Sneaker Netting the Vote

“There was a drive that was left out from the D’Iberville Civic Center,” Newman’s campaign manager Holly Gibbes said. “Those numbers were never counted. (Harrison County Circuit Clerk) Connie Ladner‘s office produced that thumb drive today and added it in.

“The thumb drive and all the affidavits, absentees and what could be counted is what put Dixie up by one vote.”

Gibbes said there are still three affidavit votes that have yet to be certified. Those three voters have 96 hours to bring their photo IDs to Ladner’s office in the Gulfport courthouse. Those individuals and their votes are only known by Ladner.

Sun Herald, Lost thumb drive changes Coast Senate race.

I’ve never understood why we do anything we do the way we do it. Everytime some moron gets caught doing stupid stuff like this people start chanting Paper ballots! Paper ballots! I get that paper ballots are more reliable and provide an alternative when an initial count goes awry. A paper trail comes in handy when you screw up counting the votes the first time, like the officials clearly have screwed the count up for this race in Mississippi, this time. They’re going to need paper ballots to recount now. Hope they have them. But how about we don’t screw up the vote the first time, when we go to vote in the future? Why don’t we start with that?

Yes, the current crop of electronic voting machines are questionable in accuracy and are pretty much just black boxes filled with proprietary software authored by the lowest bidder in a government contract executed more than twenty years ago. I’ll grant that they are shabby and their ability to count accurately is questionable. But even given all of that, why on Earth would you a) put electronic voting records on a thumb drive, EVER and b) why would the entity entrusted with counting those ballots ever accept votes that were passed on that way? We make all this crap way, way harder than it has to be.

There is encryption software out there now that could keep your identity as a voter private, but at the same time tell third parties who your vote was for. There is blockchain bookkeeping to keep all of those individual ballots together and properly tabulated. But instead of using the technology we have available to us now, we are sneaker-netting the ballots on thumb drives? Why bother to count at all if that’s the level of security we’re relying on? Heads he’s elected, tails she is sounds just about as effective. A lot cheaper, too.

Yes, paper ballots are preferable to that kind of crap, but why are we doing things that way in the first place? We start the election on this or that day, we hold the ballots open with every person able to verify their ballot is still present and correct until the day when the voting is supposed to end, and then we hold the election ‘open’ until the count is done AND everyone has verified their vote was in the count.

Thumbdrives? Thumbdrives. (shakes head in disgust) I need a drink.

Facebook

Mississippi passed a voter ID law 2014. That law require voters to show state approved photo identification at the polls. If you show up to vote without a “proper” ID, you can still vote, but you have to return to the district voting office within 96 hours and show your ID. If you don’t, your vote doesn’t count.

So, they’ve got a law to certify voters, but not one for … thumb drives.

Stonekettle Station

Caveat Emptor, Again

You must hold this administration, every administration, accountable. Every Congressman. Every Senator. Every general. Every CEO who takes taxpayer money. Every political party. Every media outlet. Every journalist. Ask the questions and demand the answers. Never stop. Show up for every election, no matter how minor. Educate yourself on the candidates and the issues before the election.

StonekettleStation, Caveat Emptor

Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station was referencing the subject of the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s (OHM) military plans when he titled his piece Caveat Emptor. The OHM is selling us a military vision in his usual huckster fashion. The most glorious military you’ve ever seen. Anyone who believes this to be true is as dumb as the people wiring their account info to 419 scammers thinking they’re going to win big. Pretty much just as Jim tells the story.

When I used the title Caveat EmptorI was speaking to the selling of the OHM’s alter ego, Trump the businessman, Trump the deal-maker and fixer. Caveat Emptor, buyer beware. You are being sold a bill of goods. You are being taken. Guard your wallet. The OHM is none of those things. The OHM is a money launderer, serial philanderer, and a thief. Not necessarily in that order.


When I get a quotable snippet from one of Jim’s articles, I tend to post it all over the place so as to do him a favor and drive traffic to his website. Since I can’t afford to pay him for what he writes, the least I can do is promote him where he isn’t already being promoted. I posted the above quote to Google’s idea of a social platform, Google+ as well as a few other places, but I only got replies on G+, and what I got in response came out of the anarchist/voluntaryist wings of the political spectrum, a commandment to vote harder.

I recognized the flavor of this attack almost immediately. Voting is useless. Voting doesn’t fix anything. Ah, we’re dealing with a libertarian here. I have little to no patience with libertarians, having quit that cult not so long ago. I don’t participate in government (as the snippet demands) to achieve anything specific for me personally. My personal goals are not what voting achieves. This is a core problem with libertarianism specifically and individualism generally. Voting isn’t about me and it isn’t about you or anyone else specifically. This is true of most life experience, but try explaining this fact to a libertarian or anarchist. It’ll go right over their heads.

But that isn’t to say that voting and government as a structure haven’t achieved measurable good. General goods have been achieved and the list is nearly endless. Longer even than the evils that government has created through its existence. It is always that way with the tools we create. The evil comes with the good.

