Election 2020 Open Thread: BS Economics

And when we run out of the right paper to print currency, we’ll have the Treasury fax some more over! This is not actually fair to the Sanders campaign; reading the article, Kelton is identified as just one of Sanders’ economic advisors, and mostly interested in promoting her own messianic interest in M.M.T. (modern monetary theory):

Kelton is the foremost evangelist of a fringe economic movement called Modern Monetary Theory, which, in part, argues that the government should pay for programs requiring big spending, such as the Green New Deal, by simply printing more money. This is a polarizing idea…

One the other hand, that the Sanders campaign is willing to embrace such a polarizing idea — or, at least, that the campaign hasn’t made an effort to either explain M.M.T. or stand Kelton back a tad — doesn’t really soothe our lowly Democratic anxieties about being labelled the party that wants to steal voters’ money and give it to unworthy third parties…








Late Night Open Thread: But Who Was the Target Audience?

Could we cynics have been wrong in assuming that Trump’s support of A$AP Rocky was nothing but a cheap ploy to reassure his white Base that he was Not A Racist? Well, with so many grifters inveterate self-promoters each telling a different story, it’s hard to be sure:

According to new details provided by sources involved, Trump’s role in pushing for Rocky’s release started with a reality television megastar calling the West Wing, a mysterious entertainment industry “fixer” and two Trump supporters. The president’s allies who connected Rocky’s team with the White House hoped to facilitate a scene that would bolster Trump’s image among African-Americans. Instead, they say they were left angry when Rocky failed to thank Trump or those around him…

Darrell Scott and Kareem Lanier entered the picture a few days after Rocky was detained. Scott, an Ohio pastor, was one of Trump’s highest-profile African-American surrogates during the 2016 campaign and went on to serve on his transition team. Lanier is the co-chairman of the Urban Revitalization Coalition, a nonprofit led by Scott dedicated to promoting elements of the Trump agenda to the black community. The two men, who were hardly household names, have become a regular presence at the White House at events focused on addressing African-American issues.

Scott and Lanier said they became involved after hearing from a man named Hassan Muhammad, who describes himself as a “fixer” for high-profile figures in the entertainment industry. In a pair of phone conversations this week, Muhammad, who has no web presence and was unwilling to name any of his contacts, said an associate of Rocky’s reached out to him about the rapper’s situation…

TL, DR: These two high-profile surrogates seem to have convinced Jared Kushner that the Oval Office Occupant making a huge public fuss (always one of Trump’s favorite things) would improve his status with The Blacks. And Jared, publicity expert, jumped at the possibility! It’s not as though guys like this might’ve had ulterior motives, right?…

… Both Lanier and Scott were upset that Rocky never acknowledged the assistance he had gotten. Lanier attributed this to the potential blowback that an African-American celebrity like Rocky could face for embracing Trump.

“One of the problems that we have as a culture — and I’m talking about black Americans — is herd mentality,” Lanier said. “Right now it’s popular for those guys to bash President Trump.”

The two men said they were left disappointed that Rocky didn’t thank the White House — even behind the scenes.

“All he had to do was do a two-minute call to say thank you,” said Scott. “Rocky hasn’t even called us and said, ‘Hey, man, thank you guys. I appreciate it,’ in private. Just in private.”








Repub Venality Open Thread: Mick Mulvaney Gets Caught Telling the Truth

They’d throw him off the GOP Titanic for this, but Mulvaney’s the Acting Head of Everything They’ve Still Got… and possibly the only one who’s figured out how to work the light switches in the Oval Office.



Open Thread: Appreciating the 1619 Project for Its Detractors

I’m nowhere near finished reading the NYTimes‘ whole 1619 Project (wish I’d found a print edition yesterday, frankly), but IMO it will have an impact on The Discourse similar to that of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic article. And, yes, one sure signifier of its importance is the volume and intensity of the hatred directed against it by the Usual Suspects (few, if any, of whom could’ve read so much as Nikole Hannah-Jones’ introductory essay before taking their grievances public). The pushback was, thankfully, immediate…


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Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Trump and His ‘Base’ Rally Each Other

Dave Roth, at Deadspin:

Donald Trump believes that everything he says is made true by virtue of him having said it, and once he begins believing something he is incapable of not believing it. This is why he says things more than once. The challenge is figuring out how he says things for the first time.

So: Trump got it into his head that he had received a Michigan Man Of The Year Award, and despite some complicating factors—he didn’t, for one, and also such an award does not appear to exist—he has continued to bring it up whenever the mood strikes him. There’s a whole story around it, and as is his custom he tends to retell it with more additions of the words “very” and “sir” as the years go by. “I’ve been fighting for the car industry for years,” Trump said the first time he told the story, in Michigan and two days before the 2016 Presidential election. “I was honored five years ago. Man of the Year in Michigan. That was a great honor for me.” As Trump told and has since re-told the story, he was criticized for giving a speech in which he talked about “what Mexico and these other countries are doing to us. And especially what they’re doing to Michigan.” …

What is useful about this, and what would be beautiful about it if everything around it was not so luridly toxic, is how plain it all is. Trump is a being of pure reaction and grievance and avarice, and as such is never really very difficult to parse. When he lies about money it’s because he wants people to think he has more of it than he does; when he lies about golf it’s because he wants people to think he’s a better golfer than he is. Those lies tell you something about how Trump wants to be seen, but they’re incidental to the bigger questions of who and what he is. Stranger lies like the Michigan Man one reveal more about how he sees the world and understands his relationship to the other people in it, which is fundamentally as someone cleaning up at an endless televised awards show.

Most of the idiocies at the core of Trump’s being were created in the same way that pearls are—an irritant lodges itself in the spongy matter of his mind years ago, actively or passively, and then is worried into something bright and very hard. In this case, though, we can watch this accretive work happening in real time—some dumb speech, long forgotten, grows into a great honor bestowed by strangers who admired him, and then into a controversial stand for which he was criticized but for which he boldly refused to apologize. And now it is something he can bring up, whenever he is feeling under-appreciated or anxious or when nothing else will come. He stalls and sputters and his pale eyelids flutter and suddenly then there it is, glistening on the dais in front of him—that time that Charles Woodson called to concede victory in the Michigan Man Of The Year Award, a few years ago or whenever it was. “Sir,” the Heisman Trophy winner said through his tears to Donald Trump, “you deserve this more than anyone.” What a beautiful memory.

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