Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday Maunderings

You might be wondering why I stopped reposting my New York Times comments to this blog, as per reader requests.

Quick answer: I don't comment nearly as much as I used to. For one thing, responding to the constant barrage of stories about Donald Trump's latest belch,  Queen Hillary's daily crumbelievable a la carte wonk offering, or Barack Obama's self-referential legacy tour of glory was getting too depressing. And also too scary, given the downward spiral in the general quality of the allegedly moderated comments. Comment threads are getting nasty in this atavistic election season, in which every vote surely counts equally! When anonymous posters hurl vitriol at you from behind the cowardly safety of their home computer screens, it stings. It really does. I admit it, I am averse to conflict when I don't even get to know who I am conflicted with.

At a time when politicians are so loathed, and the paranoid overlords of the ruling class are doing everything in their power to tamp down the populist impulse, the pulsating comment threads kind of remind me of the swarm of bees that nearly took over my town last week. 

Some genius, or practical joker, left several crate-loads of bees on the side of the road. Lacking a hive and desperately needing to protect their Queen, they became became very confused and irate. They attacked every breathing thing, out of pure tribal instinct. My daughter Kat was walking near our apartment complex when she became a subject of their wrath. They aimed right for her head. As she screamed for help when they literally got stuck in her hair, the cars just whizzed merrily by until finally a Good Samaritan stopped to assist her. She was fine, but another victim was rushed to hospital after suffering an allergic reaction to the stings.  Flashing lights were eventually posted and a cop stationed by the side of the road to monitor the situation, which lasted the better part of a day. One plucky college student had the wherewithal to make a video, which the local newspaper published. The film immediately goes into slo-mo as soon as the driver spots the cop on the side of the road. Ever seen a stoned bee? Well, now you have!


A much, much scarier situation occurred over the weekend in Nevada, where the Democratic Party showed its true undemocratic colors for the whole world to see. If these authoritarian bigwigs can freak out over a couple of extra moot Bernie Sanders delegates crashing their elite party, I can only imagine what the national Philadelphia confab will look like. Sanders might not have a chance to win the nomination, but the police state antics displayed over the weekend are making me cheer on the Bernie Or Bust movement. I hope that its spirit and its activism survives long, long after Hillary or Donald takes the oath of abusing their office.  I also hope that no innocent people get hurt. But with enough people already getting hurt by this country's crushing, inhumane neoliberal policies, that is a risk that the desperate ones are willing and able to take. 


Now, back to the Times. I did actually break down and write three comments within the past week, but only because silence in the face of such cloying mendacity and superficiality was just not an option for me. I broke down. I took the loathsome bait.

First to annoy me was Frank Bruni, who emitted a sickeningly sweet and colorblind racist ode to Barack Obama, which he called "Obama's Gorgeous Goodbye." Bruni was especially tickled that Obama again scolded the Black Lives Matter activists during his Howard University commencement speech. Young black people who have failed to mind their manners when dealing with candidates who talk down to them is apparently one of Bruni's, and Obama's, biggest pet peeves.

My not very popular sarcastic response: 

This was a gorgeous addition to the ongoing Obama legacy tour. It truly captured the president's mythos and the spirit of compromise for which he does deserve much credit.
My quibble is this: why lecture the Black Lives Matter movement in such a scolding way? When black people are getting killed by a law enforcement at the rate of about one per day, they rightly protest, march, interrupt fundraisers of a politician who once called young blacks "super-predators who must be brought to heel," and make all the noise they can to try and stun our elected officials into paying attention to them. This is an existential crisis, not a tea dance or Aspen Ideas forum.
 Obama has been criticized in the past, notably by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for using graduation speeches to very successful young black people as a way to "dog-whistle" a reassuring message to white people. There is none of Martin Luther King's "fierce urgency of now" rhetoric coming from his lips. Then again, he's often said he is president of all the people, even the angry white dudes who can't find work because of off-shoring trade deals that have profits over people as their implicit mantra and their only objective.
We need to examine and acknowledge the root causes of their despair before lecturing people about their excessive "purity." There's nothing wrong with young people afflicting the comfortable when they refuse to budge from their comfort zones. When your very life is on the line, politeness seems almost suicidal.
One commenter actually gushed, "If only all black people could be like the Obamas!"


