Like the small and seemingly inconsequential weakness the rebels use in the first Star Wars film to take out the Death Star, I believe I have discovered a weakness in the American political system that could conceivably allow Donald Trump to become president.
It is, as we know, now entirely possible that Trump might get the GOP nomination. He is, after all, currently the front runner, and not just by a little bit, but by a lot. In polls, he's crushing his opponents. Barring some sort of massive stumble, and given the way things have been going for him, lots of what would be stumbles for other candidates have simply increased his appeal among Republicans, which makes me uncertain about what kind of stumble it could be, Trump's got it in the bag.
That's when things get really interesting. The conventional wisdom appears to be that America will simply laugh him off, that we're safe, that it could never happen. Okay, I sure hope not.
But this certainty just doesn't line up with what this country has become. I mean, you know, we're all into our political debates and everything, and we're all very passionate about our issues. Except that we're not. The big debates, all the animosity and hostility between liberals and conservatives, that's just a relatively small portion of the population. Most people don't give a shit. Most people don't understand that they're supposed to formulate political ideas, inform themselves, take governing the nation seriously. Most people don't vote.
In this sense, I have great respect for the conservative opposition. At least they get that democracy is something citizens have to do, that we have responsibilities as individuals for the well being of the nation. I totally disagree with their ideas, but I respect them as citizens. Trump aside, they know we have to argue about ideas and vote.
Most Americans aren't like that, though. Most Americans just stay out of it. Most Americans hate politics. But you know what most Americans love? They love celebrities. They love successful rich businessmen. They love tough guys who piss people off. And they would very likely love the chance to vote for Kim Kardashian, or Donald Trump, whatever, for president.
And that's the systemic weakness right now that might put Trump into the Oval Office. We might get people showing up to vote who never vote at all, people who watch a lot of reality television and read People Magazine, people who know nothing about the affairs of the nation, but who LOVE celebrities. I mean, it's probably more likely that they continue to sit on their couches watching TV on election day, but we just don't know that for sure.
My general analysis for the last decade or so is that the Republicans have gotten so crazy that there's just no way they can win a national election, but there is a slight chance that the American moron contingent shows up to vote with enough strength that it gives Trump the edge. I mean, the moron contingent neither knows nor cares that Trump, and the party who nominated him, have the ideological equivalent of rabies. We could all be in very big trouble.
Of course, an asteroid might hit the planet, or a satellite might fall on your head. I'm not going to lose sleep over this. Until I have to.
Monday, August 31, 2015
Like the small and seemingly inconsequential weakness the rebels use in the first Star Wars film to take out the Death Star, I believe I have discovered a weakness in the American political system that could conceivably allow Donald Trump to become president.
Posted by Ron at 6:41 PM
Sunday, August 30, 2015
From the Houston Chronicle:
Houston, San Antonio and Austin, you can rest easy. You can sit back down too Dallas.
Humble takes the cake for being one of the most dangerous cities in the country and the most dangerous in the state of Texas. This is according to Safewise, a web site that analyzes FBI crime statistics to determine the most dangerous cities in the country.
Humble? Humble?!? Well, at least it's not because of violent crime, but still, this disturbs me. It seems the old oil town hasn't managed to keep up with rapid population growth there for the last couple of decades or so. But who really knows what's going on?
Posted by Ron at 7:04 PM
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015
Thursday, August 27, 2015
From the New York Times:
A number of Democrats said in interviews that they were disturbed when Mrs. Clinton had joked that her Snapchat account messages “disappear all by themselves,” and had reacted peevishly to a reporter’s question about wiping her server. (“What, like with a cloth or something?” she had replied.)
“Instead of flippant and smart-aleck comments, it would just be better to come clean in a straightforward way,” said Pat Cotham, a Democratic national committeewoman and county commissioner from North Carolina. “People don’t expect you to be perfect, but they just want to know what the deal is.”
Look, I'm NOT happy about this being a problem for her. This is not Clinton bashing.
But, as I asserted weeks and weeks ago when the story first erupted, this is most definitely a problem for Hillary. I mean, if it was a problem for Bush, then it's a problem for Hillary, and nobody has yet explained to me why it's just fine for her to do it, but not him. I'm still waiting for an explanation on this, but nobody seems willing to give one.
Instead, all we've gotten from Hillary, her campaign, and her supporters is just a big brush off, you know, "this isn't an issue," etc. But the whole thing smells enough like a scandal, a real scandal, not crap like Benghazi, that brushing it off just looks bad, really bad. I mean, as the article observes, this is very likely the reason Biden is inches away from jumping into the race: the Democratic establishment wants an establishment candidate without the stench of scandal.
When you respond to questions about wiping your server with patronizing bullshit such as “What, like with a cloth or something?” you are INCREASING the stench, not decreasing it.
My original question back in March was about whether this thing is due to some sort of nefarious intent or just because of incompetence. I feel pretty safe now in saying that it's probably not something sinister. But that, and the way she has since handled the situation, is making the incompetence angle look better and better.
And that's bad for Hillary.
Posted by Ron at 6:38 PM
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
One of my former students appeals to the facebook hive mind:
I'm not much for politics. Although I do hold a liberal perspective on most matters, I do not consider myself a democrat. I believe that all politicians are just strung up; the face in front of the puppeteers that control them. But this Donald Trump ridiculousness.... How is it actually happening? Surely republicans are not this desperate? Why would you want this man to represent this country??My response:
Having studied both American politics and the mass media, I feel like I know exactly what's going on. In short, it's that the GOP is now the freaked out white people's party intersecting with celebrity worship and love for the tough guy. Trump embodies both. And that's why he's not simply the front runner, but also beating the crap out of every other candidate.'Nuff said.
He's got a shot, a real shot, at winning the nomination. I don't know whether that's good or bad for the country, though. I mean, he's awful, obviously, but I don't know what apolitical celebrity-worshiping Americans will do in the ballot booth. It's entirely feasible that he could become president.
Posted by Ron at 7:30 PM
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
David Duke, the anti-Semitic former Ku Klux Klan leader, praised Republican front-runner Donald Trump for his immigration policy proposals and said Trump is "the best of the lot."
After ranting about "Jewish supremacy" and Jewish domination of the media, Duke took time out of two of his radio programs last week to talk up Trump's candidacy as a "great thing," praising the Republican candidate's plan to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
I've enraged conservative friends in the past when I've asserted that, while by no means are all Republicans racist, it's pretty clear that all racists vote Republican. And this post may very well do it again.
Now, it's important to observe that the racial dynamic in this country is extraordinarily complicated. I mean, I think it's safe to say that racism, racist ideas, attitudes, and perceptions, are within ALL of us to varying degrees, whether you're white or not. Indeed, we know about black cops pulling over people for "driving while black." We know about little black girls in studies saying that pictures of white women are prettier than pictures of black women. We know, as a buddy of mine pointed out in a recent facebook discussion, that elected Democratic officials express their racism in terms of a sort of condescending attitude toward minorities and poverty, supporting social programs, but never doing anything about the social conditions guaranteeing that we need social programs. So we're all infected.
But I'm not talking about that kind of racism at the moment, the kind that's everywhere, but not so obvious. Instead, and pretty clearly, I think, but I just want to cover my ass here, I'm talking about the straight-up overt racists, a group including neo-Nazis as well as the "I like black people just fine, but..." crowd. And these people, when they vote, always vote Republican.
I've been coy about this in the past, you know, asking Republicans why that's the case. But screw being coy; I know why it's the case: of the two major parties, the Republicans, and only the Republicans, tell the overt racists what they want to hear. It's often coded, couched in terms like "welfare queens" or "voter fraud" or "illegal aliens," whatever, but it's always there, always telling the overt racists that their mainstream political home is in the GOP. Indeed, that's why the shambling, sleazy-sour mound of toupeed flesh known as Donald Trump is currently that party's front runner. His willingness to abandon the longstanding tradition of Republican coded racism has so excited the GOP's overt racist constituency that they're all flocking to him, and it's apparently enough to put him on top.
It is no coincidence at all that racist hate monger David Duke just told everybody who shares his views that Trump's their man. That's how internal Republican Party politics work. Trump just got a major endorsement from a not insignificant player in Republican politics.
Posted by Ron at 6:49 PM
Monday, August 24, 2015
More than a decade ago, Ben Bernanke famously argued that a ballooning U.S. trade deficit was the result, not of domestic factors, but of a “global saving glut”: a huge excess of savings over investment in China and other developing nations, driven in part by policy reactions to the Asian crisis of the 1990s, which was flowing to the United States in search of returns. He worried a bit about the fact that the inflow of capital was being channeled, not into business investment, but into housing; obviously he should have worried much more. (Some of us did.) But his suggestion that the U.S. housing boom was in part caused by weakness in foreign economies still looks valid.
Of course, the boom became a bubble, which inflicted immense damage when it burst. Furthermore, that wasn’t the end of the story. There was also a flood of capital from Germany and other northern European countries to Spain, Portugal, and Greece. This too turned out to be a bubble, and the bursting of that bubble in 2009-2010 precipitated the euro crisis.
If I could distill all the criticisms of capitalism about which I know into one single statement, it's this: investors put their money into stupid shit.
I mean, obviously, it's far more complicated than that, but as a rough description, it serves pretty well. From refusing to pay fair wages for fair work and pocketing the money instead, to getting caught up in psycho-bubble mania, to dumbass get-rich-quick schemes, to refusing to consider environmental impacts on the environment in which they do business, and on and on, capitalists, as a class of people, always have their eye on nothing but the big score, while seeing very little else.
This isn't always apparent, though. Usually we have enough capitalists making good decisions to sort of offset the bad decisions. After all, this is capitalism we're talking about, you know, competition; there are winners and losers. Ultimately, however, and invariably, the stupid decisions will come to outnumber the smarter decisions, and economic crisis must necessarily result. That's the history of capitalism in a nutshell, from its very beginnings during the first industrial revolution through today.
I mean, there's some "market discipline" for you. Eventually, always, the "discipline" becomes so severe that it brings down the entire shithouse. That is, there is no "market discipline." Just a bunch of greedy assholes swarming all over each other like snakes trying to get to the top of the pile, which then collapses on itself. Greed is NOT good. It infects and addles the brain.
It is clearly way past time for us all to stop believing the bullshit mythology capitalists have created to justify their wild and brain-damaged excesses, and move on to getting real about economics, establishing rules and regulations to protect us all from the self-destructive mania inherent in the capitalist class. Seriously. Civilization is at stake.
Posted by Ron at 7:23 PM
Sunday, August 23, 2015
An old friend of mine commented on one of my endless posts about policing on facebook, asserting that the best way to avoid being killed by cops is to be polite and cooperative. I hear this a lot in these discussions, so I thought it might be a good idea to post my response as a status update.
Here it is:
Of course, that's just good common sense. I also urge everybody to be as cooperative as possible when dealing with law enforcement.Excelsior!
But that's only part of the story. Humanity, in all of its weird individualized diversity, isn't always capable of behaving perfectly under such circumstances. Mental illness springs to mind immediately. But we've also got to consider intoxication and drugs--I mean, we should die because we're drunk and too slow to figure out that we need to keep our hands where they can see them? People are also, well, people: we get angry; we get irrational; we get tired and irritable; we get sad, and all these things affect our ability to be the perfect, compliant citizen when interacting with police.
Again, you're absolutely right about cooperating with the cops. But we have millions of people in this country, in millions of different states of being when it comes to consciousness and self-control. I just don't think we should be punished with death if we're mentally ill, drunk, or having a really bad day.
Posted by Ron at 7:08 PM
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Friday, August 21, 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
The Bolsheviks didn't like labor unions too much, either, at least not unions over which they didn't exercise absolute control. In this sense, Republicans are like both the Nazis and the Soviet Socialists.
And thank you facebook for sending me fabulous photo memes!
Posted by Ron at 3:45 PM
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Lying to themselves at you
IVF patients make less-attractive targets because we don’t challenge the expectation that women want to be mothers. Abortion, on the other hand, thwarts conservative ideals about a woman’s proper role as a wife and mother. This may be why, counterintuitively, I have greater freedom to decide what to do with an embryo in a petri dish than a pregnancy in my own body.
I've been pro-choice all my life. Seriously. From the moment when I was in elementary school back in the 70s that I first started to understand the issue, personal control over one's own body struck me as being both good common sense and just. But I've also always felt that the pro-life stated position that abortion is murder, while ultimately wrong and irrelevant, is a strong one. I mean, from their point of view, America is drowning in the blood of "dead babies." So okay, they're wrong, but I should respect their position.
That's pretty much collapsed for me in the last few years. I no longer respect the pro-life position. Indeed, I now have nothing but contempt for it because it's total bullshit. First was the realization that the rape and incest exception, which is a majority point of view among pro-lifers, means that most of these people are just fine with "killing" a "baby" if the sexual behavior of the pregnant woman meets their standards for sexual morality. That means they don't give a shit at all about "life." Instead, they're absolutely furious that women might be having sex of which they don't approve, and want to punish them for it. Control them, even.
So I just don't take pro-lifers seriously anymore, at least, not the rape and incest exception people, that is, most of them. They're not really concerned with what they say concerns them.
But really, even the no exception minority is contemptible, too, as observed by the linked Hullabaloo essay: the pro-life movement doesn't give two shits about embryos destroyed at fertility clinics, you know, "babies" being "killed." As a movement, they simply don't care, no rhetoric, no policy, no emphasis. Obviously, the reason why is that IVF clinic embryos aren't created by sinful women having sinful sex. Thus, from the perspective of the pro-life movement's true but unstated goals, which are to punish and control women, all these other "babies" are completely irrelevant. "Killing" them is just fine.
So there you have it. The pro-life movement is a total fraud, a complete sham. It seeks to manipulate and subvert natural human compassion for the defenseless in order to punish and control women. But there isn't really any compassion here. Lots and lots and lots of "babies" are "killed" all the time, but because those "babies" don't fit their agenda, out to the dumpster they go, to rot and smell inside their biohazard bags in the sun. That's the pro-life movement. They just don't care about the "life" they say they care about.
I mean you, the individual, might care. But not your movement, which has lied to you. All your movement cares about is keeping women under the boot. Whether you think so or not, your support for them is about nothing but oppressing women. You've been duped.
Posted by Ron at 7:40 PM
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Naomi Wolf posted on facebook a while back this link from last December, one which I also posted at the time, asking why the New York Times isn't keeping up the push to get these guys in court to answer for their crimes against humanity. But that's the thing. I'm assuming the Times isn't pushing this too hard because most Americans simply can't handle the fact that we were led by heinous criminals for eight years. I mean, that would interfere with the "greatest country in the world" narrative, the childish, narcissistic and wrong concept of "American exceptionalism."
That is, most Americans don't want justice done because they just can't accept that we, as a nation, would ever do anything unjust. Of course, that's total bullshit. American history, on many levels, is about Americans committing crimes against humanity. Over and over and over. Even now. Our collective hands are drenched with blood. And we're in total and absolute denial about it.
Posted by Ron at 6:10 PM
Monday, August 17, 2015
In light of the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, quite a few states launched their own investigations into whether the health care organization is honoring relevant laws. The Huffington Post reported Friday that the group passed its tests with flying colors: every state that investigated “found area Planned Parenthood affiliates to be in full compliance with state laws and regulations.”
A few observations.
1. This comes as no surprise to any and all intelligent Americans because these "sting" videos, created by a group of people with a long record of Nixonian dirty tricks, were obviously fake from the get-go.
2. Consequently, these have all been sham investigations, inspired by obvious bullshit, with the investigators very likely knowing before investigating anything at all that they would find nothing. That is, I'm betting that most, if not all, of these investigations are politically motivated, and therefore an abuse of official power.
I mean, maybe not the one in Massachusetts. That might just be stupid people. But the one right here in Harris County is CLEARLY politically motivated.
3. In addition to abusing governmental power, these investigations are wasting tax dollars for political axe-grinding. Do people still believe the Republican bullshit reputation as "good financial stewards"? If you do, you're an idiot. Really, the best way to lose your money is to give it to a Republican. He'll spend it on something stupid, and tell you it's good for you.
4. In spite of the fact that these investigations are now completely clearing Planned Parenthood of any and all wrongdoing, Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are moving to defund the non-profit organization, anyway. Because that's how they roll.
5. This is what twenty first century conservatives do: they lie, cheat, and steal, and believe they are totally justified doing so, especially if their victims aren't part of their tribe. Kind of like Scientology and "suppressive persons;" the gloves are off.
It's a crying shame, really. Conservatives used to be dignified and honorable, but thirty years of courting King Mob have brought them to a state of near total immorality. Because fuck you.
Posted by Ron at 6:41 PM
Sunday, August 16, 2015
You know that racist flag? The one that supposedly honors history but actually spreads a pernicious myth? And is useful only to venal right-wing politicians who wish to exploit hatred by calling it heritage? It’s past time to pull it down.
Oh, wait. You thought I was referring to the Confederate flag. Actually, I’m talking about the POW/MIA flag.
I told the story in the first chapter of my 2014 book The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan: how Richard Nixon invented the cult of the “POW/MIA” in order to justify the carnage in Vietnam in a way that rendered the United States as its sole victim.
This is a lot less, well, black and white than the Confederate flag issue. That is, regardless of the politics at play, I don't think I'm ready to call the POW/MIA movement a sham. Families really did have loved ones in prison camps; service personnel really were missing in action. It wasn't all politics.
But I'm certain that Nixon would definitely not have been above politicizing it for his own gain. That doesn't mean he did it, mind you, but it's well within the realm of possibility given how he operated--I mean, he actually interfered with LBJ's peace talks which were close to succeeding, telling the South Vietnamese they'd get a better deal with him in office, which extended the war by years, so politicizing POWs would be rather tame in comparison to what we already know he did.
But like I said, politicizing it doesn't delegitimize it. And now there's a massive controversy about the essay.
Posted by Ron at 6:34 PM
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Friday, August 14, 2015
Thursday, August 13, 2015
In four days US police killed as many people as Chinese police did in 2014, and more than five European countries’ police did in 2014. In the first 24 days of 2015, US police killed more people than England & Wales did in the last 24 years.
