Daily Beef: What Debate?

You can tell that CNN needs to retire and let younger people take over. How can you tell? Simple. I needed to time-shift the second Democratic primary debate tonight (07/30/2019) so that I could listen to it while I sort laundry. While I sort laundry, after the Tuesday 7:30-10:30 pm raid that I simply will not miss unless a nuclear blast takes out the power grid and sends us back into the stone age. Then I won’t be able to log onto the game servers anyway, so it won’t matter.

I timeshifted watching/listening to the last one, no problem. Rachel Maddow put the entire debate audio on her podcast stream, I listened to all four hours of it and sorted all the laundry. Two tasks accomplished at the same time.

This week? I go online looking for the audio or video. Can I find it anywhere? No. CNN won’t let anyone post the stream online. They’re trying to figure out how this whole streaming things works. It’s live on the cable! Go watch it! Save it to your DVR! What is it? 1990 still? I’m surprised they remember how to make the television cameras turn on and off. I’m going to have to go to youtube and watch a pirate version (editor’s note, Google is whacking accounts for putting the public feed online) or give up and go to pirate bay and risk my ass on a torrent to be able to watch/listen to the thing without having to have it spoonfed to me by CNN’s nannies.

WTF!?!

I don’t want them to tell me who won or lost. They don’t know. I don’t want them to tell me what the high and low points were. They don’t know. They know how to put on their Depends and which shelf the Ensure is on in the refrigerator, and that’s about all they know. Give it up CNN. Let the young people take over. Go play golf with the Orange Hate-Monkey. You’ll never know how much he cheats because you won’t remember that golf is played with balls and clubs.

…my apologies to old people everywhere. I am one of them. There is a difference between being old and being dangerously out of touch with reality. CNN’s management is in the latter category.


Thursday morning, when everyone who has an interest in the subject has already been spoonfed the take-away that CNN wants them to accept, the video of the debate(s) (It’s still a round-robin not a debate. More like a free-for-all.) is up on CNN’s website. With the first question to Elizabeth Warren, CNN exposes themselves as the servants of big business that they are. At 15:31 in the first video Jake Tapper asks,

Are you with Bernie on raising taxes on middle class Americans to pay for [Medicare for all]?

CNN – NIGHT ONE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY DEBATE – 07/30/2019

Editor’s note. Notice the way the video is fubar? (you will on your phone) That ain’t me, that’s CNN not being able to supply a feed properly.

A question framed in that fashion doesn’t even deserve an answer, and Warren essentially refused to answer it. It’s about as misleading a question as “so have you stopped beating your wife?” How do you answer a question like that? You can’t, not without conceding that the battle will be fought on the moderator’s terms and not on the terms of the candidates themselves. As the rest of the first 30:00 minute video plays out, it becomes increasingly clear that the knives are out for the progressives on the stage. As Bernie Sanders rightly noted “you are repeating Republican talking points.”

Skip ahead an hour (ten minutes into video three) and you can hear Tim Ryan, who has been attacking his progressive opponents all night, talk about creating the office of Chief Manufacturing Officer. Just what we need, another bureaucracy that will centrally plan how America makes widgets and where. Anyone who proposes something like this hasn’t got room to criticize anyone for their plans to overhaul other parts of the system.

We make things in America. We are still one of the largest manufacturers on the face of this planet. The fact that the automobile industry is floundering is not because we don’t make things in the US. It is because the US car manufacturers are busy chasing profits instead of making cars that people will buy. It is because the average American simply can’t afford to buy vehicles the way they used to. Because half of America is poor. Let’s talk about that subject. Poverty in America. Let’s talk about the problem at the root of all the other problems. Don’t hold your breath.

There were several areas of agreement. Reparations for slavery was one of them. You want to point to an issue that will hand the election to Trump? That would be one of those issues. I’m not saying reparations are not owed. What I am saying is that racialising the issue of the wealth gap in the US is a surefire way of pitting all the white people against the black people. How about we just admit that poverty is the problem and set out to end poverty as we know it? It’s still more than what we’ve done in the past, but at least that approach will not set half the country against the other half right from the start.

We are fools to saddle our children with debt and then send them out into the world to try to pay all that debt back. This is why student loans are a bad idea. All of the hand waving on the stage won’t change the truth of this one way or the other. How we make sure that education is available and inexpensive to the student is the real question, not whether or not we give people who currently have student loans a free pass. The loans should be forgivable, and in most cases forgiven. But there shouldn’t be student loans in the future. This fact is demonstrable. That they argued about this subject at all baffles me.

What the hell did Marianne Williamson even say in closing? Did any of that make sense? I don’t know what debate everyone else was watching, for my money the clear winners here were Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Mayor Pete looked good and did well, as did Beto. But making Warren and Sanders the targets was the mistake of the other candidates. They look petty and mean, and their repetition of Republican talking points will not do them any favors with a Democratic audience.


CNN – NIGHT TWO DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY DEBATE – 07/31/2019

Night two. Is it just me, or did they arrange for Joe Biden to shine all by himself in this, the second night’s round? Kamala Harris seems less coherent this week than she did in the last debate. I was hoping to see her continue to shine as one of the possible alternative front-running candidates. Once again CNN’s agenda that the progressives be the targets is on full display, and Harris is the sole defender of the audacious ideas put forward by the progressive wing on the stage tonight. If she’s not the only defender, CNN would clearly like her to be perceived that way. Again, MSNBC did so much better with their debate. Maybe CNN should have taken notes?

…I’ve gotten all the way to the last thirty minutes of the second night, and I have yet to see a moderator attack any candidate on stage tonight the way that Jake Tapper went after Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Softball questions all the way around through the entire event. The only ones scoring points on Biden were his opponents. That is as it should be in a debate, but why was the first night so different? Joe Biden is clearly the candidate that CNN wants to be the next president. If anything, that is the most important reason not to vote for the man.

In the greatest movie of the 1980s, Streets of Fire, in the climactic scene, Willem Dafoe and Michael Pare fight with sledgehammers.

That’s right, sledgehammers.

Ten minutes. No soundtrack. Just the sound of two large men smashing the shit out of each other with those giant iron mallets. The ring of steel as they block and parry. The thud of metal slamming into flesh. In the end they both drop the hammers and resort to fists and there’s this great moment when Dafoe clenches his hands and screams in absolute rage before charging his opponent — only to get the crap punched right out of him by Pare wielding fists like a pair of canned hams.

Why bring it up?

No reason.

I’m just sitting here brainstorming some ideas for better leadership selection methodologies than this idiotic debate.

Stonekettle Station, July 30
The best image from the 2016 election. There is a 2020 version of this as well.

George Washington on Political Parties

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

George Washington’s Farewell Address

He might as well have named Donald J. Trump, the description fits so well. A hat/tip to Justin Amish and the Washington Post for publishing his opinion piece today. It motivated me to go look up Washington’s farewell address just to verify that was the language in the document.

Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.

Justin Amish

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

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 Xenophobia of the Orange Hate-Monkey

The Orange Hate-Monkey says “open borders” as if there are terrorists just waiting across the river for us to let down our guard. Terrorists got into the country even in World War Two when the entire country was on a war footing and reporting suspicious activity all the time. There is no such thing as a secure border, because the border is in every international airport and in every seaport and every inch of coastline. When he says border he means the Mexico border. There is no confusion here. He means brown-skinned people coming over the Southern border. Brown-skinned people that he then hires to work at Mar-a-Lago. But that is part and parcel of his racism. Dark-skinned people are lesser people and should be afraid of white people. Should be grateful to be allowed to survive in his America.

I don’t have a problem with open borders. If you thought about it, you wouldn’t have a problem with it either. It’s called tourism, letting people come in because they want to visit a place. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

That is why we have to reject his America. Why we have to bring this machine to a grinding halt until he is removed from office. I make no bones about it now. He has to be removed. His Vice President has to be removed. The entire election should be voided because of Russian tampering and party shenanigans on the part of the head of the FBI, James Comey, who thought he was crippling the next President, Hillary Clinton, not putting a known criminal in the White House.

