Mitch McConnell Will Not Hesitate to Abuse People with Disabilities

Literally. As long as he doesn’t have to show his face on camera, of course.

I doubt McConnell does think he’s a good guy, actually; he figures he’s defending his cushy “leadership” job, and whatever it takes to accomplish that is just fine by him.

Open Thread: “Do You Like Gladiator Movies, Donny?”

Since their domestic agenda is proving as popular as a weeping chancre at a hot-tub party, the Trump BRAINZZZ trust goes back to spinning let’s-kill-us-some-dirty-furriners fanfic…

Beginning with the account of Greek historian Herodotus, the clash, which took place in 480 B.C., has become a kind of foundation myth of Western civilization. The heroic Spartan stand — whose numbers were closer to 7,000 than 300 — in the face of the mongrel, polyglot Persian hordes is cast as a primordial act of sacrifice for the liberty of a people. The historical consensus, both among ancient chroniclers and current scholars, was that Thermopylae was a clear Greek defeat; the Persian invasion would be pushed back in later ground and naval battles. But its legacy still reverberates millennia later…

This is a powerful claim that many in the West intuitively accept: Thermopylae is the Alamo of antiquity, a doomed contest between the brave few and a gargantuan foe that stirred their compatriots to action. Had Xerxes, a Persian emperor, snuffed out all Greek resistance, then the scattered city-states on the western side of the Aegean Sea would have just become one more province of what was a vast, multi-ethnic empire…

“Ancient Sparta is proto-fascist,” Paul Cartledge, a celebrated British classicist and author of “Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World,” among numerous other works on ancient Greece, said in an interview with WorldViews.

Although the clash between Greeks and Persians may be remembered now as the battle that crystallized Western liberty, the ancient Spartans were no model democrats — even in their time. Their society was communal and militarist. It practiced early forms of eugenics and infanticide. It kept a huge slave population in thrall to its warrior elite. Some contemporary scholars even liken conditions in the city-state to a kind of apartheid…

“It’s a clash of political civilizations, it’s not a clash of religions,” Cartledge said, arguing the difference between the two sides was less cultural than it has been made out to be. “Xerxes didn’t conduct his campaign on the basis of a crusade.”

And, ultimately, for all the heroism of the Persian wars, the Greeks would turn against one another. In the wake of the Persian retreat, the rival powers of Sparta and Athens built regional alliances and mini-empires of their own and soon locked horns in three decades of ruinous conflict that spanned the Mediterranean.

“The Greeks fought each other as much they fought others,” Cartledge said…

But they looked so butch while they did!

While Weasels Gnaw Our Flesh

Just a quick hit to remind everyone that while the criminal investigation of Trump and co. widens, they’re still pissing on us at every opportunity, and calling it rain.

So how’s this: it’s going to be legal again/stay OK for profit-making higher ed to rip off their students/protect the banksters:

The U.S. Department of Education is hitting pause on two of the Obama administration’s primary rules aimed at reining in for-profit colleges.

Department officials said they will block a rule, set to take effect next month, that clarifies how student borrowers can have their loans forgiven if they were defrauded or misled by their college. The plan was first reported by Inside Higher Ed Wednesday.

The Trump administration will pursue a do-over of the rule-making process that produced that regulation, known as borrower defense to repayment, as well as the gainful-employment rule. The latter holds vocational programs at all institutions and all programs at for-profits accountable when they produce graduates with burdensome student loan debt.

Given that college debt is one of the most iron-clad ways to crush upward mobility, this is another move by Trump and the grotesque DeVos to ensure that the current class structure in the United States remains intact.

Putting this in the long view:  the GI Bill, followed by the prioritization of public higher education in the 60s by leaders like Governor Pat Brown of California and Governor George Romney of Michigan, put first class advanced education and training within reach of an unprecedented amount of Americans.  The retreat from that ideal led by (mostly but not exclusively) Republican state governments, beginning with Reagan in California and then in the White House, have incrementally narrowed that opportunity.  Now, the combinatio of cost and constraints on access meant that the debt involved makes higher education as much or more a burden as it is the engine of a better life.

Today’s Republican party is just fine with that.  DeVos is not an outlier; this isn’t on Trump, or only on him.  The idea that higher ed (or education in general) is a business in which students are the product on whom to make a profit is utterly destructive of either a democratic ideal or any plausible concept of social justice.  And it is the core tenet of today’s radical conservatives calling themselves members of the Party of Lincoln.

One last thought:  I had dinner last week with a Democratic Party senior statesman.  He told me that in his view we’ve made the mistake of thinking better policies are argument enough for elections.  They’re not; we surely know that now, right?

Instead we have to convey something more, the framework in which specific good policies can work.  DeVos’ current obscenity gives us a hint as to what that might be. Republicans throw obstacles in the way of Americans making better lives.  Democrats are — and we should say so as loud as we can — the party of opportunity.

At least that’s my take.  I know it’s hardly original.  But whatever the particular frame you may favor, I think one of our biggest needs right now is to find a way to both describe and be (ever more) the party that can lay claim to affirmative allegiance, and not just the true fact that we are better than the other side.  Your feeling?

