Alex Dean on the dangers of The Student Left, a comment by Political Observer

In his essay “Lived experience” matters—but not more than everything else Alex Dean places himself in the Tradition of the paranoid chatter of Allen Bloom of ‘The Closing of The American Mind’ and his two Neo-Conservative allies: Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘Illiberal Education’ and Roger Kimball’s ‘Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education’, these three Neo-Conservatives attacked Academia, Bloom from the angle of lazy, unimaginative students addled by rock music and their own narcissism, D’Souza from the angle of a failed educational system, and Kimball from the idea of political apostates, the ‘tenured radicals’ who managed a corrupt system, that perverted the very idea of education.

McCarthyism is an honored American Tradition:the Salem  Witch Trials, which relied on  ‘spectral evidence’ pioneered by Cotton Mather began that tradition. Mr. Dean inexplicably abandons the notion of ‘microagressions”—small slights such as talking over someone’, meaning verbal bulling, in favor of ‘lived experience’ exercised by the amorphous ‘student left’ that  eventually becomes real in ‘Everyday Feminism’ and ‘Cuntry Living’ , both feminist web sites,  and Owen Jones’ walk out of the Sky News panel, because the other panelists refused to call the Orlando murders an attack on LGBTI persons, not because of some claim of an absence of ‘lived experience’, but because of failure of those panelists to recognize the  empirical facts of the case.  Mr. Dean has just begun his search for Apostates in the body politic, as the enemy of the moment, or just the scapegoats for a class of commentators, who speak for a political status quo in utter collapse: Neo-Liberalism, in its myriad iterations.

Mr. Dean astonishingly exhibits his utter ignorance of the idea of ‘lived experience’ as a product of the evolution of the thought of Dilthey, to Husserl’s ‘Life World’, through Heidegger to the existentialism of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, in short the evolution of the philosophical school called Phenomenology: that historical background inconvenient to the imperative of shaming the political other.

Absent also is any mention of  left student radicals in the 1930’s, the 1964 Free Speech movement led by Mario Savio, 1968 Paris or Chicago. In the face of political crisis like the Depression, the Vietnam War or 9-11, the War on Terror , Afghanistan,Iraq, Syria , The Drone Wars in various locations, the  watershed of the 2008 Depression, and the economic doldrums eight years on, has created a sense of a permanent crisis in the West:Europe and America.  All of this history, too politically inconvenient to Mr. Dean’s witch hunting  polemic against the dissidents in our midst, a fifth column threatening our political unity: our own children!

Political Observer

“Lived experience” matters—but not more than everything else

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Johnathan Capehart on Jill Stein’s ‘fairy-tale candidacy’ & her ‘foul language on race’: or Mrs. Clinton is the only ‘rational choice’ in 2016, a comment by Political Partisan

The Clinton’s Reaganite agenda, they governed as a team, attacked black people on two fronts: Welfare Reform and a Crime bills that enabled The New Jim Crow. Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, of 1999 repealed Glass-Stegall. A harbinger of 2008!

And what benefit did these three pieces of legislation do for anyone?  Call this whole record catastrophic. Capehart’s attack on Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka and their campaign as a ‘fair-tale candidacy’ smacks of political desperation, of an apologists for the status quo: Obama and Mrs. Clinton as the anointed successor, with the DNC as partner. The as if of this whole propaganda exercise, of name calling, is that Stein and Trump represent the irresponsible political fringe, and by default Mrs. Clinton represents political rationality, sanity. The attack on the Green Party, in regards to NATO , one of the co-conspirators of the Ukrainian Coup, is to provide cover for Victoria Nuland, as a possible candidate for Sec. of State for Clinton. Among a host of other political imperatives. The New Cold War, with Putin as the New Stalin, demands fealty to the Party Line of the defense of NATO, as again in the 21st Century, a bulwark against Russian revanchism. ‘The gangster states of NATO’ is much too candid a description for the political conformist/apologist Capehart, for a foundering NATO e.g. former NATO general Rasmussen is now ‘advisor’, read viceroy, to American puppet Poroshenko.

Ajamu Baraka, Jeremiah Wright and Cornel West are speakers, thinkers and writers who do not mince words, absolutely no surprise, except to the delicate sensibilities of the Washington Post’s Editorial Board.

