Friday, March 22, 2019

Lost, lost, lost

Hello my friends.  Some terrible events have happened recently.  Jewish people were gunned down in their place of worship.  Muslim people were gunned down in their place of worship.  Trump is enabling white nationalism and hatred against both groups.  Trump is supporting far-right positions by a far-right leader of Israel.  Democrats are being attacked for both supporting Israel, and for not supporting Israel enough.  How do we navigate this? 

We should first establish that it is possible to criticize the nation of Israel without being antisemitic. It is possible to criticize Netanyahu and long for the day when he is ousted and his policies are trashed, without resorting to antisemitic slurs. It is possible to state that we must guard against the improper influence of all foreign lobbyists, including AIPAC, without engaging in dangerous stereotypes and tropes against the Jewish people. AND WE MUST DO THIS.

I am a proud Democrat, but there is a very troubling tendency on the Left to view the Israel/Palestinian struggle in terms that are too simplistic, too good guy/bad guy, too black and white.
Saying that does not make me, or anyone, anti-Muslim.
And look, I don't know how to resolve the source of these conflicts, but we must engage on the issues without defaming either Muslims or Jews as a people.
We should ask our government to stop supporting Israeli policies and oppressions that we don't agree with, while still respecting the right of Israel to exist and her people to live. We must strongly condemn terrorism in all forms, whether committed by Muslims, or against them. We must rightly ask those who are invoking the ugly ghosts of antisemitism to stop, and to listen, just as we have asked and will ask others to confront anti-Muslim rhetoric.
To do these things may seem simple.
But Trump has been so visibly and terrifyingly anti-Muslim, and also so clearly aligned with Netanyahu, that it may be difficult to see and to grasp that he is also supporting antisemitism.  White nationalists, whom he enables, are just as willing to kill Jews as they are Muslims.  We know this to be true. 
And the reaction to violence against Muslims frequently and all too easily becomes antisemitic.  We also know this.  We’ve seen it happen.  It’s heartbreaking, but more than that, it’s dangerous.  Our history tells us that any movement that begins with the blaming of the Jewish people is very likely to end with the killing of Jewish people.   Every Jewish person knows this, carries the genetic memory of it, and lives with it.  Many Jewish people are telling us that they see the warning signs of it, right now, in our country and in many others too.  We need to listen to them.

Above all, we must refuse all these bullshit narratives that tell us we must choose a “side” and support it unconditionally. Our side is truth. Our side is peace.  Our mission is to seek those things.
Anti-Muslim prejudice and antisemitism are BOTH on the rise, we must fight BOTH. We must fight white nationalism at home and abroad, both. Let's be united on this, Democrats. Let's work to convince all of America to be united on this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

They built that. We watched.

White liberals really embarrassed ourselves in 2016 by being blindsided by the level of support for Donald Trump. "We didn't think so many Americans would actually vote for an ignorant racist!" we said. Voters of color knew better and shook their heads at our completely willful ignorance.
Then we continued to show our asses via the white media's collective insistence that support for Trump was a symptom of "economic anxiety," and not racism. White liberals bought it, and we filled op eds and airwaves to overflowing with hand-wringing about appealing to the "white working class.""Why can't they see that Democratic policies benefit workers more?" we wail, again and again and again, while never stopping to consider that those voters might just be motivated by something other than economic policy. Again, voters of color shake their heads at us and note that giving white people the benefit of the doubt is a luxury that only white people can afford.
The latest manifestation of white liberal denial is this insistence that GOP politicians and voters are turning against Trump. We scan the news for glimmers of defection and hold them aloft as if they were moral victories, when in fact they're merely isolated desertions born of distaste - not for the agenda, but for the man who's taking all the credit for it. "He's gone too far, even for them!" we yell into the void of reason and ethics, as Gallup publishes a poll that shows GOP approval for our president at 90%.
Listen. He has not gone too far for them. His supporters are not turning against him. They are not moved by the bullet-ridden bodies of high-schoolers. They are not moved by unarmed citizens treated like enemies on a battlefield. They are not moved by little brown children in cages. The most enduring truth of 2016 is that fully half of our voting public is deplorable, and wants to inflict harm upon the other half. They are racist, yes, and they are so much more. They are willing to destroy the constraints of governance in order to empower a dictator who will persecute the people they hate. And they won't turn back from their course on their own. We cannot convert or reason with them, we can only use what is left of our democracy to stop them. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Time's up

