Saturday, April 30, 2016

This is How Bad Salon is Right Now

How bad is Salon right now? Well, it's bad enough for Joan Walsh to start a discussion with her followers about removing Salon from her resume.

I don't know exactly when it started--probably at least a year ago? Does that even make sense? You could tell something was wrong with Salon. You could tell that the stories--and the inclusion of so-called think pieces that were written by Camille Paglia--were building up to a ridiculous counterweight to the kinds of things that Breitbart has been doing on the right. Salon is now Breitbart without trying to ruin people's lives. It has little or no credibility with me now and I have removed it from several lists of bookmarks because I simply don't check it anymore. 

When a site goes downhill, it's because of what's driving the tenor of the stories. Their political and social stuff is off the charts ridiculous and not just because they're in the tank for Bernie Sanders. They know he's not going to win, has no specifics, and is creating a fundraising scheme just like Ron Paul and they still think he's going to give them free college next year and turn America into a cooler version of Sweden. Their cultural writing isn't worth looking at anymore, either. You used to be able to go there for some really great pieces on music and television. Not so much anymore.

I don't want to say that Salon is shrill about criticizing racism or anything like that--nine times out of ten, there's something to agree with there. I went through a lot of Britney Cooper's pieces and damned if I didn't start to realize that she was right and that everyone else was running years behind her in terms of accepting the truth about police violence and racism in our society. In fact, I lament the fact that I don't get that kind of checkup now and again because I stay away from Salon. I mean, H. A. Goodman is now Baghdad Bob and no one needs that when there are already fifty Baghdad Bobs working the conservative side of the house.

They are all in on the anti-Hillary attack from the left and that's not going to change. What used to be a reliable bellwether on liberal commentary is now hawkish and unreadable and unremarkable. I put it in a category with The New Republic and Andrew Sullivan--not worth reading and why did I ever bother? Well, when Joan Walsh was running things, it certainly wasn't embarrassing, was it?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Another Lazy Pundit Makes the Same Old Plea

David Brooks is so completely and utterly out of ideas that he does two things here at the same time:

James Fallows had a story in The Atlantic recently noting that while we’re dysfunctional at the national level you see local renaissances dotted across the country. Fallows went around asking, “Who makes this town go?” and found local patriots creating radical schools, arts festivals, public-private partnerships that give, say, high school dropouts computer skills.

Then solidarity can be rekindled nationally. Over the course of American history, national projects like the railroad legislation, the W.P.A. and the NASA project have bound this diverse nation. Of course, such projects can happen again — maybe though a national service program, or something else.

One of the things he does is to take someone else's work and pretend to praise it. James Fallows is an actual journalist who delves deep into stories about American society. He actually flies his own plane and goes to these places. David Brooks, sadly, does not mingle with the hoi polloi but he's promising everyone that he will. 

The second thing he does is to call for a return of the W. P. A. and that's one of the laziest pundit fallacies known to man. Yes, we should return to the Depression-era program that paid people money to pretend to work so that budding economic geniuses like yourself can pretend they didn't call for it and then write about how we're diminishing the value of the human soul by having artists make catchy posters for the W. P. A. I can't wait for that brilliant chestnut to fall from the tree of David Brooks. 

David Brooks is delusional, but you already knew that. This was a pretty safe column to write. Many, many people who don't want to think about anything but themselves will stroke their chin and imagine themselves as the hero of a world where Brooks is writing about things that don't actually happen. He is not going to mix with his social inferiors and no one is going to renew the promise of America by revisiting the Depression-era programs that conservatives railed against for decades so that they could leave us with a broken Republican Party that is about to be taken over by a bag of pudding with a combover.

See, they all hate the idea that poor people might actually get something from the government besides a stern talking to and a truncheon up side the head. They hate it so bad they have to lie about things in order to make people think they sound reasonable. They are not.

Salon Echoes Slate With Contrarian Nonsense

Hey, no big deal if Trump wins, right? Salon let some idiot named Walker Bragman channel his inner contrarian for a thinkpiece that walks right up to stupid and kisses it on the lips:

If he were to be elected, it would force our leaders to have a real conversation about these problems that they simply won’t have if the people elect an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton. If anything, the narrative that would emerge from a Clinton presidency would be that change isn’t possible. The parties pick the candidates, and regardless of what their policies are, the people fall in line with them eventually. Power never truly changes hands.

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

There will be no "conversation" about any of our problems because it all begins and ends with the overturning of the Citizens United decision. This is what cements our problems into being permanent because of the corruA Trump Supreme Court WILL NOT DO THAT. Hillary will fight to overturn Citizens United and she will nominate justices that will vote to strike it down. You stupid fuck.

Well, first off, we do not know what his platform will be when he hits the general election. He likely tack to the middle. Second, even if he does work with Congress, he is still not going to get his social policies passed. The Senate with its filibuster and cloture rules is enough of a check on that, even if Democrats do not have a majority. Basically, we will not have immigration reform, but we will not have people rounded up in the streets and deported. Third and most important of all: I do not need to trust Donald Trump in the same way I would have to trust Hillary Clinton were she elected. The reason for this is very simple: Trump represents the GOP brand, and Clinton claims the mantle of progressive. If Trump fails to accomplish anything in office, or if he manages to do whatever damage he can do, he will represent the Republicans. Moreover, rightly or wrongly, he represents America’s crypto-fascist element. The best way to discredit both of these groups is to let them fail on their own. Trump will not succeed as a president.

This assumes facts not in evidence. A Donald Trump presidency will not be focused on anything other than establishing a permanent national shrine to Donald Trump. He will do what he can to create profit centers for himself and others and he will not care one way or the other about what happens. It's not about "doing things." It's about "being someone." Anyone who hasn't already figured that out is a stupid, stupid fuck.

Trump is also the kind of man who would use the office of the president to aggrandize himself, and punish his detractors — well, attempt to do so, like in his many libel and slander suits. 

Oh, my bad. You do get it. That's great. Here's a name you might know--Richard Milhouse Nixon. Any idea as to what happened when he used the power of the Executive Branch of the United States Government to punish his detractors? Any guesses you stupid fuck?

Trump’s foreign policy talk has alienated our allies like the United Kingdon, and that isn’t something to take lightly. However, it has also earned praise from Vladimir Putin. That is interesting and of course potentially disingenuous, yet we’ve not had a good relationship with Russia for some time and Clinton’s “reset” as secretary of state failed.

The difference here being that Hillary Clinton actually was the Secretary of State and actually was a part of the foreign policy team that handled numerous shit sandwich problems created by the foreign policy decisions of the previous president. Any guess who Trump will hire to run foreign policy when elected? He'll hire the people who were too crazy to serve in the Bush Administration. You stupid, stupid, stupid fuckity fuck.

Walker Bragman is the person who actually came up with this chestnut: More like Reagan than FDR: I’m a millennial and I’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton. I think that tells you all you need to know about his deep knowledge of common sense and American politics. Salon, you were good once. Now, they're just laughing at you.

That's all I got. Any more of that and I'll just sit in the corner and rock myself to sleep.

