Monday, August 31, 2015

Today's Pix

Today's Grim Statistics

We get told a lot that guns make us safe, and that more guns make us safer, and that if only we could truly understand and embrace this peculiar point of view we could make USAmerica Inc great again.

While I'm on about this, I think my all-time favorite NRA bromide is that an armed society is a polite society - which BTW, was one of Meyer Lansky's favorite things to say.  So yeah - go ahead and build your sales campaign around that guy's moral framework.  It is altogether fitting and proper for you to do that.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Today's Facebook Silly

(And a quick reminder that, for way too many of us, we're making our political decisions from deep inside an alarming deficit of knowledge about fairly simple concepts we were supposed to have learned in 9th-grade Civics.)

I see a lot of otherwise smart friends putting up some really dumb posts. I include myself in the first group of course, but there's no way I could ever break into that second group (of course again) because - you know - I'm just that awesome.

Main complaint du jour: Drug Testing people for Welfare-type Bennies.  This one pops up in various iterations; this time appearing on the wall of a high school buddy's sister:

She was a cop (I think).  She studied Law and Enforcement (says that in her bio). Did she just miss the sessions on Probable Cause and The Bill of Rights?  Or is it a little too much to expect law enforcement officers to know something about that silly old document they all swore to uphold?

Congressional Research Service:
Federal or state laws that condition the initial or ongoing receipt of governmental benefits on passing drug tests without regard to individualized suspicion of illicit drug use may be subject to constitutional challenge. To date, two state laws requiring suspicionless drug tests as a condition to receiving governmental benefits have sparked litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court has not rendered an opinion on such a law; however, the Court has issued decisions on drug testing programs in other contexts that have guided the few lower court opinions on the subject.
Constitutional challenges to suspicionless governmental drug testing most often focus on issues of personal privacy and Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches.” For searches to be reasonable, they generally must be based on individualized suspicion unless the government can show a “special need” warranting a deviation from the norm. However, governmental benefit programs like TANF, SNAP, unemployment compensation, and housing assistance do not naturally evoke special needs grounded in public safety or the care of minors in the public school setting that the Supreme Court has recognized in the past. Thus, if lawmakers wish to pursue the objective of reducing the likelihood of taxpayer funds going to individuals who abuse drugs through drug testing, legislation that only requires individuals to submit to a drug test based on an individualized suspicion of drug use is less likely to run afoul of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, governmental drug testing procedures that restrict the sharing of test results and limit the negative consequences of failed tests to the assistance program in question would be on firmer constitutional ground.
Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

If you suspect me of doing something illegal, then you gather your evidence, you attach my name (and yours) to it, you present it to the nice judge, and then the judge decides what happens next - not you; not by a show of hands from your little mob of drinking buddies; not some Coin-Operated Politician who needs you to concentrate on some shiny object so you won't notice he and his Sugar Daddies Uber-Patriot Donor Base have their hands in your pants.

It's called Due Process, and it's part of that whole American Exceptionalism thing.

Seriously, kids - we gotta brighten up a little.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Today's Nexus

Religion and Politics always seem to go together.  And they are both dangerous tools in the hands of unscrupulous people.

Here's Thermin Trees via YouTube, describing his own passage from curious child to indoctrinated teenager to clear-thinking adult.  The first half sounds like the very common history of most of us from that age group, but ya gotta stay with it until about 18:30 cuz that's where it kinda exploded up in my punkin' head - Religion and Politics are both very meticulous about devising systems intended to hide the manipulative lies on which their power structures are built.

Paraphrasing a little here:
What are the tools we use to detect lies?
a) the absence of confirming evidence
b) the presence of conflicting evidence

Loyalty (to faith or ideology) demands that we disregard:
a) the absence of confirming evidence
b) the presence of conflicting evidence

Today's Fugelsang

Hey, remember when liberals warned you about Bush and you questioned their patriotism? 
And then they were proved right? 
Well learning anything from that is weakness. 
Vote GOP 2016.

And Yer Flying Monkeys Too

Where's Dorothy with that water bucket when ya really need her?

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is, of course, the perfect choice if we're looking for a staunch defender of "traditional marriage" because she's been spreading that One-Man-One-Woman thing all over da joint - divorced 3 times and currently seeing if she can make a go of it with hubby #4. (sometimes this shit is just too easy).

