Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Truthing Press

Can anyone see any reason why reports should not say, "President T. falsely said…" "President T. doubled down on false story…" and so on?

With pols routinely using the press as conduits for falsehoods, I would like to see the press fight back. This can, for-sure, be abused or just plain wrong, but we need to reestablish some standards, some way for readers to know which way is up.

(Somewhere there is a longer article to be written on this, but I can't figure out what it should say.)

They Can't Imagine

This morning, I found myself writing two similar series of tweets on the poor coverage of the Republican health care initiatives, and the points here seem worth gathering, editing into paragraphs, and repeating.

In response to Charles Pierce, who commented "Am I wrong, or is the multi-faceted deliberate sabotage of the ACA the most undercovered element of this debate?"
I think most journalists just can't grasp how strange and horrible this is, and the big media outlets are covering for the Republicans. The journalists cannot imagine something like Nazi policy in the USA. We are looking at the "culling of the unfit," which is something out of the bad old days and most US journalists lack the imagination to even believe it is possible in the 21ˢᵗ century USA.
In response to @Trumpnado2016, who commented: "It walked talked & tweeted like an authoritarian kleptocrat it's whole life, why would anyone have doubted Trump'd be a wannabe dictator?"
People lack imagination, seems to be the basic answer. It's the same way that Kissinger was allowed to plan atrocities, and Nixon execute them (and sometimes Kissinger bypassed Nixon.) The so-called "normal" people couldn't imagine them, couldn't believe in them, and didn't act to prevent them. Rather like "good Germans," come to think of it.
Are we to lose our republic because we cannot imagine its enemies?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Note on the Seattle Minimum Wage Study

It all looks very good; the work was done at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, which is a respected school, though I am not quickly able to determine if it has a policy bias. But then I dug into an earlier version of the work, and found this paragraph:
Some large employers with multiple locations in the state of Washington, such as retail or restaurant chains with company-owned stores, file a single quarterly report to cover employees at all locations. This quarterly report may list a single location, such as a corporate headquarters, in the address field and not provide any method of ascertaining whether a specific employee worked at a Seattle location.
Chains with company-owned stores are significant minimum-wage employers.

And then we have:
In our baseline analysis we focus on single-location establishments for which we can determine with certainty if they are subject to the ordinance.
In other words, their focus was on the corner shop, rather than big chains. But these are some of the least stable businesses and subject to every change in the economic wind. In particular, they're very subject to rises in rent, which are a big deal in Seattle, and the researchers seem to have inadequately controled for this.

The study is an interesting one, but the popular use of it, at least, overclaims hugely. Since the study contradicts most previous work in the field, I think it deserves to be treated as an interesting study, rather than new authoritative work.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What kind of country does that to its own citizens?

A disabled person elsenet, responding to the proposed Medicaid cuts and the abuse of disabled protesters, asked what kind of country does that to its own citizens. I realized that the answer was Nazi Germany.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Culling of the Unfit: Fascism and the BCRA

– 1 –
The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate version of ACA reform, is a disaster for women. I don't fully understand all the details; the worst will be in the states that pass waivers that allow pre-natal and maternity care to be withdrawn, but the Medicaid cuts and the defunding of Planned Parenthood will affect all states. If a woman is even middle class and does not have maternity coverage through their employer, this will affect her life. She may be unable to afford pre-natal care, or any care for a pregnancy with complications. Women will die. Children will be born disabled.

– 2 –
I do not see how this can be an accident. There is too much message discipline, too much clarity in the goals chosen. I do not see how this could have been achieved without planning. This is a deliberate part of a program of "culling" the unfit and purifying the race, with all the old ugly misogyny included in it. Or perhaps the misogyny is the point, and the eugenic idealism the excuse. Someone, several someones, somewhere, has a vision of a purified American with women enslaved and without black or brown people, without weakness or illness.

Ironically, I don't think Trump is a member of the organized movement; he could never be trusted to keep the secret. But Jared Kushner might be. The Koch Brothers, certainly. Senate Majority leader Addison Mitchell McConnell. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Erik Dean Prince and his sister Elisabeth Dee DeVos. Perhaps Neil Gorsuch. Perhaps Richard Cheney. (Notice the family connections. They cannot trust anyone not tightly bound to them.)

