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March 16, 2017

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Another appropriate Mencken quote:

"We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Hey, Mission Accomplished!

Doubtful that The white supremacist brown shirts will allow another election, much less for president.
Here's how the Bannon Leninist's execute head fakes.
https://medium.com/@jakefuentes/the-immigration-ban-is-a-headfake-and-were-falling-for-it-b8910e78f0c5#.vd5acdjhc

To tribalists, truth is whatever helps the home team. It could be utter nonsense, but they'll faithfully tell the pollsters it's true. Are they as stupid as they seem? Maybe, but the larger truth here is that people don't care one way or the other. Some blowhard comes on TV and blames everything on minorities. Hallelujah! Finally, someone telling it like it is! Of course, it doesn't have to be literally true. That's not the point. The point is that President Man-Child is on their side.

On the left, Bernie or Busters double down on their conspiracy theory that the DNC fixed the nomination battle in favor of Hillary Clinton. Does it matter that there's not even a hint of illegal behavior? Hardly. It's true because left-wingers are nearly as childlike in their standards of evidence as right-wingers. Just make us feel good! Also, there's no difference between a quasi-fascist and lifelong progressive. So there!

This is the season living dangerously in America. We'll gladly trash functional government, erode the standards and norms of democracy, and even vote against our real-world interests if we get the chance to pin the blame for our national bad mood on people we don't like. It's like a TV show where the cynicism is so global that it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that everyone and everything sucks (see: House of Cards). This is the cynicism of people who think CSI Miami is a documentary.

Democracy is failing because we no longer have the necessary buffers in place that protect us from our own daft certitudes and unmoored passions. Donald Trump, probably the greatest pathological liar in American political history, thrives in this toxic atmosphere. I want to wake up my fellow citizens but they're enjoying the show too much to care. Burn, baby, burn.

Why Trump's budget plan will make America great again (excerpt):

"Labor Department: There will be no LABOR in the future. Labor is what women do, I think. All fetuses will burst out of wombs brandishing an Uzi on each arm. (Also, we will cut the funding to the people who would have explained that this is not how birth or labor works.)"

http://news360.com/article/394691456

The trump budget is the moral(?) confirmation of the BULLY that trump is. More military equipment for increased aggressiveness, less foreign aid to deal with health issues and schooling abroad so that terrorists don't exploit the uneducated, and less funding for environmental and energy research to mitigate global warming.

This is the posture of a standoffish, uncooperative, arrogant and mean-spirited bully-brat who has surrounded himself with a cast of like-minded, testosterone-addled, confrontational sycophants and toadies who compete to see who can out-misbehave the other in their indifference to morality, common decency, and respectful conduct.

But they only reflect the intolerable deplorables that goose-step in lemming-like devotion to their "heroes" willful ignorance and mendacity.

As an addition to the above comment, possibly a good chunk of the larger world may have to help the Democrats with their opprobrium. This may be the only way to get it through the thick heads of trump and his storm troopers that they are grossly deviant from civilized norms.

RC: "After all, dozens of Republican governors and legislatures refused to set up state ACA exchanges or expand Medicaid..."

This may be true, as phrased. However, if you look at Medicaid expansion alone, for example, you find more support from Republican governors and/or legislatures. Here's a state by state overview:

https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/resources/primers/medicaidmap

Thirty-one states expanded Medicaid. Some, like Arizona, had both a Republican governor and legislature. Others, like Alabama, passed a veto-proof expansion bill over the opposition of then Republican governor Bobby Jindal (who was subsequently replaced by a Democrat). In still others, like Ohio, a Republican governor was able to expand Medicaid without the approval of the state legislature. Only 17 states rejected Medicaid expansion outright. All of this complicates the Republican healthcare bill.

Bobby Jindal was governor of Louisiana.

Another indication that the Ryan healthcare bill may be in trouble: Trump is distancing himself from it:

Trump Freely Admits His Biggest Supporters Will Be Hurt Most By Healthcare Plan

http://news360.com/article/394700669

Yes, quite so, soleri. Substitute Louisiana for Alabama and the text holds true, however.

Alabama has been sitting on the fence:

"Alabama: Gov. Robert Bentley (R) in November 2015 said his administration is "looking at" expansion but has not yet "made a final decision" on whether to expand Medicaid or "exactly how that would work." Bentley said he is interested in expansion because he is "concerned about the plight of the working poor," but noted that state funding for expansion could be a hurdle. The state has yet to move forward on expansion."

What interests me is the dichotomy between the populist sentiments among Republican voters (hence the Alabama governor's waffling) and the opposing Republican opposition to social services expansion. Many Republican states have seen minimum wage increases via ballot initiatives, despite lack of legislative support. Arizona's just rose a whopping $1.95 per hour to $10.

All of this suggests an opening for Democrats, but they are too busy trying to make sure that the 0.00001 percent of the male population that wants to be able to use the women's bathroom, are free to do so.

.00001 per cent? So what difference could it possibly make in any conservative's life? Really, who cares?

Republicans are now our bathroom police?
Are they the guy in the next urinal stall peeping over the divider?

Or is it some kind of Jesus thing that the rest of us simply don't understand?

And why does the cornerstone American idea of "equality for everyone" make them so very, very angry?

Because they don't get to pick and choose who has what rights?

Inquiring minds want to know.

"The right is also happy for the Democrats to sabotage themselves by increasing internal purity wars."

True. Of course, the Republican/conservative movement has its own version of this; the Tea Party and it's Republican primary challenges of (so-called or actual) RINOs, being one instance.

I heard far more grousing from conservatives *about Republicans* during grassroots fundraising efforts, than I did about Democrats. (Disclosure: I'm not a Republican but I play one on the telephone.)

Time after time, I was told that they would gladly give to Mr. Trump, but not one dime to the Republican National Committee, or the Senate Republicans, for example. Many others were willing to give to individual Republicans but not to a party organization that might give funds to John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell.

I would patiently explain how a Trump administration would shrivel up and die without a Republican Senate majority to approve his legislation (fat chance!) and Supreme Court nominees. Sometimes they held their nose and bit the bullet. A surprisingly large number of times, they remained adamant that they would rather see Democrats take over the Senate than to see those no-good RINOs remain in charge.

Even long-time ultraconservatives like Ted Cruz were getting hammered because they refused to support Trump after he became the party's nominee. No matter that Cruz's criticism came in the form of a subtle and ambiguous urging to "vote your conscience".

Possibly these are indicators of political extremism:

(1) You spend more time criticizing your own party than you do the opposing party.

(2) You are willing to shoot yourself in the foot rather than compromise on issues of political purity.

(3) The circle of true-blue candidates you are willing to support shrinks, as your criteria for genuineness become more narrow.

(4) Intra-party criticism of those you favor is viewed as treason to the party/movement.

All four at once are probably a pretty good indication of political extremism.

B.Franklin,

I would bet that there is a larger number of heterosexual men (though still perverts) who want to spend time in the ladies' room (with or without their cellphones, and masterbating in a stall), than there are transsexuals, though no doubt both groups are extremely small.

I don't think the offensiveness of men dressing as women and sharing a bathroom with them is exclusive to religious or secular concerns. If the idea doesn't punch you in the gut, chances are you won't get it no matter what the argument.

1) I am not a Republican but say I am a Republican when I fund raise for them.
2)I am not a white supremacist but say I am a white supremacist when I fund raise for them.
3)I am not a pro-lifer but I say I am a pro-lifer when I fund raise for their organization.
4) I claim I am not a Republican when I blog on Rogue Columnist but I am actually the latest version of the Republican troll to invade the website.

Incidentally, a significant minority (though a vocal and active minority) of self-descibed conservatives I spoke with, had already gotten to the point where they had changed from Republican to independent, or planned to.

Quite a few have no apparent understanding of or tolerance for factionalism in politics, and refused outright to support the Republican Party financially until they silenced or ejected from the party those they view as disloyal. Thus, the presence of RINOs (actual or so-called) spreads to general culpability among the party and its leadership, for failing to silence dissent.

Then, there are the Trumpites. They share these characteristics (the chief offense for them being, however, criticism of Trump), including failure to support such things as his comments on Muslims. Many insist that Trump is not a Republican and that he won without the support of the Republican Party. (Ironically, both claims are essentially correct.). They view Trump as sui generis and as the fulfillment of their political dreams. They tend to highly overrate the power of the Executive Branch in the American political system, and tend to favor concentration of power in that branch (but only with Trump in the White House).

Fundraising is a sales job. When talking to Trump supporters I support Trump. When talking to Republicans who regard Trump as an embarrassment and a disaster for the party, I trash Trump and support "real conservatives". When talking to Tea Party types I savage the Establishment. When talking to Establishment types I savage irresponsible extremists. When talking to pro-choice Republicans, I am pro-choice. When talking to anti-abortion Republicans, I am anti-abortion.