(hat tip = FB buddy VWE)

From Talking Points Memo:
MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky clerk's office on Thursday again refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the country two months ago.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses, citing her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious freedom, since the landmark decision in June.
On Thursday morning, a deputy clerk in her office refused to issue a marriage license to William Smith Jr. and James Yates. It was their third attempt to get a license.
Mat Staver, an attorney for Davis, said he was disappointed with the ruling. He said he plans to discuss options with Davis, including an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The court of appeals did not provide any religious accommodation rights to individuals, which makes little sense because at the end of the day it's individuals that are carrying out the acts of the office," Staver said. "They don't lose their individual constitutional rights just because they are employed in a public office."
What she really needs to be worrying about is that there might actually be such a thing as God's Perfect Justice, cuz that would mean her chances of getting anywhere near the pearly gates to plead her case are almost as good as my being able to travel back in time and having Geraldo Rivera discover unicorns and pixies playing strip foosball in Al Capone's secret vault.

No soul and no honor.

Meet The New Boss

Pretty sure Jeb Bush is gonna be the GOP's guy in 2016.  It's less than a sure thing that I can back up with real evidence, but more than a feeling (w/ apologies to my loyal fans for dredging up the painful memories of an 80s Hair Band).

Anyway, Bill O'Reilly got after Trump a few days ago, and put up a video clip of Bush (making some interestingly "librul-sounding" counterpoints btw) during his live on-air interview with Lil Donny.  This is not something that happens unless Roger Ailes has decided to pass on Trump in favor of somebody else.

Politics is about power, and power is about leverage.

DumFux News (ie: The GOP) knows they have a major problem because of very high negatives and very low positives among Women and Brown People (specifically Latins). They can "win" at the local level and in the state houses because they've done well at organizing their ground game, which gave them plenty of opportunity to take advantage of a little thing called gerrymandering, which then makes for lotsa safe red seats in congress.  But there's still the problem of a really low probability for winning the White House for what looks like maybe decades to come.

So what's a good little opinion manipulator to do? Pick a very public fight with the guy who personifies the problems the GOP has with attracting the support of Latins and Fallopian-Americans; do it in prime time with your primest of prime time talent; and be sure to show a good long visual of Jeb Bush sounding reasonable while making just as sure to tell people Donny's positions are costly and extreme: "The guy wants to deport innocent babies and he practically word-raped one of our treasured National Virgins!!! blah blah blah").

Ailes has decided Trump won't be the nominee, so he's setting it up so Fox can present itself to Women and Latins as 'the enemy of your enemy", which (I think) he believes will gain enough support for when he officially throws in with Jeb.

And I think all that because, of course, I'm brilliant. No no no, wait. It's because Ailes knows that Trump's "commanding lead" in the polling actually represents less than 8 or 9% of the total number of people who'll vote in November 2016, and so he believes he can drive the Right Radicals back into the shadows (where he wants them; because while he needs them,  he can't afford to have them up front where everybody can see them), AND he can get a Republican elected POTUS in one swell foop.

And also too - I'll try not to be too surprised if I find out that during the "blunt-but-productive conversation" that went on between Ailes and Trump after the Megyn Kelly trouble, it was decided that Trump would at least consider attending to his own skewering by DumFux News in order to get himself a real good deal with whoever "wins" the nomination, and some kind of nice payoff from Rupert as well.

He could win the nomination - not likely, but wow if he does.  
He could win the election - very unlikely, buy holy fuck, what if. 
He could "lose" either, and still come up roses - highly probable.  

Just my opinion, but ya heard it here first, kids.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Today's Michelle

If you're looking for something to brighten your day - along the lines of thinking "hey, fuck it, things could be worse" - say these four words to yourself: First Lady Ann Romney.

I guess I shouldn't say 'never', but seriously, how are we ever gonna get anybody in the White House as cool as Barack and Michelle?  We kinda tho't that about Bill and Hillary, but that was goin' on 30 fucking years ago.

My first vote for Bill Clinton in the '92 primary is older than my first-born child.  Fuck, I'm old.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Today's (not very) Secret

More than just the flavor of the month in the parade of Monsters From The Id that driftglass talks about, Trump is a real threat to the system of legalized bribery that we've evolved.  Which, btw happens with every system eventually - political or religious or whatever. The unused battery goes dead; your freeze-dried backpack chow gets moldy; and the unopened pop bottle contains nothing but a little dust (and, if you're lucky, a desiccated mouse carcass so you can sue somebody and at least die with a few bucks in your account).

