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Archive for January 21st, 2021

Greg Sargent on the peculiar GOP outrage when white supremacy is attacked: “Fake GOP rage over Biden’s ‘unity’ speech is a sucker’s game”

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Greg Sargent writes in the Washington Post:

President Biden declared in his inaugural address that our prospects for much-needed “unity” are threatened by various political forces. Among them, he said, are racism, nativism, political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism.

Republicans promptly decided that in condemning those things, Biden was actually talking about them.

Republican officials and their media allies are now widely condemning these words as an attack on themselves and their voters. The obvious trick is to game the media into saying Biden is already reneging on his unity promise by being divisive.

But there’s a deeper ploy here. With this new fake outrage fest, Republicans are working to reframe the national debate over how to repair the damage done during Donald Trump’s presidency on terms favorable to them.

This reframing is designed to bury their own culpability for the injuries they inflicted by actively enabling Trump and by deliberately harnessing the destructive forces he unleashed toward their own instrumental ends.

“If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book, calling us people who don’t tell the truth,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) whined to Fox News.

“The next four years will be about shaming, blaming and cancelling until diversity of thought is completely extinguished,” complained the chairwoman of the Minnesota GOP.

“As long as you agree with radical progressives, you will be tolerated,” raged one House Republican about Biden’s speech, adding that it was about “coercing” conservatives to agree with the left or get “canceled.”

Meanwhile, as Matt Gertz documents, this argument is plastered all over Fox News programming. As Tucker Carlson dissected Biden’s speech, a chyron blared: “PARTY IN POWER IS DEMONIZING HALF OF THE COUNTRY.”

Carlson purported to justify this with a convoluted argument: Because Biden claimed we must “defeat” extremism, white supremacism and domestic terrorism, he’s actually pledging to “wage war” (Carlson’s words) against a broader segment of the population, and Biden is being cagey about who that includes.

The real reason for GOP rage

Let’s talk about the real reason for all this anger. It’s because Biden placed the primary blame for our recent breakdown precisely where it belongs: On right-wing extremism.

Biden did state clearly that unity requires “the defeat” of “political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism.” As it happens, intelligence services agree that violent white supremacy is “the most persistent and lethal threat” facing the homeland, and that Trump’s lie about the election’s illegitimacy threatens to incite more extremist violence going forward.

To be clear, this cannot mean intelligence or law enforcement is used in any way to denigrate or target legitimate right-wing political activity. Such overreach is a genuine danger with a long history in this country. We need to draw a hard line against it and not let that line get fuzzy.

But Biden is absolutely correct in saying that the primary threat to unity in this country — to civic peace, to democratic coexistence, to mutual acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the opposition — is the bundle of right-wing movements he described.

The problem is right-wing extremism

Right-wing extremism is responsible for the crisis we all just lived through. Full stop. This is not to say left-wing extremism is never a problem or that the protests over the summer didn’t get violent at times.

Rather, it’s to say that our post-election cataclysm was entirely driven by a war on democracy waged entirely by the right. The sentiments unleashed and harnessed for this purpose dramatically dwarf anything we’ve seen recently on the left.

Republicans want to cast our problem as one of generalized division. In fact, it’s that anti-democracy forces have waged sustained warfare, sometimes violent, on pro-democracy ones.

Republicans want to make all this disappear, precisely because many of them actively encouraged and fed all those sentiments. This does not mean they are directly to blame for the violent storming of the Capitol. But it does mean they bear culpability for feeding the authoritarian and democracy-despising impulses that drove the assault.

Large swaths of the GOP spent months feeding the lie that  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 5:43 pm

Abortion Helpline: This will hit hard. Watch it.

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21 January 2021 at 5:17 pm

Posted in GOP, Government, Health, Medical, Politics, Video

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The Future Encyclopedia of Luddism: An alternative economic and industrial history and future

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Miriam A. Cherry writes in The MIT Press Reader:

In common parlance, the term “Luddite” means someone who is anti-technology, or maybe, just not adept at using technology. Historically, however, the Luddite movement was a reaction born of industrial accidents and dangerous machines, poor working conditions, and the fact that there were no unions to represent worker interests during England’s initial period of industrialization. The Luddites did not hate technology; they only channeled their anger toward machine-breaking because it had nowhere else to go.

