Open Thread: (Open) Hands Across the Waters

Schroedinger’s Cat posted about this rally on Wednesday. I can’t claim her expertise in Indian affairs, but it’s gonna be interesting to see how the American grifters navigate the tricky politics of this event…

Howdy Modi is a community summit hosted by Texas India Forum (TIF) for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, September 22nd at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas at 10 am. Over 50,000 attendees have registered in three weeks for the sold-out event though online registration, waitlist registration for free passes is still open. The live audience will be the largest gathering for an invited foreign leader visiting the United States other than the Pope. The “Howdy Modi” summit has been organized with the support of more than 1,000 volunteers and 650 Texas-based Welcome Partner organizations…

There’s the GOP’s omnipresent xenophobia, for instance:

Or a certain ‘Democratic’ presidential candidate, who may not have been willing to risk such public connection with a controversial figure:


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Excellent Read: “Mitch McConnell: The Man Who Sold America”

Further proof of my assumption that ‘Moscow Mitch’ is for rent by anyone — he just hates the moniker because he resents the brand-damaging implication that his loyalty is linked to any ideology beyond ‘Mitch McConnell deserves to be Majority Leader for life’. Bob Moser, for Rolling Stone:

Fittingly enough, it was hot as blazes in Kentucky when Mitch McConnell slunk back home for Congress’ annual summer recess. One week earlier, Robert Mueller had testified that Russia was meddling in the 2020 U.S. elections. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, responded by shooting down Democrats’ efforts to bring two election-security bills to a vote — bills that McConnell, in his familiar fashion, had previously sentenced to quiet deaths after they passed the House. In the hailstorm of opprobrium that followed, McConnell had been tagged by “Morning Joe” Scarborough with the indelible nickname “Moscow Mitch.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank called him a “Russian asset.” Twitter couldn’t decide whether he was #putinsbitch or #trumpsbitch. The Kentucky Democratic Party was selling red “Just Say Nyet to Moscow Mitch” T-shirts, emblazoned with an image of the senator’s jowly visage in a Cossack hat, as fast as they could print them up.

McConnell would undoubtedly have preferred to cool his heels in his Louisville home and let the storm subside. But he couldn’t afford that luxury. The biggest political event of the year in Kentucky, the Fancy Farm Picnic, happens on the first Saturday every August, and McConnell knew he had to show his face and speak. Fancy Farm, a 139-year tradition in the tiny western Kentucky town (population 458) it’s named for, is simultaneously one of America’s most charming political gatherings and one of its most brutal…

… Under a big corrugated shelter, hooting and hollering Republican partisans assemble on the right, Democrats on the left, and candidates for office — joined, almost always, by McConnell — enter to cheers and jeers and seat themselves on a makeshift platform while trying to remember their most cutting quips about their opponents. Speakers at Fancy Farm aren’t supposed to persuade or inform; here, they’re expected to demonstrate, in the finest tradition of old-style Southern politics, that they can deliver zingers that cut the opposition down to size. Heather Henry, the Democrats’ candidate for secretary of state this year, puts it aptly when it’s her turn to face the mob: “It is no coincidence that Fancy Farm happens during Shark Week.”

It’s McConnell’s kind of event, in other words, and he’s done his part over the years to ramp up the partisan rancor…

This year, it was no use. Even before “Moscow Mitch” became a thing, Kentucky Democrats were smelling blood. McConnell has been unpopular in his home state for years, but his approval rating plunged in one poll to a rock-bottom 18 percent — with a re-election campaign looming in 2020. In January, he had raised red flags among Republicans and Democrats alike when he took a key role in lifting sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a Putin ally under FBI investigation for his involvement in 2016 election-meddling; three months later, Deripaska’s aluminum company, Rusal, announced a $200 million investment in Kentucky. A billboard funded by a -liberal group was subsequently erected on a busy stretch of I-75: “Russian mob money . . . really, Mitch?” …
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PHRASING! Open Thread: “Water Sports”

Not the Onion:

Proximate excuse cause:

A veritable who’s who of right-wing con artists, alt-right media hounds, and outright racists apparently plan to hold some sort of Art Basel for Grifters conference in Miami this month. An avalanche of some of the worst pundits online — including at least one fascist — say they’ll hold a “Demand Free Speech” rally Saturday, September 28, on an undisclosed yacht somewhere in the Magic City.

The event’s top billing? Serial con artist Jacob Wohl, who is charged in California with a felony for unlawfully selling investments in a company called Montgomery Assets, will apparently debate Nick Fuentes, a self-described “American nationalist” who has appeared on white-nationalist programs and at one point was recorded going on an anti-Semitic rant about a fellow conservative blogger by calling him a “race traitor” and saying he “worked for Jews.” It’s unclear what Wohl and Fuentes might actually debate, but the event seems designed more to generate protests and controversy than to conduct intellectual discussions…

… [T]ickets are being sold on the website 1776.shop, which is run by Enrique Tarrio, a Miami native who leads the neofascist Proud Boys group. “Early-bird” VIP tickets cost $150 for whatever reason. Among the other guests, the group says Zoe Sozo, an ambassador for the campus conservative group Turning Point USA, will also attend…

My personal bet would be that these clowns haven’t so much as charted a boat — once enough ‘VIP tickets’ have been sold, they’ll announce that ‘the (((globalists))) have forced us to reschedule to an as-yet-to-be-determined date, for the safety of our supporters’. And as proof: Secret Service agents on jetskies!








Saturday Morning Open Thread: Must Be Autumn, Already








Election 2020 Open Thread: “Eat the Rich — Elect President Warren”

The New Yorker‘s economics correspondent John Cassidy, no wild-eyed radical:

As Senator Elizabeth Warren prepares for Thursday’s Democratic debate, in Houston, she is the first viable contender for the Presidency in decades to have proposed a direct tax on wealth. In January, she unveiled a plan to assess a two-per-cent levy on fortunes greater than fifty million dollars and to tax three cents on every dollar of wealth exceeding a billion dollars. Since then, economists have been debating the proposal’s practicality and desirability. During a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington last week, some of the main protagonists faced off. Many of the technical issues that they raised were important, but to me the main thing that came across was the groundbreaking nature of Warren’s proposal.

In theory, the United States already taxes wealth—the stock of cash, financial instruments, real estate, equity in private businesses, and consumer durables—through the estate tax. But this levy applies to wealth accumulated over a lifetime, and the high marginal rate on large bequests (currently forty per cent) has prompted a great deal of avoidance (some legal, some illegal) and political opposition. In 2001, a Republican-controlled Congress passed legislation to get rid of the estate tax completely. That law expired in 2010, and the tax was resurrected in an even weaker form. Trump and the G.O.P.’s tax reforms of 2017 further reduced the estate tax’s impact by doubling the exemption threshold.

Rather than trying to eliminate some of the estate tax’s loopholes, which the Obama Administration proposed, Warren put forward a new tax that has the dual political advantages of sounding modest (two cents on the dollar) and, if it works as advertised, bringing in a lot of revenue—$2.75 trillion over ten years, the campaign says. Unlike the estate tax, it would be paid annually and applied to a base—those with the largest fortunes in the country—that has grown enormously over the past four decades, driven by soaring asset prices and a sharp rise in wealth concentration, especially at the very top.
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