The worst part about this is how many of these victims were unarmed. As of June 1, 2015, 102 people killed by police were unarmed. We can add more to this number, including the killing of Zachary Hammond who was shot through a car window over a bag of marijuana.
As people start sharing news stories on facebook about unarmed whites being killed by police, I am reminded that our society has a both a racism problem and a policing problem, which overlap a great deal, leaving black bodies lying dead on streets and sidewalks from sea to shining sea, week after week. These are two distinct social problems working synergistically together to create an outcome worse than either problem alone. But we shouldn't focus solely on the overlap: there is still, by itself, a policing problem, which affects EVERYBODY.
It is impossible for me to walk away from reading this AlterNet essay without concluding that there is something fundamentally, philosophically flawed, at a very basic level, with how police in this country, all police, make decisions regarding the use deadly force. This has nothing to do with whether police are good or bad people, racist or not racist, dedicated to their jobs or not.
When we see similar police homicides like this across the nation, over and over, ultimately, one can no longer see this as being simply about individual police officers or departments. There must be something much deeper happening. Sadly, it is not obvious exactly what this is. But I refuse to accept that the only way we can have the policing we need is for it consistently and routinely to result in the death of citizens for "walking with a purpose" or waving a spoon or pill bottle around.
There are serious scholars studying police work. I'd bet real money that this is an issue they have been all over for some years now. Why aren't we seeing these ideas tried out in the real world? Why isn't this a massive political priority? Why do we continue to allow people to die simply because of flawed policing philosophy?
I'm angrily waiting for answers.
Posted by Ron at 6:19 PM
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
From the Economist:
This year marks the 50th anniversary of a bold and controversial attempt to explain what has gone wrong in America’s inner cities: Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”. Moynihan, then a bureaucrat in the Department of Labour, made two main points. First, he argued that the lingering effects of two centuries of slavery had undermined the black family—at the time, 25% of black babies were born to unmarried mothers (see chart 1). Second, he argued that family instability was at the root of many other problems, from crime to poverty.
Fifty years later, black America still fares badly on many of the predictors of success and signals of distress that concerned Moynihan. If it were a separate country, it would have a worse life expectancy than Mexico, a worse homicide rate than Ivory Coast and a higher proportion of its citizens behind bars than anywhere on earth (see interactive). This is despite the fact that, overall, America is home to the richest, most successful population of black African descent that the world has ever seen.
A buddy of mine posted the above linked article on my facebook page a few weeks back. Here's the comment I left:
Okay, read it, and it's quite a good article, pointing to multiple factors, all of them having, at least, an origin in racism, if not directly motivated by racism today.Excelsior!
I've long been skeptical about Moynihan's assertions linking slavery and black single parent families; I mean, why speculate about the unknowable when we have so much data indicating other causes right in front of our faces? And, as the article observes, white single parent families are now at the numbers alarming Moynihan about black families back in the 60s. Clearly, white single parent families do not exist because of slavery--other factors must necessarily be at work.
But yeah. Good take on the overall complexities and seemingly invisible forces shaping the racist social results we continue to see a decade and a half into the twenty first century. I was particularly impressed by the voucher programs getting people out of the ghettos and how their children fared a decade later. Not all of this, but certainly A LOT, is about the ghettos and poverty.
All Americans have a social responsibility to end this injustice.
Posted by Ron at 6:46 PM
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
From the Houston Chronicle:
The world's largest Baptist university has dropped a ban on "homosexual acts" in its sexual conduct policy.
After years of appeals from students, alumni and others, Baylor University revised its policy, dropping the ban on gay sex to "state more plainly the expectations of the university," a Baylor spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Click here for more.
Well done, Baylor!
Of course, this is just a little baby step forward, not a dramatic leap or anything, but we are, after all, talking about the most conservative large Protestant denomination in the country, one so conservative, in fact, that it took over a century for it to apologize for splitting off from other Baptists over its support for the institution of slavery. So doing away with the written ban on gay sex is, in context, a really big deal.
And you think this might be easy now that everybody who wants can get gay married? Think again. Baylor University will definitely face something of a shit storm within the Southern Baptist Convention for doing this. Teh gay is NOT something of which Southern Baptists approve. I mean, in the end, Baylor will get away with this because the university is an independent entity, but more than a few SB families will refuse to allow their children to go there, and more than a few fiery sermons will be preached about Satan taking over Waco. It might even be a topic of wild debate and condemnation when the Convention meets again next year. Baby step or not, this is an act of bravery.
I haven't called myself a Southern Baptist for over two decades. But in many ways, I still think of them as my people, and, I think, when you strip away the awful and extreme conservatism prevailing in that culture, they're good people. And this move proves it.
I'm proud of them today.