On Twitter I've learned that I can pretty much set my watch by dudes derping into my mentions with their random horseshit. Because god forbid a woman assert something on the internet.
I love my boyfriend and of course all the men that I'm friends with, and a few - very few - known male advocates for women and other disenfranchised people.
But right now as far as I'm concerned the rest of you guys can pretty much show up for your assignments in the pits of hell.
Look at what happened at the Golden Globes. Yeah, I'm going to draw a parallel between a Hollywood awards show and the real world. One male winner - one! - talked about racism in the industry and in doing so made reference to the official "Time's Up" theme of the evening, and the rest either could not be bothered, didn't care, or were actively trying to avoid scrutiny on the subject (cough! cough! James Franco! cough!).
It was all too reminiscent of my experience on Facebook and other social media, where men, even some of my very awesome male friends, leave the feminist activism to the womens while they post about literally everything else. Where they leave women high and dry on their threads while their asshole male friends wax misogynistic about which women are whores and which ones are crazy and which ones are liars and which ones are fat and which ones are gross and old and which ones it's okay to call an ugly cunt because they are conservative.
A male friend of mine, who no doubt considers himself "one of the good ones," assured me that he is protecting his daughter from sexism because he and his wife (that is, his wife) have chosen a progressive preschool and are very careful about her playdates.
I'm not fucking kidding.
What's worse - and this is way, way, worse - he doesn't understand how offensive that belief is.
To think that sexism can be avoided so easily is to fundamentally, deliberately, and inexplicably refuse to understand what sexism is, and to misunderstand through such astounding lack of mental effort is a profound fucking insult to every woman who has struggled against the pervasive and insidious effects of sexism and misogyny every fucking day of her fucking life. I've spent my entire time on earth trying to extricate and protect myself from this bullshit system of judgement and oppression, but you've solved it by avoiding little Jason at the Montessori? Go fuck yourself.
In short, guys, you need to do WAY better. To start with, if the words "systemic sexism" furrow your brow, read a fucking book. Don't just waddle through social media in ignorance while asking female friends to explain to you your dumbass assumptions. Then, when you see sexism/misogyny at work, fucking call that shit out. Don't assume that because you're a man that it's HER job to beat back all the shitty ignorant arguments your friends are heaping upon her. We all perpetuate sexism, but men benefit from it, so it's YOUR FUCKING JOB TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
I can't tell you how many times I've come away from an online discussion literally shaking with fury because some man I used to admire averted his eyes while his friends took a deep dive into the misogyny pool. I'm tired of these kind of betrayals. I am bone fucking tired.

Friday, November 10, 2017

For Your Consideration

It really sucks to find out that your comedy/music/film/political idols are bad guys who victimize women. Consider that women have been living with this disappointment our whole lives.
I'm not trying to be snotty. Really consider it.
When I was a kid, my grandmother was dating a nice, older gentleman who was kind to me. Then he exposed himself to me while we were at the pool.
As a teen, I fended off the advances of a family friend.
When I was in college, the department head, who cast me in his play, burst into my dressing room while I was in my underwear and thought my discomfort was hilarious.
In grad school, a brilliant professor treated me like I was special. And then he sexually harassed me, in class, for a year.
I had a boss who told me that I could run the business one day. Later, he grabbed me in the store room and forced kisses on me while I fought him off.
It goes on.
If you're a woman, you figure out that you should always temper your admiration of men, because a sizable percentage of them are going to prove themselves unworthy of your admiration. You learn to distrust men who tell you that you are smart, or independent, or talented, because there's a good chance they're trying to trick you into something.
Consider how this affects us.
Consider it, because I know you have never done so before.
Consider it, and while you're doing that, I'll be waiting for the next monster in my life to reveal himself.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I voted for Trump. And I think I can get a New York Times opinion piece out of it.

Kittens, I have been inspired by Julius Krein's incredibly dumbass opinion piece in the New York Times to revive an old tried-and-true Bells On genre: making fun of what stupid people write.  Let's jump right on in, shall we?
When Donald Trump first announced his presidential campaign, I, like most people, thought it would be a short-lived publicity stunt. A month later, though, I happened to catch one of his political rallies on C-Span. I was riveted.

You were riveted.  You were riveted by Donald Trump.  
I supported the Republican in dozens of articles, radio and TV appearances, even as conservative friends and colleagues said I had to be kidding.
What generous friends and colleagues you have.  I would say that you clearly do not deserve them, but they probably voted for Trump so fuck them.  
As early as September 2015, I wrote that Mr. Trump was “the most serious candidate in the race.” ... I saw the decline in this country — its weak economy and frayed social fabric — and I thought Mr. Trump’s willingness to move past partisan stalemates could begin a process of renewal.  
Well, at least he got the big lie out of the way at the beginning.

Anyone who claims to understand how our economy is weak: the vanishing middle class and the lack of well-paying jobs, would understand that Trump clearly does not give a shit about either.  He made his reputation by screwing over labor and small businesses, for fuck's sake.  And anyone who claims to understand what "frays" social fabric, would also understand that Trump was wielding scissors, not a needle and thread.

It is now clear that my optimism was unfounded.
Yeah.  That's what's clear, is that your "optimism" was "unfounded."  How many different ways can this genius spin his support for a dangerous, corrupt, racist moron as a open-hearted act of faith?

My guess is we're about to find out.
I can’t stand by this disgraceful administration any longer, and I would urge anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president.

Yeah, stop defending Trump and start defending yourself for defending him!
What, you may wonder, especially in the wake of Charlottesville, Va., did I possibly see in this candidate?
(Editing out a 200 word defense of Trump. I'm not kidding.)
 ...His statements on immigration were often needlessly inflammatory...

