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    • What May’s Brexit Deal Tells Us About The EU and Britain’s Future
      So, May has a Brexit deal. It’s a terrible deal, which makes the UK subject to many EU laws, and which doesn’t allow Britain to withdraw from the deal if the EU doesn’t want it to. This has caused ministerial resignations, and Corbyn has come out against it. But the interesting part is what the […]
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Morning walk

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Five Whys

There’s a new study from Texas A&M that says that white bigotry is correlated with authoritarianism:

Since the founding of the United States, politicians and pundits have warned that partisanship is a danger to democracy. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, worried that political parties, or factions, could “allow cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” to rise to power and subvert democracy. More recently, many political observers are concerned that increasing political polarization on left and right makes compromise impossible, and leads to the destruction of democratic norms and institutions.

A new study, however, suggests that the main threat to our democracy may not be the hardening of political ideology, but rather the hardening of one particular political ideology. Political scientists Steven V. Miller of Clemson and Nicholas T. Davis of Texas A&M have released a working paper titled “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy.” Their study finds a correlation between white American’s intolerance, and support for authoritarian rule. In other words, when intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy.

Their conclusions are pretty scary. It turns out that the white aggrieved voter is more likely to think that if “those people” are going to get stuff, then nobody is going to get stuff. They are more likely to install a strongman who will impose his will on the populace to deliberately make sure nobody gets stuff in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Now, we weren’t like this 30 years ago. Sure, we were all newly aware of Cadillac driving welfare queens by Reagan. They never really existed or not in great numbers. And I don’t think anyone would disagree with the notion that generational poverty is a problem in need of a solution.

But why are white people so damned angry with the idea that some people might get things from the government? I’m here to tell you, oh best beloveds, that bad things can and do happen to hard working, well educated people who play by the rules. You can’t really appreciate that until you’ve been laid off during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and your kid gets sick and you have to pay medical expenses and everything else out of your dwindling savings. That can happen to anyone, regardless of color or ethnicity or education level.

So why is it so important for white people to push everyone, including themselves off the safety net and at the same time, embrace a guy who cracks down on anyone who steps out of line?

To get to a root cause, you need to use the five whys technique.

First why: why are white people so afraid and angry with people of color, immigrants and poor people?

It’s because the messages they are getting from their media outlets and some of their politicians reinforce that message and encourage it.

Why do they encourage fear and anger of people of color, immigrants and poor people?

Take it from there.

So much newsing

It looks like a lot happened this week while I was busy. It’s a little weird which things are getting attention and which aren’t.

For example, Ireland just repealed it’s almost total ban on abortion yesterday. Where the Irish will eventually draw the line has yet to be determined. But there was no ambiguity about the results. The vote was 68% to 32% in favor of repeal. How did this happen in an overwhelmingly conservative Catholic country (or it used to be)? Sentiment might have turned when Savita Halappanavar, a Hindu dentist living in Ireland, died from septicemia when she was having a miscarriage and the Irish hospital she was in refused to perform the abortion while there was still a fetal heartbeat. Actually, there were so many human stories about women having to leave the country to get abortions for various reasons. The Irish apparently decided that the grown up living humans should have a vote in this and they did. Overwhelmingly.

But from what I could tell yesterday, this vote got little attention here.

What did get attention was how children who have been already born are being ripped away from their parents who are asylum seekers by the border patrol. Where are these kids going? Foster care. Somewhere. The government isn’t making that very clear. The parents have little to no contact with their kids. They just — disappear. Well, they scream and cry for their mothers as they are taken away. So, you know, abortion is horrible, immoral, bad, disgusting, sacrilegious in the US but removing already born children from their mothers when these “animals” cross the border, that’s perfectly fine.

You know what these asylum seekers and illegal immigrants need? PETA.

Someone reminded me recently of those Myers Briggs categories the other day. I thought they were more geared towards business. (ENTP, if anyone is curious). But maybe we should pay more attention to them because I think the unintentional consequence of the right wing propagandists is that we are separating the country along the thinking perceivers and feeling judgers line. This is reinforced by the tidbit that the Big Five personality assessment that Cambridge Analytica used as a starting point for targeting certain political messaging also divides people by their openness to experience, empathy and analytical thinking abilities. (Yep, confirmed bleeding heart liberal who over analyzes stuff. Check.)

I’m going to guess that if you’re on the FJ side of the Myers Briggs assessment, you’re probably ok with no abortions and punishing families who cross our borders seeking asylum. It’s a reflexive reaction. Those people were not following the rules. I get thats the judging part of the personality. It’s probably important if you are religious or a conventional, conformity minded person. But people who respond with gut reactions rather than rational thought puzzle me greatly. How is their emotional reasoning able to sidestep the anguish of parents losing their children to strangers? Or do they get more positive response to the idea of power than the reality of what that power is doing to other human beings?

