Joss Whedon on Third Party Voters

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a person’s belief clashes with new evidence perceived by the person. When confronted with facts that contradict beliefs, ideals, and values, people will try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

There is a circus theme to all of the spectacle going on around us in these last few days leading up to the election. The spotlight is on entertainment while all the real issues take place behind the scenes. The question of third party? allows for a full three ring circus but the things that are most important may be those that are in the ring farthest from the main ring.

Joss Whedon on Third Party Voters

‘A vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is a vote for Donald J. Trump. That’s just how it is.’

Posted by NowThis Politics on Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Facebook – NowThis PoliticsA vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is a vote for Donald J. Trump. That’s just how it is.October 26, 2016 at 3:30 PM

The bigger problems remain unaddressed as the media continues to prattle on about issues that are not really issues.  I’m still boycotting the news, myself. Let me know when Trump implodes, please?  Wouldn’t want to miss that, and the political discussions will only be relevant after that point.

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

Email and Crime

Let’s all talk about a real crime conducted by email for a change.

For 18 months, Republican strategists, political pundits, reporters and Americans who follow them have been pursuing Hillary Clinton’s personal email habits, and no evidence of a crime has been found. But now they at least have the skills and interest to focus on a much larger and deeper email conspiracy, one involving war, lies, a private server run by the Republican Party and contempt of Congress citations—all of it still unsolved and unpunished.

For those of you who think this is a smokescreen, that what I am (and others are) suggesting is that Hillary Clinton be let off on a technicality, let me set you straight.

Hillary Clinton surrendered her emails that weren’t her private correspondence. I know that the idea that politicians don’t have something to hide (especially female politicians. Female politicians who seem overly fond of privacy) just strikes the average cynic as implausible, but there it is. She complied with the request from legitimate authority and has suffered no end of pain over it. People are convinced there is a crime there somewhere. There just has to be, after eight inquests and millions of dollars spent. Surely there is something?

No. No there isn’t. I know this breaks your heart but if you want to satisfy your intense interest in other peoples private correspondence, why don’t you go look through George W. Bush’s email records? Why? Because you can’t. Because they destroyed that information rather than turn it over when it was requested by legitimate authority.

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails. “It’s about as amazing a double standard as you can get,” says Eric Boehlert, who works with the pro-Clinton group Media Matters. “If you look at the Bush emails, he was a sitting president, and 95 percent of his chief advisers’ emails were on a private email system set up by the RNC. Imagine if for the last year and a half we had been talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails set up on a private DNC server?

Eventually, the Bush White House admitted it had lost 22 million emails, not 5 million. Then, in December 2009—well into Barack Obama’s administration—the White House said it found 22 million emails, dated between 2003 and 2005, that it claimed had been mislabeled. That cache was given to the National Archives, and it and other plaintiffs agreed, on December 14, 2009, to settle their lawsuit. But the emails have not yet been made available to the public.

Newsweek

That, just FYI, is a crime.


Editor’s Note – September 25, 2017: The Orange Hate-Monkey‘s son-in-law was reported to be using a private email server to conduct official White House business in today’s New York Times,

As a candidate, Mr. Trump aggressively attacked Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, for her use of private email while she was secretary of state. Some of Mr. Trump’s allies outside the White House are urging him to press for a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton, even though an F.B.I. investigation into her handling of classified information has been closed. At Mr. Trump’s rallies, his supporters still break into cheers of “lock her up!”

So we can add this hypocrisy to the list of Administration officials past and now present, who have also not been indicted for using a private email server to conduct government business. Will the Republicans now be chanting Lock Him Up? Don’t hold your breath.

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.

Insult Added to Injury

From the October 24th New York Times story;

After 21 years in the military, three deployments, and a roadside bomb blast that left him bleeding and unconscious, Christopher Van Meter got a letter from the Pentagon saying he improperly received enlistment bonuses and now owed the government $46,000. 

“I was having to choose between buying diapers and food for my children and paying this debt,” said Mr. Van Meter, 42, a former Army captain who now teaches high school near Modesto, Calif. “I spent years of my life deployed, missed out on birthdays and deaths in the family, got blown up. It’s hard to hear after that that they say I haven’t fulfilled my contract.” 

Mr. Van Meter is one of nearly 10,000 National Guard troops in California who have been ordered to repay re-enlistment bonuses and other incentives doled out during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after an audit in 2011 uncovered widespread fraud, mismanagement and overpayment by the Guard in the state.

