Thursday, October 26, 2017

(Roooskies!) Time To Open Our Eyes and View the Damage? (Obama Exposed As Trumpists Intensity Builds)  Hefner Finally Dies, Will Playboy?  (Affleck Apologizes, McGowan Is Shut Down by Twitter?)  Needing to Rebalance Economy  (With Nothing To Lose, Why Stay?)  Building a More Equitable World  (Max, Stacy, Randy and Noam!)

Rooossia? Hillbots? Bernbots?


Whom to blame for the 2016 election fiasco?

As a former software "wiz" it's hardly a surprise to me. Many were the days when I spent long hours at my desk "improving" the code, and then being told by my managers (nonprogrammers) that I was wasting my time, baby . . . get over it!

And shit software will still remain more profitable than software that would make our lives easier, better, faster, and safer. And yeah, we would probably have to wait a few more months to get it. It might even need a better business model than collecting and selling your personal information to advertisers and whomever else comes calling.
I could keep writing about this, there’s a career’s worth of pieces to write about how bad software is, and how insecure it makes us, and I have written many of those pieces. But like writing about hackers compromising terrible systems, I don’t want to write the same thing telling you that software is the problem, not the Chinese or the Russians or the boogeyman de jour.
You, the person reading this, whether you work in the media or tech or unloading container ships or selling falafels, need to learn how computers work, and start demanding they work better for you. Not everything, not how to write code, but the basics of digital and internet literacy.
Stop asking what the Russians could do to our voting machines, and start asking why our voting machines are so terrible, and often no one can legally review their code.

And it turns out that many of our regular election participants like it like that.

Don’t ask who stole troves of personal data or what they can do with it, ask why it was kept in the first place. This all goes double for the journalists who write about these things — you’re not helping people with your digital credulity, you’re just helping intel services and consultants and global defense budgets and Hollywood producers make the world worse.

The social mechanisms ensuring the triumph of the money vultures are even more pervasive now. Wouldn't you have thought that shame might have factored into their future actions? Just a little?

Free speech is not supposed to be limited to words that give no offense to anyone. What this definition of free speech does is to eliminate all criticism of wrong or criminal activity and all dissent against war, police brutality, and political, social, and economic programs. In other words, political correctness silences a population. Silencing is permitted regardless of whether the “offensive” statement is true or false. . . . There is no freedom in such a system. As George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

If the U.S. citizenry don't open their eyes soon and see the devastation that neoliberal/-conism has delivered, there will be no freedom of expression (or middle class) left that matters.

“It’s been my view since circa 2003 that [the oligarchs] would hold up the system with printed money and credit creation until every last crumb of middle class wealth was swept off the table and into the pockets of those in position to do the sweeping.
“Obama delivered nothing on his original campaign promises. He was going to “reform” Wall Street.  But the concept of Too Big To Fail was legislated under Obama, and Wall Street indictments/prosecutions fell precipitously from the previous Administration.
“Obama left office and entered into a world of high six-figure Wall Street-sponsored speaking engagements and to live in a $10 million estate in Hawaii paid for by the Chicago elite (Pritzkers etc).  Now Obama will be paid off $10’s of millions for his role in aiding and abetting the transfer of trillions from the middle class to the elitists. Look at Bill and Hillary – need I say more?  Trump has reversed course on his campaign promises twice as quickly as Obama.  Almost overnight after his inauguration, Trump became a war-mongering hand-puppet for the Deep State’s ‘Swamp’ creatures.
“The media has been willingly complicit in this big charade. Much to my complete shock, Brett Arends has published a commentary on Marketwatch which, from an insider, warns about the media:

‘Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world. Once upon a time you saw people like this in every newsroom in the country. They often had chaotic personal lives and they died early of cirrhosis or a heart attack. But they were tough, angry SOBs and they produced great stories.
‘Do you want to know what kind of people get promoted and succeed in the modern news organization? Social climbers. Networkers. People who are gregarious, who “buy in” to the dominant consensus, who go along to get along and don’t ask too many really awkward questions. They are flexible, well-organized, and happy with life. And it shows.’
“This is why so many reporters are happy to report that U.S. corporations are in great financial shape, even though they also have surging debts, or that a ‘diversified portfolio’ of stocks and bonds will protect you in all circumstances, even though this is not the case, or that defense budgets are being slashed, when they aren’t, or that the U.S. economy has massively outperformed rivals such as Japan, when on key metrics it hasn’t, or that companies must pay CEOs gazillions of dollars to secure the top ‘talent’ when they don’t need to do any such thing and such pay is just plunder.”
The American leftwing has been transmogrified. The left, which formerly stood for “peace and bread,” today stands for Identity Politics and war. The working class has been redefined as “the Trump deplorables” and splintered into separate “victim groups”— women, racial minorities, homosexuals, transgendered. The oppressors are no longer oligarchs who own the means of production. The oppressor is the sexist, misogynist, homophobic, heterosexual, fascist, white supremacist male working class.
. . . By splintering the working class into victim groups, Identity Politics has made opposition to war and income inequality impossible. In place of unity, Identity Politics has dismembered the working class and directed its energies into internal disputes. We now have fistfights in London’s Hyde Park between radical feminists and transgendered activists.
Diana Johnstone has shown how Antifa, the violent arm of Identity Politics, has turned the leftwing into a suppressor of free speech and a supporter of war. See and

. . . It seems simple enough that if a person doesn’t want to be offended by a speaker, don’t go to the speech. On the other hand, if a person wants to learn what the opposition is up to, why miss the chance? In the end, political correctness is about regulating what can be said and controlling explanations, not about protecting the hyper-sensitive from hurtful words.

Everyone knows the history preceding these events. What is puzzling is the interpretation placed upon them.

Obama is a Right Wing President.  That is all. He is a Reaganite, and to the right of Reagan, but somewhat to the left of the Tea Party, which puts him in spitting distance of Atilla the Hun (his record on civil liberties is, according to the ACLU, substantially worse than George W. Bush’s. He deported more Hispanics than George Bush ever did, etc…)  Obama had plenty of power to make more of a difference than he did, and he chose not to.  In the small things, in the big things, when it came to economic policies and to non identity based civil liberties, he virtually always did the right wing thing.
Obama is the first president in post-war history (and maybe all of history) whose economy gave more money to the top 10% than the entire value of all productivity gains in his Presidency. Even George W. Bush didn’t manage that.

Could Obama Have Fixed the Economy?

by Ian Welsh
October 17, 2017
I want to revisit this. Obama was the last person who had a real chance to change and fix things. A crisis is an opportunity. FDR used the Great Depression to change America. Reagan used stagflation to change America. Bush used 9/11 to change America.
Obama could have used the financial crisis to change America. He did not. That was a choice.
His failure leads straight to Trump and various other pathologies. It is a straight line. Failure has consequences. Belief in the status quo (which describes Obama to the T) has consequences.
So, here’s what I wrote about this November 6, 2014 and many other times…
I’m hearing “Obama couldn’t have fixed the economy.  Wage stagnation is not his fault, it’s been going on for decades!”  (For the record it’s been going on for at least 34 years, probably 39, and for some parts of the population, for 46 (that’s when wages for working class white males peaked.  Which is why they’re pissy.))
This argument is, to give it more courtesy than it deserves, bullshit.  I wrote about this back in 2010, and you can read that article, but let’s run through this one more time, because you will never get good leadership if you keep excusing your leaders for betraying you.

