Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Moving

Found out this morning we won't be getting anyone to help paint the house.  Then had to drive for 9 hours to Cape Cod and back to get Thing Two.

Thankfully, the USWNT ended the day on a high note.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Move That Will Never End

Tired, sore, and - did I mention tired?

Still, what a momentous week for progressivism.  We might finally, as a nation, be willing to acknowledge that the South seceded over slavery and that the symbols of the Confederacy are symbols of racism and treason.  The ACA is cemented into law.  Marriage equality is the law of the land.

The only real "loss" was the continuation of the death penalty by lethal injection.

The arc of the universe and so forth...

It will be interesting to see how far crazy the GOP candidates go to appease the religious fundamentalists.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Glimpses Of Sanity

John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy are not so partisan as to accept the, ridiculous arguments in King v Burwell.


But what does it say that Alito, Scalia and Thomas DID?  Is there ANY position they won't take to screw with Democrats?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Light Posting

We are in Day Five of the MOVE into our new home.  By my calculations, we should be finished in time for the Things to go off to college.

I would like to note that Max Fisher at Vox has decided to deride my long-held plan for peace in Iraq: partition.  His point is that sectarianism is the problem and you have to solve that problem to solve Iraq and partition would only make sectarianism worse.  That's a fair point.  If it were true.

The problem isn't sectarianism.  That's the symptom.  The problem is that Iraq never was and never will be a coherent polity.  It is a fiction created in the British Foreign Office after Versailles.  (We are still paying for that particular clusterf&$*.)  Iraq was not created by "Iraqis" because "Iraqis" didn't exist until the British and French created them.  The issue isn't that Sunni Arabs and Shia Arabs can't get along, it's that power has no legitimacy unless it is tied to rents, specifically oil rents.  Because Iraq was a petro state, there was a point to staying together.  With Sunnis no longer getting first drink from the fountain, there is no point in their playing nice with people they really never cared to live with in the first place.  And the Shia really feel no need to share, because they were shut out for decades.

They retreat into their sectarian identities, but those identities aren't really about religion.  They are entirely political.  Few Sunni want to live under ISIS rule, but they sure as hell don't want to live under a Shiite regime in Baghdad.

I still believe that a Sunni state that stretches from north of Baghdad into Syria will have the effect of calming these tensions - not ending them.  Iraq and "Ninevah" won't ever like each other, but they will be considerably less likely to kill each other.  The fact that the only really negative example Fisher can muster as a counter-example is the partition of South Asia in 1947 shows how far we've come int our ability to manage these types of changes.

It's time to act.

Friday, June 19, 2015


It is hard not to look at the pictures of Dylann Roof and not see Adam Lanza.

But it's harder still to look at America and realize we won't do a goddamned thing to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.  We can deny the vote to felons who have served their time, but heaven forbid we do ANYTHING to keep guns from the hands of the insane.

And by labeling Roof insane, I don't mean to mitigate the political nature of what he did.  Mohammed Atta was insane, too.

As Jon Stewart noted: We will travel around the world to kill foreigners who MIGHT threaten us, but we won't do shit to protect our own citizens from the deranged among us.  We will drone-kill a wedding, invade Iraq and get involved in a Syrian Civil War on the HINT of a threat.

But tens of thousands killed every year by lunatics and criminals?  Whatever.

At this point, I have to think the Wayne LaPierres of the world are just as sick as the Dylann Roofs

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Will Not Post On Donald Trump

I will let TBogg do it:

With his unpolished bombast, his nativist streak, his faux patriotic hoo-hah, and his garish gold-plated toilet version of class, Trump feeds into the hopes and dreams of the kind of person who thinks a three-day vacation at a pyramid-shaped hotel in Vegas is the the height of luxury. He speaks their language; blunt, brash, dull-witted, and untethered by deep thought or an interior live that is more than a endless loop of sleep, eat, watch TV, and poop until a merciful death.
That group of potential primary voters is going to keep Trump around long enough to suck up all of the  media attention oxygen in the room, forcing his primary opponents to have to double-down on the stupid just to get a soundbite on the evening news in order to stay mildly relevant until he drops out due to boredom.
How does the conservative press view Trump?
Witness NRO’s Kevin Williamson — who is basically Jonah Goldberg with the ability to finish a thought — welcoming Trump into the fold, under the less-than-equivocal title of “Witless Ape Rides Escalator.”
Donald Trump may be the man America needs. Having been through four bankruptcies, the ridiculous buffoon with the worst taste since Caligula is uniquely positioned to lead the most indebted organization in the history of the human race.
Want more? Of course you do.
Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, announced his candidacy at Trump Plaza, making a weird grand entrance via escalator — going down, of course, the symbolism of which is lost on that witless ape. But who could witness that scene — the self-made man who started with nothing but a modest portfolio of 27,000 New York City properties acquired by his millionaire slumlord father, barely out of his latest bankruptcy and possibly headed for another one as the casino/jiggle-joint bearing his name sinks into the filthy mire of the one U.S. city that makes Las Vegas look respectable, a reality-television grotesque with his plastic-surgery-disaster wife, grunting like a baboon about our country’s “brand” and his own vast wealth — and not see the peerless sign of our times?
And things kind of go downhill from there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Live By The Oligarch, Die By The Oligarch

Rupert Murdoch is stepping down and his sons James and Lachlan (!) are taking over.

James Murdoch believes in anthropogenic climate change (and no one named Lachlan can be a bad person).

Ailes - the Dark Master of Rightist Media - could find himself in a fight he can't win.  I don't expect Faux News to turn into NPR, but getting rid of Ailes and ending their institutional climate change denial could begin to create some breathing room on the single most important issue facing the world today.

Secede Already

I'm 100% behind the idea of letting Texas secede.

They are crazy down there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Obama vs The Five Supremes

So, once again, the ACA is working great.

That puts the spotlight onto the Five Conservative Supremes.  King v Burwell is a freaking joke.  It should have been dismissed with prejudice.  My faith in the Court would be redeemed some if it went down 7-2.  I trust Scalia and Thomas not at all.

But as we see from the above story, the Supremes have proven adept at subtly undermining the law while letting the bulk of it stand.  When they allowed states to opt out of Medicaid they basically rewrote generations of law to allow for certain states to reject a national program because Obama.

The result is that states that have taken advantage of the Medicaid deal have pretty close to universal coverage, those that don't...don't.

Let's see the GOP run on Repeal and....Whatever now.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Culture Of Mental Health

This is a really interesting piece on why some cops explode on relatively innocent people.

While the author puts this within police culture, I think it's a broader part of American culture.  We stigmatize people who need mental health breaks.  The very term is used as a punch-line.  We work longer hours than almost any comparable country in the world.  Our lives take place in environments profoundly alien to the ones we evolved in.  Clocks are barely two centuries old and yet our lives are driven by them.  True cities are maybe three or four hundred years old and yet most of us now live in or near them.

The problem is that the "Warrior Culture" the author alludes to in his piece is part of a culture that arose over centuries of clan and family based social organizations.  You defended your small group from other small groups.  Violence was sporadic and often non-lethal.  Warfare was intended to be ritualistic as much as driven by a conquering urge.

But today, we use that same culture in cities of millions and a landscape littered with terribly lethal weaponry.  "To serve and protect" is a worthy model, unless you don't recognize who it is you're supposed to serve and protect.  That makes your job impossible.  You come to serve and protect your fellow cops at times more than the citizenry you are policing.  Recent criticisms of police will only exacerbate that impulse.

Add to that the fact that you spend most of your days dealing with the broken, damaged and angry pieces of a society, and you can understand the stress police officers face.  As a police officer, you're often first to every thing: fires, traffic accidents, suicides, rapes, child abuse...  How are you not damaged by that?

How do you go from cataloging the horrors of a suicide to trying to break up a rowdy pool party?  How do you treat those party-goers with the respect and decency they deserve when you can still close your eyes and see death?

