Saturday, January 30, 2016

Just Say It and Stick to It: Hillary Clinton Did Nothing Wrong with Her Emails

This bogus scandal is Kafkaesque: Anything Hillary does is a scandal in Fox News' eyes, and the mainstream media loves the narrative. The hell with the truth. Scandal!

The anatomy of a non-scandal: The media feels a thrill, the dogs begin to bark.

I can hear things when the news is on. I suspect everyone can who's listening. When the latest episode of the Clinton email "scandal" broke yesterday, I heard differing things on different networks:
  1. MSNBC had the State Dept. spokesman on, who said 22 emails were held back from release because elements in the intelligence community had asked that they be reclassified. This was clearly stated: 22 emails that were not classified at the time were now being reclassified at the request of another department, not the State Department where Clinton worked. This a common practice when people leave a sensitive government position.
  2. CNN covered it and had a guest on that pointed out the the emails in question were not classified at the time. I didn't watch long enough, but typically CNN would talk about it for a couple of hours off and on, and someone with say "What effect does this have on Iowa, a couple of people will say "the timing couldn't have been worse, even though it's possible she didn't do anything but she should have known that it just doesn't smell right."
  3. Fox News had on a reporter who said "OH NOES 22 EMAILS WERE DISCOVERED TO BE CLASSIFIED AT THE TIME THEY WERE SENT AND EACH OF THE 22 REPRESENTED A CRIMINAL OFFENSE. Who of us are surprised by that on Fox? Who of us don't assume it's complete bullshit. (Hint: Republicans drooling for more scandal!!)
  4. On MSNBC's "With All Due Respect," show, hosted by two centrist political reporters, Mark Halperin and John Hellerman, the hosts offered the classic political pundit's narrative, which was the 22 emails were apparently not classified at the time but it's a problem for Hillary because there's always something there with Hillary that shows why people don't trust her. They of course said she didn't do anything wrong except she botched the "political optics."
  5. Finally, from two network evening news shows, CBS and PBS, we get reports that said oh no, Hillary's emails were classified and this can't be good, then of course introduce the information -- second or third from the lede -- that they weren't classified at the time and there probably was nothing wrong except it's Hillary and this can't be good because Iowa and optics and Republicans and scandal and stench and trust and oh noes...
 Now, if I might as an outside observer offer what is the bottom-line truth about this whole affair:
  1. Hillary Clinton -- like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell before her -- used a private email system while Secretary of State.
  2. When the news came out about her use of a private server, a whole bunch of political noise erupted.
  3. These emails have been scrutinized because of multiple FOIA requests to see them. These emails would have undergone some kind of scrutiny eventually, regardless of these FOIA requesst, before any of them would have been released. It's a typical process of sorting out records that are too sensitive to realize now, which should be preserved as presidential documents that might end up in a presidential library, and which are fine for public view. It's common that one technocrat or another in the process will request a reclassification for some reason or another. It's a common occurrence.
  4. Who requested these emails through FOIA? Judicial Watch, a foundation established by Larry Klayman in 1994 for the purpose of hounding the Clintons. It filed 18 lawsuits involving Vince Foster, Whitewater, etc. (This foundation received a lot of support from Richard Mellon Scaife, a notorious wealthy conservative who later funded the Swift Boar Veterans for Truth attacks on John Kerry.) Nothing came of any of these scandals, but the Clintons were continually harassed during their administration. This is old news going after new news. Surprised? No one is.
  5. Another FOIA request for Hillary's emails was filed by America Rising, an opposition research PAC that came out of the Mitt Romney 2012 campaign. Now it's dedicated to spreading negative stories about Democratic candidates, among other political operations.
  6. Another FOIA request for Hillary's emails was filed by the conservative news operation Daily Caller, which was founded by conservative gadfly Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, a former adviser to Dick Cheney.
  7. There is a regular clearing and sorting process for government documents, including emails, but that process has been hijacked by the above FOIA requests. Still, in response to those requests, different departments in the Obama administration have undertaken the usual process of clearing documents for public access. It's not unusual that the Intelligence community would be more zealous in protecting information than the State Dept., leading to the reclassification of the 22 emails. Don't be surprised if they demand more reclassification.
  8. At some point, this process will end, not necessarily before the 2016 election.
Very important points to note:
  1. The process is working.
  2. Any email document that is reclassified -- whether rightly or wrongly -- will not be released. These documents may never see the light of day, unless it's determined that they were wrongly reclassified, in which case they may become public after declassification.
  3. Those emails that can be released, will be released.
  4. At this point, there is no evidence that any email documents were at risk, whether on government (non-secured) servers or Clinton's private (non-secured) servers. Both systems may in fact be "secure," meaning essentially unhackable. There has been no evidence of hacking on either system.
  5. There was and is a highly secure State Dept. system for moving documents, cables, and other communications that is typically used for sensitive State Dept. communications. Clinton used this system for sensitive information transmission. This system and its documents are not in dispute.
  6. Again, the process is working, the system is working, and at this point there is no evidence that any emails or documents were ever at risk, even now. Unless, of course, there are leaks after the fact, over which Hillary Clinton no longer has control.
Conclusion: The same assholes that hounded the Clintons through Travelgate, Vince-Fostergate, Whitewatergate, IRSgate, etc., etc., etc. are hounding Hillary Clinton in an attempt to stop her march to the White House. It's bullshit, always has been. That stench that follows the Clintons is the stench of conservative scandal-mongering opposition research run amok.

This all happens with a grotesque assist from the political media that thrives on phony narratives because, ah, who the fuck knows?

Clinton email scandal? There's no there there, and any intelligent, well-meaning human being knows it.

Note. I know that Hillary "apologized" for using a private email server. She did this after being hounded mercilessly by the political media. I guess her advisers convinced her that she should make such an apology. It was a political calculation, not a "real" one. If I were Hillary, I would have told the political press to go fuck themselves and when hounded again I would have told them to reread the original go-fuck-yourselves message. The only point I would concede on this is that Hillary may understand that the apology would mute, if only briefly, the cacophony of nonsense that oppo assholes gin up and upon which political pundits thrive. Maybe she's right. I don't know.

  • Here's a over-wordy (hell, I'm over-wordy) analysis on Vox that explains the over-re-classification problem.
  • Here's a typical political writer, this time on Slate, that gins up the controversy while admitting there may be no there there, but "it couldn't happen at a worse time for Hillary." Disappointing from a usually reliable writer.
  • Here's an AP report that fails to report that State Dept. spokesman John Kirby distinctly announced that all of the 22 emails were not classified at the time they were sent but were subsequently "upgraded" at the request of the Intelligence services. That AP would handle this information they way they did smacks of feeding a narrative that "this couldn't come at a worse time for Hillary who has trustworthiness issues." Bad reporting on purpose. At least Slate avoids this mistake.
  • Here's an example of how Fox News spins the Clinton email story. Kind of odious. Compare and contrast with other reports, please.
  • Both the NYTimes and WaPo carry the story. The Times takes until the fifth paragraph to reveal that

    "The State Department said it had “upgraded” the classification of the emails at the request of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Mr. Kirby said that none of the emails had been marked at any level of classification at the time they were sent through Mrs. Clinton’s computer server."