Part of the argument is that Obama couldn’t do almost anything because Obama only controlled the House, the Presidency and didn’t quite have 60 votes in the Senate in his first two years.  Because this is the case, I’ll deal with this argument in two parts.
In the first we will discuss something that needed Congressional approval.
The Stimulus: Negotiating 101, people, is that you always ask for more than you want. Obama asked for too little, and a huge part of his stimulus was tax cuts. Worse than this, his stimulus was structured terribly. What you do with a stimulus package in a recession and financial collapse is you use it to restructure the economy. That means things like moving the entire federal package of buildings over to solar, and buying from American companies. (Don’t even try to natter on about trade deals, the US is more than happy to ignore trade rulings it does not like.) That means putting aside a huge amount of money to refit every American house to run on renewable energy, which are jobs which cannot be offshored or outsourced, they must be done in America.
That means building high-speed rail, and using eminent domain to get it done. It also means moving money off the sidelines which would otherwise sit there by providing a clear direction for the economy so that private actors invest hire and invest
Note that Obama did not negotiate properly, he did include a huge amount of tax cuts (right wing ideology), and he produced a stimulus which did not restructure the economy or get private money off the sidelines.  I wrote extensively about this at the time.   None of this is post-facto judgement:
January 5, 2009: The day the news leaked that 40% of the stimulus was tax cuts, I wrote it wouldn’t work.
January 17, 2009: The full details are out, I write: “For ordinary people however, there will be both wage deflation and real asset deflation…
Now, all the things Obama could have done which DID NOT require Congressional approval:
Prosecute the Bankers: This is an executive decision.  Entirely an executive decision.  There was widespread fraud, and no senior executive on Wall Street could credibly claim to not know of it.  Seize their emails, indict them under RICO statutes (ie. take away all their money and force them to use public defenders), and throw them in jail.  Do not let them get off with fines that are less than the profits made, effectively immunizing them.  This means they will keep doing fraudulent and destructive things, because doing so made them personally rich.
Oh, also, there are now fewer, bigger banks.
Take Over and Break Up the Banks: The Federal Reserve had trillions of dollars of toxic sewage on its books which it borrowed at par, which could not sell on the market at par. But Ian, you cavil, “the Federal Reserve is independent of the President.” No. The President can fire any member of the Board of the Federal Reserve except the Chairman for cause and replace them. Letting the financial collapse happen might qualify as cause. Even if Bernanke refused to leave, he would be outvoted on every issue by Obama’s people. Once you control them, you return all the tosic sludge to the banks. They go bankrupt. Which leads to:
Make Stockholders and Bondholders Take their Losses: Yes.  This will wipe them out. That’s the point. The problem with the rich isn’t primarily that they are rich, it is that wealth allows them to largely control the government (I trust this is non-controversial. If it isn’t, I hope you’re on the payroll and paid to believe such sewage.) Making them take their losses breaks their power. Once their power is broken, it’s a lot easier to get everything else done. This is also a popular move. (There are ways to fix the pensions which go bankrupt, another time on that.)
Using the Banks you Took Over and Broke Up, Lend!  These banks are now under Federal control. They do what the President wants, when the President wants it done. They start lending to create small business, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, move to renewable energy, and so on and so forth. (Read THIS, for what the US needed to do at the time. Again, written at the time.)
There are many other things Obama could have done, that he chose not to do.  It is entirely fair to judge Obama on the economy because not only did he never do what was needed to fix it, he did not even try.  Everything he did that was supposedly to fix the economy was insufficient and he was told so at the time by people who had been right about the oncoming financial crisis, in advance.
Even in small things, like aid for homeowners, the Obama administration, even when it had both the authority and the money (which it did), chose to do as little as it could
Obama is a Right Wing President.  That is all. He is a Reaganite, and to the right of Reagan, but somewhat to the left of the Tea Party, which puts him in spitting distance of Atilla the Hun (his record on civil liberties is, according to the ACLU, substantially worse than George W. Bush’s. He deported more Hispanics than George Bush ever did, etc…)  Obama had plenty of power to make more of a difference than he did, and he chose not to.  In the small things, in the big things, when it came to economic policies and to non identity based civil liberties, he virtually always did the right wing thing.
Obama is the first President in post-war history (and maybe all of history) whose economy gave more money to the top 10% than the entire value of all productivity gains in his Presidency.  Even George W. Bush didn’t manage that.
Yes, stagnation of wages and wealth, and even the drop of both in many sectors while it concentrated in the hands of the rich is something which has been going on for decades. It is hard to stop.
But, because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama had the opportunity.  Calls against TARP were running, according to my sources, 200:1 to 1200:1 against. It failed to pass the first time.  Nancy Pelosi said she would not pass it if an equal proportion of Republican House members would not vote for it also.  They refused to do so.  It would have died except for one thing: Obama twisted arms to make it happen.  As the Presidential candidate (and likely future President), he had the ability to do that, and he did.
Again, Obama did not fix the economy because he did not want to. Or rather, keeping rich people rich was  more important to him.  You can argue, if you wish, that he was not willing to break up the banks because it would have been catastrophic.  That argument cannot be dealt with fully here, without doubling the length of an already long essay, but I will be gauche and quote myself, once more, from 2008:

Now it’s the US. America can try and sweep this crisis under the carpet and pretend there isn’t a huge overhang of bad loans and worthless securities. If it does so, the best case scenario is that the next twenty years or so will be America’s Bright Depression (Stagnating economy). Best case.
I will tell you now that the best case has not happened.  As the charts in this post show, the economy stagnated for ordinary people through the recovery and boom of this business cycle.  During the recession there will be job losses again. Most of them will not come back in the next recovery and boom, and neither will wages.
This is Barack Obama’s legacy.  Those like Paul Krugman (what happened to Paul?), who pretend that Obama is a great president are laughable.  History does not grade on a curve “well, we aren’t all chewing on our boots”.  Obama had a historic opportunity to be the next Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Instead, he chose to save the rich, and let them eat everyone else.  This was a choice, he could have done other things.
Nor is this a noble failure:  he did not try.  He did not use the real tools he had at his disposal.
I note, finally, again, because I know most readers will have heard over and over again that Obama saved you from armaggedon, that the US economy cannot be fixed until the wealth, and therefore power, of the very rich is broken. It can not be done.  However bad you think it would have been if that had been allowed to happen, this economy will continue to get worse because it was not done.
Read the entire essay here, and if you have a spare moment, go on over to Ian's place and thank him for his courage in pursuing the truth for so many years. And read his Comments section for some of the best economic analysis you've been offered since Bush II was king. Two examples follow:

I wrote:  “The big problem with Obama is the same problem Hillary has:  his economic advisers are Democratic versions of “neo-liberal” radical free marketeers, so it is going to be the major intellectual breakthrough of their lives to have to admit that most of what they know and believe about economics is wrong.”
On April 22, 2008, I argued that it was necessary to Euthanize Wall Street to save the economy:
I cited the Federal Reserve Board’s Report on the Condition of the U.S. Banking Industry for the second quarter of 2006, which showed that derivatives holdings of the 50 largest bank holding companies totaled $117.6 trillion, and that those derivatives had no relationship to their ostensible purpose: to make it easier, or less risky, to provide loans. I cited a February 2007 Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Report, Credit Derivatives and Bank Credit Supply, which reached the same conclusion, though the banking jargon used tried to obfuscate the point. I cited a February 2005 report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Consolidation in the U.S. Banking Industry: Is the Long, Strange Trip About to End?, which concluded that mergers of banks were driven more by “empire building and increased managerial compensation” than economic efficiencies. And I ended by outlining the need for a financial transactions tax. 
After Lehman Brothers imploded in September, I reposted most of that article in Let Wall Street Burn
Pissing away $700 billion
posted 10/30/2008 – On how inadequate the “stimulus” was:  Debunking the Great Myth of the Financial Markets posted 05/24/2009 – Presents the evidence that the financial system no longer serves the function of credit mediation for an industrial economy, but in fact is looting the industrial economy.
Roosevelt created 4 million jobs in one month posted 01/08/2010 – intended to show what could be done if there was will to do it.
Let’s cut to the chase. Obama did what a self-professed “moderate 1985 Reagan Republican” would do – ensure that the biggest corporations the world has ever seen remain viable while sacrificing those that service the lower classes. Everything he has done since has only increased the security of said organizations against the rise of an angry populace. It was what Obama was paid to do with being the first non-100% Anglo to hold office as President.
Let’s take another glance at American History. After the nation wiped out the Native peoples and stole their lands, there was nothing left within our borders for the wealthy to grow their fortunes to their satisfaction. Enter the Imperialists, delivering new opportunities for exploitation by stealing a major chunk of what remained of Spanish possessions.
We are at such an impasse again. The nations friendly to corporatist exploitation have essentially been tapped out. Nike shoes are no longer sufficient to keep Vietnam on the side of Uncle Scam, so now the US is supplying patrol aircraft and the latest in electronic surveillance equipment so PRV can sting the dragon for us. The US is waging a “war on terrorism” in order to have an excuse to go after the oil reserves of Muslim nations not friendly to corporatism. The Ukraine has been thrust into the breech as the excuse to attack Russia, whose economic growth threatens to violate the Wolfowitz Doctrine that no nation can be allowed to become more economically powerful than the US.
There are so many more examples of the US positioning itself to exploit all of the natural resources of the world for the sole benefit of “American” multinational profit. The US is going to war to dominate and control the world, and no one - especially not the lackeys of the EU - will be immune from delivering tribute to Neo-Rome.
Once this is accomplished, the global thieves will only have each other to devour. Like the elite of the Middle Ages, they will wage war upon each other for increased dominance over the rest. He Who Dies Owning Everything is the goal – and mere humans mean nothing to them.