These GOP and Democratic party shenanigans have gone on long enough now. Time for them to stop. So first we take over the Democrats, and then we make the system sound again by passing state legislation that ends gerrymandering, institutes jungle primaries and mandates public financing for all elections. With those measures in place every dollar that gets into a representatives hands from outside the government will be criminal and prosecutable. Their parties will be largely irrelevant aside from the issues the party represents. Whoever best represents an area will be the representative because there won’t be a corrupting influence involved in drawing the districts. It’s a long haul, but we can do it. First we have to keep the OHM from making himself dictator of the United States, and that means keeping him from securing power in his hands. Stop the takeover of the SCOTUS. Say no to any appointments he makes until after the next congress is seated.

Facebook comments posted to the blog.

Not Bedazzled. GroundHog Day.

I’m here to tell you that there is an enormous difference between those who want power only to benefit themselves and those who seek power for the betterment of us all.

Stonekettle Station, Hunting the Unicorn — to Extinction

That take home line from Hunting the Unicorn to Extinction is worth including in the blog based on its own merits. But the subject of that Stonekettle Station article is something that is at the core of all politics and one of the reasons I find myself restless in the Democratic party right now; uncomfortable but determined to see this thing through to the end.

Jim was telling liberals and progressives that claimed they could not vote for Democratic candidates to stop it. Conservatives, we know you won’t vote Democratic. You proved that when you held your nose and voted for the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) instead of Hillary Clinton. As I’ve said many, many times, first saying it in Hillary for President? the Republicans were going to nominate a nutjob in 2016 because the Republican party is certifiably insane. They don’t know what they want and they just couldn’t vote for that woman. So they voted for a serial-philandering, money-laundering tax cheat instead when they could have had John Kasich, a perfectly reasonable fellow, someone that is quite demonstrably sane if a little preoccupied with eating. The Republican party has grown more and more dysfunctional as the Tea Party and Religious Right exert more and more control of the process of selecting its candidates, wresting control from traditional Republicans who find themselves ill at ease in the presence of so much openly expressed white nationalism and Christianist dogma. The current state of schizophrenia that the Republican party is experiencing is also proof positive that plurality voting does lead to the worst candidates rising to the top of the ticket and attaining office. Never argue with math.

So when the Democrats nominated Hillary, and why not, she was the most admired woman in the world more than once; and the inevitable misogynistic blurring of the lines between Bill Clinton’s actions and her still being married to him occurred, creating this illusion of taint on Hillary that the media was more than happy to feed on, a distinct vein of fear of Democratic corruption emerged. I see most of this as sour grapes. You never get the candidates you want, and if you do get the candidates you want, most of the time they can’t win anyway because you are not we and we elect leaders. That simple phrase is politics in a nutshell. But this dissatisfaction with Democratic business as usual persists. How much of it is real and how much of it is counter-intelligence operations by Russian disinformation services is entirely open to question.

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

The same people who refused to vote for Hillary, but were not Conservatives or Republicans, are still insisting that they can’t vote for Democrats who won’t swear an oath to support every, single, thing that these people think are important. They’d rather stay home and pretend they are doing us all a favor than to participate in the process and maybe be responsible for some candidate or other that they might disagree with getting elected. The point, as Jim makes several times in his essay, is that even not voting is a choice and if you don’t vote then you voted for the OHM and all his supporters anyway. And you did this because even not choosing is a choice with consequences which you cannot avoid. The current administration is a poster child for the fact that not voting leads to outcomes which are every bit as undesirable as any other you can possibly imagine. A textbook case for mandating voting and participation in the process at all levels, but that is an argument for another essay.