    Good for the NYTimes for reporting that. Fox News' reporter withheld that. The WaPo's report so completely obscures most facts that it hard to glean anything from it. For instance:

    "Clinton has also said that the information in question was not classified at the time the emails were sent — a point that intelligence officials have disputed.

    "State Department spokesman John Kirby said Friday that his agency had not yet made a determination on that key question."

    My beef with that report is that it contradicts what was reported in the NYTimes and also contradicts what I saw John Kirby say on live TV. I saw it. He said that none of the emails were classified at the time they were transmitted. So reports the NYTimes. What's with the WaPo? The "dispute" with intelligence officials is that they now choose to classify previously unclassified material that Clinton doesn't believe needs such treatment. Get it right, WaPo.
I'm done. This is a controversy ginned up by conservative oppo researchers, political operatives, and Hillary opponents with the complicity of the Beltway political media that love to keep shit stirred up, either because they want the narrative to live or have a deep dislike for all things Clinton. Who knows?

Here, I found John Kirby's statement on video. I can't embed it, so here's a link to CNN. Not classified at the time, not classified at the time. Get it?

There's no there there in this email nonsense. Wish it would go away, probably won't.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Have Debates in the YouTube Era Morphed into Social Media Events?

Candidates have criticized "gotcha questions." Last night's Fox News debate featured "gotcha videos." Do they have a place in debates?

Was Megyn Kelly's new 'do the most newsworthy event of the night? Maybe.

I keed about Megyn's 'do (a little). But for me what was really newsworthy was the use of video montages as "gotcha" moments in the Fox debate last night. For all I know, they've been used in prior debates, especially this cycle. I can't recall. But it is a major departure.

It's as if the NFL decided that this year, for the playoffs, they're instituting a brand new rule: Defenses are allowed to bring out huge Gatorade coolers and dowse the quarterbacks before all 3rd-and-long plays.

It's that big a departure from the concept of a debate, in my view. A debate is a verbal event in which one side -- or multiple sides -- has to present its viewpoint and defend it. The weapon? The mouth. A moderator's job is to control the flow of the debate, make sure rules are followed, and to steer the contenders toward confronting issues of the day.

Since when is it the job of the moderator to provoke -- in the case of Donald Trump's beef with Megyn Kelly -- or to accuse -- with props! -- one side or the other?

If debate formats are allow to morph beyond pitting one side's verbiage against another, why not just introduce gloves, or squirt guns?

Heaven help us. Leave it to the Hollywood Reporter to track this innovation:
But a little later something wonderful happened. Megyn Kelly teased it before a commercial break, promising the viewing audience "something you've never seen before." What was it, the nation wondered? Trump suddenly riding in on a white horse? The candidates engaging in a dirty dancing contest? Chris Christie in a speedo?
Better. It was the use of "gotcha" videos first of Marco Rubio and then of Ted Cruz, showing them blatantly contradicting themselves on policy positions throughout the years. Rubio was particularly flustered by this new and highly effective brand of attack, which concentrated on his flip-flopping on immigration and amnesty, responding with a litany of tough steps he would take, including tracking immigrants like Federal Express packages. And he didn't even give credit for the idea to Chris Christie.
I'm not saying where I land on this. Maybe post-Internet, future political debates will feature YouTube video, Instagram feeds, Twitter embeds, facebook compilations, hell, the whole kitchen sink of the Information Age. Fine, but at some point we need to stop calling them debates and call them what there are. Food fights? Gotcha-no-gotchyou!-fests? Facebook-offs?

Damn you, Al Gore!

Note. I couldn't find any sign of the gotcha videos in question on the webs today. I'll be watching out for them. Oh, and as for my personal feelings about the video-montage-as-lethal-weapons used against Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio? It couldn't have happened to two nicer lying bastards.

Flint, Michigan Smoking Gun: State Trucked in Water for State Workers

By January, 2015, the state knew the water was unsafe and protected its workers.

Now it comes out:
A state building in Flint, Michigan, had clean water quietly trucked in for government employees even as city residents expressed concerns about unsafe water, emails among state officials show. 
Emails obtained by the advocacy group Progress Michigan reveal state officials acknowledging concerns about the water quality while brushing off residents' uneasiness. A memo sent Jan. 7, 2015, states that due to the concerns, "[Department of Technology, Management and Budget] is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near a water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink."
Rick Snyder and the whole crew at every stage of this charade should resign and criminal charges should be explored.

What's really deplorable here is a bunch of people dedicated to the proposition that "government is the problem, not the solution" have proven their own point to the detriment of the people. And that's fucked up.

The government-as-solution was ignored. It was a people-in-charge problem. Heads must roll.

Is Marco Rubio's Position -- Jesus + Torture -- the Default Position of the Republican Party?

As the the campaign heats up before Iowa, Marco Rubio is all-in for Our Lord Jesus Savior and vows to torture ISIS captives. A winning position?

Marco Rubio, almost gleefully, has repeated a line at the last two debates: "If we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we are going to find out everything they know." It's followed by brisk applause.

It's now well established that torture, especially waterboarding, was extensively used during the Bush administration and was approved at the highest levels, meaning Bush and Cheney themselves.

It's well established that Barack Obama brought an immediate end to its use. Now, Marco Rubio -- and Donald Trump, to be clear -- promise to bring torture back. They speak openly about it.

Does that mean that torture is the default position of today's GOP? I think it does. Is openly professing your Christian faith a default position of today's GOP? You know the answer to that, as well. Compatible?

Looking a little further, I find that Chris Christie is in favor of waterboarding, and Jeb Bush doesn't want to "rule out" its use, even though the practice is internationally condemned as torture.

Apparently Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, to their credit, stand alone in their condemnation of torture.
President Barack Obama banned torture — including the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation — with an executive order soon after taking office in 2009. A new president could have reversed Obama’s order, but last year Congress enshrined a torture ban into federal law: In June, the Senate voted 78-21 to approve an amendment, sponsored by Sens. John McCain and Dianne Feinstein, that became part of a defense spending bill Obama signed into law.

Cruz and another GOP presidential candidate, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, backed the amendment. Rubio missed the vote but opposed the measure, saying he didn’t want to deny future presidents “important tools for protecting the American people.” He also complained about “telegraphing to the enemy what interrogation techniques we will or won’t use.”
To round out the field:
Asked for his view about waterboarding on ABC’s “This Week” in November, neurosurgeon Ben Carson said, “There’s no such thing as political correctness when you’re fighting an enemy who wants to destroy you.” POLITICO could not find any statements on the subject by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and his campaign did not respond to a query about his position.
A final note on Ted Cruz, from the Weekly Standard:
Supporters of the techniques have said the limited use of waterboarding and EITs were effective in providing critical intelligence for fighting against terrorist groups. One of the three people waterboarded under the CIA's program, for instance, was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
The Cruz campaign has not yet responded to further request for comment on whether these techniques constitute the "torture" that Cruz opposes.
Slippery, Ted.