Who's left?

Is anyone left?

Oppenheimer: If you had asked me that two years ago I would not have had an interesting answer. But now, it seems like we are in this moment "maybe it isn’t premature to call it a left-wing resurgence. The left seems to be influencing the public debate in ways that it hasn't in a long time. That hasn't played out at a concrete policy level yet, but it is influencing the discourse."
The contest between Bernie and Hillary has divided leftists and liberals in a way that is really evocative of some of the periods I write about in the book, of the thirties, the sixties and seventies. In a lot of ways it is a comparable dynamic to what produced some of these apostates from the left.
Jaffe  Presumably, anybody who is going to read your book knows who Ronald Reagan is. But, we really don't do a very good job in this country of talking about history. There are probably a lot of people who don't know who Whittaker Chambers is. How do you convince those people that they should care about these people and why they are relevant to today?
Oppenheimer: Chambers had such a dramatic life and he was a spy, so it was easy to make him interesting. He had very public confrontations with Alger Hiss. Hiss, a high-ranking State Department official, was accused of being a Communist spy; Chambers testified against him. It was the trial of the century.
I thought Burnham was a fascinating character. He was part of this small Trotskyist world, which seemed kind of romantic and absurd. There is not a lot written about him, so I gave him a long chapter.
Activists who were or are deep in the weeds in Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter might read the Burnham chapter and think, "Yes, I totally see how these small little groups where people totally orient their lives around them will produce these odd inside cultures where people are getting incredibly fierce about stuff that seems incredibly abstruse to anybody outside."

Puerto Rico is our current perfect example of what Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine foretold.

Ian Welsh pinpoints the publicly unmentionable national theft:

The disaster relief has been bungled. It shouldn’t primarily be a matter of money in any case, the island should be flooded by work crews from all over the US with the materials they need to do the repairs, and the necessary heavy equipment to clear blockages, while large airlift is used to get to areas that are more remote.
This is a logistical exercise, the US has the capacity, and the US has chosen not to use the capacity, it is that simple.
As for the debt, most of it should simply be forgiven. The US government has the ability to do that.
We have a weird idea that debt is sacrosanct in our society, an idea which is totally out of whack with what makes good societies or good economies.
Good economies are based on easy debt forgiveness. People who lend money have a responsibility to not over-lend, and if they do, they deserve to lose their money. If you lend money to deadbeat Uncle Bob, you don’t expect to get it back. If you lend money to someone already in hock to three other loan sharks, well, you’re probably not getting that money back.
Excessive debt cripples people and economies, making them unproductive. Easy bankruptcy removes the debt so they can move on, and it also removes lending ability from people who have proven they have bad judgment about who to lend to.
Easy bankruptcy doesn’t mean “keep everything”, but it does mean keep everything necessary for economic and personal viability. In personal terms, tools and primary residence and car and so on. In government terms, all the lands and buildings and equipment and so on required for the government to do its job.
Puerto Rico is an economic cripple. It doesn’t have the resources to fix itself, DC refuses to send sufficient help, and more debt isn’t going to fix its problems, any more than more debt has helped Greece.