This essay is about the allusion that Jim chose to make in order to relate his point. He picked Bedazzled. He made a pretty decent case for it. But everything that applies to Bedazzled as an allusion goes just as well with a different, better film. The movie he should have drawn comparisons to is Groundhog Day. In Groundhog Day the title character doesn’t even know what he wants in the first sequence that he is doomed to repeat for years of time during the film’s duration, just like more Americans have no clue what it is they want. It is only after he has dallied with every other distraction in the terrifyingly small world he is stuck in that he seizes on the one thing that might save him, the wholly genuine character of the producer he’s been stuck with for all these years, all those years one repetitive day at a time, a character beautifully played by Andie MacDowell. It is at that point that he begins to move in positive directions, finally able to leave the hell of Groundhog Day that he’s been stuck in for much longer than the audience that watches the film is. He gets to leave because he finally becomes worthy of moving on from that place and time. Is the universe interfering, saving him from wasting his entire life on pursuits that were beneath him? Who knows? What we as the audience know is that the criteria set out for Phil have been met. He is more than he was. He can appreciate others for what they are.

It is true that the protagonist does learn his lesson by the end of Bedazzled as Jim outlines. Maybe the plotline of Groundhog Day is too highbrowed for beer swigging average joes. Maybe Jim has it right and Bedazzled is the film that the people he’s trying to appeal to prefer. I’ll happily step aside and let the parade march on. But the journey of Phil Connors is demonstrably the exact same journey that the malcontents who refuse to make themselves better citizens need to take. If you want better government, you have to be better citizens, Jim’s mantra for several years now. They have to accept that the problem is them and not every around them. Hopefully they manage to do this before killing themselves more than a score of times and spending a purported thirty-four years stuck in a time loop. In the meantime I’ll still be here repeating what I’ve been saying for the better part of two years now myself. There is no way forward until we acknowledge and atone for the mistakes that were made that brought us here. Caveat Emptor.

Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.

Phil Connors

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

It is the easiest thing in the world to belittle the weak, and the Texas Democratic party has been almost catatonic since J.J. Jake Pickle and Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Democratic force fell by the wayside. Texas Democrats had a brief resurgence in the 80’s and 90’s with Ann Richards as governor and with the Clinton’s in the White House; but truthfully, the Texas Democratic party of old died with Jake Pickle at about the turn of the century.

Which is probably a good thing, because the way the Democrats used to do business is mirrored in the way that the Texas Republicans currently do business. Gerrymandering. Stuffing ballot boxes. The outright purchase of votes and candidates by the wealthy class.

Media pundits know who holds the power now. It’s evident in every broadcast you listen to, every telecast you watch or any article you read. Oh, sure, they pay lip service to the notion that the Democrats are due for a comeback; but the corporate media, the corporation, that most feudal of all still existing human social structures, they make their money ass-kissing the powerful, just as their forebears did to kings and sultans, czars and sheiks. They ass-kiss the Republican party because the Republican party has shown their willingness to engage in a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence by letting a known money launderer and populist dictator wannabe take the reigns of power in the US.

As an example, here is the darling of the liberal press, NPR’s weekly politics podcast, talking about the first in the country primaries in Texas this Tuesday,


MARCH 7, 2018 Takeaways From Texas, As Midterms Kick Off

Even a casual listener of that podcast and the one that follows it can’t help but notice that the only voices heard aside from the hosts are conservative leaders. They even play the entire Ted Cruz ad, as if I haven’t heard it several times already on other liberal news organizations, as well as an interview with Ted Cruz! Free advertising and free airtime for the sitting Senator from Canada, er, Texas. Do we hear anything from his opponent in this race, Beto O’Rourke, aside from their making fun of his showing and his name, yucking it up right along with that son of a dominionist Cruz?