I'm going to edit out the rest of that sentence, too.  I think that characterizing Trump's stance on immigration as "needlessly inflammatory" really says all you need to know about that paragraph.  
...Yes, Mr. Trump’s policy positions were poorly defined, but these days, most candidates’ positions are.
What?  No they're not.
And yes, he had little support from the Republican Party leadership. But many of us thought even this might be a positive if it forced him to focus on “making deals” rather than on Washington’s usual ideological posturing.
Because what Washington needs, is someone who knows how to "make deals."  Politicians have no idea what "deals" are.  No "deals" are ever going on in Congress, and that is the source of our problems.  In fact, I'm pretty sure each member of Congress introduces their own bill, and then they arm wrestle over which one they send to the President.
He was never going to fulfill all of his over-the-top promises...
Again, to characterize the racist and dangerously ignorant platform of Donald Trump as "over-the-top" is really all you need to know about that paragraph.
I founded a quarterly journal, American Affairs, largely to question elements of what is often called the neoliberal policy consensus — totally open borders for capital and labor; transferring power from national governments to transnational technocracies; unfettered markets; and democracy promotion as the sole premise of foreign policy. In other words, the disappointing legacy we inherited from the Bushes and the Clintons that helped pave the way to Mr. Trump’s election.
Right.  Because the Bushes and "the Clintons" (reminder, Hillary was never president) were totally the same on economic and foreign policy even though both Bushes started wars for oil in Iraq, and Clinton used military force to try to rescue people in non-oil-rich countries from genocide.
...For months, despite increasing chaos and incoherence, I have given Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt: “No, I don’t really think he is a racist,” I have told skeptical audiences. “Yes, he says some stupid things, but none of it really matters; he’s not really that incompetent.” Or: “They’ve made some mistakes, but it’s still early.”
He says this as if his "benefit of the doubt" were a unique reaction, instead of being identical to every other Republican's reaction. 
It’s no longer early.
Well, thank god the clock on dangerous malevolent incompetence has run out!
Not only has the president failed to make the course corrections necessary to save his administration, but his increasingly appalling conduct will continue to repel anyone who might once have been inclined to work with him.
Because what Trump needs to do is make "course corrections."  "Whoopsie!  Made a mistake, divulging top secret information to a hostile nation that I colluded with in order to win the election.  Need to issue a course correction!"
From the very start of his run, one of the most serious charges against Mr. Trump was that he panders to racists. Many of his supporters, myself included, managed to convince ourselves that his more outrageous comments — such as the Judge Gonzalo Curiel controversy or his initial hesitance to disavow David Duke’s endorsement — were merely Bidenesque gaffes committed during the heat of a campaign.
Oh, did you "convince yourself" that he was not a racist?  How on earth did you "manage" that?  Please do let us know, and also, go fuck yourself for characterizing racism as "Bidenesque."

It is now clear that we were deluding ourselves. 
Ya think?
Either Mr. Trump is genuinely sympathetic to the David Duke types, or he is so obtuse as to be utterly incapable of learning from his worst mistakes. Either way, he continues to prove his harshest critics right.
Hey, let's not sell Trump short.  He is both a racist AND stupid.
Mr. Trump once boasted that he could shoot someone in the street and not lose voters. Well, someone was just killed in the street by a white supremacist in Charlottesville. His refusal this weekend to specifically and immediately denounce the groups responsible for this intolerable violence was both morally disgusting and monumentally stupid. In this, Mr. Trump failed perhaps the easiest imaginable test of presidential leadership. Rather than advance a vision of national unity that he claims to represent, his indefensible equivocation can only inflame the most vicious forces of division within our country.
You're disillusioned NOW because he promotes "the forces of division?"  Dude, he did that EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY of his campaign.  Not sure where you were during all that, maybe thinking up ways to define racism as "sympathetic to David Duke types."
If Mr. Trump had been speaking about the overall political climate, he might have been right to say that “many sides” are responsible for exacerbating social tensions. Yet during the events in Charlottesville this past weekend, only one side — a deranged white nationalist — was responsible for killing anyone. To equivocate about this fact is the height of irresponsibility. Even those concerned about the overzealous enforcement of political correctness can hardly think that apologizing for neo-Nazis is a sensible alternative.
While condemning Trump for saying "many sides" are responsible, he also reminds us that, you know, many sides are responsible.
Those of us who supported Mr. Trump were never so naïve as to expect that he would transform himself into a model of presidential decorum upon taking office. But our calculation was that a few cringe-inducing tweets were an acceptable trade-off for a successful governing agenda.
Yeah, what's a few cringe-inducing tweets?  I can take it!  Trump tweets lies about NATO in order to undermine our defense against Russia, I cringe, and then Whew!  Glad that's over!
...Nothing disastrous has occurred on the foreign policy front — yet — but the never-ending chaos within the administration hardly inspires confidence. Many senior-level appointees are still not in place, including the assistant secretaries of state, for example.
Yes, the failure to appoint assistant secretaries of state.  That is definitely the most prominent example of what does not inspire confidence on the foreign policy front.
And too many of those who are in office appear to be petty, clueless, and rather repulsive ideologues, like Steve Bannon, who seem to spend most of their time accusing one another of being “swamp creatures.” It’s pathetic. No wonder an increasing number of officials are simply ignoring the president, an alarming but understandable development.
Pretty sure "repulsive ideologues" was Trump's brand from the get-go.  Not sure how you missed it?
Effectively a third-party president without a party, Mr. Trump has faced extraordinary resistance from the media, the bureaucracy and even within the Republican Party. But the administration has committed too many unforced errors and deserves most of the blame for its failures. Far from making the transformative “deals” he promised voters, his only talent appears to be creating grotesque media frenzies — just as all his critics said.

You know, I'm going to say that the "resistance" followed the failures, and not the other way around?  But sure, dude, yeah, I'm sure the reasons for his failures have "many sides."
Those who found some admirable things in the hazy outlines of Mr. Trump’s campaign — a trade policy focused on national industrial development...
National industrial development?  Is that economic wonk speak for "bribe industry with tax breaks but forget to require actual jobs in return?"
a less quixotic foreign policy...
"Less quixotic" I think means give Putin whatever he wants.
less ideological approaches to infrastructure, health care and entitlements — will have to salvage that agenda from the wreckage of his presidency. On that, I’m not ready to give up.
I think that in order to salvage something from a wreckage, it has to be present IN the actual wreckage.  There's no "less ideological" anything in Trump's wreckage, but, you know, as long as white men who voted for Trump keep assuring us that they can find it, the New York Times will keep telling us that it's important to listen to them.  Certainly it's more important than every single Hillary Clinton voter who predicted every single fucking thing that he somehow failed to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I'm a woman! Read my post!