Hush up, Rose!

And all the rest of you broads.

Because, after all, who is more at risk than women during these turbulent times?

As a victim of this type (and several others) of assault, I think I see the connection.

Does anyone else?

Just how much further do these stories need to go to make an impression on the public at large?

Actor Rose McGowan, one of the accusers of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, has had her Twitter activity suspended. McGowan had earlier tweeted “fuck off” to actor Ben Affleck and accused him of lying about his knowledge of Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct.
. . . McGowan has been a vocal figure in the Weinstein scandal since the New York Times broke the story last week and has been using Twitter to express her support for other women who have come forward, as well as to attack those who she sees as being complicit, including the Weinstein Company board of directors and high-profile Hollywood figures such as Matt Damon and Affleck.
On Wednesday, Affleck apologised to actor Hilarie Burton for groping her during an appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live in 2003. He had earlier published a statement condemning Weinstein for alleged acts of sexual harassment, prompting the Twitter responses from McGowan, who claimed Affleck was aware of the mogul’s behaviour.
McGowan has been one of the most high-profile actors to have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, alleging the film producer sexually harassed and assaulted her when she was in her early 20s. She reportedly received a settlement of $100,000 from Weinstein over an incident that took place while she was filming the movie Scream in 1997.
. . . The move by Twitter is likely to reignite controversy over its free speech and harassment policies, after the company recently said it would not ban Donald Trump over his tweets apparently threatening war with North Korea.

Diogenes is still searching.

So few honest (powerful) men.

So little time.