The elderly no longer have to die penniless and alone. The sick now have places to go to be cared for. The poor have the beginnings of structure that could end their poverty if used properly. Libertarians will say these goods were achieved by use of force because they don’t understand the nature of money, the meaning of money, etc.but they insist on force being applied to them before yielding so that they can say told you so. I know because I’ve seen this done many times over the years. That is the definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You libertarians and anarchists, you crazy right-wing armaphiles, you are not any deader when the cops shoot you for armed resistance than the dead black guy who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. What you are buying with your money is death, exactly like funding a military is buying death. The trick, just in case you are wondering, is to outlive the other guy, which means you are failing to understand what you are buying if you end up dead in the process. Caveat Emptor. There’s some good advice offered gratis. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Facebook ≠ Good Governance

Facebook wants me to use Facebook to contact my representatives in government. I’ll get to the issue of my never giving Facebook the authority to be the messenger to and from my representatives in government eventually. First I would like to explain why none of these people really want to hear from me again.

There is one preliminary quibble I need to get out of the way. Facebook claims my local government representatives are on Facebook. this is false. Austin’s mayor is on Facebook as part of this new Townhall function they’ve come up with, so there is a representative of my local government. But not nearly all of them, or even more than that one. No one below that, local townsfolk who have actual knowledge of what I need and might want to say to them are on Facebook as part of this function that Facebook has given itself. None of them; City Manager, City Councilmember, County Commissioners, Justice of the Peace,  County Clerk, Municipal Court, Police Department, Fire Department, EMS, Austin Utilities, Texas Gas, Or the various information service providers, all of whom are between me and my access to Facebook who has deemed itself my conduit to speaking to my government representatives, are listed as being part of this townhall dublafluwichy they’ve invented for Facebook.

Now, these guys? These guys aren’t local, but one of them was. So I’ll follow him. He’s also the only one of these people who would willingly take a call from me personally and not actually ignore anything I say, so he’s the only one worth talking to. Now, you could say, What about Dawnna Dukes? She’s local. Yeah, she’s local, but there’s no point in talking to her. She wasn’t present to do her job this session in congress, and I voted for her for the first time in 2016 only because she promised she’d retire and let a special session pick her replacement. This time around I will vote for anybody who runs against her in the primary. Anybody. I’ll vote for anybody running against her in the general. Anybody. That’s how much I want her out of the seat she’s sitting in.

The other two state Schmos? The ones who represent the entire state of Texas? I’ve never voted for either of them at any point in history, and I doubt that I ever will. One of them is a crazed religious zealot who wants to kick all Hispanics out of the state of Texas and thinks that the transgendered, homosexuals and atheists are threats to the christian way of life, and the other one is Dan Patrick. The less said about him the better.

These guys are definitely not local. District twenty-five is a gerrymandered piece of shit that the Texas GOP came up with to get rid of what was then the only sitting Texas Democrat in the House of Representatives. They failed. He’s still there sitting in the seat he inherited from J.J. Jake Pickle.

Roger Williams is from Killeen, a place way up North of Austin. He’s not local. If Texas was broken up like the Atlantic states are, He’d be from Maine while I was from Connecticut. Not even vaguely similar. Killeen is as much like Austin as a Catholic is like a Baptist. Jesus is their shared savior but they aren’t exactly sure how that is.

Likewise John Cornyn is from Texas but his notion of what Texas is and mine will never be the same. Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz. I’ve talked to both of them before. I’d rather have a conversation with my dog. I’m pretty sure my dog understands me better and I’m quite comfortable calling my dog a friend I can relate to. If I could relate to those two I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night.

All three of those guys, Williams, Cornyn and Cruz are on the same list as Dawnna Dukes, which is a low point for Democrats for me. The one Democrat who represents me is the one Democrat I want to be rid of; the one Democrat that I would vote for anybody on the ticket other than her. The other three are just typical Texas Republicans. People I generally have no use for but are stuck in the same state with anyway. Their twisted values are as familiar to me as the taint of oil refinery polluted air around Houston and Borger. The shell-shocked town of West. The destitute colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. No, I know these people quite well. They are the problem, not the solution.

All of the negative observations above goes double for both Mike Pence and Donald Trump. Mike Pence may end up being the person in charge of the federal government but that will only be because the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is completely incapable of holding government office successfully. His probable presidency will not be because Mike Pence has the slightest clue in which direction reality lies or an idea of what good governance is or might be. He’s only the Vice President because the OHM picked someone everyone would be less inclined to trust than him. We can’t impeach Trump, then we’d have to face President Pence. Except we have to impeach Trump because he’s probably a lunatic, making him more dangerous to the world than a President Pence would be to us.


Fresh Air, Understanding Mike Pence And His Relationship To Trump: ‘His Public Role Is Fawning’, October 18, 2017

Having now taken the tour of Facebook’s townhall offering, I’d like to make a counter-offer. Be careful, Facebook. You are starting to look like the Post Office. The Post Office was Benjamin Franklin’s invention that allowed an informed public to be created and through it for representative governance to be possible. If you are the Post Office, then you are subject to direct federal oversight. You are a part of government; and as such, can be dictated to by the exact same representatives you list for me to contact. You can be altered, ordered or dismantled by the government without an appeal to the population at large. Without a claim to private business or privacy protections. Branches of government can come and go at the government’s whim.