Political Partisan

P.S. Thank you @walterrhett

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Steven Ozment on Luther as exemplar of German fiscal probity, a comment by Almost Marx

One can just wonder at Mr. Ozment’s myopia as he proclaims that Merkel, and by definition some very important members of Germany’s political class,  express a fiscal probity that dates back to the stern Protestantism of Martin Luther. Does Mr. Ozment not read the popular press? He missed the very revelatory report by The Financial Times’ Gillian Tett dated January 16, 2015 and titled ‘A debt to history’ and sub-titled ‘To some, Germany faces a moral duty to help Greece, given the aid that it has previously enjoyed’.

In her essay Ms. Tett reports on an after dinner address by economic historian Benjamin Friedman, for the full text of this speech:

Ms. Tett summarizes some very important sections of Mr. Friedman’s  address:

The mandarins settled comfortably into their chairs, expecting a soothing intellectual discourse on esoteric monetary policy. But Friedman lobbed a grenade.

“We meet at an unsettled time in the economic and political trajectory of many parts of the world, Europe certainly included,” he began in a strikingly flat monotone (I quote from the version of his speech that is now posted online, since I wasn’t allowed to take notes then.) Carefully, he explained that he intended to read his speech from a script, verbatim, to ensure that he got every single word correct. Uneasily, the audience sat up.

For a couple of minutes Friedman then offered a brief review of western financial history, highlighting the unprecedented nature of Europe’s single currency experiment, and offering a description of sovereign and local government defaults in the 20th century. Then, with an edge to his voice, Friedman pointed out that one of the great beneficiaries of debt forgiveness throughout the last century was Germany: on multiple occasions (1924, 1929, 1932 and 1953), the western allies had restructured German debt.

So why couldn’t Germany do the same for others? “There is ample precedent within Europe for both debt relief and debt restructuring . . . There is no economic ground for Germany to be the only European country in modern times to be granted official debt relief on a massive scale and certainly no moral ground either.

Where might the idea of German fiscal probity, as the expression of the Protestant Virtue of Martin Luther, stand in the light four instances of Germany’s debt restructuring in the 20th Century ? Such a record puts Merkel’s and the European Central Bank’s treatment of the Greeks into its proper perspective, and with it Mr. Ozment’s potted history of the Myth of German moral/fiscal virtue as somehow exemplary. A debt to history?

Almost Marx




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Sebastian Payne on Jeremy Corbyn & the Crisis of The Labour Party, a comment by Political Observer

Mr. Payne and the Financial Times are unable to face the fact that New Labour is collapsing, as we enter the ninth year of the utterly failed Neo-Liberal economic/civic model. Mr. Corbyn seems, in his years as a ‘backbencher’, to have developed an ability to mobilize voters, who had given up on the Party of Blair and its epigones. Perhaps those years as a ‘backbencher’ taught Mr. Corbyn many valuable political lessons? That building a constituency is based in the hard work of organization and advocacy, town by town, district by district. Mr. Payne nor the Financial Times can explain the inexplicable: why has Mr. Corbyn been re-elected so many times if he hadn’t somehow, no matter how haltingly, accomplished some tangible political goods for that constituency?  All we readers get is more of the same Rebellion Against The Elites Party Line, from the not just partisans of that Failed Elite, but its committee of  faux technocrats. Even the resort to a pithy quote from Oscar Wilde can save Mr. Payne’s polemic from itself.

Political Observer



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Sam Tanenhaus on Trump as American Nihilist & Mrs. Clinton as our political salvation, a comment by Political Reporter

It takes real patience to read through Mr. Tanenhaus’ rambling essay, because it seems interminable, although offering some valuable political insights,  but until he reaches the coverage of Trump’s Mechanicsburg appearance, only then does the essay breathes with something like the immediacy of life lived in the present, reported by an observer caught up in the historical moment.

The political chatter of the ‘expert’ is on full display until Mr. Tanenhaus decides to pronounce on Mrs. Clinton: what the reader does get is a collection of sycophantic cliches. One can speak of one American writer, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., whose talent for this brand of political gossip, linked with the self-serving mendacity of the political apologist, displayed in his carefully edited diaries, is matched in these excerpts.

‘She is, by almost any measure, the most accomplished woman in US politics, with a record of idealistic service dating back almost 50 years.’