No Lion Will Endorse Trump

Cher has decided that the killing of her friend, who probably was a lion, by Donald Trump's son is worth tweeting about, so who are we to judge? It's a free country.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Navel Gazing Idiots

Talk about accidentally telling us way more than we wanted to know about the working media:

My friends in the TV news business are in a state of despair about Donald Trump, even as their bosses in the boardroom are giddy over what he’s doing for their once sagging ratings.

“It feels like it’s over,” one old friend from my television days told me recently. Any hope of practicing real journalism on TV is really, finally finished. “Look, we’ve always done a lot of stupid shit to get ratings. But now it’s like we’ve just given up and literally handed over control hoping he’ll save us. It’s pathetic, and I feel like hell.” Said another friend covering the presidential campaign for cable news, “I am swilling antidepressants trying to figure out what to do with my life when this is over.”

Who is Campbell Brown's old friend and why aren't they being treated for prescription drug abuse? And why don't I feel sorry for the people that gave us Donald Trump?

The working media went into a hard sleep last fall and failed to point out that Trump is a know-nothing buffoon with a lot less money than he lets on. They failed to highlight the obvious--he has no ideas, no platform, no working knowledge of American government, and no business running for president. Instead, they rolled over and acted like his clown circus answers were no different than those being given by the Democrats. They acted like there was no difference between being a governor or senator and being a reality TV freak show.

And, no. Ron Burgundy wasn't "satire." It was no different than "Veep." It was a look at the direction of the media that everyone thought was a joke but really wasn't.

Really, the time to be gazing out of your navel should have come years ago when people were lying us into a war, but don't expect that out of Campbell Brown any time soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Does John McCain Feel About Legalizing Hard Drugs?

John McCain hires some really, really interesting peeps:

A Phoenix couple face 12 counts of drug possession and child abuse after authorities tracked a package containing drugs to their home and found an active meth lab, according to court documents.

Christopher Hustrulid had lived with his girlfriend, Emily Pitha, a former member of the staff of retired U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz, and his children at the north-central Phoenix home for three years, according to Arizona Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Pitha had recently been active in GOP fundraising and had been listed as the RSVP contact for U.S. Sen. John McCain's re-election fundraisers.

I mean, not that there's a reason to ask him or anything:

A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman said authorities were first alerted to possible drug activity at Pitha's Phoenix home by a parcel in transit from the Netherlands containing over 250 grams of MDMA – raw ecstasy. Detective Doug Matteson, the MCSO spokesman, said Pitha's boyfriend, 36-year-old Christopher Hustrulid, signed for the packaged when it arrived at their doorstep Tuesday afternoon.

Detectives executing a search warrant at the home discovered an active meth lab, along with unspecified quantities of LSD, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, about $7,000 in loose currency, and counterfeit money, according to Matteson. A separate building on the property was found to have a hidden room that was to be used as a marijuana-grow facility, he said.

Pitha and Hustrulid were arrested and expected to face numerous drug violations, in addition to possible child-endangerment charges.

Matteson said two children living inside the home -- ages 5 and 10 -- "had easy access to all of (the) drugs and materials, even the bomb-making materials that were located in the back with the meth lab."

Deputies evacuated occupants of nearby homes Tuesday evening while the sheriff's bomb squad disposed of the volatile materials used in the meth-making process, Matteson said.

I'm thinking that if you have to sell meth in order to raise money to re-elect John McCain, there are a whole lot of questions that need to be asked. And how classy was it to not only hire this woman but to have her running her drug operation with two small children in the home? 

Those Republican family values are something else, aren't they? Who the hell still sells LSD?

Offhand, I would say that the chyron on Fox News is probably going to "mislabel" both McCain and Dennis Hastert as Democrats today.

Dennis Hastert Admits He Is a Child Molester

He's not a "former" child molester. He's an untreated and unpunished child molester. And, in keeping with the fact that there's a justice system for the wealthy and the privileged and one for everyone else, he gets to go home and think about what he's done:

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Wednesday admitted to sexually abusing teenage boys during his time as a high school wrestling coach in a Chicago suburb before his career as an elected official.

Struggling to stand in federal court Wednesday, 74-year-old Hastert gripped his walker, approached the microphone and said that he "mistreated" some of his wrestlers and apologized.

"They looked to me, and I took advantage of them," Hastert said as he awaited his sentencing after pleading guilty last fall to breaking federal banking laws in a hush-money case. "I apologize to the court and to the people of the United States."

Judge Thomas Durkin then sentenced Hastert to two years of supervised release on the condition that he get sex offender treatment. Durkin called Hastert a "serial child molester" and said he must not contact any of his victims.

"That's necessary to protect the victims," the judge said.

You know, hard jail time for a child molester usually helps a community heal. A year and three months in prison is not hard time. He should have gotten a lot more than that. Just sayin'.

And, of course, the fact that the longest serving Speaker of the United States House of Representatives just admitted to being a child molester hasn't really registered the sort of freakout you normally see in the media. I guess it's okay if you're a Republican who can get people to write sympathetic letters to the judge. The fifteen months that he has to serve in prison comes from lying to investigators and evading federal banking regulations, not for molesting the children in his care. That hardly seems like justice, does it?

The letters asking the judge for leniency remind me of a time when a number of people asked a judge to grant the same to a certain Scooter Libby. Now, why would I mention that..?

It's a Shame About Tim

Actor Tim Robbins imploded this week over politics. This is probably not the sort of thing you want to read on Salon about yourself:

On Monday, actor Tim Robbins had a bit of a social media meltdown.

Robbins had tweeted a chart that claimed to show exit polls favoring Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary wildly diverged from reported election results that greatly favored Hillary Clinton. Thus, according to the entrails of the disemboweled turkey that the creator of this chart must be reading, Sanders has actually won more primaries and delegates than he is getting credit for.

When Twitter users pushed back on Robbins by noting all the problems with this line of thinking, the actor responded by accusing many of his critics of being paid trolls working for Correct the Record, the super PAC formed to respond to what it sees as misinformation being spread about Hillary Clinton. He fired some version of thistweet at individual detractors – by one count, 88 of them – before deleting and replacing them with this one rant that makes it sound as if Robbins is jumping at his own shadow. If next week someone finds him wandering around Washington Square Park wearing a bathrobe and a colander on his head, I won’t be surprised.

I would put most of this down to the fact that Bernie Sanders threatened Hillary Clinton for a while but dissipated when his movement did not catch fire. Robbins probably wasn't going to vote for the Democratic candidate anyway, so why should anyone express any sadness for "losing" his support?

There will always be a class of people who will refuse to support either of the two parties. There will always be a segment of the population on the far left of the political spectrum that will never hold their nose and vote for an establishment candidate. They live in a world where protest votes matter, and that's fine with me. Both sides have purity trolls and delusional thinkers who cannot cast a vote for what they see as the status quo. We agonize because people like Robbins have a certain prominence because of their resume and their past association with entertainment figures who publicly protested the Bush Administration. It's hard to be angry with them when you've known what they were always about.