No, of course not. He’s never going to have any power, in their eyes. He’s just not pulling the interest of the news consumers, that skewed demographic that sits at home watching FOX news as if this was still the 1990’s or something. One might think the media would have learned a thing or two from the mess they made of the 2016 races, following the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) around like little puppies afraid they’ll miss the next tidbit of tasty gossip. All the while certain that their free advertising for this dangerously jingoist, nationalist, uninformed conspiracy fantasist wouldn’t help earn him the White House all on its own. Never consciously realizing that their dismissal of the favorite, a savvy, political insider who had been hounded by the press for nearly 40 years would end up creating a vacuum that something had to fill.

No, they just go on blithely doing the mindless reporting that they always do, looking to see what will get them the most viewer or listener numbers. Never really asking if these were the stories they should have spent their precious time talking and writing about. And so the numbers stack up in the conservative column, and the people follow the media who follow the assumed power, none of them ever asking if that leadership is a judas goat or not.

Let me break this down for you, the layman who doesn’t live and breath politics like I do. Republican primary turnout in Texas is high because in Texas you can only vote in one primary for one party. So if you are interested in selecting the leadership of your county or state (cities are generally non-partisan races by design)  you will go and vote in the primary of the party you think will carry statewide offices. And that party in Texas has been the Republican party. Democrats last won statewide office in 1994, the longest dry spell in recent US history. Only a fool votes in a primary for a party that will not control the state after the next election, or so the average voter thinks.

Ted Cruz was essentially unchallenged in his primary race, so Ted Cruz got every vote of every Texan who voted in the Republican primary unless they took the time to not vote for him. And since most Texans voted Republican he got more votes than the Democratic candidates did. Does this mean anything in the grand scheme of things? Only that most people want to be on the winning side in an election and will change their stances on subjects after the fact just to prove how right they always were.

If Texas had jungle primaries like California does, you would see something you’ve never seen in Texas before, cross-party voting on the primary ballot. You would see a lot less racism and persecution of the transgendered and homosexuals, because there would no target demographic that would vote on issues that arcane without partisan primary grandstanding. If Texas had districts that weren’t gerrymandered to a fraction of a percentage point on average party turn-out (like Pennsylvania) but were instead drawn by a non-partisan commission, you might see people voting for the other party just to get a change of government in their district. But we don’t have those things, and so the self-fulfilling prophecy of Republican victory is underscored by pundits who aren’t interested in how the opposition is hobbled in Texas, they just want to congratulate the victors no matter how rigged the races are at the outset.

Back in LBJ’s day, the Democrats did all this stuff too. It’s hard for them to criticize the Republicans for doing things that they did, that they will do again if we let them. The trick is to inform your leadership that you want a level playing field before you send them to office. That you want maximal voter turnout, sensible districting, wide-open primaries and real discussion of issues. Good luck on getting the media to stop following the easy story, the quick click reward. In the meantime you could just stop believing that pundits know what the future holds anymore than you do yourself right now. Then you might at least stop fulfilling the prophecies that they keep making.

Ballotpedia.org

The Blue Wave was real, and then it wasn’t, in the course of about a week. Stranger still, the made-up national story arc seemed to influence in-state coverage as well. Even though Democratic turnout was better than in any midterm primary since 2002, and more than than double 2014, commentators have consistently described the night as at least a mild disappointment, where the Democrats “fell short” of a goal that had been imagined for them.

Texas Observer


The thing is, the way the state goes on the electoral college map doesn’t mean very much at all for the way Texas is governed. And while it’s possible that the party jumps back to life with the shock of winning one or two statewide elections — that there will be a proof of concept, and then everyone suddenly gets serious — it’s more likely that things change slowly, over an extended period of time, and that small gains and positive signs feed bigger gambits. What’s most important in the long run is the overall composition and strength of the Texas Democratic Party at the local and state level.

In that light, the fact that Democratic turnout doubled in urban counties while Republican turnout stayed essentially flat is significant. There are quite a few winnable legislative districts around those cities. The whole ballgame for the party is getting people to vote and to make a habit of voting. Trump is helping them do that — the trick now is to get it to stick, which it most certainly did not after the elections of 2006 and 2008. – Christopher Hooks for the Texas Observer, The All-or-Nothing ‘Turning Texas Blue’ Narrative Needs to Be Retired

The interview with Christopher Hooks on the Texas Standard today spells out exactly what I’m talking about. The media, focused on national races and their outcomes, never even considers the fact that the truism all politics is local holds sway even in places as large as Texas,


Texas Standard, Is It Time To Stop Talking About ‘Turning Texas Blue’?

