Fox effect for years so we already know where that can lead. I run across people all day long who are convinced of certain erroneous facts because they spend their time in a social media bubble.

There's a lot of twitter hate out there and I understand it completely. But it is the platform that at least leads a majority of its users to actual news sites:


The rub, of course, is that you're still in your silo and tend to get led to places that reinforce your silo's viewpoint. Still, it's at least a news site and maybe you'll see something else there that leads to a story you wouldn't have normally seen. 

I think social media and the internet in general have been a great boon to mankind. Aside from the connectivity they have opened up the information flow in myriad ways.  However, there is so much of it that you inevitably wind up finding ways to curate it and it's just easier, and frankly less stressful, to narrow it down to your own worldview. But that can lead to all kinds of destructive thinking like conspiracy theories and just plain wrong facts that get reinforced by your social cohort. It's not good. 

.

 
Write a check big man

by digby
















He's claiming he doesn't have money to run a normal campaign now:
Donald Trump's campaign has alerted Senate Republicans that he won't have much money to spend fending off attacks from Hillary Clinton over the next couple months.

The notice came when Paul Manafort, Trump's senior advisor, met with a group of Senate Republican chiefs of staff for lunch last week, sources familiar with the meeting told the Washington Examiner. The admission suggests that Trump will be far more dependent on the GOP brass for money than he has led voters to believe, but it's consistent with his reliance on the Republican National Committee to provide a ground game in battleground states.

"They know that they're not going to have enough money to be on TV in June and probably most of July, until they actually accept the nomination and get RNC funds, so they plan to just use earned media to compete on the airwaves," one GOP source familiar with Manafort's comments told the Examiner.

That's a far cry from Trump's public insistence that he signed a fundraising agreement with the RNC in order to help the party, not himself. "The RNC really wanted to do it, and I want to show good spirit," he said last week. "'Cause I was very happy to continue to go along the way I was."

Stay abreast of the latest developments from nation's capital and beyond with curated News Alerts from the Washington Examiner news desk and delivered to your inbox.

Still, Trump allies have suggested that the RNC is going to take advantage of the real estate mogul. "I don't think the RNC is 100 percent committed," a GOP donor told CNN. "If Donald Trump's seven points down in October, they're going to put that money toward Senate races and House races."

Manafort seemed confident at the lunch with GOP staff, however. "He said that he thought Hillary Clinton was the ideal opponent — that he was the ultimate outsider and she was the ultimate insider," a Senate GOP chief-of-staff in attendance said.

Some smart Republicans rightly assume he's laying the groundwork to blame the RNC if he loses. Of course he is. The man has never taken personal responsibility for anything in his life.

Maybe the networks (other than Fox which is ... well, you know) ought to give some thought as to whether they should be aiding and abetting his plan. Or at least make a commitment to strict equal time. He should not be able to get wall to wall coverage as a way to save money. The news media has some responsibility here.

.
 
President Whining Bigot at your service

by digby

















Seriously Republicans?  This is the best you could come up with?

During a campaign stop in San Diego on Friday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump devoted a significant amount of time to attacking the federal judge overseeing the ongoing case against Trump University, suggesting the judge is a “hater” who is biased against him.


The case against the real estate mogul’s now-defunct company, which has been accused of scamming students who were misled into paying money for insight from business experts they thought were hand-picked by Trump, is scheduled to go to trial in San Diego federal court shortly after the presidential election. According to his lawyer, Trump is planning on testifying.

In what the Wall Street Journal characterized as an “extended tirade,” Trump spent 12 minutes of his 58-minute speech focused on the case and the California judge who will hear it.

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel,” Trump told the crowd. “I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself.”

Trump told his supporters he believes Judge Curiel should be removed from the case, citing the fact that Curiel was appointed to the bench by President Obama. Trump also said he believes Curiel is "Mexican." The crowd -- which had previously shouted "build that wall" -- booed loudly.

In previous statements about the case, Trump has pointed to Curiel's Hispanic heritage to insinuate that he won't be able to approach the case impartially. Asked on Fox News what exactly Curiel's ethnicity has to do with the case against him, Trump responded, "I think it has to do perhaps with the fact that I'm very, very strong on the border, very, very strong at the border, and he has been extremely hostile to me."

Trump University -- which was not actually an accredited university and did not hand out degrees -- has several fraud cases proceeding against it.

