Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day, Part 2

Here's a chunk of highly rational thinking:

They argue about this in Eire as well as in the United States. Here, however, it seems that all the old, once obvious premises, have been forgotten, and women defending their constitutional right to a choice in the matter of pregnancy--a right grounded in a fundamental Supreme Court decision, Roe V. Wade--have tended to search for an appealing victim. This tack, unfortunately, gains little ground with the majority of the "pro-life" crowd--a cohort who are fine with murdering doctors, harassing and shaming pregnant women and their supporters, and these days devising patently disengenuous legal obstacles to women's health providers which toss all rationality and logic to the winds in order to achieve a predetermined goal. "Pro-Life" is, in a word, bad faith. It is a lie even in its name, and avoids the truth with a monument of further lies, no matter the general cost to our overall view of law and democratic governance. (It's somehow not surprising that the strong "pro-life" former Governor of Virginia is willing, with the compliance of his wife and daughter, to mount a defense of his patently obvious corruption of his former office as being somehow all the fault of his "weaker" half. This is the ultimate practice of the "wives must submit" doctrine instituted by the Southern Baptists some years back.)

As the cited post states:

For most it [abortion] is a difficult and emotional decision ultimately made for pragmatic reasons in the cold light of rationality. It is within this context that debate on abortion should be based. The fear that women may choose en masse not to become mothers suggest a problem with that status in the first place, and is in contrast to society’s imposition of the mother role on women as a natural state only to be avoided by the deviant or unique women.

Until the ground of debate shifts away from the woman as the ‘other’ to woman as a fully formed autonomous human being, control of women’s reproduction will remain in the hands of the misogynists. People, such as those who designed the abominable Eighth Amendment in the South and whom are trying desperately to further restrict abortion in the North have for too long framed the debate to their liking.

It is time for women to take control of the conversation and to look these people in the eye and say, ‘I choose abortion because, I choose abortion’.

Perhaps we need to go back to a fundamental defeat--the failure of the United States to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The implications of that failure are as enormous for women as the adoption of the Southern Strategy is for persons of color. And as with the Southern Strategy, the piecemeal collapse of a defacto presumption that women and men are equally citizens and equally protected under our system of law is dangerous for everyone, male or female--because we're all subject to the law.

It serves the interests of power to keep everyone else in a state of tragic muddle. After Roe V Wade there were some years of agreement, amongst nearly all parties. Then the Republican Party took the view that "Pro Life" was a fundamental tenant. Along with the Southern Strategy--really its paternal twin--these two evil children have led us to a state of profound disorder, where one major political party aims to destroy logic and governance in the democratic fashion, by any means whatsoever. It's all of a certain piece: science denial, the destruction of fundamental rights, the "war on women."

This is a Labor Day to see where we stand. Here in NC, a confirmed "pro-lifer," Tom Tillis, runs against a capable and female sitting Democratic Senator, Kay Hagan. I'm hopeful that there are still enough clear thinking women in our electorate to keep Ms Hagan in office. Democrats are a jumbled, confused lot. They are frequently frustrating, and sometimes wrong. They have not, however, embraced confusion and outright insanity wholesale. These are the choices we have, Labor Day, 2014.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day 2014

I got the following link from Driftglass:

Here in North Carolina we've had this "right to work" law in place since the late 1950s. Unions are so weak here that I don't recall ever meeting anyone in a union growing up, and my only encounter with a union as a personal matter was my membership in the Musicians Union, which was required in order for my band to work in New York City back in 1975. (We joined a local NC branch that did absolutely nothing, but I do recall that we could have gotten health insurance through the union had we thought, at that time, that we were not entirely invincible early 30-somethings who would never ever get to some place in life where any medical encounters might be needed.) We paid our dues. When I left the band never to be mentioned in 1981, taking a job banging nails for a local hippie builder, I let my membership lapse. Oh well.

Lately the so-called "right to work" idea has taken root up nawth. It's a shame. In the link you'll see that the idea has real history--it's tied to the John Birch Society and the Koch Brothers (who's daddy was tied to the Birchers). It's incredible how much effect a zillion dollars can have on how all of us live. That there free speech, what a weapon. Thank you Mr. Chief Justice.

Anyways, for this Labor Day you might want to thank some of the union men--"bosses" in the nomenclature of lies that now fill the heads of the misinformed and misguided. Without unions the cops would be even more likely to shoot you down like a dog even if you happened to be white, as was once the case in this great land of ours. Maybe, as the embers die around the fire pit, and the crickets and lightning bugs come out for one last hurrah before the coming of fall, a round of "This Land Is Your Land" would also be in order.

The article is in part talking about a case up before the Supreme Court:

Joel Rogers, a professor of law and sociology at the University of Wisconsin, calls it "the most important labor law case the court has considered in decades."

This is because when the Supreme Court decided to take on the case, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation dramatically expanded the scope of the case beyond the home health care workers to include all public sector workers, from teachers and firefighters to sanitation workers to librarians. If the court follows National Right to Work's lead, every state in the country would essentially turn into an anti-union "right to work" state, which would be a significant blow to public sector unions' collective bargaining efforts and also complicate thousands of existing contracts between organized workers and municipalities, cities, counties, and states across the country.

It's not a promising prospect. There was once a right to vote law, and the current Supreme Court kinda shut that one down. Said there was no more racism, so no need for Federal oversight.

There was a time when people died for the right to have a union. See, e.g., Matewan. After it gets entirely dark, go inside and watch Harlan County USA again. You can watch it on line too. Give it a google.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Limits to Dumb

Here's a quote:

The outdoor Bullets and Burgers shooting range attracts tourists along U.S. 93 between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

“Our guests have the opportunity to fire a wide range of fully automatic machine guns and specialty weapons,” the website claims. “At our range, you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns.

“Let ‘em Rip!”

The girl, who was vacationing with her parents, fired an automatic 9-mm Uzi as she stood near the instructor.

The worst part is, a little girl has accidentally killed someone, a thing which will live in her memory and life forever. If we're determined to worship something, we'd do a lot better worshiping rocks, or even mouse turds. The gun is Baal.

Hat tip to Digby for the photo. The owner of the establishment was given a lengthy interview last night on Up With Chris Hayes, which is surely now available on the MSNBC website. The owner was doing a passable job of damage control. He said this was the first injury ever at his establishment, and that all his instructors are NRA approved and former military or police. Perhaps Officer Wilson, or the guys who slaughtered the black kid shopping in that Walmart in Ohio will find new employment in Arizona should things turn sour for them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Behind the Veil

Apparently American teevee viewers get tired pretty quickly of watching so much truth about how things really are in the "heartland." I've read MSNBC had terrible ratings this week. Meanwhile on Fox they're raising money for Officer Wilson's defense fund:

Fox News reported that the fund existed yesterday evening, and gave the url in case you want to contribute. They also remarked that a few of the comments left on the site have been tastefully removed.

Charles Pierce sums up the week well, and centers his comments on the very same detail I've been thinking a lot about. As usual, he puts it more forcefully that I might have, being as he is a professional scribe:

Bodies are not left in the streets of the leafy suburbs. The bodies of dogs and cats, or squirrels and raccoons, let alone the bodies of children, are not left in the streets of the leafy suburbs. No bodies are left in the streets of the financial districts. Freeze to death on a bench in the financial districts and you are whisked away before your inconvenient body can disturb the folks in line at the Starbucks across the street. But the body of a boy can be left in the street for four hours in a place like Ferguson, Missouri, and who knows whether it was because people wanted to make a point, or because nobody gave a damn whether he was there or not.

The piece is pretty long and makes many points. You should read it all. It struck me as soon as I saw that sheet-draped photo, the blood running out from underneath, and heard it had lain there for four hours and counting, that someone was sending a clear message. The fundraising for Wilson, and the frantic outrage by everyone on Fox, from O'Reilly down, that Wilson should be defended, that he is in fact the victim of, ultimately, Mr. Obama, Mr. Holder, the army of "street thugs", the "outside agitators," the "liberal elite," all of this develops the message. So does the savage execution of the deranged black man in Saint Louis this week, yet another message mostly noticed by the locals and eclipsed by the glow in the sky from Ferguson, just to the north. Cenk Uygar took note, in a remarkable editorial. He played the whole video of the execution, and noticed that it did not coincide with the police chief's public account, including weird details never mentioned any where else, such as the handcuffing of the obviously dead victim.