And they're about themselves, first and foremost. Their vote was never a thing to get because they were never going to part with it. Robbins is in a club and you aren't so his vote means something to the media but not to anyone outside of his social circle. It's not like he has an actual following or anything and is in danger of being elected to political office.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This is How a Conservative Lies

Shame on the Washington Post for even letting Marc Thiessen get away with this kind of bullshit:

The law was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans, it is still opposed by a majority of Americans — and their opposition has been vindicated. Last week, UnitedHealth Groupannounced that, after estimated losses of more than $1 billion for 2015 and 2016 under Obamacare, the company was pulling out of most of its ill-fated exchanges.

Thiessen uses a very, very dishonest trick here. He writes "the law was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans, it is still opposed by a majority of Americans--" and then he links to this document [pdf warning].

And what is that document?

It's a CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES POLL of Republican Primary voters, and it is dated January 12, 2016.

Thiessen's "majority of Americans" are, in fact, Republican primary voters, meaning he couldn't find a poll where the numbers matched his agenda so he just made something up. He didn't use a poll of Americans as a whole; he went with something skewed towards his own ideological slant. And this wasn't a blog; it ran as a piece on the "Opinions" page of the Washington Post's website.

Apparently, they don't bother editing that part of the paper's website anymore.

This kind of dishonesty runs in the media all the time. It's pervasive and easy to spot. And it speaks to a larger issue about what kind of race is ahead for the White House. It's a race where telling the truth, using actual facts, and being accurate are not actual standards anymore. The race is going to be about what you can trick people into believing and this is just a small microcosm of what's ahead. 


Wayne Simmons Changes His Plea

The man who went on Fox News and called the President of the United States a "boy king" is about to change his plea:

The frequent Fox News commentator who prosecutors say lied about a career with the CIA to win actual government work is scheduled to change his plea Thursday, court records show.

Wayne Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Md., had been set to go on trial next month on charges that his claim of working for the CIA for 27 years was a lie, and that it was only by repeating such falsehoods that he was able to briefly get actual security clearances and real government contracting work in more recent years. He had pleaded not guilty in the case, and had asserted in an interview published recently in The New York Times Magazine that there were documents scattered around the world that would back up his claims about what he did.

Now, it seems, prosecutors and his defense attorneys appear to have reached some type of a deal. The “change of plea hearing” is generally an indication someone in a case intends to plead guilty — though for Simmons, it remains unclear to what. A judge also must still sign off on a plea agreement, which is far from a certainty.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia, which brought the case against Simmons, declined to comment. William Cummings, Simmons attorney, said: “All I can tell you, if you want to show up, who knows what might happen?” Simmons himself confirmed a plea hearing was scheduled but he declined to comment further.

I find it hard to believe that a man who has had eleven convictions for driving under the influence would be an unreliable commentator on a respectable outlet like Fox News.

Hounded to Death?

It will be interesting to see what happens in this story by Petula Dvorak:

The trolls were horrid to her while she was alive. And they continued to be awful after her death.

Fairfax County firefighter Nicole Mittendorff, 31, killed herself in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the state medical examiner concluded. But even after the search for her was over, her body was identified and memorial candles began to burn, the cyberbullies — who claimed they were her fellow firefighters — kept scorching away at Mittendorff online.

If these trolls are actually members of her firehouse family, then Mittendorff becomes another example of a new form of workplace harassment. Instead of happening in the office, it happens publicly online.

There is an investigation at Mittendorff’s firehouse to find out who posted the vicious online attacks and whether they played a role in her suicide.

“We at Fairfax Fire and Rescue are aware of the posts and are looking into the matter. I assure you that my department can not and will not tolerate bullying of any kind,” Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers wrote in a public statement Saturday. “We will thoroughly investigate this matter and take any appropriate actions needed.”

I find it to be incredible that people are still using Facebook to publicly harass and denigrate their co-workers. How stupid do you have to be in order to sign your own name to something that should lead to an immediate lawsuit?

We're not talking about the Acme plunger company in Nowheresville. We're talking about a fire department in Fairfax County, Virginia. The mere fact that there are still people who engage in online bullying while on their Facebook and while working for the fire department strikes me as being an area where the law hasn't caught up to modern society as of yet. If this is, in fact, the reason why this poor young woman killed herself, then Fairfax County needs to start firing fire firefighters immediately. Good God.

This is the sort of thing where you wish that the lawsuits being filed would really start to take a financial bite out of these organizations so that it would compel others to actually enforce behavioral standards and put a stop to this bullshit.

Fourteen People Were Executed Based in Part on Faulty Forensics

This would be shocking if it wasn't already corroborated by the fact that DNA analysis has been freeing people from death row for years:

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-convictionreview of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convict’s guilt. Defendants and federal and state prosecutors in 46 states and the District are being notified to determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were previously exonerated.

The end result of this will be that we will move on and ignore the fact that people were convicted, sentenced to death, and then made dead based on phony evidence. Phony evidence! You'd think it would matter but, honestly, we are inured to such things and that's because the overwhelming number of people sentenced to die in this country are black.

An Evil Lurks in Kansas

If you can't find a job in Kansas, chances are that job doesn't even exist:

For over five years now, Kansas has served as an economic policy experiment for anti-tax, small-government conservatives. Their lab work is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars, crippling public service budgets, and making life harder for low-income families without reducing the state’s poverty rate at all.

With his political star beginning to tarnish, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) came to Washington on Wednesday to discuss his poverty policies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. At one point, the embattled governor justified his policy of forcing people off of food stamps if they can’t find a job by likening low-income and jobless people to lazy college students.

The event was convened around a policy he pioneered: Reinstating a rigid 20-hour-per-week work requirement that federal law allowed him to waive because unemployment was still high at the time in his state. The rules are duplicative — federal law requires the able-bodied adults targeted by the move to accept reasonable job offers at all times, even when a weekly work-hours waiver is in place — and run counter to a lot of policy thinking about how best to get jobless food stamps recipients back to work.

Unemployment in Kansas is less than 4%, so there's an underpinning of ideology in what Brownback is trying to do. He's trying to compel undesirables to leave the state and seek "welfare" benefits elsewhere. By making Kansas unreasonable, he is hoping people will move out of his state and chase the benefits in other more generous states. And the reasoning is solid--there's no work for them in Kansas because the state has virtual full employment with such a low unemployment rate. There's very little chance of moving on and moving up the ladder when there isn't much choice in the job market. 

You'll note that if he really cared as to whether or not people were actually working, he'd be funneling money into a comprehensive jobs program and a re-training program. If you want to dig yourself out of a fiscal hole, put people to work and create jobs and draw people into the state rather than kicking them out. Brownback is chasing another strategy--it's time to sell everything, cut everything, and eat the seed corn because whoever the governor is after him will have to clean up the mess. This is how Republicans govern--they destroy everything and leave it for the next guy, usually a Democrat, to fix.

They're destroying the state of Kansas because they can, and because they know how to divide the haves and the have-nots. It's a pretty cynical game, and the suckers fall for it every time. In America's political climate, this makes Brownback a shoo-in for Vice President on a Cruz or Trump ticket.

Monday, April 25, 2016

An Epidemic of Poisonings

I can remember when kids would go into old refrigerators and suffocate. That led to all kids of freakouts and whatnot--crazy stuff like either taking the doors off of the things or making it so they could be opened from the inside or making it against the law to abandon them altogether. Of course, people have calmed down since then. That is, until they started making horrible poisons look like candy:

Children continue to eat a dangerously large number of laundry detergent packets, new data show.

