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Tag: liberal

Trump, Brexit, Terrorism, And The Hidden Link That Ties Them

Heavily armed New York City Police officers patrol inside the Trump Tower building in New York. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz The events and processes stirring our planet are linked so deeply that their root causes converge into a single reason. Since 2008, the world has been hit with one crisis after another. If you look at each of them separately, you might think that nothing connects the 2008 financial crisis with the 2011 Arab Spring, for example, or the rise of Islamic terrorism with the stream of migrants inundating Europe and now the US. You might also think that the victory of Donald J. Trump and Britain’s Brexit are unrelated or that neither has anything to do with all of the processes just described. Indeed, sobering up is never easy. But luckily, most people already see, or at least feel that the shifts taking place today are all connected. The truth, however, is even more stunning than what the surface reveals. The events and processes stirring our planet are all linked so deeply that their root causes converge into a single reason. The Pursuit of Freedom Since the dawn of history, humanity has evolved through various stages. With some fluctuations and irregularities, we evolved from slavery to…

Election Aftermath: A Whole New Kind Of Sad

The phrase “American Exceptionalism” always seemed a bit jingoistic and smug to me. I’m not sure I even knew what it meant. But now, watching it vanish before my very eyes, its meaning emerges. I understand it on several levels: visceral, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Maybe what I’m feeling is a surge of patriotism–which I’m not sure I’ve ever consciously felt before–because I see that my country is in danger. Whatever American exceptionalism is or was, I’m among those who feel it was lost with the election of Donald Trump–a shallow, greedy, amoral buffoon who embodies the worst of America. At the two week post-election point, I realized that the heavy sadness I was feeling was a kind of mourning. The hollowness in my chest grew with each new bit of information about the Trump transition. By three weeks out, I was no longer mourning the possibilities of what Hillary, with her competence, experience, and drive to improve the lives of others, could have accomplished. Similarly, I was through mourning that I may never see a woman president in my lifetime. Now, almost a month later, the mourning has passed but I’m still not well, and neither are my friends or…

His Name Is Mnuchin, Not Menuhin

When I wrote my first book on my family nearly 40 years ago–based on the key figure who was my uncle, Lord Yehudi Menuhin–I kept having a terrible time tracking down his name. People had rarely heard of Yehudi’s last name, the Menuhins. They also had rarely heard of his first name, Yehudi, which mean, simply “The Jew.” He was one of the greatest violinists of the 20th Century. It turned out that Yehudi as well as my aunt Hephzibah Menuhin and mother Yaltah Menuhin, both concert pianists, were great musical prodigies as well. Yehudi was generally regarded as the greatest musical prodigy since Mozart. You can see my uncle, aunt and mother in the above publicity photo from the ’50s. It turned out that my grandfather Moshe had offered his last name to Ellis Island workers who didn’t know how to spell it. So he anglicized it to “The Menuhins.” No one else ever had the same name. But in the course of my work, I later learned that he did come from a famous Jewish family. They were called the Mnuchins, with a strange Hebraic pronunciation of the last syllable that was not then acceptable to the name makers at…

It’s the Little Things: From POTUS to SCROTUS?

Let me begin with a cautionary tale told to me by Roger Boisjoly (1938-2012) when he spoke to my Business Ethics class back in February, 1993. In case you don’t recognize the name, he was a principal engineer for Morton Thiokol in 1986. On January 27, 1986, Roger and two other engineers tried to warn NASA that if they launched the space shuttle Challenger at temperatures below what had been tested, they could not guarantee that the o-rings would hold. The engineers in the room were not listened to that night and we all know what happened. Even though Roger Boisjoly lost his job and received death threats, he testified in front of Congress and became one of the most well-known whistle-blowers in history. In 1993, when he spoke to my class, he still cried while describing his part in what happened that night and his feeling that he had not done enough to stop the launch. He explained to my students that he and other engineers had written memos about the fact that the o-rings had not been tested below 50 degrees fahrenheit. But the memos were overlooked and not taken seriously. You see,…

Trump’s Carbon-Obsessed Energy Policy And The Planetary Nightmare To Come

Drowning the World in Oil Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Scroll through Donald Trump’s campaign promises or listen to his speeches and you could easily conclude that his energy policy consists of little more than a wish list drawn up by the major fossil fuel companies: lift environmental restrictions on oil and natural gas extraction, build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, open more federal lands to drilling, withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan, revive the coal mining industry, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.  In fact, many of his proposals have simply been lifted straight from the talking points of top energy industry officials and their lavishly financed allies in Congress.
If, however, you take a closer look at this morass of pro-carbon proposals, an obvious, if as yet unnoted, contradiction quickly becomes apparent. Were all Trump’s policies to be enacted — and the appointment of the climate-change denier and industry-friendly attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests the attempt will be made — not all segments of the energy industry will flourish.  Instead, many fossil fuel companies will be annihilated, thanks to the rock-bottom fuel prices produced by…