What we're experiencing is a long experiment. It started perhaps with Mr. Reagan, or perhaps somewhat earlier. It involved a relentless retelling of the history those of us alive in the 1950s and '60s and '70s lived and witnessed. Over and over again, in every medium possible, we were reassured, we had not seen what we in fact saw, America was just like it was when we were children, and it was only "outsiders" with an axe to grind who were making life just a little more difficult for those of us who had jobs and could still make a car payment and cover the electric bill and the cable bill, and at least buy a decent beer in a bottle, or an occasional single malt, or some good coffee. Our individual lives were pretty much ok, and the scarey stuff was pretty much at bay.

Meanwhile, the small slow progresses were being reversed, bit by bit. Ferguson, Missouri is states rights, as it is in 2014, and it will take not only Mr. Holder coming in with federal power to deal with oppression, but the actual grinding it out work that was already done and is at present being dismantled, bottom up and top down. If the Republicans win the Congress this fall, you can expect Mr. Holder to be utterly defunded, and Mr. Obama to be impeached. The Republicans are making a counter-revolution, and they are not about to stop until it's finished. And it's already close to finished.

The spear-points of these reactionaries are the local police. They know not to intimidate nice white folks in their newish cars, the ones with jobs, the ones who are being taught nightly that poor people are going to be coming for them any minute, so they'd better have a gun in each and every room of their house, and one in the glove box just in case. The gun folks are hard at working, marketing fear. In our little rural area three new gun stores have opened this year with fanfare. Their target market is female suburbanites. They promise to teach gun safety. They are "certified" by the NRA.

Meanwhile, the mayhem must be kept at bay. At the ballot box the right wing argues that poor people shouldn't find it easy to vote, since they will only vote to take "our" money from us, because "tax is theft." In Ferguson, a majority-black town, official-dom is majority white, from the police on up. But that's a superficial mistake that can be remedied--it's not like they can't find enough conservative black people to be cops and town-councilmen. Where's Herman Cain? And while they slowly tighten the funnel to the ballot, if they need to they'll send a clearer message.

Got it? Don't make me hurt you, because it hurts me more than it does you.

Let me make one more historical point. For all that we went through in the '60s, in the long slogging effort to simply achieve what was already legally promised, consider the situation of America in, say, 1875. The country had lived through the most gawdawful war imaginable until the machine gun, the poison gas cannister and all the other scientific developments in killing and maiming quicker and more completely brought the world to the First World War. Yet. Yet! In 1875 the politicians, north and south, and the people they represented, agreed that reconstruction was a failure and should be ended forthwith. At which point the South and much of the rest of the nation was segregated. It would seem, then, that there is absolutely no payment in blood that can resolve that which prejudice maintains in the human heart. All those boys in gray and blue died for our national sin, and in ten years the nation spit on their sacrifice, and go anywhere you like in this country and you can easily find folks who will tell you in all abject seriousness that the Civil War was not about slavery.

That is where we stand. I'm sorry to tell you. I'd have thought things would have been a lot better by now, back when I was a whipper-snapper just noticing that fiddling was an art I wanted to look into more deeply. That optimism was just my cheery disposition. Alfred Hitchcock made the movie about this truth back in 1943, during the depths of World War II. It was called Shadow of a Doubt. It might have been called Morning in America. I watched this perfect movie again this week, as a way of avoiding the relentless news. I thus contributed in my small way to the lowered rating of MSNBC.


Sunday Update: The Guardian did some interviews with various folks in Ferguson (Chris Hayes also did a number of remarkable interviews, including one with the current Mayor). Here's what a landlord says:

Steve Hewkin, who lets 20 properties as low-income housing, blames the government for dumping poor people in the city. “You end up renting to the least worst,” he said. “Obama has destroyed the economy. The jobs are gone. The American dream is gone. These people have no hope and he put them here.”

Hewkin, who said he assumes he’s on a government watch list because he’s a “white Christian gun-owner that believes in liberty”, says he doesn’t regard people who move from outside the city into low-income housing as even being part of Ferguson. “That over there isn’t even our city. People in Ferguson don’t even know they’re there. Listen to those people talk, they’re haters,” he said.

