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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Problem With The Republican Debates

Outside of John Harwood, the CNBC moderators did a piss-poor job of preparation and debate control.  But they asked substantive questions, which might be why the candidates were so upset.

But the deeper problems with the debate are that there are too many candidates.  What - exactly - is Rand Paul doing on that stage?  Chris Christie?  Kasich can at least say he showed movement after the first JV debate.  But that movement has stalled.

If you have 10 people on stage, the debate will be a farce.  Period.

But the reason there are 10 people on stage is that the coalition that constitutes the Reagan Era GOP is fracturing.  Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee simply don't occupy the same political space as John Kasich and Jeb Bush.  And the people who support Carson are fed up with being told that Planned Parenthood is evil, and yet not seeing the GOP go to the mattresses for them on this issue.

I don't know what will force the GOP to examine its own problems, but I don't see it happening as long as they blame NBC for the fact that their candidates are a joke.

(UPDATE: I didn't realize the cancelled debate was on Telemundo.  I guess that makes sense.  If you thought the questions asked by the network that gave us Rick Santelli were tough, just wait until you have to answer questions from Jorge Ramos.  In fact, this feels entirely staged.)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Epistemoligical Closure

GOP won't go back on NBC.

The moderators were poorly prepared, but they didn't ask bad questions.  Carson's activities on behalf of a quack snake oil company is a legitimate question.  Rubio's finances are a legitimate question.

And the bizarre, half baked tax plans that constitutes GOP orthodoxy absolutely deserve tough questions.  The more the GOP walls themselves off from contrary viewpoints, the less they will be able to reach any Americans who don't already mainline their "news" from Fox.

Josh Marshall nails it:

As you see, the RNC has now expelled NBC News from the Republican debate schedule. If I don't say so myself, I think my comparison to the Boehner drama was more prescient than I realized. There has to be someone betraying them or some new outrage to feed the machine. With Obama fading into history, with the 'establishment's' candidate vanquished, now it's NBC News. You get a sense of where this is going that Ted Cruz says that Limbaugh or Hannity should moderate the debates. To be clear, this isn't about whether the debate was good or bad or whether axing NBC is fair or not. (I said the debate was a mess while it was happening.) In the grandest sense, who cares? It's just that the entire drama and whine-a-thon is ridiculous. This is their new big issue? Like I said, the outrage needs a target. Who's betraying them now. The pattern takes over everything.

Krug Smash

Krugman once again gets so quickly to the point, he might be a dagger in human form.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Who Is REALLY Running For President?

There are so damned many candidates, I think this is a good question.  On the Democratic side, Larry Lessig is running an issue campaign, except no one on the Democratic side really disputes his idea, so...  Marty O'Malley certainly seems to be running for Veep.  Bernie might be running for President, or he might be running to advance his issue agenda - to inject some new ideas into American politics.  Hillary is really the only Democrat clearly running to work out of the Oval Office for the next four-eight years.

The GOP side is much more muddled naturally.  One of the issues is that a lot of "movement conservatism" is really just a personal enrichment scam.  Sarah Palin pioneered this, with help from people like Glenn Beck, but it's now spread throughout the GOP primary field.

I'm having a hard time believing that Donald Trump or Ben Carson are really running to be President.  They are running to advance their "brand."  Trump and Carson are trying to tap into a large field of potential investors and dupes to buy books and watch shows on Fox News.  Once they start getting asked governance questions, they collapse with the look of a child who has just been asked if they can recite for Grandma that book report they haven't done.

The same goes for many of the third tier candidates.  Rick Santorum is running, because his wife is tired of him sitting on the couch all day watching Seventh Heaven re-runs. Gilmore and Pataki...I mean, hell if I know.  Graham is running to be Secretary of Muslim Killing.

On the main stage, Huckabee seems to be running again in the grifter mode.  He's compiling a database of people he can hit up for cash for a crusade against whatever it is that conservative Christian will be outraged about in a year or four.  Trump and Carson, too.