I had heard of this story before I read it on StonekettleStation, but I don’t think I’d given it that much thought. Not nearly as much thought as Jim Wright did. That is understandable, I don’t have any skin in the game. Maybe I should have; but the truth is I don’t, and the truth hurts.

Perhaps, they say, they’ll, maybe, address the issue during their lame duck session AFTER the election, or perhaps not — I suppose it depends on who wins and whatever bullshit reason they come up with for continuing NOT to do their goddamned jobs this time.

And while this goes on, 10,000 (and more) soldiers who served this country, who put their very lives on the line, who were enticed into a war started by a lie with yet more lies, pay the price as they always do.

Here’s what needs to happen: The President and State Governors, the executives one and all, must immediately issue executive orders halting the collection of such debts — not waive the debt, the executive can’t do that, only Congress can change the law. But the executives CAN chose not to enforce the law exactly as they accuse the President of doing and EXACTLY as they threaten to do if Obama comes for their guns and marriage via legislation.

This is an election year, and this is the way that the House of Representatives thinks they can treat our veterans? When WE THE PEOPLE are about to go vote for every one of their jobs? After they’ve let every scumbag on Wall Street go? After they’ve failed to prosecute ANYONE from the Bush administration for the many (MANY) transgressions that his administration is guilty of? This is the kind of thing they think we’ll just let go without noticing?

I think we can address this situation directly.

Dear Representative Williams. (Find your representative here) Do you job. Alter the law so that these collection efforts cease and the criminals who ran this con are brought to justice. Do your job or we will replace you with someone who will do your job.

Dear Governor Greg Abbott, please act now to stop any debt collection in our state until the federal congress can be compelled to do their job. Please, Governor Abbott, do your job.

Dear President Obama, when Congress and my Governor fail to do their jobs (and they will) please do your job. Stop this debt collection now.


This came across my desktop today;

The Obama administration has ordered the Pentagon to immediately cease demanding the repayment of enlistment bonuses from some 10,000 National Guardsmen who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service argued that the soldiers were not qualified to receive the money or that accounting errors had resulted in improper payments, despite many of them having served multiple tours.

However, this isn’t over.  Not by a long shot.  The only way that these debts are vacated is if congress acts to change the language in the law so that the debts can be forgiven.  That means Congress still has to act.  So ask your congressman when you see him on the campaign trail will you protect our veterans, or are you like all those others in Washington D.C.? Do you only remember that you represent us when you need our votes? It is not likely, but it is possible we can sort the wheat from the Chaffetz and get only the best people re-elected to represent us.

On Hawks vs. Pacifists

How do you explain away Hillary Clinton’s assumed hawkishness?

Like this.

Everyone voted to invade Iraq. I remember, I was active in politics that year. I mentioned this fact in the article Libertarian hostility for Hillary Clinton. Either you were with Bush II or you were against him.  Painting a target on your back is not how you get things done in a political sphere.  It is how you get eliminated.  She was a savvy operator then, and she is one now.  A survivor.  Someone who gets shit done. Someone who will make a good leader.

Obama let France take out Muammar Gaddafi like they wanted to do, and I don’t shed tears for dead dictators. They get what is coming to them. The same fate is waiting for Assad in Syria.  You don’t destroy your country the way he has done over the last five years and walk away from that. Justice is waiting for him when this conflict ends.

If Hillary Clinton was a war hawk, she wouldn’t have worked to get a deal with Iran. Pacifists dismiss this fact because it destroys their narrative. However, all of these are the president’s policies; Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton. The President calls the shots, not the Secretary of State. That I happen to agree with them is beside the point. Those policies are his policies, not hers.

Let me frame the question of who Hillary Clinton really is with her own history.  Her history as related in this piece contrasting her past with the past of the Orange Hate-Monkey;

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.

Now let’s talk about the future.

Daesh has to be destroyed. Daesh in all it’s forms, all across the world. no amount of wishing will make them go away. It is going to take killing. Also, we have an uppity Russian dictator who needs to be treated with a firm, sure hand. Those tiny hands the Orange Hate-Monkey has will not do the trick. It’s going to take someone who knows the ins and outs of diplomacy.  Someone who has been on the scene for the last thirty years or so would be good.

“Suppose They Gave a War and No One Came”

Charlotte E. Keyes, Carl Sandburg

Much as I don’t like it, and I don’t, war must be met with war. Violence can
frequently only be countered with violence. I’ve protested every war that has occurred while I was breathing, but we need someone who can credibly hold the keys to the largest military machine in the world and be trusted not to blink. We need someone who is going to be able to do the job in front of her. That someone is Hillary Clinton. If we’re lucky.

