Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Daily Kos: Our Job Now Is to Unite. Together. So Clinton and Sanders Both Win. It's Pretty Important.

The battle for the Democratic nomination is over. It's time to make war on the Republican Party, up and down the ticket.

These two agree on most everything that's important. Working for
Hillary is, in the long run, working for Bernie's revolution, too.

There's a lot at stake this presidential election year. It's time to put the past behind us and move ahead together. Markos Moulitsas tells us why:
Sanders remains in it to amass delegates to influence the party platform. Heck, he may even make the usually worthless piece of paper mean something. Remember, no candidate is beholden to that platform, but if there really is juice behind the Sanders movement, it can help hold Democrats accountable to it.
Fact is, the party ails, and we need all the reinforcements we can to force change. That’s why party affiliation matters. If you want to ditch the (D) label to become an independent, reconsider. If you are a left-leaning independent, consider switching to (D). You want to influence the party and move it to where we all want it to go, you do it from the inside. Become or remain an independent, and you no longer have a say in the direction the party is going. Why would you surrender that chance? You prove nothing by being independent, other than that you don’t want to fight for your party. Of course you want to fight for it, your involvement in the Sanders campaign proved it! So if you really are part of a long-term movement, then do what real movements do, and fight to win!
You quit the party, and you make it a little easier for the assholes in the Democratic Party to remain in control. They want you to quit. Please don’t.
...
If you are a Clinton supporter, have some damn compassion, will you? You haven’t won yet. The primary? Who gives a shit! Donald Trump will win his too, and has he won shit yet? The real winner will get crowned in November. That’s the victory that matters. Beating another Democrat shouldn’t bring you any joy unless that Democrat is Joe Lieberman.
So why would you piss on people we need for November, not just for the White House but all those downballot races as well. How well do you think Clinton will do with a Republican Congress? We need everyone we can get. So maybe it’s time for some olive branches? 
Also, be impressed. It’s not every day we get to see the creation of a whole new class of people excited about politics. Hillary certainly didn’t manage that. So it behooves you to harness as much of that energy as possible. Of course, Sanders people won’t be as excited about Clinton as you are, but who cares? There are more Democrats on the ballot than Clinton, and some of them are pretty awesome. Help them get excited about fixing our party.
If you are a Sanders supporter, you haven’t lost yet. I don’t mean the presidential contest, that was always an uphill fight. Yet you guys fought despite an indifferent media, despite a hostile establishment, and despite people like me harping on the “math”, and you proved lots of people wrong along the way (including me). I’m not embarrassed or angry or annoyed. I’m excited and in awe of what you were able to accomplish, and I fervently hope that 1) you stay engaged inside the Democratic Party, because that’s how we improve it, and 2) that you maintain that energy for the November elections (and looking ahead at what will be a brutally tough 2018 cycle). See? That’s how much I don’t hate Sanders, despite some suggestions to the contrary. I want his influence to continue inside my Democratic Party, where it can make a difference. 
I don’t care if you are excited about Clinton or not, she’ll be fine. I care that you get excited about Democrats down the ballot, about giving Clinton a Congress that will push her to the left even when she might not want to. Clinton doesn’t get to pass a $15 minimum wage. Congress does. You want strong climate change legislation? We don’t have a dictatorship. Congress has to pass it. 
But don’t make the mistake, either, of thinking that Clinton is the evil harpy of so many caricatures. She’ll do good things, she’ll do great things, and she’ll do shitty things. Our job will be to apply the same kind of pressure we’ve applied all these years of the Obama presidency. And no matter what she might do with the executive branch, all of that will pale to that single Supreme Court pick Republicans are hell-bent on giving her.
Kos is right. Get in and stay in the Democratic Party if you want to effect change. In many ways, it's a crappy party. But consider the alternative. And then work to make it less crappy.

On to November.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Central Enigma of 2016: Nobody Likes Trump or Cruz, Even Republicans. And Yet...

Unless some extremely weird thing happens at the GOP convention, Repubs will have chosen somebody they, essentially, don't like. Just wow.

Somewhere in this brain is my foreign policy. And it'll be great!

I'm not sure this has happened to everybody, but at a point or two in my life I became involved with a woman that was just absolutely crazy fun and extremely compelling in an almost irresistible way. A week or two, maybe three, even maybe a couple of months, and then something fizzled out or I just stopped calling, or she did. I walked away, shaking my head with a half-smile on my face, half missing her but knowing I had clearly dodged a bullet.

These experiences are the stuff of both rom-coms and psychological thrillers. But when it comes to politics, the less of this the better.