Progressives are making inroads in Texas, and there isn’t a damn thing that Republicans and conservatives can do about it. For Democrats to win they have to offer real improvement on what the Republicans are doing now. Funding schools. Improving safety. Protecting the environment and moving Texas into the the next century. Listening to the OHM and his canuck croney Cruz talk, you would think that there aren’t fields of windmills in West Texas providing essential electricity to the grid. That solar wasn’t the future and that the emergence of electric cars in the cities isn’t a thing that is happening. You would think that Texas lives and dies by coal, which was never true, and that we’re still in the wildcat days of the oil boom in Texas, which we aren’t.

It’s time to put the conservatives where they belong, in the past with their fear of the transgendered and the homosexual. Their need for their religion to be front and center in everything they do. We cannot afford to be side-tracked into meaningless crusades against the different and the strange. There is real work being left undone because of their fear-mongering and immigrant hating. Time to roll up the sleeves and get back to work. 

Who brought up Hillary? That Was Last Year.

Baltimore Post Examiner McCain’s Thumbs down.

They will take this embarrassment out on America. These are the people who can’t let abortion go. These are the people who can’t let their goddamned religion go. These are the people who can’t let Benghazi go. These are the people who remember every slight and every offense and they cannot let their overwhelming desire for revenge go. It’s nearly two hundred years, they still can’t let the Civil War go. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO CAN’T LET EITHER BARACK OBAMA OR HILLARY CLINTON GO — hell, 20 years later and they are STILL determined to get even with BILL Clinton. They will learn NOTHING from this, in fact they’ll become even more secretive, intolerant, scheming, and revengeful.

Stonekettle Station

Every single argument I have with Trump supporters (even with relatives) ends up with the question,

but what about Hillary?

I keep wanting to ask in response, who brought up Hillary? I didn’t bring her up. I wasn’t even thinking of her. I couldn’t care less about her now than I did ten years ago (Go look. Harsh, yes I know) I only voted for her because she was who the Democrats picked, the presumed Democratic nominee that was so certain to win that I resigned myself to voting for her two years ago when I wrote Hillary for President? I resigned myself to voting for her because I knew the Republicans would pick a lunatic. Wonder of wonders, one of my predictions came true and they did pick a lunatic from a group of ten lunatics (and Kasich) and now that lunatic is president.

They’ll make this about Hillary too. Hillary and Barack Obama at the same time, if they can. It was Hillarycare that started them all down this long, deep slope into madness. I can easily see how this is all linked to Hillary Clinton somewhere in their minds.

Saying I only voted for her because she was the nominee is selling my support for her a bit short. After she won the nomination. After the Orange Hate-Monkey co-opted the Republican convention and Republican party and made it his own personal propaganda vehicle. After all of that, I decided I did really like Hillary Clinton after all. I mean, at least she wasn’t a lunatic. Wasn’t a fraud. Wasn’t engaged in demonstrably criminal activities that have simply never been prosecuted. I mean, the haters (now Stormtrumpers) tried to prosecute her (#Benghazi) but there simply wasn’t anything that they could get a conviction on. This is more than could be said for the Orange Hate-Monkey, as we are now discovering. So yeah. Knowing real estate developers the way I do, and seeing the cluster fuck that a Trump presidency was going to be, I wholeheartedly embraced Hillary Clinton in 2016. But that was 2016.

Republicans are so caught up in the past, with all these grievances that they just can’t abide, that they can’t even begin to think about what comes next. Which is how we find ourselves here in this mess today, them still talking about what happened in 1998, and the rest of us outraged about what is going on around us right here and now.

