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Current location: Somewhere in the NYC metropolitan statistical area
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 33,497

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The week is young, folks

What parts will he spend the next several days whining about?

Trump Whiner Watch, day 4

The Donnie Snivels is tweeting again, still harping about a beauty contest winner.




Shall we start a betting pool about when he'll finally manage to shut up about it?
(generously defined as not saying anything about her for a whole week)

Please be sure to include a year with your bet date.

Krugman: Trump On Trade

Even so, it seems to be conventional wisdom that Trump did well in the first 15 minutes. And I guess he did if you are impressed by someone talking loudly and confidently about a subject he really doesn’t understand. But really: Trump on trade was ignorance all the way.

There were specifics: China is “devaluing” (not so — it was holding down the yuan five years ago, but these days it’s intervening to keep the yuan up, not down.) There was this, on Mexico:

Let me give you the example of Mexico. They have a VAT tax. We’re on a different system. When we sell into Mexico, there’s a tax. When they sell in — automatic, 16 percent, approximately. When they sell into us, there’s no tax. It’s a defective agreement. It’s been defective for a long time, many years, but the politicians haven’t done anything about it.

Gah. A VAT is basically a sales tax. It is levied on both domestic and imported goods, so that it doesn’t protect against imports — which is why it’s allowed under international trade rules, and not considered a protectionist trade policy. I get that Trump is not an economist — hoo boy, is he not an economist — but this is one of his signature issues, so you might have expected him to learn a few facts.

Jesus, who would have thought the top drinking game cue would be...

...Donald's sniffles?

Anything more than a micro-sip each and you'd be under the table by now.

I was right! Trump's doctor is...

I told you so!

Murdoch's NY Post has more Melania pics today

Not linking, but it's a nude photo shoot with another woman.

I don't care about the photos, but I'm dying to know WHY Rupert's NY tabloid is going this route.

It started as a tactic and turned into an industry

By the 1990s the Republicans had a formula for beating old-school postwar Democrats (call them soft on defense, soft on crime, pandering to "special interests" (unions, minorities, feminists, etc.), "anti-business" ). That formula wouldn't work against Bill Clinton, "pro-business" governor from a "right to work" state who didn't follow the "big government" narrative and was willing to go against "special interests" in his own party.

The Bush campaign fought this in two ways: 1) dig up whatever dirt hey could in Arkansas and 2) forget reality and just portray him as the conservative voter's ultimate bogeyman (draft-dodgin' dope-smokin' citizenship-renouncin' Baby Boomer Hippy Bill and his feminazi "partner", Homemaker Hater Hillary). Then, in a classic case of Republican Election Delusion, they were stunned that Bush lost.

Enter Rush Limbaugh: he devoted his radio show to rallying conservatives, saying Clinton was only "technically" president because he won by a plurality, painting him as holding the office of the president illegitimately. So, for the red-meat crowd, anything to remove the pretender from office was legitimate. For the more strategically-minded conservatives, a constant stream of investigations and scandals would be a drag on any Clinton attempt to revisit old Reagan-Bush scandals now that the investigatees no longer in in a position to stall investigators. And it would hamper attempts to reverse some key Reagan-Bush policies.

Add to the mix a media eager to show that it didn't have a "liberal bias" (one news magazine had a "Clinton suck-up watch" to chide any coverage that was seen as too favorable), and who grew up on how Watergate coverage created superstar journalists -- and were eager to get their turn.

So you had a conservative public stoked to believe absolutely anything about the Clintons (and eager to get the juicy details about their perfidy), a growing conservative media counterculture that was willing to supply them with "what's REALLY going on," a political establishment that saw advantage (and, eventually, possible revenge for Watergate) in nonstop attacks and a media that saw a potential career jackpot in becoming the new Woodward and Bernstein. And after the 1994 election ushered conservative true-believers into a House majority under the bomb-throwing banners of Newt and Rush, the brakes weren't just worn out, they were sawed off.

They've been operating under that system ever since.