But anyway, entropy is a real thing and unless we're willing to do the work of tending and conserving and replenishing (like what Madison et al tried to give us the means to do), then we can count on the whole thing cratering in on itself.
So why is Trump the enemy, really? The GOP will say it’s because he’s a clown, he has no experience, he can't win, he’s more a celebrity than a politician. This might all be true. But there’s another big reason they’d rather not talk about.
At the debate and numerous public appearances, Trump has matter-of-factly stated that he is an equal opportunity donor to Republican and Democratic candidates—not for the purpose of civic duty or altruism, but in exchange for influence. He has openly deemed his gifts to politicians a business expense. He went so far as to declare, before 24 million viewers at the debate, that he uses his donations to obtain favors from legislators who are all too eager to bow to his requests. He not-so-subtly implies that politicians are bought and paid for by him and other financial moguls. And he expects a fair return for those dollars, measured in policy rewards like zoning adjustments, subsidies for building projects and long-term tax relief.

In short, he lets the cat out of the bag about something the political system has spent more than a century to disguise.
Representative democracy can only remain legitimate in the eyes of its citizens if they believe that those who seek and hold public office are independent actors. We have tolerated well-funded lobbying organizations, most of which get their money from rich donors and corporate investments. Hillary Clinton admits she receives huge contributions to her campaign from Wall Street titans. But she adamantly denies that these millions of dollars influence her political decisions.

Not to put too fine a point on it:
"If you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and vote against ‘em anyway, you don’t belong in the Legislature”. --Molly Ivins
And it scares the crap outa everybody - which is why (I think) Hillary has been kinda reticent on the subject of The Donald so far, and why she's starting to float a few of the older concepts from her past life as a Hippy-fied Moderate ConservaDem - plus she has to have time to figure out the triangulation.
We should be grateful for Donald Trump, despite his silly, derogatory statements and obvious contempt for the process in which he has chosen to engage. He has opened the door to a new debate about what American democracy is actually about. His posture unintentionally parallels how Occupy Wall Street exposed the power of capital to rule our country.(*)
In national elections, nearly half of registered voters stay home. The conventional explanation is apathy. But if people believe that politics is run by big money and have little faith that their vote can produce real change, they respond to someone who at least seems to be telling the truth. Trump is no saint, but we have to admit that he has tapped into a collective revulsion for politics as usual.
I'll go along with that last bit - about how Trump "has tapped into a collective revulsion" - but drawing a conclusion that it might actually be kinda good for us is fuckin' stoopid.  Trump isn't holding some kinda flashlight and showing us how fucked up the system is.  As always, I could be wrong and I hope I am, but since this shit is always about something they don't tell us it's about, I think it's way too probable that Trump is saying, "This is how we do things in the real world of Free-Market Democracy - fuck you; what're you gonna do about it?"

The kicker is that there're boatloads of rubes out there thinking, "I know he's gonna fuck me with my pants on, but they all do that; at least Trump's being honest about it".

(*) and let's be sure we get in the obligatory Both Sides bullshit, too!  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Today's Depressing Realization

It's becoming more probable that the seeming rise in over-aggressive police response needs to be understood in the context of Roid Rage.

David Krajicek, committing deliberate acts of Journalism over at AlterNet:
Many police agencies now focus on testing individual officers identified as possible juicers under “reasonable suspicion” or “for cause” guidelines.
I asked James Pasco, director of legislative advocacy for the 325,000-member Fraternal Order of Police, how many of the nation’s 18,000 agencies currently test officers for steroids.
“I have no idea,” he replied.
It seems nobody does. Since there is no systematic national data collection on testing and results, the number of officers disciplined each year for steroids is unknowable—a potentially important criminal justice data point that is lost down an information black hole.
“I keep seeing all of these cases where the level of anger and violence shown by officers makes no sense," Gilbertson says. "And when things don’t make sense, they don’t make sense for a reason…Maybe steroid rage is a reason so many police officers seem so angry and aggressive.”
"Suddenly" it's a not a matter of perception - it doesn't just seem like the cops are goin' a little nutty.  There's a real explanation available, and we need to start looking at these things in this new light.