Oh, I’m sorry. Animals. That’s right, they’re animals to our president and his voters. So much easier to do what you want to people when you stop thinking of them as people.

In other news, Donald Trump says the actions of the FBI are “political” and he’s probably right there. The FBI bent over backwards to keep the investigation of his campaign a secret from the country in the lead up to the election of 2016. But that’s all irrelevant now. The question going forward is will Trump begin to demonize as political enemies those of us who resist him? I think we can answer that question. Donald Trump will burn to the ground anything and anyone that attempts to hold him accountable for his actions, regardless of costs.

Where are the feeling judgers when it comes to enforcing the rules with this president? Interesting. They must be getting something out of letting him escape the rule of law. Do they hate the rest of us even more than they love their rule of law?

Meanwhile, there’s this new bit of newsy goodness from Spain:

I can’t imagine what we have done to the Spanish but they seem pretty eager to spill the frijoles. Did Don Jr. act like a bore in Barcelona at some point? Who knows. But they’ve got the tape of the axis of evil between the Trump Crime Family, the Russians and the NRA. It’s only a matter of time before those pesky kids from Parkland, Florida get drawn into this. Then everybody watch out because as David Hogg says, “The young people will win”.

***************************

This is where we are headed. Jews, Polish, they were all untermensch to the Germans:

Tweet du Jour- Korea Category

Congratulations, Stephen! You win the Internet today.

They ran through the bushes where the rabbits couldn’t go

My dad was into battles. He used to drag my sister and me down to Charleston harbor and point to Fort Sumter and tell us all about how the Civil War started as we climbed all over the cannons and stacks of cannonballs. He knew ever American battlefield from Schuylerville to Shiloh and everything in between. I once spent a rainy weekend at Gettysburg with him ticking off every monument and listening to a play by play recitation of Pickett’s Charge.

I feigned disinterest.

It turns out I kinda like battle strategy. But my genre is medieval battles. Fredericksburg? Meh. Hastings, Crécy and Agincourt? Oooo, yeah.

When I read this piece in WaPo about how Trump is handling his obvious displays of guilt, I got the battle vibe of the “Never Trumpers” immediately. They’re being overwhelmed and running for their lives:

Survivors on the Union side of the bloody battle of Shiloh reported witnessing a striking phenomenon moments before thousands of Rebels came charging through the Tennessee woods at dawn. Fauna in great abundance — rabbits and deer and squirrels and birds — made a startled dash through the Yankee camps. Thus the soldiers knew something alarming was headed their way, even before they knew what it was.

That story came to mind as I noticed a ruckus in the conservative media where President Trump finds reliable support. As a regular reader and occasional watcher of right-leaning outlets (left-leaning ones, too), I have been fascinated by the profound split Trump has caused among conservative commentators. So-called Never Trumpers don’t like him because they think he is the opposite of conservative: a radical intent on upending order and smashing tradition, twin pillars of their political philosophy. Among grass-roots partisans, though, the Never Trumpers appear to be losing sway to pro-Trump voices, if the robust ratings at Fox News are any indication.

But what struck me like the Shiloh field suddenly teeming with startled wildlife was this language of setups and entrapment because, where I come from, only guilty people trot out the I-was-stung defense. Indeed, the most infamous use of this jargon in Washington — the late Marion Barry’s “Bitch set me up!” — followed the mayor’s dismayed realization that his crack-smoking had been caught on hidden camera.

How many times have we heard from the president and his defenders that the Mueller investigation is “a witch hunt,” that “there’s nothing there” and it’s time to shut it down? As the inquiry enters its second year, Trump’s forces now appear to be falling back to a new trench. Whatever Team Trump did wrong, the FBI tricked them into doing it.

The never Trumpers tried to hold back the rebels with their voices of reason. It’s not working. But this battle doesn’t remind me of Shiloh so much as a Viking raid lead by a ships full of drug fueled berserkers screaming and biting their shields.

This is how Trump thinks he’s going to win, by feeding his supporters a PCP cocktail of insinuation and finger pointing and “I was set up! They’re trying to overturn the election!”

But it only makes him look even more guilty. The more he protests, the guiltier he looks to the rest of us and the more vigorously he whips up his base into a frenzy.

Now the whole Republican leadership is doing it, which makes me wonder if that party is implicated as well. Where does all that money lead us to?

They’re coming. It’s going to get noisy and violent. They’re looking for a weak spot in our shield wall. The only thing that’s standing between them and us is the justice department and the battle is imminent.

Avenatti and Farrow

Looking for the next Woodward and Bernstein? It’s hard to beat the wide eyed youthfulness of Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker and the aggressive, chiseled jawline of the “in your face” Michael Avenatti, lawyer to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels.

They’re telegenic and very well connected with the alarmed whistleblowers in the government.