With a user base of over a billion people, I have to wonder if there is anything with enough power to bring you to heel? I’m beginning to doubt that there is an entity with enough authority to govern the internet in general and Facebook in particular. But it may be about time that we starting talking about that kind of authority, if not well past that time.

A Vote Suppression Masquerade

Trump’s so-called “Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity” convenes for the second time today, in New Hampshire. It will be chaired Kris Kobach, Vice chair of the Commission (the chair is Vice President Mike Pence). 

Kobach trying to make the case that voter fraud was rife in New Hampshire in the 2016 presidential election – using data showing that 6,540 people registered to vote there using out-of-state driver’s licenses. Kobach suggested last week, in a column he wrote for Breitbart, that these voters never lived in New Hampshire at all. 

Rubbish. These out-of-state licenses likely belonged to college students who reside in New Hampshire and are allowed to vote there under state law regardless of where their driver’s license is issued. – Robert B. Reich Facebook status post

It was voter suppression 100 years ago and more, and it is still voter suppression now. The solution to the problem that they don’t’ have and won’t undertake is to make voting mandatory and thereby make any and all documents affirming your citizenship legitimate proof of voter eligibility. These kinds of people would much rather put barriers up that only allow conservatives to vote, this is the personal track record for each and every member of the commision that is visible to anyone who cares to look.

Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, claims to have “proof” of voter fraud in New Hampshire that’s widespread enough to have swung a U.S. Senate election in favor of the Democrats. He doesn’t.

Kobach’s proof? He says several thousand people who registered to vote on Election Day with an out-of-state driver’s license have not since registered a car or gotten a driver’s license in New Hampshire. 

But that’s no smoking gun. It is plausible, in fact likely, that most of those voters were college students who are allowed by state law to vote in New Hampshire even though they only live in the state part of the year. – Factcheck, Kobachs Bogus Proof

The cashiering of the entire panel shortly after I wrote the above paragraph rendered the entirety of what I was going to say on the subject largely moot.

Voter Fraud? No, Voter Suppression. Part Two

I generally find the Decode DC podcast to be very informative, at least. Generally worth my time to listen. I remember Jimmy Williams from my days of watching MSNBC. He was a favorite on The Dylan Ratigan Show and while I didn’t always appreciate his take on the issues at hand, I generally had to admit that he had a point he was trying to make. This episode?

President Trump believes he would have won the popular vote — if it weren’t for the 3 million people that voted illegally. Even though there’s no evidence to support his claim, he put together a commission to look into the issue, and their first meeting is today. They’ve already been pretty active, asking for voter data from all 50 states. But what exactly is going on with this commission, and what can we expect?

I didn’t need to listen to thirty minutes of in-depth analysis to know what to expect from the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s (OHM) farcical Voter Fraud Commission. Even Republicans agree that the commission will not uncover any real issues with voter fraud. Republicans have never been shy about their goals when it comes to voters; they want to suppress votes that are cast against them.


Pennsylvania state rep. Mike Turzai in a rare moment of sincerity. Getting Romney elected was the goal, suppressing the vote was the tool they were going to use.

If Kris Kobach‘s term as the Secretary of State (SoS) for Kansas is any measure, the commission is going to work tirelessly to suppress the votes of liberals and progressives across the nation. These groups are the illegal voters in the minds of conservatives, it is just a measure of how they are going to keep them from voting in enough numbers to unseat them from their thrones of power. What Downsize DC took thirty minutes to say, I can spell out in very few sentences.

There are excuses that the commission will use to purge voter rolls, as Kobach did in Kansas and as Conservative/Republican SoS’s did in a number of states. But in the end these are all excuses to do the thing they want done. Suppress enough votes to keep Republicans in power. Every person who understands what happens when you keep a large enough fraction of a population from participating in government should be recoiling in horror at this point. They will be recoiling in horror because this course is a recipe for a violent response, what always happens when frustrated people are kept from even the appearance of a having a voice in government.

What this all means is that we must resist. We must keep the pressure on our separate state governments. We must keep the local politicians aware that we are watching them and they had better not attempt to keep us from exercising our rights as Americans. We liberals, progressives and conservatives, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, we will all vote in 2018 and we will replace them if they even make noise about resisting us. About suppressing our rights, denying us our voice. This needs to be made very clear to them now, so that there are no violent surprises later.

Voting is not a privilege, it is a duty. In my opinion it should be a requirement, mandatorily enforced with fines for failure to participate. Election day should be a paid holiday, a national festival. Everyone should be encouraged to participate in anyway that they can, not driven from the field with acrimony and mudslinging. It is an embarrassing failure of communication, one of the biggest embarrassments of this nation, that we cannot look our opponents in the eye and contend with their differing viewpoints without casting them as enemies. As other. May I live to see the day this changes.


The first post of mine to ever get an addendum that wasn’t pre-written, but still appears the first time the article was published. I have no idea (No. Idea.) why this wasn’t published to the blog. No clue. I just didn’t hit publish, apparently. Which is fine as it turns out because just yesterday a new episode on this subject dropped that I really should add to this blog post that will be back-dated on the blog to July but really isn’t being published until November 10th.