Every time someone who's not a white man runs for office in America, we are forced once again to listen to the yammering heads run their mouths about the regrettable state of "identity politics."  For those of you lucky enough to have escaped this spectacle of Victorian hand-wringing, "identity politics" is what white men call it when women and people from minority groups run against them or their favorite candidate.

It's a phrase that assholes use to disparage people for whom diversity matters, and so not surprising that the Left's biggest asshole trotted it out in his remarks in Boston on November 20th, when a supporter asked Bernie Sanders how she should proceed in order to become the country's second Latina senator. He replied:

But it's not good enough to say, “Hey, I'm a Latina, vote for me.” That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests. One of the struggles that we're going to have right now, we lay on the table of the Democratic Party, is it's not good enough to me to say, “Okay, well we've got X number of African Americans over here, we've got Y number of Latinos, we have Z number of women. We are a diverse party, a diverse nation.” Not good enough...But, but, here is my point, and this is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, “I'm a woman! Vote for me!” No, that's not good enough.

Oh, kittens, where to start?

First of all, it's big of him, I guess, to confirm that the Democratic Party should reflect all Americans.  I wish he had said it that way, instead of speaking in quotas - as if that's what the DNC does, is round up candidates and tally their census boxes.  I mean, that's what ignorant GOP types think we do, so it's disappointing to hear a prominent liberal echo their condescending language.

Secondly, he continues to push this idea that all political, social, and justice concerns are subordinate to anti-corporate economic positions.  That's an idea that was roundly rejected by voters of color in the primaries when they overwhelmingly did not vote for him. Still, Sanders has stubbornly refused to recognize that racism is not a conspiracy of the 1%, or, in the words of Iman Gandi, "Sandra Bland had a goddamn job."

And thirdly:
"Hey, I'm a Latina, vote for me."
"I'm a woman, vote for me!"

I guess it's kind of refreshing to finally hear him admit what he thinks of  female candidates generally, and Clinton's campaign specifically.  And I, for one, put my hand on my heart and hereby pledge that I will never forget that he publicly reduced us to gender-cheerleading simpletons.

But the other unmistakable message in those words is that any candidate who doesn't buy into Sanders's own particular brand of college level Marxism, and loses an election, does so because their message boils down to "Vote for me because I'm not a white male!"  If you don't see politics the way Bernie does, he's implying that you're coasting on your gender/racial identity.

Think about that for a minute.  Now imagine if Paul Ryan had said that the problem with Democrats is that their message can be summarized as "I'm a Latina, vote for me!"


But most importantly, and this is the one that is apparently too mind-blowing for many white men to even contemplate: white male IS AN IDENTITY in America, and all the hundreds of years of political dominance in this country does not make that any less true.  White men are not gender and race neutral.  And if you don't understand how a white man can play "identity politics" in America, then JESUS CHRIST WERE YOU NOT PAYING ATTENTION WHILE WE JUST ELECTED DONALD FUCKING TRUMP??

And lastly, for those of you who are constantly whining about unity and coming together and how can I still be criticizing Sanders when there are more important targets/issues etc. etc. etc.

He started it.

Seriously, he did.  He is positioning himself as The Man Who Will Save the Democrats, and as he continues on his "I Told You So" Tour, shilling the book that he spent the last 3 months writing instead of campaigning for Clinton, he is telling us that we need to remake the party in his image.

And kittens, I don't want a party remade in his image.  I do not want that.  I don't want anything from Bernie Sanders other than for him to go back to Vermont and go back to voting the way Senate Democrats tell him to.

Oh.  Well, I guess, since it's been brought up, there is one more thing I wouldn't mind getting from him.

It would be nice if he apologized.  You know, for damaging our candidate with his lies and his general assholery and for contributing to the victory of Donald Trump.  Yeah, I guess, for me, step number one in the Bernie Sanders: Democratic Savior junket would be for him to say that he's sorry for his part in everything that's about to happen.  All these identities that he's so eager to dictate priorities to are about to get hit with a world of shit, and it would be nice if he just said, you know, "Hey, I'm a white man!  My bad!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Green flag

(Please note that the above photo is meant to be a humorous illustration of some of the themes of this post.  I don't care that it is Photoshopped.  This is an opinion blog, not the Washington Post.)

Here's a fun game that you can play while you're waiting for the four NASCAR drivers of the apocalypse to make an appearance at your front door:

Whenever someone says that poor people worried about the economy voted in Donald Trump, you say "I think you mean poor WHITE people."  When they say that working class people felt forgotten by the Democratic Party, you say "I think you mean working class WHITE people."  You do this to anyone in your life who is regurgitating the media's dangerously wrong talking points about how what happened in 2016 was definitely not THEIR fault.  Hell, for bonus points, you could yell corrections at your TV screen too, but damn kittens I recommend you save your screaming voice for when you are sucked into the flaming pools of totalitarian shit that used to be the United States of America.

My point is, take every opportunity to remind everyone you can that what happened in this election was a giant white people takeback of what they think is theirs.  People of color didn't fall for any of Trump's trumpeting about bringing back jobs, or fixing the economy.  They know a carny shill when they see one.  And the only reason white people couldn't see the con is because they didn't want to.

A coworker of mine, who is an engineer, and an escapee from Kansas, lamented to me that his sisters voted for Trump.  They did so, he said, because they're "single issue voters," when it comes to abortion.

Now, clearly he's got his heart in the right place, and I'm not going to talk shit about anyone's sister to their face, but it's always funny to me how people who have multiple degrees and who make a living knowing how shit works are frequently so bad at knowing how shit works.  Because does my coworker really think that, if Trump had been pro-choice - which he was as recently as 2 seconds before he said he wasn't - does my coworker really think that his sisters would not have voted for him?