Jeb! seems to be running a campaign to rehabilitate the family name.  Or something.  At this point, there is really no rationale for his continuing to run.  Rand Paul actually stopped running for president as soon as it got hard; he just keeps showing up for the debates.  Kasich and Christie are trying to be John Huntsman with balls, but that doesn't seem very viable.  They think they're Mitt Romney Republicans, and maybe they are.  But Romney lost to the Negro, so the only solution for the GOP is to move further right, because reasons.

So, Carson, Trump and Huckabee are doing "brand work."  Paul and Jeb! are lingering around out of inertia.  Kasich and Christie are running for Mayor of Wall Street, or maybe the GOP nomination in 1996.

That leave Fiorina, Cruz and Rubio.  Fiorina is an ego-driven, falsehood-engine.  She is almost incapable of opening her mouth without lying.

This could make her a viable frontrunner.

But in all likelihood, she's running for the Veep slot, so that they can have a woman to say incredibly sexist and cruel things about Hillary from the stump.

That leaves Cruz and Rubio.  Rubio seems to be the media's safe bet to replace Jeb! as the establishment's choice.  He's pretty slick on camera, telegenic and has a passing familiarity with how government works.  I don't think he's the safe bet to pick up Latino votes they think he is, because he's Cuban, and other Latino groups aren't real fond of the special treatment Cubans get.  But if I had to put money on a candidate, it would be Rubio.

However, last night, Cruz may have vaulted into position to steal the Trumpenproletariat and the Carsonians, should those two frauds decide that they've bilked the rubes of enough of the money they were saving for Franklin Mint collectibles and can move on to sinecures within the Wurlitzer.

Cruz has a vicious cunning and a link to the right wing hive mind that could move him rapidly up in the polls.  The fact that he is hated more than sexual harassment laws within the halls of Congress only adds to his appeal.

Cruz is the outsider who actually understands how politics works.  If you were to ask Cruz about the debt ceiling, he will likely give you a batshit insane answer, but unlike Carson, he will actually know what the debt ceiling is.

At some point, they are going to have to narrow the GOP field.  Bush's supporters naturally gravitate towards Rubio.  But the outsider's vote would seem much more comfortable with Cruz.

He is an odious, toadsucker of a "human being" who looks like some combination of a prison snitch, the villain of a 1980s movie starting Ralph Macchio and a slumlord.  But I'm not sure there isn't an appetite for that among the people who wildly throng to hear Donald Trump and Ben Carson blather inanities for $50 a ticket.

Cruz just might be the douchebag they have been waiting for.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hoooo Boy

Reading the transcripts of the GOP debate: Not only should they not be allowed near tax policy, they probably shouldn't be allowed near sharp objects.

Seriously?  A flat tax?

UPDATE: This is a good take.

Bennie The Knife Is A Scary Possibility

While many people have feared what might become of the republic should the Trumpenproletariat somehow foist the Donald on the country.  And while a Trump regency would be frightening and chaotic, the prospect of Carson scares me even more.

He is so basically ignorant of how government works that he has taken the idea of "outside" and turned it into a parody of itself - a parody that just isn't funny.  Like the last Leslie Nielsen movies.

Most people who run as outsiders were at least governors.  Maybe a general.  But they had some idea how government works - the basic processes.

Carson seems to have no fundamental idea how any of these things work.  Perhaps this is all simply another expression of the Palin Principle: that there is money to be made in shaking the angry rubes of the GOP electorate.  Maybe Carson is simply engaged in padding his own nest with the dollars of Talibangelicals.

But if the GOP nominates this guy.....

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pierce Strikes Again

Charlie Pierce is King of the Sobriquet.  He coined the following: Zombie Eyed Granny Starver (Paul Ryan), C+ Augustus (Dubya), Clinton Guy Shocked By Blowjobs (George Stephanapoulos), Governor Goodhair (Rick Perry), Girl With The Faraway Eyes (Michelle Bachman), the Manson Family Of American Geopolitics (the Cheney Family), Princess Dumbass of The Northwoods (Sarah Palin), Senator Huckleberry J Butchmeup (Lindsay Graham) and Tiger Beat On The Potomac (Politico).

He's at it again.

Ben Carson is now Dr. Bennie the Blade.  Perfect.