I don't fundraise for any White supremacists. All of the groups are tied into the Republican Party.

And no, I am not a Republican. This blog doesn't pay my wages, so I don't have to leave my political views at the door.

This pretty much describes it, except that the circle runs a narrower gamut, considering the clientele:

https://goo.gl/images/5qwQmq

My apologies for the off-topic comment, but I thought that this was quite interesting:

German Coal Mine to Be Reborn as Giant Pumped Hydropower Battery

http://news360.com/article/394724486

The idea seems to be this:

"The state of North-Rhine Westphalia is set to turn its Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine into a 200 megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric reservoir, which acts like a battery and will have enough capacity to power more than 400,000 homes, said state governor Hannelore Kraft."

"When needed to compensate intermittent wind and solar power, as much as 1 million cubic meters of water could be allowed to plunge as deep as 1,200 meters, turning turbines at the foot of the colliery’s mine shafts. The mining complex comprises 26 kilometers (16 miles) of horizontal shafts."

Gravity plus water plus hydroelectric turbines equals electricity.

Again my apologies, but quite interesting:

"The clandestine graves being unearthed in Mexico’s Veracruz state are of such an industrial scale that backhoes or bulldozers were likely used in creating them and contain so many bodies that officials aren’t digging in some places because they don’t have space for the remains, a prosecutor said Thursday."

http://news360.com/article/394706168

Never mind the Mexicans: what about the fecking Irish?!

The NYT on immigration ironies and forgotten history:

We let these people into our country, and what did we get but an epidemic of cholera and criminals. They filled the jails and mental hospitals, the orphanages and poor houses. More than half of those arrested in New York City, just before the Civil War, were Irish.

“Scratch a convict or a pauper, and the chances are you tickle the skin of an Irish Catholic,” The Chicago Post wrote in the 1850s. The Irish gangs of New York — the Forty Thieves, the Roach Guards, the Plug Uglies — terrorized a big part of the city.

. . . The Mexicans and refugees from Muslim countries targeted by Trump commit fewer crimes than Americans born here, and certainly fewer as a percentage than the immigrant Irish did. Imagine what Sean Hannity would say if Mexicans burned down much of New York City, as the Irish did in 1863, in what may have been the bloodiest riot in American history.

Those four days of carnage, spurred in part by the disproportionate number of Irish drafted to fight in the Civil War, was a spasm of racial hatred and mob violence at its worse. Blacks were hanged. Pro-Union Irish who tried to stop the rioters were pummeled. The New York Times used a Gatling gun to defend its headquarters.

When the Irish Invaded Canada

https://nytimes.com/2017/03/17/opinion/when-the-irish-invaded-canada.html

I don't know. What would Sean HANNITY have said?

I don't think the offensiveness of men dressing as women and sharing a bathroom with them is exclusive to religious or secular concerns. If the idea doesn't punch you in the gut, chances are you won't get it no matter what the argument.

Emil/Ken's obsession with the sexual identity of the transgendered may well be a punch in the gut. I suspect, however, this issue is merely a sideshow in the phantasmagoria of the American psyche. Obama and Loretta Lynch promulgated new rules in schools to protect a beleaguered minority with a high suicide rate. There was no evidence presented that "perverts" would somehow exploit this rule for their own nefarious ends. As with most other wedge issues, this generates a lot of heavy breathing among "Christians" who worry here about Jesus and the act of urination. The party of hate, fear, Donald Trump, Neo-Nazis (see: Simon Gorka), white supremacists, and cruelty for its own sake saw a political opening and ran with it.

Was there really that much of a problem here in the first place? No. Most teachers and school administrators were already sensitive about this matter. Yes, Republicans do well by making people afraid of other people. No, they don't do it from any sense of morality or decency.

Most people who vote Republican have enough hate in their hearts that you don't to add anything fresh and spicy to it. There are over a billion Muslims in the world, fer crissakes. Despising black people has been the linchpin of Republican messaging for over 40 years. This issue will not really sway anyone except those poor creatures who obsess about their own sexuality and project that fear outward.

Someday, we will look back on all of this and laugh..... I doubt it.

"The Democrats are in an impossible situation."

The only reason the situation is impossible is because the Democrats have no leadership. The GOP is doing everything wrong and, as expected, Pelosi & Co is just going to gripe and say, "I told you so. So vote for us next time." The next two elections are their opportunity to say -- and show -- that they are the party of balanced budgets and debt reduction. Maybe Ken can elaborate, as he surely talks to a greater variety of Republican voters than me, but I believe that these voters both know that the growing national debt is not good, yet, without it having real consequences to them, they ignore it. Like a lump on their chest, yeah it may be something serious but it doesn't bother me so I'm going to deal with it right now. The Democrats would be wise to borrow the budget scare tactic message from the GOP.

The budget conversation should be, first and foremost, about balance and the nation's long term viability. But it's not and do you hear Chuck Schumer announce that cutting Meals on Wheels doesn't balance the budget? No - Chuck Schumer could give two turds about MoW. Chuck Schumer cares about Lockheed and Citi and Goldman Sachs. And it's pretty hard to balance the budget when both parties will protect the biggest threats to a balanced budget.

But, like I said, DNC leadership could ruin a wet dream.

I have no faith that the DNC will respond appropriately to Trump. But I think it's too forgiving to say that Perez is inheriting factors that cannot be defeated when, in actuality, he's simply inheriting factors that cannot be defeated using DNC status quo approaches. These "leaders" are simply not up to the task but will never admit it and never step aside.

One other point:

"...Trumpism represents their quiet convictions, the ones they dare not speak for being shouted down by a social-media lynch mob."

We're well-beyond the point of social media lynch mobs that go after people who support Trump making fun of the disabled or speaking of sexual assault. The response of anyone who doesn't fit the mold ("purity tests" seems to be the best term) makes them a target of internet activists. This is just my own personal experience but, last fall, I bought an ownership stake in my work. Within a month I closed my facebook account. There's no way I'm interested in, "blaxabbath posted that he agrees with Trump cutting Amtrack subsidies*! Well here is the name of his company! Let's boycott it and tell all his customers that you're boycotting them for supporting him too!"

The real-world persecutions of the alt-right (as a white male, of course), I can avoid. But the social media progressive police, they can pop up at any turn and they are relentless. Granted, they accomplish very few tangible results but their ability to silence dissent is something that Trump would surely offer a tiny-hands applause.


*Just an example. I don't really care much about Amtrack subsidies either way.

Lost in all of these arguments about what is "within" America is the "good and hard" way America will "get it" from those waiting to exploit our abandoning our "presence" in the rest of the world.

This also has a common thread with the "white majoritarianism" when it becomes American "exceptionalism" arrogantly expanded to "superiority" and "triumphalism" in our assessment of the rest of the world. This arrogance underestimates our economic competitors and adversaries.

China already is the leader in renewable technologies like solar and wind. The Chinese have a 5,000 year history, so they have "all the time in the world" to wait for us to falter. In the future energy economy, they are preparing and becoming poised to be dominant at America's expense.

That is but one arena where the Chinese are intending to make the 21st century theirs.

As a postscript regarding America's current situation(I hope I'm not being being predictive), you all might want to look up the 1979 song, "Catch Me, I'm Falling," by The Kinks.

The issue worldwide that the trump supporters don't seem to care about--or even engender to want to understand--is that America is fast becoming the "bad guy" to many around the globe.

China is going to exploit this sentiment and WILL put it up America's heinie "good and hard." The Chinese are NOT a sentimental people--and they are much more economically ruthless than we ever were, or could be. This will be America's future if we don't engage the world much more cooperatively than trump is signaling.

Blaxssabbath, Donald J Trump thanks you for your purity trolling. Keep it up! Eventually, Democrats will realize we can only win if we listen to gadflies with no political experience or acumen. Once we let you clean house, everything will change! Damn complexity, full speed ahead!

We can debate the small stuff within our borders, but China is "the BIG picture" because China sees and focuses on it.

That "big picture" will be our reality now or later.

An ounce of prevention is worth....

You shouldn't worry about the deficit.

The deficit is only an issue when a Democrat is in the White House.

When a Republican (or whatever Trump truly is) is in the White House, with a Republican controlled Congress, deficits, in the immortal words of The Dark Lord Cheney, "don't matter."

No, what matters is dismantling as much progress as they possibly can.

Giving the rich even more, taking as much as they can from the poor, and ignoring what is left of the middle class while patting those "real Americans" on their heads.

So, into the grinder all you uppity women, gays, brown and black skin people, secularists, humanists, environmentalists, and anyone else with a progressive thought in their head. You know who you are, you "takers".

Defense contractors, oil companies, and private prison magnates, on the other hand, step up to the trough. It's feeding time!

