Saturday, April 30, 2016

The More You Think Your Life Sucks, the More Republican -- and Trumpian -- You Are.

A recent Pew Research Center lays out the facts: If you're a Republican, you think you're going to Hell in a handbasket.

Young, not gifted, and white.

First, a slight nod to David Brooks, who got me onto this while he was waxing philosophic and bemoaning the sorry state of his tribe:
Donald Trump now looks set to be the Republican presidential nominee. So for those of us appalled by this prospect — what are we supposed to do?
Well, not what the leaders of the Republican Party are doing. They’re going down meekly and hoping for a quiet convention. They seem blithely unaware that this is a Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of standards and the general election slaughter.
And what, as a pundit, was his role in this madness?
I was surprised by Trump’s success because I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own.
Welcome to the world, David. Now let's see how long you can stand it before you slip back into Bobo's paradise. But give credit where credit is due. Brooks has seen the light, even though it took his tribe's adoption of Donald Trump to wake him up to the perils of, as a career choice, ripping the throat out of reality on behalf of a political party that would end up like it has.

Now to the statistics of where Brooks' tribe has chosen to live: the village of the damned. According to Pew:
Among GOP voters, fully 75% of those who support Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination say life for people like them has gotten worse, compared with 63% of Ted Cruz supporters and 54% of those who back John Kasich. While Democratic voters generally express more positive views of how life in the U.S. has changed over the past 50 years, those who favor Bernie Sanders are more negative (34% say life has gotten worse) than those who support Hillary Clinton (22%).
The takeaway from this poll is that if you think your life sucks, the more likely you are to support Trump, and it descends from there. Once you get to Sanders, you're less likely to think life sucks, and with Hillary, you have the best outlook for your present and, by extension, your future.

It's pretty obvious that Trump supporters inhabit a dark world, a world where blacks, browns, immigrants, women, and atheists have gotten over on them, with their welfare, their farm-worker jobs, their birth control, and their unChristian hedonism.

Keep in mind that the main charge Sanders supporters level at Clinton is that she's an inauthentic, phony progressive. Ouch! This gap can be bridged, but I'm off-topic.

A final word on Brooks: The rest of his column devolves into an attempt to avoid what he really means to say, which is that he can save his soul is if he becomes a liberal!
We’ll also need to rebuild the sense that we’re all in this together. The author R. R. Reno has argued that what we’re really facing these days is a “crisis of solidarity.” Many people, as the writers David and Amber Lapp note, feel pervasively betrayed: by for-profit job-training outfits that left them awash in debt, by spouses and stepparents, by people who collect federal benefits but don’t work. They’ve stopped even expecting loyalty from their employers. The big flashing lights say: NO TRUST. That leads to an everyone-out-for-himself mentality and Trump’s politics of suspicion. We’ll need a communitarianism.
Sounding a little like a socialist, bro.

Sorry, David. For you, that's a bridge too far, but face it, it's actually your recommendation to yourself. Good luck with that.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bernie Sanders Tells the Democratic Party What to Do. The Party Should Listen.

There never was a better time for the Democratic Party to embrace the causes of economic and social justice. Americans are clamoring for it.

Bernie talked a little trash with Hillary. Didn't work. Now he's
talking to the Democratic Party, and his message is on target:
Going left means tackling the issues Americans care about most.

Here's what Bernie Sanders just said to the Democratic Party, which he has just joined and promised to support:
The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side of working people or big-money interests?” Mr. Sanders asked the crowd. “Do we stand with the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance companies? Now our job is not just to revitalize the Democratic Party, not only to open the doors to young people and working people — our job is to revitalize American democracy.”
There was a reason why people showed en masse -- and gave on masse, too -- to support and encourage Bernie Sanders on his quixotic quest. They liked what he represented, which was the dampening of the voracious appetites of the one percent and then turning the resulting leftovers over to the disenfranchised citizens of the working classes, including the shrinking middle.

He had the juice, and he had the issues. Now it's incumbent on mainstream Democrats -- Hillary comes to mind -- to embrace them. It's not only what America needs, it will win votes, in November and on into the future.

What happens if we don't? The disenfranchised will follow a different leader who speaks to their guts with a darker, meaner and less-focused message: Build the wall!