 The only thing that beats a bad guy without a dog is a good guy with a dog.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marco Rubio: Praise the Lord and Pass the Waterboard

In tonight's debate in Iowa, Marco Rubio pandered to the religious right. What I want to know is: Who would Jesus torture?

Nobody finds religion faster than a GOP candidate.

A week or so ago, Marco Rubio came out with an ad that said, more or less, he's on Earth to follow God's plan. A couple of weeks back at a GOP debate, he said something like "I will fight ISIS and send them to Guantanamo and find out everything they know!" I took that to mean torture. So do you, unless you're an idiot. Sorry, but let's just assume you're not an idiot.

Rubio repeated the line in tonight's debate. He also pandered to the Lord Jesus -- no, wait, he was pandering to evangelicals in Iowa, duh -- which begs the question, who would Jesus torture? I'm serious, who would Jesus torture?

I'm betting He wouldn't torture anybody. He might, however, slap Rubio upside the head once or twice for good measure.

OMG FOX DJT! The Battle of the Bullies

Roger Ailes has been bullying everyone on the left for years. Now Donald Trump, a bully in his own right, is calling Roger out. Double switcheroo!

Debate Fight Club: Trump somehow stole the show (literally).

As a progressive, I should be able to say I don't have a dog in this fight, but I can't. Schadenfreude is bursting out all over. Fox News getting some comeuppance? Oh yeah.

That doesn't mean I like the Donald. He's a boorish, narcissistic, bloviator who became (more) famous for yelling, "You're fired!" That phrase alone identified him as a bully. The ultimate bully move is the boss using his leverage to terminate your job. Get your belongings and severance check and fuck off.

Liking either Trump or Ailes isn't a prerequisite for enjoying this entertainment. It is luscious that Fox got Trumped in the way only Trump is currently capable of. Politicians don't always tell the truth; it's not in the job description. But, until now, they generally play by the rules as they exist in PoliticsLand. Trump isn't a politician and didn't get the memo. So he does what he does best: Blow up the process and not just pick up the pieces. He burns them to a crisp and moves to the next outrage. All I can say is wow. Wow.

Trump has already won -- uh, this round. He's been winning a lot of them. The battle, yes, won. The war? Who knows. But wow.

Oh, BTW: The double switcheroo I'm referring to is the right-wing bully, Ailes, being punked by a Republican candidate that may or may not be right-wing. We simply don't know what's in Trump's heart. How could we know?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Yes, the Repubican Party Has Become an Existential Threat to Humanity.

Running with the deep, anti-intellectual streams within the Christian Right, the GOP has made a pact with the Devil. Give us power, and we'll kill the planet with our/your ingnorance.

Nothing personal, but your love of God is killing us.

Yes, I don't mind indicting religious freaks -- I find religion to be repulsive superstition -- for their profound ignorance. So it's no surprise that a leading intellectual voice of much of the past century, that of Noam Chomsky, is speaking out against this ignorance and laying the blame at the feet of the GOP:
Chomsky said the GOP and its presidential candidates are “literally a serious danger to decent human survival” and cited Republicans' rejection of measures to deal with climate change, which he called a “looming environmental catastrophe.” All of the top Republican presidential candidates are either outright deniers, doubt its seriousness or insist no action should be taken -- “dooming our grandchildren,” Chomsky said.
"I am not a believer," Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, said recently. "Unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather."
What's especially revealing is Trump's take on the matter. No one really knows much about what Donald Trump actually believes on any number of matters, and he seems to be outright faking his religiosity. One thing we do know is that for Donald Trump to attract Republican voters, he has to come out against the science behind global warming.

It defies all rationality that this is a mandatory Republican stance, but there you are, and that is deeply fucked up. Good luck to us all. We're going to need it.

Which planet would Jesus kill?

Ammon Bundy: The Anatomy of a Knucklehead

Bundy claims to be watching out for us all. Almost all of us don't like it and want him to stop.

Fantasies of the James-Younger gang? Partly.

Ammon Bundy is securing his place in history -- however slight -- as a leading knucklehead of his day. His beefs are just as slight and misplaced as his grasp of who gives a shit, missing that most, even those in the Oregon county he purports to have come to rescue, want him to go away.
"Love the people here in Harney County," Bundy says. "I have met so many good people. We are so grateful for the food and supplies that they have given us and how they have kept us and how they have fed us with barbecues. They have come and entertained us."
Most in the community have actually been very vocal that they want Bundy to leave.
That's right, and the people of Harney County have made it clear from day one. Now the militia-type occupiers seem to be escalating their snack-in for no obvious reason or strategic advantage:
Talks with inside sources as well as a media event Saturday at the refuge indicate the Bundy militia is making new grabs at federal land, expanding its presence near the Malheur Refuge, and forming extralegal judicial and legislative bodies in Harney County to displace the existing government, even as its external support and options appear to dwindle. It is also building fortifications with railroad ties and concrete barriers.
In the latest development, Burns, Oregon — the town nearest to the Malheur Refuge — cancelled a planned community meeting on Jan. 25 after threats by militants to protest and block the event. The previous week many residents in Burns were angered after Ammon Bundy and his supporters showed up with guns to one of the community meetings that have occurred regularly since the Bundy militia seized the refuge.
We've seen this stuff before, not surprisingly a couple of years ago from Bundy's father, Cliven Bundy, a welfare cheat who thinks the federal government should feed his cattle for free. The elder Bundy attracted armed and dangerous knuckleheads to his cause, and the feds wisely gave way.

Unfortunately, this has emboldened militia types and erstwhile cowboys to hope to play bang-bang shoot-shoot with someone or another for some reason or another. (Oh, yeah, they want control of federal lands, in this case a wildlife refuge set up by Teddy Roosevelt.) Again, the feds have wisely avoided another Ruby Ridge or Waco.

But something has got to give. If Bundy stands down and everyone goes home, good. If they don't, uh oh. One way or another, the feds must reassert themselves by arresting the offenders, who by now have been well documented.

Peacefully, we hope.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Jeb Is Bush-League: Flint Water Crisis Caused by Regulations (cough)

Bush came off as lacking in charisma. Now it seems he's got a hole in his head.

Bush: Pollution happens. Don't regulate it!