“Twenty-three thousand people who were prevented from voting in two counties alone because of this law, and Donald Trump only won [Wisconsin] by twenty-two thousand votes.”Ari Berman 

Let me translate that for you. The OHM is president (in part) because Republicans and conservatives denied people the right to vote in Wisconsin and several other states. They violated our rights and gave the OHM the office he now holds. He didn’t win it, he doesn’t deserve it.

Voter Fraud? No, Voter Suppression. Part One

Trump’s “voter fraud” commission is also a means of encouraging more states to enact voter suppression laws such as strict IDs. The commission will be headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Robert Reich

As if it isn’t already difficult enough to participate in this backasswards democratic-republic. Join a party, go to the weekly/monthly meetings. Canvas for issues, draft resolutions, etc. Promote promising candidates, etc. Now they want to make it harder to do the one easy thing about this whole process which is vote.

The entire history of vote suppression is a graveyard of bad ideas killed slowly over the course of centuries. Wealth discrimination, racial discrimination, sexual discrimination. With the dismemberment of the voting rights act brought about by recent SCOTUS decisions, we appear to be started back down this road where we silence women, enslave the minorities and disenfranchise the poor.

Will we sit by and allow this demagogue, this pompous little dictator, to push us all back into the bad old days, or will we stand up and insist on our right to participate in our own government?

“If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

Facebook status post backdated to the blog.

Authoritarianism vs. Humanism -Or- The Orange Hate-Monkey vs. A Village

What you’re reading now is a multiple-concept piece amalgamated from several other pieces, reworked and re-edited so many times I’ve lost count. The fact that several of my Facebook friends are now openly endorsing an unapologetic authoritarian, that I have severed my long-time association with the Liberty Dollar over their new commemorative coin, pushes me to complete this piece even though I remain dissatisfied with the way that it firms up.


I am troubled by undercurrents in politics that are presenting themselves these days. I have been troubled since I wrote the article Obama Best President Since Eisenhower and my tepid acceptance of who the next president should be, titled Hillary for President? What troubles me is elusive. It is hard to give it a label. It is even harder to find people discussing the perturbations that aren’t actually trying to cover them up in some way. This tendency to hide true motivations has made the process of expressing my concerns even harder to elucidate, to solidify into words, than they normally are.

I’ve written and rewritten this article more than a few times now with various titles and themes. It started out as Feudalism vs. Socialism, but I couldn’t get a handle on what precisely feudalism was based on the judgement of historians. None of them agree on what it was, when it started and when it ended. The death blow was that The Wife hated the original piece. She essentially forbade me to publish it because it was beneath me. I almost did publish it, but I knew I could do better.

While contemplating what it was I was trying to say with this piece, I ran across the concept of kyriachy; specifically it was this article on DailyKOS The Battle Over the Meaning of America: We Have to Fight It, and We Have to Win that got my attention, made me start reworking the article the first time around.

Colin Woodard’s American Nations

To imagine that our times are defined primarily by the struggle between “liberalism” and “conservatism” or between the Democratic and Republican parties is to be dangerously distracted and misled. There is a struggle that defines our times, all right, but it’s a struggle over what the United States of America is all about—what “America” means. And we have to be aware of this struggle and recognize it for what it is.

Here’s our task: We have to begin framing the debate not as liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, but as equality or neo-Confederacy. We have to do this every time we speak, every time we write.

We have to do this because we have to push the Democratic Party to stand for equality, not for equality-except-in-politics-and-economics.

We have to know what a progressive, pro-equality position is and what a neo-Confederate position is on every issue—which position promotes freedom for all, and which promotes only the “liberties” of a lucky, privileged class. We have to present those positions to every Democratic candidate and ask her to choose one, and if she chooses the patrician position, we have to ask her why she’s favoring inequality over equality. We have to make her see equality as sensible and popular and inequality as radical and unthinkable.

Because unless we have a Democratic Party that unequivocally stands for equality and rejects inequality—social, political and economic—we can’t have an America that stands for equality.

The Republicans have gone all in for neo-Confederate authoritarianism. We have to go all in, too, for liberty, equality, justice and dignity for all—or the long arc of the moral universe will bend away from us, away from justice, and back into the darkness of rule by force and fear.

DailyKOS, The Battle Over the Meaning of America

Equality is the founding principle of socialism, of humanism, no matter how poorly attempts to bring the notions of socialism into the world have failed, equality remains its basis. I tossed the idea out to see if it floated at a BBS I’ve been known to frequent with the title Egalitarianism vs. Kyriarchy, and got some interesting (and not so interesting) feedback. I just couldn’t get it to gel the way I wanted, so I disgustedly shelved the piece again.

Continuing my exploration of concepts, I ran across this Vox article The Rise of American Authoritarianism. That was when it hit me, the label for at least one of the forces at play in the world.

The political phenomenon we identify as right-wing populism seems to line up, with almost astonishing precision, with the research on how authoritarianism is both caused and expressed

After an early period of junk science in the mid-20th century, a more serious group of scholars has addressed this question, specifically studying how it plays out in American politics: researchers like Hetherington and Weiler, Stanley Feldman, Karen Stenner, and Elizabeth Suhay, to name just a few.