And China keeps waiting for the opportunity to pounce....

soleri wrote: "This issue will not really sway anyone except those poor creatures who obsess about their own sexuality and project that fear outward."

Guess you missed what RC wrote:

"The Democrats are in an impossible situation. They embrace such enthusiasms as transgender rights..that are guaranteed to inflame the above (dare I say it?) silent majority. This may be a moral stance but it won't win elections."

Responding to the blog content with a single sentence isn't obsessive. (Anything I subsequently wrote was in direct response to BFranklin's request for amplification.)

And if it's an election loser for *Democrats* it must a turn-off for a broader section of the electorate than a few neurotics or religious fanatics. (Note also that the scope of "transgender rights" is scarcely limited to confused schoolchildren.)

Incidentally, I've asked you nicely once before not to drag me into your "Emil/Ken" fantasies. Thank you.

soleri wrote: "Despising black people has been the linchpin of Republican messaging for over 40 years."

Is this a realistic assessment? I doubt Michael Steele would agree.

But in any case, the blog writer said nothing about despising Blacks. He said that promoting the Black Lives Matters movement is not an election winner for Democrats. He himself has expressed reservations about the group's response to the Ferguson incident. That cannot be construed as racism.

Many others (myself included) find their tactics grating and arrogant and suspect a political agenda that goes well beyond police reform and civil rights. Poor, gentle Bernie Sanders. When they got up on stage, shouting him down and grabbing microphones, knowing that he could scarcely afford to deal firmly with the disruption, it kind of alienated me right then and there.

So, I guess black Americans should just continue to wait for something resembling justice with their mouths shut, huh?

Because that's worked so well in the past...

I'd recommend a close viewing of the excellent documentary "I am not your Negro", for anyone whose mind isn't already closed on that issue.

If people want to be bigoted and exclude and ostracize anyone who doesn't fit their limited idea of what a "real American" looks like, they already have one political party that's more than happy to cater to any and all of their prejudices.

Why give them two?

Frank, I missed the documentary but read the new book. As I have read Go tell it on a Mountain and the Fire Next time.

An approach for identifying the human source of a text by leveraging the significance of synonyms in language is presented. While others have attempted to identify authors in the past, they have focused on purely statistical approaches such as word length distribution, number of distinct words, and language models. We claim that an author's choice of synonyms is idiosyncratic and can be used in determining the identity of an author, which we demonstrate via our algorithm for recognizing authors. This algorithm uses synonym sets from the WordNet lexical database to give more weight to words that have many common synonyms. The results of this method applied to the task of identifying the authors of classic literature show that there is a correlation between an author's synonym choice and the author's identity. With this new author recognition technology, we may now explore new avenues of intelligent and meaningful interaction with users.
and
The algorithms provided in SQL Server Data Mining are the most popular, well-researched methods of deriving patterns from data. To take one example, K-means clustering is one of the oldest clustering algorithms and is available widely in many different tools and with many different implementations and options. However, the particular implementation of K-means clustering used in SQL Server Data Mining was developed by Microsoft Research and then optimized for performance with Analysis Services. All of the Microsoft data mining algorithms can be extensively customized and are fully programmable, using the provided APIs. You can also automate the creation, training, and retraining of models by using the data mining components in Integration Services.
You can also use third-party algorithms that comply with the OLE DB for Data Mining specification, or develop custom algorithms that can be registered as services and then used within the SQL Server Data Mining framework.

Here's the unedited video of the Black Lives Matter interruption of a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle before one of the most politically progressive audiences in one of the most politically progressive cities in the nation:

https://youtu.be/oV-ZSP0zAuI

It's 26 minutes. Some of my favorite parts:

BLM:If you do not listen to her your event will be shut down right now!"

Sanders representative (offering microphone time after Sanders speaks): "Okay, we're trying to be reasonable here..."

BLM: (screaming) "WE'RE NOT REASONABLE!!!"

BLM: "We are going to have a moment of silence for Mike Brown...A four-and-a-half minute moment of silence...It will start when everyone is silent!"

BLM: "I have to get up here in front of a bunch of screaming White racists!!"

Giggle.


B.Franklin wrote: "So, I guess black Americans should just continue to wait for something resembling justice with their mouths shut, huh?"

Or maybe you're just offering a false dichotomy: either Blacks should suffer in silence OR everyone should accept Black Lives Matter as the legitimate, representative voice of Black America.

I didn't like Louis Farrakhan either. So sue me.

B.Franklin wrote: "I'd recommend a close viewing of the excellent documentary "I am not your Negro", for anyone whose mind isn't already closed on that issue."

Here's the online description:

"In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, "Remember This House." The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished."

Sounds like a winner to me. I'll be glad to check it out.

I can recommend a memoir by Gordon Parks called A Choice of Weapons. ("I chose a camera as a weapon against all the things I dislike about America -- poverty, racism, discrimination.")

The book covers Parks' life from 1928 to 1944 including time in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Great Depression, which he began homeless in the heart of White America. His photography won him a fellowship which he spent in the Farm Security Administration.


Cal Lash,

(1) You've identified a model for author identification: but whereas you offer an assertion by the creators of that model claiming that they believe their algorithm works, you offer no independent statistical analysis showing the frequency of accuracy and error by that model, much less the sample size and methodology of such an analysis.

(2) You also do not specify the parameters (e.g. quantity of text, number of comparison samples needed) to satisfy an algorithmic conclusion of identity.

(3) You have not indicated that the model has actually been applied to this case, much less in a fashion that satisfies the expected model parameters.

(4) The multiple universe theory advocated by Stephen Hawking and other scientists fundamentally undermines the probability theory on which your model relies. If an unlimited number of variants exists, then similarity is assured rather than highly improbable. Since the mode of interaction between such universes is undetermined, the presence of similarity is not evidence of identity.

(5) Yo mamma.

Thanks Son.

Democrats should not pre-emptively give up.Come on. Just because we are meeting opposition? What else is new? Courage!

Amy Goodman os here.

How fortunate we are to have soleri here to point out when any of us start getting too big for our britches. After all, who needs a forum to discuss ideas and different points of view when, as soleri points out, we have the ivory tower of the DNC to handle the thinkin' for us? And he has a point -- how much easier for us could the status quo have made it?! We do the voting, they do the governing!

It's funny that we assume the far left/right are the individuals who most insist on political purity tests when, around here at least, it's ol' status quo centrist soleri who will dismiss the ideas of anyone who doesn't share the corporatist views of the DNC leadership.

Here's a thought, soleri. Since your concern seems to be about winning elections more than actual policy, maybe you'd feel more comfortable at a local GOP meeting? Then you all could sit around and celebrate how all the idiots finally saw things your way and voted for Candidate X. Personally, I think it'd be good for you.

blaxabbath, on the subject of being too big for one's britches...I'm using the radical Islamists to make a larger point about China.

“Human kindness is not based on the interest of parties; we look at people with one [set] of eyes, equally.” (Gen H.R. McMaster). trump, in his supreme arrogance (which is a form of stupidity because you dismiss those you scorn), will NEVER view the ISIS and Al-Qaeda fighters as equal to him. This arrogant and ignorant posture actually makes trump the lesser person in that self-induced stupidity. Until such time as we in the US actually view these radicals as equal to us, we will NEVER have ANY chance of defeating them. Vietnam, both Iraq wars, and Afghanistan have taught Americans NOTHING because we still have that same "head up our own butts" superiority opinion of ourselves--and the radicals will keep rubbing our oblivious faces in our own excrement. Get used to eating your own doo-doo, American "triumphalist" jingoistic and fist-shaking "flag wavers: UNTIL you drop this bad charade of your arrogance, the US will continue to waste our national treasure and human life on a "stalemate."

This same maxim is appropriate when viewing our rivals worldwide, China being chief among them. We as a country need to become more humble and cooperative--and less bullying and belligerent.

Blaxsabbath, I wish the moral superiority of your tribe didn't also incur collateral damage among those too weak to defend themselves. You won't pay much if any price for your overweening vanity. Neither will Susan Sarandon, Cornel West, or Jill Stein. When women have their reproductive rights curtailed, when immigrants have their families turn apart, when the working poor lose their health care (and possibly their lives), and when climate change kicks into high gear because denialists are in charge of the government, you will start yapping about "corporatists" because that's what purity ragers do.

There is only one sane political party, which you disdain because it's not hip enough for you. Your tribe then decides to vote for gadfly candidates (or write in Bernie), or don't vote at all. This helps Republicans win, who then stack the Supreme Court with reactionaries who midwife bills like Citizens United. The GOP scurries about further wrecking the government, from workplace rules to Meals on Wheels, which means that Democrats will have to start from scratch reconstructing the safety net.