The explanation:

All American politicians now exist under the threat that Dr. Bennie The Blade will show up and slaughter them all. This is such a great election.
(A brief aside: so Doctor Ben used to maybe think about stabbing people. He grew up to be an acclaimed neurosurgeon. He's good with a blade. Hey, for me, this sounds like somebody making a constructive living out of what might only have been a childhood hobby.)

Some Quality Trolling

Krugman trolls Romney.

The central peril we face - from which all other perils emerge - is the fact that one of our two major political parties refuses to look at evidence.

Monday, October 26, 2015


As we prepare for FrightFest 2015 and the return of Ash vs the Evil Dead (and did they really kill that guy on The Walking Dead?!), there is something legitimately more frightening on the immediate horizon: default.

The Teahadists have bent Paul Ryan to their nefarious will and yet they are getting flack from their rabid, mouth-frothing fringe base.  So they have zero interest in raising the debt limit.  This is because they are nihilists.  They are so deeply dangerous to the country that they might almost be called legislative terrorists.

Boehner - if he was a true patriot and wanted a gravy train of lobbying jobs - should propose eliminating the entire idea of a debt ceiling.  It's a deeply illogical thing, as all the debt ceiling does is allow us to pay for bills we've already appropriated.

But that isn't going to happen.  Hopefully at least we will get a raise in the ceiling for at least the next year.

What is worrying is that these deeply stupid, deeply dangerous people have been given ANY control over our governing structures.

No wonder Ben Carson is gaining on Trump.

UPDATE: Looks like there might be a deal between the White House and Orange Julius.  Now we will see what Boehner's power MIGHT have been.

They Need Therapy

When did we become a nation of paranoids?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Trump Rallies

So much nicer in the original German.


JEB!'s campaign is entering into the usual signs we associate with death spirals: cutting staff, closing offices, high level meetings.  As Trump put it, Bush was "low energy."  Like Biden, I think he felt obligated to run for various reasons that weren't entirely his own.  Unlike Biden, he ran anyway.

Now that he actually has to fight an uphill battle, he has to ask himself if he's doing this for pride or purpose.  If it's just pride, step aside and let Rubio get his resources.  If it's purpose....well, hell, he should step aside and let Rubio get his resources.

Bush is the Fred Thompson of this election cycle, only more so.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

Madam President

I've always felt that Clinton would be a better president than a candidate.  After the soaring rhetoric of Obama '08, I think Clinton came across in those hearings as a no-bullshit master of detail.

Read all of Josh Marshall's post-mortem, but I especially liked this line:

Seriously, can you imagine Marco Rubio in the same chair under the same sort of questioning? Not to mention Donald Trump or - God forbid - the increasingly Chauncey Gardner-esque Ben Carson?

The Coronation

Biden was never going to run, once the summer waned.  Webb is pondering what merits exist in an independent run.  Chaffee is out.  That leaves Hillary and Larry David Bernie Sanders.  OK, Larry Lessig but not really.

Meanwhile, NO ONE is dropping out on the GOP side.  Not Gilmore, not Pataki, not Santorum....OK, Scott Walker.

I don't know what this means in terms of party dynamics.  Is the GOP really in the process of a schism?  Certainly the drama in the House suggests this.  And if there really is a schism developing, so that Rand Paul thinks he can linger around the margins and somehow....something...where does it end?

Especially after Benghazi the Sad Trombone Musical opened and closed on the same night, Clinton's path to the nomination is pretty secure.  Right now, Trump is shooting himself in the foot once again with demeaning tweets about Iowa.  Will it matter?  Who knows?  Carson continues to say things that suggest some form of paranoid delusion is at play.  And Rubio waits and waits.

I know Trump is the "story" of this cycle, but that's so freaking lazy.  The story is that he has a constituency in the GOP.  Meanwhile, Clinton rolls merrily along.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Clinton Luck

If there has been one consistent advantage the Clintons have had over their career it is this: Their political enemies are a bunch of fucking morons.

