Early Morning Open Thread: This Crappy New Sci-Fi Dystopia Series Needs Better Scripters

Even the entities responsible for Star Wars Holiday Special are going, “Too cartoonish, dudes! You’re gonna lose your audience, dumb and uncritical as they are…”

Per the Washington Post:

A dozen or so technology executives filed into a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower on Wednesday wearing suits not usually seen in Silicon Valley. Their combined net worth — at least $136 billion — was gilded even for the likes of Trump Tower. After months of acrimony that at times felt personal, they had come to make nice with President-elect Donald Trump.

And make nice they did…

But behind the cordiality was a sense of trepidation. While technology companies were among the most critical of Trump on the campaign trail, many understand that he will soon hold power over issues critical to them and their shareholders, including government contracts, high-skilled immigrant visas, Chinese imports and trade deals…

The infotech company with which Trump is most familiar didn’t get a seat:

But of course Peter Thiel did. Per the Post, again:

The president-elect also heaped praise on Facebook board and transition team member Peter Thiel, shaking his hand and calling him a “special guy.”

Trump made a point of saying that Thiel, who convened the meeting, nixed companies that were too small from attending. But one relatively small company with ties to Thiel made the cut: Palantir. Unlike the other companies in attendance, the data-mining start-up, which Thiel founded in 2004, is private and had revenue last year of less than $300 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. A large portion of Palantir’s business involves contracts with federal agencies, and the company is currently engaged in a lawsuit with the Department of Defense over the right to compete for more contracts…



Open Thread: “It Was A Corruption Election”

A shonda for the neighbors!, my (impeccably lace-curtain NYC Irish) Nana would say. Sarah Chayes, in Foreign Policy:

In the past 10 years, populations have rejected “rigged systems” that had stood for decades. They have risen up in mass protests in Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, and South Korea. They have overthrown their governments in open insurrections like the Arab Spring and Ukraine’s Maidan. Or they have fallen in behind self-proclaimed Robin Hoods such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Occasionally, they have joined violent religious movements like the Islamic State or Boko Haram.

With Trump’s election, the United States just joined this list….

Whatever our affiliation or walk of life, we must also, each of us, discover and hold on to that dividing line that marks off the reasonable compromises from the unacceptable.

For, like the people of Mosul in Iraq or northern Nigeria, who traded intolerably corrupt regimes for Islamist crusaders who were worse, Americans will wake up in January under a system that is more corrupt than the one that fueled their rebellion. That is the irony of resorting to a wrecking ball to bring down a corrupt regime. Too often, the kleptocratic networks prove resilient, while those who revolted end up with crushed heads.

Already, President-elect Trump’s questionable affiliations and potential conflicts of interest — as genteel vocabulary would have it — are making headlines. The issue is not one of technical legality or poor vetting. His actions and associations are deliberate. While tweeting out distractions to disguise the fact, he will unleash a feeding frenzy. Our laws and institutions will be bent to the purposes of personal enrichment. Industry lobbyists will draft the bills. He will negotiate business deals with foreign counterparts, confusing his personal interests for the good of the nation. Agencies that try to hold the line will see their budgets slashed, their officials belittled in public. Law enforcement will be even more selective than it is today. The labor of human beings, the land, and what’s on it or under it will be converted to cash as efficiently as possible. And what can’t be converted will be bulldozed out of the way.

And what will Americans do in the face of this exacerbation of our own brand of corruption? Will we further relax our standards, shrugging our shoulders and referring to the letter of ever-changing laws? Or will we reach for a definition of corruption that is in line with common sense and rebuild our foundations upon that bedrock?…








Open Thread: Juggalo Libel

But the Juggalos are more politically aware than your average Trump voter! At least according to Nathan Rabin, interviewed (before the election) at PopMatters:

Nathan Rabin is a respected writer for respectable publications. He was the first head writer of the The A.V. Club (where he continues to write the popular feature My Year of Flops). He writes for Rotten Tomatoes and Splitsider. He is also a Juggalo. This past summer, he took the proceeds of a successful gofundme campaign to write a book that documented a whirlwind week that included attending both the yearly Gathering of the Juggalos and the Republican National Convention, where Trump went from being a perpetual annoyance of the Republican establishment to the party’s official nominee for president…

It seems like a lot of Trump supporters and Insane Clown Posse fans share similar experiences. You talk about how each of them feel like they’ve been marginalized from mainstream society.

Totally. I think they both [Trump and ICP] speak to people who feel oppressed, people who feel angry, people who feel like the mainstream of American culture doesn’t speak either to them or for them. But I think they both take these ideas in very different directions.

Covering both events in a week, did you see much overlap between Trump supports and Insane Clown Posse fans?