If the conservatives want to keep proving the case against them, just keep talking like this:
On ABC’s This Week, co-host Martha Raddatz asked Bush who is to blame for the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the fact that the city of more than 100,000 Americans had been “drinking, eating, brushing their teeth in lead-contaminated water, while the government was telling them repeatedly ‘it’s safe to use.'”
“We’ve created this complex, no responsibility regulatory system, where the federal government, the state government, a regional government, local and county governments are all pointing fingers at one another.” He proposed simply having a “21st century system of rules: Whenever you see a problem, it should become public, there should be transparency instead of trying to cover it up.”
Catch the dodge? Our regulatory system is "no responsibility." Sorry Jeb, but where the regulations were violated you'll find the "responsibility." Another dodge? Rick Snyder attempting to act like he's so incompetent and uninformed that it's impossible that he could be "responsible."

More Irony 101: I thought the Republican Party was the party of individual responsibility, Yeah, unless a Republican is caught fucking children's brains all to Hell. So, yeah, Bush does a flim-flam on us. Asshole. Wait. He's being transparent! Jeb is transparently an asshole.

Some progress. Baby steps.

Anyone-but-Trump = Cruz?

Liberals can party behind the thought that Cruz might win, he's so widely loathed.

I say Cruz is too short -- 5'8" -- but that's just me.
(Updated below.)

 Via TPM I was led to a Mother Jones article on why and how Ted Cruz is so loathed by the GOP establishment, and it made for a peppy read, especially if you've found him loathsome, as well. I especially was moved by his college roommate during his freshman year at Princeton:
"I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States," screenwriter Craig Mazin told the Daily Beast in 2013. "Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book." On Twitter, Mazin—who has called Cruz "a nightmare of a human being"—recalled that when he was a freshman sharing a dorm room with Cruz, he would get invited to parties hosted by seniors because the upperclassmen pitied him. Cruz, he notes, "was that widely loathed. It's his superpower."

Last week, the Republican elites came out solidly against Ted Cruz, and many of the reasons are articulated in this article. The fact that leading -- and lesser -- conservatives piled on Trump muddied the waters. But Cruz's brand is considerably tarnished, and Trump remains a Teflon Don.

Verdict: Cruz is out as the anyone-but-Trump.

Update. Rick Perry apparently didn't get the memo.

Winning the News Cycle: The Hypnotism of Donald Trump

Trump is always selling, and his fans are always buying.

I remember a small movie from the sixties that had a big impact on me, George C. Scott's portrayal of "The Flim-Flam Man." It drove two themes: One, "You can't cheat an honest man," and, two, "I never conned anyone who didn't want something for nothing." Both are hard truths we could use about now in the frightening, nightmare version of Magical Mystery Tour that is the 2016 Republican presidential nominating process.

Howard Fineman writes an interesting piece in this morning's Huffington Post about how presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin views Donald Trump's success (so far) with his campaign. Her thesis is that the media is failing at properly vetting Donald Trump, mostly because of the current short-attention-span focus on who's winning and losing the news cycle, who's up and who's down. She blames this on how social media and the Internet have usurped the prior role of the long-form press who, in conjunction with "party leaders," heretofore worked together to reveal the deeper natures of candidates and help -- for better or worse -- society from succumbing to hucksters, if you will.

We aren't doing that now, Goodwin maintains, and the result is the ascendancy, against all reason, of Donald Trump to the point that, holy hell, he just might win the GOP nomination. She's not wrong, and her thesis is convincing.

I taught marketing (along with economics) in high school for years, and each year I played a video by a no-name Canadian salesman about how "to sell." He ran through all the sales techniques he'd learned over the years and how to employ them to best advantage. His presentation was very revealing, and I had to admire his dedication to "always be closing."

That's Trump in a nutshell. He's a salesman, not a politician. (Let's forget for a moment that all politicians are salesmen and are always closing.) He's also a reality TV star, which is about "living" on TV, but always with a production team and a script. To a great extent, there's nothing real about reality TV. Trump knows this and applies it in the campaign. It's another aspect of his edge.

The result is that Trump is always selling, and his fans are always buying. And buying means pulling the lever for Trump. Of course the trouble with polls -- which Trump uses when he's in selling mode -- is that there can be fatal flaws in them. Supporters will cheer, go crazy at rallies, but with they walk into a booth on election day and pull that lever?

It's not a given with Trump fans, who may not be the classic voter. At least that's what the failed party leaders and thought leaders in the press hope, a week out from the Iowa Caucuses. It's more than a little troubling that we as a society find ourselves in this position.

Jeb Bush: shocked and awed.
What's more troubling is that Trump is winning (so far) for more reasons than that he's gamed the press, hypnotized his crowds, and gobbled up the new cycles one after the other. He's winning because his opposition (the other "brands") are so incredibly unappealing.

Cruz? Rubio? Bush? Christie? Kasich? Fiorina? Huckabee? Paul? Santorum? Carson? Walker? Perry? Jindal? Graham? Pataki? What are they selling, and who's buying?

No wonder Trump is stealing the news cycles. Can he steal the nomination? It's undeniably possible. If he wins, it's because people bought his pitch. If he loses, it's not because the people change their minds and buy some other candidate's pitch (I can't believe anyone is buying any other candidates' line) but because the party leaders and the thought leaders coalesce behind a message that finally convinces: Trump is too freaky, folks. You can't seriously want him in front of your party!

Who the nomination then goes to is secondary. Anyone but Trump! That the anyone-but-Trump might be pretty freaky, too, is somehow beside the point.

The trouble is, how do you win the news cycle (or a series of them) with that? Trump will just shout, "YOU WANT THESE PARTY LEADERS?" and "YOU DON'T BELIEVE THE LYIN' MEDIA, DO YOU?" followed by a dismissive "I didn't think so. They're so weak."

And he wins. So far.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What Are Conservatives Angry About? The Failure of Conservativism

The Republicans promised, and they didn't deliver. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Strange bedfellows: Trump can't be bought, and Palin can't be sold.

What's animating the Republican Party these days amounts to a very dangerous bitch's brew: the Republicans disappointment with themselves. Tea Partiers thought they were the true conservatives, the true don't-tread-on-mes from a revolutionary past. What they turned out to be were the original suckers for the Republican Party line.

This has built up in both the Bush and Obama years. George W. Bush lived large and recklessly, promising tax cuts, missions accomplished, and compassionate conservatism. What the people got were deficits as far as the eye could see, lost wars, a housing bubble, and a crashing economy. Did they get abortion overturned? No. A higher moral ground? No. A more muscular foreign policy? Yes, but no victories to show for it.

Bush/Cheney delivered nothing but unpaid bills, lost wars, torture and Guantanamo Bay. Jobs? No. Homes? Not anymore. A safer retirement? Don't count on it.

Along comes the Obama years, and the Republican Party rose as one to block any success. What did the Republican Party deliver? Nothing. Of course, they delivered state houses, state legislatures, even a Republican Congress. What they didn't deliver was an economic future for conservative America.

What all of the Republican Party pandering boiled down to was they couldn't deliver because of Mexicans stealing our jobs and blacks on welfare stealing our tax money and Obama not letting us reform entitlements. And then we're surprised that the base of the Republican Party is hijacked by disillusioned whites yearning to Make America Great Again?