Because bullshit.  Because of course they would have.  Because their principles are fictitious.  Just like all the principled Evangelicals who we were told might stay home from the polls, and the principled Mormons who we were told might make Utah go 3rd party, and the principled GOP whoevers who denounced Trump the candidate while conveniently neglecting to denounce what he stood for.  All those principled conservatives who, in the end, fell over themselves in their rush to vote for the most embarrassing leader of the free world since George W forgot how doors work.

Yeah, white people showed their true color on Election Day, and now they're acting as if it's 1861, and the Mason-Dixon line is now being drawn at the Canadian border.  And they weren't emboldened by Trump's stance on clean coal and the TPP.  They were emboldened by anger.  They were angry at the black president for being the boss of them.  They were angry that the country, collectively, may have to admit that the police operate under the same bullshit assumptions that they do.  They were angry that immigrants dare ask for the same consideration that their own immigrant predecessors received.  They were angry that theoretical cake bakers might have to bake gay cakes.  And yes, fucking yes, they were angry that a woman dared to think she could raise her hand and say "The most qualified person is me."

For eight years they've been saying that they wanted their country back, and kittens, they just took it.  They took it because Democrats believe in equal rights, and a better life, for people who aren't them.  And we let them do it, we held the door open for them and let them take everything away while we quibbled over which kind of locks to install.

The Republicans won because they were scared shitless that we would enforce our agenda.

The Democrats lost because the Republicans cared more about our agenda than we did.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Like a lot of people, I was shocked.

I wasn't shocked that an ignorant, unqualified racist and serial abuser of women could win the presidency.  I wasn't shocked that there were enough awful white people out there to put him in office.

I was shocked because the polls said that we would beat him.  Soundly.  There was a massive failure to accurately measure the electorate.  And the press failed to detect it in time.

That's not the only way the press failed.  They failed by allowing a hostile foreign country to dictate the narrative of the election.  They failed by thinking that journalistic integrity means that the scandals of one candidate must be treated as equivalent to the actual criminal activity of the other.

Democrats also failed.  We failed to vote.  And that is by far the worst failing.

And if you're out there bloviating about how if the Democrats had picked YOUR guy, it would've gone differently, then you have so missed the point.  And this was a point that was painfully demonstrated to us only 16 years ago, and somewhat more predictably 12 years ago, so if you were a voting adult during the BushCo years then damn, how many fucking times do you need to see this happen before you get it?

Because guess what?  The Republicans DO get it.  Oh, they get it.  They just elected the most far Right candidate since...I don't know...ever?  And they did it by being loyal fucking voters.  The GOP no longer needs the Center, thanks to the enthusiasm and reliability of their base.

Um, so Democrats who would like to move our party further Left, away from the Center, are you getting it yet?  Because while you were complaining about our liberal, pro-LGBT, pro-racial equality, pro-choice, pro-minimum wage increase, pro-healthcare expansion, pro-alternative energy candidate who actually believes that climate change is real, we just got smoked.  While you bitched about her violations of government email protocol, they fucking took us to school.  And I'm not going to say "Enjoy the next 4 years, assholes," but maybe spend those four years thinking about the lesson of 2016.  

And because I can't even trust Democrats enough right now to know the lesson, here's the fucking lesson:
If Sanders, or any other Democrat, had been our candidate, I would have voted for him.  Sanders wasn't as qualified as my candidate, but I would have voted for him.  So, did you vote for my Democrat?  Did you?

If you didn't go out and fucking vote for Clinton, then you can't spend the next four years shaking your head at all the ignorant racists who just scored their biggest win since we abandoned Reconstruction.  You can't laugh at their stupid economic theories, or their foreign policy numbskullery, you can't even chuckle at their inability to correctly spell or punctuate their own bigotry.

Because every single one of those stupid bigots is smarter than we are.   Because they know how to win.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In Soviet Union, election steals you

Given that Trump's friends in Russia, and therefore, Wikileaks, are committed to releasing more private conversations from the DNC, I think it's worth examining the role of the organization in US elections.

I've seen a lot of people proclaim that the DNC has violated some kind of oath of impartiality.  Right off the bat, let me assure you that such an oath does not exist.  It's not the job of the DNC to be impartial.  It is the job of the DNC to win in November.  

Full stop.

If you need more convincing, maybe take a look at the name.  It's the Democratic National Committee.  They exist to promote Democrats, and to enable them to win office against Republicans.  When they serve as a go-between for opposing candidates during a primary, they are never going to obstruct, or harm, the stronger candidate.  Never.  They're not your mom, they're not there to "be fair" or to tell Clinton that nice girls share their delegates.  That is not what they do, that is never what they did, and that is not going to change just because you're rooting for the underdog.

Something else they don't do, is actually run the election.  Counties do that, and states, and although the structures vary somewhat from place to place, when it boils down to how a governor wants to run an election, and how the state Democratic Committee wants to see it happen, the governor wins every time.  Because the governor has a lot of political power, and hey, quick question for you guys: what's the name of the chairperson of your county's Democratic Party?  How about your state's Democratic Committee?  Oh, you don't know?


So I'm just going to dismiss entirely any talk of the DNC suppressing selected voters in their own primary.

On to the stolen emails!  I see a lot talk in the media about how what's been released shows that the DNC was biased against Sanders.  First of all, imagine that!  Democrats, wary of the motivations of a Socialist who said to a reporter that he only joined the Democratic party in order to get better publicity for his presidential run?  Go figure.  It's like they are human with reasoning ability or something.