The Hidden History of the Privatization of Everything

Crossposting from Good Reads

Note From The Editor
Introducing Our Feature Series On Privatization
Josh Marshall
Today TPM is kicking off a richly reported four part series on privatization and the privatization movement in the United States. We’ll begin later this week with a detailed look at the history of the privatization movement, particularly its ideological origins in post-New Deal America, as intellectuals who feared the growth of government searched for ways to limit its growth. Later, their work combined with that of conservative political strategists who saw privatization as a way to eliminate key political constituencies supporting government spending. By the 1980s and 1990s, these principally ideological and political projects came together with a range of corporations, some new and some old, eager for access to the business opportunities privatization had and would continue to create.

From there we will look at public-private partnerships and particular industries like the corrections industry to see how privatization works in practice. Public debate on the issue often focuses on costs and savings. Does privatization really reduce costs to tax payers or simply enrich private businesses? Our series will look closely at that issue. But we will also focus on the way privatization often limits the scope of democratic government itself - taking key public policy decisions away from democratically elected or accountable authorities and handing them over to private corporations, whose methods and practices are either hidden from public view or are actually trade secrets they own.

Part 1
The History of Privatization
How an Ideological and Political Attack on Government Became a Corporate Grab for Gold

Donald Cohen

Rising discontent with government during the 1960’s and 1970’s created fertile ground for privatization advocates like Savas and Robert Poole, founder of the Reason Foundation. Not only did they see opportunity for increased contracting out, but they seized the moment to recast existing municipal practices as living proof that their ideas were correct. Local governments had considerable experience contracting for basic services. San Francisco, for example, began contracting with private companies for trash collection in 1932.

The urban fiscal crises of the 1970s offered the perfect opportunity to create a rationale for contracting out public services. Cities across the country were facing declining revenues as middle class families and manufacturing companies fled to the suburbs and Great Society welfare programs increased costs. The lengthy 1973 recession pushed cities into crisis and toward Savas’ solutions. Privatization was no longer only a right-wing attack on popular government services, but increasingly becoming a managerial response to tight city budgets.

By the end of the 1970s, the table was set. Cities were in fiscal crisis and a new conservative think-tank infrastructure (Reason, Cato, Heritage, ALEC, and others) that embraced privatization as a core strategy to downsize government was ready for a frontal assault.

And then a new president was elected.

The Republican Munsters

I remember the exact point where that phrase gained cachet ouside lefty circles...

February 10, 1992, in a speech by former Attorney General Edwin Meese at Harvard Law School, that was widely reported on and promoted, particularly on the Right.

Meese Speaks at Law School Forum
Stresses Importance of Ensuring Free Speech, Freedom of the Press
By Perry Q. Despeignes, CONTRIBUTING REPORTER February 11, 1992

Speaking at a Harvard Law School Forum last night, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III defended federal restrictions on the content of Planned Parenthood consultations while warning of the danger that "politically correct" speech codes pose to First Amendment rights.

At the time I thought it was a little odd that they'd latch on to that particular phrase, but then I remembered something else:

This was:
1) almost a year after the Soviets had been absolutely sidelined in the response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing Gulf War,
2) almost six months since the failed coup by Soviet hardliners to oust Gorbachev, and
3) about a month and a half after the Soviet Union was dissolved completely.

In other words, it featured prominently in a heavily-promoted speech at the precise moment in history when even the most dinosaurine Conservative couldn't maintain the fiction that Liberals and Lefties were "on orders straight from the Kremlin" without losing all credibility beyond a relative handful of true-believing goobers.

The Soviets had become useless as a means of painting Liberals and Lefties as fools, dupes and active agents of a foreign power ideologically driven to wreck the country. Useless as a brush with which to paint L&Ls as traitors and as a DISloyal opposition, for stoking anger against them.

So they shifted gears and cloudsourced it: goodbye slavishly following "orders from Moscow", in the new version there's just this weird ideological cloud of anti-Americanism that motivates Liberals and the Left. In some ways it works even better, because it's even more malleable: it can cover whatever you want it to cover as long as you keep thumping the drum.
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