That bitch's brew turned out to be anger not toward the Democratic Party for stuffing Republican dreams but toward the Republican Party for delivering nothing.

Enter demagogues Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It's not surprising they're the two likeliest to be left standing at the end of the cage match that the GOP nomination fight has become.

Who were the candidates?
  • The establishment: Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie, George Pataki, Rick Perry.
  • The boy wonders: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Scott Walker.
  • The anti-Hillary: Carly Fiorina.
  • The hucksters: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson. 
  • the whaa?: Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore.
  • The anti-establishment: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz.
The categories are somewhat fluid, e.g. Carly Fiorina is also a huckster, and Marco Rubio plays at being establishment. but I'll run with my categories, thank you.

Problem for Republicans this year: The establishment is out because they had their chance. The boy wonders are out because they're boy wonders. Carly Fiorina is out because, er, she's Carly Fiorina. The hucksters are out because they were only in it for the grift. The whaa? were never really in it.

That leaves the anti-establishment, set to appeal to the insurgent class, the disillusioned whites, the people wanting to make America Great Again. The problem?

To quote Steve Fraser in today's "If the new insurgency has a program for the future, that program should be called The Past."

Ouch. The Republican Party can now -- or after a likely disastrous 2016 -- be renamed the Retrograde Party. Whites? In charge. White men? In charge. White women? Subservient to white men. Blacks? Back of the bus. Mexicans? On the other side of the wall.

A winning strategy? No.

We keep hearing that the establishment will settle this in the end, ride to the rescue, end the Dream of Trump or the Dread of Cruz. When's this going to happen? Any day now.

I read Ross Douthat (sorry, somebody has to do it) and found the source of the conundrum for conservatism's intellectual elite:
Let me explain. That spring [in 2008], in between the Republican primary and the fall campaign, my friend Reihan Salam and I had published a book called “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.”
As the title suggests, we were calling for the G.O.P. to change, but not to moderate in the way that a lot of centrist pundits favored, returning to a Rockefeller-Republican model of fiscally prudent social liberalism. Rather, we thought the party’s opportunity (and the country’s) lay in a kind of socially conservative populism, which would link the family-values language of the religious right to an economic agenda more favorable to the working class than what the Republicans usually had offered.
Douthat links this to his brief flirtation, policy-wise of course, with Sarah Palin. He saw in her that socially conservative populism that could ignite the working class. What he got was the Alaskan version of white trash and scrambled-egg-style rhetoric. Sparks and starbursts until you discover that the beauty contestant couldn't think her way out of a wet paper bag.

The solution to Douthat's conundrum is clear to anyone with eyes to see: The answer is not in socially conservative populism -- that way lies the madness of Trump and Palin and the demagoguery of Cruz -- but in that Rockefeller-Republican model (known more recently as Clintonism) that he so blithely rejects. Douthat is, at heart, a Catholic Democrat, which is no help to him at all, especially as a conservative writer at the NYTimes.

Just giving Douthat a little credit for a second, I suggest that he is sincere, a trait not currently well honed in conservative circles. A sincere conservative has to work pretty hard these days to square the circle of Republican orthodoxy. They've pretty well trashed their brand, especially among their own tribe, and it's a long way back from the wilderness.

Anything can happen in politics. Anyone can win, anyone can lose, we can't see the future, even that part right in front of our noses. Our instincts tell us, for example, that Trump could never beat Clinton. Oh holy crap, save me, but never say never.

Ross Douthat struggles to find a conservatism that isn't corrupt, and we're left to imagine a Trump presidency because shit happens. Ross, we have bigger problems than your (sincere) search for a conservatism for the working class. Somebody's already found it: It's called Trumpism.

The (Deadly) Problem with American Healthcare

Healthcare is meant to produce health and longevity, but American-style healthcare is meant to skim money off the top, before any actual care is offered.

This guy wasn't hateful because he was profit-oriented. It was because he wanted
to fuck over his consumers. He's different from Pfizer how? (Hint: a matter of degree.)

My angle on healthcare -- and American-style capitalism in general -- has focused on how we insert a layer of profit-skimming into the system before the first good or service is offered. It's really that simple.

Any discussion of how "we could do it right" or "better" begins and ends there. The problem with Obamacare -- and current discussions on the Democratic Party side of the current presidential race -- is centered around "what was possible." Paul Krugman stuck his foot in it by siding, quite sensibly or realistically, with the Clinton camp that maintains it was the best we could get and moving forward means tinkering around the edges of the current (and corrupt) healthcare system we got.

People who feel the Bern are up in arms at this pragmatism, to which, I confess, I am drawn. But the Sanders side really has it right: burn down the healthcare house and start from scratch. Why? Because the system is corrupt. (Of course, to live in that fantasy world would require that we ignore our current political reality, but why spoil the party?)

Obamacare survived -- and there's much it offers that is good! -- by including the profit-skimming-before-the-first-service-is-delivered part of the equation. I remember the healthcare debate. The Republicans, to a man or woman, were totally aligned against it. The final package was shaped by the purple-state senators. Want this thing to pass? Forego the public option.

It boiled down to that. Why? The public option would have severely curtailed the skimming. Simple as that. Allow the skimming to proceed, we've got a deal.

What do advanced democracies do in the rest of the world? Curtail the skimming, take the resources, and turn them into goods and services -- and healthcare! -- in order to increase health and longevity.

Which, of course, leads to higher productivity of the workforce, a more content society, you know, the good stuff, even a healthier consumer class.

If that's Bernie-style socialism, count me in.

Final thought: Argue any way you want about these issues, but let's not fool ourselves. If the American people, in their wisdom, think that free markets are the solution to healthcare, it's only because their heads are stuck in the sand, or worse.

So, in the end, people suffer and die needlessly. Go capitalism! The political dynamic? Republicans, skimming! Democrats, less skimming! Socialists, stop skimming!

Which is better? You pick.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Goners: Santorum, Paul, Fiorina, Huckabee, and Carson

They're grifters, booksellers, egoists, and superfluous, and not part of any real discussion. Never really were.

Nothing, really, to add except bu-bye, hope you had fun, hope you made some money, now fucking go away.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Conservatives Blow Themselves Up Over Trump vs. Cruz? Huh?

Rubio, Bush, Christie, Kasich each can have their 6%, hehehehe...

Remember this Republican moderate candidate? Neither does anybody else...

Conservatives have been busy over the past who knows how many years creating the perfect conservative candidate, and all they get is Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. The Tea Party was already nearly completely in charge of the conservative base in 2012 but still couldn't stop the GOP establishment from nominating Mitt Romney. Seriously, Mitt Romney? You betcha.

Now, the challenge is -- if it comes down to Trump or Cruz -- to choose between the two. Unsurprisingly, it's led to war.