Posted by Ron at 5:24 PM
Monday, August 10, 2015
I've gotten a couple of reports from facebook friends that a lot of my usual conservative commenters have decided to stay away from my posts for a while because of the recent rhetorical intensity of my usual liberal commenters. This fits what I've seen: my liberal friends, in fact, have been pretty intense regarding Planned Parenthood, and my conservative friends, who commented on my first post or two on the topic, are no longer commenting.
The sense I get is that liberal anger about this is perceived as unreasonable. I mean, even while conservatives freak out and rip apart their shirts over "the selling of body parts" or whatever--that's a hypocrisy I'll set aside for now.
But yes, liberals are really angry about this, myself included.
The important point to consider here is that these now numerous attacks on Planned Parenthood are not business as usual. Sure, liberals are always kind of angry about conservatives' ongoing attempts to oppress women by extending the government into their bodies, but that's been going on for years. To some extent, we're used to it. Pissed off a bit, sure, but used to it.
This thing going on right now, however, opens up brand new fronts for outrageous conservative sleaze. For starters, the videos catalyzing this latest right-wing freakout are crude fakes, and this was demonstrated multiple times by multiple sources within twenty four hours of the first video's release. But it gets worse: the organization creating the videos comes from a crowd of Nixonian-thug dirty tricksters who have been doing the same thing, and continually getting caught doing it, for nearly a decade. So you'd have to be a complete moron to take those videos as anything other than hateful bullshit. Of course, being a complete moron has never stopped conservatives from trying to get what they want. So they took their bullshit and went full speed ahead freaking out.
And it is a BIZARRE freakout: the actual issue here is the usage of fetal tissue for medical research, a practice which has helped cure polio among other things, but conservatives act as though they don't understand medical research as a concept or as if they just don't give a shit, probably the latter. They go on whining and moaning about "selling body parts" or whatever, totally refusing to discuss what's happening honestly.
And a lot of people appear to be taking them seriously. Just because they're yelling really loudly. The whole thing adds up to what is essentially a political sucker punch, followed by a dogpile. It's vicious, callous, evil bullshit, and because the entire fake "controversy" isn't driven by much more than fantasy, over-the-top self-righteous posturing, and resentful spite, calm and careful consideration of the facts appears to be utterly useless. The right-wingers have set the controls for the heart of the sun, and are dragging America along with them on their path to self-destruction.
So yeah, I'm angry. I'm angry because these are extraordinarily underhanded tactics. I'm angry because my preferred means of communication on politics, rational discussion supported with facts, has been momentarily rendered ineffective. I'm angry because rational friends of mine don't seem to understand that the Planned Parenthood "controversy" isn't like other actual controversies. I'm angry that what appears to be a large percentage of the population can be taken by such sleazy con games. And, needless to say, I'm angry that my fellow Americans who describe themselves as conservative want to control women's bodies, and are willing to lie and cheat in order to accomplish that.
That is, my anger, the anger of all liberals about this, is entirely justified. You started it, conservatives. So f'ing deal with it.
Posted by Ron at 7:11 PM
Sunday, August 09, 2015
FBI arrests 3 for Jade Helm retaliation attack plan against U.S. military involving guns, explosives
From the Houston Chronicle:
While some Texans were planning to monitor American soldiers during Jade Helm exercises, three men in North Carolina were plotting to kill them.
The FBI used wire taps, visual surveillance and a secret informant to track the alleged terrorists as they stockpiled weapons and gathered components to make explosives.
According to court documents, apparent ringleader Walter Eugene Litteral owned 99 acres in South Carolina and "intended to booby-trap the camp and draw government forces into the camp and kill them."
Personally, I'm far more afraid of homegrown right-wing terrorists, because they're HERE already, than I am of radical jihadis or whatever they are. For that matter, I'm quite certain that right-wing terrorists want me dead at least as much as extremist Muslims do. They hate me because I'm a liberal. Bunch of evil dicks.
Posted by Ron at 11:20 PM
Saturday, August 08, 2015
Friday, August 07, 2015
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Posted this on facebook last night.
I just realized I've been unfriended by two people since I've started talking about Planned Parenthood. But you know, it seems to me that if you don't have much of a defense for your beliefs, if running away seems to be the only option, then you probably don't have much actual support for your beliefs. Just beliefs. And that very likely makes you wrong.'Nuff said.
People don't know things in their hearts. They know them in their minds.
This is how I argue, by the way. I insist on specificity. I insist on the use of facts to support views. I insist on informed opinion. Anything less than that isn't an argument, isn't a worthwhile discussion. It's just shooting the shit. That sort of thing bores me.
Posted by Ron at 6:06 PM
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
From the Houston Chronicle:
Anderson said the first step in the investigation process is to obtain the complete, unedited video. Although she said an investigation is "warranted at this time," she also said it is currently "premature" to say what crimes, if any, the branch has committed.