What you are about to read is an alternate history (an encyclopedia entry from circa 2500) that depends on the critical assumption that the Luddites succeeded in their industrial campaign in the 1810s. Instead of techno-determinism (that the development of technology is inevitable, and that society will alter and adjust to it) the Encyclopedia entry notes that the Luddites, in their success, formulated a different, yet productive, relationship between society and the development of technology.

Originating in Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution in the first two decades of the 19th century, Luddism was a movement arising as a response to poor working conditions in nascent textile manufacturing businesses. The Luddite movement was a precursor to the development of the economic philosophy known as Sustainomics, which promotes technological development that adheres to principles of Utilitarianism and Human Flourishing Doctrines. Sustainomics began its rise in the early part of the 20th century and has remained the dominant economic system of the Hemispheric Union for the past 600 years.

Beginning in the early 19th century, foreign wars coupled with high unemployment and food shortages caused widespread desperation among the populace. Many seeking “earned wages” went to work in rudimentary industrial factories. With no safety standards and shoddy medical care, industrial accidents were quite common.

As corn became increasingly scarce in the winter of 1810 to 1811, groups of workers who could not pay for food and shelter became even more desperate. Under the Combination Act of 1799, Parliament had outlawed unions. It was amidst these stark conditions that the Luddites began to organize in secret. The Luddite Movement was open to both women workers and child laborers. Indeed, women and children comprised roughly 40 percent of the Luddite membership.

Leadership of General Ned Ludd and Origin of the Term ‘Luddite’

Many stories and legends have grown up around the esteemed figure of General Ned Ludd, named by “Passage Zine” as one of the “Top 10 Most Influential People of the Last Thousand Years.” Hailed as a visionary even in his own time, the Luddite Councils are named in his honor. The complete story of Ludd’s life and times is told in “The Epic Saga of General Ludd.” While stylized, the Saga has largely been corroborated with the archaeological records.

As an orphan, young Ned grew up in the late 1790s in a “workhouse,” a facility that existed to make people “earn their keep,” to use the antiquated terminology and backward thinking of the time. Ned was trained in the textile trade as a boy. Contemporary sources recount 15-year-old Ned being beaten when he refused to work at a machine that had, only moments beforehand, severed one of his co-worker’s arms. After several days of docked wages, Ned, still nursing bruises from his beating, was told to go back to work on that same dangerous device. As every schoolchild learns in reading “The Luddite Primer,” young Ned seized a hammer and smashed the hazardous machine. Within a fortnight Ned had fled the factory and joined the British army.

Although he had only a brief stint in the military, young Ned was a quick student of battlefield strategy. Returning to Huddersfield just a few years later, his supporters styled him “General Ludd.” As the Movement increased in popularity over the summer of 1811, a large crowd gathered at Huddersfield. By the time the Movement began in earnest, Ned Ludd’s supporters numbered over 100,000. Luddite supporters were characterized by their sense of utmost loyalty and solidarity to their brothers and sisters in the Movement. Despite the large number of supporters and the completely rudimentary communication available at the time, the Movement, its leaders and its political and social aims remained a well-guarded secret to factory owners and the government alike.

Takeover of Factories

Beginning in November 1811, General Ludd and his right-hand man, Lt George Mellor, surrounded, took and held factories throughout the textile district of Nottinghamshire. Their first victory, at Cartwrights Mill at Rawfolds, is now the site of the Mellor Memorial Museum, which contains many of the original documents so central to the Luddite Movement. Much of the success of the early campaigns was largely due to the fact that the Luddites were chiefly a peaceful movement. Contemporaneous newspaper accounts described individual events as the “occupation” of factories. This characterization has since been disputed by researchers, and definitive archaeological studies have completely repudiated these polemic accounts as wholly fabricated. . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 4:58 pm

A Journey into the Mind of Watts, by Thomas Pynchon, 1966“

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This piece by Thomas Pynchon was published in the LA Times on 12 June 1966. Right now there’s no paywall, so read it and save it (Evernote or Pocket). It begins:

The night of May 7, after a chase that began in Watts and ended some 50 blocks farther north, two Los Angeles policemen, Caucasians, succeeded in halting a car driven by Leonard Deadwyler, a Negro. With him were his pregnant wife and a friend. The younger cop (who’d once had a complaint brought against him for rousing some Negro kids around in a more than usually abusive way) went over and stuck his head and gun in the car window to talk to Deadwyler. A moment later there was a shot; the young Negro fell sideways in the seat, and died. The last thing he said, according to the other cop, was, “She’s going to have a baby.”