Calls to poison control centers increased 17% from 2013 through 2014, according to an analysis of national poison data published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

    More than 22,000 children, mostly under age 3, were exposed to laundry packets in that period. About 30% of them were "already in or en route" to health care facilities when the call for help came in.

    The data identified life-threatening problems that occurred only when children were exposed to packets of laundry detergent, including cases of children who stopped breathing, went into comas or suffered cardiac arrest. Two children died. The packets can also cause vomiting, throat burns and eye injuries.

    Canada has this page, for example, and it's over a year old. We've seen these stories crop up but it doesn't really move the needle in this country. We need a consumer protection agency with serious bite--enough of a bite to, I don't know, get these damned things banned, perhaps?

    You can't make poison look like candy. I'm sorry--you just can't.

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    H.A. Goodman Dissolves into Parody

    You pretty much don't have to read anything by H.A. Goodman from now on after you read this:

    Bernie Sanders is the only Democratic candidate for president not linked to an FBI investigation. This used to mean something in American politics, but those days are gone. Today, I’m viewed as delusional, by the same people who think smart politics and qualifications entail endless scandals, poor decision-making on everything from major foreign policy decisions to Wall Street speeches, and ongoing FBI investigations. In truth, the only delusion is believing that a candidate at risk of DOJ indictments, and facing political repercussions even without these indictments, would make a great president.

    Nonetheless, this election season has been a bizarre case study in group think and competing narratives. At first, Bernie couldn’t win and Hillary was inevitable. Now, Bernie almost won, but apparently lost because of New York, and the FBI is simply a minor speed bump on the road to the White House. Tomorrow, Clinton will claim victory is just around the corner, even without knowledge of the FBI’s verdict.

    At the end of the day, Americans everywhere will realize that the rule of law applies to Hillary Clinton, and that honesty and integrity will propel Bernie Sanders to the presidency. The FBI’s reputation is at stake, both globally and at home, and I explain why in this YouTube segment. James Comey and the agents who’ve devoted endless hours to Clinton’s email investigation will soon disclose their findings to the American people; to think nothing will result from this year-long probe is naive. Remember, the FBI doesn’t give parking tickets.

    Yeah, that's nice.

    The FBI does not issue a "verdict" on anything because that is under the purview of the court system. The FBI investigates things and issues a report. The Justice Department has the final say. Up to this point, it is safe to say that if you really think Hillary is going to be handcuffed and frog-marched into a detention center, you're probably not too far removed from claiming that Barack Obama is a Kenyan agent sent here to Benghazi us all into oblivion.

    Goodman is now firmly established as a parody of a delusional Republican operative who babbles about Vince Foster whenever someone mentions Clinton's name. He doesn't really have credibility anymore because what he does is schtick. You put a quarter in him, he comes up with the parking ticket line. Yay!

    Anyone with basic math skills knows that the Democratic primary race is about numbers of people who actually vote and not voter enthusiasm.  That's because votes determine delegates and yelling really loud doesn't factor in the process. Much of what you read on Salon these days is disproportionately in favor of a Bernie Sanders kind of world that doesn't extend beyond some very narrow confines. There is populist enthusiasm for this kind of candidacy but, in American politics, populism has an iffy track record.

    It's good to put Goodman out with the trash. I'm not sure when he deteriorated into parody--probably months ago. When you can't handle basic facts, you might as well throw everything in the air and make shit up. That's far more entertaining. 

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    The Sanders Machine

    There's been a lot of focus on Bernie Sanders and what he's doing in the Democratic presidential primary (he's losing, badly). But the real focus should be on reason why he's still running and what he's attempting to build by alienating the progressive left from Hillary Clinton (who has to run a centrist, corporate friendly campaign in order to, you know, have anything resembling a chance of winning because that's American politics 101).

    Yesterday, I conducted an experiment of sorts on Balloon Juice. Normally, I don't comment on anything or engage at length because what good does it ever do, but I wanted to see the pushback on the idea that what Sanders is really doing in this race. I believe he's building a Sarah Palin-styled fundraising machine that will keep him soaked in money from now until he retires. This is also very similar to what Ron Paul built years ago, starting with newsletters and the like. Sanders probably believes the same things progressives believe, but with one exception--he has to strip the progressive left away from the Clinton campaign before it solidifies into a coalition going forward.

    As this thread will show you, there was a lot of negative reaction to the idea that Sanders is going to run as a spoiler and a third party candidate. All he has to do is threaten this and the DNC and the Clinton campaign will be on the hook to buy him off. All he has to do is hang out his shingle and establish a firm web presence and use the mailing lists that he's developed and he can carve out a place on the far left that will raise money and release "impact" papers denouncing Clinton whenever she moves to the center and tries to establish herself as the sane alternative to the Republican Party.

    It's a good grift--you send out a blast E-mail on Tuesday morning and see what rolls in by Friday night. You market your mailing list to far left causes and reach monetary agreements. You keep the Feel the Bern and Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bernie swag out there and the bucks come rolling in. Sanders doesn't actually have to run when all is said and done. He can claim a segment of the electorate as his own and elevate his brand while pretending he can impact the race by pushing Hillary to the left.

    Who is really is behind this, and why does it sound like a marketing plan in action?

    Then, his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, defiantly said that even if Clinton went into the Democratic convention with a lead in both pledged delegates and the popular vote, Sanders would pressure the superdelegates to pick him over the former secretary of state.

    Clinton's campaign, eager to move past Sanders and focus on the general election, is getting impatient and even angry at some of the attacks.

    One in particular has Clinton worried. Sanders' campaign is raising the issue of whether the Clinton campaign is violating campaign finance rules with how it raises money jointly with the Democratic National Committee -- an argument that has the Clinton people "pissed," as one source told CNN.

    The concern is that the theme could play into Donald Trump's recent moniker for her -- "Crooked Hillary" -- especially if he is the Republican nominee.

    They worry about the impact of such attacks because they're not aimed just at Clinton but also at the DNC and could weaken the nominee in a general election fight.

    Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, told reporters Tuesday night that the Sanders campaign "has been destructive" to that point that he is "not productive to Democrats" and is "not productive for the country."

    Decrying what she described as "false character attacks," Palmieri compared them to criticism Clinton gets from the GOP. "And any time you mimic Republican attacks, we think that is destructive."

    Sanders is getting beaten in a fair fight. Sanders is in control of a large enough segment of the delegates to make him a power broker at the convention--and that's fine, in and of itself. But what Sanders is really doing goes to the heart of it all--he doesn't want to win. He doesn't want Hillary to win, either. He wants to engage in a scorched Earth policy of demonstrating that he, and only he, is the voice for the progressive left and he wants their support and their dollars going forward so that he can complain on the Internet for the next four years and give speeches and raise money for something-something that'll really knock your socks off in four years. Never mind that he'll be too old to run--he was right all along, you see, and that's why he needs your continued support.