I swear to God this campaign is the whiniest campaign I've ever heard.  Everything is so unfaaaiiir. So I have a right to act like a baby and whine and whine and throw tantrums and hold my breath until I turn blue because those meanies are being sooooo mean!!!

Boo fucking hoo.

Any endorser of Donald Trump is going to have this moron hung around their necks for the rest of the their careers. They did this with their eyes wide open.



 

Aristotle's ashes

by Tom Sullivan

Reports out of Greece this week not about refugees and economic chaos say archaeologists may have found in his home town of Stageira the tomb of the philosopher Aristotle. You know, the "golden mean" guy. Wonder what Aristotle would think of our orange mean guy? Or the rest of us, for that matter.

Keeping one's head has not been in fashion in America, oh, since September 11, 2001. Of late, those who do are – to both the right and left – clearly part of the comfortable establishment that has to go. Sorry, Ari.

Dahlia Lithwick covers the Supreme Court of the United States for Slate. A more establishment institution you will not find. (SCOTUS, I mean.) Maybe it is because she is Canadian, but Lithwick is a tad uncomfortable with the rhetoric of the presidential race. And because she leans left, she is more than a tad uncomfortable with the tone of from fellow lefties. "There's no heavier burden than a great potential!" Linus van Pelt once said. No one can disappoint you like your friends.

Regarding those litigating Hillary v. Bernie, Lithwick writes:

I have been taken up short by the number of comments and scoldings I have faced, from close friends and casual acquaintances alike, for voicing even a hint of support for one or the other in recent months. The tone hasn’t merely been dismissive and furious; the message beneath has almost universally been that I am a moron.

The 2016 campaign has been focused on rage. Donald Trump’s cunning redirection of his supporters’ economic and racial fury into electoral support has been well-documented. But the fury on the progressive end of the spectrum has been harder to pin down. Some of us on the left seem to be suffering from many of the same symptoms we deride in Trump supporters: outrage with the political process; over-identification with our anger and under-identification with our commonalities; and a pervasive sense that anyone who doesn’t agree with us suffers from debilitating false consciousness.

I’m not a psychologist and can’t speak to the outrage. But I think a lot about how we speak to one another, and I worry that my progressive friends and I are falling victim to some habits and ideas that have made it virtually impossible for the left and right to even engage—much less debate—serious issues anymore in this country. I see them in myself in alarming new ways when I find myself digging in on Bernie vs. Hillary. I wonder if now is the time to talk about it out loud.
Lithwick does, about the "tics and habits that poison and polarize ideological discourse." One she calls out is how some come to believe their pet issue is the only issue that matters. Anyone not solely dedicated to it is misguided at best. I've watched people leave organizing meetings with potential allies never to return — marginalizing themselves and their issues — because theirs was not front and center on the agenda all night. I've watched activists walk into congressional campaigns unwilling to lift a finger for actual campaign work (it's all grunt work), and then walk out because they were not drubbed on the shoulder the campaign's official expert on their pet issue and asked to write the white paper upon which the entire campaign would rise or fall.

That is precisely the trap into which Moral Mondays leader Reverend William J. Barber II refuses to fall. Preaching "fusion politics," he and North Carolina's NAACP have brought together a coalition of activists to focus their collective energies on rescuing the state from the T-party leadership that took control after the 2010 mid-terms. No one issue is the focus. No one leader, not even Barber, is the focus. The movement is a "people's assembly" of those concerned about everything from voting rights to LGBT issues to education to health care. By refusing to be divided into issue silos, the Forward Together movement has found lasting power in coalition rather than in anger.


Photo via HKonJ People's Assembly Coalition.

But like Lithwick, this year I have watched friends turn into an angry T-party of the left, with everything that implies. Lithwick writes, "If we are treating our friends and allies like we treat our enemies, we are not really a movement so much as a collective of grievances."

In Stageira, Aristotle's ashes must be turning over in his urn.


Friday, May 27, 2016

 
Friday Night Soother: Trump wallaby edition

by digby















9NEWS political analyst Kelly Maher speaks for the Republican side and has admittedly struggled with Trump's rise to power in the party. He's now the GOP presidential candidate. She's gone from denial... to getting an emotional support wallaby.



 
Cruz control

by digby













Yes, he's still out there. And he's working the delegates:
Though Marco Rubio suggested on Thursday that he expects his delegates to be released for Donald Trump and even volunteered to speak on his behalf, Ted Cruz signaled on Friday that he would take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Cleveland. And the fight for delegates and the party's platform is far from over, he said, despite Trump having clinched the required number to become the nominee.

