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marylandblue's Journal
marylandblue's Journal
August 29, 2018

DU's Absurd ad algorithms

Yesterday I googled for a doctor with the last name Brannan. Today I got an ad for a Brennan B2 music player. If I look for a music player, will I get doctors?

August 27, 2018

"What is Populism" by Jan-Werner Muller, explains how Trump keeps his base

This is a 2016 book that looks at the growning populist movements around the world and provides a simple explanation of why they work. There is no one definition of populism, which is part of the problem in understanding it. Muller's definition is that populism is the idea that the populists, they and they alone, represent the "true" will of the people.

Democracy is an inherently messy affair. It balances trade-offs between different groups to come to a compromise that can be implement. The balance is always shifting as social conditions shift. Democracy is inherently pluralistic. And the pluralists are always trying to bring new people into the bargain, to expand "the people" But some people feel that they have gotten a bad bargain. Pluralism isn't working for them. These people are fertile grounds for populist leaders. The populist leader is one who claims to represent the "authentic" will of the people. The populist leader gains followers that those who feel aggrieved by the current democratic bargain. They seek to get their way by excluding those who disagree, and so they represent the evil twin of democracy.

We can see how this all plays out with Trump. "Real" Americans have conservative morals, are white Christians, they live in the "heartland," and are "common people." Everyone else is excluded. Minorities are an easy target, so they are not "real" and are against the real Americans. Immigrants and LGBTs are also easy targets. Liberals, the media, and convervative non-Trumpists are enemies of the people because they disagree with will of the people as exclusively interpreted by the populist. There are also the "elites" the white people who are for themselves or have "bad" morals or want to include people who should be excluded. These are all themes Trump has activated, and rightwing populists in other countries do it too. Trump trolls his enemies and the "outsiders." His fans love it because he represents them, he is speaking for them when they feel others are ignoring them. Populist themes transcend party because the leaderships of both parties are part of the elite, unless they bow to the will of the populist (Ryan and McConnell we are looking at you).

I think one of Muller's crucial insights is that populism is not aberration, it is always a near and present danger in a democracy. Today we have Trump, but we've always had people who were aggrieved by the present democratic compromise, it's just a question of how many there are and how aggrieved they feel. The instinct is to push these people out of the bargain, saying "You can't say those things ,&quot you know which things) but this does not work. It just makes them feel under attack and more angry. The populist channels this. Direct attacks on Trump don't work either, because, as a populist leader, he just uses the attacks as proof that the elites and his enemies really are out to get him, to silence him for representing the "people." This how he is standing against Mueller's investigation. Mueller is one of the old elite who simply looking to attack him. It doesn't matter that he is a Republican. And even Trump's impeachment and conviction will not change his support much.

So what to do? This is the hard part. You can't beat the populist, you can't join them and you can't allow them to continue destroying the fabric of democracy. Muller's prescription is for the liberals is to humanize themselves in the eyes of the populist. To show they are not the enemy. To listen to their grievances and to the extent they do not compromise basic principles (ex, are racist), address them.

It's no accident that populism has grown since the 2008 financial crisis. People were really hurt, financial elites screwed up badly but were bailed out rather than punished while ordinary people suffered. Obama had the right idea, massive public works to create jobs and healthcare. But he didn't go far enough because he was too inclined to compromise. His public works package was too small (See Paul Krugman on this) and his healthcare system too complicated, and well, Republican. These needs are still unmet. Unemployment is low, but real wages are falling. Trump continues to draw attention to "enemies of the people" rather than real solutions. How do we know this will work? Because there were some Trumpists who's second choice, or even first choice was Bernie Sanders. It doesn't matter that he was a socialist, what mattered is that he was talking to the hurting people who felt unheard. It mattered that he took on the leader of the "elite," Hillary, when others were afraid to. That made him a hero for many.

August 18, 2018

Why Simona is freaking and Georgie is still in big trouble

The plea deal allows the government to prosecute him for other crimes committed before or after signing the deal. It does not allow Papadopoulos to withdraw his plea.

