Struggling = Poverty

This was the headline that the Texas Standard chose to run for this story. It’s soft-pedaling hogwash, that’s what that headline is. Forty-two Percent of Texans Are Poor is how that headline should read. That is what the coded word ‘struggle’ represents. Poverty.

Texas Standard –Despite A Booming Economy, 42 Percent Of Texans Struggle

Though the state’s economy is experiencing relatively healthy growth overall, a new report by the United Ways of Texas shines a light on the surprising number of Texans who are struggling financially. The new report, “ALICE, A Study of Hardship in Texas,” says 42 percent of all households in Texas cannot afford basic needs such as housing, food, transportation and health care.

Texas Standard, January 30, 2019

Don’t believe me? Here’s the definition of ALICE from the secondary link,

ALICE, an acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working, but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation.

United Ways of Texas, ALICE

Asset Limited. Poor. Poverty. Now, the federal government and most especially the state of Texas will tut-tut that and say that those people are well above the poverty line established by government. Again I say, hogwash. Federal guidelines and especially guidelines from the state of Texas will not be truthful, if by truthful you mean accurate. This goes for anything that touches on the sacred beliefs of the average American, most especially the delusion that poor Americans aren’t poor. They just aren’t wealthy yet, and they never will be wealthy. But don’t tell them that.

This is well trodden ground for me these days because I’ve spent the better part of two months arguing with an in-law about this very subject recently.

I don’t think you know what poverty is. I was born in it and raised in it. The only thing that got me out of it was hard work. I had no intention of raising my children the way I was raised, therefore they had better than I had. And I do pretty well now only because I work hard to better myself. President Trump is making it so people can work and better themselves and get off the coattails of the government. I do not understand how anybody could think putting people back to work is a bad thing. Obama on the other hand closed down factories and put millions of people out of work and on food stamps.

Facebook comment

I had to block that poor fool because he kept calling me stupid. This exercise would be me once again wasting my time, convinced I can somehow reason with someone who refuses to think. The uninformed political opinions he’s throwing around I will dig into somewhere else, have already dug into somewhere else before (Obama, Caveat Emptor) But the poverty stuff? I don’t talk about that very often (Greece, Bootstraps) However, I’m pretty sure I have a general understanding of what poverty is and what it can do to people. I’m positive I understand it better than that in-law, because poverty has been my constant companion throughout my adult life.

That in-law is better off than me, but he’s still right on the margins of poverty. He’s middle class but not comfortably so, and not likely to stay part of the middle class unless he can keep working for another twenty years. The proof is in the statistics cited above, 42% of Texans are poor. That is just under half of all Texans being poor. Half. No one who isn’t independently wealthy will stay middle class without working, and independent wealth is built up through generations of hard work. Something I know neither he nor I come from.

There was a brief period of about two years in my adult life where I wasn’t poor. And when I wasn’t poor I never struggled for anything other than struggling to keep my job so I could keep paying for things. People of means do not struggle. They see a shrink and work it out, because they can afford to pay to have someone listen to them and help them work out their problems. Having a job that generates enough money to live on is not struggling in the way that the research demonstrates. The struggling that the United Ways is highlighting comes from having too much work and not enough money. A uniquely post modern development. Gainfully employed and still starving.

I keep linking this video in the vain hope that people who think that a dollar has work value attached to it would watch and learn a few things. It’s not like it’s a long video. It’s not a huge investment in time to watch.

Politizane – Wealth Inequality in America – Nov 20, 2012

I’m sure it’s quite painful to watch if you are a conservative. Conservatives and conservative economics have created this problem. Have created it more than once. Thinking you have to work to survive, to deserve to survive, is outmoded thinking and has caused the kind of crisis we are living through today. Has caused it repeatedly down through time. Today’s system throws off enough wealth all on it’s own to eliminate poverty completely if we simply set ourselves to the task of eliminating it. And even if we do eliminate poverty we’ll still have people wanting to work, and even more people capable of doing that work, because poverty is a man-made ill. Poverty is something we created to justify ourselves and our assumed status in life.

“Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.”

Thomas Paine Agrarian Justice The Writings of Thomas Paine pg 331

Poverty is looked down upon as being caused by the behavior of the poor themselves. This is patently not the case, as the OTM series Busted: America’s Poverty Myths (Bootstraps, again) goes to great lengths to spell out. But that doesn’t change the beliefs of most Americans. Poor people are more hated now than they have been in generations, and this is a worldwide phenomenon, not just in America.

If you think of yourself as white and you are poor in modern America, the fact that you are poor grates on you so much that you go looking for people who suffer more than you. Having a paler skin color is seen as a sign of status, has been seen as a sign of status down through the ages. Being pale means that you don’t have to work out in the sun. You have leisure time. you can throw this assumed status around, use it to your advantage in social interactions.

Unless you are poor. If you are poor, there is no question that your paler skin doesn’t convey advantage any longer, because there are demonstrably people darker skinned than you that have more status than you. They have more status because they have the conveyor of modern status, money. This is a corruption of the natural order in the mind’s eye of a racist. And we can’t just allow the natural order to be corrupted now, can we?

This is how we get to the point where the party of Lincoln, the party of the man who lead the Union through the Civil War and destroyed the slavery based economy of the Southern Confederacy; this is how the Republican party has become the party of people who wave the stars and bars of the confederacy and demand that they be given privilege over the brown-skinned. Republicans see everyone who is darker than they are as other, outsider, illegal. They couch their arguments in law and order, just like Nixon coded it in the seventies. But Nixon was a racist, too. They don’t even know that what they are promoting is racism. The Orange Hate-Monkey’s naked attempt to create a white American royalty.