"I am looking and listening to see what the candidates do," the Texas senator told Tulsa, Oklahoma, radio host Pat Campbell, who listened as Cruz spoke about the importance of electing a conservative to the White House.

When Campbell remarked that it sounded as though Trump did not meet his standards, Cruz replied, "I hope that he will."

Trump has no standards. But we'll see if Cruz can bear the weight of being among the few "true conservatives". He's going to make his stand inside women's bodies:

Before wrapping the interview, Campbell asked Cruz if he could promise to listeners to ensure Republicans in Cleveland do not "screw around with the party platform and remove the abortion plank, or alter it."

“You have my word. One of the reasons that we are continuing to work to elect conservatives to be delegates, even though Donald has the delegates to get the nomination, we intend to do everything we can to fight for conservative principles to prevent Washington forces from watering down the platform," Cruz said. "The platform is a manifestation of what we believe as a party, and I think it is important that it continue to reflect conservative values, free-market values, constitutional liberties, Judeo-Christian principles, the values that built this country, and that is exactly what I intend to fight for.”

Trump said in April that he would push for exceptions to the party's platform on abortion to include rape and incest.

That's the squishy middle of the road position now. Cruz will be there fighting to force 12 year olds to give birth to their own sisters. Because he's a highly moral person. And I would guess Trump will be happy to let him have that one.

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The good old days

by digby













From Mother Jones:

video


 
Burning down the house

by digby





















wrote about Trump's mess of a campaign this morning for Salon, but this piece by Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman in the New York Times has more.

Asked for comment about his management style, and the current state of his campaign, Mr. Trump declined, criticizing the reporters writing this article. “You two wouldn’t know how to write a good story about me if you tried — dream on,” Mr. Trump said in an email relayed by his spokeswoman, Hope Hicks.

So far, Mr. Trump has shown little inclination to adjust to a political world. His penchant for setting up competition and infusing tension between his subordinates has carried over from his real estate company.

“He certainly does love playing people against each other, but in my experience he knew how to make me reach my potential,” said Sam Nunberg, who was fired from the campaign in 2015 after a series of clashes with the campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. “You become very committed in that environment.”

But, as was the case with Mr. Wiley’s dismissal, Mr. Trump is reliant on information he garners himself, and can be swayed by the last person he talked to.

I have worked for a few idiots who think they're geniuses. It's not pleasant. And they usually screw up the company.

Meanwhile, according to Politico the GOP at the state level is starting to get very, very nervous:

POLITICO surveyed nearly two dozen GOP chairmen, officials and operatives in key swing states who said the RNC hadn’t delivered on promises, imperiling their ability to launch the robust voter-turnout operation needed in the general election.

It’s a development that could spell trouble for Donald Trump, who trounced his primary competition despite the lack of a traditional field organization but is now relying on the national party for its infrastructure, and it has implications for the fragile Republican Senate majority, which is also depending on the RNC’s ground game.

In traditionally Republican states that could become competitive this election season, concern is mounting. Arizona’s state party chairman, Robert Graham, has only one RNC-paid staffer on hand — and had to fight with the national party to keep that person employed.

“That’s what we have,” Graham said in an interview.

On Thursday, the RNC released a memo saying it intended to double its field staff in battleground states. Top Senate campaign officials reacted with skepticism, saying that even with the boost promised, the GOP is still behind on the timeline. And in the battleground states, party operatives said they remain unclear the added commitment will bring the ground operations to levels promised in the fall.

Trump is firing seasoned presidential campaign operatives in favor of the little friends he made during the primaries and is telling everyone that he doesn't think he needs a ground operation and has no intention of spending 500 million on the general election campaign.

This is the businessman who's supposedly going to "make America great again." I guess if you think bankrupt casinos is a definition of greatness, he's your man.

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The bogus businessman

by digby



















Krugman has a good column today about the alleged business acumen of Donald Trump which seems to have convinced more Americans that he would be better for the economy than Clinton or Sanders. Krugman points out that Republicans inexplicably always fare better in polling on this issue despite the fact that the constantly crash the economy and leave a gigantic mess for Democrats to clean up.

But Trump should be vulnerable on this because of ... so many things, not the least of which is the media's inability to inform the public about his inane policy proposals. Krugman examines the "businessmen are gods" concept:
[I]f voters don’t know anything about Mr. Trump’s policies, why their favorable impression of his economic management skills?