Ideologues should stick to theorizing and stay out of real politics. They just screw up the real world for the rest of us.  There is no panacea that will fix the world.  War isn’t the answer.  Peace isn’t the answer. Walking the path before us is going to take hard decisions.  It requires someone who isn’t constrained by an ideology that keeps them from doing what they have to do. Whether that thing is taking the fight to a credible threat, or walking away from an unwinnable conflict. It takes someone willing to occupy the middle space. Like most things in life, it requires compromise.

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. 

On Presidential Tax Returns

We have no way to know the Real Estate Developer’s leverage position. We have no way to know because he won’t release his financials and we have to take this liar’s word on everything he says. Six bankruptcies. SIX.  “No personal bankruptcies” means nothing, and every businessman worth his salt knows this.

This is his standard of practice. His business model. Load his corporations with debt, loot the assets, declare bankruptcy. These sort of revelations should make his supporters shut up about his business acumen, because who wants a fraud like this leading our country? Weirdly his supporters seem as impervious to facts as the Birther-in-Chief himself.

Planet Money Episode 726: Terms of the Debate September 27, 2016

As an aside, I love the NPR Politics​ podcast, the podcast that inspired this Planet Money episode. Love it. One little problem. I can’t link individual episodes, just the page with the latest on the top (well, you can embed them now) which makes the podcast really hard to share. IF the page was like the NPR​ Planet Money​ page, this would not be a problem.

On The Other Hand their general weekly podcasts make me parse the news more closely than I feel comfortable doing on this blog when it comes to linking their feeds here directly.  I’d have to go through every sentence and pontificate as to why I disagree with this or that observation.  Just go to the feed and listen to it yourself.  Make your own judgments.


PBS NewsHour – Why seeing Trump’s tax returns really matters – Sep 29, 2016

The real crime is not that he pays no income tax. No, the real crime is no Real Estate Developer pays income tax. This is because congress loves liars and fraudsters and hands them some of the best benefits available at their discretion.

But that isn’t the half of it. His supporters don’t want to know any facts about their candidate. They have been plugging their ears and humming as loud as possible for over a year now, hoping against hope that this guy will do the things he says he’ll do, counting on him to do the things he says he’ll do, and they don’t want to know any of the ugly details involved in getting the things they want.

So when the argument is made that he’d be stupid to release his tax returns, they agree with that. Because they can look at themselves in the mirror the morning after and say “I never knew he was going to murder 11 million people. If I had known that I would never have voted for him.” The lie is, they could have known that if they had not willfully blinded themselves.

Just as the average German did when they voted for the NSDAP.


Revealed this week (brace yourselves, this is going to keep happening) the Orange Hate-Monkey has probably not paid income taxes for about twenty years.

PBS NewsHour – What do three pages of Trump tax returns show us? – Oct 2, 2016

In a lengthy New York Times article, it is revealed that his losses in 1995 could have lent him a tax shelter for 18 years. But that isn’t the half of it. As this article on Vox points out, what is in the tax returns is even worse. We know it is even worse because the Birther-in-Chief hasn’t released his tax returns yet.

Patience.  The other shoe will drop.  Eventually.


After the election was handed to the Orange Hate-Monkey on a platter, whether that platter was of Russian or FBI manufacture has yet to be determined, his spokeswoman stepped forward to explain that Mr. Trump has no intention of ever releasing his financials. This announcement reverses several months of excuse-making which Trump engaged in, and confirms his intentions to profit from his time in the office of the President in ways that no previous holder of the office would have ever dreamed of.

Trump cares nothing for the future of this country. He was impeachable from the moment he took the oath of office because he perjured himself in taking it. He is already subverting the constitution in violation of his oath. His raping of the country has begun and will continue until we stop him.

Last night at midnight, the Trump Administration took the White House petition site, We The People, offline.

Since taking office 11 months ago, 17 petitions have gathered more than the requisite 100,000 signatures each requiring Trump to address them.

He has responded to precisely none — including the largest and most popular petition in the history of the government site, “Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.”

America, you have your answer.

Stonekettle Station, Dec. 20, 2017

Why Would a Liberal Vote for Gary Johnson?

This is actually a very good question, one that echos why I don’t identify as libertarian anymore, and why I don’t support most of the candidates that the LP fields. The LP is GOP lite these days. Or if you believe him (which you’re a fool if you do) Donald Trump, whose website is a laundry-list of libertarian wish-fulfillment. Just don’t listen to the words coming out of the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s mouth. If you do you’ll notice a jarring disconnect between what he says and what his website says.