    This is not what a viable candidate does. He does not send out his campaign manager to de-legitimize his primary opponent. He does not file lawsuits that go after the ability of the party he claims to want to represent to raise money to win races in other parts of the country. He does not let the people working for him call his opponent a whore in public. He does not feed the Republican Party's anti-Clinton message machine. A viable candidate supports the party's efforts to win everywhere in November. That result does not lead to the creation of a fundraising machine for Bernie Sanders, so he's throwing sand in the gears in order to make himself the wise old sage of Vermont who could have saved America if everything wasn't so corrupt.

    It's a sucker's game and way too many people are buying it right now.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    Do Nothing

    This is the latest foreign policy nightmare of epic proportions (if only Obama would lead!) that is facing America as we slide into the abyss and end up in danger of being wiped off the face of the Earth (according to our media, of course):

    Two separate close encounters between the Russian and U.S. militaries in recent days have left many wondering if future incidents could result in an armed clash.

    Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday, "There have been repeated incidents over the past year where Russian aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns."

      "Unsafe and unprofessional actions by a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between the two countries," he added.

      After two Russian fighter jets flew within 30 feet of the USS Donald Cook last Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the Russian action could have resulted in the jets being shot down.

      Kerry told CNN en EspaƱol that "under the rules of engagement, that could have been a shoot-down, so people need to understand that this is serious business."

      Do nothing. Do absolutely nothing in the face of Russian insecurity and they will continue to fall apart. The Russian military forces are certainly capable of operations, but they are hollowed out and barely held together with what little Russia can still spend on weapons. Operate as if they do not exist and that will continue to drive them crazy. Let their pilots risk their own lives; let them blow out engines and waste resources accomplishing nothing. The Russians can no longer project their forces beyond a very small logistical chain that has all but collapsed. 

      Do not feed the bear. They're just trollin' y'all.

      Monday, April 18, 2016

      The Message

      Hillary really needs to bury Bernie Sanders before May rolls around:

      Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, will spend $35 million in online advertising in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia, the Washington Post reports. So, look forward to lots of fun and quirky #hillary #politics content.

      The online ad buy, the group said, is the largest of its kind: It will target young voters, Latino/as, African Americans, and women, and will be spent exclusively on video. (The super PAC will also spend $90 million on TV ads in the same states.) Priorities spokesman Justin Barasky says that the buy would help “level the playing field” in the general-election campaign. From the Post:

      So far this 2016 cycle, the group has raised at least $104 million. There was $44.5 million in the bank at the beginning of March and an additional $49 million in commitments, according to campaign spending reports. Most of that money came from Fred Eychaner, a Chicago media executive and major Democratic donor, but also included donations from supporters including actress and activist Jane Fonda.

      The group initially didn’t plan to start spending on advertising until the general-election season, but jumped in early in February to help Clinton win over black voters in the South as she faced a tougher-than-anticipated challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

      This is great news for web publishers, who’ve watched their ad revenue plateau (or plummet) of late. If only the election were longer.

      I suppose this is proof that the system is corrupt and rigged. And it is! This is an insane amount of money and shouldn't be spent on political ads. But that's not the sort of thing a Republican is ever going to say, so the Democratic candidate has to spend this money to fight the negative ads that are coming and the negative campaign tropes that have been coming non-stop all winter and spring.

      In far too many past elections, the Democratic candidate would tell the truth (Mondale) or tell the honest to God truth (Carter) or explain how things really work (Dukakis) or offer up a sane alternative to insanity and bullshit (Kerry) and would lose. Now, we're getting somewhere. This is the first election in my lifetime where the Democratic candidate has really moved ahead of the Republican candidate in terms of doing what it takes to win.

      That's a good thing, too.



      The People Have Spoken

      This is why we can't have anything nice:

      The internet has spoken -- and "RRS Boaty McBoatface" is the people's choice to name a $300 million state-of-the-art polar research ship.

      Over 7,000 names were submitted to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) poll which closed April 16, but "Boaty McBoatface" won easily with 124,109 votes.

        It all began when the NERC invited the public to christen the 129-meter long icebreaker, the largest and most advanced British research vessel to date.

        They asked for names that were inspirational, such as a historical figure or a landmark.

        However, after former BBC presenter James Hand cheekily suggested the Boaty moniker it quickly became the crowd favorite over more traditional names like "RRS Henry Worsley" after the British explorer who died in January while attempting a solo, unaided mission across the Antarctic.

        You can't leave anything up to the Internet. It's a foul, ravaged place where everything is covered in shit and nothing makes sense. Even crappy blogs like this are allowed to exist. Name the damned thing after something proper and stop pretending there is anything decent or normal that will come out of leaving it up to "the people." Decent people have abandoned the Internet, what with all of the Rickrolling and the goobers and the cantaloupe sex out there.

        Thursday, April 14, 2016

        Time Magazine Sings a Republican Lullaby

        There's almost no use commenting on what gets put on a magazine cover. It's a commercial decision--a business strategy--and it usually fails. The magazine business being a near-dead thing anyway, what's the point? Well, the latest issue of Time Magazine plays that same old song and dance (no, it's not an "incredible shrinking president" or "the amazing secrets of the brain" or "do animals think?" cover) that we will hear for the rest of the year through the presidential election and beyond. 

        Namely, the Democrats have spent us into oblivion and only the "daddy" party can put our fiscal mess in order and save us from debt, woe, and ruin.

        Matt Yglesias (I never link to him, either) says this is bullshit, and I suppose he's right. But this is not wonky statistic time. This is "I've lived long enough to see this flimflam come around a few times, and brother, don't fall for it" time. And you kids out there should know one thing--the Republicans created most of our debt. They cut taxes on the rich, invaded Iraq, and spent us into a raging fury. They're the ones who can't create jobs, properly regulate capitalism, and manage our foreign affairs. They're the reason why we have as much debt as we do.

        And, to be candid about it, the debt doesn't matter that much because, hello, Democratic presidents tend to pay it down over a long period of time and grow us out of recessions, so it's all good.

        How many twenty-somethings actually buy magazines, by the way? And how many old people are going to shit themselves trying to cash in their 401K so they can send $43K to the gubberment so they can get out of their imaginary hole?

        Not many, my friend. Not many.

        This Whore Feels So Much Better Now

        I am not beholden to big pharma or the private insurance industry, but I am a whore nonetheless.

        In the world of the Internet, I can make this all about me! Yay! And while I am glad that the Bernie Sanders campaign is going to try and stop calling people like me a whore, I must confess--my whoring started a long time ago and continues to this day. You see, I am a whore because I have a job and I believe that the Democratic Party is the best choice for me in order to keep my job. I tend to look at statistics and the ones I look at show a country that is a helluva lot better off when the Democrats are running things. Not perfect, of course, but someone's idea of perfect means that a bunch of people have to suffer sometimes. We live in a resource scarce world. It'd be great if we could have free everything all the time, but we can't.

        I've seen administrations come and go, and when Republicans are in office, jobs disappear and companies lay people off and constrict themselves. When Democrats are in office, they generally expand and hire people and go after profits. It's a cyclical thing, obviously, and it loosely correlates to who is running the country. The last eight years have been a steadily improving proposition for many Americans. A lot of people aren't better off and a lot of people will be much worse off if we elect a Republican this year.