I give you Charlie Pierce, because I like you:

I would like to congratulate the United States House of Representatives for the very fine show they put on today on the stage provided by the Special Committee To Keep Benghazi In The News Until The Polls Drop. There has been no better example of non-governance displayed on TV since the last time Marco Rubio gave a speech. There has been no better view granted of the sheer stupidity and incompetence that has run riot in those halls because of the last two midterm elections since the last time Steve King parted his brain on the left side. There has been no more sterling example of the now-undeniable truth that modern movement conservatism has declined into a tangled mess of myth, shibboleth, and outright fabulism since the last time Ed Klein wrote a book.  A whole philosophy of government, and still an influential one, stands exposed as little more than a puppet show for the national Id, and not a particularly sharp one, either. A movement full of grifters and ignorami, acting out a simulacrum of representative government for the benefit of an audience steeped in comfortable, narcotic delusion.

If Benghazi Was A Musical, It Would Have A Lot Of Sad Trombone

Josh Marshall - perhaps not a truly objective observer - thinks the Benghazi Committee has thoroughly crapped the bed.

He links this to the Kinsley Gaffe McCarthy made, when he pointed out that these committees have brought down HRC's poll numbers.  This allowed the media to point out what everyone knew all along, that these investigations are entirely partisan.

What is mind-boggling to me, is that reporters needed McCarthy's "permission" to tell the truth about all this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


The punditry is on tenterhooks as they wait breathlessly for people they wrongly assume hold some sort of charismatic sway among the American populace decide whether to run for President (Biden) or Speaker (Ryan).

I think Ryan has probably done the right thing. He has created a rather reasonable but stringent set of demands that are unlikely to be met by the Freedumb Caucus.  When they refuse to assent to his demands, he can go back to what he wants to do and maybe Pelosi and Dent can create a governing coalition that will keep the lights on.

For Democrats, there is an interesting gambit in play if Ryan doesn't become Speaker.  They can ask for a few key demands in return for abstaining from the vote for Speaker (which would allow for an establishment GOP candidate to win the Speakership).  They could ask for doing away with the debt ceiling entirely.  That would be my demand, because the debt ceiling brinksmanship practice by the Freedumb Caucus is potentially catastrophic.  If I see a six year old running around with a rock, I might ask him to put it down.  If I see one playing with matches and gasoline, I'm going to sprint like hell to take them away.

The debt ceiling is incredibly stupid anyway, and I would think Main Street and Wall Street Republicans might assent to taking it away from the nihilists.

Then, if they want to shut the government down?  Please proceed, numb nuts.

Oh, and as for Biden?  He's not running. (HA!  Told you so.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Ghost Of Howard Dean

Matthew Yglesias has a provocative piece out in Vox about the underlying travails of the Democratic party. He accurately notes that Democrats tend to rely very much on retaining the Presidency and have no apparent plan to win state offices.

There is a touch of click-bait in his overdramatic funeral oration, as he relies a little too much on Democratic setbacks in 2014.  That was - hopefully - an anomalous election in terms of voter turnout.  It was one of the lowest turnouts ever.

However, he is correct that Democrats have ignored winning control of state legislatures and governor's mansions.  Howard Dean was made DNC chair after 2004 and commenced to rebuild the party with his 50 State Strategy.  The results were the 2006 wave and the 2008 wave.  After Obama was elected, he followed precedent and put his own chair in - Tim Kaine.  However, all subsequent DNC chairs have tended to focus on national elections and national dynamics, while the local parties have gone moribund.

Currently, there is a growing sense of dismay with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as DNC Chair.  There was friction with other members of the DNC, including Tulsi Gabbard, a presumed rising star.

Perhaps this is the proper time to refocus the DNC on a 50 State Strategy 2.0.  Some of that energy was redirected into OFA, when it became Organizing For America, but there is a real need for coordinated efforts to win back control of some critical state houses.

Tops on the list should be the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.  Re-invigorating unions and worker's issues in those places could help win back some working class whites, or at least enough to put a dent in Republican control of those state houses.  Yglesias mentions Wendy Davis' failed campaign to win the governorship of Texas.  That's a really bad example, as Texas is a decade away from the sort of demographic changes that could make it competitive for ANY Democrat.  Florida, however, is a great opportunity for a locally energized party to regain the critical House seats necessary to implement any meager legislative objective.