Secondly, what did they do to disadvantage him, exactly?  And if you're having trouble answering that, it's probably because they didn't actually do anything.  And if you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe Sanders's own press secretary, who couldn't take the conspiracy nonsense any more and blasted out a few choice tweets, such as "the system didn't cheat us," and "NO ONE STOLE THE ELECTION."

Yes, there was a private email strategy session that was stolen and made public, and the most damning thing that can be said about that is 1) Veep is an astoundingly accurate television show, and 2) if Bernie Sanders was sitting on an "I'm an atheist!" bombshell, then the DNC wanted to make damn sure that it went off during the primary, and not as the party's nominee in the fall, which sounds completely reasonable to me.  We also learned that the super evil supervillain Debbie Wasserman Schultz is really bad at living up to her evilness, because she apparently shot down every dumbass "should we expose Sanders's beliefs?" idea that came her way.

At least, so far.  I'm not a fan of DWS, although it's because she doesn't appear to always represent her constituents all that well, and not because she personifies any of the names that men on the internet call her.

But what about the debate schedule?  Sanders didn't get the time slots he wanted!

Seriously?  The debate schedule?  You do realize that this is the number one, perennial, never-changing bitch of every campaign since debates were invented?   It's also a bitch that is laughably irrelevant when you can watch anything anytime you want on that thing in your hand that you're using to catch Pokemon.

Ah, but what about Schultz's unfair treatment of the Sanders campaign, when she locked them out of their own voter database?  Is that how you remember that incident?  Here's how I remember it: Sanders campaign workers knowingly accessed confidential Clinton campaign data.  They did it more than once.  Then they claimed that they did it to "expose a fault in the system," complained about being denied access while the investigation proceeded, didn't publicly thank the Clinton campaign when they stepped up to vouch for their overall integrity (not counting the guy they fired for stealing and directing others to steal), and then sued the DNC and claimed that they were the victims.  Of their own crime.

Which leads me to my last point.  The Sanders campaign was really good at spin.  Because they excelled at politics, you know, politics, the game that everyone is playing here?

At any rate, while I understand that political coverage is not a zero sum deal, maybe we could spare a few column inches of the "DNC is a ravenous monster!" narrative and devote those to investigating a Republican nominee who appears to be in cahoots with a foreign government in order to influence American policy.  You know, kind of like treason?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bro, do you even frack?

As the reasons not to support Clinton and the Democratic party dwindle in the Naderite pockets of the Left, one issue continues to be raised, and will continue to be raised, because it's a motherfucker.

Fracking.  No one except energy companies like it, and yet Obama, and now Clinton, won't support a ban.  What gives?  I mean, it's safe to assume that at least Clinton's reticence is purely the product of her being purchased, via campaign donations, by the oil and gas industry, right?


I encounter this argument all the time, and kittens, it's like those people have never even stopped to consider that energy is sort of a zero sum game.   I mean, yes, our need for it increases constantly, but given the totality of our need, what we take from one place necessarily reduces what we take from another.  And what we take in the fracking fields reduces what we buy from other countries, and specifically reduces coal consumption overall.

By reducing what we import from other countries, we increase domestic employment, and we reduce our own prices.  The natural gas boom in the US has meant a 47% decrease in the price of natural gas, which saved the average US household $200 a year.  That's not nothing.  To poor families in the winter, that's a lot.  Over the entirety of energy consumers, including electricity consumers, fracking has meant a total savings of 74 billion.   To say nothing of the considerable savings we've experienced at the pump.  Again, to the middle class and below, these savings are extremely important to a family's ability to make ends meet.

And the switch from coal to natural gas has reduced nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions drastically.  Our air quality has actually improved because of fracking, with generators emitting 25-45% less nasty stuff.

Something else, too.  You know those giant supertankers that bring imported oil to our shores?  Did you know that, because of the kind of fuel that they burn, just 16 of those ships create as much filthy, sulfurous, people-killing pollution as all the automobiles in the world?  To say nothing of oil spills at sea.

So, wanting to reduce their use for oil imports is, again, not nothing.  It's important.  And fracking has done that.

And of course there are also the somewhat more difficult-to-quantify benefits of not having to spend quite so much time defending our oil interests in foreign countries.  That's a whole can of worms, huh?

Okay, so I imagine I'm well past the point where you're all either gone, or have written me off entirely because AM I DEFENDING FRACKING FOR FUCK'S SAKE??

Not exactly.  But not exactly not.  What I'm in favor of, is understanding the consequences of our actions, and so if you insist on a complete and total ban on fracking, you should also understand not just the bad effects that you want to eliminate, which, yes, are considerable - but also the benefits that you would also eliminate.

I know.  Shit's complicated.

But of course ultimately the goal is to eliminate fossil fuels altogether, and thrive on a diet of sunshine and warm breezes, and maybe recycled unicorn manure.  Some would say that by lowering our oil and gas costs, fracking offers us complacency, thereby delaying our essential ventures into alternative forms of energy.

And they may be right.  But if they're right, then that means that what WILL motivate us into giving up fossil fuels, is the rest of the world suffering from the effects of oil and gas extraction, while we protect ourselves from those same effects.

I think anyone who knows anything about the US, knows that we are seldom motivated by the suffering of those outside our own borders.  Not that we don't feel bad about the suffering of foreigners, because, hey, je suis Charlie, n'est pas?  But does that empathy actually motivate us to do anything about their suffering?  I mean, of course, you can always feel free to assume the best about us.  Who could that hurt, that really matters?

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Tick tock

I think that among Democrats, the most oft-repeated phrase I've heard this primary season has been, "I still think that Bernie should stay in the race..."

Because ideas.  Because moving Left.  Because, oh, I don't know....Yosemite?

