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What’s really scary about the Trump phenom

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Donald Trump calling Ted Cruz an “anchor baby” was pretty hilarious,  but the charge hasn’t stuck because unlike Obama, Cruz’s skin is much lighter.

Like most of other inflammatory comments from Trump, Americans seem to fall into three camps regarding the mogul’s quotable quotes and candidacy. They either love it, hate it, or laugh it off. What most don’t realize is that win or lose, Trump’s candidacy marks the end of American politics as a democratic experiment, and the beginning of it as a business.

The Supreme Court decision that gave corporations real citizenship–“Citizens United”–marked the beginning of the end of the democracy. Individuals literally lost power to entities known as the Corporation. For two-hundred-plus years, an experiment that started as companies colonized a new continent (for the Europeans) seemed to have gotten better and better. It began by giving companies “personhood”–literally treating them as a person, so it can have its own assets, debts, even criminal offenses. But what seemed for a long time like a clever legal tactic has been taken almost to its logical conclusion. Conservative justices decided that corporations have freedom of speech like the rest of us, so they can spend as much as they want, and without public disclosure, to advocate their positions, to campaign for or against candidates (through various legal contortions). The only thing corporations lack now is a vote in the booth, but who needs that when you can buy elections?

But while some liberal groups have been sounding the alarm on Citizens United, the battle has moved well beyond that line. It is hard to imagine now a time when news anchors don’t promote TV shows or movies, or when news networks happily lose hundreds of millions of dollars or more every year. But it was so for decades, more than a century, even. Only in the mid-2000s, did Fox News start promoting its shows and other entertainment lines in the heretofore sanctity of the newsroom. Quickly, other networks fell in line because moguls were no longer satisfied with the cachets of journalism, but demand profits from every line of business, including the newsroom.

Like good ol’ capitalists, they didn’t stop there. Businesspeople like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina realized that they could make more money and gain more influence, even if for a limited time only, by running for office. Win or lose, they would have a glorious few months to mine their 15 seconds of fame.

No one, though, has as much experience in self-promotion than Donald Trump. So here he is, badmouthing anyone who dares to pose a risk to his new business. In the world of reality TV, it is the best and only way to survive. As the long-time “star” of such a show, Trump knows exactly how to play the game.

Many people worry what a Trump nomination would mean for the country and its standing in the world. Worry not. Even if he loses, more businesspeople will run, and eventually one and more will win. If there’s one sector bigger than public education that money power loves to get its hands on, it’s the American body politics. Regulation, taxation, riches of an unprecedented scale are waiting to be be plundered.

Written by Gnostradamus

Thu, 2/18/16 at 1312

People who make you feel great don’t always do the job

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Everyone in the world seems to have caught the Klinsmann effect, praising U.S. soccer to the heavens. Although the end was heart-pounding, the U.S. coach got off easy because of Tim Howard’s heroics. The world would’ve looked at U.S. soccer much differently if we had lost by a cricket score to Belgium.

Klinsmann did not have a Plan B. And if you only have one plan, then you need to back up that plan and back up the backup. Instead, we played the whole tournament without a target man, except for the first 17 minutes.

Yet he still has the job, while people are lambasting Landon Donovan for his critique of the coach’s tactics. If you take away Altidore’s appearance, the United States drew two, lost two. 0-2-2 is the Klinsmann legacy.

Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 7/4/14 at 2013

Sending veteran officers to crime hotspots – What does the shift by NY’s top cop say about Teach For America

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Raise your hand if you think rookies fresh from Police Academy should be sent to crime-ridden neighborhoods, instead of local precincts where they are partnered with mentors.

Amazingly, this has been a decade-long policy under the Bloomberg administration in New York City. In what the New York Times calls a “fundamental” shift, the new Police Commissioner William Bratton announces that first-year officers will be assigned to local precincts to learn from more experienced officers. Mr. Bratton hopes that the change will also prevent inflaming tensions in those communities due to inexperience and perhaps heavy-handiness from inexperienced cops.

How does this contrast with programs like Teach for America? Consider:

  • TFA and similar programs promotes heavily on college campuses and canvasses exclusively among people with no teaching experiences;
  • New members are sent into the most high-need and desperate schools and communities where more experienced and successful practitioners are not available
  • These new teachers receive virtually no mentoring through the two-year program (no one is paid to observe the new teachers on a daily or even weekly basis to provide specific supports)

As TFA continues to thrive on tens of millions of dollars of contributions from the Walton family alone, they purport to be the solution to the educational needs of students in the most impoverished and troubled states, such as Louisiana. With a new $100 million endowment and $350 million in assets, TFA is here to stay and will continue to grow. Real teachers and students and suffer under its relentless expansion and legislative captures.

