Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Two Must-Read Posts From Staff

I've come to believe that no one has assembled a more astute team of political analysts than Bill Moyers. In these posts, my belief is reinforced; both are well worth your time:
  • What Will The Democratic Party Stand for in 2016?
    Analyst John Light begins
    Last week made clear that Bernie Sanders won’t be the Democratic nominee. But a meeting of the Democratic Platform Committee in Washington also made it clear that the Vermont senator will wield considerable influence over the party’s future.
    and follows through with an examination of the role of the Democratic Platform Committee, including excerpts from testimony before it.
  • The ‘Truth’ According to Trump
    Prof. Todd Gitlin (jounalism, sociology; Columbia U.) examines how Trump uses a vituperative personal style to convey half-truths and unprovable outright falsehoods to stir up a base that is all too ready to believe the worst about anyone but themselves:
    After the weekend’s carnage in Orlando, Donald Trump didn’t wait long before launching yet another guided missile full of insinuation. He didn’t exactly say that the massacre was the doing of an unreconstructed Mau-Mau descendant born in Kenya. Trump is craftier than that. Monday morning, he told Fox News:
    Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on… [Obama] doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other and either one is unacceptable. [[Gitlin's] italics]

    Later he told NBC’s Today’s Savannah Guthrie:

    … There are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. He doesn’t want to see what’s really happening. And that could be. [[Gitlin's] italics]

    Something else in mind… Can’t believe it… There’s something going on… Maybe he doesn’t want to get it… People cannot believe… A lot of people think… These are Trump’s characteristic high-frequency whistles, repeated and restated and re-repeated to make sure he gets through to the feebler dogs out on the periphery of his adoring crowd. [Final boldface SB]
That is precisely what Trump is doing. If the American electorate buys into it, we are, in the words of George H.W. Bush, "in deep doodoo." And even if they don't, we're in for a campaign season as unpleasant as any we've ever seen, facing perhaps the most vulgar man ever to run for President.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bernie Sanders For President Admirable Person Of The Year

I understand how difficult it must be for Bernie to step aside. But I hope he faces this inevitability as he has courageously faced so many others: the delegate counts simply aren't there for him, and Secretary Clinton, FBOW, will be the Democratic Party's candidate for POTUS. Considering the likely catastrophe threatening our nation if Trump should become President, Sen. Sanders would best serve our nation by ending his own run for that office.

What we progressives owe him is incalculable: the public dialog on traditionally progressive/liberal issues has moved noticeably leftward thanks to Sanders's run, and he has surely made Clinton a better candidate by engaging with her on those issues.

As ambivalent as I am about Hillary Clinton, I admit Hillary is easily the most qualified candidate between the remaining two who have a realistic chance of winning (or, in Trump's case, stealing) the presidency. I'd like to give Sen. Sanders a day or two to make his own endorsement of Secy. Clinton before I remove my own endorsement of him from this site and (as seems likely at this point) begin my advocacy for Hillary Clinton.

More as it happens...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day: Americans' Love Of The Fantasy Of War

Planning on voting for Trump? Before you join the army of goddamned fools intending to install the ultimate fool as President, please at least read The Guardian's Ben Fountain in his assessment of Trump, war and the outright folly of the American electorate, Endless war: Trump and the fantasy of cost-free conflict.

Trump had four or five draft exemptions (depending on who's counting) that prevented him from seeing a single day of combat in Vietnam, and I can only hope at least one of his was as legitimate as my one grudgingly granted exemption. Yes, I was glad not to go, but dammit, at least I was genuinely crippled. Gawd help the poor bastard, not to mention everyone in his unit, who went to war in Trump's stead.

Read Fountain's entire article. Toward the end, he quotes several GOP presidential candidates including Trump, a couple of Democratic candidates as well, and a few military "experts" both actual and self-proclaimed. If America continues to be led by people who think war is a good idea in almost all circumstances, I am practically certain that our nation will not outlast my own presumptively brief lifetime. War is not a hobby, or something to boast about, or a way of getting oneself elected to office, or a way of growing obscenely rich. War is hell... nothing more, nothing less. Those who endure it in our stead merit our sincere thanks. Those who send others to needless wars deserve to be heaped with shame.

Dammit, Americans, STOP VOTING FOR FOOLS!

(The blog break continues.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Here We Go Again... Certain Heavy Rain, Possible Floods, Hail, Tornadoes, ...