Mr. Hewkin surely has been around since well before Mr. Obama became President. A person who's got a nice business in real estate rentals would probably be at least 40, and more likely between 40 and 60. As such, he's watched the evaporation of working class jobs that has been going on in the United States since at least 1980. The term used to be "globalization." It was a major issue in the 1992 campaign for President, which included candidates such as Iowa's Tom Harkin and also the independent Ross Perot, both of whom were almost screaming that losing so many jobs to overseas manufacturing was going to end up damaging our economy. Both Mr. Clinton and Mr. George H.W. Bush believed that there was no governmental answer to "globalization," and that the cost in jobs would be off set by the gains in general economic activity and prosperity. And, indeed, the Clinton years were economically robust, with very low unemployment generally.

However, as we all know, the end of the George W. Bush administration saw a severe economic collapse. When Mr. Obama took office jobs were disappearing at an alarming rate, and banks and other businesses were failing or being bailed out by huge government cash injections when it was deemed that they were too big to fail. During Mr. Obama's first year in office, and despite a documented Republican commitment to thwart all of his Administration's efforts on nearly every front, the job losses were slowed. It's easy to find graphic reports of many economic negatives reversing during the Obama administration, although the screaming negative of stagnation of wage growth, and of the near vertical ascent of high end income, remains a feature of the "Obama economy." The country is far better off economically now, than when Obama took office; working people black and white, not so much. Our huge manufacturing sector has been hollowed out over the past 30 years, and people who would once have worked such jobs are much more likely to be unemployed than in, say, 1980. Economists argue in their academic way about what to do about this. Some say there must be some restraints on capital fluidity. Others, including most economists in government, remain afraid of any effort to restrain globalization of labor, which depends for its existence on capital fluidity.

Why, then, does Mr. Hewkin attribute the economic situation to Mr. Obama. The answer to this question, in my opinion, is that he doesn't ever hear the truth from his news sources. Instead, his prejudices are massaged daily by the radio pundits and Fox News. He's not alone. I run into the same opinions almost daily. It's subtle, this constant barrage of propaganda. When Mr. Obama appears on our teevee to give America's reaction to the appalling murder of an American journalist, Fox News spends the next three days talking about whether he should have worn a tie, or stopped all of his recreational activities for the duration. Think Fox News would say something positive if he, instead, adopted a "Rose Garden" strategy?

Mr. Pierce was too kind. The body was a message.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

East St. Louis Goddam

I haven't seen pictures like this since the era of Martin Luther King's assassination. And just think, only last year the Supreme Court said crucial provisions of the Voting Rights act were no longer needed. Apparently they were needed all over the country and not just in the South. If this tragedy doesn't end with a massacre of civilians we'll all be very lucky indeed.

Lawyers, Guns and Money has some excellent pieces up on Ferguson. It links to this, from which I obtained the photo:

It's not just in Ferguson either. Police shot and killed a young black man holding a b-b gun he was intending to buy in Walmart, in Ohio, just days before. Days before that a black man was choked to death in New York City by police because he didn't jump quick enough, the apparent offense of the teenager murdered by the unidentified policeman in Ferguson.

The Right Wing and the NRA have been selling fear for decades now. All those policemen, only one black man amongst them, with all that gear and firepower, scared to death of one kid with dreadlocks and no weapon, his hands raised. Obviously what we need is more guns.

Update: If you have time for a longer read, here's the piece:


Events unfold nightly and daily, and I'm way too far away, except in the sense that I can certainly discern like anyone else. The local D.A. McCullough has chosen to toss gasoline on the embers quenched to some extent by the Highway Patrol's Commander Johnson the night before, and last (Friday) night there was apparently more tear gas thrown. The underlying racism of the right-wing pundits and media will continue to toss accelerants where possible. The red-herring of the Brown video, sandwiched with the name of the officer who shot him and two or three different accounts of what the officer knew and didn't know, is yet another bizarre and inept twist. Chris Hayes' interviews and reports, on the scene, have been incredibly solid; it's a shame he's now off until Monday.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blood Frenzy