And also too - lotsa cops are coming out of the US Military, where the use of Roids and HGH (et al) is one of the worst-kept secrets ever.

Sometimes, they're just random dots, but sometimes they connect up quite elegantly.

Need any more reasons we should try a little harder to stay the fuck outa the war bidness?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wrapped In The Flag

via Wonkette:
Hooray! The spirit of McCarthyism is alive and well in Hastings, Nebraska, where for the first time in ages, the local school district has asked all its teachers to comply with a 1951 state law requiring all teachers to sign a loyalty oath. After teachers complained, the ACLU warned the district that it’s begging for a lawsuit, but the school’s attorney advised the superintendent that the law is still valid and probably should be followed. Besides, isn’t Real Americanism all about making people pledge to support democracy and freedom, whether they want to or not, and also judging whether they’re patriotic enough?
I really kinda love it when these "Conservative Capitalists" start muckin' about in things they need us to believe they understand perfectly, when the very things they say and do always point directly to the conclusion that they really don't understand jack shit - 'specially when it comes to American Democracy.

Look, guys - in your Randian Utopia of the perfect Free Market system, your "fact" that All Things Communist are bad and that All Things USAmerica Inc are glorious would be obvious because the Marketplace of Ideas would make it obvious without having to use Big Gubmint to force everybody to buy in.  Do ya kinda see the problem?

But that's not what it's about, is it?  It's that Sinclair Lewis quote about how fascism comes to America, isn't it?  A lot of us were fooled for a good long time.  I think that number may be starting to drop rapidly.  I can hope so anyway.

Messy And Uncomfortable

“No campaign, and no movement has ever prevailed by trying to stay comfortable. You’re supposed to have messy, awkward, painful moments, and get stronger by working past them. That’s what the work requires, and that’s how you get strong enough to do the work, together.” --Jay Smooth

Today's Sing-Along

hat tip = swilton (Democratic Underground)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Today's Oliver

At church last night, The Right Reverend John Oliver broke through to my heart of hearts and I felt the light of the lord shining down upon me as he lifted me up and carried away my worldly sorrows on the wings of angels.

Or maybe what I felt was one hard hand on the back of my collar as he bent me over and then went thru my pockets with the other.  Not sure - mysterious is the way of the lord, brothers and sisters.  Amen, and pass the lube.

And again - why is a weekly comedy show among the very few places we find anyone trying to do some real Journalism-ing?

And also too again - wanna know why "the legitimate press" is dying?  Watch almost anything on TV or read almost anything in any of the dead tree publications that're still around; compare it with Last Week Tonight and then tell me you're still wondering.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Get Somebody Working On This

Kelly fell flat and Rosie got after her.  And yet somehow the story became all about Rosie Perez being pressured first to make an on-air apology to Kelly Osbourne, and then more or less forced out all together.

A silly buncha baloney, and there's prob'ly way more to it than that - I think so because Bill Wolff is (or should be; or used to be) a shitload better producer than that - but mostly it was a big-time missed opportunity. Perez only heard the part of Osborne's comment that was sure to trigger a negative knee-jerk reaction. Certainly understandable, but it seems pretty obvious Osborne actually meant to show some solidarity with Latinos - in a typically clumsy and over-compensating way that privileged white librul legacy pukes have a knack for doing (been there. done that. got t-shirts, hats, key chains - all kinds of shit), but still.

Anyway, if we can figure out how to let people make the kinda mistakes Kelly Osborne and Rosie Perez made without the whole world blowing up in their faces, then maybe we can have a conversation that leads somewhere other than some fucked up twitter war or facebook feud or media spat or whatever. 

Ever notice how we never end up talking about possible solutions for any of these problems?

Gee, it's almost as if somebody is working really hard to make sure we're only allowed to choose a side and then talk shit about "those people".

So I'm not making excuses for Kelly Osbourne, and I'm not blaming Rosie for reacting the way she did, and I'm not doing any bullshit Both-Sides thing with it. I'm saying we need to take chances; we need to cut each other a little slack; and we need to try to do better.

