Posts Tagged ‘Salon’

On politicians and (possible) pyramid schemes

April 7, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 7, 2016

I referred on Tuesday to a post by Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan that asked “Do Any of the Republicans Running for President Actually Want to Win?” I happen to disagree with some of Ryan’s takes. For instance, I think that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) very badly wants to be president — although I also believe that he’s keenly aware of the fact that his fervently courting evangelical audiences and throwing red meat to them will eventually redound to his benefit, whether or not he’s ever elected to another office.

Ryan wrote that “this entire election makes a lot more sense if you think of it like a political sequel for The Producers.” She continued:

Mel Brooks’s 1967 farce-musical tells the story of a pair of down-on-their-luck men who realize that they can make more money producing a musical that’s a flop than they can producing one that succeeds. Money raised by backers, reason Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom (as played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder), will make them rich, and if the show closes after only a night, they get to keep all of the money themselves rather than paying investors their share of profits. To maximize its offensiveness, they hire a Nazi to write it, the worst director on Broadway to direct it, and an [sic] semi-lucid man to star in it. Much to their horror, Springtime for Hitler is a smash hit.

Politicians left, right and center have long been associated with all manner of grift, but the link seems to be especially deep when it comes to conservative politicos. Back in the fall of 2012, the left-leaning historian Rick Perlstein, author of books about presidents Nixon and Reagan, argued that “the reflex of lying [is] now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA” and asserted that “conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Man on the run: Contemplating the intent and the future of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign

April 5, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 5, 2016

Eight days ago, a hitherto obscure public relations expert and New York University adjunct professor named Stephanie Cegielski generated a great deal of attention when she wrote an open letter explaining why she would no longer support Donald Trump’s run for president. The most notable thing about the letter was its author — specifically, the fact that Cegielski had worked for several months for the Make America Great Again political organization, an unofficial adjunct to Trump’s campaign.

The next few days went poorly for Trump: He suggested breaching the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit torture, among other things; said he was for punishing women who illegally obtain abortions before changing his position on the matter several times; continued an aggressive defense of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even after Florida police charged him with manhandling a female reporter then associated with a conservative “news” outlet; and gave the latest in a string of interviews in which he seemed arrogant and disjointed. (Asked by The Washington Post’s Robert Costa what strategy he had for converting former Republican rivals into allies, Trump said, “I think that’s overrated, what you’re saying, about bringing them into the fold. At the same time, I think I would be successful with many of them. I don’t know that I’ll be successful with Jeb Bush.”)

Now several pundits are questioning whether Trump is sabotaging his own campaign, consciously or otherwise, because he doesn’t really want to be president. By way of example, today, we had Michael Brendan Dougherty writing for The Week; on Monday, there was Robert Becker writing for Salon and three editors writing for The Huffington Post; on Friday, Sean Illing in Salon and John Fund in the National Review. On Saturday, A Prairie Home Companion ran a “Guy Noir, Private Eye” skit in which a faux Donald Trump orders his staff to find a way for him to wreck his lead in the nomination campaign. On Sunday, Chris Wallace began an interview by asking Trump, “Are you in the process of blowing your campaign for president?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Recent Readings for Jan. 9, 2016

January 9, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 9, 2016

• “The Fall of King Coal.” In December, a federal jury convicted former Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship of conspiracy to violate federal mine-safety laws, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in prison. In “The Fall of King Coal,” which Mother Jones published in the fall as Massey’s trial was getting under way, reporter Tim Murphy took a close look at Blankenship’s career, which involved breaking union strikes as well as existing contracts and safety and environmental regulations.

“It was very, very obvious from the first part that [Blankenship] cared about one thing and one thing only, and that was the dollar, and it was clear that he worshipped at the altar of greed and dollars, and he wouldn’t let anything get in the way,” one longtime union foe told Murphy.

• “The Corporate Takeover of the Red Cross.” The American Red Cross did not have a good 2015, when several reports came out exposing it as a floundering and at times ineffective organization. Take, for instance, a June report from ProPublica and NPR that bore the headline “How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti and Built Six Homes.”

Last month, Justin Elliott extended his reporting on the American Red Cross by describing how former AT&T executive Gail McGovern has brought a businesslike mentality to the charity that has coincided with, if not actually caused, budget deficits, layoffs, internal cutbacks, sagging morale and the loss of trust by countless volunteers and partners. One of McGovern’s apparent missteps was hiring Jack McMaster, a former AT&T colleague who ran a Dutch telecom company into the ground before getting a job with the Red Cross.

• “Republican doom doesn’t equal Democrat victory: Our political chaos could destroy them both.” Salon columnist Andrew O’Hehir blasts the left and the right in this essay:

Clinton’s tone and rhetoric have been measured during this campaign, but as Salon’s Bill Curry wrote recently, she remains an unregenerate foreign-policy hawk who shows every sign of yearning to double down on failed military overreach. Whatever you think she may have said, Clinton has absolutely not ruled out sending American troops by the thousands to fight a ground war against the Islamic State. She has called out Republican candidates for their “bluster and bigotry” and rejected talk of a “war on Islam,” which is all to the good. But the policy proposals discernible below her calm and resolute-sounding language over the last month are virtually indistinguishable from those of the non-Trump GOP contenders: More war, more surveillance, less First Amendment. “You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘Freedom of speech,’” she told a Brookings Institution audience on Dec. 6. I know! As if that’s in the Constitution or something!

Read the rest of this entry »

Our dysfunctional democracy: The Bushies’ win-at-all-costs mentality helped kill American unity after 9/11

September 18, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 18, 2015

Author’s note: I started to write about this topic in my inaugural Recent Readings and then realized that I had way too much material to pack into just a paragraph or three. Hence, the following post. MEM 

Heather Digby Parton, the indispensable Salon commentator, began her column on Tuesday by assessing American unity immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Back then, Parton writes, “The man who should have been president, Al Gore, famously said, ‘George W. Bush is my commander in chief.’” By wide margins, Congress passed the Patriot Act and authorized military action in both Afghanistan, which harbored the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks, and Iraq, which had no connection to that tragedy and had not been actively developing weapons of mass destruction for years prior to the 2003 invasion.

Parton doesn’t delve into it, but, to my mind, it seems that very much the wrong set of people were in the White House in 2001. I write this not because I believe that there was a miscarriage of justice in the Florida elections process, and in the Supreme Court, although both of those things arguably happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

One Wondrous Sentence: The Nazi gun control falsehood

January 16, 2013

This one wondrous sentence, quoting Brown University history professor, Third Reich expert and former Israeli combat soldier and officer Omer Bartov, tears down a prominent fallacious conservative argument against gun safety laws and regulations.

He continued: “Their assertion that they need these guns to protect themselves from the government — as supposedly the Jews would have done against the Hitler regime — means not only that they are innocent of any knowledge and understanding of the past, but also that they are consciously or not imbued with the type of fascist or Bolshevik thinking that they can turn against a democratically elected government, indeed turn their guns on it, just because they don’t like its policies, its ideology, or the color, race and origin of its leaders.”

Source: Alex Seitz-Wald, “The Hitler gun control lie,” Salon, Jan. 11, 2013.

%d bloggers like this: