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Lessons from Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9: Establishment Democrats Sold Out the Voters

September 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Sophia A. McClennen, Salon

Moore’s film is as much about how the left and the media have failed us as it is about the dangers of Trump


Michael Moore’s new film “Fahrenheit 11/9” opened nationwide this week in 1,719 theaters —  a record for a non-fiction film that isn’t about a pop icon or wild animals.  Billed as the film that would tell us how the f*&k we got here and how the f*&k we can get out, “Fahrenheit 11/9” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6 to wide acclaim.

As with all Moore films, “Fahrenheit 11/9” goes well beyond a moving, aesthetic experience. In my Salon review of the film I called it a call to action, one that asks viewers to be the ones to make history rather than complain about it.  This call to action, though, comes wrapped in a hard-hitting exposé of the flaws in our democracy. Refusing to simplify a complex crisis, Moore’s new film is filled with surprises.  Here are the top six:

1. Trump is just the tip of the iceberg; but it’s a tip that can sink us. 

Well before the premiere of “Fahrenheit 11/9” Moore was making it clear that viewers hoping to see the release of the “pee tape” would be disappointed. Moore convincingly argues that it was our own broken system that allowed for the election of Trump, which means that getting rid of him simply won’t be good enough. At the same time, though, “Fahrenheit 11/9” emphasizes the real dangers Trump poses to our nation, offering elaborate links between the Trump administration and that of the Nazis.

The film offers a delicate and artful balance: It calls on us to stop fantasizing that all of our problems will be solved with impeachment; and it demands that we take Trump’s authoritarian impulses seriously. In a media landscape that either obsesses over Trump or underestimates him, this film offers necessary nuance. It shows how dangerous Trump is to our democracy without allowing him to be the whole story.

2. The mainstream media is a misogynistic, corporatist oligarchy that Trump played to his benefit.

The film looks back on a series …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Keep iPhone Production in China

September 22, 2018 in Economics

By Colin Grabow

Colin Grabow

As President Trump’s trade policy careens along, it’s clear that
a key goal is prodding U.S.-based firms to shift foreign production
to the United States. The revised NAFTA agreement’s mandate that a
certain percentage of auto parts be produced by workers earning at
least $16 per hour, for example, is clearly designed to shift such
work away from Mexico. The president has also sent tweets encouraging Ford and Apple to escape the impact of tariffs on
China by making their products domestically.

Using tariffs to shift work back to the United States, however,
would be penny wise and pound foolish.

If Apple assembles its iPhones in China or an automaker uses
workers in Mexico to produce parts or finished cars, they do so for
a very good reason: It’s the most cost-effective option. Using
tariffs and other measures to drive production to the United States
does little more than artificially raise expenses. It’s the
equivalent of the government requiring holes to be dug with spoons
instead of excavators.

Let’s imagine what would happen if, due to rising tariffs, Apple
decided to end the production of iPhones in China and move
production in the United States. True enough, jobs would be
created, but at substantial cost. Before a single iPhone could be
made, billions would have to be devoted to building new factories.
Further billions would have to be spent attracting workers in a
low-unemployment economy with much higher wages than those found in
China. Time would be needed to train these workers as well as
develop the associated ecosystem of suppliers.

So how would these expenses be paid for? Likely in a variety of
ways. One option might be to raise prices. Indeed, some analysts estimate the likely retail price of a
U.S.-built iPhone to be at least double that of one made in China.
But that means reduced sales and higher barriers for consumers to
acquire one of the great conveniences of modern life. Fewer
purchases of iPhones would also filter through the rest of the
economy, harming other firms such as those that design apps or
others who use them to deliver services.