Why Is This Happening? Organizing in Trump country with George Goehl

How can Democrats win in deep red America? During the midterms, momentum behind progressive candidates in red states garnered national attention — Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia. These were no overnight successes. They were the culmination of, among many things, including the tireless efforts of grassroots organizers.

We are going to have to go out and prosthelytize to the poor, rural, white voter. We are going to have to go out and explain to them the harsh nature of the reality we are faced with. Because we cannot go where they want to go. We have to explain to them that we are losing access to good drinking water. That even the air we breath is under constant threat. Will lax regulation on businesses turn every Texas town into another West, Texas? Or will we go the way of Oklahoma and let  hydraulic fracking activate long dormant tectonic faults, triggering earthquakes?

But it is even more basic than that. Will our children and their children go hungry? Will they have access to shelter from the cold or the heat, especially given the unpredictable nature of the climate change we are creating? Will there be schools to teach the children that all of us will rely on in the future to provide every single thing we need? Things we will need paid for with money we didn’t work for that day? We didn’t have to work for, because the system itself provides a mechanism (money) that allows us to not have to work every single day in order to survive? These are real, hard questions that have to be answered today, so that we can have access to those things tomorrow. All of us, not just the 1% that currently receive all the benefits of modern society.

Or would you rather that your children starve for want of food when fortunes turn on them as it does on everyone? Sleep out in the cold because they can’t afford shelter? Rather that they die of preventable diseases because there was no profit in researching cures or vaccines? All of these things require public investment, something that you won’t learn from the worship of robber barons that pervades what passes for conservative ideology these days.

“The liberals will always do what they can to hold you back”

Conservatism is about adhering to the past, not looking beyond what our ancestors did, the rights they claimed for themselves. That is the sum total of conservatism.

Liberalism is about experimentation. Liberalism is a friend to entrepreneurs, scientists, etc. Liberalism promotes new ways of thinking and new ways of dealing with the world. That is the definition of liberalism. Look it up anywhere aside from conservapedia, and you will find that I am right on this subject.

Liberals accept that society and its inventions, things that we all inherited, belong to all of us. Because none of the living invented any of the technologies that provide the food for our tables today. We stood on the shoulders of giants and thought ourselves tall. Liberals understand that the only way to do justice to those who came before us is to see that those that come after us have what they need to thrive, just as we had what we needed to thrive.

Our rights include things like clean air and clean water. Health care is a basic human right since it takes the wealth of the entire nation to maintain the system, it has to be available to everyone, not just those who can pay.

If you want questions answered, you have to ask questions. Ask questions which are answerable. Declaring that everything you don’t understand is a plot to take the little you have to your name now is nothing more than a paranoid delusion. You can’t lose something you don’t own, and most of what we deal with today are things that don’t belong to us alone. The internet is useless without other people to talk to. You can’t tend to your own physical injuries if those injuries require expertise to remedy. If you have that expertise and try to doctor yourself, then you have a fool for a patient. It takes others to do anything meaningful in life. Spitting on the state, on government, and turning your back on progress in the name of preserving what you have now is to settle for less than you could have had, if you only have the sense to look around you with eyes that aren’t clouded by fear.

Modern farming would be impossible without federal research grants, federal subsidies, federal mandates. The ability to get a mortgage and own your own home was a federal mandate. Every single scientific endeavor survives on federal seed money. There would be no internet without it. There would be no handheld computer to read this message on without NASA. There would be no vaccination program without federal mandates. No science-based medicine without government oversight and consequently no way to know what medicines work without government involvement.

So yes, I will rely on government. So will you, even if you don’t think that’s what you are doing. Government touches everything. And in the United States, we are the government. We can pay ourselves enough that none of us need starve, and still leave room for entrepreneurs to profit off of their ideas, giving them motivation to create, to work. Contemplate that for as long as it takes to sink in.

An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump

When the framers were debating impeachment at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason asked: “Shall any man be above justice?”

The same question faces us now: Can a president use the power of his office to hold himself above the law? Trump is unlikely to face impeachment anytime soon, or perhaps anytime at all. But it’s time for all of us — voters, members of Congress, Trump’s own staff — to be honest about what he’s done. He has obstructed justice.

He may not be finished doing so, either.

New York Times Opinion By David Leonhardt Jan. 28, 2018

This was in my Facebook memories for today. On this day, one year ago, you posted this link from your Tumblr account. A dead link to my now deleted Tumblr account. As I was reading over the list of charges in the article I realized the list is longer than 10 points now, a full year later. Some of these points have been enumerated on this blog over the last two years. This article is the latest in a series of articles that carry the tag #ImpeachTrump but even that list of articles is hardly exhaustive or even current. I’ve grown tired over the past two years. Tired of attempting to categorize the many, many impeachable offenses of the sitting president. But the offenses continue unabated, whether I’m paying attention or not.

The appointment of Matthew Whitaker to the job of Attorney General after firing Jeff Sessions would figure highly in the expanded list of charges. Appointing someone who was not Senate approved to the job of Attorney General is itself an extra-constitutional act, let alone naming someone who explicitly applied for the job by stating he would end the Mueller investigation.

…and yet Matthew Whitaker hasn’t done the one thing he was sent to do. Have you seen the video of the guy sweating in front of television cameras? That is the look of a man with his balls in a vice. Caudillo Trump gave him a job to do, and then Bobby three sticks explained to the idiot what would happen to him if he did the job that His Excellency sent him to do. Now Matthew Whitaker’s balls are in a vice. He can’t do what he was appointed to do and he can’t answer questions about the thing that he was sent to end because Mueller will throw him to the wolves along with Trump if he does. Clearly, Matthew Whitaker can’t wait to be out of the hot seat so that he can let the next guy take over.