The answer, I suspect, is that voters see Mr. Trump as a hugely successful businessman, and they believe that business success translates into economic expertise. They are, however, probably wrong about the first, and definitely wrong about the second: Even genuinely brilliant businesspeople are often clueless about economic policy.

An aside: In part this is surely a partisan thing. Over the years, polls have generally, although not universally, shown Republicans trusted over Democrats to manage the economy, even though the economy has consistently performed better under Democratic presidents. But Republicans are much better at promoting legends — for example, by constantly hyping economic and jobs growth under Ronald Reagan, even though the Reagan record was easily surpassed under Bill Clinton.

Back to Mr. Trump: One of the many peculiar things about his run for the White House is that it rests heavily on his claims of being a masterful businessman, yet it’s far from clear how good he really is at the “art of the deal.” Independent estimates suggest that he’s much less wealthy than he says he is, and probably has much lower income than he claims to have, too. But since he has broken with all precedents by refusing to release his tax returns, it’s impossible to resolve such disputes. (And maybe that’s why he won’t release those returns.)

Remember, too, that Mr. Trump is a clear case of someone born on third base who imagines that he hit a triple: He inherited a fortune, and it’s far from clear that he has expanded that fortune any more than he would have if he had simply parked the money in an index fund.

But leave questions about whether Mr. Trump is the business genius he claims to be on one side. Does business success carry with it the knowledge and instincts needed to make good economic policy? No, it doesn’t.

True, the historical record isn’t much of a guide, since only one modern president had a previous successful career in business. And maybe Herbert Hoover was an outlier.

But while we haven’t had many business leaders in the White House, we do know what kind of advice prominent businessmen give on economic policy. And it’s often startlingly bad, for two reasons. One is that wealthy, powerful people sometimes don’t know what they don’t know — and who’s going to tell them? The other is that a country is nothing like a corporation, and running a national economy is nothing like running a business.
This is a perennial problem with people consistently saying that the country should be run like a corporation or that its budget is somehow like the family budget. And members of both parties make the mistake of leading people to believe it.

Anyway, Krugman goes on to cite one of Trump's most egregious slip-ups and walk-backs --- the fact that he really believes that workers need to cut their wages to "compete".(Of course he does.)That's what "businessmen" always want to do to help boost their profits. But presidents don't have profits.

Not that Trump knows this. He doesn't seem to have a working knowledge of what the president actually does. He seems to think it's main duties are ordering torture and personally negotiating trade deals. But the people who worship him believe that he'll "make money for America" which will somehow benefit them and that's all that matters. It's a dangerous delusion.

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Not a good reason

by digby















I can think of plenty of reasons why someone might not want to vote for Clinton in the fall but this isn't a good one:

Victor Vizcarra, 48, of Los Angeles, said he would much prefer Mr. Trump to Mrs. Clinton. Though he said he disagreed with some of Mr. Trump’s policies, Mr. Vizcarra said he had watched “The Apprentice” and expected that a Trump presidency would be more exciting than a “boring” Clinton administration.

“A dark side of me wants to see what happens if Trump is in,” said Mr. Vizcarra, who works in information technology. “There is going to be some kind of change, and even if it’s like a Nazi-type change. People are so drama-filled. They want to see stuff like that happen. It’s like reality TV. You don’t want to just see everybody be happy with each other. You want to see someone fighting somebody.”

You know who else's campaign wasn't boring?

This is, unfortunately, not the first time I've heard this. I think there are a not insignificant number of Americans who feel this way, whether consciously or unconsciously. And in a sense they're right. A Trump administration is likely to be very exciting. But not in a good way.

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Trump's campaign is a mess

by digby














I wrote about it for Salon this morning:

Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination yesterday when a ragtag group of unbound delegates announced they were going to support him. All the networks ran with breaking news and trained their cameras on an empty podium for hours waiting for Trump to appear before the press and bak in his glory. It was a magical moment. True, everyone had known for weeks now that Trump was going to be the nominee since all of his rivals have dropped out of the race but why let that stand in the way of an opportunity to obsess over his every incoherent insult and rant? As they waited, the big topic of conversation among the TV chatterers was an interview by Howard Fineman with Trump's campaign chairman and chief strategist Paul Manafort. And it was admittedly a doozy.

When I wrote about Manafort earlier I concentrated on his long history of working with slash and burn political consultants and foreign tyrants. He is uniquely qualified to head up Trump's operation. But it's been a while since he's been involved in American politics and it was unclear if he had lost his touch.  The interview with Fineman raises more questions about that than it answers.