When I heard about the article from the wife, my first reaction was that winning state houses in 2016 isn't hugely important, since you can't redistrict until 2021.  I also don't think Yglesias accounts for the fact that demographics DO favor Democrats in the long run and that party identity can be set fairly strongly at a young age.  Partisanship matters and there are more future Democrats than there are future Republicans.

The challenge is to get used to winning at the state level NOW, so that you can capitalize on those wins in 2020.

The Wrongest Man In History

Bill Kristol strikes back.

Oh, Canada

So, the Canadians ousted Conservative PM Stephen Harper pretty decisively last night.  Despite the possibility of a minority government, Trudeau and the Liberal party won 184 out of 338 "ridings" or districts, allowing them to form a government without help from Bloc Quebecois or the New Democratic Party.

Having written the above with some authority, I don't know what this means for Canada, except that the Liberal party takes a much more aggressive stance with regards to global warming.  Remember - for a moment - that the GOP is the only major political party in the developed world that outright denies the human impact of global warming, so this is a matter of degrees.

Still, this could have an impact on the Keystone pipeline and other aspects of the tar sands and shale gas boom.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Work At Your Local Food Bank

If you have time - and if you don't, make time - work at a food bank.  The people who come through there almost all work for a living, but they can't make ends meet.  They are a missed paycheck or a hefty doctor's bill away from total destitution.  One guy I helped today had been "outdoors" all summer and only moved indoors when his stuff got wet and too heavy to carry.  He had to get all his food in microwaveable portions, because his place has no stove.

All of these programs are critically necessary because the GOP Congress has insisted on cutting SNAP and demonizing those on it.  Some GOP hellhole (Tennessee? Florida?) insisted on drug testing SNAP recipients (most of whom are children).  They found a lower percentage of drug users using SNAP than the population at large.

Most of the people I saw today were white, had a job or were retired.  A few were recent immigrants (from Eastern Europe) with jobs and families.  Quite a few had obvious mental health issues and/or cognitive weaknesses.

We are the wealthiest nation on earth and we have millions of citizens relying on charity to eat.

And you owe it to yourself to look these people in the face.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bush Didn't Keep Us Safe

The current contretemps between Jeb! and the Donald over whether George Bush kept us safe is a great example of why Trump is winning and Jeb is an also-ran.  As long as we are talking about Dubya, Jeb will lose.  Trump knows how to keep the focus on an opponent's weaknesses and he is completely alpha-dogging Bush.

The "Bush kept us safe" lie is easily enough to expose.  Over 4,000 dead in Iraq, the Twin Towers and Katrina.  I mean he was a complete disaster.  Half the people running for the Democratic nomination are Democrats because Dubya was president.

Well played Donald.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Two Nations, Two States

It can be profoundly tricky to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations, if you're not Jewish and many of your friends are.  So, I'd just turn your attention to this piece by Josh Marshall.

There is a key truth here, that I think needs to be acknowledged and written into American foreign policy in the Middle East: nations that have states become more responsible when they have something to lose.  The Palestinians have nothing to lose.  They are an occupied people with few rights and no sovereignty.  Of course they aren't interested in compromise, for the same reason that Sitting Bull wasn't interested in compromise.  Until the behavior of the occupying/invading peoples changes, why should they believe that anything will come from the stronger group protecting the rights of the weak.

Similarly, I think we need to look at the Kurds and Sunni Iraqis the same way.  Iraqi Kurds have a de facto state, but Turkish Kurds do not.  If we created an independent Kurdistan, we create an incentive for Kurds in Turkey to act more responsibly, because their cousins in Kurdistan have something to lose.  Similarly, the only reason ISIS became powerful is because they offered Sunnis an option that wasn't subjugation by a Shia/Alawite government.

I whole-heartedly feel that the US is right to be retreating from the madhouse that is Middle East politics.  But there is only so far we can withdraw.  Perhaps now, instead of withdrawing, we should be trying to redraw the map.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Read this lengthy, fair piece in Esquire about the Open Carry movement in Texas.  I don't think Richardson does anything but give a fair portrait of the guy at the center of this movement.

Reading it, it's pretty clear that the obsession with guns is tied to a greater insecurity that Americans feel about...everything really.  CJ Grisham is a decorated combat veteran, but he's also got a raging case of short-guy-complex and PTSD.  His guns give him a sense of security that nothing else can.