Bernie wants to tear down a wall, too, specifically a very well known one: the wall that separates Main Street from Wall Street.

The job we need to do? Give the people what they want, and that's a ticket to the ownership class.

Those that have thrown in with the GOP -- a wildly shrinking group at this juncture -- think you get to keep the spoils if you stop access to those who are taking your jobs away, not realizing that the GOP loves the presence of the roughly 12 million undocumented workers in the country. They just don't want them to have a path to citizenship that the GOP rightfully fears will allow them to find common cause with the Democrats. The GOP, or what's left of the business class that it represented, loves when the "illegals" drive down American wages. Letting them vote? Not on your life.

But the rubes don't see it. Why not? They've been sipping on the Kool-Aid of anti-immigrant, anti-union, anti-welfare, anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-minority madness that the Republicans -- and its messengers at Fox News and right-wing talk radio -- have been pummeling them with for the past two decades. It's The Others' fault!!

A good 20 percent of U.S. voters will fall for that, and will likely join with Donald Trump's masses, because he has added his special twist. Trump will build walls everywhere. He'd even wall out our allies in Europe and Asia if they don't play ball and let us Put America First®. For sure our allies want to be told they're second fiddle if they want to do business with us. Real smart, Donald, you ole deal maker, you.

But the rubes love it because The Others have it coming. America, Fuck Yeah®!! Especially The Others in our midst, such as minorities, immigrants, LGBTQs, and -- oops! -- women.

So the GOP-Donald mind-meld can capture maybe 30 percent of voters just because. But here's the thing: that Republican-focused vision is exclusive, while the Democratic-focused vision is inclusive.

What Bernie Sanders has done is craft a message that appeals to that very demographic that Donald Trump can harness: whites with no more than a high-school diploma, you know, those who can no longer get a union gig that lets them slip into the middle class, with a guaranteed pension and a home to retire in.

The American Dream was a dream for the white working class. If it ever existed (I thought it did), it doesn't now. And the whites want it back. Trouble is, they don't want anyone else to have it, which is just fine with them.

So, Bernie Bros, or whatever you're being called these days, follow your leader in support of the Democratic Party, pushing it left from inside, just as Sanders would have you do. Of course -- gulp! -- that means pulling the lever for Hillary at some point.

And Hillary? Listen to Sanders and go after the one percent with all your heart. This populism, in 2016, represents -- includes, dammit -- the mad-as-hell bunch we need to bring back to the Democratic Party. Doing that denies both the Donald and the GOP of their storm troopers.

It won't be easy. A Democratic Party moving left sounds very much like the welfare state the Foxnicks warn against, the state that takes care of, includes, the victims of falling wages and declining opportunity.

But what if you give them things, not that they don't deserve but that they require, that they have earned, in a modern society?
  • An education they can afford.
  • Access to the jobs the future requires, with pay that allows them dignity.
  • Healthcare that keeps them fit and productive.
  • Expanded Social Security and Medicare that removes the shadow from old age.
  • A country with the infrastructure it needs to compete on the world stage, let alone provides Americans safety and comfort.
  • A foreign policy that includes rather than excludes.
  • And, yes, a safety net that switches on in hard times.
That's a vision that can appeal to all classes. Sure, someone has to pay for it, and that's the wealthy, and we know it. Yeah, it's, er, socialist, but then it's always been. As someone said the other day, creating and funding fire departments across the country is socialist: We get together and build systems for the common good. We used to think that it was the right thing to do.

It happens to coincide with Democratic ideals, and Bernie Sanders reawakened those for us. Embrace them, Democratic Party, and reassure the white working class that they are in their best interests because it's for them, too, especially for them. They're hurting, and they need help. Give it to them.

Don't build walls, tear them down, especially those that surround the genormous bank accounts of the robber-baron class. (Yes, they're baaaack!) Then give the people what they need.

What does the Democratic Party get in return? Votes. Thanks, Bernie.

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.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

John Kasich Lets Us Behind His Budget Curtain, and It Ain't Pretty.

John Kasich has made a living this primary season by appearing sensible and moderate. It would be (mildly) great if he were either of those things.

Look! Over there! A budget pony!

The problem for John Kasich was always that, if he did well and got close to being in contention for the GOP nomination, someone was bound to peel back the moderate façade and find a real, hardcore conservative. That moment -- without his being in actual serious contention -- may have come and almost passed us by.

Thankfully, Brad DeLong of UC Berkeley didn't let that happen, with an assist from Paul Krugman. DeLong caught the transcript of Kasich's meeting with the WaPo editorial board. "Oops!" went the joker, as Kasich went all classic conservative mumbo-jumbo on the federal budget.
KASICH:  Yes. Well,... look, I mean, we’re working through it. I’ve cut taxes in Ohio. It’s not confusing. I’m going to have a 28, 25 and 10 percent rate. We’re going to have an increase in the earned income tax credit.
RAMPELL:  Yes, but that doesn’t lead to surpluses. That doesn’t lead to – ...
KASICH: Well, you get the surpluses three ways:  ...Common sense regulations so you’re not crushing small business. ...
Two, lower taxes. ...
And the third thing is a fiscal plan. Now, I will tell you how we’ll run the fiscal plan. And I can lay out all – you’re going to send welfare and Medicaid and, you know, this job training and all that back to the states.
Umkay. First, any responsible Republican, after decades of repeated tax cuts (G. H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton being the notable exceptions by raising taxes), must of course reach for balanced budgets with yet another tax cut and a huge one at that! Next, deregulate markets because, oh, I don't know, INSTANT SUCCESS! And, third, send welfare and Medicaid back to the states in the form of block grants, which, far from balancing the budget (you're still spending money!), only allows states the opportunity to misuse money and ending up killing welfare and Medicaid. Which, of course, is the whole point.

But, as word salad goes, Kasich tosses it well. Commenter David at DeLong's blog puts it well:
If you're going to toss out of bunch sort of random word salads of non-answers, at least be drunk. I mean, make a day of it.
This guy has as much chance of being president as my helper monkey.
So right, David. Let's let Kasich toss that salad some more:
MARCUS:  Well, but you have a tax cut that – as far as I can see though it’s been unscoreable for the reasons that Catherine says – that most closely approximates Jeb Bush’s. Jeb Bush’s tax cut was scored on a non-dynamic basis by the Tax Policy Center as costing about $6.8 trillion. ...
KASICH: Well, look, I would tell you that look at the plan and see how they project it. I believe that we have not overused dynamic scoring...– I think that what we’ve done is a set of reasonable assumptions. Now, who’s working on it?  People like Kerry Knott, worked for [former congressman] Dick Armey. I mean, we got a lot of people looking at it. ...
MARCUS:  So, but your path to balance, which doesn’t include Social Security ... rests on sustained economic growth rate approaching four percent, which ... has not really been seen in ... recent American history. So –
KASICH:  You know why?  Because they over-regulate, over-tax and blow up the budget. ... Tax cuts matter because I believe they provide economic growth. I don’t think you should make numbers up. ...
Kasich is drifting into Kansas Brownback territory, as in
  1. Lower taxes!
  2. Boom!
  3. Super economic growth!
  4. And when it doesn't actually happen...
  5. Blame somebody else! (Or, we didn't cut taxes enough!)
Also, notice how he essentially does say he'll cut Social Security and Medicaid. Just another merciless conservative. Where am I wrong?

We can turn this woman over to the states. That'll fix everything!

Note.  Why am I even talking about Kasich? It's because he's not going away. There's 2020, etc. So, start now and keep an eye on the bastard. He's just like Cruz, only not so slimy.

Clinton's Success Is a Validation. Trump's Is a Rejection. Ouch, GOPers.

How quickly Sanders' people come over to Clinton is an unknown. That she was the choice of the voters is not.

Trump couldn't win over the elite. Clinton had them all along.

I don't know how much like the average Sanders supporter I am -- ready to vote for Sanders' ideals but resigned to the fact that Clinton would win -- so my move to back Hillary won't lose me any sleep. For others, it might take a while.

But, as this insightful article from Paul Waldman in The Week reflects, Clinton has the advantage of having been the Democratic elite's pick from the beginning and then going on to get the approval of a majority of Democratic voters. Trump, on the other hand, stands as a rejection of his party's elite, showing in sharp relief that GOP core voters are mad as hell, not so much at D.C. but at the very Republican leadership that failed to deliver a goddam thing to them. Cruz, by amounting to a far-right rejection of the GOP's timidity on social and cultural issues, actually aided the Trump insurgency by sucking all the oxygen out of the (mostly fake) moderate center. What was left? Jeb! Rubio! Walker! (??)
It's been that way from the beginning. The Democratic race has had an angry moment here or there, but on the whole it's been civil, substantive, and sometimes even friendly. The people from whom Democratic voters take their cues, like politicians and media figures, have reflected that general mood. The ones supporting one candidate haven't spent a lot of time trashing the other candidate and saying that if he or she were to win the nomination, they'd desert the party. There's no meaningful #NeverClinton or #NeverSanders movement. Once the nomination is decided, you're going to have a hard time finding an elected Democrat or a liberal talk show host who'll tell people to sit this one out because the candidate they didn't support is such a disaster. And while Bernie Sanders may represent a revolt against the establishment, if and when Clinton becomes the nominee, it will represent Democratic voters validating the choice of Democratic elites.
A Donald Trump nomination, on the other hand, will represent Republican voters rejecting the choice (or rather, the choices) of Republican elites. Though few could have predicted that Donald Trump would be the vehicle of that rejection, it isn't surprising to see the Republican grassroots horrifying Republican leaders.
From a progressive's point of view, this primary season has been like the best beach party ever. Sure, Sanders has gotten testier at Clinton than many might have hoped -- he made a better "ideals" candidate than a mad-as-hell spitfire raining down bombs -- but we can see how that might have a soft landing at the end of the day. And he indeed did one thing: push Clinton noticeably left, which may make her more palatable to the so-called Bernie Bros.

But nothing even vaguely similar can be said about Donald Trump and the Republican Party. No matter the outcome -- a contested convention is still a distinct possibility -- imagine GOP elites trying to figure out a way to make nice with Trump and his voters after having been pretty hardcore #NeverTrumpsters. Good luck with that.

The result will be a GOP ticket from Hell, no question. All that's left is to find out how brutal things get down-ticket. Trump is entirely unelectable in the general and entirely unable to rally the troops for the usual suspects up for re-election to Congress.

Also remaining to be seen is how far away from Trump Congresscritters are going to run. You think they want him on the podium with them? HA.

Someone make a bucket of margaritas and a humongous plate of nachos. I'm headed for the water. I'll be right back!

As I once heard Ramblin' Jack Elliott say: What a day, what a beach, what a dog, what a bone!

Don't let me down, GOPers!

This photo may be apropos of nothing, except to suggest what a naked Donald might
face in the glare of a general election. It won't be pretty. He'll need more than a tan.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When "Religious Liberty" Doesn't Mean What You Think It Does: How About Child Care Regulation?

Alabama, long before the current religious-liberty craze, deregulated child care on a religious basis. The results have been grim.

Cheap is not better, and "religious" is often a scam.

There are lots of reasons why what happens to your toddler -- during such hugely formative years -- is important. This, of course, is well documented.

To support "religious liberty," Alabama went off the rails when it exempted "religious" daycare providers from state regulation. Read this and weep, and ask yourself why, why, why.

This random site has a nice breakdown of what breaks down in overcrowded daycares.

Yes, this socialist thinks we should subsidize the childcare industry. Unsurprisingly, conservatives think we shouldn't. (Short version: Mom should stay home and get tax cuts!)

Of course, single black moms who stay home are welfare queens that should be sterilized.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Solve Economic Inequality? Obamacare Helps.

Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote. And that's because?

The poor and minorities got helped. We failed again.

Overall, the Affordable Care Act remains marginally unpopular among Americans at large, but among those that it helped -- poor whites and blacks, the less educated, Latinos and other minorities -- it's very popular. Why? Because it helped:
LOS ANGELES — The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds — including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens — had the sharpest rise in coverage rates.
Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance. That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, dishwashers, waiters, as well as for hairdressers and cashiers. Minorities, who disproportionately worked in low-wage jobs, had large gains.
Remember my mantra: If a politician is up for election whom you know helped with health, housing, education, and jobs, vote for 'em. Otherwise, trash-heap 'em.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Armed in Church? Only in America (Well, at Least Mississippi)

Nothing says "Jesus is my savior" better than a Glock 9.