Where, exactly? They'll be able to tell us immediately before it happens, not sooner. How bad? Ditto. Houston and surrounding areas, some already saturated, are expected to get 2"-7" rain in some places; needless to say, 2" is a lot less damaging than 7". Oh, and this could happen anytime from tonight to, uh, Monday. We have our cell phones charged up and the ABC13 weather app installed; I already had the NWS site linked... not exceedingly mobile-friendly but I'm accustomed to working it with two fingers. With luck, we will come through this one with as little damage as we had last time (see previous post). When I can post here, I will post here...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Surviving The Weather Event

You may have seen some terrifying photos on the national news of the impact of the storm(s) from the western US as they passed through Houston yesterday. The main difference here is that the same images, along with many more, appeared on the local news, which ran continuously for over 24 hours. The sheer scale of the thing reflected the fact that the storm and its aftermath had no precedent in recorded Houston and Harris County history. Welcome to the new reality, folks.

Stella and I and the kitties are unharmed, and the house we rent was largely undamaged. Apart from a tiny leak under one of the glass doors in the den, we have experienced no flooding to this point. Indeed, the cats found new places to nap through the whole thing. This is in stark contrast to the effects in much of the city:

  • At least 13 local bayous topped their banks, or are expected to do so as rain that has already fallen swells the bayous and creeks upstream of us. We may yet see some high water here.
  • Many, many Houstonians are now homeless. In many cases, families found themselves trapped in their flooded homes and apartments; locating these people, removing them (often from upper floors) and transporting them through frequently obstructed streets (think: swamp boats and big trucks) to quickly established new shelters is a major and ongoing undertaking.
  • Despite best efforts, a few people died: it is hard to imagine, sitting at home, dry and comfortable, why anyone would attempt to drive their small vehicle through a completely flooded underpass (often with flood depth markers, in feet, painted on the columns), but that is one of the most common causes of death in such events here.
  • More rain is on the way today and for a few more days. Ground saturation assures that a much smaller quantity of rainwater implies large problems still ahead. One can only hope and pray that a) people show good sense, and b) we don't get additional large quantities of water at Our House.

Thank you for your patience. I'll probably blog a bit more than I have in the past month, but not as much as I might like. Stay dry, folks...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Blog Break

Not me... I mouse left-handed
and my hair is gray!
Before I had a smartphone, I always imagined it would be much more convenient to do research for blog posts when I'm away from home if I had a mobile device literally always with me. As it turns out, that aspect is true... but the phone does not provide me with any more time or energy actually to write those posts. I made a new folder  in my email called BlogThis and began sending myself links and notes each time I ran across an article or post worth my time (and presumably my readers' time as well). Indeed I blogged a few of those, but the rest of life goes on... significant weather events, my health and that of my friends, household matters, etc. ... and at the moment I have a backlog of 33 articles in the BlogThis folder.

In short, I'm getting the research done, but the blogging is going by the boards. Many of the pending BlogThis entries are obsolete by now, so I believe I'll take a break of a few days, let them all obsolesce, and start fresh, knowing how the presence of the new phone changes things. Please bear with me; I'm not ready to quit blogging yet. But there's this article I found that I just have to make notes on for a future blog post...

Friday, March 11, 2016

Debunking Myths About The Koch Brothers

These myths, documented at by two well-respected Harvard scholars on government and policy, reveal five common fallacies or misunderstandings prevalent among left-leaning and Democratic writers, fallacies which could put our democracy in peril of literal takeover by wealthy but ideologically driven oligarchs. Conspiracy theory? maybe, but I suspect we ignore multibillionaire right-wing crazies at our peril. YMMV.

NOTE: the original draft of this post was written on a smartphone, composed using the Google keyboard with its auto-completion feature. When I saved the original draft, Google keyboard silently changed one word I typed manually, "multibillionaire", to "multimillionaire". The mistake is understandable, but it must have been a lower-level Google developer who saw fit to make the silent change: a Google CEO (or some such) would never have made that mistake.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

In Vino Ver... Oh, The Hell With It — DOGGEREL!

I glanced over my little wine rack today after a minor buying run. No individual wine was more than $5 a bottle and most were cheaper than that... it is possible to buy a very satisfactory table wine for very little money these days, and I've done exactly that, because retired elderly Americans aren't left with a great deal of money, except those who are, ah, left with a great deal of money.

In any case, I noted that the rack contained sixteen bottles of wine. Sixteen wines... hmmm, how could I resist a bit of parody...
In Vino...
Some... people say a wine is made out of grape;
A poor wine gets ya' by the neck o' the nape:
The nape o' the neck, and skin an' bones...
A nose that's weak but a finish strong...

Ya' taste sixteen wines, 'n' whaddya' get?
A little bit drunker and possibly wet;
St. Vincent don' ya' call me 'cause I cain't go...
- Steve Bates
OK, it could be better, but I'm impatient to publish before the effect of the wine wears off...

Monday, February 29, 2016

Trump The Fascist

I do not enjoy publishing an unadulterated slur against a presidential candidate, even a Republican. But Trump is no ordinary Republican candidate, and I choose my words based on Trump's actions at campaign events, from documentation by Juan Cole and from ABC News footage I saw myself, shown on this evening's news.