Another option would be for Apple to reduce its expenditures on
areas such as research and development or marketing. In addition to
placing the company at a competitive disadvantage and reducing the
quality of its offerings — another harm to consumers —
such a move would likely translate into fewer high-paying jobs at
Apple’s U.S. headquarters. Indeed, for all of the talk about iPhone
assembly jobs overseas, often forgotten is that the company …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Progressives to DNC: It Would Be 'Insane' Not to Hand Over Twitter Account to Ocasio-Cortez

September 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“It's kind of amazing that one of the most naturally talented politicians to emerge in some time also happens to be a highly effective, aggressive, and rather merciless combatant in social media messaging.”


In just a few short months on the national political scene, New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has distinguished herself as a remarkably effective social media voice, using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to easily demolish right-wing smears and falsehoods while also pushing her positive progressive vision.

By contrast, the Democratic National Committee (DNC)—with midterm elections looming—has a relatively paltry social media presence and is notorious for its horrendous messaging, leading some prominent progressives to suggest that the DNC should immediately hand its accounts over to Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a landslide upset in June with no establishment support.

The latest example of Ocasio-Cortez's strength as a progressive social media presence came Thursday night, when the 28-year-old democratic socialist systematically rebutted right-wing provocateur Dinesh D'Souza's unsubtly racist insinuation that Puerto Rico contributes nothing to the United States.

 

In response to Ocasio-Cortez's series of tweets, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald on Friday echoed Huffington Post writer Ashley Feinberg, who suggested last week that the DNC would be “insane” not to give Ocasio-Cortez full control of its Twitter account.

“It's kind of amazing that one of the most naturally talented politicians to emerge in some time also happens to be a highly effective, aggressive, and rather merciless combatant in social media messaging,” Greenwald wrote Friday. “As Ashley Feinberg said, the DNC should just turn over its accounts to her.”

Since her victory in June, Ocasio-Cortez has been the frequent target of hysterical attacks by Fox News and other right-wing outlets, which have often resorted to bizarre smears and outright red-baiting. But because of her clear policy positions and ability to respond sharply to the right-wing onslaught, these attacks have almost always backfired.

One prominent example was Fox News host Sean Hannity's attempted attack on Ocasio-Cortez's agenda that inadvertently turned into a free advertisement for her ambitious platform.

One reason the DNC may ultimately prove reluctant to heed calls to hand over its social media accounts to Ocasio-Cortez is because …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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They Think It Would Be Fun to Run a Newspaper: Billionaires Buying Up Media Is Another Step Toward Oligarchy

September 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Jim Naureckas, FAIR

A handful of super-wealthy individuals are assuming power over crucial news outlets, both locally and nationally.


The announcement that Time magazine would be bought by software CEO Marc Benioff highlighted the growing trend of billionaires buying up media outlets. While media moguls have always been wealthy—with press barons (Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, Donald Newhouse, etc.) still well-represented on Forbes’ running list of the world’s billionaires—what distinguishes this new breed of press magnate is that they bought their media properties with fortunes made in other industries.

Some, like Benioff, come out of the tech industry; tech tycoons like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar and Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs have profited from a tech boom (or bubble) that gives them plenty of cash to spend. Others come out of the financial sector, which has doubled its share of the US economy over the past 70 years. Real estate developer Mort Zuckerman—who owned The Atlantic from 1980–1999, the Daily News from 1993–2017, and still owns US News & World Report, which he bought in 1984—was a harbinger of non-media money coming into the media sector.

Wherever their money comes from, the new moguls’ interest in buying up outlets is generally less the direct profit involved—media profits are typically declining as the old local monopoly model erodes—and more the power that comes with control of the public conversation. Being a latter-day Citizen Kane is a personal ego boost, to be sure, and provides a platform for an individual ideology—whether it’s Philip Anschutz’s social conservatism or Omidyar’s civil libertarianism.

But it also can be a tool to advance more personal interests: Sheldon Adelson is a fervent supporter of Israel and its Likud Party, but he bought a Las Vegas paper when it was running critical coverage of a lawsuit that threatened to shut him out of the gambling business. Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post instantly made him the most powerful media figure in the nation’s capital—a handy position to be in when your company is seeking multi-billion-dollar government contracts.