Democrats are the only reason we have a semi-functional social democracy now, and it will be life-support by the end of the Trump presidency. So, please, don't expect me to validate your nihilism. You're entitled to your opinion, of course. I'm not saying you should not share your "insights" with others. Just remember whose side you're on. Hint: it's not the people whose lives will be hurt by Republicans. You don't care about them. You only care about being right. The sanctimonious left is very good about splitting the progressive coalition but completely inadequate when it comes to winning elections on its own. Congratulations, I guess.

Of interest...

http://www.azfamily.com/story/34942898/billboard-depicting-trump-with-mushroom-clouds-and-swastika-like-dollar-signs-pops-up-in-phoenix

Remember a while back I suggested you be patient and let Trump self destruct?

He's doing a fine job of just that. Let congress, the bureaucrats and the rest of the world finish the job.

There is a glitch in the plan.

You "other party" folks are using up all the oxygen in the room with your hissy fits. Instead of letting the semi-intelligent Trump supporters see that their emperor is naked, you have them focusing on your 24 hour tantrums. You are distracting them from focusing on Trump's failings and lies that he told them.

Personally, I don't think you and your side of the media have the self control to pull this off, but hey, I tried.

Ruben, I will agree with you on one thing: It may take a chunk of the rest of the world to help the US, not only by casting its opprobrium on trump's policies, but also to right our ship of state regarding our now-skewed definitions of tolerance, acceptance, and acceptable discourse. I see this assistance in the vein of an immigration of opinions and actions designed to help America become exceptional once again--as the immigration of people made us exceptional once before.

That being said, we as a country are NOT presently exceptional. We are merely ordinary, by being in thrall to our basest and pettiest fears, desires, and insecurities. And were getting more ignoble by the day.

forget about Political parties and negotiation.
Steve Bannon calls for Trump to be US president for life.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/crimea-putin-aksyonov_us_58cd93cce4b0ec9d29dc8638?gf5r17lm3ukwyu8fr&

Fuher !!

Somewhere in this house on wheels I know I have the movie REDS and this is a good time to upload it onto my monitor.

I think Steve Bannon played Owen Davion in Mission Impossible III. Well I'm done for the night as the DVD MACHINE hums Along on the film "Ask The Dust" based on John Fante novel.
Hasta luego.

I found an article that appears to directly address the main issue raised in RC's blog.

A little skepticism is warranted. Though just published, the article relies heavily on exit polls from the presidential election. Those can be inaccurate and even conflicting.

The article also talks about a demographic "trajectory" for Democrats; but this is based on a very short time frame, fails to explain the cause, and (IMO) underrates the probability of a Democratic comeback by failing to explain Obama's victories as the result of a broad demographic coalition. Still worth reading.

Some excerpts:

Despite these trends, many popular narratives about the 2016 election seem to reinforce the concept of an emerging Democratic majority.

For instance, there is a common misconception that Trump was ushered into power by old, white, economically disenfranchised men.

However, according to the exit polls, Trump actually did worse than Romney among whites and seniors, but outperformed him among blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and young people.

While the Democrats lost a lot of support among low-income Americans, I think it would be a mistake to interpret these as Trump’s base. He won a plurality of every income bracket above $50,000 as well. He also won more non-Christian and nonreligious voters than any Republican since the 2000 election.

However the biggest surprise of 2016 probably relates to gender. The first major party female candidate for president, running against a notorious misogynist, captured the Democrats’ lowest share of female voters since 2004. And although Trump also got a lower share of female voters than his last three Republican predecessors, he nonetheless won over a majority of white women.

. . .

The Democrats’ current coalition presents a very narrow path to victory. Minority groups like LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, Asian, black or Hispanic Americans each comprise just a small slice of the electorate. Meanwhile, whites amount to no less than 70 percent. This means Democrats can get 100 percent of the votes from all other groups combined, and still not be anywhere near a majority unless they get at least a third of the remaining white vote.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.rawstory.com/2017/02/the-democratic-party-is-facing-a-demographic-crisis/amp/

I suspect that swing-state Democrats voting for Trump had a much larger effect on Electoral College totals than a handful of write-in candidate ballots:

"Trump’s appeal to white non-college-educated Democrats and independents is clear with even a cursory glance at the election map. Take closely balanced Michigan, which Trump leads as of this writing by 12,000 votes. He carried the state by winning all but eight counties, including historically Democratic places such as Saginaw, Bay, and Gogebic counties. A Republican has not carried the first two since Ronald Reagan in 1984. Gogebic, a 92 percent white county on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, hasn’t voted for the GOP since 1972.

"The pattern is identical in other midwestern states that Trump won narrowly. He carried Wisconsin largely because he won ten white, historically Democratic counties in the southwestern part of the state that even Gore and Kerry won in their races against George W. Bush. Most of these counties had not been carried by the GOP nominee since George H. W. Bush in 1988 or Reagan in 1984; Republicans had not won Pepin and Kenosha since 1972.

"Trump swept Iowa by winning virtually every eastern county, places that had voted Democratic in every election since 1988. Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County last went Republican in 1988, while Ohio’s Trumbull County had been Democratic since 1972."

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.nationalreview.com/article/442347/donald-trump-election-win-white-democratic-voters-republican-party

Unlike the National Review writer, I do think that Trump's economic populism, however disingenuous, played a large role in these states.

Note how far back the last time those counties voted Republican. The demographics of those counties didn't suddenly change since 2012.

Incidentally, I think Obama's share of the White vote during his first term election shows that being non-White and a Democrat (arguably a liberal Democrat) isn't electoral poison with White voters:

TOP DEMOCRATIC WHITE-VOTE GETTERS IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

1. Carter (1976) - 48%
2. Clinton (1996) - 44
3. Obama (2008) - 43
4. Gore - 42
5. Kerry - 41
6. Dukakis - 40
7. Clinton(1992) – 39
7. Obama (2012) – 39
9. Carter (1980) – 36
10. Mondale – 34

SOURCE: Exit polls/Roper Center, University of Connecticut

http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/19/15282553-obama-performance-with-white-voters-on-par-with-other-democrats

Nor do I think Obama's poor showing among Whites in 2012 demonstrated a growth in racial animosity towards a Black president by Whites. Carter took an even worse nosedive in his second term among Whites. Bill Clinton's second term drop is comparable with Obama's.


Anecdotal evidence can be countered by opposing anecdotes, but I found this interesting:

"Trump’s economic message, which included a promise to kill free trade agreements that are unpopular among many working-class voters in industrial areas, also succeeded in Macomb County, Michigan, a predominantly white area north of Detroit. The number of voters casting ballots in the county jumped by more than 14,000 over 2012, and Trump captured 53 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 42 percent.

"Four years ago, Obama won the county with just under 52 percent of the vote.

“You’ve got a lot of blue collar workers here (and) ... a lot of union guys, and they went Republican,” says David Phair, 59, a construction worker and Trump voter who didn’t cast a ballot in 2012. “They’re tired of politicians.”

https://www.google.com/amp/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN1352MO

You keep beating that establishment drum, soleri, and I'm sure their decades of incompetence will soon become as palatable to your audience as it has to you. You praise the DNC as the "one sane political party". I think that's a little generous considering the DNC's share of elected seats, nationwide, has underperformed to the point that they'd be a fringe party if not for the two-party system.

Yet you find it easier to point the blame at the millions of Americans who won't accept the DNC leadership as an adequate option to carry the progressive mantle than to look at the small group of elitists who continue to (1) lose elections, and (2) move further to the right. But I guess it IS easier to attack those who aren't safely tucked away in their ivory tower.

You attack me because I "only care about being right." Do you realize how absurd that is? This is point that the DNC has reached where their loyalists -- wearing the same blinders as the Trumpists (except with #grabthispussy stickers over the #maga logo) -- have boiled their argument down to, "It's not about being right or wrong, it's about winning!". Because, if history has taught us anything, it's that Pelosi and the status quo follow through on their promises when they get power (you know, except all those times when they don't).

Clinton/Bush/Obama all incarcerated black men at levels that are, objectively, "wrong". Trump will do it too.

Obama deported a record number of immigrants and now Trump will too.

Obama inherited a war and grew its scope. Trump will too.

The Democrats rammed through Obamacare and, in doing so, killed the hope for a single payer system.

So many wrongs but, in your world, it's a crime to be right. But you'll attack GOP voters as the ones who disregard academics. Because your reality is the one true reality.

Frankly, soleri, you can stop wasting your time "correcting" me. I'm perfectly capable of analyzing my own beliefs and positions and that includes considering the opinion of the "it would all be different if they'd have just voted for the candidate we assigned them!" crowd who perpetually hovers over my shoulder with, "Oh you can't do that! That won't go over well with the lobbyists from Lockheed and Citigroup!"