The coroner’s inquest went on for the better part of two weeks, the cop claiming the car had lurched suddenly, causing his service revolver to go off by accident; Deadwyler’s widow claiming that it was cold-blooded murder and that the car had never moved. The verdict, to no one’s surprise, cleared the cop of all criminal responsibility. It had been an accident. The D.A. announced immediately that he thought so, too, and that as far as he was concerned the case was closed.

But as far as Watts is concerned, it’s still very much open. Preachers in the community are urging calm–or, as others are putting it: “Make any big trouble, baby, The Man just going to come back in and shoot you, like last time.” Snipers are sniping but so far not hitting much of anything. Occasional fire bombs are being lobbed at cars with white faces inside, or into empty sports models that look as if they might be white property. There have been a few fires of mysterious origin. A Negro Teen Post–part of the L.A. poverty war’s keep-them-out-of-the- streets effort–has had all its windows busted, the young lady in charge expressing the wish next morning that she could talk with the malefactors, involve them, see if they couldn’t work out the problem together. In the back of everybody’s head, of course, is the same question: Will there be a repeat of last August’s riot?

An even more interesting question is: Why is everybody worrying about another riot–haven’t things in Watts improved any since the last one? A lot of white folks are wondering. Unhappily, the answer is no. The neighborhood may be seething with social workers, data collectors, VISTA volunteers and other assorted members of the humanitarian establishment, all of whose intentions are the purest in the world. But somehow nothing much has changed. There are still the poor, the defeated, the criminal, the desperate, all hanging in there with what must seem a terrible vitality.

The killing of Leonard Deadwyler has once again brought it all into sharp focus; brought back longstanding pain, reminded everybody of how very often the cop does approach you with his revolver ready, so that nothing he does with it can then really be accidental; of how, especially, at night, everything can suddenly reduce to a matter of reflexes: your life trembling in the crook of a cop’s finger because it is dark, and Watts, and the history of this place and these times makes it impossible for the cop to come on any different, or for you to hate him any less. Both of you are caught in something neither of you wants, and yet night after night, with casualities or without, these traditional scenes continue to be played out all over the south-central part of this city.

Whatever else may be wrong in a political way–like the inadequacy of the Great Depression techniques applied to a scene that has long outgrown them; like old-fashioned grafter’s glee among the city fathers over the vast amounts of poverty-war bread that Uncle is now making available to them–lying much closer to the heart of L.A.’s racial sickness is the co-existence of two very different cultures: one white and one black.

While the white culture is concerned with various forms of systematized folly–the economy of the area in fact depending on it–the black culture is stuck pretty much with basic realities like disease, like failure, violence and death, which the whites have mostly chosen–and can afford–to ignore. The two cultures do not understand each other, though white values are displayed without let-up on black people’s TV screens, and though the panoramic sense of black impoverishment is hard to miss from atop the Harbor Freeway, which so many whites must drive at least twice every working day. Somehow it occurs to very few of them to leave at the Imperial Highway exit for a change, go east instead of west only a few blocks, and take a look at Watts. A quick look. The simplest kind of beginning. But Watts is country which lies, psychologically, uncounted miles further than most whites seem at present willing to travel.

On the surface anyway, the Deadwyler affair hasn’t made it look any different, though underneath the mood in Watts is about what you might expect. Feelings range from a reflexive, angry, driving need to hit back somehow, to an anxious worry that the slaying is just one more bad grievance, one more bill that will fall due some warm evening this summer. Yet in the daytime’s brilliance and heat, it is hard to believe there is any mystery to Watts. Everything seems so out in the open, all of it real, no plastic faces, no transistors, no hidden Muzak, or Disneyfied landscaping or smiling little chicks to show you around. Not in Raceriotland. Only a few historic landmarks, like the police substation, one command post for the white forces last August, pigeons now thick and cooing up on its red-tiled roof. Or, on down the street, vacant lots, still looking charred around the edges, winking with emptied Tokay, port and sherry pints, some of the bottles peeking out of paper bags, others busted.