Once it was clear that Clinton was going to win, which was always clear, but let's just say it was indisputable after South Carolina.  Or Super Tuesday, if that makes you feel better.  Once, it was clear that she was going to win, Sanders should have bugged the fuck out.

Not just because he could not win, but because he kept saying that he could.  As late as the weekend before the California* primary, when Clinton was within spitting distance of the goal, Sanders said that it was "extremely unlikely" that Clinton would have the "requisite number of pledged delegates" after that Tuesday's voting.  He then inexplicably claimed that "At the end of the nominating process, no candidate will have enough pledged delegates to call the campaign a victory."

Um, what?

 That goes way beyond "We can still do this!" -type cheerleading.  That's what we call a lie.  Why would Sanders tell his supporters that Clinton could not achieve the delegate total as she was on the very cusp of reliably and predictably doing exactly that?  

I cannot say.  But I do know, that many of his supporters believed it.  They believed it.  And so when Clinton did do what was inevitable, many of them were angry.  Angry that they had been lied to.  Except they apparently could not bear to be angry at their beloved leader, you know, the one who was so unlike a politician that he could never lie?  So they instead become angry at Clinton, her supporters, her surrogates, and even the press, instead of facing the truth that their candidate, a politician, had told them a political lie in a politically expedient way, to gain political advantage.

It has been thus throughout the primary, with Sanders supporters blaming the DNC and the Clinton campaign for every loss.  Every lost registration, every line at the polling place, every expired deadline, every poor dumbfounded poll worker who was clueless about crossover ballots vs. provisional ballots, it was all the machinations of the great DNC machine and its scheming harpie leader, even in places, like Maricopa County, Arizona, where Democrats are as rare in the halls of government as a good idea.

Politics and social policy are fucked up enough, and we surely do not need to be encouraging another generation of conspiracy-minded youth.  They've got climate change to deal with, and global trade to figure out, and how the fuck are they going to solve problems with facts and science when the guy they believe in tells them that he's "pretty good at arithmetic" while also implying that 2178 is not greater than 2026?   How are they going to navigate the legislative branch when their role model tells them that tantrums are an acceptable alternative to preparation?  Or that if someone disagrees with you, you can always scream the word "cunt" at her until she goes away?

It's Sanders's fault they're so angry, and no one else's.**  And the longer he sticks around, telling them lies about how this is all going to shake out in his favor, the worse it is for them, and for us.  All of us.
So, no, his presence is not making the Democratic Party "better." It's not improving the conversation.  It's not doing one good thing.  And so I know it's hard to go from thousands of faces at a rally, adoring you and screaming your name, to your desk in a DC office looking at this guy, but dude, come on.  Time to go.

*Yes, I know other states voted too.  Shut up, we're enjoying being relevant.

**Maybe his campaign manager a little bit.  That guy is a dick.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Submitted to a candid world

OMG you guys, THANK GOD that Bernie Sanders will have representatives on the committee that drafts the 2016 Democratic Party Platform, because otherwise how will Democrats express our newly found disdain for Wall Street excesses and the havoc they wreak upon our society?

Oh wait.
From the 2012 Democratic Party Platform:
"Wall Street Reform - A strong middle class can only exist in an economy where everyone plays by the same rules, from Wall Street to Main Street. That's why President Obama and Democrats in Congress overcame fierce opposition from the financial industry to pass the most far-reaching Wall Street reform in generations…"
Well, sure in 2012 because Dodd Frank, but before that…

Oh wait.

From the 2008 Democratic Party Platform: 
“Reforming Financial Regulation and Corporate Governance - We have failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices. We have let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales…”
Okay well maybe President Obama has emphasized it somewhat, but before that, I’m sure it was crickets from the Democrats on corporate malfeasance.

Oh wait.
From the 2004 Democratic Party Platform: 
“Free Markets and Honest Competition - …Competition and free markets depend on trust, transparency, and integrity. We are committed to requiring honesty in corporate accounting effective corporate governance, a fair shake for small investors and worker pension funds, a level playing field and competitive bidding practices for those who wish to transact business with the government, and vigorous prosecution of criminal conduct in executive suites.

Well shit.  But come on, for sure Democrats never said anything in the past about election finance reform:

Aw, goddamn it!
2012: “Lobbying Reform and Campaign Finance Reform - Our political system is under assault by those who believe that special interests should be able to buy whatever they want in our society, including our government. Our opponents have applauded the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United and welcomed the new flow of special interest money with open arms. In stark contrast, we believe we must take immediate action to curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests on our political institutions…We support legislation to close loopholes and require greater disclosure of campaign spending.” 
2008: “We support campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests, including public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time. We will have the wisdom to put the public interest above special interests.” 
2000: “Renewing Our Democracy and Campaign Finance Reform - In the year 2000, along with all the other big choices they have to make, Americans will be making a choice about who's running their country: the people or the special interests, the voters or the lobbyists, the many or the few. We must restore American's faith in their own democracy by providing real and comprehensive campaign finance reform, creating fairer and more open elections, and breaking the link between special interests and political influence.”

Hey, so what’s going on here?  Why is everyone talking about the Democrats embracing issues, via their platform, that they have in fact always embraced?  Could it be that the Democratic Party has, collectively, identified and prioritized these issues for many, many years now?  Could it be that the problem is NOT the intentions of the Democratic Party?

Maybe the problem is that the Democratic Party is opposed by fully one half of this country, and that Democratic representatives are hampered from implementing reform by…the other party.  You know, the party that screams about immigrants and gays every time there’s an election? 

Maybe the issue is not the fucking platform.