Fineman quotes Manafort saying that he thinks this election will be a cakewalk:
“He’s gonna win unless we — meaning people like me — screw it up. This is not a hard race.”
That's the kind of confidence one would expect of a Trump adviser.  But it's a little bit weird considering he also says "you don’t change Donald Trump. You don’t ‘manage’ him." That sounds like a contradiction in terms --- if they can't "manage" Trump then it's hard to see how this race isn't going to be a challenge since the man is a walking time bomb.

Manafort made some policy news by saying that Trump was likely going to "soften" his policy on banning Muslims explaining that this was just a negotiating stance.  The truth is that Trump himself has said that before.  But at this point, he has been on so many sides of every issue nobody can keep track so it means something when his chief strategist validates one of them.

It's also the case that if there's one issue which the GOP establishment particularly wants Trump to back away from it's the Muslim ban.  There are good reasons for this, of course. It's UnAmerican for one thing although that would not normally bother Republican officials. More likely it's that they actually recognize that Trump's idiotic, unworkable proposal is so inflammatory that it's going to get people killed.  Unfortunately, once they are back home campaigning they're going to hear from their Trump-loving constituents that this is one of their favorite policies. If these officials have any integrity, which is unlikely, they will try to educate their voters about how dangerous it is but I wouldn't hold my breath.

According to Manafort, Trump's other big crowd pleaser, "the wall", will be built come what may and he will not "soften" his stance on immigration.  He was spinning like a top --- or he really is out of touch ---  because he told Fineman that it's only in places like New York and California where the American Latinos are all radicals who care about such things. In Ohio and Florida they'll be happy to vote for Trump.

That is delusional. According to recent national polling by Latino decisions, he has an 87% unfavorable rating.  In Florida, he does better than he does nationally. Only 84% of Latinos view him unfavorably. In Nevada, a state which he dishonestly claims voted for him in huge numbers in the primary and uses a proof of his tremendous appeal among Latinos, he also has an 87% unfavorable rating. Manafort thinks they will be able to turn that round by talking to them about jobs, national security, terrorism and education because their concerns are the same as white families. Of course white families aren't concerned about having their friends and relatives rounded up and dumped in the Sonoran desert which Trump has indicated he thinks is a terrific idea. Latinos are certainly concerned about terrorism. But they may define it just a little bit differently than Trump does.

Manafort said that Trump was unlikely to choose a woman or a racial or ethnic minority for VP because that would be "pandering." That would be very wrong, needless to say. Unlike Trump tweeting out a picture of himself eating a "taco bowl" from the Trump Tower grill on Cinco de Mayo saying he "loves Hispanics".

But then the job of Vice President is going to be very, very important in a Trump administration according to Manafort, so they aren't going to take any chances:
He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”
I guess nobody's told Trump that you don't get to write the job description yourself. I'm pretty sure the job of president is to be the one who makes all the big decisions. It's not the person who just calls Fox and Friends, negotiates the trade deals and bombs the shit out of ISIS. You don't get to pick what presidential duties you "want to do" and delegate the rest to your peons. Sure, some presidents like Reagan and George W Bush were less hands on than others but they didn't redefine the presidency as a Chairman of the board who picks and chooses the duties he spends his time on.

In the end, it probably doesn't matter what Manafort says anyway. The campaign is all over the place, with infighting and jockeying for position among the various players. This week Rick Wiley, the highly experienced political operative Manafort brought on board just six weeks ago was let go in a power struggle with a Florida campaign staffer, and friend of Manafort rival campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. According to Politico:
For weeks, Wiley made appointments and had discussions with Florida Republicans and appeared to be building a new campaign from scratch, sources say. They say he refused, at times, to return Giorno’s calls or take them. Giorno then began calling other Trump campaign officials to ask them whether Wiley had it out for her or for everyone. 
On Thursday, word leaked back to Trump. He phoned Giorno, concerned, sources said. “Tell me what’s wrong?” Trump asked her, according to one person familiar with the call. "Karen unloaded on Wiley,” the source said. “Mr. Trump is loyal. He believed her. … Rick picked a fight with the wrong person.” At that point, Trump ordered Wiley to stay away from Giorno and to neither call nor email her. “Donald is loyal. And she’s loyal,” a source said.

Donald Trump is running his presidential campaign like a junior high school cheerleading squad. And this is the man who claims his business savvy is what qualifies him for the presidency.