The field, after a breakthrough in the early 1990s, has come to develop the contours of a grand theory of authoritarianism, culminating quite recently, in 2005, with Stenner’s seminal The Authoritarian Dynamic — just in time for that theory to seemingly come true, more rapidly and in greater force than any of them had imagined, in the personage of one Donald Trump and his norm-shattering rise.

Vox, The Rise of American Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is old, as old as humanity. Everyone in some corner of their mind can find some kinship with the notions of the great man, someone we can turn to in order to fix the problems that trouble us. If we can hand it all to him, he will make it alright. That is authoritarianism, in a nutshell. It manifests in the current election in the two counter-culture Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, but the dream of the great man predates all of us.

What is the other force though? The other codifying idea that people coalesce around. It really isn’t socialism per se. Those with authority want you to believe that capitalism vs. socialism is the fight that continues. The holders of old money, the inheritors of new money, the powerful who want to retain power. They raise the specter of socialism like a bogeyman to scare those of us who remember when socialism was the masque worn by dictators across Europe and Asia.

The mind reels at trying to communicate the fear that the word socialism engenders in the minds of people who remember the Berlin wall as a real barrier people were shot crossing. How to communicate the history? Twenty-eight years before 2001, the events that today’s generations remember as 9/11. Back in the time when 2001 was a symbol of a bright future in a film yet to be made, I was born. Born the same year Camelot came to an end. JFK was shot three months after mom gave birth. My mother escaped from Europe on the heels of what she figured was the beginning of WWIII, the general suspicion being that the USSR had a hand in the death of our president.

The end of an age, the beginning of another one.

What were those years like, what was the feeling during that time? It’s hard even for me to say. From 1963 to 1969 there was assassination after assassination in the political sphere. JFK. MLK. RFK. The riots. The marches. Vietnam. Then the 70’s. Nixon and Watergate. The fall of Saigon.

Carter and the oil embargo. The Iran hostage crisis. The return of Ronald Reagan.

When and where I graduated high school in flyover country, Red Dawn was seen as prophetic when it premiered in 1984. I mean really prophetic, not some kind of hokey, campy the Russkies are coming to get us kind of joke you hear so often these days. We knew the commies were coming to get us, it was just a matter of time, and the feds in DC were the real joke, because they had no idea what was going on in the world.

Saying it that way it seems like a substantial conflict, cognitive dissonance on steroids. How could there be a bright future in 2001, while Red Dawn was a real prophecy of the failure of capitalism, both at the same time? That was/is the kind of discord present in every mind that thinks there is a grand conspiracy out there somewhere running things. There is the world that is, and the world as it really is, and you have to decode the one to find the secret other world.

Besides, 2001 was nearly 20 years away. Who can see 20 years into the future?

It was all a lie. All of it. There were no (still are no) grand conspiracies and the USSR which had survived on graft for generations finally collapsed under its own weight. Not long after that I got a job and started working for a living and they redrew all the maps I memorized in school, and life went on as if we hadn’t spent the last 40 years afraid of our own shadows.

The war machine though, it went on without stopping. With no enemies to fight, the machine still wanted us to act like we were at war. Reagan was AWOL in his own head virtually from the day he took office. His VP barely squeaked out a win on Reagan’s coattails and had to raise taxes to pay for the killing machines conservatives wanted him to build. Bush I lost to Bill Clinton because of the fiscal reality of who pays for the war machines, the wars, but Slick Willy still had to appease the conservatives who held power and the majority, scared in their own beds at night of the commies waiting to get them. Bill fought every battle he found an excuse for just to keep them quiet and still couldn’t justify the military budget, which he had to cut.

Then came the surprise that created the world we know now; created it out of silicon and electricity. PC’s became widely available. Suddenly everyone had the ability to wax verbose across the entire US. Not too long after the US was wired, the whole world was wired. We went from having to do research that took months and years to complete in dusty libraries across differing regions, to being able to access virtually all of human knowledge with the click of a mouse.

Not all of the knowledge is real, though. Very little of it actually is.

It became possible to find news on your own, invent news on your own. No longer force-fed nightly at 6 and 10, you could binge on news 24/7. News that you wanted to read/watch/listen to, not the things that the media determined were things an educated public should know. The doors started to come off the media machine, the carefully crafted machine that fed the US and the world the news it wanted us to hear. Out of that chaos was born the conservative echochamber as we know it today.

The conservative echochamber elected Bush II. Conservatives fed off other conservatives, on channels they created to coordinate what it was they wanted done, how they wanted their arguments to proceed. What they wanted the grass roots to believe. Small government. Low taxes on the wealthy so they would spend more. Low taxes on everybody so that they had more to spend. A war machine to rival all others. Jobs for everybody. All of it born out of the half-baked plans that came to power with Reagan, that influenced Reagan. Neoconservatism. Libertarian economics. A perversion of Goldwater conservatism that even Barry Goldwater would be hard pressed to back.

With Jesus and the prosperity gospel, they brought their selected candidate to office.

I never did credit W with a wealth of brains. Familiarity breeds contempt, and as a Texan I knew what kind of lackluster thinker the Junior Bush was. He did know at least one thing, because it wasn’t that hard to figure out. Any human group works better together with an enemy to fight, and he started off his term in office with every intention of dealing with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, even before that fateful day in September of 2001.