But, oh noes!, the GOP couldn't shake their crazy girlfriends this year. (Or boyfriends, whatever.) At some point the Ego (Republican elites) lost control of the Id (Republican base), while the Super Ego (er, David Brooks?) sat around saying, "This can't be happening, this can't be happening, this can't be happening!"

Sorry, Charlie, it's happening.

Now the Koch brothers are talking about how they could support Clinton. I know that's like offering Hillary a poisoned apple, but I can imagine rational Republicans hearing that and saying, well, it sort of makes sense. gulp.

It's not just that they look alike, it's that, face it, Ted Cruz is just creepy.

Well, that's it, no links, no read this or that article. But I'll leave you with the thought that, this is all good for the Democrats, right? I mean, up and down the ticket, right? Then I think of hanging chads and 2000. Gulp.

And then I think of that scene in Fatal Attraction when the Glenn Close character turns to Michael Douglas and says, "I'm not going to be JUST IGNORED!!" And then I think of that crazy girlfriend that was fun for ten minutes back in the day and thank my lucky stars.

The GOP is still trying to figure out how to shake her (or him, it's an analogy...).


Friday, April 22, 2016

Guns, Guns, Guns, and Dead Children, but Hey, That's Normal!

Kids shooting themselves and others, or getting murdered. All the time. Sounds like the good ole USA...

Sandy Hook broke our hearts. Now, uh, meh...

I see stories like this every day. Each one pains me. I shudder, then turn the page. But this bit in Slate caught me all over again. America, we should be ashamed. But, well, I guess not. Horrifying.
On Wednesday, a 2-year-old boy in Indianapolis found a gun in his mother's purse, which was on a kitchen counter, and somehow shot himself to death.
Friday, reports indicate that at least seven people—five adults and two children—were found shot to death on a piece of property in southern Ohio.* One local TV station says the seven victims were related; it's not clear whether the perpetrator of the shooting is among the dead.
These events are tragic, but not unusual. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 166 children 11 or younger have been killed or injured by guns in the United States thus far in 2016. In fact, when I went to the archive's site to look up that number, I found stories about a 1-year-old in Missouri who died after being shot on Thursday, a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old who were shot and killed by their father in Texas on Tuesday, and a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old who were shot and killed by their father in Florida on Monday. This stuff isn't even "news" anymore, really. Why am I even writing about it?
I included the entire short article. Thank you, Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate. Don't stop writing about it. Ever. Please.


Hey, Trump Fans, This Is Gonna Sting: The Donald's Been Playing "a Part."

You know you're in hot water if closed-door meetings get outed this quick. Er, Trump campaign, watch your back.

Okay, you got me. What part are you playing there?

There was a moment during the Romney campaign that I'm sure most of us remember, you know, when a campaign aide suggested that Mitt could "pivot" to the general election like "shaking an Etch-A-Sketch." You'd almost think the aide thought that such a statement wouldn't make Romney seem insincere. You think?

And, now, uh-oh, an aide-de-Trump has made a similar blunder telling the Republican National Committee to stop freaking out about the-Trump-they-know because it's all an act. Trump will get all "businesslike and presidential" after he wins the nomination.

Holy Freaking Blunder, Batman!

Here's the WaPo:
Trump’s chief strategist Paul Manafort told members of the Republican National Committee in a closed-door briefing here Thursday afternoon that his candidate has been playing a “part” on the campaign trail, but is starting to pivot toward presenting a more businesslike and presidential “persona.”
Now, Trump has gotten away with a lot during his campaign, and I'm not sure that his fans actually pay attention to things, so it's quite possible this won't faze anyone. We'll see. But if anyone is listening, somebody might think The Donald doesn't actually "tell it like it is," or speak "our language."

Bonus: Paul Waldman, who writes for more than one paper or magazine, weighs in on the Trump "outing." Check it out. And, wow, holy jeebus, the Editorial Board at WaPo goes after the "new" Trump. This is getting heavy.


What's Missing in This Campaign? The One Big, Big Idea

I'm not knocking Bernie's "bust up the banks," or "all my contributions are $27!" I'm talking something HUGE, and I don't mean Trump's "build a wall and make Mexicans pay for it!" That's a puny distraction for the low-watt bulbs out there. I'm mean HUGE.


Timothy Egan thinks Hillary Clinton's the one to do it. Why? Because Republicans don't really want to do anything, they want to stop doing things or put up walls to stop people from doing things. They don't want the newest, greatest products, they just want to stop China and everyone (supposedly) beating the crap out of us. A real way to do that? Don't look to the GOP.