There are so many conservatives -- who, formerly, were very much in charge of the Republican Party -- ready to pile on to force Trump out of the race that the National Review and the Weekly Standard went all-in to lay it on the line against The Donald. It's backfired because the RNC had already decided that the real villain in the party was Ted Cruz!
French was responding to a report at CNN in which Senator Dan Coats of Indiana said that the wounds Cruz has created with the Republican caucus are so deep that they’d find it nearly impossible to work with him. And Coats was hardly alone in expressing that opinion. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina likened a choice between Trump and Cruz to a choice between being shot and poisoned to death. Most strikingly, Texas’s other senator, John Cornyn, refused to defend his partner after Bob Dole said that a Cruz candidacy would be “cataclysmic” for the party.
This 50-50 fight over the lunatic fringe -- let's face it, that's what the GOP core has become -- would be laughable if it didn't spell the end of something that's hard to calculate.

The RNC, which was finally warming to a Trump candidacy, wasn't very happy with the onslaught from the National Review and has responded by giving the magazine the boot as a featured partner at the upcoming GOP debate Feb. 25th. Bu-bye.

Any way you slice it, the Republican Party is the opposite of unified as it moves toward the primary season. I heard Chuck Todd on his MTP Daily show put it best: What was developing into a circular firing squad is now turning into a Quentin Tarantino movie. Super ouch!

The Democrats Have Their Own Face-Off

Sanders/Clinton heading for its own smackdown? Looks like it...

Paul Krugman's lining up with Hillary...
People are choosing sides, as one might expect. Two favorites of mine -- Paul Krugman and Robert Reich -- are placing themselves on opposite sides of the Clinton/Sanders divide. Krugman lines up behind Hillary, stressing that the kind of change Bernie Sanders stands for doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell. Robert Reich cries foul, saying Bernie's a better candidate against the GOP, and polls show it. What's more, if Sanders gets in, he may drive the millennials to give him the Congress he needs for his revolution.

Reich sees how Bernie can win...
Hmm. I wonder. I've been through this back and forth, starting in the Krugman camp, believing that Hillary's pragmatism would triumph over Bernie's idealism. Bernie's the better man, as far as I'm concerned -- policy-wise -- but I ran with the Hillary's-more-electable crowd until recently. Reich gives me reason -- a welcome reason -- for pause. I want to go all-in for Bernie, and if it's not a suicide pact to support him, count me all-in.

Just as the conservative establishment is beginning to devour itself in its frenzy to prevent Trump -- a usurper in their eyes, could be right! -- I can see a destructive face-off between pragmatic Hillary and idealistic Bernie. The difference here is that both candidates are largely admirable, despite the baggage Clinton seems destined to carry, however unfair, and the charges sure to be leveled at Sanders, who's a goddam socialist after all!

A point I'd like to make in favor of Bernie is that he is the only candidate of either party that currently has a net-positive favorability rating.

As a college student, I was solidly behind Robert Kennedy in 1968, until his assassination left us in tatters. Johnson had already dropped out, the Chicago riots at the Democratic Convention put the party in an unflattering light, and Hubert Humphrey couldn't pull everything back together fast enough. This is how an unpopular Richard Nixon got into office. In 1972, Democrats, deeply against the Vietnam War by this time, offered up idealist George McGovern for the slaughter, which is why to this day, Democrats are afraid of idealists. Obama might have been a one-off because, man, could he speak (still can).

I'm watching and waiting, looking for a reason to be hopeful. If the GOP keeps collapsing in front of us, Democrats could nominate a ham sandwich -- as they say -- and win in 2016. In that case, I want Bernie, but I'll take Hillary. Not a bad place for the party to be in.

OMG Conservatives ARE Self-Destructing Over Trump

Conservatives liked their world until it was invaded by...conservatives!

Imagine conservatives uniting to make themselves irrelevant. Uh, they just did.

I guess I'm supposed to feel happy happy now, and I suppose I do. But when crazy takes over a political party, even one as reductionist as the Republicans, it's hard keep one's balance.

Okay, what's going on?
  • The National Review decided to unite behind an anyone-but-Trump stance, getting ALL KINDS OF CONSERVATIVES to turn against Trump and state it openly in its magazine. (Above is the cover of said magazine.) In fact, they devoted a whole issue to its denunciation of the leading GOP candidate for president.
  • The RNC, miffed by the action, has booted the national Review from its role in the Feb. 25th GOP debate.
  • The Weekly Standard, not to be outdone, just published an article dumping on Trump and warning the conservative hordes that their chances for 2016 are slipping away -- unless they get wise and choose Cruz or Rubio, in that order.
  • No links here, just a recommendation that you scour WaPo and NYTimes and such for the myriad of OMGtheskyisfalling articles about the current Republican mess. Everybody on the red side of the debate looks to be in panic mode. (Okay here's one example.)
The Democrats are not without their problems. Hillary Clinton is attacking Bernie Sanders, not because he's wrong on the issues but because he'll never get his policies approved by a Republican congress. And Obama can? Or Clinton can? But face it, you draw distinctions where you can. Hillary wants to win, so at some point you attack. Iowa is, after all, just over a week away. Yikes!

Hey Donald, you know this isn't just a one-off deal, right? Right?

Donald Trump and Sarah Palin: White America on Fire

The 2016 GOP campaign should be renamed "Fear Factor."

Deal with the devil? Pretty much.

Donald Trump had a problem. His name was Ted Cruz. He solved it with the endorsement of Sarah Palin. Mmmkay. Now whaddya do? The Republican establishment thinks they should slit their wrists.

Living with Palin's reentry into politics is not going to be easy, except for Trump (for now). Amanda Marcotte of Salon says the roller coaster ride that is Palin on the stump taps into the conservative base's heart of darkness, sans evidence or logic:
Palin understands what other Republicans are just beginning to get, which is that the conservative base is an audience that is post-argument. Conservatism of the 21st century is an ideology built on sand. Its arguments fall apart upon the briefest of examination and the supposed “evidence” for their beliefs are mostly lies and self-delusions. Sticking with the argument and evidence-based structure in the era of climate change denialism and creationism is a fool’s game and Palin knows it. Better instead to focus strictly on emotions and tribal identity, eschewing not just argument but even structuring your speeches to resemble arguments. Imagistic speeches that arouse passions while silencing doubts is not stupid, but brilliant.
But Palin, by eliding the argument-based structure of traditional speeches, is getting past this altogether. Anger is turned into hate is turned into more anger, until it spins off, completely unmoored from any considerations like “why” or “how.” Her innovation helps Republicans get over the logic and evidence problems that plague them. And so we can expect her methods to become more, not less prevalent over time.
I'd find this kind of analysis suspect if Palin's rhetoric didn't interface so keenly with Trump's own stream-of-consciousness stump deliveries. Trump is going to "make America great again." Implicit in that promise is that his tribe is no longer great, and Palin's word salads are paeans to the disenfranchised whites who flock to Trump rallies.