A relative of his Saudi business partners, Osama Bin Laden, had similar if opposing goals. Having been betrayed by the US at the end of the Cold War when we abandoned the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, outraged by the stationing of infidel troops in the holy land, OBL hatched a plan to start a war with the US by destroying the icons of US capitalism and dominance in the world, the trade center in NYC.

The towers fell and the wars started, and the jobs never came and the debts mounted.

That is what it has been like, from then to now. Conservatives afraid of commies, of socialism, suspicious of even their countrymen, especially their liberal countrymen who didn’t see the threat, backing whatever horse showed up, because they prayed to their god to send them a saviour. Faith in the supernatural, reliance on the unknowable, fear and betrayal and more betrayal. That is why the conservative base is backing a demagogue in the current election. They are tired of being betrayed by complex people with complex arguments, and they want a war to destroy their enemy (whoever that is) before they are themselves destroyed.

Dissolved into history.

Returning to the narrative, that is why socialism is a non-starter in fly-over country, the vast angry red areas of the United States. They still think socialism is a thing to be afraid of. They have no idea that socialism is their insurance coverage. Their police force. Their fire fighters. Their hospitals. Any effort that benefits us all and doesn’t have a clear profit motivation to push it forward, that is socialism at work.

Socialism means no more and no less than control of social systems being held by the many rather than the few. That costs to maintain and run the system are spread across the social groups the system serves rather than paid directly by the person who receives the benefit.

When you get a check from your insurance company, you have benefited from a socializing system. The cost to reimburse you for your loss is borne by the group who pays premiums to that insurance company. When you are injured and rushed to a hospital, the existence of those systems being there to keep you from dying is due to socialism’s influence. When you log on to your computer to check Facebook or whatever social site is popular right now, the existence of that system is due to the socializing influence of government investment in technology.

The internet was not conceived of by a single corporation, was not the brainchild of a single mind. It was conceived of by many people working separately with funds infused by government for the purpose of stimulating research. It was the product of many people working towards the goal of making knowledge available to a larger and larger group of people, for the betterment of humanity as a whole. The internet is the most social of social structures ever invented by man. More social than the grandest ideals of socialism, more liberating than millions of dollars handed to each and ever poor person.

The opposing force for Authoritarianism is deeper than socialism, which is why acceptance of socialism as the good is irrelevant in the long run. Authoritarianism is the godhead. The worship of absolute authority over all things living. What opposes it is just as strong, but largely unvoiced. It is an expression of the value of each human life. It is at its core humanism, the valuing of the human over the spiritual or supernatural. The movement that was spawned with the enlightenment and has been forgotten by most people today.

Those of us who do remember 30 years ago remember Hillary Clinton’s first entrance on the world stage as First Lady to William Jefferson Clinton’s Presidency. Sadly it is against the backdrop of his presidency that her suitability for office is judged, rightly or wrongly. Her first book It Takes a Village was routinely derided by conservatives who knew the harsh cruel world for what it was, never actually asking if that was the world they wanted to live in or not. Whether it might be in our power to change the nature of the world, at least among us humans.

But the humanist notions of It Takes a Village have proven to be true over time. We do need to create a better world for our children and grandchildren and generally the word to describe what we have experienced from the 60’s through the present day in 2016 is progress. Perhaps social progress without economic progress, but progress all the same. A leveling out of society at a lower economic status than American’s have had to make do with since before our grandparents were born. Well, your grandparents anyway. Economics and capitalism is where the American population needs progress now, and capitalism is the subject that authoritarians want us to talk about the least.

Capitalism is nothing more or less than an outgrowth of the creation of money for trading goods and services. An outgrowth of the common notion that one should profit from transactions with others. Capitalism and money are themselves tools, part of the bigger picture of human interactions. Money cannot exist without others who accept that currency represents a fair trade for value, making capitalism/socialism a false dichotomy easily destroyed by authoritarians bent on altering the system to suit their goals.

Historical feudalism was an expression of authoritarianism, and facets of feudalism persist into the modern age long past the time when historians have credited it as dead. The notion that one can be granted title to people as well as property by a King or other warlord who controls a region seems outmoded or medieval; however the actual governing of areas, the ownership of lands and systems in the modern age seems hardly different in practice. Holding title to lands was first introduced as a feudal practice. Inheriting that title and associated wealth was also introduced then.

Obviously a family will and should be allowed to continue to use what was held by the head of the household before death. That seems like common sense. But the idea that it belonged to his/her heirs, the notion of heirs, that is feudalism. Is it justice for inheritors to possess gains which were ill-gotten? Gains handed to the original owner on the basis of skin color or where they called home previously? Where is the justice in that, where is the room to be merely human in a world of rigid structure like that?

One can argue that people are no longer property, held with the lands. That is probably the one big difference between the modern world and the ancient world. People are no longer legally property in most places around the world. But if you are poor and cannot afford to leave the lands you were born into (Greece in perspective) the functional difference between the two states blurs. The poor and unfortunate are the pawns of today’s systems just as they were in feudal systems; entirely at the mercy of those who control them. For the poor, there is little improvement through the ages aside from modern plumbing

Capitalism is not a social structure. It is an economic philosophy of a value for value trade, a good solid basis for dealing fairly with those around you. A basis for labor having a value of its own which can be traded for goods and other labor at a later time. Capitalism has nothing at all to say about the content of society, what the minimum standards of living should be, what humane treatment of the sick and injured should be, how the elderly are cared for; in fact, it has little of merit to say about most things human.