Mississippi sinks into the past with a more dangerous future.

Life continues to move in different directions. Mississippi's future goes south with its new law allowing -- frankly, encouraging -- guns in church.

Freaking weird, is all.

UC Davis' Greatest Hits: Pepper-Spray the Kids!

Yes, we remember this, and so does the Internet. Pay someone $175,000 to scrub the scandal from the webs? Ridiculous.

Yes, his name was Lt. John Pike, and, yes, after he was fired for being
a monster, he sued for pain and suffering, and won! Not joking.

And, yes, the chancellor of the university, Linda Katehi, did not lose her job, even though she had to undergo this as some modicum of punishment:

A perp walk for the ages, eh?

So taxpayer money is wasted to try to bury the memory of something absolutely horrid. Hah. The funny thing is that when this came out yesterday -- as someone should have known that it would -- the internets blew up all over again like it always does, and guess what? I typed "linda" into a Google search line and "linda katehi" auto-completed at the top. I typed "lt" and it auto-completed "lt john pike" at the top. When I went to search for photos, they were all still available. It took me a few seconds to find the video of the infamous perp walk on YouTube. How dumb, or outrageous, are these fuckers?

Here's a link to Will Bunch's take on it all, hat tip to Atrios.

As Bunch points out, Linda Katehi remains chancellor of UC Davis to this day. As for Lt. John Pike, who knows? Another, Officer Alex Lee, who also pepper-sprayed the kids at Pike's direction, has disappeared from a database of state workers.

Here's some interesting stuff from the event's Wikipedia entry, which includes the new information about the negative-image campaign:

Internet meme

The image of John Pike using his pepper spray on the occupy protesters has become an internet meme. Images have been manipulated to depict him pepper spraying various famous people, works of art and other objects.[87][88]
The incident sparked public debate regarding the appropriate use of pepper spray. On Monday, November 21, 2011, Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly appeared on political talk show The O'Reilly Factor saying of pepper spray "it’s like a derivative of real pepper. It’s a food product essentially."[89] The meme was also reported in the British press.[90][91]

Anonymous response

The Internet group Anonymous responded by releasing Pike's personal information online.[92] The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Pike subsequently received 17,000 angry or threatening emails, 10,000 text messages, and hundreds of letters, causing him to suffer from depression and anxiety and winning him a workers compensation claim settlement of $38,056.[16] The three dozen student protestors, meanwhile, were collectively awarded US$1 million by UC Davis in a settlement from a federal lawsuit, with each pepper-sprayed student receiving $30,000 individually.[93]

University PR response

On April 13, 2016 the Sacramento Bee reported that it had obtained UC Davis documents through the California Public Records Act that showed that the University had paid at least $175,000 to public relations companies for work related to the negative image of the University that was circulating on the Internet.[94][95][96][97][98] A proposal from Maryland company Nevins & Associates that was obtained by the newspaper showed that the company had been hired on a six-month contract that paid $15,000 a month, starting in January, 2013.[99] The proposal prepared by Nevins & Associates offered to create an online campaign to clean up the negative attention on the University, and to advise the UC Davis administration in the use of Google platforms to eliminate search results that reflect negatively on the University. The company stated that the overall goal was the “eradication of references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google for the university and the Chancellor.”[99] After the Nevins & Associates contract ended, the University hired Sacramento-based ID Media Partners in an $82,500 contract in 2014 to “design and execute a comprehensive search engine results management strategy" aimed at improving the reputation of the University and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.[99]
Please note that another $82,500 was wasted in 2014.

These jerks need to go. Maybe this new bullshit will help.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What Every Community Needs: Health, Housing, Education, and Jobs (A Little Culture Don't Hurt)

Okay, a little simplified, but it's basically true. So, why is it so hard?

View of my town from inside the back of my head.

But I do know why it's hard: People have shit and don't want to give it up. Not everybody, mind you, but enough, especially the ones that could afford it the most. "Not one goddam dime for those lazy bastards!!"

Where am I wrong?

(h/t to Bill de Blasio, while listing the priorities of his mayoralty. He could have been reading my mind.)