Trump was interrupted by protesters apparently from Black Lives Matter (no unusual event; so was Bernie Sanders) and responded, "Get them out of here," or words to that effect. A reporter in the "media pen," attempting to take a picture of the BLM protesters, apparently stepped a foot or two outside the line. A Secret Service agent (which, BTW, The Guardian referred to as an "SS agent"!) first grabbed the reporter's throat, then, on meeting resistance, threw him to the floor. Trump's audience cheered; Trump himself beamed.

I ask you: is this presidential behavior? Is it even rational behavior?

Perhaps I'm overreacting, but Trump's actions bug the bejezus out of me. YMMV.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Early Voting Starts Tuesday 2/16 In Texas

Harris County residents please find information and useful links below; also a fragment of parody/doggerel for the occasion. We plan to vote this weekend; one of us has a paying gig that makes weekday voting difficult!

(This post will float to the top while early voting is ongoing, i.e., through 2/26. Election Day is 3/1; your Election Day polling place is most likely NOT THE SAME as any early voting location.)

NYT Editorial On How GOPers Are Behaving

The short version on GOP behavior as a whole: deplorable. The NYT says it better than I ever could:

Forget an up-or-down vote [on Obama's nomination to replace the late Antonin Scalia] on the Senate floor. Top Republicans are pledging not to hold hearings or even to meet with a nominee.

In a statement dripping with sarcasm, Mr. McConnell said that Mr. Obama “has every right to nominate someone,” and “even if doing so will inevitably plunge our nation into another bitter and avoidable struggle, that is his right. Even if he never expects that nominee to actually be confirmed but rather to wield as an electoral cudgel, that is his right.”

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the majority whip, said, “We believe the American people need to decide who is going to make this appointment rather than a lame-duck president.”

These statements are so twisted that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s take them one by one.

And so they do take them and wield them like sharp swords.

This is not my father's Republican Party... yes, Dad was a Democrat, but he could occasionally be persuaded to vote 'R'; he was very proud of the whole system and explained to me why it had so many virtues.

McConnell & Co. were not virtuous when they decided to defy the Constitution by refusing even to consider "advise and consent" on Obama's proposed Supreme Court nominee. If one of us went to one of our bosses and said what today's GOPers in Congress are saying to the President and the American people, s/he would be met with Donald Trump's signature line, "You're fired!"

And the small bit I saw of last night's "debate" ... we don't have cable, but we were having dinner in a restaurant that plays Conservative News Network (CNN) continuously... was a schanda für die goyim... and the GOPers themselves seem unaware of that shame. The Democratic Party ("Democrat Party" if you're the author of Marco Rubio's campaign commercials) sometimes does things that make me squirm in embarrassment, but the Rethuglicans often do things that make me want to toss eggs at them.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ogden Nash, ‘With My Own Eyes,’ 1950,
America Isn't So Bad After All

View this long poem (but very much worth the reading!) here. Click the magnifying glass "+" several times if the font is too small for you (as it was for me). Or go find and purchase a first edition of Nash's The Private Dining Room, which is where I discovered the poem.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thomas Piketty On Bernie Sanders: The End Of The Reagan Era

In many respects, we are witnessing the end of the politico-ideological cycle opened by the victory of Ronald Reagan at the 1980 elections,’ writes Piketty. This column is food for thought, and many of us are very hungry!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

All Animals Democrats Are Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others

Trevor Timm at The Guardian reminds me... reminds us all, or informs those of you who didn't already know... that the sadly misnamed Democratic Party chooses its presidential candidate using a system that is outrageously undemocratic (small-'d'):

Even if Sanders wins the popular vote, Clinton could still get the nomination

The Democratic party decides its nominee in a massively undemocratic way – and is a ticking time bomb for the party and its voter base if Bernie keeps winning

The Democratic party’s nomination will ultimately be decided by more than 4,700 delegates at its nominating convention in the summer. Most of those delegates are allocated based on votes in each state’s primary or caucus. However, the party also assigns what are known as “superdelegates” –
700 or so people who aren’t elected by anyone during the primary process and are free to vote any way they want at the convention. They are made up of members of Congress and members of the Democratic National Committee – which is made up of much of the establishment that Sanders is implicitly running against.
According to University of Georgia lecturer Josh Putnam, superdelegates exist solely to allow DNC elites to better control who ultimately becomes their nominee. “The reason superdelegates came into being in the interim period between the 1980 and 1984 elections was to allow the party establishment an increased voice in the nomination process,” he wrote on his blog in 2009.

Not that anyone ever asked me, but this is exactly why I ceased giving money to the Democratic Party through the DNC, DSCC, etc., and started giving money directly to candidates' campaigns. Although I've given and will continue to give money to Bernie Sanders for President, I am nonetheless long since not officially a member of the Democratic Party. I vote straight 'D' virtually every partisan election, but I just can't handle the notion of superdelegates.

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