Blaxsabbath, your purity trolling helps Republicans. Full stop. Otherwise, I would care one whit about your semi-informed opinions. When lefties decided to sit out this last election, they helped elect the most spectacularly unqualified and pathological personality to ever helm a major democracy. Your tribe did this because it is fundamentally anti-political. That is, it uses politics not a real-world effort to achieve tangible ends but to parade its own virtues and sensibilities.

Real people will suffer because of your tribe's narcissism. Just keep telling yourself how awful the Democrats are. Your alliance with Republicans will show you awful in technicolor, surround sound, and 3-D.

Cal, the film Ask The Dust is not good despite excellent production values and fidelity to its great source, the novel by John Fante. It's really a shame because the screenwriter/director is Robert Towne who is co-responsible for the best movie ever about LA, Chinatown. I was in LA a couple of months ago both marveling and recoiling at this ruined paradise. There are some really good things going on here, from much-better mass transit to a spectacular downtown boom. But the underlying problem won't go away. It's a city defined by its addiction to cars. For all its haphazard beauty and Mediterranean sensuality, the city is choking to death on its fun-in-the-sun rejection of strong urban principles. Who wouldn't want to live here and drive a convertible beneath swaying palms? Sadly, anyone trying to do it with 4 million other ardent seekers of The Good Life, American-Style. Phoenix learned all the wrong lessons from its big sister to the west, unfortunately. The good news is that Phoenix is not nearly as hellish traffic-wise. The bad news is that it's not nearly as good as LA in its climate, location, and artifacts.

Soleri, With all due respect I like Fante and I like the Film. Maybe it's not up to "Academy" standards but I will watch it more than once, thank you. I am about to watch the old film Pablo Neruda, since I recently watched the new film Neruda. Any comment on my "communist" viewing?

Soleri, do they serve alcohol at Powells?

Like Steve Bannon this old Republican (cal) has an interest in commies.
Recently for two bucks I picked up a copy of Jean-Paul Sarte, Essays.

"Blaxsabbath, your purity trolling helps Republicans. Full stop."

Except that it's not, soleri. The failings of the DNC leadership helps the Republicans. What helps the Republicans is that the only opposition to the GOP political machine is inept elitists who can't juggle dual loyalties to progressive voters and corporatist donors. What helps Republicans is the DNC anointing an unpopular status quo candidate at a time of widespread anti-establishment sentiment. Blaming progressives for the DNC's incompetence is like blaming Meals on Wheels for the budget deficit.

Still, I find it interesting that you always say "purity trolling" helps the Republicans but, all the internal struggles that the GOP went through (including during the primaries this year where CNN was more than happy to report, "There may not even BE a GOP in 2020?") hasn't helped the Democrats. It's almost as if internal fighting to keep a broken platform is more damaging to the party than internal fighting over creating a new popular platform. Perhaps if the DNC stayed dedicated to some progressive mainstays -- peace, single-payer healthcare, corporate tax reform -- as the GOP has to the concerns of their base (security/military, tax cuts, "less government") they might actually get some progressive votes.

The Democrats have been getting their asses handed to them for decades by framing themselves as "Republican Light". The exception was Obama who was the outsider, the progressive, the man of hope and change. But the DNC abandoned Obama for their more center-right platform and, not surprisingly, they went right back to getting their asses kicked. Hmmmm, I believe is was Einstein who said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Frankly, soleri, I agree with Albert -- your insistence that progressives, who have been marginalized by the DNC, are to blame for the party's failures is completely insane.

Cal, they don't serve alcohol at Powell's although seemingly every other business in this city does. There are laudromats here that serve liquor!

You're free to have a different opinion than me about a movie! Here's a link to Rotten Tomatoes with pertinent reviews:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ask_the_dust

For the record, Einstein never said that about insanity. It most likely comes from a Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet.

Which is apropos because some of us are going to need massive amounts of narcotics to get through the next few years.

I recall the argument on the left against voting for Al Gore was that there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between him and Bush. So some people happily voted for Ralph Nader. To make a point.

How'd that work out again?

The same sort of thinking seems to apply to the "progressives" who just couldn't lower themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton. And so they voted for Jill Stein, or wrote in Noam Chomsky, or simply sat this one out, because honestly who wants to be tainted by supporting a "corporate whore"?

They just knew that Clinton would do all of the awful things...that Trump in fact has done. And he's just getting started.

16 years separate the elections, but voters for Nader or Stein, or progressives who wouldn't sully themselves with a "compromised" vote, do share one thing:

What's that quote again? The one about doing the same thing and expecting different results?

B. Franklin-

You make an excellent point re: Gore/Hillary. On the flip side to this coin, however, I'd point out that the party did very little to galvanize the progressives and the moderates this year. You could say progressives made the mistake of not voting for Hillary. And the DNC made the mistake of anointing an unpopular candidate with no appeal to the right who also dismissed the left -- oh, and ignoring Michigan during the general to throw events in Phoenix. The math, as it were, played out accordingly.

Additionally, the black vote that only seems to turnout for Obama -- not in any other elections than '08 & '12 -- looks to be a long-term problem for the DNC that I think they are far from solving.

Simply put, I think there is plenty of blame to go around. Frankly, I don't think the progressives are asking for too much from the DNC though. Where the DNC goes moving forward -- in terms of bringing progressives back to the party as well as the inconsistent black voters -- we shall see. But, if it's more of the same next cycle (which I expect), I think we'll continue this cycle of losing/finger pointing indefinitely.

In the meantime, let's be clear about one thing: there are two political parties with any chance to govern: a) the sane one, or b) a proto-fascist white identity movement.

Power doesn't respect your ability to mesmerize yourself with jargon and overintellectualized political theory. You either win or you lose. Sadly, more people would rather lose self-righteously than advance their own interests modestly. They get caught up in the idea that we could simply upend all the difficult roadblocks to social democracy if we behaved like ideologically uniform left-wingers. This is the unicorn theory of Bernie and millions of other purists who think anything less than their idea of revolution is a sell-out. These people are aided by Republicans and Russians who try to get the zealots riled up with "fake news":http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-fake-news-russia_us_58c34d97e4b0ed71826cdb36

The politics of purity is like a drug that completely misleads its adherents. On the right, tens of millions are convinced to vote against their own real-world interests in favor of a cultural backlash that will only worsen their situations. On the left, politics is another form of self-expression in which believers get to preen their moral superiority. On the right, politics is veering toward authoritarian and anti-democratic dysfunction. On the left, politics is rejected outright in favor of sabotaging of its own political coalition. Together, these movement represent the gravest threat to democracy we've seen since the Civil War.

Purity - ha! No one's asking for reform to a Scandinavian-style government. Don't be in expensive military quagmires around the globe with no exit strategy, sir. Don't bleed the middle class dry for a few more dollars on the bonus checks of your corporate lobbyists, please. Might we trouble you, Uncle Sam, for the opportunity to know if our food is manufactured with Genetically Modified Ingredients? Perhaps we could have a President who didn't just take hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking to Goldman-Sachs about how the borrowers were at fault for the financial crisis?

No. With each post soleri gerrymanders the map of reality to tell a tale where the DNC is responsible for successes and the democratic voter is at fault for any shortcomings.

"Let us make one thing clear. We are the epitome of political sanity! It's all fascists to our right, unicorns to our left."

"And ONLY we can defeat the GOP. Only we have the tools and the people to succeed in defeating Paul Ryan!"

"We, the DNC, did not lose! It was the unfaithful whose lack of dedication and obedience negated our hundreds of millions of dollars in donations and superior platform! We must put these Judai on trial!"

You dismiss anyone who doesn't believe in your values of "feeling superior yet always coming up short", ignore the elephant in the room of why you lost, and then tell me that I'm the one whose only concerned with being right. If that's purity, I'm a hog in the mud.

Blaxsabbath, we lost because of people like you. That is, people who should know better but are so inebriated by self-righteousness that they would vote against the sane candidate in order to punish her and her voters for ideological impurities.

I am not an ideologue. I'm a pragmatist. So was FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ, Clinton, and Obama. They advocated for the middle class, a strong safety net, civil rights, environmental sanity, human rights, and simple decency. People who don't read history or understand how politics works can always imagine a better world. What they can't do is demonstrate how to perfect this flawed nation with blind zealotry and pious certitude. Democrats get things done. People like you throw brickbats at them and claim to have a better way. And as a last resort, you'll throw elections to sociopaths like Donald Trump in order to demonstrate your contempt for your fellow progressives.

How many more election do plan to sabotage on behalf of your own narcissism? Real-world progressives need to know. You claim to be on the side of ordinary Americans against "corporatists" and then stab us in the back with your delusional interpretations of political possibility. Politics is not about being better than other people. It's about being responsive to the real needs of people and to the continuity of democratic institutions that make it all possible. If we burn it all down, there won't be anything we can do for anyone. That's your aim. You think like Steve Bannon in that way. You really don't care who you screw over, how many lives are devastated by a hard-right judicial decisions, or by a loss of health care, or by the toxic xenophobia unleashed by the berserk right. You've already conflated the most decent political actors in America with know-nothings and fascists.