During the course of the First World War the old establishments of feudalism/authoritarianism started to give way to the new ideas of democracy and self-rule. If you aren’t a student of history, you might not know that WWI saw the end of one of the longest running governments in human history, the Ottoman Empire. It was itself the inheritor of much of the wealth and knowledge of the Byzantine Empire which marked time all the way back through the Roman Empire almost to the beginning of recorded history. So the belief that feudalism was a practice limited to the middle ages is not much more than a quaint notion for scholars to debate. The practices of feudalism were encoded into law, and some of them continue to this day.

The United States, an early precursor of the modern age of democracy, one man one vote, wisely adopted many of the mechanisms established by the successful feudal societies that founded the colonies it sprang from. Things like corporations to shield business owners from direct personal liability for business losses. Things like a sound money system which established a commodity as the base measure of value. But the US has always been a mixed economy; mixed as in respecting the feudal/capitalist nature of the systems that were inherited from the English and the Dutch.

Corporations are feudal creations, originally charters granted by emperors and kings, and their structures are feudal in execution. Yes, a group requires a leader, that is a given of all human systems. But the value of that leadership in today’s world is highly over-rated. The pay for corporate executives far out-weighs the contributions they make to the process of creating the goods and services a corporation produces (Saving Capitalism) the average person on the street cannot name the current head of a single corporation. Some of the more savvy could probably name Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but neither head corporations any longer. Political junkies could point to Carly Fiorina or Donald Trump.

This is the intersection which we are currently attempting to navigate. Donald Trump represents exactly what economic conservatives have wanted for a generation; a businessman willing to take on the job of running the country; running the country like a business. Unfortunately for them he exhibits even less control than the previous businessmen conservatives have flirted with nominating. He launched his candidacy by laying this turd in full view of the watching world;

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump. Or as I like to refer to him, the Orange Hate-Monkey. Fake tanned, he has embraced the conservative tropes of yesteryear, flinging the hatred of other like a monkey flings shit at gawkers at the zoo. His supporters hear only that they will be saved, if they follow him. That is all they want to hear.

I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is the poster boy for feudal privilege. Far from being a hero of the common man, an example of bootstrapping, Trump inherited his wealth and businesses from his father. He has bankrupted those businesses not once, but four times. His claim to authority is based entirely on his birth to a position of wealth and influence, the modern equivalent to nobility. The Dukes & Earls of previous societies are now referred to as CEO or CFO. Positions on the boards of large corporations mark your power within modern feudal society. Governments bow to your whims, write laws to benefit your finances, cater to your desires to the detriment of the poor forced to work for a living within the societies you rule.

I love the poorly educated

Donald Trump

Many, many people look at Hillary Clinton, look at her with the backdrop of 40 years of increasingly more conservative dominated politics, as well as the Presidency of her husband, and can’t see how she is an improvement on the President we currently have. There are independents who look at the two major party candidates and inexplicably cannot see a difference between the two of them, because they can’t separate the woman from the men she has been required to serve with, the real estate developer who has lied to himself for so long he doesn’t even know what the truth is anymore.

Maybe I’m just weird.

I’m struck today with the same sense of surrealism that I’ve had since the day I first heard the term Birther, long before there was such a thing as Birther-in-Chief, another apt Trump label. When I heard the accusation that Barack Obama wasn’t an American, I recognized it immediately as racism and dismissed it. When the conspiracy fantasy wouldn’t go away, when the Birther-in-Chief picked up this obvious dog whistle and wouldn’t stop blowing it, I realized that the conservative echochamber was a thing, not just a possibility.

These people don’t know reality from fantasy. Their fantasies about what goes on in the world mean more to them than the facts that govern it. They dismiss those facts when convenient, when the facts get in the way of their fantasies. And since the echochamber reflects back to them what they want to hear, they never get the corrective feedback that reality attempts to deliver.

In much the same way, it is painfully clear to me that misogyny governs most of the reporting that goes on in relation to Hillary Clinton. The media desperately attempt to echo the narrative that the long-dominant political forces in the US seem to want to hear. But there are voices out there sending the feedback that we need to be listening for, if only we are paying attention.

However, even if the worst of the worst of the beliefs about Hillary Clinton are true (and they aren’t) There is no way, NO WAY POSSIBLE that she could be as bad, much less worse than Trump. The beast that he has shackled himself to requires human sacrifice to be satiated. That is what happens when you found your campaign on creating an enemy in our midst. When your every other pronouncement decries the barbarian at the door.

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on

“American fascism will arrive carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag” and it has. However, there is no one person to fear that enters dragging fascism in their wake. The threat is not the figurehead, the Trump or the Hitler. The people to fear are those willing to vote for wrong, to back wrong with force, in the mistaken belief they are right. And that is scarier than the mere presence of the Orange Hate-Monkey on the political scene.

These people desire the destruction of the system itself, in their mad desire to be free of their fears, to the potential destruction of us all.