The sentencing statement lays out a factual case for potential obstruction, lying, and espionage charges. So Mueller really doesn't care if he gets 0 or 6 months right now. He'll be coming back for more later.

August 15, 2018

Speculation: Why Manafort didn't call any witnesses

Nobody was willing to testify that any of the transactions were legitimate.

August 12, 2018

Story of a someone who left the white power movement

There will be a documentary on at 9 PM tonight on MSNBC. I think it's good to remind ourselves that nobody is hopeless. Also note it's the human connection, the sense of belonging that brought him into the movement. And the human connection with people of different races got him out. Powerful stuff, IMHO.


Christian Picciolini was recruited into America’s first skinhead group, Chicago Area Skinhead, when he was a young teenager. He was frequently bullied at school and felt abandoned by his parents, Italian immigrants who worked so hard to make a living that he rarely saw them.

Mr. Picciolini became an international leader in the movement, but was eventually impelled to leave it through the compassion he was shown by the very people he thought he hated. By his count, he has since helped more than 200 individuals – including not only white supremacists but also ISIS members and potential school shooters – exit a life of hate by giving them a new sense of identity, community, and purpose.

Picciolini is the host and narrator of a new documentary produced by Part2Pictures, “Breaking Hate,” which traces the story of how he helped a Charlottesville protester walk away from the neo-Nazi views he espoused – with the help of Susan Bro, whose daughter was killed in the protests. The following is a transcript of a Monitor interview with Picciolini ahead of the documentary’s airing on MSNBC on Sunday, Aug. 12, at 9 p.m. Eastern. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

July 10, 2018

Speculation: Did Trump just make the dumbest decision of his life?

Of the four finalists, McConnell told Trump that Hardiman and Kethledge would make it through the Senate, and said so publicly. It's unusual for the Majority Leader to basically tell the President who to pick, in public. It must mean that McConnell was trying to box Trump into picking one of those two. Which means he knows there are Republicans who won't vote for Kavanaugh. But of course, Trump picked the guy who thinks presidents can't be indicted.

June 29, 2018

Two times the American people overruled the Supreme Court

The first time was the infamous Dred Scott decision. It was an outrageous decision. It wasn't just about slavery being legal in slave states. It also said that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories, declared the Missouri Compromise illegal, and took away citizenship from African Americans in free states. That is, the goal was to make slavery legal EVERYWHERE. People were outraged. It led directly to the Republican takeover of Congress in 1858 and Lincoln's victory in 1860.

The Second time was during the New Deal. In Roosevelt's first term, the Supreme Court struck down many New Deal programs as unconstitutional. Roosevelt complained that the nation was being held back by "nine old men." The Democrats won a resounding victory in 1936. Not only was Roosevelt re-elected, they gained 12 seats in the House and 5 seats in the Senate, extending their already huge advantage. Shortly after this victory, The Supreme Court upheld a state minimum wage law, something they had decided against less than a year earlier. Both decisions were 5-4. Justice Owen Roberts had switched sides, and he would continue to side with the liberals in future New Deal cases. Memoirs of both Justice Roberts and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes stated that they both took on a more liberal view in response to the popular vote.

On Edit: After a few comments, I add this. Both times the American people won looked very different from each other. I don't think we are headed for civil war and I don't think any conservative justice will switch sides. So if it happens a third time, it will probably look very different. Perhaps it will be by court packing after 2020. Roosevelt tried that and failed in 1937, but as he himself said, "he lost the battle but won the war."


June 22, 2018

An overlooked clue to Cohen's flip - his new lawyer.


Norm Eisen
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An overlooked clue to the likely coming Cohen flip: his new lawyer is a former SDNY prosecutor who worked with Comey & for Preet. And every single one of his partners in his firm is an SDNY USAO veteran who either worked for &/or with Comey or Preet. They were hired to do a deal.

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