It may be that political parties are moribund institutions. If so, democracy is dying. There's no other way to keep the process working without good faith, tolerance, and compromise, or as you would put it, "selling out". Your tribe's fairy tale posits a good vs evil duality that bears no workable relation to reality itself. This Manichaean ideology has so inflamed the right that it no longer makes any effort at compromise, even among themselves. This is what you and your fellow zealots on the left do as well. God help this country if a majority of citizens now think like you do. If so, this nation is finished.

Re: Soleri/Blax/et al.

This is not the first time we've heard a lot of establishment complaints about outside influences "costing" them an election. It happened in 1992; it happened in 2000; it happened in 2016; I see no reason to believe it won't happen again.

I think in a bipartite, closely-contested system, outside influences have an outsized influence on a government perpetually wobbling on a fulcrum between its two sanctioned sides of the teeter-totter. This is the power of third-party votes and why I don't personally think they're ever irrelevant or "wasted" since they seem to keep tipping the balance.

Currently in America, a free citizen can vote for whomever they want, including Bozo the Clown or some other guy with cartoon hair.

And every vote matters. Votes "thrown away" have shaped the course of most of the last three decades! Perot, Nader, Stein as actual third parties; one can also consider outsider movements/candidates like the Tea Party and Trump as having many third-party characteristics as well. And indeed, I think the GOP's integration/co-opting of the Tea Party was a fairly successful example of the incorporation of a rogue element into an establishment.

One may choose to state repeatedly that those who cast their votes for third-party candidates are pusillanimous worms, but given they keep deciding elections, it might not be the worst idea in the world to try to understand "why?" and how to "fix" them. Because, interestingly enough, they keep "throwing" elections no matter how much the establishment parties complain about it.

Internecine squabbling about who's allowed to carry the banner of truth and righteousness may be self-gratifying, but it doesn't win many converts or cultivate new voters.

Additionally, on a different topic, I just wanted to say that Jon in the original post and Ruben's post on March 18th are speaking a lot of truth to power, so my thanks to them for their opinions.

LoL, How about another thesis?

America is closing off and going to do the belly button inspection for a couple of decades.

Which, given our proclivity to drop bombs on the rest of the world, would be a good idea.

Now, here is the most interesting thesis of politics- Trump as Hindenburg.

Everyone seems to think Trump is the apotheosis of how bad it will be, but he is just the beginning. Our feckless rich fool class thinks they pubic can easily be bought and sold, and individually that is true. But the masses will not be denied what they want now, and what they want is their country back the way they remember it used to be.

And the does not mean what everyone seems to think- a few tinkering changes by the dems and it will all be a eurosocialist state.

Ahem, in Europe, the left is even getting the idea that the society is ultimately the controlling feature of a nation. And unrestricted immigration brings too much conflict to the society as factions bring competing and conflicting norms into a society.

This conflict will get worse as the societies begin to force integration or expulsion.

What comes next will be interesting- we will slide further down the slope to national socialism- and the libertarians creed will face near extinction for their foolish belief that a man or woman is an island.

soleri-

Take it as a fact, I will "throw" every election where the DNC runs a "centrist" status quo candidate who is more interested in compromising with the establishment right than progressives. For a point of reference, Hillary Clinton is the epitome of such a candidate.

So, with this factoid in hand, how many elections is the DNC willing to throw in order to teach me that the DNC's appointed candidate is my only viable option (That I "must be brought to heel", one might say)?

See where this is going?

It's not a matter of refusing to compromise; it's a matter of fair compromise. When Wall Street gets the handouts and the middle class gets screwed, that isn't fair. When Democrats spent all their political capital to pass a health care bill penned by lobbyists that was doomed to fail without a single-payer option and all freedoms allotted to red state governors -- all while the economy flailed -- that wasn't the decision of "progressives". You argue that "not-GOP" is the same as "progressive". I disagree.

It's ancient history now but I recall House and Senate gun control sit-ins. It was quite the event to see so many leaders preventing business from being done in the waning hours before an election recess. But, better late than never, these progressives insisted that no business would occur on the chamber floors until gun control was addressed (or they were forcibly removed). Of course, we see now that this was all just grandstanding. Other than sitting in a vacant House, they did nothing about gun control in 2016. The did nothing about it in 2011. They did nothing about it in 2009. But you'll have me believe, on the topic of gun control, that the DNC and the GOP are any different? Elections have consequences -- unless you're a special interest with both sides in your pocket.

Continue to be as stubborn as any GOP hardliner. Dismiss the positions of others and justify it by labeling them "zealots" or "a tribe" or "ideologues". It's the first rule of war: dehumanize your enemy. And the status quo DNC is at war with anyone not like them, projecting their own stubbornness onto others. Yes, it's the people mobilizing to the streets and attending town halls who won't compromise. It's the people who are watching things slip away -- their civil rights, their earning power, their wages -- who won't compromise. Not the DNC in their ivory tower making decisions behind closed doors. Not the folks who maintain a system of super delegates to make sure unacceptable candidates don't slip to the top of the ticket by having too much progressive support. Not the individuals who, short of a global financial meltdown and a charismatic outsider, would be 0-for-2000's in winning elections. They are the ones who understand compromise, governance, and the progressive message.

God help this country if a majority of citizens now think like I do. That would mean that the DNC's agenda of "pay attention to what I say, not what I do" is failing. Of course, losing elections with a plurality is effectively the same as getting crushed by 20 pts so, to the casual observer, the DNC really can't do any worse at the polls -- but they sure as hell are keeping progressives from doing any better.

Mark, elections have consequences, one of which might end up ending democracy in America as we know it. The subtext of your comment is that it's perfectly fine to do this because it's up to the parties to make persuasive arguments in order to "win more convert or cultivate new voters."

No, no, no, no, no.

Without a baseline position in reality, voters can do a lot of damage. This is happening in America today. There's a commander-in-chief so incompetent and detached from reality that he almost seems like a mafia thug with dementia issues. Why did he win? Because the Republican Party has cynically decided to wage war against the culture of its own country for two generations now. There is no way, sadly, to litigate culture. It is what it is. But it makes for a great scapegoat and encouraged low-information citizens to vote for an utterly unqualified con artist when economic conditions tweaked their racial anxiety.

By the same token, citizens like Blaxsabbath insist the sane party must reflect their ideological purity, and if not, suffer the consequences of their fury. This has resulted twice in the Republican Party winning close elections with disastrous results. Politics is not and can never be a vehicle for purity. Religious cults fulfill that function.

We can end this experiment in self-government anytime we choose. My own gut tells me we've crossed a Rubicon and there is no return journey to sobriety and sanity. My feeble voice only intends to suggest voters are responsible in the largest sense of the word. Attention must be paid. When citizens vote for a nebulous sense of cultural identity rather than a coherent set of policies, they're behaving as if they have no idea just how fragile this edifice really is. This is true both on the left and right. We not only don't listen to one another, our ability to process reality is impaired by our refusal to respect complexity itself. It's how an e-mail server (!) became the major issue in last fall's campaign. Professional propagandists have our number. We'll fall for anything no matter how inconsequential if it somehow sounds right.

The reason I post comments in this blog is because it straddles the line between aspiration and harsh reality. I can be shrill and impatient. I imagine most readers would prefer the decaf version of me if there was one. The irony is that it makes no difference since the few of us gathered here will not have any impact on the ultimate outcome. But in our own ways, we are channeling history and its harsh verdicts. We might as well think and live as if it really matters.

Bernie may not be hard but he is good and popular.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-bernie-is-the-most-popular-politician-in-america_us_58cef917e4b07112b6472f0e?sd5ietg2psiy1wz5mi&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Cal, I invite you to consider this post by Kevin Drum. Look carefully at the chart that tells us who Americans would not vote for: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/socialism-rise

I have fairly unmixed feelings about Bernie. I think he's at least half the reason Trump is president today. By recklessly impugning Clinton's integrity during the primary, he caused significant damage to her candidacy, particularly among low-information Millenials (see: Blaxsabbath). His half-hearted endorsement of her was, at best, a wash.

Even worse is his unhelpful notion that the political process is hopelessly broken and the only way to fix it is with the unicorn of revolution. This has bewitched millions of people into thinking it's all so simple! Just vote for this guy!. The problem, however, is that you would need to significantly raise taxes to achieve that revolution. That means, the middle class would have to consent, and I simply don't see that happening.

