Thursday, December 24, 2015

‘Merry Christmas To All...’

(well, only to Republican Christians... after all; wouldn't want to offend the GOPers about their holiday...
 and of course, to all except for Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, et al; ‘Happy Holidays’ to them...)

‘... and to all, a good night!’

Teach your children: believe in improbable astronomical phenomena!
(Yeah, I know; spare me your contrived explanations.)

I may not be around much in the next week or so. Everyone stay healthy (i.e., stay well out of sight of any gun nuts among your friends), eat well, drink sensibly, and be merry!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Well, OK: The Dem Debate

The Dems seem to have gotten their act together. Sanders apologized to Clinton, but emphasized that firing the offending staffer was the most one could reasonably expect of him. The debate was superb: it was not merely staged, it was better than staged. All three candidates... Sanders, Clinton and O'Malley... had their best nights tonight. Perhaps more importantly, they persuaded at least this old-time Democrat that they are in fact mainstream Democrats and concerned with the larger cause to which Dems have always addressed themselves. I am still a Sanders supporter; however, if the inevitable happens, I can live with Clinton as president. The GOP is reported still to be intent on hammering Dems with the Sanders-Clinton conflict, but I do not believe the R's can get much milk out of that sac, and the D's all certainly pounded on Trump as the token (if absent) GOP candidate. ABC analysts spun the debate as being to Trump's advantage, but honestly, I doubt that. Time will tell.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Win For Trump: DNC Database Contractor Screws Inter‑Campaign Security Protection, Sanders Fires Staffers Who May Have Taken Advantage Of Breach, Wasserman Schultz Withholds Sanders's Access To His Own Data, Sanders Sues DNC, Etc. Ad Nauseam — UPDATED

Please read Sanders sues the DNC over suspended access to critical voter list by John Wagner, Abby Phillip and Rosalind S. Helderman of the WaPo. Then read BERNIE 2016, INC. v. DNC SERVICES CORPORATION, d/b/a DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE. That's not the whole story, but the WaPo article and the campaign's lawsuit against the DNC will give you the basics.

I had a friend, an amateur musician who fled Germany eventually to the US just prior to W.W.II. Her English was accented but formally perfect... I don't think I ever heard her commit a grammatical error or misuse a word, except one time as a device for emphasis: she said,

And so I is regusted. [sic] I am disgusted with the baldfaced attempt by the DNC to destroy Bernie's campaign by impugning his character, blaming him for an act he not only did not commit, but was not even informed of by DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz until 24 hours after the alleged blunder-or-plunder ("steal" was the word she used, IIRC)... at which time he found out who in his campaign may have poked around in Hillary Clinton's data (yes, may have, or may merely have assessed the depth of the vulnerability of each campaign's data to opposing campaigns' infringement) and fired them.

IANAL, but it surely looks to me like the DNC violated the terms of their contract with (at least) the Sanders campaign regarding informing them of the complaint in writing, giving them 10 days to attempt to resolve the matter, etc. In the lawsuit, the campaign alleges that, based on its prior fundraising using information from the voter data base, after access to that data was withheld by the DNC, the campaign was losing at least $600,000 per day in donations from Bernie supporters. (Full disclosure: I was one of 'em. Like most of Bernie's supporters, I didn't give much, but there were a lot of us.)

The real question here is just how much the DNC is legally permitted to do in behalf of former Secretary of State Clinton, who is clearly the "fair-haired girl" of the party leadership. IMHO, they have overreached their mandate and should be fined or jailed, or both.

I do not expect this to end well, except perhaps for Donald Trump, the putative Republican candidate. Sanders probably doesn't have the power (read: the money) to prevail in this lawsuit. And that means that his campaign will go to ground before it has had its full influence on Clinton's positions. No one expects Clinton to be rendered a socialist Democrat by Sen. Sanders's influence, but her positions have moved measurably leftward in small but visible ways since she has attempted to assure her ability to keep Sanders's voters after he (inevitably, IMHO) drops out.

I don't know exactly what I'll do when that sad event happens. I had planned to switch my support to Secy. Clinton as the lesser evil remaining in the race. The question now is just how angry I am at what she, or rather, her henchchair, has done. I've occasionally thought of bolting the Party at times in the last decade or more, and I can't even say right now that I won't do that if I feel Sanders has been unfairly treated.

This does not have to happen. In fact, it is easy to prevent... if only Clinton's supporters will fathom the consequences of what they are doing, and realize the inevitable reaction of Sanders supporters. Someone has to convince Ms. Clinton that it's not a done deal yet!

UPDATE Saturday morning 12/19: the DNC has restored Sanders's access to his own data (without which he had essentially no fundraising capability). A lot of Clinton supporters are still ranting, shouting for Sanders's flesh and blood; I'm still uneasy about what happens next. But if those Clinton supporters get their pound of flesh AND their jot of blood from Sanders, I shall stay home on Election Day. Politics is NOT about destroying your own, and despite my passionate hopes to see a Democrat become president in 2016, I will not participate or cooperate in such destruction. C'mon, Hillary supporters: do the right thing; move on.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Please Welcome Mayor-Elect Sylvester Turner!

By a fairly close vote, about 51%-49%, Sylvester Turner is the newly elected mayor of the City of Houston!

There are many things to be thankful for in Sylvester Turner. Some of them are listed in the endorsement vote below. Beyond his many manifest virtues as a consensus-builder (look at his legislative record as a State Rep.), there is the non-negligible fact that Sylvester Turner, now age 61, was once a child of Acres Homes in northwest Houston, one of Houston's most impoverished neighborhoods, and knows firsthand how essential it is to assist hardworking people near the bottom of the economic ladder to climb to middle-class status. Not everyone climbs as high as Turner has... a JD from Harvard, an active attorney and a legislator widely respected in both major political parties... but everyone deserves a chance to rise as high economically as their skills will take them, and Turner not only understands that, he acts on that understanding in his capacity as an elected official.