Before Fox Sports decides to crucify Tony Stewart for driving a race car that hit and killed an angry driver who had walked out onto the track, in the midst of moving traffic, and was walking into Stewart's path and gesturing at him, let's read a paragraph from Wikipedia about the great and tragic fighter Emile Griffith:

In the sixth round Paret came close to stopping Griffith with a multi punch combination but Griffith was saved by the bell.[2] After the sixth round Griffith's trainer, Gil Clancy, later said he told him, "when you go inside I want you to keep punching until Paret holds you or the referee breaks you! But you keep punching until he does that!".[1] In round 12 Griffith trapped Paret in a corner. Stunned after taking hard blows to the head, Paret stopped punching back and slumped to the side against the ropes although his upper body was through them and partly out of the ring. Griffith held his opponent's shoulder keeping him in position while using his free hand to hit Paret, who was no longer trying to protect himself by head movement or an arm guard. Griffith repeatedly landed right uppercuts on Paret's head. Many watching were shocked, and there were calls from ringside for the referee to halt the bout; Norman Mailer said it was the hardest he had ever seen one man hit by another. Paret then lolled back and was hit with a combination. At this point Ruby Goldstein stepped in, thereby awarding Griffith a win by technical knockout. Immediately after the referee intervened, Paret, who had remained on his feet throughout, slowly slid to the floor. He was carried from the ring on a stretcher and died ten days later in hospital without regaining consciousness. Goldstein had a reputation as a tender-minded referee who stopped bouts at an early stage; admirers said he may have been suffering after-effects from a heart attack. He never refereed again.[citation needed] Paret's manager was also criticised for not retiring his boxer with a timely throwing in of the towel during the beating.

Emile Griffith was not charged with any crime, and indeed went on fighting for many years. There's a terrific documentary about his life, which was shadowed and altered by this sad event.

What racing ought to do is outlaw this macho displaying which has been occurring more and more frequently of late, of an angry driver walking out into traffic to point a finger or yell or punch or whatever the driver who spun him or blocked him or whatever. It looks great and the fans love it. Mr. Stewart himself is featured in frequent NASCAR ads during his walk into traffic a year or two ago, when he throws his helmet at (I think it was) Matt Kenseth's windshield, hitting it dead on. This sort of posturing is dumb and dangerous. It might even be, who knows, that Kevin Ward was emulating Mr. Stewart when he got all huffy about a very normal event in his racing Saturday and decided to walk into traffic and point and gesture at Stewart. Then, of course, he got snagged by Stewart's rear tire, run over, and killed.

The sheriff of the county where the race happened got it right. It was an incident on the track, just like the death of Benny Paret. Racing, like boxing, is a blood sport. But racing has worked pretty hard to try to stop the blood. Yesterday there were two wrecks at Watkins Glen that in earlier years could well have resulted in fatalities. Neither did, probably in large part because of interior safety design in the cars.

NASCAR ought to outright ban the behavior of walking out into traffic. It would be fairly easy to do, with fines and suspensions. That would seep down to the "minor leagues," which could and should also ban the practice. As for Stewart--he'll carry this tragedy in his heart for ever. This is very sad.

[That's Kid Paret after the ref finally stopped the fight.]

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Larger Problem

Lance Mannion posted this a couple of days back. It's so good I copied and pasted the whole thing. As I've said before, you should go read him frequently, and send him dough when you can. As he told his recipient to pass it on, I'm hopeful that he's ok with me doing the same:

Dear Congressman, I’m going to tell Pope Francis on you!

When I heard about this I just assumed the yahoo Congressman passing out the bibles to his colleagues so they could consult the holy word for “guidance” on how to vote was a Right Wing Evangelical Christian. I wondered about his Italian last name but he’s a Tea Party type from Mississippi so I figured it was simply evidence of an ancestor who’d passed along his name but not his religion. Happens.

So I thought, what effrontery! What nerve! What arrogance! What ignorance! He gave a Christian bible to Keith Ellison? He handed one to Chuck Schumer and Steve Israel? He sent one to Nancy Pelosi and the many dozens of other Catholics in Congress? Doesn’t he know Catholics use a different Bible? Maybe he does, but he wouldn’t care. That’s the way they are. It’s part of their faith to push their beliefs on others. They think it’s their duty to offend you by telling you you’re going to hell if you don’t snap to it and get right with Jesus the way they’re right with Him. And of course, that’s the key part of the charade, letting you know you’re going to hell while they’re “saved.”