Which brings me to the next point on the list of impeachable acts. The nominee for the Attorney General’s job currently being reviewed by the Senate. He too applied for the job by stating he would end the Mueller investigation. If he gets the nod from the Senate (and why hasn’t he already gotten that?) Bobby three sticks will explain to him, in pretty much the same detail he explained to Whitaker, exactly what will happen to him if he interferes with the investigation of Caudillo Trump. In short order he will be seen sweating in front of the cameras refusing to answer questions about the Mueller investigation, while it continues unimpeded.

Caudillo Trump just can’t seem to figure out that he’s digging his own grave with each thing he does to attempt to hinder the investigation. Each act, another example of his willingness to subvert justice. Why would an innocent man feel the need to keep trying to subvert justice in this way? Could it be he is as guilty as I argued he was two years ago? Caveat Emptor?

The Democratic party now runs the U.S. House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi holds the gavel, and articles of impeachment would pass the house if they were proposed and seconded, and the trial were to be held today. But the Senate is still held by Republicans, and we need two-thirds of the Senate to convict the current occupant of the Office of the President and remove him from the office that he has repeatedly demonstrated he is not fit to hold. That number is sixty-six. Sixty-six Senators to vote to convict, and only 49 firm votes are currently available for that conviction. We need seventeen Republicans that want to get re-elected next year to step forward and call for the removal of Caudillo Trump. Who will those brave souls be?

First they’ll have to oust McConnell as leader of the Republicans in the Senate. I wish them luck in that endeavor. We could take that hard road, or we could hold out a little longer and then cheer President Pelosi as she accepts the nomination of the Democratic party for the office of President of the United States in 2020, an office she inherited due to the crimes committed by the previous president and his vice president. And then cheer her election that November, and her swearing in the following January. Pick one.

GIGO is a Thing, or Why Freedom of Speech Isn’t Free

In computer sciencegarbage in, garbage out (GIGO) describes the concept that flawed, or nonsense input data produces nonsense output or “garbage”.

The principle also applies more generally to all analysis and logic, in that arguments are unsound if their premises are flawed.

Wikipedia entry on GIGO

As a libertarian I used to believe some pretty crazy things. I believed that a dollar was something you worked for, for one. A dollar is a debt instrument that every business in the United States is required to accept as payment. It is not a measure of hours worked or effort expended. You don’t work for dollars, you have to have dollars to pay for the things you need or want. You trade effort or hours for dollars if you are a working stiff in the modern age. If you have dollars you make the dollars work for you to create more dollars. This is a subtle but important distinction, one that anyone who desires excessive wealth should take to heart.

Similarly I believed, and most libertarians still believe, that freedom of speech meant you had to listen to every idea equally. Give every idea equal weight. This crazy notion is not limited to just fringe political groups, it has been embraced by a very large portion of conservatives and Republicans, and even American liberals don’t understand some of the finer points of what the first amendment, freedom of speech, means.

The problem with continuing to listen to bad ideas is that each successive generation receives those ideas as if they are all of equal value. This position is obviously false. Some ideas are incorrect. The world is not flat, it is visibly curved to any observer who cares to study the subject. The Earth, her moon, the other planets and their moons, etc. all move in mathematically predictable ways around the sun. We do not have to prove to each successive generation of human beings that the Earth is not the center of the universe. We need simply show how we know the Earth is round, the sun the center of a solar system, for them to grasp the math involved with these correct observations. These are factually demonstrable truths that do not have to be viewed equally with the Ptolemaic system, requiring each successive generation of human beings to determine which finding is the correct one. Learn a little math, do a few observations, yep, that confirms the heliocentric model. Onto the next thing we have to learn.

Not all truths are as obvious as the basic findings of astronomy, and even those findings are not universally embraced by all modern humans. There are a few disturbed people out there who still think the world is flat, and we don’t let those people run NASA for a reason. That reason? Because their denial of science disqualifies them from leading a scientific agency. They fail the test of expertise, another demonstrable truth.

There are things that experts know that the layman does not. I know things about CAD systems and architectural detailing that would bore the pants off of anyone who isn’t enamored of building systems and the illustration of same. That expertise qualified me to hold a high-paying job in the architectural field once upon a time. It had real value; and expertise, all expertise, is demonstrated through that value. If you plant lima beans for a living, and you do it successfully for long enough, you become an expert on lima beans. But that doesn’t make you an expert on rocket ships.

Which brings us to another truth. Expertise is limited in scope, and the farther outside your expertise you venture, the more likely you are to be wrong in your beliefs. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect in a nutshell. Everyone believes they know more about subjects that they are not experts in than they actually do. This is why a brain surgeon isn’t a good candidate to run a poverty program. The fact that Ben Carson successfully navigated a hierarchy as complicated as working in a hospital presents is probably the only reason he still has his cabinet position. He knows how to keep his mouth shut when he needs to. When he has a job to do and isn’t campaigning. He knows the value of expertise and he doesn’t visibly contradict the experts around him who know things about the department of Housing and Urban Development.

When the Republican party formed back in 1854, the value of expertise was understood. With little else to distract the population in the way of entertainment, politicians and pundits would debate for hours in front of huge crowds, working and reworking the issues of the day. Abraham Lincoln was an expert at navigating the treacherous terrain to be found between openly advocating for the abolition of slavery, and allowing slavery to encroach into the Northern states that hated slaves and slavery for what it did to the lives of average men. Hated slavery for the degrading poverty and dearth of industry in the South that slavery imposed on the economy of the South. The Lincoln-Douglas debates featured his abilities to master the subject, a success that eventually snagged him the nomination of the Republican party and through their growing influence, the presidency of the United States.

He then expertly managed to conduct the the office of the presidency, successfully, while maintaining a war with half of the original republic, and at the same time engineering the largest change in civil society, the abolition of slavery, that the United States had seen in its short 75 years of existence. Had he survived his time in office, had he not been felled by Southern hands and succeeded by a Southern sympathizer, many of the problems that we wrestle with today would never have manifested in the first place. That was the master politician that Abraham Lincoln was. That was the kind of organization that the Republican party was when it was progressive and liberal and on the right side of history.