My question, having read it, is whether Grisham and his friends are part of a larger pathology of fear in the United States or whether this is some unique pathology to a smaller sliver of our quaking nation.  Fear makes you stupid.  And we are a very fearful people.  And we are very fearful despite living in a time of tremendous peace and prosperity.

The idea that you need guns to protect yourself from some combination of a Mad Max dystopia and encroaching government tyranny is inherently contradictory.  The idea that there are criminals out there waiting to pounce - which is why Grisham keeps his fucking arsenal loaded with a baby in the house - is paranoid.

Ammosexuality is nothing more than cowardice masked with heavy armaments.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

No One Could've Predicted, Volume 75,923

At a Trump Rally, some VCU students showed up to protest Trump's xenophobic, racist stance.  Some jacked up white dude comes over and starts shouting and shoving before spitting in the face of one of the protestors.

As Ben Franklin said, "It's a Republic, if you can keep it."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Didn't Watch, But....

I don't watch debates.  They are so scripted and artificial.  But last night was fairly important on the Democratic side, primarily because of who wasn't there.

Clinton's relationship with the press has been fractious since 1992 or earlier.  She's getting hammered for nontroversies like the email server and Benghazi(!).  All of which have led to softening poll numbers and led some Democratic bigwigs to start trying to draft Joe Biden.  Last night, Clinton showed that she remains a formidable debater and campaigner.  No other candidate has ever made Obama work so hard to win an election, and that level of policy expertise and experience was demonstrated last night.

Sanders did what he needed to do, and both he and O'Malley offered only the mildest rebukes of Clinton,  In fact, Sanders' biggest moment was coming to HRC's defense over the email nonsense.  It was a boring, wonky debate that lacked the reality TV drama of the GOP tilts, because that precisely encapsulates the difference between the two parties.  The Democrats want to govern, the Republicans want to make headlines.

What is interesting is when you look at this piece from John Sides.  Republicans, safely ensconced inside the Fox-O-Sphere, think that the key to being elected is being really, really conservative.  Democrats tend to think that moderates stand a better chance of winning the general.  History and theory are on the Democrats side here.

I would argue that the softening in Hillary's numbers over the summer have not been caused by Democrats being upset over the email stuff, but because they worry that the email stuff could hurt her electability.  Her performance last night - combined with Sanders implicit support of her with regards to the email stuff - should recoup some support she lost.  Democrats, in short, are more likely to support someone they think can win in November 2016.  And that's not great news for Bernie.

We've noticed that Donald Trump can't break past that 30% barrier among GOP voters.  I wonder if Bernie has a similar ceiling.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The mouthbreathing idiots who make up the Conservative Right in this country have decided to pressure Mitch McConnell to get rid of the filibuster.  And he's going to do it.

Please.  By all means.  Do it.

The Senate is unlikely to stay in Republican hands if they lurch much further to the right.  As it is, they will likely lose control of the chamber in 2016.  It was McConnell who pioneered the current abuse of the filibuster, so it would be ironic if he was the guy who got rid of it completely.

Please proceed, morons.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus Day

Sometimes, the effort to set the historical record straight is decried as "revisionist history."  Of course, all history is constantly being revised.  The whole point of the academic discipline of history is to explore and explain things that have no factual answers.  History is a debate, and the terms change with our understanding of the past.

The origins of Columbus Day actually occur around the lynching of 11 Sicilian immigrants in New Orleans in 1891.  With the 400th anniversary of the Columbus' landing in the New World just around the corner, the government decided to remind people that Italians had been coming to the Americas for a long time.

Of course, we now know just how brutal and despicable a person Columbus really was.  He was an ardent slaver, a torturer and likely a rapist.  He certainly condoned the murder and rape of thousands of Taino Indians.

Columbus' contribution to history is primarily being really bad at geometry.  Ever since Ptolemy, intelligent people knew the earth was round and they had a pretty good idea of its circumference.  Columbus may or may not have heard about legends of a land to the west of Europe from Norse sagas and epics that he may or may not have read when he was travelling in the North Atlantic.