This past week was not a good week for women. In the United States, it was reported that a man who allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl was granted joint custody of the resultant eight-year-old boy being raised by his young mother.
Earlier in the week, the severed head and legs of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who disappeared after entering inventor Peter Madsen’s submarine, were discovered near Copenhagen. A hard drive belonging to Madsen, Danish police said, was loaded with videos showing women being decapitated alive.
A Swedish model received rape threats for posing in an Adidas advertisement with unshaven legs. The University of Southern California’s dean of medicine was dumped after reports resurfaced that he had sexually harrassed a young medical researcher in 2003. A number of men at liberal publications were revealed to have contacted Milo Yiannopoulos, urging him to attack women – “Please mock this fat feminist,” wrote a senior male staff writer at Vice’s women’s channel, since fired. And, of course, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was described by the New York Times as a serial sexual harasser; his alleged offences, according to a TV journalist, including trapping her in a hallway, where he masturbated until he ejaculated into a potted plant.
This week, the New Yorker ran a follow-up story by Ronan Farrow (the biological son of Woody Allen, who has repudiated his father for his treatment of his sisters), expanding the charges women have made against Weinstein to include sexual assault. He quotes one young woman who said “he forced me to perform oral sex on him” after she showed up for a meeting. She added, “I have nightmares about him to this day.” Weinstein denies any non-consensual sex.
Saturday 7 October was the first anniversary of the release of the tape in which the United States president boasted about sexually assaulting women; 11 women then came forward to accuse Donald Trump. And last week began with the biggest mass shooting in modern US history, carried out by a man reported to have routinely verbally abused his girlfriend: domestic violence is common in the past of mass shooters.
Underlying all these attacks is a lack of empathy, a will to dominate, and an entitlement to control, harm and even take the lives of others. Though there is a good argument that mental illness is not a sufficient explanation – and most mentally ill people are nonviolent – mass shooters and rapists seem to have a lack of empathy so extreme it constitutes a psychological disorder. At this point in history, it seems to be not just a defect from birth, but a characteristic many men are instilled with by the culture around them. It seems to be the precondition for causing horrific suffering and taking pleasure in it as a sign of one’s own power and superiority, in regarding others as worthless, as yours to harm or eliminate.
Or perhaps it’s an extreme version of masculinity that has always been with us in a culture that gives men more power and privilege than women; perhaps these acts are the result of taking that to its logical conclusion. There must be terrible loneliness in that failure to perceive or value the humanity of others, the failure of empathy and imagination, to consider oneself the only person who matters. Caring about others, empathising, loving them, liberates each of us; these bereft figures seem to be prisoners of their selfishness before they are punishers of others.
. . . It’s the authoritarianism of violence that seems too often overlooked, the acts that are the opposite of the democratic ideal that all people are created equal, with certain inalienable rights. There is no greater authoritarianism than that of someone who violates the will, the body, the wellbeing, or takes the life of another. The crimes in question, from sexual assault to mass killings, seem designed specifically as assertions that the perpetrator has the power of a god, the victims are powerless.
That powerlessness of others seems to be desired and relished in these cases. It’s time to talk about the fact that many men seem erotically excited by their ability to punish, humiliate, inflict pain on women – the subject of a lot of porn. When you jerk off while cornering an unwilling woman, you’re presumably excited by her powerlessness and misery or repulsion. Another of Weinstein’s victims told the New Yorker, “The fear turns him on.” Fox News founder and CEO Roger Ailes took pleasure, according to his victims, in degrading the employees he sexually exploited and harassed. Journalist Gabriel Sherman reported in 2016, “The culture of fear at Fox was such that no one would dare come forward” until Gretchen Carlsson broke the silence with a lawsuit. This year several black employees sued the network for racial discrimination.
We’ve also recently had a host of obituaries for Hugh Hefner. Some included the arguments that Hefner and his magazine were harmless or liberating. But they insisted that women were for men to use if they met a narrow definition of attractiveness, and to mock or ignore if they were not. While often portrayed as part of the sexual revolution, the magazine and Hefner were instead part of the counter-revolution, figuring out how to perpetuate women’s subordination and men’s power in a changing era.
The young women who lived in – and sometimes described feeling trapped in – the Playboy mansion were there to please the old goat at the centre of it and his friends, and not the other way around. Some of the playmates ended up dead – Dorothy Stratten’s face blown off by an estranged ex-husband at 20, Paula Sladewski’s body found “burned beyond recognition” in a Miami dumpster, and so forth. News anchor – and Roger Ailes victim – Andrea Tantaros said of the Fox network, “behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fuelled, Playboy mansion–like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” which is not an endorsement of the Playboy mansion.
There is a solution, but I don’t know how we reach it, except in a plethora of small acts that accrete into a different world view and different values. It’s in how we raise boys, in what we define as erotic, in how men can discourage each other from the idea that dominating and harming women enhances their status. Perhaps it’s in young men in power learning from the fall of Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and now Harvey Weinstein – and myriad Silicon Valley executives and more than a handful of academics – that women have voices and, sometimes, people who listen believe them, and the era of impunity might be fading from view. Though the change that really matters will consist of eliminating the desire to do these things, not merely the fear of getting caught.
He's so sorry now.

Are we catching on yet?

The power structure certainly has.

People in search of a miracle voted for Brexit.

None found so far.