From Lincoln to the Orange Hate-Monkey in 150 years.  That is what the Republican party gained from not understanding that there were real, actual truths underneath all the political posturing. That science and expertise have real, demonstrable value. GIGO or Garbage In, Garbage Out has taken its toll on the GOP and rendered it the political organ of a would-be fascist. A would-be fascist whose political supporters want to enact a racial cleansing on the United States. The party that ended slavery has become the party of the inheritors of slavery’s stolen wealth. The irony is almost rich enough to laugh at, if the fate of the world didn’t hang in the balance, and it does currently hang in the balance.

It hangs in the balance because Vladimir Putin did work to get Donald Trump elected as president. He worked to get Britain to embrace Brexit, and his troll farm is still actively attempting to subvert political processes in the United States and all across the world. He is seeking inroads to power wherever he can find them, and right now the internet is his tool of choice. All information on the internet is now suspect. Nothing can be taken for granted. Every platform, every system, every piece of information technology can now be possibly subverted by criminal actors attempting undermine the great advances that have been made in the world, and they are doing this with the technology we, the West, invented.

On the Media Everything Is Fake January 11, 2019

On Thursday, President Trump flew down to McAllen, Texas to push his pro-wall, anti-immigrant narrative. This week, On the Media examines how the community tells a more welcoming story about the border — and a dogged presidential fact-checker joins us to pick apart the Oval Office address. Plus, how some progressives used Russian election interference tactics against a right-wing senate campaign. Also, is everything online fake? 


On the Media Everything Is Fake January 11, 2019

Make no mistake, we have made great strides toward improving equality across the world. In between the war profiteering and other boondoggles embarked on by the powers that be in Washington DC, the technology we created has moved out of the United States and improved the lives of people everywhere. So much so that poverty in the world is the lowest that it has been at any point so far in history. But the spreading of information and equality through technological systems has opened the doors for misinformation and distraction to be spread in the same way, through the same mechanisms.

Political bias, racial bias, religious bias. All these things still exist, and all these things are corruptions of the truth. They are weaknesses that the power-hungry can exploit in order to gain more power. That is what Vladimir Putin has done in Russia by re-establishing the Russian Orthodox church. He gives ethnic Russians a thing to believe in now that the dictatorships that liberated the Russian people from Czarist rule have fallen. He foments friction at the edges of his political empire, his fake republic, and exploits the resulting distrust by seizing land belonging to neighboring nations, by re-asserting old Soviet alliances. His neighbors fear him, which is what he wants, and his old foes are confused, fighting among themselves. All by his design.

The first thing we need to do, if we want to oppose this new criminal oligarchy founded by Vladimir Putin and embodied in his paid-for stooge in the White House, is to know who it is we are fighting, why we are fighting them and how we intend to win this fight. The first casualty of this information war has to be the ability to promote falsities as truths. If we can’t even determine what is true and what is false, then we have already lost the war.

Garbage In, Garbage Out. If we believe what we are told by others with no need to verify what is true, we are sheep lead to slaughter. Subjectivity is the enemy. The people we are fighting are liars. Charlatans. Confidence artists. People who say things we want to believe but which are not demonstrably true.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

Many people cite this quote, few understand it. To be eternally vigilant is to practice due diligence as often as required when it comes to the things you believe as well as the things you are told. What is due diligence? Caveat Emptor. The two states of mind are interchangeable. Healthy caution and skepticism. If you want to be at liberty, if you want to maintain liberty, then you must be skeptical of all things that are not immediately apparent.

As an example. Freedom of speech is not free. You cannot say whatever springs to your mind and expect to suffer no consequences. This is what most people think freedom of speech means. Speech without consequences. All speech has a cost, in that you may be held accountable for the results of the words you speak. This is why you are punished for causing a panic by yelling fire! when there is no fire. It is not the speech that is punished, it is the result of the speech. The cause of the harm was speech if anyone was harmed in the resultant panic. No harm, no foul, as the adage goes.

But how do you assess harm? Is all harm readily apparent? If you are not harmed by a person’s speech, but your neighbor is, should you care? What if your neighbor is a different race? A different religion? A member of a different political party? Insert Niemöller’s law here.

That way lies death. So harm, even delayed, indirect harm, should be guarded against. And that, dear reader, is the quandary. As I noted on my last article about Alex Jones, deplatforming is not censoring a person’s speech. All these people claiming they have been censored by social media have their own websites. They have just as much access to consumers as any other individual in the system has. They simply do not have a megaphone through which to spread their lies. We are fighting an information war here, and the first thing that has to go is information which is demonstrably false.

Kicking ethics violators off of Twitter and Facebook is not censoring them, it is applying objective rules to subjective life. This is necessarily a messy business, but then bad people do exist. Bad ideas do exist. Stupid people do exist, and they don’t know the difference between a good idea and a bad idea. This requires things like rules of order (Robert’s Rules) parliamentary procedures, etcetera. Objective ethical standards have to be in place and they have to be enforced so that ideas can be properly tested and debated. You cannot call for harming another person and not expect the platform from which you speak to be taken away. That is simply good information hygiene. Any platform which doesn’t distinguish between good (correct) and bad (incorrect) information is a platform which is doomed to be dominated by the most ruthless, because it is the ruthless people who have no boundaries. Ruthless people do not worry about harming others to get their way. Lies. Fraud. These are but tools in the hands of the ruthless. Does deplatforming cause them harm? Only if they subjectively deem that their lies bring them power. In that case they don’t need a platform, they need a therapist.