And then there was Maureen Dowd, with yet another breathless insidery account of one of her regular exclusive tete-a-tetes with The Donald. Some might call her series of pieces, showcasing the Raw Trump at his rawest, an example of the arch, deadpan satiric style with which she is capably comfortable. But her latest offering just struck me as lazy and dead. I responded thusly:
I really feel for Maureen Dowd. A whole week has gone by since her Trump satire, and the prospect of actual journalism has proven to be way too daunting. But kudos anyhow for the volcano metaphor and the heads-up that this op-ed would be a banal convergence of farce and tragedy.
Here's an energy-saving suggestion for the next installment in the Dowd-Trump saga. Rather than feed us an allegedly verbatim account of yet another vacuous, one-sided conversation with The Donald, how about a podcast to save both yourself or your assistant(s) the trouble of typing out 800 whole words of exhausting stenography? I mean, although the titters and the air kisses were way too implicit in this piece, I am dying to hear them actually vocalized. I also want the sound effects of the call actually going through on speed dial. As a paying subscriber I deserve it.
And just think how many remunerative clicks that such an "I Hear It Now" Murrow-esque piece would get you.
I won't even bother asking whether you have any shame.


Last and definitely least is the latest from Paul Krugman, a/k/a "Clinton Operative K." (h/t Naked Capitalism.) Riffing on Hillary's ghost-written 90s ode ("It Takes a Village") to herself, Krugman first gloats over Republican pedophilia in high places before pivoting to Clinton's own incremental great love for children, equaled only by Krugman's own sudden and great piecemeal love for children.

My comment:
Krugman is only concerned about details when it comes to, say, single payer health care. Hillary's plan is also big on aspirations and short on specifics, but it's given a miraculous pass.
Of course, her ideas are good ones, especially better pay for workers and subsidized day care. But they still have neoliberalism (market-based solutions to social problems) written all over them.
The first clue is that Krugman and Clinton talk about kids as investments, from which the plutonomy expects to derive big dividends as tomorrow's worker bees and payers of regressive taxes.
Well, guess what? Children aren't cattle futures.
They need enough to eat, today. Growing bodies can't thrive on "increments." But year after year, food stamp stipends get cut. Republicans demand starvation ("he who eats must work") and then Democrats agree to give the nippers a wee nip and tuck here and there.
 Parents need jobs and living wages, today. Hillary should demand reversal of the repeal of FDR's Aid to Families With Dependent Children. Bernie Sanders's shocking claim that Clintonoid welfare "reform" has doubled extreme poverty in the US in the past two decades was deemed accurate by fact-checking organizations.
Kids require shelter, today. The rents are too damned high. Every year, 2 million kids face homelessness. Evictions are the new normal. We need a federal guaranteed housing policy.
Human rights can't be doled out in increments for the sole purpose of placating the Market God.
(Don't even ask me to re-post all the readers' responses to my offering. Let's put it this way: some of them make the Angry Bees of New Paltz seem like butterfly kisses with gossamer wings.)

Go to Hillary's Website for the Only Truth There Is, You Lefty Child Hater!


Anonymous said...

Consider the possibility that the Hillary forces developed a black ops program of commenting in support of pro-HRC commentary and against anti-HRC commentary. The Hillary support shouts and attacks seemed to increase on the Krugman blog suddenly, many seeming to have anti-Sanders slants or innuendos.

Seems to be a tactic used previously by the right, and by government agencies to quiet critics of their plans. I've run into it personally on forums discussing matters involving the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Navy. The agents never identified their association, but once I was able to get a positive identification by cross-checking a comment with a news report of a public hearing.

I'd call them agents provocateurs -- they are of a sort -- but I prefer to preserve the use of the term for agents that are trying to generate a physical response.

(I'll be anonymous here, lest my comments be singled out in the future. I suspect bots search for known names, so the agents can efficiently find targets.)

Karen Garcia said...

A helpful hint to those wishing to (understandably) post anonymously. Please choose the Name/Url option instead, and just make up a handle or name. It will help keep all the Anonymati separated and make it easier for other commenters to respond to you individually.

I read that Hillary's campaign is working very closely with a PAC run by David Brock called "Correct the Record." They are reportedly spending a million bucks or so to hire people to attack critics of Clinton on comment boards. I don't know if any of the Times buzzy bees are affiliated with this outfit, but the talking points do sound similar. The talking points can be boiled down to "Shut Up, You're Stoopid, Go Away, and Leave Poor Hillary Al-o-o-ne!"

It almost makes me relish what Trump has in store for her. They ain't seen nothing yet. They'd be screaming for Bernie to take her place if they actually possessed a moral compass and or an independent thought.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....I replied to your comment to the Krug:

....So what were the effects on millions of children over the years from the Clintons’ saying the ‘era of big govt is over', which justified cuts in public services?
Plus from the expansion of prisons and harsh sentencing, which removed fathers from home?
Plus the ‘end of welfare as we know it’, which cut basic subsistence from families?

Seems those policies would be quite germane to Krugman’s topic of how badly the US treats its children. At least depending on whose children they are.

Funny that Hillary worked with the Children's Defense Fund. Seems it was Bill's policies that children needed defense against.

I haven't read Hillary's book "It Takes a Village". The title sounds almost socialistic. But it couldn't be, could it? Or was it a piece of election 'image polishing'.

I forgot to add that Bill’s Nafta removed jobs from the parents of American children!

Also I added something about this:

See Salon and other articles re Marion Edelman breaking with Hillary, and other officials resigning from Child Defense Fund, calling Bill’s welfare reform destructive to children, etc. This is what Hillary’s defenders who keep bringing up CDF don’t know or leave out.

r2d2r2 said...

The dirty tricks and on-site bending of the rules in favor of Hillary and the DNC at the Nevada Democratic State Convention (see video above) have happened to varying degrees at many other Democratic Party county and state conventions. You can be sure there are some DNC/ Hillary strategy meetings happening to rig the national convention and prevent the Sanders camp from having any real voice or influence of any substance. We have already had some of our most vocal Sanders delegates, including a local attorney, being removed as a national delegate.

And god forbid that there would be the same level of chaos that you see in Nevada. How dare those Sandernistas demand that the party leaders post an agenda and follow standard rules of procedure. Nevada came very close to a full scale riot, with the DNC at the podium and the Hillary side of the room chanting at the Sanders side to sit down and shut up. That is why the convention was promptly shut down and the party leaders leaving the building. When hotel security couldn't handle it the local sheriff's deputies were brought in and formed a literal brown shirt wall in front of the stage. Very scary pictures indeed.

More videos and brown shirts here:

At our Boulder County and Colorado State Democratic conventions there were almost identical shenanigans as the ones in Nevada. Coincidence? I think not. The tactics are many, and too numerous to detail here. One example: An agenda was posted days before the county convention. We called the convention speaker and expressed a desire to modify the agenda to include Sanders supporters to help with the convention rules and process because the convention leaders were avid Clinton supporters. At the convention the agenda had been modified to delete the vote that appoints the convention chairs and speakers. Other tactics include flat out lying, deleting or modifying the agenda midstream to DNC advantage, creating intentional confusion/ chaos, and dividing the two camps so that they fight each other, then insinuating that Sanders supporters are the source of all the conflict.

Both Colorado gatherings included delegate blowback with speakers being shouted down. At the state convention there was less shady maneuvering but more shouting, especially when State Senator Michael Bennett was speaking and telling us what a great job Obama had done and how we must all come together for the good of the party and the country. Much pressure was put on the "superdelegates" to reflect the will of the people.

The situation becomes more volatile and antagonistic by the day. If Sanders keeps piling up wins/ delegates and Hillary doesn't have enough pledged delegates by the convention it could make the 1968 Dem convention in Chicago look like a picnic. Best case scenario would be an unexpected revelation/ subpoena/ indictment that disqualifies Hillary.

Kate Flannery said...

I read PKs infuriating post this morning and saw your comment and was heartened. You nailed the truth of things in your usual terrific way. I understand you're not wanting to comment much. I find myself feeling much the same way. I try not to spend my day writhing in unbridled anger and that's hard to accomplish after reading the Times as well as the commenters of late. I've also noticed a shrill, hysterical uptick lately in those defending HRC, Obama and all the rest of those folks. Whenever I do leave a comment though, I find that I, out of many other comments on the site, seem to attract the same kind of vitriol. Almost all of it by people who use non-names and of course show their ignorance by not even adequately addressing what I wrote about. It's hard enough to know there are so many people in the world who buy the Democratic Party brand hook, line and sinker (as well as the Republicans - but that's a different story) - hard enough to know that there are so many immoral, hateful people in positions of power and influence, such stunning lacks of decency and honesty - and then when anonymous people direct it at me in the comments, there are times when it's a bit more than I can stomach. Other times I just roll my eyes and sigh - depends on the mood. Anyway, in my house, we love your writing and appreciate the effort it takes - you help us articulate what we feel, what we know, what we believe. And, it gives us real comfort when we read your posts, knowing we're not alone - or see the many "likes" you'll get on the NY Times when you do post a comment - a feeling of solidarity. So, thanks.