What we do know is that Columbus felt the world was much smaller than it really is.  Whether he based this assumption on bad math or the Norse sagas or a combination of the two, he set out for India on a suicide mission until the Americas popped up out of the ocean.

To his dying breath, Columbus refused to admit he had found a new continent.  He continued to believe he had reached Asia.

Columbus was a stubborn idiot.

He was cruel, he was stubborn, he was ridiculously ambitious and he was hated by most people who had contact with him.  I'm sure he loved his dog, if he had one.

Canada has already replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day.  I don't know if that would fly here.  Maybe.

What about Immigrant's Day?  This would obviously not placate Native Americans, but it would come closer to the intent of the original Columbus Day - before modern research uncovered the atrocities Columbus committed.

Not to mention it would make Donald Trump turn even oranger in rage.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

TWD Premiere

I've enjoyed the change of pace of Fear the Walking Dead. 

But the season premiere of the original reminds me of why it's the gold standard. Really strong episode. 

This Is Nice

After that drunken, whiny dude-bro was expelled for being a proper asshat at UCONN, I was wondering whether there would be some jackass who would take up his cause.  Given the way anyone who behaves like a cretin tends to get the support of the Teanderthals, I was worried they would sink further into their sustained tantrum against the modern world and civility.

So I am grateful that this GoFundMe page is for the person who was being berated.  Yay UCONN.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pay Attention To Turkey

Turkey is the only Muslim country in NATO.  It has enjoyed decades of stability because of its military's close ties to the West, which has led it to tamp down rampant Islamism.

This bombing in Ankara is still unsettled in terms of what exactly happened.  Perhaps it was ISIS.  Perhaps it was Erdogan's government.  Probably ISIS.

If Turkey is significantly destabilized by ISIS, that takes what is a Syrian tragedy and makes it a problem for the US.  I've never felt ISIS was a strategic threat to the US.  Barbaric, sure.  But not a threat.  Turkey could make it a threat.

On the other hand, if Turkey decides to invade Syria, I would think that ISIS would fare pretty poorly.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Is This A Big Deal?

Russian cruise missiles crash in Iran.

Two things.

First, as the article mentions, Russia's military ain't all that.  For all the weird man-crushes that official Washington (especially neo-conservatives) have on Putin, the fact remains that he frequently acts out of weakness.  He has engaged in Syria, because Assad is his little puppet and because Ukraine has bogged down into a stalemate.  He needs to show he's still an Big Dog, so he bit off a chunk of Syria.

Second, Russia's actions could presage a problem within Russia with terrorism.  Unlike the US, which has an ocean to protect it from would-be terrorists, Russia has porous borders and a dysfunctional government (when it comes to things like immigration controls).  Let's face it, not many people try to get INTO Russia.

Those young Europeans who are traveling to Syria to enlist with ISIS could easily travel to Moscow.  And if there was damage in Iran from these missile strikes, this could drive a real wedge between Moscow and Tehran.  Iranians don't have the fondest feelings about the Russians anyway.  I'd say Russia ranks below the US but above Britain in Iran's collective estimation.

Keep an eye on what Putin is doing in Syria.  I think he's going to get smoked for it somehow.


I was worried that Ben Carson could seem just plausible enough - because of his calm demeanor and his personal biography - to win the nomination and then sneak by Clinton in the general.  All of this despite some genuinely lunatic ideas.

I am more hopeful that this is not the case.

He's getting ripped on his gun nonsense.

And now he is showing a level of incompetence on a pretty straightforward economic issue that I wouldn't accept from kids finishing a high school government course.  Even as Ryssdal tries to correct him and remind him what he's talking about, he has no freaking clue.

The lunatic ideas he has expressed about guns are, frankly, par for the course among GOP candidates.  So even though he has a political tin ear, it's unlikely to hurt him with the GOP rank and file.

But if you're a Wall Street mogul, you have to get a little sweaty about the idea of this guy as your standard bearer.

UPDATE: Jon Chait:
You think Carson is bluffing? He is not bluffing. This is a man who thinks“highfalutin scientists” concocted the theories of evolution and the origins of the universe for Satanic reasons. A reminder: Carson is the second-most-popular choice among Republicans to be their party’s nominee for president of the United States, behind the comparatively sober and well-informed Donald Trump.