His stand on single-payer health care is instructive here. He ignores the very steep climb it took just to get the Republican plan (aka, Obamacare) passed and blithely suggests single payer could have passed if only Democrats were willing to go there. The problem is that most people are not, in their heart of hearts, philanthropists. They look to see what's in it for them first. Again, the middle class would have faced higher taxes to pay for the transition to single payer and Republicans would have had a very easy time demonizing that exercise.

I know this is not the best forum to throw cold water on quasi-religious phenomena like Bernie-mania. I don't mean to quash your enthusiasm for him, but politics is incremental, not revolutionary. It's not romantic, it's not sanctifying, and it won't get you to heaven. But it's the best hope we have to get to actual social democracy. After Trump, we're going to need more adults, not fewer, working toward that end. That will entail compromise, tolerance, and a willingness to settle for the good in lieu of the perfect.

Soleri I posted this ONLY to obtain responses. Thanks good response.
PS, I think Bernie and Jimmy Carter would have been fun guys to have had coffee with you and I and the rest of the Urban Bean folks back in the day.
Keep Scribbling.

Reminder, I come here because I enjoy the blog. I am not an intellectual but I do learn chit here and new big words. When I post its generally just a brief comment or a news item from a far and sometimes I become a Chingadero. Just for fun of course.

I dont know if you noticed but Bill Bryson has been publishing up a storm as of late and even getting movies made. I tried reading him again but I just not able to get enthusiast.

No Sympathy for the Hillbilly - Frank Rich - New York Magazine

"Democrats need to stop trying to feel everyone’s pain, and hold on to their own anger.

"it’s one thing for the Democratic Party to drain its own swamp of special interests and another for it to waste time and energy chasing unreachable voters in the base of Trump’s electorate.

"While you can’t blame our new president for loving “the poorly educated” who gave him that blank check, the rest of us are entitled to abstain. If we are free to loathe Trump, we are free to loathe his most loyal voters, who have put the rest of us at risk. ...

"There’s no way liberals can counter these voters’ blind faith in a huckster who’s sold them this snake oil. The notion that they can be won over by some sort of new New Deal is wishful thinking. ...

"Besides, if National Review says that their towns deserve to die, who are Democrats to stand in the way of Trump voters who used their ballots to commit assisted suicide? ...

"But if his administration crashes into an iceberg, leaving his base trapped in America’s steerage with no lifeboats, those who survive may at last be ready to burst out of their own bubble and listen to an alternative. Or not: Maybe ... they’ll keep voting against their own interests until the industrial poisons left unregulated by their favored politicians finish them off altogether."


Betting on self-destruction is as good a strategy now as any. One thing though. As our host keeps saying, Kookistan has a tendency to double down on itself. So calamity may not portend a halfway return to sanity. Maybe just enough to tip some important scales. In the meantime, I think Garrison Keillor was right to say "Take a holiday. Sniff the roses."

Folks,
Our host is in the hospital with a crappy case of pneumonia. I'll keep track of him.

Here's wishing a speedy recovery to Rogue. We may have to fend for ourselves in the meantime.

AWinter, thanks for the Frank Rich link. It's provocative and beautifully written.

I tend to interpret the paradox of people voting against their own self-interest as a form of self-defense against complexity. Republicans specialize in ultra-cheap explanations that are usually incoherent and wrong but can fit easily on a bumper sticker or bright red trucker's hat. The core emotional message inside the explanations involves seething rage directed at "others". This is the juju Republicans have long leveraged to get the white working class on their side. Donald Trump didn't invent this strategy. He merely removed the veneer of respectability - and deniability - from it.

There's nothing liberals can do short of deploying their own manipulative messaging. I'd rather not go there. Only one party is sane and decent. It maintains faith in institutions and government itself, which is essential if we're going to survive as a democracy. As for helping the white working class, the sane party will fight to maintain their Medicaid and Obamacare along with job-training programs, food security, and education funding. It's unlikely to change their minds, however. Maybe the white working class can seize the day by going Galt in places like Quartzite and Lake Havasu City. I wish them luck in their own lives along with an eventual end to their self-created pain and anger.

Life would be so much easier if everyone just listened to you and did what you told them to do, eh? :-)

I really do hope you find a cause or plan to get yourself galvanized and cheered up again, you've been so somber lately. I disagree with you on most things, but I'd hate to see you throw in the towel on America just yet.

I believe pessimism may be the antidote necessary for sometime to attack the inhumane virus that has taken hold of the legislative process with the the assistance of an albino zombie army.

I hope you recover quickly and fully, Jon!

White cowards
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/voucher-segregation-donald-trump-betsy-devos_us_58cada8be4b0be71dcf2a883?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

If we're going to take a practical line to politics, we should consider the practical alternatives.

It was perfectly feasible to get Bernie Sanders as the nominee of the Democratic Party, had the leadership of the DNC not spent their political capital and energy to prevent this.

Since it's impossible to determine whether a Sanders ticket would have helped Democratic downballot races, I'll assume that, whether Clinton or Sanders was the nominee, Republicans would still control Congress. (That is, "all else being equal".)

Since neither Clinton nor Sanders would be able to advance their agenda without legislative support, the details of their agendas (except insofar as they are capable of unilateral execution through Executive action) are irrelevant as to their realism or attainability through practical politics.

There remain two questions:

(1) Which nominee would, if elected, have proven more staunch and consistent in opposition to Republican goals, by means of the veto pen and in tough negotiations relying on the veto pen?

(2) Which nominee would have had the best chance in a general election against Trump?

The answer to (1) is, self-evidently (to me), Bernie Sanders. Clinton was already closer to the Republicans in terms of foreign policy and trade.

The answer to (2) depends on several factors:

(a) Which candidate excited the Democratic Party base more? I would argue Sanders, because of his positions. (The practicality of which, we now see, were always irrelevant to a strictly obstructionist presidential role). Perhaps he could have done more in a leave-em-wanting-more second term with a Democratic Congress. Perhaps not. The point remains the same: more Democrats turning out to vote for the party's nominee, especially with Trump the only alternative in a general election.

(b) Which candidate had greater cross-over populist appeal, to entice non-Democrats? Well, many of Sanders's positions, from foreign policy restraint to economic protectionism, to infrastructure spending, were imitated successfully by another cross-over populist candidate, Donald Trump, during his candidacy.

It's true that Sanders had less appeal to minority factions than Obama; but as it turned out, so did Clinton.

(c) Which candidate had less political baggage?

While it's true that some of Sanders's past positions or actions could have been used against him, it's also true that he had no negatives from recent scandals (real or contrived) regarding email servers, lying to Congress under oath, Benghazi, Clinton Foundation corruption, and a host of other issues going back to Bill Clinton's days as president and governor.

So perhaps practicality and idealism coincide in this instance.


"Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout."

~Irish proverb


I once ordered some books from Powell's, many years ago. Looking over my library it is difficult to say exactly which titles. But I know that travel non-fiction was included; and judging from the used bookstore pricing inscriptions in the front of several of these, I'm guessing that among them *may* number:

(1) Stranger in the Forest: On foot across Borneo, by Eric Hansen

(2) Slowly Down the Ganges: An enthralling and hilarious voyage down India's sacred river, by Eric Newby

(3) The Cloud Forest: a chronical of the South American wilderness, by Peter Matthiesen

Ken, glad u caught my mention of Bryson and listed more if your favorite non fiction travel books above. How about "The Lost Amazon" by Richard Evans Schulte. A good read, great photos and a good cover jacket.

Regardless of who I finally voted for, Bernie is the guy I would invite to coffee and I can't think of any other pols I would walk across the street to meet.
I prefer the George Carlin's of the world.

Cal, Actually, I caught your mention of Powell's. Ordered by mail many years ago. Not sure why a bookstore would be selling alcohol, but then again, some saki might make Saki more palatable.

Was going to post this separately, but why not include it here:

Ex-Colo. GOP leader said only Democrats committed voter fraud. Now he's charged with voter fraud. http://news360.com/article/395479836

Nelson laugh.

Evidently I meant sake, since saki is a South American monkey. Wouldn't want that with Saki.

"By recklessly impugning Clinton's integrity during the primary, [Sanders] caused significant damage to her candidacy," says soleri (before pointing out that I am a low-information millennial).

As long as we're talking about statements that are "wrong but can fit easily on a bumper sticker or bright red trucker's hat", let's look at Sanders' *reckless* attacks on Clinton. Wasn't Sanders the one who, in a debate, said that we'd all heard enough about Clinton's email server? And I don't once recall him attacking her on Benghazi. Nor can I find any references to Bernie alluding to the Clinton's having people knocked off. Bernie ran a clean campaign or show us otherwise.