Karen Garcia said...


Thanks for your reply to my K-comment. I've read both "It Takes a Village" and Peter Edelman's book("So Rich, So Poor" in which he describes his resignation from the Clinton administration in protest of the welfare reform act. Very few people care to remember that the Edelmans broke up with Hillary decades ago. What irks me about K and Hillary's supporters is how they totally ignore the fact that the misery Hillary now purports to want to alleviate was caused in large part by the very policies that the Clintons themselves orchestrated. Disingenuousness doesn't even begin to describe the moral bankrupty of these people.

R2D2R2 (am I getting that right?)

Thanks for the wealth of info about the party shenanigans in your state. I've written in the past about the inbred corruption of virtually all political parties, inspired by the writings of Simone Weil. Parties have little to nothing to do with actual democracy, they are mainly interested in their own self-perpetuation. At least most people are now catching on to this scam. This might well be the year that the entire duopoly finally collapses in upon itself.


I am glad that you and your family enjoy the blog. I think I have seen your Times comments. The thing to remember is that the NYT is a private corporation for whom journalism in the public interest is just an occasional benefit... or glitch. I am singling James Risen and Gretchen Morgenson as just two of their honest, crusading reporters. Oh, and the main reason I criticize the Democrats more than I do the Republicans is that there are so many other sites taking more than adequate care of the GOP. That especially goes for Trump. I'll write about him, but I won't be as obsessed by him as some others. And yes, many of the canned Hillary comment-replies do seem to talk right past what you have actually written. One guy today took issue with my writing about something called "neosocialism" - whatever the hell that is. Plus, judging from all the veiled racism from some of the so-called Clinton liberals writing in, I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't really secret Trump fans themselves.

General Jinjur said...

What Kate said.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Reports of fraudulent conduct by Hillary's forces in state primaries keep piling up. Didn't annenigma on the front lines in California give us a similar account of how, as a Sanders delegate in her caucus, she was cheated out of her full time at the mic by a Hillary agent? Sure looks like a pattern.

It's good to see that Sanders' people are not cowed by the DNC. Can we count on Bernie to deserve such followers? All he has to do is pound the table real hard until we begin to see the end of Hillary's chicanery.

However, if Bernie's for the most part keeping quiet or protesting politely, his noisy following might be in for a disappointment. If, on the other hand, he pushes back real hard and keeps hammering away at the unfair tactics, he might hook me again while further energizing more volunteers. Is there, in the MSM or elsewhere, news, a clip, a video where Bernie is saying something like "Bring it on, Sistah Hill! Bring it on, Debbie Schultz!"?

The most believable and meaningful move on Bernie's part would be to make noise worthy of the people who've backed him so far. Closed primaries in important states like New York, dirty tricks as we saw in Nevada and elsewhere, and the DNC's telegraphed dirty punch of super delegates just might mask the fact that Bernie has far, far, far more followers within––and outside––the Democratic Party than does Hillary, her delegate count to date notwithstanding. Lots of Republicans might well go for him instead of Trump.

Bernie knows all that. Is he going to do anything with this chance of a lifetime to clean things up? Either he takes the convention or he leads a third party. Or is he content, as some of his recent tweets indicate, to ease up and sink into the corruption that floats another Clinton into the White House?

Pearl said...

Nasreen Iqbal said...

I am so glad that Kat is okay.

I am the same way about bickering. I go into news comments way too often, actually, and I always believe that I am going to be able to enter a discussion of differences with people. It rarely happens, instead descending into insults (not by me, of course). It feels like I've failed when that happens.

Karen Garcia said...


Sorry to hear about your online experiences. You can always come here, any time. Although I don't "approve" the comments I do check the threads regularly. I haven't had to remove anybody's comment for ages.


I highly doubt Bernie will go third party. My hope is that he gives as terse as possible endorsement of Hillz to fulfill his promise - and then proceeds to help organize an independent movement outside of any party. The goal simply cannot be to keep Trump out of the White House. Trump is just what the corporate Democrats ordered to keep the herd in line. I refuse to give in to fear or blackmail and so, I expect, do a big chunk of Bernie's supporters.

General Jinjur said...