The military is trying to cope with the effects of PTSD in the soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Forty years after Saigon fell, they don't want a repeat of the Vietnam veterans who never fully came home from the jungle.  Hopefully, they can find a way to bring some of what they find to our police at home.  Too often, our police come to feel like an occupying force in minority communities.  That's toxic for everyone.

I have no doubt that many of our police officers struggle daily with the stress of their job.  I have no doubt, too, that few will talk about or admit that there are days when the job can be too much for them.

How do we - as a society - help those we entrust with public safety to bridge the gap from where they are to where they need to be?  How do we acknowledge that we live in one of the safest times in our recent history when it comes to violent crime, yet also acknowledge that this requires police to be vigilant?  And how do we make that vigilance bearable?

When police commit yet another act of violence against (mostly) minorities, we routinely get stories of officers killed in the line of duty as a way of shielding police from criticism.  Yet an officer is much more likely to take his or her own life than to be killed on the job.

In a system that isn't hopelessly broken, we could be able to reconcile those that want to value police lives with those who want a police force that protects and serves the entire community.  We could do that by changing the general culture of mental health in this country, while focusing on the specifics of police work.  We could make the burdens we ask police to bear more bearable.

We could....

The Long Peace

A few years back, I had some Jehovah's Witnesses come to the house, and I foolishly spoke to them out of curiosity.  Anyway, they gave me the "end times" rigmarole, and I told them that, "No, actually things are pretty good."  That kind of threw them.  We are so saturated by news of woe and doom that we have lost the historical perspective on true calamity.

You want the Four Horsemen?  Look at World War II.

This guy did.

If you click on the link, it's an 18 minute video that breaks down the numbers of WWII.  It's stunning.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

What The Hell Game Of Thrones?

Cave Hic Spoilers...

So, after killing off one of the nicest characters in the show - sweet Shereen - they pull a nifty screw you to the viewers: they kill off another sweet little girl and do it in a way where there's little chance you will be talking about it tomorrow.  One thing you can count on: If you start to feel warm and fuzzy during a scene, it will go dark in ways that astonish you.  (Except for the reunion of Tyrion and Varys.  I felt cheated when they were separated.  Glad to see them back together again.)

Also, if you think something is dark...just wait.  Ask Cersei about that.  Her "walk of shame" was an amazing piece of acting, if Lena Headey doesn't win massive awards for her performance in that scene alone, there is no justice.   You could see the wheels turning, even as she hid them from the High Sparrow.  "Get me to the Red Keep and I will have my revenge."  Instead, she became unmade during that walk.  However, I think that she won't take long to regather herself and do some cleansing of her own, especially now that Kevan is back and she has an undead monster at her beck and call.

I'm sure there will be endless discussions of the misogyny of the show.  In fact, what the show does is demonstrate just how fragile rules of morality are.  And when those rules break, women are often the first to suffer.  As Jaime says, You're lucky if an arranged marriage is a happy one.  Right, Sansa?

Oh, are Sansa and Theon dead?  Who knows?  And did we really see Brienne kill Stannis?  Whatever.  Was Dany captured by the Dothraki?  Meh.  Arya's blind?  OK.

WTF happened to Jon Snow?!?!?!?!

He went from being Emo Snow to being a worthy character and hero.  And he gets repeatedly stabbed for that?

The general feeling on the Internets is that Melisandre will resurrect him, which I guess would be interesting.  Or perhaps it is now time for Lady Stormheart to make an appearance?

You have to give these sadists credit.  They know how to keep an audience hooked.

Offered Without Comment

Friday, June 12, 2015

Game of Thrones

A lot has been written about how dark this season has been, how unremittingly bleak.

The two biggest examples of this are the rape of Sansa Stark and the burning of Shereen Baratheon at the stake.  They are both fairly beloved figures, though Sansa has always seemed rather dull to me.

I don't think these criticisms are especially valid, and let's start with Sansa.