        What makes me a whore is my firm belief that if you elect a Democrat who pisses off the business community, they'll go apeshit and start throwing things and bust stuff. I'm not happy that business concerns have so much power but I think we have to be realistic about it and go with a candidate who isn't going to piss them off because, hell, they do give her money and they do recognize her as the sane alternative to a lot of horrific scenarios.

        Am I a sell out? Yeah, well I was a sell out the minute I had kids to feed. Am I a whore? You betcha. Proud of it. See the reason above. Kids need feeding. The country needs to be run. The last eight years have been pretty good when you consider the alternative. Not great, but better than if we were in nine wars and answering to a seven Justice Supreme Court that just outlawed homosexuality and fair pay for women.

        I'm not going to try and defend being such a corporate whore, though. Feeding his kid was never a priority for Bernie Sanders. He just kind of let that one slide and kept doing whatever he wanted to do. I don't know if I can respect that because I sure as hell can't vote for that. Priorities being what they are, I'll own being a whore so long as I get to feel good about taking care of my family and living a country lucky enough to have had President Obama running things. 

        Wednesday, April 13, 2016

        Krugthulu is Here to Make Bernie Bros Sad

        Really, all you can take away from this is an appreciation for the fact that Paul Krugman knows what he's talking about and the people who support Bernie Sanders do not:

        Krugman needs a reality check: Wonkish policy details about economic reform are irrelevant. Sanders isn’t an economist. Neither is Clinton. As president, his economic initiatives will have more to do with whom he surrounds himself, not with whether or not he gets it exactly right about the role of the “big banks” in the 2007 Great Recession.

        And Sanders is right enough. Big banks, with their bloated indebtedness and irresponsible lending and support for risky derivatives that even they didn’t always understand contributed greatly to the meltdown. Further, these bankers took the bailout money they received from taxpayers and gave themselves big bonuses the next year (until they were shamed into temporarily rescinding them).  So, Sanders, I expect, will surround himself not with Wall Street insiders like Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner (these are more likely Hilary supporters and fellow-travelers) but, instead, with progressive economists like Dean Baker, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich, and Krugman, himself. The economic policy details that Krugman now demands will most likely emerge from this Sanders-led brain trust, not from a candidate interview with the N.Y. Daily News.

        Furthermore, I think Krugman should quit being a martyr by repeatedly saying that Bernie supporters are out there accusing him and other anti-Sanders ideologues of being “corrupt or even criminal.” I’m not sure where he is finding this left wing McCarthyite paranoia?  By which reputable Sanders supporters is he being scapegoated in such a ridiculous way? It’s as if Krugman wants to wrap himself in the cloak of being a renegade victim when, in reality, his pro-Hilary bias puts him squarely in the liberal establishment mainstream.

        Krugman should get his head out of his “inside-the-academic economics-blogosphere” and think about real world politics for a change.  Sanders understands that even were he a policy wonk, the President can’t make radical stuff happen without the support of a social movement agitating for such change. And it is here that Sanders and Krugman parts ways, since Krugman doesn’t identify as a political activist and is hardly radical when critiquing moronic Republican orthodoxy or Paul Ryan. But Sanders at least has a cursory appreciation of the absolute necessity of building grassroots support for his radical proposals.

        Shorter rant--how dare Paul Krugman expect details from a Democratic presidential primary candidate. That's not fair! And, to be honest with you, I still think this piece was intended as satire but ended up getting published by accident.

        Anyone who was paying attention during the Bush years knows that Paul Krugman has his heart in the right place. The fact that he prefers one Democratic politician to the other doesn't mean he's now Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh rolled together with Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin. Come on--the man who gave us all a reason to pay attention to what candidates say they are going to do is going to have an uncompromising take on the things that actually get said.

        And if you haven't been paying attention to what Bernie Sanders wants to do and what he thinks this Congress is going to let him do, you're kidding himself. Every single one of Sander's ideas are dead on arrival in a Congress run by Republicans. I mean, jeeeee-zus. Who are you when no one's around to watch you do backflips with misbegotten rhetoric?

        Only a Brit Would Think Matt LeBlanc Was Still a Star

        I have to admit that I have never been able to figure any of this out:

        Top Gear host Chris Evans and co-presenter Matt LeBlanc looked far from being Friends as they arrived at Heathrow.

        Amid rumours of a rift, Evans reportedly hailed a taxi rather than jump into a waitingTop Gear car with the American after their return from filming in Venice.

        A witness claims that moments earlier they saw Evans, 49, arguing with one of his party in the terminal building.

        The source said: “There were raised voices and Chris looked utterly fed-up.”

        It comes days after the BBC confirmed it had handed editorial control of the programme to Clare Pizey, a former head of factual entertainment at the channel.

        The corporation insists it has nothing to do with the furore around the Cenotaph stunt earlier this month in which LeBlanc and rally driver Ken Block performed wheelspins and doughnuts close to the London war dead memorial.

        Matt LeBlanc was the Ringo Starr of Friends. They needed him, but he wasn't the show. Nobody really expected him to succeed and that's fine--someone has to be Ringo. The show was about who was going to bang the one with the trendy hair and that's it--period. That was the whole show. They achieved a great deal if you like that 90's sort of sarcasm-driven humor. But this guy has gone back to what he was--a television sitcom actor in search of an ensemble cast that can elevate his stature.

        Only the BBC could be convinced of the idea that LeBlanc could carry a culturally sensitive show like Top Gear. Did they know which one of the Friends they were getting? Is there someone at the BBC who is going to get fired because they hired the wrong Friend for the wrong job? How would you like to be the executive who gets laughed out of the conference room because he thought he was getting Lisa Kudrow but ended up with Matt LeBlanc?

        Why didn't they call Tim Allen--a guy who actually knows something about cars? They could have gotten Jay Leno for peanuts. They should have gotten Joel McHale--a guy who can entertain you without pausing to give a shit. Why didn't they just find someone with an actual appreciation for what Top Gear offers, which is little more than naughty bits disguised as light comedy weighted with marginally relevant car information?

        Great Britain has a war memorial that people disrespect all the time--remember David Gilmour's idiot kid? The obvious answer is to put a fence around it or restrict access. This is why you can't do wheelies when you drive between the place where they buried the Kennedys at Arlington. 

        Ah, failure. It always looks better on television.

        Jeff Merkley Goes For Broke

        Someone convinced Senator Jeff Merkley to tell the world what he knows:

        Unlike the Republican primary circus, Democrats have a choice between two candidates with lifelong track records of fighting for economic opportunity and who are committed to America’s being a force for peace and stability and who are eager to meet today’s challenges and move our country forward for all its citizens, together.

        From her time advocating for children as a young lawyer to her work as first lady of Arkansas and the United States, and as a senator and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has a remarkable record. She would be a strong and capable president.

        But Bernie Sanders is boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our country.

        In other words, I'm voting for Bernie because Hillary hasn't promised me anything and I'm afraid to say bad things about her. This is tepid and silly. It's navel gazing. 

        Which is fine, but I doubt Merkley's endorsement will move the race. If Bernie Sanders can't do well in Oregon, he can't do well anywhere else. This is typical of the kinds of moves that a politician on the fringes of the party will make when they don't believe they have anything to lose by trying to raise their national profile. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn't. Despite being able to see very clearly that Hillary's going to win the nomination, Merkley went with Sanders in order to shore up his progressive credentials. Wonder who he's planning on selling out.