‘That he has no compensating history of good works like Clinton’s—in civil rights and human rights, family law, women and children’s health—scarcely matters. This is the paradox of politics in 2016: it obsesses the nation, yet has ceased to be the domain of honourable action.’

These 3 examples  as part of the ‘record of idealistic service’ and the ‘ domain of honorable action’?


The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is a United States federal law considered to be a major welfare reform. The bill was a cornerstone of the Republican Contract with America and was introduced by Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (RFL-22). President Bill Clinton signed PRWORA into law on August 22, 1996, fulfilling his 1992 campaign promise to “end welfare as we have come to know it”.[1]

PRWORA instituted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which became effective July 1, 1997. TANF replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program—which had been in effect since 1935—and supplanted the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program (JOBS) of 1988. The law was heralded as a “reassertion of America’s work ethic” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, largely in response to the bill’s workfare component. TANF was reauthorized in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.


The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355, Pub.L. 103–322 is an Act of Congress dealing with crime and law enforcement; it became law in 1994. It is the largest crime bill in the history of the United States and consisted of 356 pages that provided for 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons and $6.1 billion in funding for prevention programs, which were designed with significant input from experienced police officers.[1] Sponsored by Representative Jack Brooks of Texas, the bill was originally written by Senator Joe Biden of Delaware and then was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Following the 101 California Street shooting, the 1993 Waco Siege, and other high-profile instances of violent crime, the Act expanded federal law in several ways. One of the most noted sections was the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Other parts of the Act provided for a greatly expanded federal death penalty, new classes of individuals banned from possessing firearms, and a variety of new crimes defined in statutes relating to immigration law, hate crimes, sex crimes, and gang-related crime. The bill also required states to establish registries for sexual offenders by September 1997.

3) Not to mention this repeal of Glass-Steagall as the harbinger of Neo-Liberalism’s Golden Age, which lasted 9 years!

The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA), also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, (Pub.L. 106–102, 113 Stat. 1338, enacted November 12, 1999) is an act of the 106th United States Congress (1999–2001). It repealed part of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, removing barriers in the market among banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies that prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company. With the bipartisan passage of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies were allowed to consolidate. Furthermore, it failed to give to the SEC or any other financial regulatory agency the authority to regulate large investment bank holding companies.[1] The legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.[2]

A year before the law was passed, Citicorp, a commercial bank holding company, merged with the insurance company Travelers Group in 1998 to form the conglomerate Citigroup, a corporation combining banking, securities and insurance services under a house of brands that included Citibank, Smith Barney, Primerica, and Travelers. Because this merger was a violation of the Glass–Steagall Act and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, the Federal Reserve gave Citigroup a temporary waiver in September 1998.[3] Less than a year later, GLBA was passed to legalize these types of mergers on a permanent basis. The law also repealed Glass–Steagall’s conflict of interest prohibitions “against simultaneous service by any officer, director, or employee of a securities firm as an officer, director, or employee of any member bank”.[4]

The comments on Hillary’s ‘Feminism’ and her appearance with Madeleine Albright, and  the disappeared Gloria Steinem, in New Hampshire. And Albright’s  ‘special place in hell’ remark- what to call this statement by the utterly notorious rationalizer of the death of half a million Iraqi children? but this helps establish Mr. Tanenhaus as Hillary apologist, not an example of an ‘objective journalism’ or even a reporter who makes her/his politics plain from the outset!  Hillary as Feminist Privileged Elder is pure campaign propaganda!

”He meant during the New Hampshire primary, Sanders’s sweeping first victory built on a coalition of the very young, including young women—a deep shock to Clinton and her generation of feminist allies. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” said Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State and one of Clinton’s staunchest allies, as she introduced the candidate at a New Hampshire campaign event. “She’s been saying that as long as I’ve known her, which is about 25 years,” Clinton explained, trying to calm the furore, not realising those 25 years were part of the problem. To the new generation, Clinton is less pioneer than privileged elder.’

Mrs. Clintons record of enthusiastic supporter for the Bill Clinton rapacious Neo-Liberal agenda, a Reagan agenda enacted by a New Democrat, is beyond doubt, but inconvenient to creating an the alternate reality of a record of Hillary’s ersatz Feminism!