Here is the Mother Jones Article the title comes from.  Here is the list as a quote;

  • He supports TPP.
  • He supports fracking.
  • He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
  • He thinks Citizens United is great.
  • He doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
  • He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
  • He opposes net neutrality.
  • He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he’s open to privatization.
  • He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
  • He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
  • He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
  • He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • He opposes any government action to address climate change.
  • He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
  • He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
  • He wants to remove the Fed’s mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
  • He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
  • He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

It is an excellent reference list of things that the average liberal disagrees with the Libertarians about. I could add more things that I quibble about, but we can start with this list and work from there. 

Unwatchable Debates

Confession time.  I have watched none of the debates so far in this election season.  I didn’t watch any of the Republican debates because the only centrist running (that would be John Kasich) wasn’t in them.  The Republicans, as I referenced in this piece about Hillary Clinton (?), have decided they don’t need the 75% of the nation that isn’t conservative/religious fundamentalist/whackadoodle and excluded anyone who might have been electable in the general election from the main debate stage.

I guess they just want to lose this year.
I didn’t watch the Democratic debates either.  Not because I wasn’t interested in the candidates, but because I knew that Hillary Clinton was going to be the nominee.  It was a close thing in the end, but since she was the favored Democrat running (the only one at the end) I knew she would ultimately end up with the nomination one way or the other.

Party politics are pretty predictable if you know what the rules of the game are.

I did watch the Democratic convention.  I started to pay attention to the Republican convention, but as soon as the rules committee reported that they were not going to advance any real rules changes, I knew that the Orange Hate-Monkey (Donald Drumpf) The Birther-in-Chief, the Real Estate Developer, had bought the leadership of the convention and he wasn’t going to be facing a floor fight for the soul of the GOP.  That is, if the Republican party actually has a soul.  It doesn’t appear that they do; as in they don’t appear to agree on what their core principles really are and it is pretty hard to defend them if you can’t name them. 
All that aside, I watched the entirety of the Democratic convention.  Watched the hardcore Berners exit stage left as predicted. Watched Barack Obama give yet another excellent speech. Watched Bill Clinton spend a half-hour apologizing to his wife on national television in the best way possible.  Watched Hillary Clinton accept the nomination, making US history when she did so. 
I left that experiencing thinking I might be able to watch the general election debates, and I might have stuck to my guns if the Libertarians had managed to leverage their candidate onto the stage. It briefly looked like he might pull that off, but a series of gaffs, plus the rigging of the system mention repeatedly in this blogs history, kept them from reaching the potential number of voters.  The hinted at support from Mitt Romney never surfaced and the funds that were supposedly going to go to finance the LP’s candidates this year doesn’t appear to be making any difference either. 
It is just the two of them, Hillary and the Orange Hate-Monkey on the stage together.  Talk about politics making strange bedfellows. 
Why can’t I watch? Here’s why; they let the Real Estate Developer talk, and he’s been demonstrated to be lying 80% of the time. It is actually detrimental to my own mental health to consume that much untruth in so short a time. Besides, while I support Hillary Clinton in the most lukewarm fashion possible, I really don’t like to listen to her talk either. 
Can’t laugh at the Orange Hate-Monkey, the threat to civilization is too serious. Can’t take him seriously because he is such a bad, bad liar. As someone who grew up surrounded by used car salesmen, as someone who has worked directly for more than one Real Estate Developer, I’m pretty well versed in the art of the deal. I can’t watch, and I can’t listen.
But I can watch and/or listen to others dissect the event. Nate Silver and Fivethirtyeight are the only resource I’m willing to lend credence to in this election as far as predictions go.  The rest of it is just so much guessing that I really don’t have time to waste trying to understand what they are telling me. 
Unfortunately Nate Silver and Fivethirtyeight don’t make themselves easily quotable or particularly shareable, so you’ll just have to click one of those two links to read what they had to say.  NPR on the other hand has a lot to say on the subject.  More, in fact, than I really wish they would say.  They aren’t nearly hard enough on the Orange Hate-Monkey for my taste, but then I guess they have to pretend he isn’t a certifiable nutjob.  Here are the two podcasts dealing with the debate (one I will link again later)

Ms. Clinton did well for the few short minutes that I did watch; and the Real Estate Developer looked like a petulant child being told to do something he didn’t want to, which made Ms. Clinton look downright presidential by comparison. I may peek between my fingers again for the next debate. Doubtful but possible.