They being Right Wing Evangelicals and their holy-rolling ilk.

But, turns out, he’s Catholic.

I was floored.

So of course I wrote him a note that I’m sure some intern in his office has already deleted:

Dear Congressman Palazzo,

You’re a Catholic and you’re handing out bibles like some Gideon? Don’t you know we don’t work like that?

Although our beliefs are “informed” by scripture, officially literal readings of the Bible and individual interpretations are frowned upon. In fact, once upon a time they could get you burned at the stake. The Protestant Reformation was to a great degree an argument over that. The efficacy of Good Works also figured into it. Do you know which side took what position on either?

As a good Catholic, you’re better off consulting Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Bishops for guidance on how to vote. But as a good Right Wing Republican, you probably don’t like what they have to say.

For example, you just helped whip through the appallingly vindictive border bill which orders responses to the problem that the bishops have strongly condemned.

You think your colleagues need to vote their religion but you don’t think you need to take into account your own?

Or are you one of those cafeteria Catholics who think the Church is only about opposing abortion, contraception, and gay marriage?

The Church has a few things to teach about immigration, poverty, war, and the death penalty too. Where do you stand on those issues? How have you voted? How did your faith guide you through those votes?

Then there’s the whole Social Justice thing.

Maybe you need to think about changing the way you vote…

Or shut up about how people should mix up their religion with their politics.

Yours in Christ,

Lance Mannion

Former altar boy

PS. Feel free to share this with your fellow cafeteria Catholics, Paul Ryan and John Boehner

I came home from work to the outrage of the murder, by police, of a black kid at a Walmart "brandishing" a bb-gun he wanted to buy. If he was white they wouldn't have even pressed him for his i.d.--or at least that's how it went down in Colorado last week under similar circumstances. Early in the week I read with dismay the story of a kid who was shot to death by his girl friend when he asked her to shoot him, believing the weapon was unloaded. She was convicted and given seven years in jail. The cops found pipe bombs and many weapons in his house. His parents asked that in lieu of flowers donations be sent to the NRA.

We have a full blown Cult of Gun in this country now. It's priests are the NRA. Just like certain sects of Christianity, the Cult of Gun is driven by fear. Jonathan Edwards concocted descriptions of hell of such operatic quality that he is handed down in the texts of American Literature as one of our early Great Writers. In his day he won converts. The Cult of Gun suggests that you are not safe without a gun at easy reach at all times. Corollary tenants point to every speck of crime, and particularly crimes involving black or other non-white people, as being primarily what the "news" is. Right now we have a further enhancing feature in our national news, with brown-toned people dressed all in black and brandishing weapons riding all over northwest Iraq and summarily executing people right and left. Military pundits on even MSNBC say that there's almost nothing to do about this. I didn't even watch what the professional fulminators on Fox were saying. Krauthammer no doubt wheezed out his outrage at the Kenyan Pretender. What's new.

It might be that we could actually drop a significant portion of the 101st Screaming Eagles close enough to the 40 thousand people trapped on the mountain that they might run off the ISIS forces. There's no doubt that after a decade and a half of combat, the 101st are a seasoned, veteran force capable of dealing with zelots in pickup trucks who are at the moment experiencing a sense of invulnerability as they terrorize and decimate unarmed civilians. So it was with the Nazis as they rushed across the Soviet Union towards Moscow. But the pundits on MSNBC say it's much more difficult than the scenario I just sketched out, and I'd expect they are actually right. It may be that the militaristic foreign policy that the previous eight year Bush Administration instituted broke so much that there is nothing to do about this stranded band of shepherd people. Bush-Cheney broke the whole region of the north-west middle east, and they broke the Republican Party as well, and possibly the US Army. Obviously they broke the VA system. Of course it's convenient that the Republicans are now on vacation, with Rand Paul, Presidential Candidate, exhibiting his jogging skills. Driftglass, by the way, has posted a series of exceptional photographic comments on the Rite Honorable Rand:

You can see many more of these at his blog, which I link permanently.