A word about Bill King, to his supporters and detractors alike: Bill King is not a nut-job! GOPers nationwide, please take note... by running as a genuine conservative, not a radical, they came very close to winning, and in Houston at least, they would not have come so close had King run as a Tea Party radical. That became apparent to me in the candidate debates: he is a mainstream Republican, but his key issues are exactly that, mainstream Republican issues. Regular readers know how much I despise much of the nut-jobbery of the Republican Party today, the Tea Party, the extremists among fundamentalist evangelicals (that's not all of them, but the worst of them are bad enough), etc. Bill King is pretty obviously not an outright right-wing extremist. Perhaps Mr. Turner really can call on him for advice on matters that fall astride the left-right divide.

My congratulations to Mr. Turner. I look forward to his term(s)!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Please Vote For Sylvester Turner For Mayor: Prof. Bob Stein Doesn't Quite Say ‘Ku Klux To Call’ In Turner-King Mayoral Runoff, But Admits Race Is A Factor

Those not blinded by the race difference in this race will agree that State Rep. Sylvester Turner is, on paper and in fact, more experienced in the craft of governance than his opponent, businessman Bill King, notwithstanding the cliffhanger discussed yesterday in 88.7 FM commentator Jose Jimeniz's interview of political scientist Dr. Bob Stein.

King is running ostensibly on his skills as a businessman; unfortunately for him, Turner manifestly has those skills, too, having run his own businesses successfully, and claiming in the first debate (probably factually; I am certain a panelist would have called him on it if it weren't true) to have met every employee payroll. In past years I have heard Turner speak in person: he is a dynamic, driven, passionate person, and his constituency is one of the things he is most passionate about.

Although Houston city offices are elected on a nonpartisan basis (by law), this blog is, at least in principle, a Democratic site; Democratic voters will be happy to note that Mr. Turner is solid on many basic Democratic issues, including LGBT rights, public education, affordable health care, equal justice under law (Turner is an attorney who graduated JD, Harvard Law School), and others too numerous to list, a product of his 26 years as a state legislator.

If you haven't already voted, please come out tomorrow (Sat. 12/12) to vote for Sylvester Turner.

(If Bill King's list of failures were not long enough already, his web site... search for it yourself... has serious mechanical flaws in its home page when viewed with a fully updated Google Chrome browser. Prepare to shade your eyes if you visit!)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Scalia: Affirmative Action May Send Them Darkies African Americans To Classes (Or Universities) Too Advanced For Them

I do not mean to say Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a racist... I don't know what his motivation is... only that the consequence of his assumption of Black academic inferiority is de facto racism. Here's Scalia, as quoted in Tierney Sneed's article at TPM:
[Scalia] pointed to those who "contend it does not benefit African-Americans to—to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less—a slower-track school where they do well."
Someone should inform Justice Scalia that there is a good word for people who believe that stereotype: bigots. Some other conservative Justices (see article) may need similar reminders.

Given the political activist nature of the conservatives on the current Court, I cannot see this rhetoric from the bench as anything but an attempt to kill affirmative action while the Court still has a scant majority of Justices willing to do so. If that happens, we will have to add affirmative action to the list of erasures by the Court that Congress must, to the extent possible, reinstate.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

NYT Editors: ‘End The Gun Epidemic’

End the Gun Epidemic in America,’ they write, in the strongest terms an editorial board can get away with in today's gun-crazed America. I agree, unreservedly. Please read what they wrote. The subhed will do as a sample:
It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.
Indeed. You need a hunting rifle, or even two of them? fine. You need a couple dozen military-style assault weapons and extra-large clips? I don't think so. My thanks to the NYT editorial board for saying so.

NOTE 12/6/2015 9:14PM CT: Some sort of problem afflicted Blogger for at least an hour that I know about. The service itself and comments appear to be restarting now; viewing is intermittent. Patience, please, and apologies for any trouble you experience(d).

Friday, December 4, 2015

Courage And Good Sense

This morning's ABC world news broadcast (at some hour) featured a San Bernadino city memorial gathering honoring those killed in the massacre. Visible front and center in the crowd was a young woman in conventional Muslim dress, her demeanor prayerful, her manner solemn. She had a choice to make, a decision about just what to risk, and in our society, no less rife with religious extremism than, say, Saudi Arabia, she put her own life on the line to make a simple declaration: typical Muslims do not approve of mass violence any more than, say, Christians, Jews or Unitarian Universalists. Kudos to her for her bravery.

My mind's eye looked back 14 years to Sept. 11, 2001. I lived in an apartment then. A young couple, my neighbors across the walkway at the time, were Muslim, she of American birth, he of Canadian. Neither their appearance nor their family name nor any audible accent distinguished them as being Muslim, but somehow, at the school attended by their two young sons, word got out that they were, and the kids... the older one might have been age 9... were harassed, both openly and (more troubling) also anonymously.

I regret to say this story has a happy ending: at the cost of both their jobs, and taking advantage of his Canadian birthright, the couple moved somewhere in Canada. Regret? Yes:  I grieve to see America lose potential solid, hardworking, honest and downright cheerful citizens. Happy ending? Yes: those kids did not deserve to be threatened with bodily harm because of their faith.

Yesterday and today, the young, visibly Muslim woman at the memorial gathering was courageous. Fourteen years ago, the young couple and their sons showed good sense. What kind of America do we put forth to the world, that any of these people have to reckon with consequences just for being who they are?

Here ends the lesson for the day. <sigh />.

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