Any platform created to be all inclusive (Spreely.com, Minds.com, etcetera) will be dominated by the most hateful. There is no way to avoid this scenario if you do not set hard ethical lines which cannot be crossed. I hope these platform providers enjoy taking orders from fascists. Fascists that will tell them what and how to think; which is what fascists do and why fascists (like Nazis) shouldn’t be given a platform in the first place. It is a quandary, but it isn’t an unsolvable problem.

I’m still on Facebook, for now. They at least acknowledge the existence of incorrect information and harmful social interaction. I’m not happy with providing a platform for ideas designed to kill me. I won’t spend time on a social platform that allows them space to spread their lies. Consequently those who voice views about political purity, religious purity, racial purity, promote the lie that life is a zero sum game that requires I harm others to win, these kinds of people and beliefs are not welcome anywhere that I am expected to be. I would ban these people myself. I do block and report these people when I’m given the tools to do so.

Authority might be necessary, but authority need not lead to authoritarianism. The difference between allowing Donald Trump to take office because existing mechanisms put him in position to assume that office, and not allowing Caudillo Trump to violate the law in the name of his whims or his stormtrumper’s whims is exactly how that ethical hair is split.

Wikipedia – First Amendment to the US Constitution

The Orange Hate-Monkey Accosted Me on YouTube

The Trump ads have to go away Google. Now. Not later, now. More generally, I want to be able to remove ads for users and subjects, for causes which can be enumerated to Google as an ad provider. I never want to see the Orange Hate-Monkey’s face on any screen, ever, and I definitely am not interested in any fucking thing he wants sell me. So give me the ability to block his and any other content I deem harmful or erroneous with the ability to flag said content for review by responsible authorities, which unfortunately doesn’t include the sitting president of the United States. Make this happen, Google or I will start blocking all ads on Android like I do on Windows.

Feedback on the YouTube forum.

The Tide is Turning

The Tide is Turning is what I felt on discovering that the Democrats had won such a major victory in the midterms. It took a few days to sink in, but it is a sentiment that I echoed to many people who lamented that the Senate did not flip to Democratic during the midterms. The Senate had almost no chance of flipping, as the number crunchers over at fivethirtyeight.com tried to point out, repeatedly.

The Tide is Turning is the title and refrain of a Roger Waters song, a tribute to Live Aid. I was reminded of Live Aid when I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody recently. I had never looked back on that event, and it’s music, as having been such an influence. Watching the recreation of Queen’s performance at that event as portrayed in the film, I was struck by how quaint it was. How quaint it was that the world got together and raised funds for the starving children in Africa back in 1985.

Quaint that we thought we could just change the world with that one event. Here we are, 33 years later. None the wiser, and one whole hell of a lot more cynical. And yet. And yet.

The midterm results show that the cynics are passing into irrelevance once again. There is no other way to read those returns. The largest shift in the membership of the House of Representatives in a generation. A Democratic shift all through the body politic, across all the states and the federal government. The tide truly appears to be turning once again, and it is about damn time too.

Roger Waters – Radio K.A.O.S. – The Tide Is Turning (After Live Aid)

I remember listening to a copy of Radio K.A.O.S. shortly after its release. This song brought me to tears even then. Raised on M*A*S*H, self identifying with the hippies and long hairs more than I ever did with the high and tights of my time, the notion that technology could be taken out of the hands of the military and used make human lives better was a dream I most fondly wanted to see come true.

It still hasn’t come true, but the first sense of nostalgia that I’ve ever experienced, a longing for the good ol’ days, days that might actually have been better, was watching Rami Malek embody what it was to be
Freddie Mercury on screen. Watching him perform at Live Aid and realizing that Queen’s performance at Live Aid would go down in history as the peak of their popularity. That Live Aid itself codifies what it means to truly be human, to care about others to such a degree that you would give completely of yourself to save them. I just wish that we had gone on to take AIDS seriously enough that we could have saved Freddie Mercury.

But the world is changing. Change holds hope. Which is good, because frankly I haven’t had much reason to hope since 1999.

Satellite buzzing through the endless night, exclusive to moonshots and world title fights. Jesus Christ imagine what it must be earning.

Roger Waters, Radio K.A.O.S., The Tide is Turning

We Are Being Ukrained by the Orange Hate-Monkey

I blocked a stealth Stormtrumper on the Stonekettlestation Facebook group today. I’m pretty sure he was airlocked pretty quickly after he posted the following,

Jesus man, the mother in law is listening to Fox news, and since she can’t hear it’s loud. It’s all boxes of ballots being found and counted, the election was over Tuesday, why are these crooked Democrats that would steal an election any way they could still counting votes, Hillary this and Hillary that, poor Matt Whitaker, a man with integrity the liberals are vilifying because of the Steele dossier and how the FISA courts got duped not once, but 4 times by information Hillary colluded with the Russians to get! Oh yeah, and hammering a female MSNBC anchor ( didn’t hear who) that hates Trump and blah, blah, blaaaah…

It’s no big news that I blocked a Stormtrumper. I do that pretty much every day these days. But this one snuck into Jim’s group, which was no easy thing to do. I wasn’t even sure that he was a Stormtrumper at first. There are several ways that statement could be read. I mean, is he quoting his mother-in-law? Are those his words? Hard to say. So I replied to him.

“FOX should be shut down and fined. It’s owners indicted. There should be laws against what FOX and conservative outlets are actively doing. Deceiving the public. Committing fraud. Propagandizing. How to craft rules about this, though. That is the problem. How to write laws that can’t be used to silence valid opinion pieces while stopping the deception. It’s not as easy as you might think.”