Whatever the motivation, billionaires …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Only Sure Thing In Ford v. Kavanaugh May Be That One Side Is Panicking

September 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Mike Littwin, The Colorado Independent

And Trump is just adding to the problem.


It’s apparently never too early to argue the merits of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, although it might be better to wait until they actually testify at the Senate hearing. But even at this point, some aspects of the case of Ford v. Kavanaugh are beyond question.

For one, Republicans are panicked. To protect Kavanaugh, they won’t let the FBI investigate Ford’s allegations and they won’t allow witnesses other than Ford and Kavanaugh to be called. They give Ford  arbitrary deadlines, when to testify, when to agree to testify, when to agree to agree to testify.

The idea is to leave us with a he-said/she-said situation, hoping we’ll end up hopelessly confused. Meanwhile, committee Republicans want female outside counsel to do the questioning of Ford because, in 2018, every single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee is, well, male. (Four Democrats on the panel are women.)

For another, Donald Trump is still — and always will be — Donald Trump. But you knew that.

And for another still, in the run-up to the hearing, Kavanaugh’s defenders are only making matters worse with a series of defenses that range from the sadly expected to the downright bizarre.

We can begin with Trump. For days now, we’ve been hearing about the remarkable Trumpian restraint in this matter. His advisers had warned that attacking Ford would not only alienate female voters in the November midterms, but also possibly the few Republican women in the Senate, those who could decide Kavanaugh’s fate. And, remarkably, he seemed to have listened to the advice — for a while.

Those days of restraint came to a sudden halt in a Friday morning tweetstorm. And whether that is a sign of how much trouble Kavanaugh’s nomination is in or simply the fact that the leader of the free world has the impulse control of a dog when confronted by a squirrel, we’ll leave to the historians and to the mental health field.

What we know is that Trump has gone on the offensive with the oldest, least empathetic and predictably wrong-headed attack, one which …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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As Right-Wingers Push Trump to Fire Rosenstein, Here's What to Do If He Does

September 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“Our response in the hours following a potential power grab will dictate what happens next—whether Congress will stand up to Trump or allow him to move our democracy toward authoritarianism.”


As prominent right-wing provocateurs immediately took to social media on Friday to call on President Donald Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “today” after the New York Times reported that he suggested cabinet officials should invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, progressive advocacy groups detailed rapid response plans to ensure Americans are organized and prepared to take to the streets if the president acts on these demands.

“The Rod Rosenstein Rapid Response Plan: If actions are triggered BEFORE 2 p.m. local time —> events will begin at 5 p.m. local time. If actions are triggered AFTER 2 p.m. local time —> events will begin at noon local time the following day,” announced Jordan Uhl, a campaigner with MoveOn.org.

Uhl also directed concerned U.S. residents to the TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw.orgwebsite to find local demonstrations.

While the Rosenstein story by the Times sent shockwaves on Friday afternoon, independent journalist Marcy Wheeler worried that reporting now “gives Trump his excuse to fire” the Deputy Attorney General.

But if he does so, at least 400,000 people have pledged to take to the streets in over 900 cities throughout the United States if Trump decides to fire Rosenstein, who oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“Donald Trump could be preparing to put himself above the law. We won't allow it,” organizers of the nationwide demonstrations note on their website. “Trump will create a constitutional crisis if he fires special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.”

“Our response in the hours following a potential power grab will dictate what happens next—whether Congress will stand up to Trump or allow him to move our democracy toward authoritarianism,” the groups add.

Find an event near you:

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Regulations Are Keeping the Best Private Schools out of School Voucher Programs

September 22, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

As I’ve pointed out many

times

before
, private school choice leads to better results for
students and the societies in which they reside. The preponderance
of the most rigorous scientific evidence suggests that school
choice
reduces crime
and improves student
achievement
,
graduation rates
, racial
integration
,
student safety
, and civic
outcomes
. But while the existing evidence is encouraging, it
can be thought of as a lower-bound of the true effect of private
schooling in general. Here’s why.