What remains to be seen from a political viewpoint is whether or not their tribe exists in numbers great enough to sway presidential elections. My view is that it's a fool's errand. But we elected George W. Bush twice (well, actually we didn't, the Supreme Court did, but...), but Bush's base had the luxury of having more than disgruntled whites in it.

Whatever. We're still in a pass-the-popcorn moment. The GOP clown car didn't get a new occupant, but it may have gotten a new driver. Will she steer them out of the ditch or back in it? We'll see.

Note. As I alluded to, Trump can manage Palin -- for now. She is famous for "going rogue," something the McCain camp barely contained. Can Trump manage her any better if and when she goes off the rails? It's especially meaningful now that the Republican establishment has found they have no choice but to embrace Trump, otherwise they're on the outside looking in as Trump's victories pile up. The establishment clearly feared a Cruz nomination more than a Trump one, and they were willing to throw Rubio's chances under the bus to avoid it. As many Dem observers might say, hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Marco Rubio on Flint River Water Disaster: Don't Know Much About It, So...

Compassion (in)action, Jackson.

Marco didn't want to say anything until he was "fully briefed." Not saying he's one way or another, but the Dems had been calling for heads to roll before Rubio could make a move. Also, too, Rubio was pretty sure the feds should stay out of it, after all the state of Michigan had fucked it up so good, what could the feds do, fix it? Fucking hell no?!! Amirite!!

Presidential??...  TIMBER!!

Just How Bad the Bastards Are: Even GM Didn't Want Flint River Water in Oct. 2014

Michigan Governor Rick Snider: You mournful motherfucker, you've got to go.

Even General Motors didn't want Flint River water in October, 2014 because of the corrosives in it.
FLINT, MI -- Chloride levels in treated Flint River water are so high that General Motors will no longer use it at its engine plant here because of fears it will cause corrosion.0
GM spokesman Tom Wickham said Monday, Oct. 13, that the company has reached a temporary agreement to buy Lake Huron water from Flint Township for Flint Engine Operations on West Bristol Road.
Under the agreement, the plant will return as a Flint water customer after the city switches back to using Lake Huron water -- after the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline is completed -- something that's not expected to happen until the end of 2016.
Just so you know, General Motors loved lead in gasoline a long time ago:
"Lead was introduced into gasoline as tetraethyl lead by General Motors," Rosner said, "the people that brought you Flint, Michigan." Meaning the city: Flint was home to GM at its inception. When the company created a new type of fuel that burned lead, it had a new advantage over its competitors at Ford. It was only the newest way in which the industry relied on lead in manufacturing its product.
Special place in Hell for these bastards. Since Hell doesn't exist, then that place had better be found on Earth. Pricks. Pricks.

Special note. I've noticed that most networks, especially CBS, miss that Flint, Michigan was being run by a state-appointed financial manager -- appointed by Gov. Rick Snider -- during this whole time when the switch from safe Detroit water to Flint River water was decided. So when you hear some reporter say "The city decided this..." or "Then the city decided that..." they're referring to the decisions dictated by the state of Michigan. Deep, dark fucking bastards.

Be Careful What You Wish For: Supreme Court Immigration Case Could Blow Up GOP Chances in 2016

Either way it decides. Weird, huh?

Obama can win or lose, and the Supreme Court might blow up the 2016 election.

This is one of those "holy shit!" moments when a savvy commentator sees more than the average pol, or other pundit for that matter. I certainly didn't see this coming.

Twenty-six states have sued the Obama administration for its DAPA executive order, which was meant to protect the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens who mostly were born here after their parents came illegally. In many cases, deporting the older, undocumented family members sends people back home who literally have no home to go back to, often after decades in the U.S.

From Greg Sargent of WaPo's The Plum Line:
There are several ways the Supreme Court could decide this dispute. It could agree with the administration that the states lack standing to sue, thus allowing DAPA to proceed. It could rule on statutory grounds — that is, on the question of whether Obama’s executive action is consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act. The administration says that in the INA, Congress granted the executive a great deal of discretion to set enforcement priorities, and that DAPA — in temporarily deferring the deportation of millions of parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and allowing them to get work permits — is merely exercising this discretion.
The states have argued, among other things, that this executive action is tantamount to a broad policy change and thus required a “notice and comment” rule-making process. An appeals court agreed that the states have standing to sue and that they are right about the need for “notice and comment.” The Supreme Court could decide whether the appeals court is right based on an evaluation of either of those.
Or, thirdly, the Court could rule on the underlying Constitutional question. That’s because the Court took the unusual step of adding a question for the parties to argue: Whether Obama’s executive action “violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution.”
I agree with the Obama administration on all grounds. One, the states don't have standing on federal issues (yet I think it's likely that the Court will grant standing based on side effects, like the expense of granting state driver's licenses to undocumented workers allowed to remain in the U.S.); two, the INA statute clearly allows Obama the discretion to prioritize those who, by prosecutorial discretion, should not be subjected to deportation at this time; and three, if a law grants this power to the president -- as INA clearly does -- then Obama is faithfully executing a law and doesn't fall afoul of the "take care" clause of the Constitution.

And yet we've seen this Supreme Court apply some pretty partisan and twisted logic to arrive at decisions in line with their conservative views. Oh well.

But here's the rub:
Obviously Republicans might argue that this is a good debate for them — that swing voters don’t like Obama’s executive actions on behalf of immigrants and that it energizes the GOP base. Even if that is right, however, what will probably matter most for 2016 is how this battle colors the views of the two parties arrived upon by Latino voters. (Indeed, some GOP strategists clearly agree that this is the case, given their efforts to get the GOP to moderate on immigration.) And in that regard, whatever happens at the Court, it’s hard to see this debate playing in the GOP’s favor.
I see the Supremes blowing up GOP chances either way. If the case goes against the GOP, the GOP candidate must shout from the highest rafter that he will "repeal it on day one," making the Dems look good in Latino eyes. If the Dems lose, Latino voters still stand by the Dems who went to bat for them. And both Latinos and white Dems will rally behind the Democratic candidate, realizing how important having a Democrat in the White House is when the next Court vacancy comes up.

So, GOPers who forced this case in an election year, it's time to worry about what you wished for. You may not like the results in the fall.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sad but True: Hillary Is Right about Healthcare, and Bernie is Wrong

It's the misinformation, stupid.

Bernie's right, but Hillary's righter.
(update below, read this first)

I've always understood that Medicare for all would require something most people would understand as a tax, even if it were a smaller figure than what the vast majority of Americans pay for health insurance. If you pay $12,000 a year for your family's healthcare, and the cost of Medicare for your family would be $9,000 a year, you've got a net savings of $3,000.

Gone, too, would be the separate administrative costs of Medicaid, VA healthcare, CHIP, and all the associated medical services that could be captured under the umbrella of Medicare for all. The government could use all its best tools in one program -- negotiating drug costs, a national prosthesis program, prenatal services, and so on -- and trim additional costs. Redundancies of all kinds could be eliminated, so I would imagine lower costs would be discovered as we look at how to merge existing services into one set.