Kittens, it baffles me to the core that anyone could believe that the Democratic Party Platform will be significantly different this year due to the inclusion of Sanders appointees to the Platform Committee.  I suspect that anyone who believes that it WILL be significantly different this year, does so because THEY’VE NEVER READ THE PARTY PLATFORM and have not fucking clue one what has EVER been in it.

The Democratic Party is made up of a bunch of imperfect people, and we will never be an immaculate monolith, but we are the party who is trying to fix what is wrong, and we have to drag the other half of the country, kicking and screaming and firing automatic weapons, along with us every time we try to do one good goddamn thing.  And yeah, we are the party that sometimes has to give up A, in order to get B and C.  And we are also the party that loses more of the Congress in every midterm, loses more seats to those fucking morons and contemptible assholes in every election, because all you people who are bitching about the Democratic Party right now have never even tried to support us.  Never even fucking tried.  Because if you did vote for Democrats?  In every election?  Not once every four years or when it’s someone cool but every time?  You know what would happen?  The party would move further Left. 

That’s right.  It would move further Left.  Maybe, eventually, even into GLORIOUS REVOLUTION territory.  And how do I know this?  How do I know that the Democrats would give up trying to win the political Center?  Because the Republicans already did it.  They gave up trying to win the Center, and they did it because they could.  They didn’t need the Center anymore because their supporters on the Right FUCKING SHOW UP TO VOTE FOR THEM.

I don’t know, maybe one day voters on the Left will figure out that the only way to win, the only way to achieve a party that truly represents the progressive Left is to show up to support our great ideas, imperfect as our messengers may be, just like those crazy fucking GOP idiots show up to support their terrible fucking ideas.

So, fuck yes, fight over those great ideas, fight over the fucking platform, Democrats, including all you party crashers who’ve been here for five minutes and are pretty sure you know everything about us.  Fight over that platform, and then you know, when we’re done doing that, there’s something that we could all do that would be really helpful, and that is, to read the damn thing.  Read it.  Just to make sure you understand what exactly it is that we’ve been on about for all these fucking years.

And then go vote.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Put on your stockings 'cause the night's getting cold

In the later ‘90s, Ralph Nader took to the lecture circuit and wowed the NPR crowd by arguing for public financing of all political campaigns.  He further proposed that any broadcast license issued by the government come with the condition that a certain amount of airtime would be given by the holder of the license to the American people for free political ads for qualified candidates.

It was, and remains, a simple, revolutionary, and much needed reform. 

Ralph Nader ran for president as an independent to the Left of Al Gore in 2000.  He rejected the label “spoiler” because he said there was no difference between Gore and Bush.  In the end, Gore lost* the deciding state, Florida, by 500 votes.  Nader’s tally for that state was over 97 thousand. 

We saw the beginning of election finance reform in the McCain/Feingold bill in 2002, which sought to limit corporate money given to political parties.  McCain/Feingold was later castrated by the infamous Supreme Court ruling called Citizens United. 

The best part is that without Nader enabling the election of Bush, two additional Supreme Court Justices would have been liberal instead of conservative at the time of the ruling, and the nation’s first attempt at election reform in over 40 years would still stand.  Instead, our Congress refuses to take it up, in part because the slim GOP reform margin is now gone, and also because reform-minded lawmakers have no desire to beat their collective heads against the broad wall of Citizens United. 

So, Nader, while running on election reform, effectively killed election reform in the United States.

Funny how shit works, huh?

I am mindful, ever more mindful, of how the nation’s future hinges upon the actions of a solitary man.  I have endeavored to be patient with those who rail against the rule-laden, favorite-favoring, labyrinthian party nomination process.  I know that we need everyone we can get to join us in the Democratic Party, which is, as I now frequently feel compelled to remind people, the progressive party.  The Left.  You know, the good guys. 

I constantly fail.  I am impatient myself, as I witness how the realities of internet life have made the conspiracy theory the dominant story-telling medium.  News organizations that used to pride themselves on their journalistic principles and the rigor of their investigations, have now established fast tracks to online publication in which rumor and innuendo are, in the end, good enough for their short-term click game.  “Sources say” has become the lead-in that for all practical purposes now means “A great load of horse shit is about to come your way,” as the “source” almost always turns out to be a long set of links that lead to some dude on Twitter.

Television news, that great progenitor of hysteria-based content, famously abides by the maxim “If it bleeds, it leads.”  Unfortunately, we’re all bleeding now.  We’re bleeding all over the place.  I watch the Great Unprecedented Moronic Narcissist spin through his tiny vocabulary Rolodex, and yes, I too am now bleeding out of my wherever.  This is the man that will take on our great wounded lion of the Left, and oh my kittens, the blood is about to fly. 

Yesterday, I heard Howard Dean reflect on the anger he felt about his loss twelve years ago in what he believed to be an unfair Democratic Primary process.  He wondered, in his fury, why he should continue to be a Democrat, after the way the party had treated him?  It was Al Gore who answered him.  It was my beloved Al Gore who said to him, “Because it’s not about you.  It’s about the country.”

Let that then be our battle cry.

*Not really but you know.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Could've sworn it was judgement day

Me: I need to schedule a repair for my washer under my service plan. It won't drain water or spin.
Rep: Have you turned off the breaker to reset the control panel?
Me: Reset the control panel? No...
Rep: I can't schedule service until you've tried resetting the control panel. You have to turn off the breaker for 30 seconds. Then call again after you've done that.
Me: You know my machine is from 1999, right?
Rep: (silence)
Me: There's no electronic control panel.
Rep: There's no display?
Me: No.
Rep: There's just knobs that you turn and stuff?
Me: Yup.
Rep: Okay, let me get someone out there....