How to Avoid a Trump Repetition

Talk about counting your chickens before they are hatched, but I think now is the time to start thinking abut the institutional changes that we can make that will prevent a repetition.

Establishing the validity of truth versus lies.  When the US Supreme Court liberalized libel law to project the media, little did it, or anyone understand that it was legalizing massive and uncorrected falsity.  We have to create some kind of procedural mechanism for the establishment of falsity.  My own thought is that it should be possible to bring a court action against the lie itself, in such a way that it is not about money, but about establishing truth.  Just think if such a mechanism existed to conclusively rebut the peddlers of the birther poison.  At a minimum it would give the fact checkers a common direction, and  finding to which debate opponents could appeal.

Wee tend to get deeply discouraged that around 40% of voters say they approve of Trump.  But remember that only a third of those say that his policies are what matters most.  The rest like the “personality”, whatever that means.

Remember, they met that personality on TV, and much of his early success was simply name recognition.  Remember how Mike Dukakis parlayed a very different TV program, “The Advocates” to a national nomination.

At one level, therefore, the TV networks just have to be much more careful about who they build up.  (How do you think the person who at NBC who accepted Trump’s pitch feels these days?)

Which leaves Fox!

There are many ways to constrain this aberration, with libel law changes being one, but always lurking in the background is the old fairness doctrine.  A way should be found to resurrect this, such as by limiting the exception when the number of meaningfully different outlets falls below a certain level.  Alternatively, controlling Fox through advertisers might become a long term project.

 

 

 

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Python’s Last Supper a Guide to British Society and Class

The Python’s “Why Michelangelo did not paint the last supper” is one their most brilliantly funny pieces.

An almost explosive Pope John Cleese is giving a hard time to Michelangelo for the way the last supper is to be depicted.  If you have not seen it, I will not spoil it for you, just watch it.

But Michelangelo is an aggrieved and truculent painter “it took me hours.”

Initially it is clear that this is about the resentment of the British  working class and the entitlement of the rulers.

However, as time goes on, with re-watching, you realize that Michelangelo is actually having the time of his life needling the pope, and deliberately failing to understand his objections (“Are the disciples too Jewish.  I made Judas the most Jewish”) and the Pope is also enjoying the verbal combat, even though he seems about to explode.  You know that Michelangelo got together with his mates at the Painters’ Arms pub that evening and regaled them with story.  The Pope may have let off steam to his mistress.

Finally, you realize that both of them actually know that both are enjoying themselves.  This says more about British class conflict than almost anything.  Try thinking about Brexit in terms of the pleasure of self-righteousness, and you can see why no one in the UK can accept the obvious.  They are having too much fun — or perhaps too locked in it see any other pattern of interaction.

 

 

 

 

 

Kamala Harris on Health Care

Without making any endorsement, I want to encourage everyone to take a look at her health care essay, which seems authentic above all.

Logistics, alone, can be overwhelming. I remember that as my mother’s condition worsened, she needed more care than we could provide. I wanted to hire a home health care aide for her. But my mother didn’t want help.

“I’m fine. I don’t need anybody,” she would say, even though she could barely get out of bed. There was a fight to be had, but I didn’t want to have it. Her body was giving out. The medication was making it difficult for her to function, to be herself. I didn’t want to take her dignity away.

So, we muddled through. I cooked elaborate meals for her, filling the house with the smells of childhood, which reminded us both of happier times. When I wasn’t at the office, I was most often with her, telling stories, holding hands, helping her through the misery of chemotherapy. I brought her hats after she lost her hair, and soft clothes to make her as comfortable as I could.

At one point, one of her doctors pulled me aside. “How’s my D.A.?” the doctor asked, referring to my role as the elected prosecutor of San Francisco. The question caught me off guard. I had been so focused on my mother’s well-being, I hadn’t made room for anything else. I started to choke up. I was scared. I was sad. Most of all, I wasn’t ready.

How true it all rings  – not that I am anything like there yet., and indeed are somewhat stabilized on the eating.

By the way, there has not been anything like enough attention paid to the impact on th nomination of California’s newly early primary date, and its early voting.  Probably the first time ever.  So, no surprise if Harris builds an early unstoppable momentum.

 

 

 

Did Anyone Ask Ukraine to Slow Walk Cooperation with Investigations?

This is a totally speculative question, but one that has to be asked.

Was Ukraine’s slowdown in cooperation with the investigations totally spontaneous, or could it have been induced by a hint, request, threat?  Seems like an absurd idea, excdpt for all that has gone before.

New York Times:

Volodymyr Ariev, a member of Parliament who is an ally of President Petro O. Poroshenko, readily acknowledged that the intention in Kiev was to put investigations into Mr. Manafort’s activities “in the long-term box.”

“In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,” Mr. Ariev said in an interview. “We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”

But:

David Sakvarelidze, a former deputy prosecutor general who is now in the political opposition, said he did not believe that the general prosecutor had coordinated with anybody in the United States on the decision to suspend the investigations in Ukraine, or that there had been a quid pro quo for the missile sale.

Ukrainian politicians, he said, concluded on their own that any help prosecuting Mr. Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.

“Can you imagine,” Mr. Sakvarelidze said, “that Trump writes on Twitter, ‘The United States isn’t going to support any corrupt post-Soviet leaders, including in Ukraine.’ That would be the end of him.”

What on earth does that mean?

 

If This Were Really a “Witch hunt” Trump Would Be Leading It.

So, Trump complains that a properly approved warrant is a “witch hunt.”

Of course, “witch hunts” are exactly what Trump would be joining.

They were attacks on defenseless women, who spoke truth to power, who took care of the poor, the vulnerable and particularly women.  In other words, the daily sport of Trump world.

 

 

Rule for Today: Read Only Curated News

Here is a simple rule for maintanning sanity and undercutting attempts to destroy our democracy.

Read Only Curated News

It is that simple.  Read only news sources that take some form of responsibility for what they publish.  Eve Fox, hardly neutral, takes some responsibility and is concerned with reputation.  Not so Breitbart.

Unsubscribe to any and all automated gregators — they are too subject to being fooled by waves of false news.

As to news referrals on Facebook and the like – even if apparently from people you know, ignore unless they are pushing something from a curated source.  (Personally, I would like Facebook to allow one to list the sources that you want to hear about.)

These steps will not stop false news, but should significantly reduce the false news multiplier that the internet provides.

 

 

Could Obamacare Repeal Split the Union Apart?

Then the Supreme Court decided Dred Scott, I doubt that they intended to split the Union apart, probably the opposite.

When Chief Justice Roberts engineered the decision that allowed states to opt out of the Medicare expansion, I suspect that he too had no such intent.

But that may be the consequence.

As the data on state budget implications of the Repeal making its way to the Senate becomes frighteningly clear, it is starting to seem as if the result will be to put opt-in (generally blue) and opt-out (generally red) states on fundamentally economic and political paths.

In Blue states, the economics and politics will do deep damage to the Republicans, with likely single party domination in many more blue states.  The reverse will be true in red states, at least until the voter rolls expand — and every effort will be made to prevent that.

At what point, with the states divided into single party red, and single party blue, how long till various forms of secession start to be appealing to both sides?  Remember that the right’s obsession with state’s rights tends to blind them to the advantages of the Federal role.

A frightening prospect.  But when one party stops representing a huge swathe of the country, that is what happens.