Fine. So when Bernie Sanders proposed Medicare for all, I was disposed to agree with him and extremely indisposed toward Hillary Clinton's disingenuous attacks on Bernie's proposal as an attack on Obama's ACA. It was maddening.

Then Paul Krugman presented his reasons for why Hillary was right and Bernie was wrong, and they have nothing to do with what's best for America. Bernie's proposal is what's best for America. But so what?
Second, single-payer would require a lot of additional tax revenue — and we would be talking about taxes on the middle class, not just the wealthy. It’s true that higher taxes would be offset by a sharp reduction or even elimination of private insurance premiums, but it would be difficult to make that case to the broad public, especially given the chorus of misinformation you know would dominate the airwaves.
Finally, and I suspect most important, switching to single-payer would impose a lot of disruption on tens of millions of families who currently have good coverage through their employers. You might say that they would end up just as well off, and it might well be true for most people — although not those with especially good policies. But getting voters to believe that would be a very steep climb.
In the end, it's not what's true that matters, it's what you are likely to get people to believe. And the chances that amid the droning, harping, and carping likely to erupt in the Republican Party and conservative media, so well practiced in disinformation campaigns, it would be possible to sustain the momentum required to get what's best for America to be accepted, well, the chances to say the least would not be good. Hell, skeptical low-information Democrats would be yet another segment of the resistance.

Sad but true. So progressives would do better to back Hillary on this one and hope we could work toward incremental changes to Obamacare. Public option, anyone?

Update. Paul Krugman offers an addendum to his column via his blog:
Now, it’s true that single-payer systems in other advanced countries are much cheaper than our health care system. And some of that could be replicated via lower administrative costs and the generally lower prices Medicare pays. But to get costs down to, say, Canadian levels, we’d need to do what they do: say no to patients, telling them that they can’t always have the treatment they want.
Saying no has two cost-saving effects: it saves money directly, and it also greatly enhances the government’s bargaining power, because it can say, for example, to drug producers that if they charge too much they won’t be in the formulary.
But it’s not something most Americans want to hear about; foreign single-payer systems are actually more like Medicaid than they are like Medicare.
I don't totally buy Krugman's take here. I've lived under and/or experienced three different healthcare programs -- the French, the Dutch, and the Japanese -- and I get that they're not as "generous" as our expensive American system. But what shouldn't be shoved aside in this discussion is that all of the above and many other countries' outcomes surpass ours. You can say all you want about what's politically possible or expedient, but to contend that this is the best we can get because American cry-babies want their shitty healthcare and are willing to pay almost twice as much because they don't want to stand in line for eventual better and cheaper care, well, call it what it is: low-information, misinformed Americans getting what they deserve.

I get the political part. But I won't stand for the it's-impossible-to-do-better-anyway part. I ain't buying it.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How Christian Is Marco Rubio? He Bought a Gun on Christmas Eve!

That's pretty f-in' Christian...

Marco Rubio locating the 2nd Amendment in the Bible.

Here's Marco Rubio professing his view of his commitment to God and Jesus Christ in a political ad this past week:

I did some checking I found Rubio's copy of the 2nd Amendment:
A bat-shit-crazy Militia, being necessary to the security of a Christian State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, especially on Christmas Eve.
Okay, I might be wrong. That might be Ammond Bundy's 2nd Amendment, I'm not sure.

Anyway, I did find Marco Rubio's Article VI of the Constitution, 3rd Clause:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; and a religious test will too be fucking required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States, and you'd better be Christian, motherfucker. (sorry God.)
So there you have it. I wish I was still a Christian because then I could be elected to office and shop for guns on Christmas Eve. My family would be so much safer from ISIS, too. Oh well.

I think America is lucky to have such a moderate establishment choice for the GOP candidate like Marco!

The Biggest Threat to America Is Right-Wing White Extremists

Are the radical right-wing extremists patriots? (Fer sure!)

Occupier at Malheur, Oregon: right-wing white extremist, armed and dangerous.

Any way you slice it, we've got a problem here.

People in cowboy hats show up at a federal wildlife refuge. Read about it here. It was designated as a refuge in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt. It was established at the request of local Oregonians in order to protect white herons and other birds in the area that were being decimated by plume hunters for the hat trade. Feathers in hats were all the rage back then, apparently.

Enter cowboys with guns. This is where they want to make their stand. Seriously?

I don't know on whose side most Americans would fall, but the locals certainly don't like it. The local Native Americans don't like it. The local law enforcement don't like it. Hell, the guys the cowboys came to support don't even like it. I'm assuming that the federal government doesn't like it. Hell, even Ted Cruz doesn't like it, and he thinks "federal" is a dirty word. And you can be sure that bird watchers aren't thrilled.

Now the occupiers are making grumbling sounds that they'll never, ever leave and that the federal government will never, ever get their hands on this land again.

This will come to a head sooner or later. If this is political -- and, in some extremely dubious way, it is, at least among some rather marginalized groups -- then we'd hope it could be solved politically. But, with the presence of guns and cowboy hats, it's unlikely there can be a resolution without law-enforcement intervention.

How did law enforcement solve Occupy Wall Street? Ferguson? Any number of Oakland demonstrations? Campus unrest at schools like UC Davis? How will the homeless near tourist sites in San Francisco get cleared out in advance of the coming Super Bowl? Etc., etc.?

White men in cowboy hats brandishing weapons? Cowboy lives matter? Nobody else's seems to.

Simply put, law enforcement can't just drive up and clear them out with overwhelming force because the occupiers are too dangerous. Get that?

I see this getting resolved only one way. If I were in charge, I'd turn off all utilities to the facilities and put up roadblocks on any road leading in and out. I'd man them with overwhelming force. The funny thing (not funny, actually) is that you'd need roadblocks both ways, in and out, both sets heavily armed. Why? Because what will follow is likely to be heavily armed people -- not in huge numbers, but enough to represent a real threat -- coming to the occupiers' rescue. You'd need to arrest these people, too.

Slowly the occupiers would come out and accept arrest. A few would cowboy their way out on horseback and ATV. Let them go, I suppose. There would be a few hard cases that would remain no matter what, even as they starve. Of course, they'd fill social media with photos of their plight. without electricity cell phones would slowly lose battery life. Nearby cell towers could be turned off temporarily, but that might be overkill.

What would accompany this? I assume wild outrage on the right, likely among the GOP presidential candidates, on Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Savage, et al. So what?

Let the right-wing whites let their freak flag fly. Then call them out loudly for what they are: supporters of right-wing violent extremism.

Then, liberals, progressives, non-violent people everywhere, stand your ground. You know how to do that, don't you? Unarmed and unafraid.

Note. Notice how I didn't use the word Christian once. Now, think: How many of these right-wing white extremists aren't Christian? Just saying.