Note. Seriously, look at those priorities and figure who's helping and who's not, then vote for the guy or gal who's helping. How hard is that?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why Is Paul Ryan Refusing to Run for President? Because He'd Lose.

Also, who the hell is asking him to run anyway?

Clever move, refusing to run for an office you'd lose.

When Paul Ryan announced vociferously that he wouldn't accept the nomination for president, I assumed it's because someone asked him to. 'Kay, maybe not:
It is very difficult for members of Ryan’s fan club to understand that outside of elite Republican donor circles, the pages of Beltway publications, and the green rooms of Sunday morning chat shows, Ryan is not that popular of a politician. Before Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Ryan—as the author of budgets that slashed entitlements and discretionary spending programs—was the poster boy for Democratic opposition to the obstructionist right. This was just a few years ago. Mitt Romney knew this in 2012 when he selected Ryan as his vice presidential candidate: Ryan was the “risky” choice, but Romney went with him anyway as a means of rallying the Republican base behind the ticket. As Donald Trump's candidacy has proved, the Republican base isn't necessarily all that interested in cutting entitlements after all.
Politico points out what should be obvious, that he's not running because he shouldn't:
The backdrop of all his denials is the political reality that Ryan would likely lose. Most public polling has him faring relatively poorly in a potential matchup with Clinton. Of course, polls shift, but Ryan would be forced to launch and run a presidential campaign in three months. His experience from 2012 would help, but even the most talented campaigner would be at a disadvantage on such a compressed timetable.
One fact I hope more people will focus on when it comes to Paul Ryan: He's most famous for his merciless federal budget proposals that don't add up and have never been passed. That's like being famous for your basketball shot when you've never played in a game, but, oh well, nice work if you can get it.

Whaa?? Amazon Enforces Noncompete Agreements on Minimum-Wage Workers

And Amazon is not the only one. Imagine sandwich makers.

Heaven forbid your workers would jump to Subway.

In an article mostly about whether Silicon Valley thrived while Boston's Route 128 tech corridor flopped -- possibly because California banned noncompete agreements while Massachusetts allowed them -- we learn that some corporations force workers to sign noncompete agreements, even for minimum wage jobs.
The same year, the Huffington Post reported that Jimmy John's was requiring its sandwich makers and delivery drivers to sign a contract promising not to work for a competing sandwich maker — "any business which derives more than ten percent (10%) of its revenue from selling submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches" — within 3 miles of any Jimmy John's location for two years after leaving the company.
Amazon has required even temporary, minimum wage workers in its warehouses to sign noncompete agreements. A Massachusetts summer camp banned its counselors from working at a competing camp the following summer.
Let's be clear: The only reason corporations would enforce noncompete agreements on low-wage workers would be to suppress wages overall. It's as odious as it is obvious.

Later in the article it's pointed out that as mean-spirited as this behavior is -- how much longer can I shop at Amazon as I learn what a dick Jeff Bezos is? -- what really is at stake is the simple notion of freedom, let alone fair treatment of labor. Kudos to California for realizing that freedom might also equal innovation.

Note. The reason for noncompete agreements was originally because they were thought to protect innovation. Silicon Valley may have proven otherwise.

Paul Ryan Hates the Poor and Loves the Rich (So He's a Moderate!)

He's further to the right than Trump and about as nasty as Cruz. Who knew? (You should have...)

Paul Ryan: Still flying under the asshole radar?

One thing that has continued to confound me is how the media never truly digs into Paul Ryan's far-right, take-from-the-poor and give-to-the-rich fake "moderate" stance. If you look into who and what he is, you find him much like Pope Francis (apologies to Pope fans): one of the nicest assholes in the world -- in other words, still an asshole. gives us the rundown:
This idea of Ryan as a serious adult with a "moderate congressional track record" is a tempting one, but let's not fool ourselves. Ryan talks a good game about caring about poverty and rejecting the "makers versus takers" frame of many conservatives. But in his time as a national figure, he's been a consistent advocate of aggressive cuts to the social safety net and to Social Security and Medicare, and for tax reforms at least as regressive as those envisioned by Cruz and Trump.
Paul Ryan is many things. But he is no moderate.
Which of his policies aren't moderate? All of them:
Ryan first came to public prominence in 2005, as one of the most vocal proponents of privatizing Social Security in the House GOP. His specific plan, the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act, was the most radical floated during that period. It would have allowed workers to redirect more than half of their 12.4 percent payroll tax contribution to Social Security into a private account, with poorer workers being able to redirect more.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that the plan would increase the debt by 93.7 percent of GDP — a more than doubling — by 2050. The problem is that by radically reducing payroll tax revenue, the plan would require a huge, ongoing infusion of revenue from income taxes and other sources. Specifically, it'd require an ongoing tax increase of 1.5 percent of GDP, or about $280 billion a year. The revenue shortfall the plan would create would more than double the Social Security shortfall at the time, thereby worsening the very problem the proposal was intended to solve.
The truth about Paul Ryan is true about most "fiscal conservatives": If solving entitlements makes things much worse, the real agenda is to destroy them.