McCarthy drops out.

At this point, you really have to wonder if anyone can be Speaker of a House that has the Freedom Caucus controlling the levers of power.

And if they can't, we are headed for a full year of complete dysfunction in the House.  Of course, given the rank dysfunction in both our political media and America's political ignorance, this will likely be blamed on Obama.  I'm serious.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fuck Ben Carson

Seriously, go fuck yourself.

Pretty impressive speed with which this guy has destroyed his reputation.

DeRay McKesson

Civil rights activist DeRay McKesson spoke at school today.  Over my time here we've had Senators, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congressmen, renowned physicists and other important figures.

But this was really special.  McKesson did a masterful job of provoking thought without provoking emotion - beyond outrage at how minorities are treated and policed in this country.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The GOP Is Merely A Sustained, Organized Tantrum

Republicans have become MORE resistant to gun control measures since Obama became President.

Because Obama.


Porcine faced, human canker sore, Jason Chaffetz, has decided to challenge McCarthy for the Speakership.  Given that Chaffetz has just come off an abrasive, insulting committee hearing with Cecile Richards that culminated with him producing the worst chart in history, I think he's the perfect Speaker for the Konservative Krazy Kaucus.

My question is simply whether he will destroy America before we have a chance to get another Democratic House.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

LBJ's Legacy

When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he was rumored to say, "We've lost the South for a generation."

Of course, it was more like a permanent loss, as the white South has moved en masse to the Republican party.  However, his legacy goes deeper, because the Obama Coalition has it's roots in another LBJ act: the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1964.  The reason why Trump and his copy cats are harping on immigration is because the people allowed into America under this act have grown into the voters who have delivered the White House to the Democrats in the last two elections.  And smart Republicans know that they have to change this dynamic, yet they are powerless to do so.
You can't embrace white conservatives and ethnic minorities at the same time.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Would This Work?

A former classmate of mine posted on Facebook that all of us who oppose the gun culture in this country should join the NRA and vote Jon Stewart in as its president.  I heard something similar back around the time of Columbine (or was it Stockton, or was it Oklahoma City, or was it...).

It's an interesting idea.  I'd worry about giving the NRA a temporary cash infusion from new members, but exactly how could they be any stronger than they are now?  Most of their money comes from arms manufacturers, and that money would dry up as soon as the coup was detected.  And even if you could orchestrate a swift and decisive coup against Wayne LaPierre, the gun makers would just shift their resources elsewhere.

Absent a Democratic Congress and a fifth Democratic Supreme Court Justice, we are going to continue to drown in the blood of innocents.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I'm Going To Miss This Guy

Obama's remarks on yet another fucking mass shooting in this sick, sick land.

Days like this are why Joe Biden is wise not to run for President.  Who wants to govern a country whose bloodlust exceeds its common sense?

This Is A Winner, Run With This

Wall Street is crying and stamping their feet over new rules championed by Elizabeth Warren and implemented by Barack Obama.  The rules apply to financial advisors and basically says that they have to put their clients interest ahead of their own.  It is being vociferously opposed, as you can imagine.

Every few years, the Missus used to invite a financial advisor over to sit at our table and explain the multitudinous benefits of working with his company.  I'd sit through those meetings patiently, but they were basically the same as those guys who want to sell you new windows: long on charm, short on sound financial footing.

It's not that the advisors didn't have correct things to say, it's that they don't work for you and never have.  They work for themselves and their companies.  They push people into stocks that benefit them and their companies.  When they push their clients into Acme Manufacturing, that may help your bottom line, but you can be damned sure that it helps theirs.

While these reforms will no doubt ignite the caterwauling from wealthy lobbyists that we saw with Dodd-Frank, we can also be sure that - like with Dodd-Frank - this will result not in the collapse of capitalism, but in a ever so slightly more even playing field between Wall Street and the rest of us.

Politically, this is precisely the sort of thing for Democrats to win with.  By all means, let Republicans defend the idea that financial advisors can sit around your kitchen table and lie to you about investments.  Let's see them try.