The Stormtrumper outed themselves, at this point. They immediately followed up with objections about freedom of speech, to which I replied, “There is no first amendment protection for fraud. There is no first amendment protection for speech which endangers life or property. There is no first amendment protection for lying, misinforming or otherwise distracting the public with more noise and smoke than anyone can see or hear through. This is what is being done to us. This is what was done to the people of the Ukraine. This is a tried and true playbook we are seeing here. How to regulate it out of existence is the only question remaining.”

His response? “I don’t like Trump, but he IS President…do you want him and his minions to have the power to brand their opponents as “fake news” and use the power of the govt to silence them?”

I never said anything about giving the power to inhibit freedom of speech to the president. I never even argued that this is a power that should be exercised solely by the government. This is the exact same argument as the gun argument as framed by gunnuts. No limitations or there is no freedom. This is transparently false. There can be and are limitations on your ability to lay down destruction among your neighbors. You can’t own nukes. You can’t own tanks or fighter planes. There are a lot of limitations on firepower out there, and there can be sensible limitations on speech (a point I later embroidered on here) Does Trump tell you that you can’t drive a car, just because licensing is required?” Obviously not. There are other, more subtle ways of creating outgroups to persecute. One of those ways is fabricating evidence and then citing it as proof. Dick Cheney and his “yellow cake” propaganda, as one example. 

That incident remains a prosecutable fabrication and yet no one is willing to prosecute him for it. The Orange Hate-Monkey is simply doing what Cheney did (more haphazardly) and remains unpunished for doing. It is time to start enforcing limitations that exist. It’s time to start prosecuting the powerful for their excesses. It’s time to write libel laws that work in this country. 

BTW, that last thing is what the OHM fears most. That’s why he spoke about it, to take that threat off the table. Who would presume to echo something he said and be serious about it? And yet he would be the first, most obvious target of libel laws. For him it would be slander law. You have to write to be prosecuted for libel. Come to think of it, a good portion of his tweets are demonstrably libelous. Who has he not slandered/libeled over the course of his life? Lying can be and is a crime, for normal, everyday people. It simply depends on the circumstance surrounding why you lie and to whom.

The laws are not enforced by the president, and the president should not be given the power to enforce laws. The Justice department prosecutes and the FBI investigates and neither of them is directly under the control of the president. This is how it should be. Believing the president is the sole enforcer of law in the country also discounts the thousands of police departments, prosecutors, etcetera, departments of law enforcement and prosecution all across the nation that do the real work of law enforcement.

Any fraud is a crime and fraud is not limited to lying under oath. The limitations exist, if you disagree with this observation you simply aren’t interested in seeing these limitations enforced. Imagine what might have happened if the first time the Orange Hate-Monkey lead the chant “lock her up!” he was arrested and fined for slander and incitement to riot? If Ted Cruz could be similarly charged for falsely accusing Beto O’Rourke of crimes? There is no such thing as an absolute freedom of speech. Speech which carries no consequences.

…and at that point I blocked him, because the argument had gotten circular as it does so frequently with Stormtrumpers and Christianists. I have little doubt left that Trump is a Russian stooge these days. He’s been using the same tactics to control the media and what they pay attention to as the tactics that are/were being used in Ukraine by Putin. He isn’t smart enough to come up with this tactic on his own.

Olga Yurkova TED2018 Inside the fight against Russia’s fake news empire

Dear Republicans. What Does Trump’s Cock Taste Like?

This should be the question every pundit ask every Republican who won an office last night, since everyone of them swore fealty to King Trump in order to win (embroidery here) The question should be asked every time they hold a presser. It should be asked every time they are seen in public. It should be asked in front of their wives. Their children. Their families. Everyone needs to have the blatant corruption at the heart of every Republican victory last night spelled out in the most graphic, disgusting terms possible.

Trump can get away with the shit he says every day? Ask that fucking question every fucking day until they crack.

“what does Trump’s cock taste like?”

Maybe, just maybe, they’ll fucking wake up then. But I doubt it.

In the meantime. The weasel will try to squirm out of harm’s way. The OHM has already signaled that he’ll play ball with the Democrats. Nothing doing. Not unless he turns states evidence on all his Russian contacts, fires all his children, divests from all his businesses. And when I say “divest” I mean sell to the highest bidder with all proceeds going to pay off the design and construction professionals he’s screwed over the last forty years. He has to agree to replace his entire cabinet with people who will not attempt to undermine their departments. Essentially he has to agree to congressional oversight of everything in the presidential administration and he loses control of the military. He has to rubber-stamp everything the congress sends to him and he had to tell all his supporters how much they’ll love it.

Oh, and he also will have to insist on IRS prosecutions for the entire DeVos family.

If. If he does all of that, he can stay president for two more years. No running for re-election either. Take your pension, sit down and shut up after January 20th, 2021. If he doesn’t go for all of that, the anal probes start moving in on January 20th, 2019. Or he could just quit now and take his chances. It’s all up to him now. Let’s see which way the weasel runs.


I spoke too soon. Ann Coulter and the Joey Goebbels of AM radio, Rush Limbaugh, scared the Orange Hate-Monkey into demanding congress do his bidding. Build my wall with your money since Mexico won’t pay for it! Unsurprisingly the answer from Nancy Pelosi and her majority of the House has been no. Also unsurprisingly, the art school turtle, Mitch McConnell, refuses to do anything unless the OHM tells him to. The standoff cannot last, and the OHM will not be getting money for his wall from the Democratically lead house. They know what kind of thief he is already. If the shutdown doesn’t end in less than a month, I predict impeachment hearings will begin to be discussed seriously. The only thing standing in the way of the government reopening is the idiot sitting in the White House not doing the job he was elected to do. Time to fire him. #ImpeachTrump

Third Parties Are Wasted Effort

Dedicated to Another Anonymous Internet Troll

That isn’t what happened. What the meme image says? That isn’t what happened. Oh, I know the media casts things a particular way. They say cheated when what they can prove is conscious manipulation of existing rules to favor the Democrat within the Democratic party.