Don’t be misled about the number of times you might have seen Avenatti on TV. He’s an amazing strategist and lawyer, forcing the Trump team into many disclosures, lies and errors. He has a lot of information that he’s feeding us little by little, tantalizing is with the most amazing, preposterous sounding plot twists. How does he get his hands on all this stuff?? He even has emails from Cohen to Daniels’ first lawyer after the raid trying to set up new untraceable communications. (Give up, Michael.) Avenatti, and the gutsy lady behind him, might just save the Republic. It’s genius to be representing the one woman in America that Trump slept with who has nothing to lose as far as reputation goes.

But it’s Farrow that adds the journalistic edge. He’s one of the few investigative reporters out there who doesn’t seem to be starry eyed about being in the presence of celebrity because he’s the product of celebrity, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. A college graduate at 16, accepted to law school before he was 20, he worked in the State Department in the Obama administration. Winner of a Pulitzer for reporting on the Harvey Weinstein harassment cases. In other words, Farrow is an earnest overachiever.

This week, Avenatti and Farrow are tag teaming. Avenatti recently disclosed a SAR, or Suspicious Activity Report, that was filed against Essential Consultants LLC, the entity that Michael Cohen created to handle payoffs to porn stars and other business activity. That’s how we discovered that Novartis and ATT paid Cohen for what looks like protection money. But there’s more, oh yes, much more.

Because that SAR got filed with the Treasury Department in a department called FinCEN. That stands for Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. FinCEN maintains a database of SARs from banks and other financial institutions. Anyone at a bank who interacts with customers is trained to recognize signs of fraud, money laundering and other crimes.

This is where Farrow comes in.

It turns out that the FinCEN record connected to the SAR that Avenatti revealed last week made reference to two other SARs. The amount of money involved is $3 Million. The problem is that the FinCEN records for those two other SARs are … missing.

The law enforcement official who discovered that the SARs are missing was so alarmed by this that he leaked the first SAR to Avenatti. Farrow followed up on the missing SARs. According to the sources he contacted who have experience in this area, missing SARs are very rare. Says the whistleblower:

“I have never seen something pulled off the system. . . . That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”

To put it bluntly, there are only two possible scenarios other than technical malfunction to explain how this happened: 1.) Robert Mueller or the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of NY sequestered them or 2.) someone at the Treasury Department deliberately erased them. Permanently.

Suddenly, I see the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office in a whole new light. The FBI raid was authorized to prevent destruction of evidence. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that Mueller et al discovered the SARs were missing and pulled the trigger on the raid in order to get any evidence remaining related to the transfer of money through Cohen’s hands.

The whistleblower, our newest DeepThroat, says he was terrified of what it might mean that someone has access and the orders to erase financial documents at the Treasury Department. Just thinking about that gives me the shivers. Think about it. If the documents went missing on Trump’s orders, and let’s not forget that he only appoints loyalists, then what is to stop any of those loyalists in any agency from erasing evidence of bribery and misconduct? Or your bank accounts? Or social security information? The possibilities are endless.

Didn’t Deep Throat advise Woodward and Bernstein to “follow the money” back during the Watergate days? It’s spooky how this is turning out to resemble Watergate.

If you’re not watching anything but Fox News, you are missing a terrifying political thriller of global proportions with an colorful cast of characters, secretive Qatari sheiks, shady presidential lawyers, porn stars, pregnant playmates, abortions, lies, bribes, payoffs, basketball teams, rappers, Russians and global corporations. It’s almost too much. But unlike Fox News generated smoke and mirrors and logical inconsistencies, this is more like peeling an onion or plucking a strand in a spider web and watching the ripples. It’s vast, it’s deep, it’s scary.

The movie is going to be epic – provided the Republic survives.

********************

Found in my Spotify weekly mix: “It’s like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley in the middle of my soul…”.

Some lyrics never die, no matter how they’re done.

Holy Moly, Fetterman Won!

Hold on to your seats, sports fans, this story may have meaning.

Yesterday, John Fetterman, 6’10” (I’m guessing) mayor of Braddock, PA, won the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.

Why does this have meaning?

Because John Fetterman is one of those iconoclastic Democratic candidates that we all go gaga about. He is a real community activist. He’s into urban renewal and medical marijuana. He lives the working class

AND

You will never catch him in a suit.

The dude screams laid back.

He’s also got a f*cking hot Brazilian wife, Gisele, and three adorable kids. He lives in an old car dealership.

Yeah, weird, huh?

He’ll be running with our governor, The steadfast, unflinching Tom Wolf. This will be one to watch because the PA state legislature is definitely redder than red hardass Republican. But Fetterman has the appearance of a bouncer, only nicer. And cooler.

I have two candidates to campaign for this fall. Conor Lamb won last night as well.

The good news just keeps on coming. Seven women won their primaries in the newly drawn congressional district maps.

This fall should give the media a whole new perspective on Pennsylvania. 2016 was an brief regression on the way to something else. We are the vanguard.