People generally didn’t go to Blakenall Heath unless they came from there. Unemployed men would sit around in their front gardens on discarded sofas, looking bored. Some of my parishioners spent all day in their dressing gowns. Burned-out cars decorated the roadside. Back then the vicarage was ringed by flats whose residents would frequently shoot at each other with air rifles. At night, the pellets would ping off our roof. Even the local police didn’t like going into Blakenall Heath. It was treated as a ghetto.
Blakenall Heath seethed with the anger of the unheard. And that anger found its way into my bones. It wasn’t just about the poverty. It was deeper than that. As the months went by, I began to get some sense of what it felt like when nobody listened to or cared in the slightest about what you said. It felt like no one gave a shit. Every now and again the place would show up on some list of crap towns for posh people to snigger at. Other than that, you weren’t noticed.
In Blakenall Heath my politics changed. Both theologically and politically, my student liberalism had few answers for a place like this. Indeed, I began to suspect that the broadly progressive version of capitalism that I had accepted might even be a part of the problem. These weren’t the “left behinds” – a term that implies that with a quick hop and a skip they might just catch up. This place was the inevitable byproduct – waste product, even – of market forces, and the price that more prosperous parts of the country had secretly accepted as worth paying for the many other benefits that capitalism delivered to them. The problem was systemic.
In Walsall, 67.9% voted leave in the referendum, on a huge turnout. And then, this year, they voted out Walsall North’s longstanding Labour MP, David Winnick, who had campaigned to remain in the EU. Remainers will never understand what went on here if they think it’s just about money. Homo economicus – who seeks to optimise their economic prospects through rational self-interest – doesn’t live in Blakenall Heath. Homo economicus doesn’t buy his cooker through weekly instalments at BrightHouse at 69.9% APR. A remain campaigner told me about a doorstep encounter he had on a bombsite of a council estate in the Midlands. “You have a lot to lose financially if we leave the EU,” he explained, rationally.
“Oh, yes,” she gestured to her run-down surroundings, sarcastically. “I could lose all of this?” Which is why Brexit pub logic goes something like this:  so what if the country collapses economically? At least then they will know what it feels like to be us.
Remain still don’t get why so many people voted leave. They keep repeating that it is the poor who will lose out the most, appealing to Homo economicus. They keep believing that it was stupidity or gullibility that made poor leavers side with dangerous fools like Boris Johnson. But that is not going to cut it. The people who really hate the way Brexit is going are the people who have got something to lose. When you have nothing to lose, being told you could lose it all doesn’t really count for much. Which is why the more Nick Clegg and his Waitrose friends speak of the coming apocalypse, the more some will feel:  fine, bring it on.
This logic has understandably panicked the progressive middle classes. But the language of the cliff edge offers little fear to those well practised at falling off it. And until we find a radical way to rebalance our economy, such that all share in its benefits, the middle classes will find that democracy will sometimes hand power to those who are perfectly prepared to play chicken with economic failure.
It's revealing that the 'progressive liberal' argument over Brexit is generally predicated on neoliberal ideology. Everything is reduced to basic, and base, economic argument.
Sadly, the neoliberal corporatism of the past 30 years has created precisely the body of disenfranchised voters described above who are utterly immune to this appeal to the very forces that put them where they are.
I think it's nearly impossible for those who have lived and prospered under the system of corporatism fostered by both the Tory Party and the EU to comprehend that there are a huge number of people who would gladly see that entire system burned to the ground without a moment of remorse.
Well written, but I don't think the 'equality of misery' argument quite as simplistic as the author suggests. Leave voters aren't necessarily saying 'things can't get any worse' and taking aim at their nose to protest about their faces. There is a little more logic to it than that.
The plight of ruined post-industrial areas came about because of a political and economic philosophy that claimed it was a good idea to allow, or even encourage, the demise of mass-employment industries.The argument was that we would be better off packing airline meals and manning call-centres and that advanced economies could never compete when it came to labour intensive, heavy industrial work (Germany didn't get the memo). And having shed millions of jobs, the next smart step was to import millions more workers.
This wasn't just 'Thatcherism', it became the conventional wisdom of all three parties and mainstream economics. Brexit is a backlash against globalisation, mass immigration, liberal opinion and conventional politics. The EU neatly encapsulates all those betrayals. Of course people voted against it.
Is it very stupid of me to ask why people would stay in such a place if it has no future.
The poverty trap. You can't leave, you can't afford to. So you stay and become poorer, or at the very least remain as poor. Whole families can't decamp, can't pack the truck and head out west. A single person might but they would likely find precarious work, they have to live somewhere and that takes up an enormous amount of a small wage so there is still nothing to contribute to the family waiting back home. It's never about people moving, it should be about bringing work back into the communities
No, they could just abandon their communities and way of life and become the sort of itinerant, low wage human capital that the EU wants to service its corporate dream.

Lee Camp, as usual, sings our civilization to its demise.

Not willingly.

But don't listen to Jimmy Dore.

You might learn something new.

And much too disturbing.

Max and Stacy (Keiser and Herbert) have the last word.

Oh yeah!

And did I mention that I met Max and Stacy at our favorite cheap0 store the other day?


Also, did I forget to mention that the brilliant Randy Voller was the featured guest addressing how we could decently run healthcare for all U.S. citizens?

Still feeling the BERN!