Egan also thinks Bernie Sanders is an idea man, not a "I TOTALLY KNOW HOW TO DO THAT!" person. He's got a point: He didn't really know exactly how to bust up the banks when asked.

That leaves Hillary, whom Egan points out has a HUGE résumé, tons of experience, and talent. So what's missing? That one big idea:
The big idea is out there, in the bundle of issues in the Democratic campaign and solutions to the economic malaise that troubles Trump supporters. They’re all bits of a new tomorrow, many coming from the Sanders campaign. But the parts are not enough.
Consider the epic changes over the past century that brought lasting good to this country. Social Security and Medicare, allowing millions of Americans to live in dignity, were part one. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960s, which completed what Abraham Lincoln started with the 13th Amendment, were part two. Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, which made the nation’s cities breathable, waterways swimmable and the country more habitable for all living things, were part three. Clinton needs to fashion a part four, attacking inequality with an institutional uplift to the slipping middle class.
Those earlier initiatives were radical changes, the kind of big ideas the public is clamoring for now.
Egan's on to something here. Hillary needs something bigger than herself, something that excites the people to believe government can help again. My preferences have always aligned with jobs at higher wages. What does that entail?
  • Higher minimum wage.
  • A reinvigorated labor movement. Go all in for unionism.
  • Free public education, including childcare and preschool.
  • Adding the public option to Obamacare, forcing insurance companies to get real.
  • Entrepreneurs, ! Fatcat CEOs, no!
And, yes, make the top one percent pay for it in higher taxes -- actually progressive, higher marginal rates down to $250,000 a year.

Someone has to come up with a really good rallying cry, something like BRING BACK THE MIDDLE CLASS!

When was the middle class ascendant? When unions were strong! When did we get most of our labor laws and rights? When unions were strong! When did high-school graduates make enough to retire before you're dead? When unions were strong! Is our country great now because the rich are so much richer? I'd say no!

Enough preaching. If Hillary Clinton wants to regain the trust and enthusiasm of the American voter, go big. Go bold. Hell, that goes for Bernie, too, if only he had a prayer of winning the election.

And don't blame Hillary if she beats Bernie! That's what she's supposed to do. If Bernie can't beat her, he should -- must -- join her.

And remember: patrolling Muslim neighborhoods is not a big idea. Balancing a budget is not a big idea. Patrolling bathrooms is not a big idea.

Note. Bernie's Medicare for all is indeed a big, big idea. The only problem is that it so shakes the established order that, just like Hillarycare in the early 90s, it's easy to get people riled up against it, like "They're going to take my healthcare away!" Just sayin'.




Prince and David Bowie Practically Invented Androgyny

And now they're gone. But they helped build a better world by mellowing our sexual freakouts.



We can give an honorable mention to Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, and Michael Jackson. But for knocking down walls, Prince and Bowie were unstoppable forces.

Hey, 2016, save a few pop stars for next year, okay??


No Shame Dept.: VW "Explains" What It Did in Emissions Scandal

Yes, I fell in love with "green diesel" in 2010 and bought a Jetta TDI. Great gas mileage, super peppy, and full of torque. Also, it turns out, full of shit.

I loved this car. Fuckers.

Many of you must know that Volkswagen started a massive campaign to promote "green diesel," claiming that the new emissions devices had revolutionized diesel for good. Not only were the engines super efficient and clean, but full of torque and would last practically forever.

I bought it. So I bought the car, thinking, "I've got the state of the art and clean, clean, clean to boot." And for this old hippie, that was important.

It turns out that VW engineers, in their wisdom, figured the way to give it all that pep and torque was to have the emissions controls only "on" when the computer sensed it was being smog-tested. Bing! You pass! But in typical road conditions, the emissions controls were turned off and spewed 40 times the allowable nitrogen oxides.

Now I have to wait around to find out how they're going to fix it and compensate me. In the meantime, they are doing their best at damage control. Today, while trying to figure out how to smog my car and renew my registration, I was looking through one of VW's FAQ pages. Check this out:
1. Are the news reports of this "defeat device" true?
Government regulations limit the use of engine software that reduces the effectiveness of a vehicle’s emissions control systems.  Those are the “defeat device” regulations, and regrettably, VW did not comply with those regulations with respect to the 2.0L TDI vehicles identified in the EPA’s September 18, 2015 notice, and subsequent November 2, 2015 notice regarding 3.0L TDI vehicles.  We take full responsibility for our actions – and deeply regret that this happened.  We are fully cooperating with the relevant agencies investigating these issues.
Fuck those fucking fuckers for saying that with a straight face. Fuckers.