Brother Jay:

Something To Remember

By way of an interesting piece at Yahoo Politics:
But Trumpmania may be telling us a lot less about the dominant mood in the electorate at large than we think. As one of the more astute liberal bloggers, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, points out, Trump has been drawing the support of less than a quarter of Republican primary voters, who in turn make up less than a quarter of the voting public.
I suck at math, but I'm OK with 'rithmetic, so even I can figure out that ¼ of ¼ = 6.25% of the total vote.

So that means Hillary will win in 2016 by whatever substantial margin our Corporate Media Manipulators allow, which will be a landslide at about 52% - 48%.

Fair Warning - watch out for the Both-Sides crap that pops out near the end.  It's mild by current standards, but it's there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Illusory Things

Carlin said it: "...we're given the illusion of choice..."

We see 22 different names on bottles of bourbon, and 30 different names on bags of potato chips, and 18 GOP candidates running for POTUS, and and and.

How pissed are the Teabaggers gonna be when they figure out they've been punked into pimping for Big Gubmint all along?  Just kidding - this is possibly the only place you're ever likely to find "Teabaggers" and "figure out" in the same sentence, so the rubes will remain safely encased in their Igno-rama-tron®, keeping the rest of us "safe", at least in terms of not being splattered by flying body tissue when the baggers' "brains" explode.

BTW: as always, just in case anybody's trying to take what I say and turn it into a Both-Sides thing - bullshit.  There's a difference.  And if you like to pretend you're above it all - stop it; just fucking stop.  

If you like the way things are; if you prefer having everything fucked up and getting more fucked up pretty much every day, then stay home and be the asshole who could've done something about it, but made a conscious decision not to.

More Oliver

Best thing to think about right now (and why we desperately need guys like John Oliver): there's something like 450 days before the next election, which means babies will be born before November 2016 whose parents haven't even met yet.

So Here I Am Again

Enjoyed my time away from most things.  I'm pretty much all moved into the new joint now,  so if I haven't lost everybody yet, I'll just try to slide on up in here and get back to pretending I'm making some kinda headway.

Listening to a Car Talk rerun last week while I was off in search of a laundromat, I decided to steal this bit, and try to add some of my own.  It was generally about women knowing what they know and having the good sense to say "I don't know" when appropriate, while a man will just jump into it whether he knows anything or not (stoopid men).

BTW, I guess this is where you should feel free to insert your rant about Reverse Sexism or Man Bashing or Men's Rights or whatever silly shit you can think of to remove all doubt that you really are a testosterone poisoned ape-child who's so blissfully ignorant of your own egocentric arrogance and so deeply in denial of being born to Manly Privilege that you're thoroughly terrified that somebody will gain some equality of power, which means, even tho' you don't know it - or you just can't bear to admit it - that you're simply terrified somebody could start treating you exactly the same as you've been treating them.

So anyway:

The guy who can't manage not to get into a screaming match with his own family over Thanksgiving dinner is the same guy who thinks he has the perfect solutions for problems in the Middle East.

The guy who never bothers to balance his check book, and has a world of trouble with his credit card debt knows what to do about tax revenues and budget deficits and the Federal Reserve system and fiat currencies and all things economic.

There are guys who'll tell us exactly what's needed to colonize Mars because they know how to ride a bicycle.

The guy who gave up on the whole parenting thing and sent his only kid to 3 different military schools is the same guy telling us how to fix public education and the prison system.

The guy who's spent his whole life enjoying the benefits of having been born to white middle class suburban parents in the 1950s knows everything there is to know about how to get things down in the ghetto all squared away in 2015 (hint - whatever else he comes up with, you know he's gonna sneak baggy pants and hip-hop in there too).

We've been hornswoggled.  We swallowed the myth of de-mystification whole.  "They've" been telling us we can do anything - from instant breakfast to walking on the moon.  And in the time it takes for one generation to grow old, we've managed to forget the second part of "we can do anything", which is basically that we have to have some education or training or experience; or just the tiniest bit of talent or skill or knowledge - it all gives us the misguided idea that anybody can step in and do any job - teacher, cop, mayor, NASA admin, POTUS, whatever.  Here's the deal, kids: No, ya can't.  You hafta to know something first.

"We can do anything" is not the same as "anybody can do that". 

Donald Trump didn't just come outa nowhere.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Today's Pix

Today's Oliver

And again - how come we hafta go to a comedy show to get some decent reporting on some of these kinda-fucking-important issues?