        Tuesday, April 12, 2016

        No One Got the Memo

        This is a disclaimer filled post that shouldn't be misconstrued as a complaint about a film no one has even seen yet. I'm reacting specifically to the images that are being selectively released to "hype" the film in a viral manner. There's a science behind this. The image above is noticeable for one reason--both characters are wearing low cut shirts! Yay! All of our problems are solved, right?

        Nah. "Take a peek" is right.

        You would think that someone would have figured out by now that making really sexy(-ist) costumes for science fiction films would have gone by the wayside after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Look at Captain Phasma here. This is how it should be done--let's treat people like equals and let's tell stories that don't involve body parts being strapped into impossible costumes made out of Spandex.

        Anyway, it looks like, and this is where the disclaimers run wild, that 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' is going to be a throwback to the days when you could take a female lead and dress her in virtually nothing. Or when you could make her features comically large. Or you could just show off her boobs and hope no one writes a lame blog post about it.

        How long do you think it will take Delevigne to

        1. put someone's eye out with those things

        2. or end up half naked in this film?

        And, by the way, yes, you should cast her in this and you should tell stories with interesting people in them. If they happen to be beautiful, I'm fine with that. But let's not pretend that there should be a movie made about how Delevigne ends up being the third wife of Kevin James unless it really, really advances the plot. And, trust me, in a film where that happens, there isn't a plot anymore. There's just sadness and polite laughs.

        Is it stupid not to get her naked? I can't tell anymore. I'm not upset that they're making a film with a pretty girl in it. If her costume is any indication, there are going to be things shooting out of her chest in this film and no one's going to complain. But I think the time has passed where this has to be how things are done. Make her strong and powerful and capable and I can almost guarantee you it will be a better story.

        Luc Besson is famous for dressing Milla Jovovich (in a film, The Fifth Element, where she was billed fourth and was the only female character with any substantial lines but was the actual lead in the film alongside Bruce Willis) in little more than a bandage. Are we still making these films? Come on.

        If this photo is any indication, she'll be on display in ways that her male costars probably aren't. I mean, whatever advances the story, right?

        Remember when Joss Whedon complained because Bryce Dallas Howard was being typecast into the role of the uptight female character who has to put up with a smartass male co-star? I hope they've avoided that sort of thing here.

        These things do matter. You can tell great stories without exploiting women. The whole history of storytelling has been wrapped up in this idea that you can tell a better story than the one you just heard simply by working harder at it. And telling great stories without denigrating women or turning them into stereotypes is progress, writ large.

        There are men up in arms because the star of Rogue One is going to be a powerful female character. Well, maybe this is how films should be made--with real people instead of cardboard cutout models who are there to pleasure men. And if you don't believe that Felicity Jones can carry a movie, fine then. The overwhelming sexism of the past should stay in the past. We've had enough of that stuff--times are changing and so are the stories we should be telling.

        Monday, April 11, 2016

        This is the Game

        I'm not going to shed a tear for anyone who decided to run for President without bothering to learn what the rules were:

        Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are confronting the same paradox: the fate of their insurgent campaigns built on scorn for the political establishment rests on how well they play the inside game.

        For Trump, the challenge is shifting from a strategy of piling up state primary wins to one that also takes into account states that award delegates in a more intricate fashion. Trump's organizational weakness in that type of contest was underscored Saturday when he was swept by Ted Cruz in the Colorado Republican convention.

          Sanders, meanwhile, has to win not only more pledged delegates but also more superdelegates -- party officials and other elites who can vote however they choose -- if he wants to take the Democratic battle for the White House to the convention floor.

          This narrative is designed to get people to think that the system isn't fair. It's totally fair! This is how things work after being debated and decided by the people running the political parties in question. These are the rules they set up and this is how things are done. If Trump and Sanders decided to run for president without bothering to figure this out, why should there be any debate about fairness? This is like complaining about not having a guy who can kick field goals on your team after you agreed to play a game of football. Learn the rules. Surround yourself with people who understand the damned rules. It's not hard. Really, it isn't.

          Two of Donald Trump's own children were completely unaware of the rules so they cannot even vote for him in the New York primary. How incredibly ridiculous is that? All it takes is to hire a coordinator who understands the process and follow their advice. It's insane.

          Sanders, in particular, is not even a member of the Democratic Party. Why should an entire political party turn itself inside out and hand itself over to someone who isn't even a member? And, no, deciding to be a "democrat" just before running this year doesn't count.

          Friday, April 8, 2016

          What Happened to Bill Clinton?

          My rant at Charlie's place, as follows:

          We will never be rid of these people.

          The "fundamental flaw" of the Democratic Party has been an unwillingness to embrace the fact that Barack Obama came out of nowhere, didn't have any of that 1990s baggage hanging off of him, and wiped the floor with the Clinton machine in 2008. That should have encouraged a serious candidate to run for president this year as a legitimate alternative to Hillary, allowing us to move on like a healthy population of people should.

          No, Bernie Sanders is not that alternative--he has a vague idea that the big banks are bad but he does not understand the fundamental structure of the banking industry--Barney Frank, he ain't. Martin O'Malley is a regional punch line, written in shattered glass on the sidewalks of Baltimore. And Jim Webb's ship sailed without him on it. Everyone got out of Hillary's way and this is what we're left with--she's a terrible retail politician who has to answer for the tired old record of America's greatest retail politician who is off his game and is too rusty to be allowed out of the house with car keys.

          Hillary's greatest advantage this cycle was her ability to energize the African-American vote and her husband just about destroyed that with one ill-timed temper tantrum. Hey, lucky for us there is no one running on the Republican side of the aisle who has any idea how to exploit that.

          Shame on Bill Clinton for not knowing the story of why Black Lives Matter has been protesting in Minneapolis. Hint--it ain't because some of them fellers were hopped up on the goofballs. It was because of the execution killing of a black man by the police in a community that has endured decade after decade of police on minority crime. Shame on him because he spoke in Minneapolis less than two years ago and accepted an award and talked about Civil Rights. You'd think a guy would be up on his current events.

          Yes, I'll vote for her--there is no sane alternative. But we should have seen another Obama coming from a long way off this time around. I think we are cursed with the knowledge that we're only going to get one of him, and we're damned lucky did.

          Thursday, April 7, 2016

          A Monster For All Seasons

          No mercy for Dennis Hastert, please:

          Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s lawyer requested Wednesday that a judge give him probation instead of a prison sentence for his conviction on hush-money paid to a man who said the Illinois lawmaker sexually abused him as a teen. But a new Chicago Tribune report Thursday alleges that three additional men have made “credible allegations of sexual abuse” to law-enforcement officials, saying they were also targeted as teens during Hastert’s tenure as a high-school teacher and wrestling coach in Illinois. The first accuser, who reportedly received $1.7 million from Hastert, is the focus of the indictment. Another man, whose identity remains unknown, has reportedly told prosecutors he is considering speaking at Hastert’s federal sentencing on April 27. Hastert pleaded guilty in October for trying to pay out a total of $3.5 million in hush money. “Mr. Hastert has made mistakes in judgment and committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry,” his attorney Tom Green said Wednesday. He cited Hastert’s health as a main reason to keep him from being locked up. His plea deal dictates that he would only get six months in prison. 