I came home from work with the feeling that we are, like it or not, going to get a complete Republican take over of Congress in November. I certainly hope that won't happen. I will vote for Democrats, assuming that when I get to the NC polling station they will accept my NC Drivers License as legitimate proof of my NC citizenship. In our state, already taken over by the hard right know-nothings, we have a new voter ID law which will certainly disenfranchise many typically Democratic voters. You'd be surprised at how many folks aren't even aware that their license has expired until we ask for it where I work. If you're too old to drive, you might not even think to pay the price for a new ID card. But you might be expecting to vote, like you always have.

What worries me is the fundamental intelligence of the electorate. How can it be this close, basically 51/49 one way or the other, all the time. And why do so many not vote at all? I saw this week that a guy who used to have some stature in the land back in the '70s has come out for some phantasmic "Third Way" yet again. Mr. Nader doesn't even admit that his absurd campaign saddled us with the catastrophe of the Bush years. A lot of my friends--pretty smart people I'd say, who can have a good conversation on most any subject--voted for Nader in 2000 because they were just too too to vote for a continuation of the Clinton administration. Mr. Obama is obviously and apparently not perfect, and neither is the Affordable Health Care law he got passed through a tangled maze of Congressional ineptitude. The choice will nontheless be a few more Democrats, or more of these lunatics, such as described by Mr. Mannion above.

Meanwhile, in my little county we now have two new boutique gun shoppes aimed at selling weapons to the hitherto unarmed white housewives. One of the joints is also going to "manufacture" AR-15s, which I'd imagine means assembling out of parts made in Turkey or Indonesia exciting semi-automatic assault weapons for them whats can afford to keep a collection, just in case the Black Helechopters start fluxing around they rooftops. New jobs, new jobs!

We used to laugh at something that happened in New Guinea right after World War II. It was called the Cargo Cult. Those silly primitives, we thought. Worshiping the mystery of planes that arrived with amazing new stuff they'd never seen before. But the Cargo Cult was better than the Gun Cult we now observe on every hand. Real stuff did arrive, and eventually the primitives did realize that the world was way much bigger than they thought, and that planes could take them to other places. My favorite coffee comes from Papua New Guinea. I can now touch those "primitives," and they, in turn, can touch me. I'm enjoying their coffee this damp, cool August morning, in fact.

All the Gun Cult delivers is an enhanced chance of death. That and more Republican votes.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pandering Eventually Has Consequences

The reporter and blogger Jim White posted this outstanding piece on the Ebola outbreak this past week:

In the clown car world that is our freshly adjorned for the next six-weeks House of Representatives, the Republican majority just passed an appropriation of about a half-billion dollars to be used mostly to pay for National Guard troops to stand around on the Texas border. Possibly they will brandish their most-likely unloaded M-16s at the children who are walking up to them asking to be taken into custody as refugees from peril in their home countries. The law just passed will not be passed by the Senate, nor signed by Mr. Obama. Like almost everything, literally everything, this current House of Representatives has "done" since it was sworn in, this is just more theatre, stuff the various representatives can say they voted for when giving speeches to their constituents.

In the real world, the three west African countries suffering an outbreak of the deadly and horrible Ebola virus have health budgets of what a typical American makes in a day. In the real world we are seeing a realistic threat of Ebola breaking out in Nigeria, a densely populated country with even more densely populated cities and a simmering religion-based civil war in which one side entirely distrusts western medicine, and feels free to kidnap children en mass.

In the clown car, some representatives have suggested that refugee children from central America could be carrying the Ebola virus. In the clown car one fourth of American embassies around the world do not have sitting ambassadors because of congressional inaction. In the clown car it has becomes almost impossible to actually raise taxes for any purpose whatsoever, and the entire category of foreign aid is viewed with suspicion. In the clown car political meddling with matters of medicine is viewed as respectable political activity, see, e.g., women's health, stem-cell research, etc.

Given the current state of affairs, what is the likelihood that the Obama administration will be able to send significant emergency medical care and funds to the countries of West Africa? Would a boatload of Texas National Guard be of help to Sierra Leone? What if Governor Rick Perry was placed in charge of the troops and given a general's uniform, complete with hat?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Why Does This Work?

