Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

‘The Loneliness of Donald Trump’

This week’s must-read is Rebecca Solnit’s The Loneliness of Donald Trump.

Far briefer, and thus more reliant on being evocative than detailed, Solnit’s essay nonetheless invites comparison with Garry Wills’s book Nixon Agonisties: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man, by which I mean high praise indeed. (Recall that Wills wrote, “First-generation millionaires tend to give us libraries. The second and third generations think they should give us themselves.”)

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“He Puts the Pluto in Plutocrat”

“Tin Foil Hat” by Todd Rundgren and Donald Fagen. Lyrics via Down With Tyranny:

He’s coming down the escalator
With a girl from east of here
He wants to make the country greater
We’ve got nothing left to fear

Because the man in the tin foil hat
Is sitting on the throne tonight
It kinda feels like coup de tat
But it’s gonna be great, tremendous, amazing and all that

‘Cause the man in the tin foil hat
Is tweeting like a teenage girl
He puts the Pluto in plutocrat
It’s gonna be a yuge yuge yuge new world

He hasn’t got the time for losers
Unless they do as he commands
He’s writing checks to his accusers
With those tiny little hands

Because the man in the tin foil hat
Is sitting on the throne tonight
It kinda feels like coup de tat
But it’s gonna be a yuge yuge yuge new world

‘Cause the man in the tin foil hat
Is gonna drain the swamp tonight
And fill it with up with alternative facts
It’s gonna be great, tremendous, amazing and all that

‘Cause the man in the tin foil hat
Is tweeting like a teenage girl
He puts the Pluto in plutocrat
It’s gonna be a yuge yuge yuge new world

Because the man in the tin foil hat
Is sitting on the throne tonight
It kinda feels like coup de tat
It’s gonna be great, tremendous, amazing and all that.

Posted in Kultcha, The Resistance | Leave a comment

Banned on the BBC

Top of the charts in the UK, but the BBC won’t play it due to its policy of pre-election balance.

Oh, and it’s a catchy tune too.

Posted in Kultcha, UK | Leave a comment

A Modest Proposal for an Afghan Exit Strategy

The papers say the US is spending $3.1 billion per month on the war in Afghanistan. And I’m sure that doesn’t count the long-term care costs for wounded soldiers after they get home.

At $37.2 billion per year our spending is about half the Afghani GDP at purchasing power parity – or, if you prefer, about double their GDP at the official exchange rate. The population of Afghanistan is about 33.3 million persons. So we are spending about $100 per Afghani per month; call it $1200 per Afghani per year.

The average income in Afghanistan has been estimated at US$ 1,883 I suspect this is a PPP number, and quite inflated. The Asia Foundation did a study which found that The average monthly income in households where women contribute to family earnings was 10,197 Afs (approximately USD $158). By comparison, in households where women do not contribute, the average monthly income was 10,851 Afs (approximately USD $168). (Study at p. 63.) Whatever the truth may be, I’m betting the US spends more in Afghanistan than the entire earnings of at least 98% of the population.

Are we getting our money’s worth? How, if our goal were to influence Afghanistan might we put that money to work in income support (bribes if you will), building things (nation-building if you will) and creating institutions designed to keep things modern and running after the subventions stop (imperialism if you must)? We could probably do worse than just give $500 per year to every Afghan woman for starters, and wait for the animal spirits of capitalism to explode.

Previously: A Modest Dinner-Party-Based Proposal For An Iraqi Exit Strategy (Sept 27, 2003) ($3000/year per Iraqi)

Posted in Econ & Money, Politics: International | 1 Comment

Cops Push Citizen Self-Surveillance in Plea Bargains

You might be tempted to dismiss NY: Police are blackmailing motorists into installing cellphone monitoring devices as an aberrant act by local cops were it not sponsored by an international firm that supplies the monitoring technology.

As far as I can tell, the enforcement authority pushing the so-called ‘Distracted Driver Education Program’ (DDEP) is local Nassau County, not the ‘feds’ as reported in the article. “Blackmailing” also isn’t the word I would choose here, but by any standard it’s a pretty ferocious plea bargain deal.

Even more worrying, the attempt to find ways to get people to pay to spy on themselves and on others for the benefit of law enforcement echos this incident, Police Demand Shop Install Surveillance, Give Cops Full Feed, and also Right to Ban Customers, that I blogged about a month ago.

This is a trend that bears watching.

Posted in Law: Criminal Law, Law: Privacy, Surveillance | Leave a comment

Mayor Mich Landrieu Gives the Speech of His Life

I do not often recommend long serious videos; I tend to short and/or funny.

But please consider taking 23 minutes of your life to listen to this speech by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on the removal of four confederate statues.

Spotted via Tom Sullivan at digby’s blog, who links to a transcript at The Pulse and makes a link to the US Supreme Court’s recent 5-3 decision Cooper v. Harris that struck down two racially gerrymandered districts in North Carolina.

Contrast this speech to the despicable bills passed in the last few days by the Louisiana House to protect confederate monuments statewide and the bill passed by both houses of the Alabama legislature to prohibit “the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, or other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument” that have stood for more than 40 years on public property. The bill also prohibits renaming schools named after people.

I confess that I don’t know much about Mich Landrieu, but if this is typical of the man, I hope he has a long future in politics.

Posted in Law: Everything Else, Politics: US | 1 Comment