The puzzling appeal of Nazism in the US today

We know that Hitler and the Nazis were impressed by racist and eugenics ideas in the US and that they coopted many of those ideas in their theory and program of Aryan supremacy that led to the mass killings of Jews, the Romani people, and others. We now have the reverse phenomenon, where some Americans are taking inspiration from those Nazi ideas and express admiration for Nazis. As a result, we have had various groups of white nationalists and anti-Semites recruiting people to their cause using neo-Nazi rhetoric..

I have been struggling to figure out what exactly is the contemporary appeal of Nazism in the US. Let me be clear about what puzzles me. The appeals to quasi-eugenics ideas such as the ‘great replacement theory’ according to which there is a deliberate plan to displace white Christians from their dominant position by immigrants and people of color and Jews and other religions, have been around in the US long before the Nazis came to power in Germany.
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The government cash countdown and novel solutions to the crisis

The debt ceiling has always been a tool for Republicans to force through measures that would otherwise never get legislative approval.

Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine book describes how conservatives in this country and abroad use a crisis — natural disasters and other unexpected calamities — to push through policies that would never win legislative support. What happened was, in the Obama administration, his Republican adversaries realized they could actually plan a crisis by refusing to increase the debt ceiling and then use the shock doctrine to push through their desired policy (spending cuts and, if they can get away with it, tax cuts too).

At the end of day on Thursday, May 11, the amount that the government had in its operating cash account to pay its bills was $143.314 billion. On Friday May 12th, the income was $15.982 billion and the outflow was $19.352 billion, leaving a reduced cash balance at the end of that day of $139.944 billion. As the days go by, the trend line for the closing balance is to keep dropping, though on some days the balance might rise.

The current debt ceiling limit was last raised on December 16, 2021 to $31.4 trillion. If you want to know the value of the US debt down to the last cent, as of May 12th, it was $31,458,532,169,329.81. How can it be larger than the limit by about $58 billion? It is because “under current law, [the Treasury] can take well-established “extraordinary measures” to borrow additional funds without breaching the debt ceiling.” But there is a limit to such extraordinary measures. The nominal limit of $31.4 trillion was reached back in January.

I am not sure how low the cash balance has to sink before it becomes a full-fledged crisis. Such a date is known as the ‘X-date’. This article discusses some of the known expenditures to come and who might get paid if the debt ceiling is not raised. But the Biden administration has ruled out paying some bills and not others.
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The dangerous mania of seeking for views on social media

The rise of social media and the ability to garner fame and money by increasing the number of people who visit your site is leading to dangerous levels of escalation, as ever more outrageous things are done to garner views. We now have the example of someone who deliberately crashed a small plane and filmed it in order to go viral.

Trevor Jacob, 29, faces up to 20 years in federal prison after he purposely destroyed the wreckage of the small single-engine plane that he crashed in California’s Los Padres national forest in 2021, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office.

Jacob, who parachuted out of the plane before it crashed, uploaded a video to YouTube documenting the incident. He initially told investigators that his plane lost power and that he did not know where the wreck was. But his story drew doubts from aviation experts and federal authorities. They later found that Jacob made no attempt to call air traffic control, restart his engine or search for a safe place to land.
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TV Review: Les Misérables (2018) and color-blind casting

I recently watched a six-part 2018 BBC miniseries Les Misérables that is based on the famous novel by Victor Hugo that was published in 1862. I had read the novel a long time ago and I thought that the mini-series was very good and stayed pretty close to the original story.

For those not familiar with it, the story is set in the period 1815, just after Napoleon had been sent into exile and the monarchy restored, and the failed Paris Uprising of June 1832 that attempted to restore republican form of government. This is the backdrop to the tale of Jean Valjean, a man who served 19 years in prison doing hard labor because he stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. When he finally gets his freedom, he leaves prison deeply angry and bitter. Even when a poor but kindly bishop welcomes him and gives him food and shelter for the night, he repays him by stealing the small amount of silverware in the house and escaping into the night. When he is quickly captured by the police and brought to the bishop, the bishop surprises him and the police by saying that he had given the silverware to Valjean and even gave him two silver candlesticks, the only things of value remaining in the house.
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What we can learn from the E. Jean Carroll trial

This American Life had a segment about how, back in 2020, Carroll recorded as series of interviews with women who had accused convicted sex offender Donald Trump (CSODT) of sexual assault or harassment. They played her interview with Jessica Leeds who had also testified at the trial.

In cases like Carroll’s, much depends on how credible each side is but that is hard to gauge based on the written word. I have never seen or heard Carroll live and of course I did not see the trial so could not judge how the jury might have perceived them. But when I listed to this 16-minute discussion between the two women, I could understand why the jury seemed to have no difficulty whatsoever in finding them to be credible.

Rebecca Traister discussed with On The Media host Brooke Gladstone about what the trial and verdict of CSODT tells us. She says that it shows how long it takes for movements such as #MeToo to gain ground and that when we take the longer view, we see how significant the result was and what an important victory it was not just for Carroll. She says that we make a mistake by taking short-term setbacks as definitive.

The 20 minute interview can be heard here.

The ‘town hall’ was not that great for convicted sex offender Donald Trump

The day after he was found guilty of sexual assault and defamation against E. Jean Carroll, convicted sex offender Donald Trump (CSODT) took part in a ‘town hall’ in New Hampshire that was broadcast live by CNN and hosted by one of their anchors Kaitlin Collins. I did not watch it but the general reviews were that it was a debacle for CNN because they gave CSODT a platform to spew forth a barrage of lies and insults to Carroll to an audience that cheered him on. As always, the media tends to take the attitude that anything, anything at all, works in favor of Republicans and that this shows that CSODT was not hurt by the verdict.

But is that true?

The biggest fault of CNN was in agreeing that the audience would be made up of Republicans. That makes a mockery of the concept of a town hall which is supposed to contain a fairly representative sample of the community. This was more like an indoor rally of partisans. New Hampshire governor John Sununu, himself a Republican, said that he was embarrassed by what he saw and what the crowd’s behavior conveyed about the people of his state.
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The debt ceiling

The US is once again going through debt ceiling brinkmanship. The first thing to note is that raising the debt ceiling is entirely the responsibility of the Congress, and has to start with the House of Representatives, The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, himself a hostage of the extremists in his party, has decided to do some hostage taking on his own, vowing to not raise the ceiling and throw the system into chaos unless President Biden agrees to the Republican budget proposals that would roll back some of Biden’s signature achievements as well harm the less well-to do.

Biden and the Democrats have pointed out, correctly, the raising the debt ceiling does not lead to more spending by itself but is needed to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized. They have also pointed out that Republicans were willing to raise the debt ceiling three times while Trump was president without any conditions but suddenly become budget conscious only when a Democrat is in the White House. They say that raising the debt ceiling is entirely under the control of the Republicans, no one else, and that they therefore must bear sole responsibility for any catastrophe that might ensue if the government should go into default if it is not raised.
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Floating solar panels

I posted recently about the idea of covering large parking lots of stores like Walmart with solar panels. This would provide two benefits. One is that it would provide shade for their customers’ cars, no small benefit in hot areas when going to a car that has been baking in the sun can result in the door handles being too hot to touch and the inside stiflingly hot. The second is that it provides quite a lot of energy that could be used to service their buildings, provide charging stations for electric vehicles, and even sell surplus energy to the grid. I noticed that the parking lot nearby that services the city hall and public library has installed solar panel coverings and has a charging station. It is small in size but the idea seems to be catching on.

Now comes along another idea that also seeks to cover large expanses with solar panels, and this is to put them on floating rafts over large bodies of calm water, like lakes.
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