          Given the enormity of his crimes as a sexual abuser, there should be no mercy shown to former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. As we speak, I can only guess that the chyron on Fox News has incorrectly identified him as a "Democrat" all morning and afternoon). Six months in prison for a hypocrite of this magnitude?

          During the 2004 elections, George W. Bush’s campaign, managed by a closeted gay man, pushed a series of anti-gay ballot initiatives across the country. The House of Representatives, led by a male speaker who allegedly sexually assaulted a male minor, moved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage after beating back attempts to strengthen hate crimes legislation. And the White House, led in part by a vice president with a lesbian daughter, eagerly encouraged a conservative evangelical base hostile to gay rights.

          Though only slightly over a decade ago, that election seems increasingly like the relic of a far-off era as the country moves closer toward acceptance of legalizing marriage equality nationwide. But it’s being revisited in light of recent revelations that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) may have sexually abused at least two male students during his time as a high school teacher and wrestling coach, and later lied to the FBI about the hush money he was paying one of them.

          Hastert wasn’t a strident culture warrior during his time in Congress. But he was a vital cog in the anti-gay political machinery that the GOP deployed for political benefit. And now it appears his involvement carried the same elements of duplicity and deceit as that of other Republican operatives of that era.

          “The hypocrisy is breathtaking in its depth,” said Elizabeth Birch, former president of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

          As speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007, Hastert didn’t just go along and vote the party line on various bills; he decided which pieces of legislation made it to the floor for a vote. During his tenure, he was a clear foe of the LGBT community.

          Toward the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton was trying to broaden the federal hate crimes statute to cover acts of violence motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity. Calls for such legislation had picked up steam after the horrific assault and killing of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man, in 1998. But Republicans, led by Hastert and other GOP leaders, repeatedly barred any such measure from passage.

          Tell me again how the "identity politics" of the 1990s were waged by the Democrats? You had hypocrites and sex mad Republicans running amok. We're still talking about the DC Madam story--incredible.

          Bernie Sanders Just Disqualified Himself From Polite Discourse

          Talk about an unforced error:

          Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that Hillary Clinton is not "qualified" to be president, a sharp escalation in rhetoric in the Democratic primary.

          "Secretary Clinton appears to be getting a little bit nervous," he told a crowd in Philadelphia. "And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am 'not qualified' to be president. Well, let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don't believe that she is qualified, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don't think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC."

            CNN has reached out to the Clinton campaign for comment, and its surrogates responded quickly on Twitter.

            "Hillary Clinton did not say Bernie Sanders was 'not qualified.' But he has now - absurdly - said it about her. This is a new low," campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted.

            This is exactly the sort of thing I would not have seen come from Bernie Sanders. A surrogate, perhaps, but not the candidate himself, and it's shocking and wrong. It is wrong on so many levels that I cannot even begin to come up with the right mix of curse words and indignation.

            She's qualified. Shut the hell up with anything else. Good God, she's as qualified to run as anyone. 

            Here's the thing--Bernie Sanders believes this because he's not a Democrat. He's using the Democratic Party as a vehicle, but he's not a member of it in good standing. All of the complaints about Debbie Wasserman Schultz are fairly cut and dried (and I think she should have been removed months ago) but her efforts to deny Sanders the nomination are driven by the fact that he isn't really a believer in what the Democratic Party stands for. And, for progressives, you have to hold your nose and accept that there's a corporatist streak that allows money and access to flow in and out of the party through donors on Wall Street. 

            I just want to reiterate that--you're never going to get everything from any candidate. The system is rigged to produce as little change as possible. You can grow up and accept that or you can watch a Republican thrown everything into the wind. You can watch them loot everything for years on end and destroy every shred of progress made in the last eight years if you want. I'm not about to stand still for that. Nope.

            It sucks--believe me, I get it--but you simply cannot win a national election in this country without taking Wall Street's money and compromising some of the loftier goals of reining in corruption. Cue the people who hide behind the purity troll mask--it's just not possible to forge a centrist, national coalition and win the presidency without getting into bed with some really disgusting people. You have to accept that there's power out there that isn't going to be reformed overnight. You have to be willing to live in a world where your candidate lets you down once in a while. But there's no question--A Democrat like Hillary is not going to pursue the same agenda as any Republican anywhere. She's going to tax the hell out of these people and she's going to push regulation further than anyone currently running on the other side. She's going to achieve good where good can be wedged between slime and agony on the public policy front. She's going to lose a lot of battles that Bernie Sanders wouldn't have a chance of winning and she's going to win just enough to make having her as President look like a damned good deal.

            Is she going to let people down? Of course--that's the price of getting some of their money in order to be competitive. It's the price of doing business. Adults know that the political process is icky and no fun but is necessary in order to achieve the incremental changes we've seen over the last eight years. 

            Bernie Sanders is perpetuating the Republican talking point that Hillary can't be trusted. That's bullfuckingshit and he jumped into it with both feet. His lack of dignity and grace here is appalling.  

            Tuesday, April 5, 2016

            Trump's Crazy Ideas Are Very Popular

            You can be rest assured that Donald Trump's terrible ideas are going to gain him votes:

            Expanding on his plans to force Mexico to pay for a 1,000-mile border wall, presidential candidate Donald Trump says he would cut off money transfers to the country. Trump’s idea would cut off billions of dollars from immigrants back to the country, likely causing serious problems between the U.S. and a key ally. Trump’s plan may not be legally (or politically) feasible, as economists say it would likely require crippling a major ally’s economy. Trump told The Washington Post that he would threaten to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law, a threat he will withdraw after Mexico makes “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” to pay for the project.

            The problem with Trump's plan is that there is already a very lucrative method for collecting large fees from people who transfer money around the country and around the world. It's called Moneygram, and it has a partnership deal with Wal-Mart. These companies have lobbyists and they have interests. They sit back and collect massive fees for transferring American dollars to overseas locations. Do you think they're going to remain silent in the face of this nonsense?

            America's biggest retailer is about to become a partial victim of Trump's half-baked idea:

            According to a fee estimator on Western Union’s website, sending $900 within the United States could cost as much as $76 when done in person. MoneyGram’s website estimated that the same transaction would cost $73.

            Walmart already offered customers a way to transfer money in its stores, through a partnership with MoneyGram. Unlike Walmart-2-Walmart, MoneyGram does not have a $900 limit and it allows for transfers to other countries.

            Mr. Eckert said using MoneyGram would remain an option for Walmart customers. In its annual report, MoneyGram said that Walmart accounted for 27 percent of its total fee and investment revenue last year.

            Financial services make up a relatively small portion of Walmart’s overall revenue, and some analysts said the wire transfer program could ultimately be more consequential for other wire-transfer companies like MoneyGram and Western Union than the retailer.

            Even a small piece of Wal-Mart's bottom line is simply too big to ignore. If retailers like Wal-Mart begin to see the unfriendly policies of Donald Trump as a liability for the bottom line, what's to stop them from getting in bed with the Democrats? You'd think a Republican running for president would be Wal-Mart friendly. Turns out, Trump is too stupid for that.