A kid could come along in his bare feet and step on this glass–not that you’d ever know. These kids are so tough you can pull slivers of it out of them and never get a whimper. It’s part of their landscape, both the real and the emotional one: busted glass, busted crockery, nails, tin cans, all kinds of scrap and waste. Traditionally Watts. An Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia spent 30 years gathering some of it up and converting a little piece of the neighborhood along 107th Street into the famous Watts Towers, perhaps his own dream of how things should have been: a fantasy of fountains, boats, tall openwork spires, encrusted with a dazzling mosaic of Watts debris. Next to the Towers, along the old Pacific Electric tracks, kids are busy every day busting more bottles on the street rails. But Simon Rodia is dead, and now the junk just accumulates.

A few blocks away, other kids are out playing on the hot blacktop of the school playground. Brothers and sisters too young yet for school have it better–wherever they are they have yards, trees, hoses, hiding places. Not the crowded, shadeless tenement living of any Harlem; just the same one- or two-story urban sprawl as all over the rest of L.A., giving you some piece of grass at least to expand into when you don’t especially feel like being inside.

In the business part of town there is a different idea of refuge. Pool halls and bars, warm and dark inside, are crowded; many domino, dice and whist games in progress. Outside, men stand around a beer cooler listening to a ball game on the radio; others lean or hunker against the sides of buildings–low, faded stucco boxes that remind you, oddly, of certain streets in Mexico. Women go by, to and from what shopping there is. it is easy to see how crowds, after all, can form quickly in these streets, around the least seed of a disturbance or accident. For the moment, it all only waits in the sun.

Overhead, big jets now and then come vacuum-cleanering in to land; the wind is westerly, and Watts lies under the approaches to L.A. International. The jets hang what seems only a couple of hundred feet up in the air; through the smog they show up more white than silver, highlighted by the sun, hardly solid; only the ghosts, or possibilities, of airplanes.

From here, much of the white culture that surrounds Watts–and, in a curious way, besieges it– looks like those jets: a little unreal, a little less than substantial. For Los Angeles, more than any other city, belongs to the mass media. What is known around the nation as the L.A. Scene exists chiefly as images on a screen or TV tube, as four-color magazine photos, as old radio jokes, as new songs that survive only a matter of weeks. It is basically a white Scene, and illusion is everywhere in it, from the giant aerospace firms that flourish or retrench at the whims of Robert McNamara, to the “action” everybody mills long the Strip on weekends looking for, unaware that they, and their search which will end, usually, unfulfilled, are the only action in town.

Watts lies impacted in the heart of this white fantasy. It is, by contrast, a pocket of bitter reality. The only illusion Watts ever allowed itself was to believe for a long time in the white version of what a Negro was supposed to be. But with the Muslim and civil-rights movements that went, too.

Since the August rioting, there has been little building here, little buying. Lots whose buildings were burned off them are still waiting vacant and littered with garbage, occupied only by a parked car or two, or kids fooling around after school, or winos sharing a pint in the early morning. The other day, on one of them, there were ground-breaking festivities, attended by a county supervisor, pretty high-school girls decked in ribbons, a white store owner and his wife, who in the true Watts spirit busted a bottle of champagne over a rock–all because the man had decided to stay and rebuild his $200,000 market, the first such major rebuilding since the riot.

Watts people themselves talk about another kind of aura, vaguely evil; complain that Negroes living in better neighborhoods like to come in under the freeway as to a red-light district, looking for some girl, some game, maybe some connection. Narcotics is said to be a rare bust in Watts these days, although the narco people cruise the area earnestly, on the lookout for dope fiends, dope rings, dope peddlers. But the poverty of Watts makes it more likely that if you have pot or a little something else to spare you will want to turn a friend on, not sell it. Tomorrow, or when he can, your friend will return the favor.