Written by Gnostradamus

Sat, 2/1/14 at 1918

Apple’s patent win is like buying polos shirts–or all shirts–only from Ralph Lauren

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The $1 billion damage Apple just won in its patent lawsuit against Samsung will be debated, and appealed an litigated, for years to come. In a nutshell, Apple convinced a federal jury that its patents on rounded corners and swiping to unlock a touchscreen phone are valid. Leaving aside issues such as competency (many jurors do not use smartphones; one of them do not use a cell phone at all; and the most common brand among their phones is LG), this verdict is ridiculous, a poster-boy for the absolute breakdown of the patent system, which is now exploited by technology companies to prevent competition by stifling innovation.

With a touchscreen phone, how can you unlock it without a swipe? With a phone, how can you avoid being rectangular? To make it pretty, how can you avoid rounded corners? Furthermore, these elements can be found in prior art–commercial products or designs made by other companies before Apple popularized them. But both sides had only 25 hours to conduct the entire trial. Perhaps due to the limited time, evidence could not be shown. Witnesses could not be questioned.

This whole trial and verdict show the U.S. patent system to be broken, whose remaining purpose is to enrich lawyers and the people who hire successful ones. Why are clothing companies not allowed to patent their designs, yet Apple allowed to sue competitors for huge damages for things they did not even invent? What would happen to the apparel industry and its consumers if each designer could lock in their designs until they are no longer fashionable or necessary?

This is about profits, not right and wrong.

Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 8/24/12 at 2024

Papering over a Reactionary Supreme Court

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To the shock of most commentators, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court yesterday to uphold almost the entire Affordable Care Act. Had he not done so, the Court’s historically low public confidence of 25% would have plummeted even further. Many pundits claim that Roberts saved the Court from becoming an overtly partisan operator, but it seems to have escaped almost everyone that four of the nine Justices threw away their legal training and attempted to axe the entire health care reform because they dislike, perhaps on a political level more than anything else, President Obama’s policy.

In the past, the Court has struck down laws in their entirely only when the essence is unconstitutional. While the individual mandate was a prominent part of the ACA, it was only a means to fund it, a tool of implementation. Without it, the reforms could still be carried out. Yet the Court was about to throw everything back at Obama; it was as if they would tear up the entire criminal code because one sentence for criminals was excessive.

The ACA is a set of reforms that illustrate the schizophrenic politics of many Americans. Most of its parts are strongly supported by the majority of Americans, who nevertheless want to see the totality destroyed. At least they do so on largely political grounds. Four of the five conservatives on the Court are no better, and probably far worse, judging from their latest opinions.

Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 6/29/12 at 0913

Occupy – Too Little, Too Late

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As the Occupy movement fizzles out after violent and coordinated crackdowns by police departments and the federal government across the country, inquests will begin on what led to its demise. Was it the lack of specific demands? Or the absence of a leadership team? Perhaps the opponents are too powerful and stacked with too much wealth.

Ultimately, the movement failed because it was too little, too late. The most frequent complaint–the lack of concrete demands–was only a symptom of the absence of consensus about the problem facing this country and possible solutions. It may be difficult to remember, but three years ago, there was such a consensus.

In hindsight, Occupy should have launched three years ago, as the collapse of Lehman Brothers drove the nail in the coffin of neoconservative economics – or so it seemed. Reagan-Bush policies, based on money transfers to the rich, had been abandoned by Democrats and most independents, and even some Republicans.

Unfortunately, those people chose to put their faith in politicians led by Barack Obama, who rode anti-Wall Street sentiments to the White House. Then they waited, and waited. When the AIG scandal broke (executives were discovered pocketing huge bonuses for fixing the mess), Congress was about to pass a law to claw back the taxpayer money. That was when Obama and his Wall Street team struck back. Led by Lawrence Summers and Tim Geithner, the administration killed the budding effort. They argued that contracts are sacrosanct (of course, that doesn’t apply to the likes of auto workers), as Fox News launched a full-fledged campaign called Tea Party.

History may still remember the economic collapse as Bush-era events, but most Americans now link Obama to the malaise. Government is now again seen as the main problem, not the financial robber barons. The average Joe, therefore, did not join OWS and raised hardly a voice as the movement was violent ejected from parks and minds.

Written by Gnostradamus

Sat, 12/3/11 at 1617

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Obama is Joe Lieberman in disguise

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The Good News: Obama’s backbone is not a problem.

The bad news: His politics, or ideology, is.

Just the other day, the Republican House Speaker, in an unprecedented move, refused a request from the President of the United States to deliver a speech to Congress and the American people. The Obama White House relented after just a few hours.

Fresh on the humiliating retreat, the president has abdicated his duties once more. He announced his administration will not enforce portions of the Clean Air Act that sought to limit and cut asthma-inducing ozone pollution, potentially saving thousands of lives each year.

Over on CNN, Mr. Martin published an informative analysis of President Obama’s appeasement policy towards his political opponents and its effect on his once-enthusiastic supporters. But he missed the possibility that it’s not appeasement at all. There’s no reason to fight when what you and I see as a “loss” is an acceptable outcome.

See, most liberals still think Obama’s one of them, at heart, and Tea Kettles take it a couple light-years further. They’re both wrong.

Obama is just Joe Lieberman in disguise.

Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 9/2/11 at 1541

Posted in politics

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