Paul Manafort assured Fineman, however, that we could all rest easy about Trump being ready for the big job:

“Does he know enough? Yes, because he knows he has more to learn. And he is constantly doing that.”


Trump doesn’t read briefing papers, but he is a magnet for information, Manafort said. “He reads the newspapers, and he talks on the phone and to office visitors in a never-ending stream. You’re sitting there in his office and you realize that he is constantly picking up stuff as he goes.”

“We have all this survey research, but he does his own soundings all the time, all day every day. And he’s more accurate,” Manafort said.

He watches all the shows and obsessively reads his twitter feed too.

It should be obvious by this time that Trump has absolutely no idea what he's doing and is making it up as he goes along. Paul Manafort is experienced at dealing with this sort of character, and seems quite comfortable doing it. But the campaign is a mess and that's because the candidate is a vainglorious buffoon who has no clue what he's doing and thinks he's a genius. I wouldn't bet on Manafort lasting through the duration.

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You may already be there!

by Tom Sullivan

The future is fun! ... The future is fair! ... You may already have won! ... You may already be there!
— Firesign Theater, I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus, 1971
Oh, yeah. From the BBC:
One factory has "reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots", a government official told the South China Morning Post.

Xu Yulian, head of publicity for the Kunshan region, added: "More companies are likely to follow suit."

China is investing heavily in a robot workforce.
That would be Foxconn Technology Group, technology factory with the nets to prevent employees from committing suicide by jumping off the roof. Presumably, the robots won't and the riffed workers can find their own roofs to jump off. What an opportunity for savings. The BBC continues:
"We are applying robotics engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace repetitive tasks previously done by employees, and through training, also enable our employees to focus on higher value-added elements in the manufacturing process, such as research and development, process control and quality control.

"We will continue to harness automation and manpower in our manufacturing operations, and we expect to maintain our significant workforce in China."
Define significant. Meanwhile, here at home:
McRobots are not coming to a McDonald’s near you just yet, according to Steve Easterbrook, the company’s chief executive officer.

His comments came two days after one of the fast-food giant’s former US chief executives suggested that a minimum wage of $15 an hour could lead to McDonald’s replacing its workers with robots. Easterbrook was speaking at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting when he said that technology is not likely to lead to “job elimination” at McDonald’s.

“It’s a topic of discussion right now,” he said, when asked by one of the shareholders if the higher minimum wage would lead to shift to more automated services. McDonald’s is in a service business and “will always have an important human element”, Easterbrook said.
Whew! Dodged that bullet.
Two days before the shareholders’ annual meeting, former US boss Ed Rensi told Fox Business that “it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient, making $15 an hour bagging french fries”.
Efficiency is one of those boardroom fetishes, like shareholder value. When you hear it, update your resume, John Henry.

Selling fries is one thing. But "Pepper" is not so good interacting in an office environment. Still waiting for my jetpack.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

 
Fun Video by SketchShe for RedNoseDay

by Spocko


I’m a huge fan of Shae-Lee @ShaeLeeShack, Lana @LanaKington and Madison @madisonLloyd from the comedy group SketchShe.

They made this fun video last year for #RedNoseDay It’s them lipsyncing to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” across Luna Park in Sydney.

Red Nose Day is about helping lift children out of poverty. This video helped lift me out of gloominess. Watch it, it’s really fun.
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. rings opening bell for RedNoseDay Nasdaq: WBA
This year the sponsors had some fun. This is Skip Bourdo, Walgreens Corporate Operations Vice President [Nasdaq: WBA] and Christy Gibb of the Comic Relief Board of Trustees ringing the Opening Bell at Nasdaq. I wonder if this years’ Red Nose Day partners from Mars Chocolate North America brought any snacks?

I think it is great when companies do this, it’s one way of showing that they care about their customers and their communities–while having fun doing it.
I often focus on serious issues, but I believe that most people in companies are decent and want to do the right thing. Sometimes they just need an excuse and a way to do it.

People in businesses often make decisions because they think one method is the only profitable one, but if you can show them that doing the right things is just as profitable, if not more so, they will go with it.

For the last 10 years my friends and I have reminded thousands of businesses they don’t want to associate their brand with the hateful and cruel comments of right wing talk show hosts. Those businesses agreed.
The people running businesses probably won't thank us for giving them a reason to disassociate themselves from hate and nastiness, but we know. You are welcome. Now embrace the fun! It’s what the people want!

For another fun video I also recommend SketchShe’s Hammertime video


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