(Oh — and happy Father’s Day, all.  This thread should be open enough to tell us your plans, completed or still in prospect, for the day.  Mine? Pick up one of the rib-eyes on sale at Whole Paycheck today, and smoke it in the Weber egg.)

Image: Winslow Homer, The Country School 1871

Russiagate Open Thread: Trump’s New Trial Balloon

Well, it should improve ratings for the Attorney-General tomorrow…


Dude really thinks this is some kind of spinoff reality show, doesn’t he?

Concur with a Canadian observer:

Open Thread: The Idiots, They Are Always Among Us

I’m with Mr. Dworkin, but YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID:

Left-wing skepticism of the “Trump/Russia” story has existed since Clinton’s campaign first blamed hacks of the Democratic National Committee and campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails on Russian interference. For five awkward months, Democrats from Clinton down to interim DNC Chairman Donna Brazile dodged questions about the contents of the emails by saying they would not comment on what appeared to be foreign meddling in the election…

“False thrillers will now be written about the Russians hacking the American elections,” wrote director Oliver Stone last year. “Money and TV serials will be made. I’ve never read such hysterical junk in the New York Times (call it what it is — ‘fake news’), in which the editorials have become outrageous diatribes of alleged crimes by Russia.”

Stone, who wrote a blurb for “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia,” is now promoting his own sit-down interviews with Putin, early clips from which show Putin making eyebrow-raising arguments — “our intelligence agencies always conform to the law” — with no on-camera pushback…

The crux of the complaint is that Democrats, locked out of power in Washington, are focusing on Russia to the exclusion of other issues. That criticism befuddles some elected Democrats, who have seen the Russia issue boil over in their town halls, and who’ve simultaneously voted against most of the Trump agenda, slowing it to a snail’s pace.

“People want us to keep trying to advance legislation that will strengthen infrastructure, that will affect their lives,” said Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.). “But they also say: What the heck was that? Get to the bottom of it.” Asked about the idea that Democrats were being hawks toward Russia, Coons, laughed. “I’m sorry, you’re concerned that our response might be too bellicose? I’m concerned that we might not be responding enough,” he said…

But we still have no single-payer national health plan, much less the rainbow-pooping unicorns that some of the differently hinged promised during the 2016 campaign!

Six months, tops, there will be a roadshow headlining RoseAnne DeMoro, Michael Tracey, and Kyle Chapman, Based Stickman…

Late Night Open Thread: Repubs Ginning Up Their War on the First Amendment

I feel like I should add “again”

Conservative radio hosts mock a physical assault on a reporter. A GOP governor blasts a reporter on Twitter as “a sick man.” The president accuses the media of being an “enemy of the people.”

This is not run-of-the-mill Republican criticism of the press anymore. It is now a deliberate strategy to help GOP candidates win elections fueled by public hatred of reporters…

A party that traditionally has had a fraught relationship with the media has become outright hostile, led by a president who picks more fights with journalists than any GOP leader since Richard Nixon.

But interviews with Republican strategists and party leaders across the country reveal that what started as genuine anger at allegedly unfair coverage — or an effort to deflect criticism — is now an integral part of next year’s congressional campaigns.

The hope, say these officials, is to convince Trump die-hards that these mid-term races are as much a referendum on the media as they are on President Trump. That means embracing conflict with local and national journalists, taking them on to show Republicans voters that they, just like the president, are battling a biased press corps out to destroy them…

The strategy still has limits. Motivating core Republican support is an important part of the campaign, but many of them also need to persuade middle-of-the-road voters to pull the lever.

Karen Handel, the Republican running against Jon Ossoff in Georgia, for example, has avoided antagonizing the media in a very close race in a suburban district that narrowly voted for Trump in November…

That’s the point: Demonizing the press was an excellent weapon for Richard Nixon, who was desperate to hide his own crimes and those of his minions, because his ‘Southern strategy’ could agitate a whole bloc of dissatisfied Democratic racists into switching parties. But the voters who were going to be swayed by such appeals to their basest instincts have been voting Repub for forty years now — there’s no juice left in that lemon.

Also, it’s pretty clear that the Trump Crime Cartel is now as desperate as Nixon was in 1972, and they’ve only had a few months to sink that low.


Three Hundred Blind Mice

It’s hard to put into words just how brazen this is:

The White House is telling federal agencies to blow off Democratic lawmakers’ oversight requests, as Republicans fear the information could be weaponized against President Donald Trump.

At meetings with top officials for various government departments this spring, Uttam Dhillon, a White House lawyer, told agencies not to cooperate with such requests from Democrats, according to Republican sources inside and outside the administration.

It appears to be a formalization of a practice that had already taken hold, as Democrats have complained that their oversight letters requesting information from agencies have gone unanswered since January, and the Trump administration has not yet explained the rationale.

The declaration amounts to a new level of partisanship in Washington, where the president and his administration already feels besieged by media reports and attacks from Democrats. The idea, Republicans said, is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from gaining new information that could be used to attack the president.

“You have Republicans leading the House, the Senate and the White House,” a White House official said. “I don’t think you’d have the Democrats responding to every minority member request if they were in the same position.”

Apparently fascists don’t like oversight. Who knew?

I’m so old I remember when the Republican mantra was “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have anything to hide.”