At the Deadwyler inquest, much was made of the dead man’s high blood alcohol content, as if his being drunk made it somehow all right for the police to shoot him. . .

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Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 4:51 pm

Death of a microbe

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Trigger warning: This video shows, in vivid detail, the final minutes and ultimate death of a living creature. Though it was but a microbe, it did have life, and that life ended. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

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21 January 2021 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science, Video

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Note the Parler logo

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  Right turn into dead end.

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21 January 2021 at 3:50 pm

Posted in GOP

Why Are Conservatives So Angry Biden Denounced White Supremacy? (Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no one pursues.”)

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Jonathan Chait writes in New York:

The themes and rhetoric of President Biden’s Inaugural Address — in a departure from his predecessor’s odd decision to channel comic-book villain dialogue but a continuation of the choices used by normal presidents — were a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Biden praised the American spirit, called for unity, reminded his audience of our common history of overcoming challenges, promised to represent all Americans, and so on.

Whether or not one found this inspiring is a matter of personal taste. What’s interesting is that certain quarters of the right found the speech actually objectionable. The portion of the speech that rankled was Biden’s renunciation of racism and violent white-supremacist terrorism.

“If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists,” protested Rand Paul on Fox News. “It’s an odd way to seek national unity: Call a significant portion of the American public white supremacists, racists, and nativists,” complained Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonaldTucker Carlson devoted an entire segment to angrily denouncing Biden for opposing white supremacy, which he interpreted, not unreasonably, as a veiled criticism of himself and his most fervent supporters.

None of these right-wingers self-identify as racist or white supremacist. And at no point did Biden say, or even imply, that all — or even most — Trump supporters are racist. Why, then, do they object to a fairly rote denunciation of ideas they claim to abhor themselves?

To understand why it rankled them, you should start with Biden’s reasons for including an attack on white supremacy in the first place. From Biden’s standpoint, he needed to do this in order to contextualize his call for “unity.” Historically, unity has been used as a device to encourage white Americans to come together while ignoring racism. The basis for the post-Reconstruction healing of the regional and partisan split was that white northern Republicans withdrew their protection for freed slaves and allowed white Southerners to violently repress and disenfranchise black people. That sub rosa agreement became the foundation for the century-long period of depolarized politics that ran from the end of Reconstruction through the civil-rights era, which triggered its demise.

Black Americans have particular cause for suspicion of “unity” as a transcendent value. (Biden himself has inadvertently articulated their reasons for questioning the old, bipartisan era when he touted his history of making deals with segregationists.) Biden’s explicit renunciation of racism and white-supremacist terror was a way of clarifying that his idea of unity would exclude, rather than include, racism.

Then, of course, there was the recent insurrection by a mob that, if not white supremacist in toto, was led by a militant white-supremacist vanguard. Biden is attempting to define a (small-d) democratic order that excludes a violent authoritarian faction that refuses to accept political equality for fellow citizens.

And that is what makes Biden’s statement an implicit rebuke to Trump and his fans. One of the most significant realignments of the Trump era was an extension of the Republican coalition to the more distant edges of the far right. As early as 2015, observers . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 2:43 pm

NYPD officers continue to use chokeholds against department regulations and suffer no consequences

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Talk about moral hazard! Topher Sanders, ProPublica, and Yoav Gonen, THE CITY, write in ProPublica (with a video by Lucas Waldron, ProPublica):

The New York Police Department patrol guide is clear about chokeholds: They are prohibited and have been since 1993 because they can kill, as the 2014 death of Eric Garner iconically illustrated. Yet six years after a now-infamous video captured him pleading, “I can’t breathe,” NYPD cops are still being caught on camera performing the dangerous move with the tacit acceptance — and sometimes, explicit approval — of department leaders.

In July 2018, Detective Fabio Nunez approached 33-year-old Tomas Medina after hearing loud music on the streets of Inwood in upper Manhattan and demanded to see his identification to write him a summons for the noise. Medina said he had none, then kept arguing with the officer about whether the summons was necessary. When Medina tried to walk away, Nunez put him in a chokehold that lasted more than 20 seconds and tased him multiple times.