The Final Solution: If it Quacks Like a Duck

If you’re feeling a massive attack of stranger anxiety or a case of Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt taking place in non-artistic venues or perhaps the sense of the uncanny or Unheimlickeit that both Heidegger and Freud talked about, it may not be the result of some intrapsychic event–that only you are experiencing. This is one time when your neurotic self may have been trumped by something more powerful. You don’t have to be paranoid to think someone is following you and if you’re having a queer feeling that you can’t put your finger on, it may derive from the fact that this may be the first time you’re really living in a proto-fascist state. There are all the hallmarks, the great and veneered leader led into the spotlight by a mass revolt, say like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Honeker, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao. Perhaps the thugs at the rallies ring a bell or the orchestration of media with its historical reverberations? Mussolini was also a great performer and talk about reality television, Hitler had his own private film director in Leni Riefenstahl, famed for The Triumph of the Will (which might be a good soubriquet for upcoming inauguration). Of course our current president…

Zinke’s nomination could bring questions about super PAC ties

GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana at Trump Tower this week.(Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones / Pool via CNP /MediaPunch/IPX) BY: SOO RIN KIM After much speculation about which oilman or pro-development donor would get the nod to run the Interior Department, multiple news sources have reported President-elect Donald Trump has picked Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke (R). Having been a U.S. Navy SEAL from 1986 to 2008 and a Montana state senator from 2009 to 2011, Zinke is a relative newcomer to the Washington political sphere. But the freshman representative — who secured his second term last month — has already collected over $10.5 million in campaign contributions in his short federal career. Besides retired people, who have given him about one-tenth of his total, Zinke has received strong support from ideologically-driven conservative PACs and congressional leadership PACs, which have donated roughly $764,000 and $271,000 each. A member of the House Natural Resources Committee and the Armed Services Committee, the Montana Republican has received at least $345,000 from the oil and gas industry over the years. Fracking giant Oasis Petroleum is his second-biggest donor ($46,800), following Fidelity National Financial and Fidelity National Information Services, which together have given about $179,000. Oasis Petroleum, which owns a North Dakota well that leaked more than…

Thursday’s Morning Email: China Fires Diplomatic Warning Shots

  TOP STORIES CHINA FIRES DIPLOMATIC WARNING SHOTS “In a veiled warning to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, China’s ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday that Beijing would never bargain with Washington over issues involving its national sovereignty or territorial integrity.” And reports emerged that China has installed weapons on the seven man-made islands in the South China Sea. [Reuters]
REPORT: PUTIN PERSONALLY DIRECTED DNC HACK NBC is reporting the attack originally started as a “vendetta” but then “morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics.” All the while, Vladimir Putin’s favorability has been climbing with Republicans. [Mollie Reilly, HuffPost]
MEET THE SYRIANS FIGHTING TO SAVE THOSE TRAPPED IN ALEPPO These medical workers and activists are struggling to deal with the onslaught. Here’s how Aleppo factors into Bashar Assad’s plans to deal with Trump, as well as how you can help. [Rowaida Abdelaziz, HuffPost]
1 BILLION YAHOO ACCOUNTS COMPROMISED IN 2013 HACK Yes, that’s billion, not million. [Reuters]
FACEBOOK PLANS TO BUY ITS OWN VIDEO CONTENT Watch out Netflix. [Recode]
TRAVEL ADVISORY ISSUED FOR BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS After five people contracted locally transmitted Zika. [Reuters]
PREPARE YOURSELVES The polar vortex is back. [Gizmodo] WHAT’S BREWING AND IT LOOKS LIKE TRUMP FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE TO PERFORM AT THE INAUGURATION Hint: it’s definitely not Beyonce. [HuffPost]
MEGHAN MARKLE IS THE MOST GOOGLED ACTRESS OF 2016 She can blame Prince Harry…

Study Shows 39 Percent Reduction In Prison Population Would Not Affect Public Safety

By Christopher Zoukis A new study from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law claims imprisoning 576,000 state and federal inmates – 39 percent of the nation’s 1.46 million total – serves no compelling purpose, and alternative sentencing could save almost $20 billion annually without compromising public safety. The study entitled “How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?” claims to be the first-ever analysis of the best ways to reduce the social, economic and racial costs of overpopulated prisons. Released Dec. 9 and drawing on three years of research by lead author and veteran criminologist Dr. James Austin, along with Brennan Center researchers and a statistical analysis team, the study first analyzed criminal codes and data on convictions and sentences. Based on its findings on the relative ineffectiveness of incarceration, the report team recommends a fundamental shift in sentencing to enable state and federal governments to reduce total prison populations down to 887,000. The study maintains that 212,000 current inmates – or 14 percent of total prisoners – have already served long enough for major offenses that they could be safely released within the next year, and that alternatives to prison — such as community service, electronic monitoring,…

Rebuilding The Democratic Machine

The Democratic Party is in pretty dire straights at the moment. Republicans not only control the United States Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House, but when you take a look down at the state level, things are even more depressing. Republicans have full control (both statehouses and the governor’s office) in 25 states. Democrats only have complete control in five. Two-thirds of all the individual statehouses (state senates and state assemblies or houses) are Republican-controlled. Democrats have lost over 900 of the total seats in the statehouses since Barack Obama took office. By some levels, the Democrats are worse off than they’ve been since the 1920s.
Democrats face headwinds in the 2018 elections, but what’s even more concerning than that is what happens after the 2020 Census. The U.S. House will be redistricted, and if Democrats haven’t staged a pretty significant comeback by then, Republican governors and statehouses will gerrymander their way into locking up the House for another decade. They successfully did so after the 2010 Census, which is why the House has remained out of reach for Democrats since then.
That’s all pretty grim for Democrats to consider. But the only way to fix it is to face…