The Orange Hate-Monkey’s race baiting. The Orange Hate-Monkey’s misogyny. His probable coordination with Russia during the election. His continued money laundering for the Russian mob. The Orange Hate-Monkey’s uncontested control of 2/3’s of the federal government, with the last third one simple SCOTUS nomination away.

How about we, the sane 3/4’s of the United States, start talking about what comes next for a change? Let’s start now so we know where we’re going in 2018. Screw the Republicans. They’ll still be nominating lunatics twenty years from now. #SignedByTrump

Facebook status backdated to the blog.

Her explanation for the Gap is simple enough. “There’s a lot of behavioral science that if you attack someone endlessly — even if none of what you say is true — the very fact of attacking that person raises doubts and creates a negative perspective,” she says. “As someone Exhibit A on that — since it has been a long time that I’ve been in that position — I get that.”

Understanding Hillary – Ezra Klein – July 11, 2016
09/12/2017 – What Hillary Clinton really thinks – The Ezra Klein Show

Consider, for a moment, two people. One, as a young woman at the beginning of a promising legal career, went door to door searching for ways to guarantee an education to the countless disabled and disadvantaged children who had fallen through the cracks. The other, as a young millionaire, exacted revenge on his recently deceased brother’s family by cutting off the medical insurance desperately needed by his nephew’s newborn son, who at eighteen months of age was suffering from violent seizures brought on by a rare neurological disorder.

Huffingtonpost – Larry Womack – Stop Pretending
They’re with her. Are you? | Hillary Clinton

Republican, Republican; Democrat, Democratic

I spent the last few hours listening to Maajid Nawaz in conversation with Sam Harris on the Waking Up podcast. This is the first time I’ve heard him speak and he seems like a honest, earnest person.

Waking Up With Sam Harris #59 – Friend & Foe (with Maajid Nawaz)

…except for this one thing. This one thing that drives me absolutely nuts.

It is the Democratic party, not the Democrat party. That is how the word is properly used. Pouty Republicans and conservatives who want to discredit the Democrats invented (or reinvented) this little conundrum of wordplay as a dogwhistle to separate themselves from the rest of the liberal press, and anyone who uses this dogwhistle is either a member of the conservative press or is blind to the subtleness of word usage that propagandists rely on to spread their message.

You see, Republicans want to rob Democrats of the subliminal linkage of the Democratic party and the democratic process; and they are attempting to do this by pretending that words when used as a party name should not be conjugated in the same way. This is false and it sounds forced when spoken.

I have a hard time believing someone is being truthful with me when they take the time to pervert the english language in this way, purposefully using a word incorrectly to call attention to the difference between a process and a party name.

The Democrats are far more democratic than the Republicans currently are. It is the neoconservatives who used to be Democrats, Democrats who had no problem perverting the democratic process when they were Democrats, who are now perverting the democratic process by denying the vote to larger and larger sections of the population in efforts to keep their Republican conservatives in power for a few more terms before the inevitable shift of power occurs.

The true test of whether the Democrats are democratic will come when, having regained power, they return to the undemocratic ways of their past. Will they adopt the same perversions of the process that they previously practiced? That their neoconservative soon to be neoliberal power brokers will want to reimpose but now from the other side? Vote suppression? Gerrymandering? Or will we force them to create systems which are actually unbiased and open for the first time in US history?

Will we pass the test our forebears failed, or will we fail as they have?

As for the rest of the subjects of the podcast, they were thought-provoking if not outright wrong on many points. How many times will I have to hear the false conservative talking point “won’t say islamic terrorist?” I’m hoping I have heard it for the last time. We’ll just have to see how much difference there is now that the conservatives have everything they’ve ever wanted since 1980. Now’s your chance boys. How bad can you fuck it all up? Sadly, we are about to find out.

Included in the errata label because I once had a tendency to do this myself. A failing I have since corrected so isn’t preserved on this blog. But still, I’m trying for absolute honesty here. Well, as close to honesty as any human and his public diary can be.