The next day, Chief of Department Terence Monahan told the New York Daily News that Nunez “used the necessary force to take that individual into custody.”

The patrol guide provides no allowances for using the maneuver, defined as “any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air,” but other department guidelines note that chokeholds will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis “to determine whether, under the circumstance, the actions were reasonable and justified.”

The department’s ambivalence was evident late last spring, after the nation watched George Floyd die with his neck under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, when NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker contradicted himself on whether chokeholds are permissible.

“The prohibition on chokeholds is firm; it shall not be used,” he said at an online City Council hearing. “There are those times, and maybe other times, when you can use it, but it is prohibited.”

The Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates police misconduct, has substantiated 40 instances since Garner’s death of officers using prohibited chokeholds. The board can recommend discipline, and its lawyers serve as prosecutors in officers’ administrative trials, but the final say on punishment is up to the NYPD.

Not a single cop since the Garner case has been fired for a substantiated chokehold.

Most lost vacation days or were not punished at all.

It is within this context that videos keep emerging of men, mostly of color, with their necks in an NYPD officer’s grip. The footage demonstrates the ease with which officers still use chokeholds, even in cases where they face no physical threat.

In a supportive housing site in the South Bronx, which serves homeless adults with a history of mental illness and substance abuse problems, Officer Omar Habib, without physical provocation, put a resident in a chokehold on Thanksgiving 2017 for calling him and others “fucking Keystone Kops,” according to interviews and Internal Affairs Bureau records.

And in the course of a single 2018 protest, against the detention of an immigrant rights activist, Officer Numael Amador put two people in chokeholds. “He grabbed . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, including videos of officers violating departmental regulations (with iimpunity).

Later in the article:

Officials with the NYPD did not respond to questions about discipline, training, the department’s position on chokeholds or incidents noted in this story. They ignored requests to interview Police Commissioner Dermot Shea as well as officers named in the piece. We tried to contact officers themselves but they either declined to comment, did not return calls and messages or could not be reached.

To understand why officers have been able to keep using chokeholds with little consequence, ProPublica and THE CITY analyzed CCRB data obtained this summer by ProPublica and the New York Civil Liberties Union and interviewed more than 50 former CCRB investigators and supervisors, former high-ranking NYPD personnel, attorneys and chokehold victims. All of the data cited on chokeholds stems from the two databases, which run through June 30, 2020.

The review found that . . .

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 2:07 pm

The People for Whom the Suburbs Were Built Are Gone

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In Vice Shayla Love writes on how daily life — and its accompanying expectations and needs — has evolved and thus changed:

Last summer, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, then Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, co-bylined an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal promising to “protect America’s suburbs,” describing how they reversed policies that would allow for the creation of denser living structures in areas zoned only for single-family homes.

“America’s suburbs are a shining example of the American Dream, where people can live in their own homes, in safe, pleasant neighborhoods,” they wrote.

But the suburbs, in the sense of the idyllic American pastoral Trump and Carson referenced, have been changing for some time—not necessarily the physical homes, stores, roads, and offices that populate them, but the people who live there, along with their needs and desires. Previous mainstays of suburban life are now myths: that the majority of people own their homes; that the suburbs are havens for the middle class; or that the bulk of people are young families who value privacy over urban amenities like communal spaces, walkability, and mixed-use properties.

This mismatch has led to a phenomenon called “suburban retrofitting,” as documented by June Williamson, an associate professor of architecture at the City College of New York, and Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. They have a new book out this week: Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges.

Since the 1990s, Williamson and Dunham-Jones have been watching the suburbs evolve. They have found that much of the suburban sprawl of the 20th century was built to serve a very different population than the one that exists now, and so preserving what the suburbs once were doesn’t make sense.

Their book describes 32 recent instances in which suburban structures have been transformed into something new. Many of the cases in Williamson and Dunham-Jones first book from 2011 on the same topic were focused on underused parking lots being transformed into mixed-use spaces. But in this new book, the retrofitting projects have become more ambitious, as cities and towns turn old box stores, malls, motels, or office parks into places for people to live, work, eat, play, exercise, go to the doctor, or even watch Mexican wrestling.