"We won't know until our investigation is complete," Anderson said. "So for that reason I will not speculate on which laws have been violated or any possible resulting sentences. Our investigation could reveal state as well as federal law violations, or no violations at all."
I pay taxes in Harris County, and, even though I know my tax dollars are often spent on things I revile, this really takes the cake.
Harris County DA Devon Anderson is a smart woman. Or, at least, I'm giving her intelligence the benefit of the doubt because, you know, she went to law school. This means that she knows damned good and well that Planned Parenthood isn't "selling baby parts" or whatever the hell these Nixonian-thug dirty tricksters are trying to get people to believe. So, then, why the hell is she doing this? Actually, that's pretty easy to figure out. Clearly, she's also smart enough to understand that there are a lot of confused and angry conservatives who vote in her jurisdiction, so she's throwing them a little red meat just to make sure she gets to keep her job.
That is, this "investigation" isn't much more than political pandering. And straight-up harassment. You know, a clear cut abuse of authority with which she will no doubt get away without any consequences at all. Personally, I'd rather my tax dollars go to something constructive. Like schools, or fixing streets. Or Planned Parenthood. But Republicans these days are all about wasting money on their fake outrages. My money.
Posted by Ron at 6:48 PM
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
A couple of questions for conservatives currently rending their garments and gnashing their teeth over the fake Planned Parenthood videos.
1. You all realize that we're talking about a non-profit organization, right? I'm very curious how you reconcile the fact that an organization forbidden by law to profit on, well, anything stands accused of profiting from "selling baby parts" or whatever. So am I to understand that there's an aspect of this scandal you all haven't yet gotten around to expressing, that Planned Parenthood is in gross violation of its non-profit status, or is it simply that none of you know what you're talking about?
Of course, I'm inclined to think the latter. But maybe you're all just biding your time on this. I don't know. But I'd love to hear your thoughts.
2. Why is Congress trying to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood? It makes no sense to me. I mean, if the "horrific crime" we're all talking about here, "selling baby parts," really is the issue, wouldn't it be a better idea to pass legislation illegalizing the use of fetal tissue for medical research? 'Cause, you know, Planned Parenthood could drop off the face of the planet, totally cease to exist, but that wouldn't stop the use of fetal tissue for medical research, which is perfectly legal. And absolutely necessary, too, but that's another discussion, I suppose.
At any rate, the only legislative action we've seen so far on this coming from the Republican dominated Congress is to do something that wouldn't really fix the "problem" everybody says they want to fix. Why is this?
More broadly, what's obviously going on here is that not only are we having to suffer the hysterical cultural consequences of these fake videos created by Nixonian-thug dirty tricksters, but we are also having to suffer through what appears to be a totally fake controversy. That is, conservatives don't really seem to be too terribly concerned with "selling baby parts" as much as they want to take down Planned Parenthood. For that matter, the "selling" is actually donating, with an overhead charge, but such distinctions never matter when conservatives think they might have yet another balls-to-the-walls right-wing freakout they can get going.
No, seriously. It's Benghazi! It's the IRS! Hell, it's Whitewater, too, and Jade Helm, and Birthers, and Communist Nazis ALL OVER AGAIN! I'm so sick of this stupid shit fucking up the country. You conservatives are NOT good Americans these days.
Posted by Ron at 4:54 PM
Monday, August 03, 2015
Yesterday's post, about the hatchet men who made that fake Planned Parenthood video, got mostly support on facebook, but I also got a little push-back, too. This was expected from conservatives. But I didn't expect it from any liberals. And, to be fair, the negative liberal reaction I got was less about the substance of my post and more about how I just summarily dismissed conservative rhetoric on this as inconsequential bullshit.
Still though. It's disturbing to me that smart liberals can buy into such "controversy" as being legitimate. Here's a comment exchange from that thread:
Jim I'm not referring to Breitbart at any point here. I'm referring to your argument with Rachael.Excelsior!
I am of the opinion that she had a valid point when she called your initial argument weak. As I mentioned above, I have not even really seen these videos because I don't give them the time of day. I am quite smart enough to ignore assholes crying "wolf," and was discussing something entirely different if you read what I said.
In fact, I think you are doing an excellent job of making my point for me by attacking me rather than responding reasonably to my criticism. Same thing you did with Rachael, which was why I critiqued your argument in the first place.
My critique had nothing whatsoever to do with the videos. My critique was of your failure to avoid ad hominem tactics in dealing with Rachael (and now me). You should know better than this, Ron.