Higher-quality private
schools are less likely to participate in two of the most highly
regulated voucher programs in the U.S., the Milwaukee Parental
Choice Program and the Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship
Program.

As found in my just-released study — coauthored with
George Mason University economics graduate student Blake Hoarty
— higher-quality private schools are less likely to
participate in two of the most highly regulated voucher programs in
the U.S., the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the Ohio
Educational Choice Scholarship Program.

And this isn’t the only study to find that the best private
schools decide not to participate in voucher programs. As shown in
the table below, using tuition, enrollment, customer reviews, and
effects on student test scores as measures of quality, all four of
the studies examining this question suggest that higher quality
schools are less likely to accept voucher funding in Louisiana,
Milwaukee, Ohio, Washington, D.C., Indiana, Louisiana, and even in
Chile.

Because school choice evaluations can only tell us the effects
of gaining access to the participating schools, which tend to be
lower-quality, the existing evidence is likely a lower-bound of the
true effects of private schooling in general.

Table: Quality of Schools Participating in Voucher
Programs (Relative to Non-Participating Schools)

Study Location Quality Metrics Result
Abdulkadiroglu, Pathak & Walters
(2018)
Louisiana Tuition & enrollment growth

Negative


DeAngelis & Hoarty (2018)
Milwaukee & Ohio Tuition, enrollment, & customer reviews

Negative

Sánchez (2018) Chile Tuition, average math test scores, & student test score
value-added

Negative

Sude, DeAngelis, & Wolf
(2018)
Washington, D.C., Indiana, & Louisiana Tuition, enrollment, & customer reviews

Negative

[Note: Negative indicates that the study finds that higher
quality private schools are less likely to participate in voucher
programs.]

But why are higher-quality schools less likely to participate in
voucher programs?

Private school leaders must decide whether to participate in
voucher programs each year based on expected costs and benefits of
participation. The private school’s main benefit of voucher program
participation is, of course, additional voucher revenue. The
private school’s primary cost associated with program participation
is additional bureaucratic red tape. Private schools that accept
voucher funding must …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Our Worsening Natural Disasters Aren't Just Tragedies — They're Signs of What's Coming

September 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Robert Walker, Independent Media Institute

Florence’s sluggish movement is a grand metaphor for politicians who have stalled on meaningful climate change action.


Call it “The Great Stall.” Hurricane Florence lingered over the Carolinas for four days, dumping some 30 inches of rain. Flood waters are still rising, even as Typhoon Mangkhut, a superstorm 500 miles across, rakes the Philippines, Hong Kong and crashes into China. Florence is just the latest in a long series of catastrophic events generated by stalled weather patterns — slow-moving systems which occur when one of the jet streams that flow around the Earth pinches off a massive section of air from normal wind flows for an prolonged period of time. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has compiled a long list of severe weather events in the US, and most of them are linked, in one way or another, to stalled weather systems.

Just in the past few months, NOAA has reported that “wildfires are burning larger and more intensely than before,” and that “unusually persistent harmful algal blooms” are plaguing Florida. The Western US is baking under high temperatures, while the Eastern US is “getting increasingly soggy.” NOAA has even reported that land areas in 2017 “recorded more than 60 days of extreme daytime heat worldwide, nearly double the 1961-1990 average.”

Whether it’s record heat, torrential rain or slow-moving currents, stalls can be catastrophic. Last year, Hurricane Harvey stalled out over Houston, dropping as much as 60 inches of rain in some areas and inflicting an estimated $125 billion in damages on the area.

Just last month, one of the leading climate research institutes, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, cautioned that the warming of the Arctic is “messing” with the giant airstreams that encircle the Earth and contributing to a slowdown in weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. As Dim Coumou, an Institute researcher, noted just a few weeks ago, these changes in airstreams can, together with other factors, create “extreme extremes.”

So long as the stalls continue to worsen, so will the resulting extremes. Hurricane Florence may be a …read more

Source: ALTERNET