They have found that when the suburbs are retrofitted, they can take on an astonishing array of modern issues: car dependency, public health, supporting aging people, helping people compete for jobs, creating water and energy resilience, and helping with social equity and justice.

Motherboard talked with Williamson and Dunham-Jones about why and how we should retrofit the suburbs, and whether or not the COVID-19 has made the suburbs appealing again, or instead accelerated the desire to retrofit the burbs.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Motherboard: How do you define the suburbs—a slippery term with no concrete definition? You write in the book that you define something as suburban based on its “suburban form,” not necessarily on location or city lines—what do you mean by that?
June Williamson:
 We’re architects and urban designers and so we are focused on the built environment. That means that when we’re looking at places, generally, that have been built out in the second half of the 20th century to be car dependent, not walkable, and have comparatively lower density.
Ellen Dunham-Jones: Similarly, you can look at the street networks. If . . .

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21 January 2021 at 12:50 pm

Do You Remember What Conservatives Feared About Hillary Clinton?

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Kevin Drum has a very interesting column:

Do you remember “The Flight 93 Election”? It was an essay written in 2016 by Michael Anton, a sometime speechwriter for Rupert Murdoch, Rudy Giuliani, and George W. Bush, who also had a bit of Wall Street experience salted in over the years. It was printed in the Claremont Review of Books and it—oh hell, let’s just give you a taste:

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

Anton’s essay had a huge impact when it was written, and in a way it describes the id of the Trumpist movement. In a nutshell, Anton argued that the nation was declining and close to collapse, which meant that voting for Donald Trump was our only choice. Like the passengers on Flight 93, who could charge the cockpit and probably die or do nothing and definitely die, conservatives needed to vote for Donald Trump whether they liked it or not. Sure, he might be a disaster. But Hillary Clinton would definitely be a disaster.

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, reminded me of “The Flight 93 Election” a few days ago, and it produced two thoughts when I reread it. The first is something I’ve mentioned before: the reason conservatives fight so hard is that they really, truly believe that liberals are bringing about the collapse of the country. The second is that they’re completely wrong. Consider the “litany of ills,” that Anton enumerates at the beginning of his essay. I’m reproducing them here word-for-word, adding only numbers to make them easier to reference:

  1. Illegitimacy
  2. Crime
  3. Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government
  4. Politically correct McCarthyism
  5. Ever-higher taxes
  6. Ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure
  7. Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes
  8. A disastrously awful educational system that churns out kids who don’t know anything and, at the primary and secondary levels, can’t (or won’t) discipline disruptive punks,
  9. And, at the higher levels, saddles students with six figure debts for the privilege.
  10. There’s that other issue. The sacredness of mass immigration is the mystic chord that unites America’s ruling and intellectual classes.

That all sounds pretty terrible. How about if we go through them one by one?

1. Single-Parent Families

There’s no question that births to single mothers skyrocketed during the ’70s through the early aughts, and it’s certainly arguable that although this hardly portends the downfall of the nation, it’s had unhealthy effects on society. That said, during the Obama administration unmarried births went down, especially among teens: . . .

Continue reading. Many good charts (it’s Kevin Drum, after all) and interesting observations.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 12:41 pm

Trump’s vast carelessness: The mess he left behind

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Rebecca Solnit writes in Facebook:

Rebecca Solnit
Januaty 19 at  11:47iPM 

Trump promised Mexico would pay for the wall. Bannon stole funds he raised to build the wall. Trump pardoned Bannon tonight. His wall is mostly unbuilt, and was never going to be paid for by Mexico. Like Trump was never going to overturn the election but raised $200 million from the rubes and pocketed most of it. And that’s how grifters grift their way through their days.

The salesman who left behind ruined casinos, bankruptcies, botched construction projects, stiffed subcontractors, lawsuits by the dozen, is leaving in the morning, too cowardly to face the Bidens, from the wreckage he has left behind, as the wreckage he has become. And always was. He leaves behind a ruined economy, 400,000 dead, a mass of corruption and sabotaged departments from the state department and the diplomatic corps to the CDC, ruined international treaties and relationships, and more destroyed lives than will ever be counted.