I've always found the eldest female Stark child to be a bothersome, weak-willed bore.  Coming from two such parents as she did, she was remarkably weak and passive.  After the poisoning of Joffrey and her escape from King's Landing, she seemed to come alive a bit.  Her brutal "marriage" to arguably the most loathsome creature in Westeros is harsh, unpleasant and cruel.

But it shows how power works in that world.  Marriages were done for title and alliances.  That Ned and Catelyn Stark were in love was a happy coincidence borne of each other's basic decency.  Robb turned his back on an arranged marriage and it got him killed, along with most of his House, his mother and pregnant wife.  Was the rape of Sansa really worse than THAT?  Plus, that storyline isn't over yet.  Will Sansa kill Ramsay?  Will Brienne?

Because one of them will.  Ramsay has embraced the first sin of Martin's universe: ambition.  By rising above his bastard's birth, he's placed himself in the crosshairs of fate.  Ramsay will die and die awfully.  The only question is who will do the honors?

As for Shereen...THAT was truly awful on so many levels.  And sadly that scene was really about Stannis.  Stannis had always been an unlikable character.  He was no Joffrey or Tywin or even the Hound.  But he was cold and a little nuts.  But his awkward bond with his daughter - which they played out so beautifully a few episodes back - was his one redeeming quality.

That he would sacrifice that for power is what has sealed his doom.

A lot of critics have called these twin atrocities "gratuitous".  Nothing could be further from the truth.  These are the essential themes of GoT.  Power may or may not corrupt.  But pursuit of it clearly does.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Stupid

Josh Marshall examines Scott Walker's latest bit of evil.

I don't think this is necessarily a way to maintain the privilege of riches, as he suggests at the end.  It's rather that Walker - who failed to graduate from college - is placing himself as an anti-intellectual populist.  True, he's a "populist" in the pocket of the Koch brothers, but if he can run against pointy-headed elitists who think and read and shit, he'll have an angle to the GOP nomination.

I am hopeful that this is not a venue to the White House, but one never knows.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nice Polite Republicans

Did Diane Rehm screw up or is there an effort afoot to sink Bernie Sanders?

Normally, I would ascribe this to crappy reporting.  But while the Clinton people have tried to embrace Sanders as closely as possible, there is always some wannabe Borgia running around those guys.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Derp

President Obama answered a question honestly.  He said that there is no complete strategy for dealing with ISIS, because the US has to act in cooperation with Iraq and....well....

So, in all honesty, there is no real good solution to ISIS.  This is an Iraqi problem first and foremost.  It's a sectarian war that has very little impact on the US beyond the optics of beheadings on YouTube.  But, for some reason, people have to keep making this Munich 1938 all over again.  For the War Party, it makes sense.  They seem to exist for the purpose of making war.  Tell me what other reason Lindsey Graham has to run for President.

But the media will no doubt try and make this a bigger deal than it should be.  And not just Fox.

This is why the public debates we have are so freaking stupid.  Obama came as close as he could to saying what is verifiably true: There is no "American" solution to sectarian warfare in the Middle East.  Anyone who tells you that we can conquer a peace there is a fool or a charlatan.  Or they were in a long nap from 2002-2010.

Even odious death monger Donald Rumsfeld has felt the need - as his own doom approaches - to acknowledge that freedom is more than "messy."

This is an interesting issue to watch, because if there is one potential rupture point between Hillary Clinton and the Left, it's on a militaristic foreign policy.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Mind It Boggles

I'm exhausted from the reading, so maybe someone else can explain this Tweet from Sen. John Thune about the potential Supreme Court decision looming on ACA:

Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.

What.  The.  F..........

Sunday, June 7, 2015


At last we finish
We applaud for each other
But not for Chewie

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The end is nigh

One more day to go
The end of the tunnel comes
Could it be a train?

Friday, June 5, 2015


The readers are sad
The reading is so broken
Sad readers are sad

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


No yellow stickees
Instead we go with memes
We still have laughter

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


A cherry blossom falls
Wind moves across the water
Sepp Blatter is gone

Monday, June 1, 2015

Little Haikus

Tough week for blogging
I was just watching TV
Wolf Blitzer still works?