I do not. Every gathering, there’s kind of an angle that you’re supposed to approach. I was supposed to write about how Juggalos were huge Trump fans. I said “That’s a wonderful idea. That’d be a great piece. I think it’s probably impossible. I’m not sure these people exist.” It would have been amazing and fascinating to talk to people who embraced both the ideology of Insane Clown Posse and the ideology of Trump. But it just didn’t happen.

While there are a lot of commonalities, there are also a lot of ways that they are starkly different. They’re both very anti-establishment. But I feel like Trump and his ideology are about punching down. They’re about scapegoating. They’re about blaming people at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder for the problems of America. Whereas Insane Clown Posse, they’re about punching up. They’re saying “We’re angry at law enforcement. We’re angry at rich white people who are evil. We’re angry at the corrupt establishment. We’re angry at people who have everything while you have nothing.”








Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Begin As You Mean to Go On

trump-unperson-of-the-year-sheneman

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
.

I endorse Catherine Rampell’s proposal in the Washington Post:

Officers wielding gigantic guns guard Trump Tower, where President-elect Donald Trump conducts all transition business, and soon lots of presidential business, too. Shoppers patronizing the stores, cafes or public gardens inside must endure layers of security screening. Streets and sidewalks are barricaded; traffic is snarled; and costumed buskers milk money from the looky-loos obstructing the entrances to Gucci and Tiffany.

The challenges of securing this 58-story building in a high-density neighborhood will, by Inauguration Day alone, drain $35 million of local taxpayer money. Who knows the additional costs to commerce and property values?

The feds have thus far been stingy about footing the bill. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a solution that should warm the cockles of the president-elect’s heart: New York should use eminent domain to seize Trump Tower.

Eminent domain — the constitutionally enshrined government power to take private property in exchange for just compensation — was traditionally reserved for road-and-school-style public projects. But thanks to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, perpetuating a line of earlier decisions, governments may now use this power to condemn property if they can devise virtually any use that better promotes “economic development” — kicking out poor people and building luxury condos, for example.

Trump loves eminent domain, especially this ruling. He thinks it’s wonderful. And there’s no question why: Throughout his career, Trump has lobbied governments to seize properties from those who refuse to sell when he wants to build amusement parks, golf courses, office buildings and parking lots on their land. He believes expansive use of eminent domain is necessary to promote economic growth and “beautification,” and that it’s even a good deal for property owners who don’t want to sell.

“When eminent domain is used on somebody’s property, that person gets a fortune,” he has declared…

New York officials probably won’t take my advice, since seizing Trump’s property might appear partisan. (Manhattanites voted against Trump by about 10 to 1.) But, according to almost every eminent-domain scholar and land-use lawyer I consulted, if the city tried my strategy, courts would probably uphold it…








Early Morning Open Thread: Chinese Blowback on Trump’s ForPol Faux Pas

Remember President-Asterisk Trump’s celebratory phone call from Taiwan? Well, the Peoples’ Republic sure does! While we were (understandably) distracted by the latest Russian revelations of Repub perfidity, here’s a report from NYMag:

Preventing Taiwan from achieving internationally recognized independence is one of the top priorities of Chinese foreign policy — one that its military is prepared to go to war over.

Following Trump’s call, China decided to clarify that last point, by flying a nuclear-capable bomber over its disputed islands in the South China Sea — while also preparing to ship new surface-to-air missiles to those islands, according to U.S. officials who spoke with Fox News.

Trump was not impressed by this display of force. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, the president-elect suggested that he felt no compulsion to honor the “One China” policy — unless China accedes to his demands on trade.

“I fully understand the ‘One China’ policy,” Trump assured Fox. “But I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘One China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Of course, honoring the “One China” policy has allowed the United States to make countless “deals” with China, on issues of ranging from environmental policy to international sanctions.

On Monday, China announced that future acts of cooperation would be jeopardized, should Trump continue down his current path.

“China expresses serious concern on this subject,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters, including representatives of NBC News. “If the [One China policy] is compromised or interfered with, any sound and steady development in China-U.S. relations and cooperation in various fields is out of the question.”…

Trump spent much of his campaign rattling a saber in Beijing’s direction. “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” he told his supporters in May. “That’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”… China generally makes the same assumption about this bellicosity that many liberals made about Donald Trump’s political career — after Election Day, it will all be over.

But now Trump is president-elect. And China is shipping missiles to the disputed islands that many see as the (potential) cradle of the next world war

Note from a Foreign Policy reporter:

I have lived in China for 13 years, and in that time I have talked with perhaps three mainlanders who thought that Taiwan had the right to determine its own future. Everyone else with whom I’ve discussed the issue, from ardent liberals to hardcore Marxists to the politically apathetic, has been fervently against the idea that Taiwan could ever be considered a country. It’s an idea as weird, taboo, and offensive to the majority of Chinese as proposing the restitution of slavery would be to Americans — not for its moral value but for going against everything they hold dear about their country.
Read more