How is that, you ask?

The delivery of modern technology and modern medicine are such complex ventures that their continuation virtually requires the existence of government, government which is now threatened by corporate greed and corporate malfeasance. It is corporations who benefit from the loss of governmental power, not the individual. Corporations who stand ready to reap larger and larger profits at the cost of the lives of the poor and the sacrifice of the rest of the middle class in the US and across the face of the world. Corporations which must be brought to heel by government if we are ever to see the dawn of a new age. The age of the individual as expressed through humanism, the leveling of the playing field with the more equal distribution of information through technology.

Corporate Personhood: How Did We Get Here?Move to Amend

Humanism is the vehicle which will bring the corporations to heel. Its time has finally arrived, let us not waste this opportunity to grasp the future for ourselves, our children and our children’s children. Trust in our ability to make the systems work to our benefit, using modern technology as our tool. It matters little what Hillary Clinton wants to do, so long as she keeps the systems running long enough for us to realize the potential present in the technology we now have at our disposal. Let us not fear the future, but embrace it.


Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Ballot Selfies?

They tell me every time I go in the ballot box to turn off your cellphone. Have done so for a decade and more. I never did turn it off, until the last election. I don’t turn it off because I use the phone to reference the online voter guide, sparing myself the cost of the paper to print it. The last election I stupidly argued with the woman behind the desk. She refused to let me go to the ballot box until I had shown her I turned it off. Of course, I turned it right back on again as soon as I was out of sight.

Since it is ‘illegal’ to have your cellphone on in the booth, it is illegal to take a photo with your ballot, no matter what stupid excuse they give you as to why. The photo itself is proof of the violation though, so you’ll have a tough time proving you didn’t violate the law.

My Only Selfie

Yes, I know, it curtails free speech.

Personally, I don’t have the cash or the interest to carry the fight as far as it will have to go. On the other hand, I was never interested in taking a selfie with my ballot in the first place. Never have understood selfies or other people’s need to take them. Enjoy your battles. I pick mine a little more carefully these days. I’ll toast your victories in a few years when you achieve them.

On the Delusion of the Protest Vote

There is no real protest vote.  That is the problem. There might be a realistic vote of protest, as in voting for “none of the above” essentially voting “no confidence” in the system as it is currently offered, but there isn’t that possibility in the US system.

Again, as I’ve said many times in the past in other place, you cannot show up once every 4 years and expect to have people pay attention to what you want.  You have to show up week after week, month after month, to precinct meetings, county meetings and State meetings so that when these major elections come rolling around your party knows what you want already and then you just go out and vote for the candidates who are doing what you want. 
That is how the party system works. Even for third parties. If you don’t want to participate at that level, then you are going to have to first alter the way the parties work so that you can spend less time engaged in party politics. Either that or you have to accept that the parties who hold power will at best operate only tangentially to what you actually want. 
Take it or leave it, but don’t pretend to yourself that a protest vote means anything to anyone aside from you.  Because it doesn’t. What it will mean, in swing states, is that someone else picks the president you have to live under, we all have to live under.  Don’t be Florida in 2000.  That is my sound advice on this subject. 

Bernie or Hillary? What About Trump?

The screencap is from the comments of the previous post. Barb Padgett asked, “what happens if Bernie loses the nomination and asks you to vote for Hillary Clinton?” The answer was … instructive.

So, I’ll ask the same question

1. Proposition A. If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, and Bernie Sanders then endorses her and asks his supporters to support her, will you? If not, why not?

2. Proposition B. Likewise, if Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, and Hillary Clinton asks her supporters to throw in with Bernie, will you? If not, why not?

3. Corollary: No matter who wins the White House, Trump, Clinton, Sanders, will you as an American give them an honest chance to prove themselves first? If yes, why yes. If no, why no. – Jim Wright Stonekettle Station on Facebook

I answered questions one and two at some length in a blog article I titled Hillary for President? The thing that amazes me about people who react to the title to that piece is that they never seem to notice the question mark. Nearly all of them dismiss me as a schill, as if there isn’t a question in the title as well as a question in the underlying article. I will be voting for whoever wins the Democratic nomination, and I’m giving it a 98% chance to be Hillary Clinton, as I said almost a year ago.

The answer to question three is more complicated. I don’t believe Trump will even get the nomination, and without it he has little chance of winning. On the off chance that the population of the US sleeps in that Tuesday and Trump supporters are all that show up at the polls, because even without the nomination he can’t be kept off the ballot, this would give him the win by default; no I wouldn’t give him a chance. He’s already declared his intentions to destroy the US in the name of making it “great again”. I’m not going to help him with that.

To get the nomination he has to control the convention and be nominated. That is not nearly as easy as it sounds. You have to have a quorum to convene the convention. You have to control the chair. There are myriad ways of handling the problem of denying him the official nomination that would look pretty condemning for him, just ask a parliamentarian well versed on the subject of convention rules.

Even with the delegates he needs, he still has to have the convention, and it has to endorse him as the candidate. I remain unconvinced that the Orange Hate-Monkey has enough support in the leadership of the GOP to pull that maneuver off. That the GOP wants to go down in history as the American version of the NSDAP. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Facebook status backdated to the blog.