That, my friends, is the truth about Paul Ryan, which is what makes him actually more dangerous that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Read the entire Vox piece. It's a must.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Did Fox News Destroy the Republican Party?

We've all watched as Fox News became the propaganda wing of the Republican Party. And a nasty job they made of it, too.

Would there have been a "Benghazi" without Fox News? Not likely.

A new report in the Huffington Post makes a strong case that Fox News -- with a big assist from the far-right wing of talk radio, many of whom have done long stints on Fox News -- may have crushed their own brand.

Over the years of watching Fox -- just to see what they were up to, mind you -- I was often repelled by what I witnessed. Not all of its content was as silly as what you see in the above screen capture, but much was so warped that I could scarcely believe Fox management felt it was responsible to offer as "news."

"Pelosi Takes Socialist Tone." Can we even wonder whether they've chosen sides?

Now, as the Republican Party seems actually to be disintegrating, there's no question that propaganda can produce a rabble that may get out of control. Michael Gerson thinks so:
Consider: If Republicans had fielded a strong presidential nominee this year, who managed to win a winnable election, the party’s success would have been more comprehensive than any since 1980. The tragedy is not that Republicans are on the verge of self-destruction; it is that they were on the verge of victory, and threw it away.
This singular failure is not a small thing for the GOP. The patient is brimming with health and vigor in every way, except for the missing head. Either of this year’s likely Republican failures would complicate the job of candidates down the ticket and alienate demographic groups that are essential to future national victories.
Might be right, Mike.

Huffington Post goes further:
The Republicans, however, have no one to blame but themselves. This is a crisis of their own creation. And it didn’t just happen overnight.
The Republican Party has been fomenting anger and discontent in the base of its own Party for years. The mechanism through which this hate has been disseminated has been the network of extremist media of right-wing talk radio and the Fox News Channel, which is essentially talk radio transposed onto television.
Just think of all the right-wing “superstars” who spew messages of anger and hate every single day throughout the land over this enormous megaphone. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Ben Shapiro, Dana Loesch, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, to name a few.
And make no mistake, spewing hate has a significant impact upon society. It is the equivalent of modern-day propaganda where the population is barraged with a stream of consistent messaging. As ordinary people go about their daily lives, they are exposed repeatedly, day-in and day-out, to the same messages in numerous different forms and by numerous different people. Pretty soon, these messages begin to sink in and take effect. The audience begins to adopt a worldview consistent with these messages, regardless of the degree of truth. It is a remarkable phenomenon.
Remarkable indeed. And, fact is, this was quite obvious to any objective viewer. Now, a Karl Rove might have thought, "If we push this thing right up to the edge, uh, we win!" I could imagine why he might think so.

Instead, they pushed it over the edge and, after eight years of Barack Obama -- who, against all that Fox News holds sacred, now sports positive approval numbers -- the last two Republican candidates standing are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz? Seriously?

Seriously. So serious is the situation that some fantasize that Paul Ryan could come to the rescue. He'd get his ass pulverized, and he knows it. There will be no Paul Ryan.

Ask Mitt. He'd do it. Oh boy.

Anyone surprised at this?

Bonus image!

I fell for this Photoshopped image. But after the news style
Fox has cultivated over the years, can you blame me?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Gingrich to Livingston to Hastert: In Retrospect, a God-Awful Run

When Hastert came to the rescue, who knew he was worse than them all?

Not looking so good anymore, Denny.