I have the utmost respect for you and am simply saying you seem to have let the emotion get further into this discussion than it historically would. Your page has typically been one of reasoned discussion rather than passionate outcry, so I was a bit surprised at your angry rather than reasoned response to Rachael.
Ronald Jim, you seem to be under the impression that I made an argument about whether these Nixonian dirty tricksters have some sort of point. I never made such an argument at all. I don't need to do so. The video was almost immediately debunked, as these things always are.
The point I'm making is that giving this shit any credence at all is downright stupid. All it does is feed the false controversy. I will not play this sick and twisted game.
Yes, I am angry about this. But you, and this Rachel person, want me to take what has been clearly demonstrated to be total bullshit seriously. I don't know why you think anybody at all should do that. I don't know why you're doing that, for that matter.
Jim, this kind of thing, savage, brutal dirty tricks, aimed at creating false controversy, while ruining organizations and careers, IS NOT POLITICAL DEBATE. It's hatchet work, plain and simple. And until you regard it as such, you, too, have been duped by it.
Ronald Again, Jim, I cannot under emphasize how this, these video "stings," are not political debate. This is not a debate. It has never been a debate, nor is it intended to be debate.
Instead, it is designed to do the opposite of debate. It's all about confusing people. About fucking up individuals who do nothing but good work. About duping the nation. You think the whole Benghazi thing was bad? You think the fake IRS scandal was bad? Birthers? What about Vince Foster's "suicide" or Whitewater?
This is far, far, far worse. I will not dignify it with "debate." Debate assumes a few things about where people are coming from with what they say, and honesty of opinion is among those things. But continually throwing demonstrably fake videos out there as "evidence" for a "debate" is a travesty.
And you've been fooled into buying it all. Not that you believe the videos, but that you are interested in having honest discussion about them.
There can be no honest discussion about them because they are nothing but dishonest from the get-go. The ONLY discussion that can be had is what to do about such sabotage of the American marketplace of ideas. That's it.
Ronald Also, Jim, if you're having difficulty accepting what I'm saying, try reading this Salon essay that gives a nice rundown on how this fabulous "debate" you think should be happening is actually functioning in the real non-facebook world. It isn't pretty. And it's not even a debate.
Posted by Ron at 6:06 PM
Sunday, August 02, 2015
From Democracy Now:
AMY GOODMAN: So these tapes, Sharona Coutts, David Daleiden is an associate of the discredited right-wing activist James O’Keefe, who targeted ACORN and was famously arrested for trying to wiretap Senator Mary Landrieu’s office when she was senator at the time, the senator from Louisiana. And this is from, I think, The Hill: "James O’Keefe was sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service [and a] $1,500 fine after he pleaded guilty ... to misdemeanor charges stemming from his involvement in [the break-in of Landrieu’s office. In January, O’Keefe and three others were arrested by federal authorities at Landrieu’s office on allegations of phone-tampering." Can you talk about these links? Is it guilt by association?
Click here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.
You know, political opposition is just fine. I may disagree, but we're Americans: we're going to work this out in the marketplace of ideas, and then at the ballot box. That's cool. That's who we are; we're Americans. But this flap with Planned Parenthood is something else, entirely.
The people who shot this doctored video, "The Center for Medical Progress," are Breitbart operatives, the same outfit who gave us the despicable James O'Keefe, whose faked "sting" videos took down ACORN with the outlandish suggestion that they were arranging a mortgage for a pimp and his prostitutes, whose faked "sting" videos resulted in the unjust firing of Shirley Sherrod from the USDA, and whose further attempts to put together fake "sting" videos trying to somehow "incriminate" Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu resulted in his imprisonment for trespassing. The bottom line here is that ANYTHING this crowd offers as a video "sting" is ALL LIES. That's what these people are. Liars. Scum.
I'm surprised, astonished, and shocked that anybody at all continues to take this shit seriously. I mean, even conservatives--in spite of the fact that conservatives believe a lot of things that simply aren't true, it seems to me that when something is so OBVIOUSLY FALSE, that they would condemn it. But no. We now have voices in Congress calling for the yanking of federal support for Planned Parenthood.
All this leaves me with the distinctly bad taste in my mouth of the sense that conservatives just want what they want, and they don't care if they have to lie and destroy people's lives and careers to get it.
Is that what you are, conservatives? Right and wrong don't matter; truth doesn't matter. All that matters is that you get what you want, regardless of the cost, in money, dignity, or morality. This is just some bad, bad, bad shit. You right-wingers need to denounce it IMMEDIATELY. Or you are immoral people.
Posted by Ron at 4:42 PM
Saturday, August 01, 2015
Over in the land of facebook, that is. Here are a couple of standout selections for you here in the land of blogging.
Posted by Ron at 7:10 PM