One final comment on the 1968 election, as retold by Mr. Tanenhaus, and the 13 million votes cast for George Wallace:

In 1968 I was 23 and was casting my first vote in a presidential race, and recall vividly ,that after Bobby Kennedy was murdered, that a great many of his followers opted to cast their votes for Wallace. It is hard to imagine the why of that, in this time, but recall the political turbulence of that era elided from the narrative confected by Mr. Tanenhaus. Such were the times, so make your judgements not relying on Mr. Tanenhaus’ politically  infused re-description of the past. Seek your answers elsewhere!

Political Reporter

Donald Trump: the American nihilist


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Gideon Rachman at full gallop, a comment by Almost Marx

We are in the same propaganda territory relied upon by the Financial Times,  of The Rebellion Against The Elites,  in Mr. Rachman’s latest essay:

Headline: The crisis in Anglo-American democracy

Sub-headline: Trump of the Republicans and Corbyn of the Labour party are recycling some bad old ideas

Except that Mr. Rachman relies on an invidious comparison between Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. How can two men be so different in career choice, and the exercise of judgement political and personal? Mr. Corbyn has spent most of his life in Labour politics and Trump has never before run for political office. Mr. Corbyn represents Labour before Tony Blair’s invention of New Labour, amounting to Thatcher Lite. Mr. Trump, in sum , is a grifter working his con on network television, as exemplar of the Entrepreneur ,the New Man made possible by the Market, as the sine qua non of Knowledge.

No matter the inaptness, myopia or just the ideological opportunism of the comparison, Mr. Rachman has the bit between his teeth, and proceeds at full gallop tilting at the windmills of his own construction, creaky though they may be. Don Quixote offered the pathos and comedy of an old man lost in his need to re-enact the deeds of a chivalric age, now made ‘real’ in his imagination. In an age without such heroes: nostalgia for the glories of a re-imagined past, refracted through the mind of a man in thrall to his self-created world: among others, the tales of Amadís de Gaula fueled his romantic delusion. Mr. Rachman has as his ‘guides’ the now thoroughly bankrupt writings of  Hayek, Mises and Friedman, that had fueled the Thatcher and Reagan ‘Revolutions’,that then led to the Collapse/Depression of 2008, it’s successor Austerity,  and  protracted decay of the political present. If your searching for the why of The Rebellion Against The Elites, begin with the codification of Free Market ideas, and it’s various apologists !

Almost Marx

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Edward Luce compares Trump to Nixon, success or failure ? A comment by Political Observer

Trump isn’t Nixon! Hillary is the New Nixon of 1968. Mrs. Clinton was carefully ‘re-branded’ for her 2016 run for president, to make her more personally appealing to the voter: women, blacks and hawkish New Democrats and Neo-Conservatives tired of Obama’s Foreign Policy ‘weakness’.

After Nixon’s defeat for the California Governorship in 1962 and his self-pitying comment:  “you don’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”[1][2] ‘

The video of his final comment in 1962:

As one can readily see Nixon needed a political re-model for the 1968 run for President.  For the facts on The New Nixon we can look to: ‘The Selling of the President 1968 is a non-fiction book written by American author Joe McGinniss and published by Trident Press in October, 1969.’

This book and other publications are more historically aware and accurate than Mr. Luce. Mr. Luce was born in 1968 and so has no active memory of Nixon, as some of his readers who grew up in the 1950’s and have vivid memories of Nixon the man ,the politician, not the all purpose villain as he appears in this essay. To compare Nixon to Trump is fraught with danger, both were/are bullies and cowards, not to speak of reckless with the lives of others, in their climb to the top in The American Political Melodrama. But Nixon was, and had to be, more circumspect, more concerned with the cultivation of bourgeois  political respectability, as the first order of business. Trump is utterly contemptuous of any such scruple, he is rich enough not to care for that respectability: it is part of his appeal as unwelcome truth teller in the midst of an utterly corrupt political establishment of both the Republicans and the New Democrats. Notably both Trump and Nixon are/were politically self-destructive, even when victorious: a kind of personal nihilism?   Mr. Luce knows just enough American history to make his essay plausible, but for me, as a person who grew up seeing and hearing Nixon, in his various political guises, its just too formulaic, too much the product of a conclusion, the Trump Nixon analogy, in  search of an historically viable argument. The essay is unconvincing.

Political Observer

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