He did address her coziness to Wall Street -- a simple fact that Hillary, frankly, didn't help by refusing to discuss the speeches. He did say he had issues with the Sec of State (Clinton) taking foundation donations from the leaders with whom she was negotiating on behalf of the US -- I can't say I disagree with that. I'd say the primary elections were a lot more rigged against him than the general against Trump, but Sanders never stood up and tore the corrupt DNC a new one for their lyin' cheatin' ways.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the DNC's gameplan of anointing Hillary, filling her war chest, then playing prevent defense was a big part of her failure. Where Trump's issues -- from mocking the disabled reporter to admitting sexual assault on a hot mic -- were old news by September, every minor Hillary issue hit her in the general because the DNC refused to address them in the primary cycle. The Clinton Foundation should have been old news by August. Same as the Goldman speeches. Same as the email server. Same as Benghazi. But Hillary would never say more than the absolute minimum about any topic. And this was a poor decision in a year of strong anti-establishment sentiment. But you call the Democrats the sane party, I guess, because slowly bleeding the middle class dry is sane. And insisting that center-right corporate-owned candidate is entitled to be the standard for progressive views.

soleri dismisses anyone who thinks, "it's all so simple! Just vote for this guy!" Well, ask Trump voters just how simple it was and then tell us why it's simply to vote for Trump, simple to vote for Hillary, but too-complex-and-you-just-wouldn't-understand to vote for anyone else.

If we suddenly just "stop" our foreign aid to countries "we don't like," China is likely to step in. In fact, they have been, and continue expanding their presence in Africa by employing foreign aid as a "bribe" to get their foot in the door. We make that door larger by pulling back on our foreign aid.

As I see it, there's a lot of jealousy and bigotry within the conservative electorate, and I believe many of these "downtrodden" trump consevatives think their lives will improve if something is "taken away" from those who have things they "shouldn't have (foreign aid, welfare, subsidies, entitlements, etc.)," and then "given" to these "downtrodden."

In a sense, it's a "shell game," because the powerful will keep most of what's taken away for themselves--with little or nothing reaching those downtrodden masses. In short, they've been hoodwinked--and continue to be taken.

We have a choice-engage the world, or let China engage it in our place.

Jon,
Three things:
1. Hope you recover your health quickly.
2. Remember the gown opening goes in back.
3. First chance you get, run like hell and get out of the hospital.


Best wishes.

Jon, Hope you are doing better, but don't count on the Republicans for good health coverage options....

Here's hoping the next Rogue Columnist blog deals with the aftermath of the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill (aka Obamacare "repeal and replace") to pass the House vote scheduled for today.

Step one: failure of the House vote on the Ryan healthcare bill.

Step two: Senate Democratic leadership shows some spine by promising on the record to force the nuclear option in Gorsuch's confirmation (and Republicans may not have the votes to go nuclear -- Mitch McConnell offers no comment in response).

Schumer prepared to force nuclear showdown over Gorsuch

http://news360.com/article/395631230

One of the hardest lessons in politics to learn is that you don't overpromise since any failure to deliver will weaken you in an arena where credibility is indispensable. Donald Trump's approval rating shows that even con artists will ultimately pay a price if they can't produce. Democrats have known this for a long time. Bernie Sanders, the perpetual gadfly and sanctimonious zealot, does not. He was on MSNBC last night complaining about - guess who? - Democrats for fuzzy messaging and a failure to be just like Bernie. That is, advocate for an unachievable revolution which would then midwife a single-payer health care system.

Take a deep breath, Bernie-philes. Single Payer will not happen in your lifetime because politics is not like the story between your ears. It's not a fairy tale of Good vs Evil. It's one set of interests pitted against another. On the right, you have insurance companies, a huge economic force that can easily defeat anyone who would somehow even look sideways at their scam. On the left, you have Democrats who inhabit a place called political reality. Obamacare actually achieved something. It got millions more people on Medicaid. It provided subsidized insurance for still millions of more. It began the arduous legislative task of regulating what health insurance companies can and cannot do. It was as monumental as any New Deal program in its scope and only passed over the implacable opposition of the Nihilist Party.

During the 2016 primary, Obamacare had one ardent defender: Hillary Clinton. Imagine, an actual adult arguing for something that has helped tens of million of people! Sell-out!

Of course, a low-information Millenial might look at this and scoff. There are people in West Virginia and Kentucky whose lives are sustained by Obamacare and who voted for Trump because Republican scratched their white-identity itch. As purist loons on this blog keep asserting, identity politics is only wrong when Democrats do it. Don't get too friendly with the darkies or you're betraying the white working class!

St Bernie owns three houses. He wouldn't even release his full tax returns, just a summary of his 2014 filing. Somehow, he attained sainthood because pandering to the voters' craving for purity and revulsion with complexity never goes out of style in this country. You wonder how Democrats get tarred with being socialists and corporatists at the same time? It's called cognitive dissonance, which people like Bernie and Jill Stein exploit in order to help Republicans.

In 2000, Al Gore lost the (s)election because Ralph Nader painted him as a sell-out. Nader didn't run against George W Bush, just the squishy liberal. Fast forward to 2016, and it's Ralph Nader redux, this time with Bernie and Jill Stein. These elections qualify as national catastrophes. It's one thing to decide a party is not as idealistic as you are. It's another to cut your nose off to spite your face. Effective politics is about reality, your lofty ideals not so much. If there's a mainstream party that wants to raise taxes on the rich in order to benefit the workers and poor, that's your party if you have a conscience. If you hate the Democrats more than Republicans (see: Blaxsabbath) you may be a victim of your own naïveté or, maybe, an actual stooge for Republicans. Grow up. If you're going to inflict pain and hardship on other people because your ideals are more important, you don't even qualify as grown up. Politics is merely a mirror in which to flaunt your imaginary superiority. The first lesson in life is to stop hurting other people. Master that one and you can start trying to change the world.


Well soleri, that's very interesting except for one thing: the same narrative was being advanced in the Republican primary by the GOP establishment about Donald Trump.

They warned that Trump was a gadfly and an extremist who didn't have a chance against Hillary Clinton in a general election. But guess what? Not only did he win, he was arguably the only GOP candidate who excited enough first time and usually inactive voters, as well as crossover voters, to beat Hillary Clinton.

Completely ignored is the point I made just a few comments ago explaining that, given a Democratic president working with a Republican Congress, Sanders's single payer model (and its practicality or lack thereof) was irrelevant to what was actually at stake.

But quite aside from that, there is something disheartening about a progressive arguing that good policy should not even be advocated, because insurance companies and other special interests are "too powerful". Nobody ever won by talking themselves into giving up. What is "realistic" changes with time and circumstances. Obamacare was already in trouble and facing worse, as many of those same insurers were already pulling out of the exchanges, with a domino effect to follow.

soleri will remind you that both parties aren't the same -- and in the next breath tell you that the only way anything happens is with the blessings of the insurance lobby. So the GOP and the DNC are maybe 59% different? That's still an F in Betsy DeVos' Dept of Education.

You can take the above and insert any other significant issue -- war/taxes/environment/justice & corrections/immigration/welfare/food labeling & consumer rights/LGBTQ rights -- and the statement still rings true.

So Obamacare DID achieve something -- it opened the door to half-assed Congressional melding in the health insurance market. And now, with a simple plurality and a stroke of an oval office pen, the ACA can be forced into a "death spiral" by reducing the non-carry penalty to zero.

I think Ken hit the nail on the head: "Nobody ever won by talking themselves into giving up." Unfortunately, this is what soleri will defend til the end -- take the anointed candidate and be grateful that she doesn't blatantly display her conflicts of interest.

The DNC can't effect significant positive change as the center/GOP-alternative/"sane" party, so what have they got to lose by being the progressive party? Oh that's right, just the personal and professional aspirations of the the few party insiders who swear that they can serve two masters.

I'm going to ignore Emil here since anyone who lies about his identity will lie about anything. Donald Trump's pathology is not something liberals should emulate.

Blaxsabbath, because you and your sockpuppet friend don't understand politics, you think all you need to do is double down on virtue and reality will eventually conform to your ideals.

As an exercise, please point out where this works in real life. I sorta get that you want to do the right thing, but helping elect far-right Republicans is rather unhelpful. As I mentioned upthread, real people will suffer because of this unhinged idealism. Not you. Not Bernie. Not Susan Sarandon, not Jill Stein. Rather, actual working Americans who will their health insurance, for example. It doesn't matter if you're right in principle, you're still wrong in fact. This is not a liberal country. Most people don't care about other people. They care a) about themselves and b) about their tribe. Explaining to people that their taxes will necessarily go up to transition to Single Payer is a dealbreaker. This has been shown to be true even among Bernie supporters: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/4/14/11421744/bernie-sanders-tax-revolution

Democrats necessarily have to live in the real world. We work with human beings as they are not as you think they should be. Bernie has never accomplished anything substantial in his public life for this reason.

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