Newt Gingrich ran aground because of ethics violations. Bob Livingston came to the rescue, which lasted about ten minutes after his serial affairs came out. Dennis Hastert, who apparently didn't want the job, stepped in and lasted until 2007.

In hindsight, that was a pretty squalid run by the Republican Party, speaker-wise. And remember, power-wise, Tom DeLay was in the background but often very much in charge of the House during much of this time. Also forced out by ethics questions. Hmm.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Rachel Maddow Sums Up Trump on Tonight Show

Rachel is pretty succinct. In this clip, she's devastatingly so.

Donald Trump equals a power sprayer. About right. And funny.

Congress Sets Record for Inaction. Who Woulda Thought?

Since the tea-party takeover in 2010, Congress has done less than any Congress since 1947. Surprise, surprise.

Why do anything? It might cost too much.

The funny thing is we got statistics to prove it:

And, of course, this past Congress, 2015-2016, has done the least in the same time frame.

(Thanks, Daily Kos)

Note. Just noticed that the famous Do-Nothing 1947-48 actually did something, comparatively, and the other almost Do-Nothing Congress besides the past three was 1995-96, the famous Gingrich Congress. How 'bout that?

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Republican Party Should Change Its Name to "The Mob"

Paul Krugman isn't a god, though he plays one at the NYTimes. But his blog today stripped the GOP bare. What's left? Nothing, unless you count suckers.

These guys don't give a shit about America. They're grifters, pure and simple.

Paul Krugman nails it with this blog post, which illustrates why Republican reformicons are waging an impossible battle. You can't reform something that doesn't actually exist. The Republican Party isn't, per se, a political party. What is it?
After all, what is the modern GOP? A simple model that accounts for just about everything you see is that it’s an engine designed to harness white resentment on behalf of higher incomes for the donor class.
What we call the Republican establishment is really a network of organizations that represent donor interests because they’re supported by donor money. These organizations impose ideological purity with a combination of carrots and sticks: assured support for politicians and pundits who toe the line, sanctions against anyone who veers from orthodoxy — excommunication if you’re an independent thinking pundit, a primary challenge from the Club for Growth if you’re an imperfectly reliable politician.
One of the reasons what passes for policy in the GOP resembles a collection of zombie lies, that have been demonstrated as bullshit over and over and over again, is that Republicans aren't interested in the truth, they're interested in an effective set of dog whistles they can blow over and over again.

But something went wrong this year.
So why are we seeing a crackup of this system now? It’s not because events have called the orthodoxy into question; that has never mattered in the past. On the contrary, failed predictions have never caused even the slightest change in claims: the same people who predicted that Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax hike would kill jobs and that Obamacare would be an economic disaster are making confident predictions about the salutary effects of tax cuts now.
The problem, instead, seems to be demography — an increasingly diverse population means that the party needs to go beyond white resentment, but the resentful whites are having none of it. Oh, and the base never cared about the ideology.
Donald Trump riled up the base for all the wrong reasons, though I'm not sure the base understands that Trump is of the very class that exploits them. Likely they think "I've got a mobster working for me for a change." But can you get the hordes to shout "Fuck yeah!" every time Congress cuts taxes with 2 percent of the cuts going to the white working class and most of the rest going to the top, while services Americans need get cut year after year? Maybe, but who knows for how much longer?

Krugman thinks it might take a while.
But back to the Republicans: the reformist hope was, I guess, that the donor class itself would realize the need to soften the party’s ideology in the face of a changing society. But the right-wing rich are different from you and me: they can and do surround themselves with people telling them that if only they say the usual things louder — if only they run yet another ad accusing Donald Trump of not being a true conservative — they can reestablish the old order. Remember, it took five presidential defeats — 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and the shocker in 1948 — before the old GOP accepted the legitimacy of the New Deal. If that’s the standard, would-be Republican reformers might have to wait through two terms of Hillary and one of her successor before getting a hearing.
If there's any hope at all, it's that the party will be blasted to smithereens before the reformers get a chance. Maybe the party can then be rebuilt from the ground up, that is if the grift doesn't get reconstituted first. If the conservative movement resembled a movie, it would be The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. If we could only tell them apart from the good guys.

Hey, maybe that's finally happening.