Mr. Edroso has been spending the week documenting the Republican pivot on impeachment. As an historical "event," and as a experiment in just how bold-faced a lie can be executed on the current American free press and public, it is worthy of some future book, written by some academic studying just what the hell went wrong in the first two decades of the fresh new century. It's not that the people who accept leadership haven't done worse in the tangled past of course. We're at the exact 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I, a conflation that kindled in the heart of western civilization, featured all the European nations who might be described as the seat of western morality and culture (far more than the United States, at that time a ragged outlier of civilization which had recently concluded a ghastly civil war and was still in the throes of papering over the results, see, e.g., Birth of a Nation). Still.

Consider this remarkable fact, chronicled by Mr. Edroso in today's post:

A major figure in Republican politics has come out with a book touted at Amazon thusly:

In Faithless Execution, McCarthy weighs the political dynamics as he builds a case, assembling a litany of abuses that add up to one overarching offense: the president’s willful violation of his solemn oath to execute the laws faithfully. The “fundamental transformation” he promised involves concentrating power into his own hands by flouting law—statutes, judicial rulings, the Constitution itself—and essentially daring the other branches of government to stop him. McCarthy contends that our elected representative are duty-bound to take up the dare.

The "case" is that Mr. Obama should be impeached; the book's complete title is "Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment." But this week the playbook says the Republicans one and all should be trying to spin all their previous impeachment blandishments into a twelve-dimensional chess move executed by the Democratic Party to drum up votes and money for the fall. Suddenly Mr. McCarthy is on the wrong page. No problem, apparently. Andrew C. McCarthy just says, when asked:

"To be clear, neither Bill, I, nor most Obama critics, nor any elected Republicans that I know of, are calling for the president’s impeachment at this point..."

This is surely clinical. And Edroso has documented this time and again. In an earlier post this week:

Mr. Edroso quotes several notable Republicans denying any interest in impeachment, including the incoming majority whip:

Rep. Scalise Calls Out Obama: ‘First White House In History Trying To Start Narrative Of Impeachment
’ says a headline.

Apparently the underlying mechanism is this. After spending the whole era of the Obama Presidency trying to figure out some way to get him impeached (even the idiotic "birther" thing was essentially an assertion of prima face grounds for impeachment, and quite a few Republicans including even the Speaker of the House do not even now quite reject the possibility of the birther thesis), some theoretician of voter tendencies operating in the leather bound armchairs, cigar in fingers, single malt tinkling in tumbler, has noted that a great bluster of impeachment might get out the Democratic base in what is typically a low ebb for two term presidents, the dreaded 6th year. The answer--just spin all of it, the whole five and a half years of obstruction, obsfuscation, do-nothingism and out right racism.

As Ms Maddow documented night before last, Rand Paul pretty much takes the cake in this contest of bald-faced out-and-out lying. After all, she interviewed the little weasel just after he was elected by the remarkable voters of Kentucky, and he said on her show (and in other venues as well) that he disagreed in principle with the part of the Civil Rights Act that addressed private enterprises, claiming (another remarkable bold-faced lie) that the free market would deal with segregated lunch counters and the like, but that it was the unfettered right of business owners to set what ever rules they wished concerning their customer base. Tell it to the Greensboro Seven. But of course that was yesterday; who remembers that, or anything else. Today Mr. Rand Paul is telling all who'd listen and particularly any who might vote for him that he never exempted private business from the civil rights mandates, and moreover, that those who cite his own words on the subject--such as Ms Maddow--are just "petty haters."

Several political journals, including the Atlantic Monthly, now tout Mr. Rand Paul as the Republican front runner for the 2016 presidential nomination. Worse, he has the backing of Corey Booker, former Newark Mayor and apparent practitioner of New Jersey politics at the vaunted Christie level. Possibly we'll be looking at a Paul/Booker ticket? That would surely give Mr. Christie an aneurysm. Even in the worse scenario there is some silver lining.

But my question is, why in the hell does this pivoting methodology work? Because, my worthy constituents, if it didn't work, the sombitches would not do it, over and over again. And as a special added bonus, you can buy the poster at Walmart.