The troll who posted this image, both of the trolls that posted this image, have their sources that say Hillary Clinton cheated. They aren’t even propagandist sources; at least, as far as having a specific political agenda to advance goes they aren’t propagandizing. It’s just that democracy is a thing that is as elusive as freedom is when it comes to definitions.

You can’t rely on Wikileaks to deliver unbiased, unvarnished truth any more than you can rely on an author flogging her latest book to be completely forthright when it comes to her own complicity in seeing the biggest fundraiser for the Democratic party received the nomination of the Democratic party. This is why the accusation of cheating doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stick because the private entity that is the Democratic party isn’t beholden to advance candidates that are popular with people who aren’t Democrats. Democratic money, Democratic supporters, Democratic choice. This is party politics 101.

I’ve been working on a post for ages that I had titled Why Libertarians Lose. I can’t make the damned article gel out into a set of arguments and ideas that looked like a consistent narrative. An article that didn’t read as petty and vindictive. I can sum up the long, long argument that I’ve made over the years with a single sentence. There is no reason why libertarians lose aside from the fact that they insanely know the reasons they lose, and then they repeat the behavior that made them lose each and every election previously. The reason the article reads as petty and vindictive can also be summed up with a single sentence. Every other independent and every other third party in existence fails in the exact same way.

They all, independently and in all their third party forms, fall into the same trap. What trap, you ask? The trap of not understanding what politics is. Politics, by definition, discounts individual actors. Your beliefs, your feelings, your desires, are irrelevant to political machinations. This is true of every group effort everywhere. Politics is group effort. Working as a group. Achieving a goal, as a group. How do you achieve goals as a group? Compromise. Compromise is the name of the game and those unwilling to compromise are what makes governing impossible without resorting to the use of force.

Force is the jaw of the trap swinging shut. Force will be brought to bear if compromise remains an impossibility. This is a truism, a fact of human existence that anarchists and individualists everywhere need to understand. Unwillingness to compromise on ideological grounds requires force as a response in order to achieve any given goal. You may be right to say you own all the water in a particular area. You may be able to prove this in court. It will not make you any less dead when the people around you who are dying for want of your water kill you for it.

In this system if you don’t vote blue you had best be prepared to be ruled by red. Because that’s where we are headed in the long run. The ground has been staked out. The forces have been drawn up. Democracy on the one side, and authoritarianism on the other side. The Democrats, through sheer force of will on the part of the populace, have been wrenched into the position of supporting democracy. The Republicans represent the feudalist forces of corporate dominance and central authoritarian rule, as I outlined in Authoritarianism vs Humanism.

The Berners or Bernie Bros as they were labeled by some of the press are still intent on Berning it all down. That is an article I wrote during the election, detailing why this accusations of cheating leveled at Clinton and the DNC are fake. The accusation is simply more of the type of authoritarian bullshit that we’re getting now from the Tea Party neh Republicans. One guy can’t fix the United States by himself, and Bernie Sanders and his candidates still aren’t winning Democratic races. They aren’t winning because Democrats aren’t voting for them, and you can’t make people vote the way you want.

You have to alter the underlying system of primaries and party structure, and that means joining one of the two parties encoded into the system. I spent more than a decade in third party hinterlands. That pursuit is a fool’s errand. Good luck with that.

Here’s another article from earlier in 2016. Pay attention to the graphic at the end. The one where Austin is split into 5 different districts. How do you fix that? You fix it by participating in the democratic process and then voting for Democrats because Republicans currently run the state of Texas at all levels above county court. It will either be Democrats or Republicans that run the Texas state government because that is how the system in Texas is set up. It is even worse in several other states. Voting third party is no better than not voting at all; possibly worse than not voting. At least the people who aren’t voting aren’t completely wasting their time.

The Democratic party didn’t cheat Bernie out of the nomination because Tt Democratic party sets its own standards for who can lead it and Bernie Sanders did not meet those standards. The Democrats set standards in much the same way that Republicans failed to set standards and so got a demagogue elected to the White House. This is the failure of faction that Madison opined about. The failure of faction playing out in front of our faces But that doesn’t alter the system that has to be maintained through the parties in the meantime. Someone has to and will do that work. I would prefer to actively participate in the reordering of American society rather than light the match that burns it all to the ground. That is the difference between me and the people supporting Bernie Sanders. The people supporting Donald Trump. I like the dream that the founders envisioned and tried to capture. Failed to capture. Always we strive to be a more perfect union, and we fail frequently. But we pick ourselves back up and try again. That is what being an American is all about.

Saying that the Democrats cannot win Texas, cannot do the job in front of them nationally, is to engage in the waste of time known as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Vote blue or be ruled by red. Stop serving the factions (including Greens and Libertarians) start serving the long-term good of the country. Vote Democrats like Joe Manchin out of office. Do it at the primary level. His vote for Kavanaugh proves what he is as a person. He’s willing to bend a knee before unearned authority. We don’t need his kind anywhere but behind bars.

The Bernie Bros lost because they (Bernie Sanders and his supporters) did not want to play the game the way the Democrats played it. The way The Clintons have played it since ascending to power in 1992. They played the system they knew, and they won. The Clintons won only to lose to Hillary’s high negative numbers, the highest negatives for any presidential candidate in history except for one. Donald Trump, the most hated president ever to be elected to office. Hated before he had done a single thing in office.

Trump played the Republican game exactly the way the Republicans set it up, and won. He’s president, in spite of the fact that the Clintons got three million more votes, and in spite of the fact that his negative numbers were higher than her negative numbers. This little set of facts proves out the game theory hypothesis concerning the worst candidates winning in straight plurality voting, but it proves absolutely nothing about law, or fairness, or cheating.