“They were careless people,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the rich couple at the cold heart of The Great Gatsby. “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

The other people are us and the new administration. Because for the third or fourth time in a row, a Democratic administration is coming in like a janitorial service after a Republican regime that’s going out like a fraternity party on a wave of breakage and puke and denial about the assaults perpetrated in the haze. It is good that we are once again entering the cleanup phase, but the cycle is ugly, and the wreckage is piled high, and not everything broken can be repaired. And the nation’s capital is ringed with temporary fencing to protect against the kind of attack the outgoing president instigated and filled with soldiers to defend elected officials against his mobs and would-be assassins.

Still, the possibility arises of building another kind of wall, a bulwark against racism and authoritarianism, a wall built out of justice, out of voting rights, out of equality, built on the foundation that everyone matters, everyone has value. Or perhaps not a wall at all, but knocking down the old walls of the fortress of inequality and privilege. Bitter though the last four years have been, we are entering an era of possibilities, and it will require another kind of hard work, beyond defense, beyond cleanup, to creation.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 10:07 am

Top D.C. lobbying firm quietly hires controversial Trump advisor

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Judd Legum writes at Popular Information:

Forbes Tate is one of the top ten lobbying firms in D.C., bringing in over $14 million in publicly reported lobbying fees last year. Each month, the firm collects tens of thousands of dollars from A-list clients including Bayer, Walgreens, Verizon, Target, PhRMA, and Bank of America.

Normally, when the firm makes an important new hire, it lets the world know. When Forbes Tate hired Trevor Hanger as a Senior Vice President earlier this month, it was promoted on the Forbes Tate Twitter account, in a press release, and in Politico. When Jerri Ann Henry and Rich Lopez were hired as Senior Vice Presidents in October, they received the same treatment.

On January 5, Forbes Tate internally announced the hiring of Tate Bennett as Senior Vice President. But there was no mention of her hire on Twitter, no press release, and no coverage in Politico. Instead, she was quietly added to a list of employees on the firm website.

Bennett came to Forbes Tate from the White House, where she had served as a Special Assistant to former President Trump since April. While at the White House, she was in charge of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which was plagued by inefficiency and mismanagement. Before that, Bennett had a controversial tenure at the EPA which resulted in three United States Senators accusing her of unethical conduct and demanding an Inspector General Investigation.

Bennett’s biggest value to the firm may be her status as a former top aide to Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). At the time Bennett signed with Forbes Tate, most people believed that McConnell would still be the Majority Leader of the Senate.

Bennett’s hiring is a case study of how  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 9:37 am

A fast start and a good start: 17 Executive Orders on Inauguration Day

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The above is a brief list. CNN provides a list with more detail, including noting which Executive Orders reverse previous policy. That list is worth reviewing. It can be sorted on topic; its first two entries in the original sort sequence are shown below. (“No” = does not reverse existing policy, “Yes” = does reverse existing policy) are in the (CNN-supplied) category “Cornovirus”)

Coronavirus   No  Launches a “100 Days Masking Challenge” asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days. Requires masks and physical distancing in federal buildings, on federal lands and by government contractors, and urges states and local governments to do the same.
Coronavirus Yes  Stops the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization, with Dr. Anthony Fauci becoming the head of the delegation to the WHO

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 9:27 am

More Floris, with Geo. F. Trumper and the Above the Tie R1 — and Rooney Finest Style 2

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This Rooney Finest has an interesting and pleasant feel on the face — a fine granularity that, with the resilience of the bristles, gives a kind of “crunchy” feel. It made a lather from the excellent pre-reformulation Trumper Sandalwood shaving soap, and the performance of ATT’s R1 is extremely good. The finish with the Floris aftershave JF (named after Floris founder Juan Famenias Floris), was splendid. From the link:

Softly scented, JF begins with an invigorating burst of bergamot, lemon, lime and mandarin in combination with an intensely aromatic blend with armoise, coriander and clary sage. Juniper berry, cypress and petitgrain at the heart give the fragrance its unmistakeable masculine character, which is underscored by amber, cedarwood and a musky base.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2021 at 9:26 am

Posted in Shaving

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