Cheating is getting the FBI to question your morality a week before the election. Cheating is getting in bed with foreign dictators (the same foreign dictators that Wikileaks is in bed with) and using their assets to hack your opponents campaign. Cheating is what Trump will finally be brought to trial for, if only the House flips and the Senate changes hands sufficiently that the writing will be on the wall for the surviving portions of GOP power. If congress flips and the Democrats follow through on promises made (and why wouldn’t they? They will after all have to answer to voters just as the Republicans do) there will be proof of cheating in the form of criminal convictions. There are already criminal convictions and Mueller is just getting warmed up.

I have news for anyone deluded enough to think that third parties can win elections. The Greens will lose in 2018 (they did) and 2020. Do you know why the Greens will lose? Why the Libertarian Party will lose? Why all third parties will lose? Because the system is set up to make sure they lose. You can call that cheating, just like the articles cited by Bernie Bros talk about cheating in the legal sense, all the while lacking actual laws to bring charges against perpetrators. The system works a particular way because it is set up that way. Making memes and spreading apathy and discontent will not win you elections. It will simply ensure that the GOP holds power just long enough to destroy what is left of the United States.

In the meantime Sanders, who is a consummate politician, has altered the Democratic party so that what happened in 2016 won’t happen again. He changed the rules of the game to make sure it doesn’t happen again. He changed the system from within, which is what you have to do if you want to make effective change.

You cannot, repeat cannot change the system from outside the system, and the system is only set up to allow Democrats and Republicans on the ballot in the majority of states. That means joining and changing either the Democrats (like Bernie Sanders has done) or the Republicans (like the Tea Partiers have done) but you cannot elect national representatives from any of the dozens of third parties and make effective change. Bernie Sanders proved this with his entire career in Washington.

So, good for you Bernie Bros. You can point to articles to bolster you and your followers apathy and resistance. I hope that cold comfort soothes you when the Democrats don’t reclaim the House and the Senate and Donald Trump and his hold on all three branches of government makes sure that the presidency never leaves the hands of his family. Kiss the ring of the new American kings and be thankful for the crusts of bread they leave you.


We avoided the worst. The House of Representatives flipped by 39 or 40 seats, depending on how the ballot stuffing inquest turns out in North Carolina. Even Texas went more blue this election than has been seen in a decade or more. So, imminent death of the union averted? Maybe? We’ll see.

The Next Generation is Smarter Than We Are. Fortunately.

A few words for all you people who still read physical papers. Still read actual newsprint and can’t figure out why those irresponsible young people don’t read them. There is nothing wrong with reading your news on a screen, as long as it’s accurate information that you are getting. Listening to news on the radio/podcast is also completely fine, as long as what you are getting is the truth. TV news is generally at best a waste of time (Unless you are watching All-In or Rachel Maddow) and at worst an active propaganda agent (FOX or your local TV affiliates owned by Sinclair media) but I also don’t know anyone under 30 that watches TV. I don’t know anyone under 30 that owns a TV that they don’t use almost exclusively for video gaming.

The Economist/Slate The Secret History of the Future: From Zero to Selfie Oct 10, 2018

The reason we have a reality TV star in the presidential office is that old white people went to the polls in greater numbers than anyone else, and they voted for the guy who was the star of The Apprentice a show I’m very proud never to have watched. They still think that is the guy who now sits behind the White House desk. The camera lies. Reality TV is all lies. Every bit of it. Cut the cable and never look back. That’s what I’ve done.

But my children and most of their friends are far more informed than any older person I know, people who are still afraid of the Soviet Union twenty years after it fell. Old people are on Facebook. Ask any younger person and they’ll tell you. Facebook is for old people. They aren’t getting their information there. They get their information from other sources. Not necessarily better sources than your antique newsprint, but probably sources that are as reliable as they are. So don’t fret too hard. I’m sure they’ll find a nice home for you to antagonize the nurses at when the time comes. Drink your Ensure and tune in for more Hannity. Just remember he’s lying to you. 

A Real Witch Hunt

I didn’t watch the witch hunt that was televised today (Thursday September 28th, 2018) although I have seen several stories in the media telling me how everyone else did watch. That would be their time to waste in watching the execution of a good woman’s reputation. I didn’t watch just like I didn’t watch the debates with the Orange Hate-Monkey. Brett Kavanaugh is lying now, just like the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) was lying then. Everyone knows Kavanaugh is lying. They know he is lying because he refused to ask for an FBI investigation when prompted. Repeatedly. So everyone in that Judiciary Committee hearing knew he was lying, but they all have to stick to their scripts.

The Judiciary committee Senate did burn the woman. The professional. The established doctor with a life and reputation of her own on the line. They always burn the woman, or as I said recently, #IBelieveHer and That Still Isn’t Enough People.

Do you know how we know that Mueller’s investigation isn’t a witch hunt? There are no women accused. There are no women accused and the Orange Hate-Monkey is still in office two years later. If the OHM had been a woman, if Hillary Clinton had won the election in 2016, there would already be a high rise built on the spot where her body was burnt eighteen months ago. Because witch hunts come to a speedy conclusion and they inevitably convict innocent people.

I started to watch the debates between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz last week. Ted Cruz was lying before he even got out of his opening comments. What’s the point of listening to defacto, demonstrable liars? People who start off lying and never stop lying, playing dirty, blaming others for their behavior? Save yourself some time, spare yourself and the furniture the wear and tear of torment like that. They’re lying, they’re going to keep lying, so let’s get on to the next thing. What is the next thing, you ask? filling the streets of Washington DC with enough people that normal life comes to a standstill until this travesty of a Presidency comes to an end. That has been the next thing that needs doing since January 20, 2017.


I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

LatinoUSA, The Immigrant Woman Who Confronted Senator Flake, Oct. 2, 2018