The cruelty is the point. The tax cuts are the excuse given to the rich, to gather their support, but the deaths are necessary for the movement's vision to be realized. Calls for compassion are lost on the leaders. They are fanatics, as fanatical and hypocritical as the leaders of Da'esh, and they would rather see the world in flames than lose control. 

– 3 –
The Democratic opposition shows no signs that they know what they are fighting. The opposition believes the fascists have normal goals: money, power. The Democrats still believe they can negotiate, even now. I do not see how this can be so: the leaders of this movement are ridden by a fanaticism that brooks no compromise.

– 4 –
To win, resistance must go into this clear-eyed, understanding what we are fighting. We must learn more of this movement and its leaders. I do not know if the knowledge will lead to victory, but I am certain that ignorance will not. If this is a true fascist movement, dedicated to purifying the race, simply withdrawing health care will not be enough. They will go on to ethnic cleansing, to mass deportations and mass killings. We must oppose it.

I do not believe the Republican leaders are reachable. They are either believers, or so committed that they cannot back out. The Republican followers, though, those might be reached.

– 5 –
And, finally, to the Republican followers, if any of you are reading: turn back. I say again: TURN BACK. You have not yet committed yourself wholly, you are not yet complicit in atrocity. Do not become so. If you believe in honor, consider that honor lies in loyalty to your country and its ideals, not to this madness that would destroy it. If you can, stop, turn back. I promise you that if you do not you will regret it.

– Addendum –
The Nazi program of eliminating the unfit was called Aktion T4. You can read about it at the Britannica's web site. (Thanks to Mnemosyne at Balloon Juice for the cite.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Health Care Reform: States Rights?

Maybe the way this works out is that some states get good health care systems, others get crappy ones. California might even get all the waivers necessary to build its single-payer system, while Texas would be allowed to build a system where most of the lower-cost plans available on the exchanges are junk insurance, which drive out the decent plans.

Monday, June 19, 2017

I Read the News Today Oh Boy

There are one dead and ten injured in the London van attack. Teresa May is calling it terrorism – arsonist fighting the fire she set. J K Rowling tweets, "The Mail has misspelled 'terrorist' as 'white van driver.' Now let's discuss how he was radicalised.” British reporter James Melville offers a montage of anti-Islamic tabloid covers.

In Seattle, Charleena Lyles, an African-American woman, called the police on a burglar and was shot by the police. The Seattle Times offers the following headline: "Mother with knife killed by police was pregnant and had mental-health issues.”

In DC, 17-year-old Muslim girl assaulted and killed after leaving Virginia mosque,

I think I am going to find a roost somewhere and defend it against all comers.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The worst day for American democracy in my lifetime

Attorney general Jeff Sessions apparently lied and perjured himself on the witness stand in front of Congress. Meanwhile​, Senate Republicans continue to write their health care bill in secret, and Senate Democrats continue to not be willing to fight the thing. My own Senator is just not willing to do anything behind regular procedure. Now that she's been directly insulted by Senator Lamar Alexander she may be more willing to act, but what does it take to get the Democrats to actually do anything?

And this morning brings the news that Republican House whip Scalise has been shot in an apparently non-political mass shooting.

The past day and a half, I think, has been the worst for American democracy of my life. My country, oh my country.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Senate Changes Name to House of Lords

(Updated from 2009 version)

Washington, DC. Today Republican Senate leader McConnell announced that all Democratic Senators will be arrested and the US Senate will henceforth be known as the House of Lords. "We feel this change reflects the power of the body and the position of its members." When asked about the Constitution, Senator McConnell replied, "The constitution is subordinate to the needs of the nobility."

In other news, President Trump announced he is changing his title to King. House Democrats are appealing to their home states for military aid.

Photograph: Memorial to the Murdered Members of the Reichstag, ©2009 Mike Peel (, licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 Creative Commons License.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Dear Clintonistas and Sandersites: Cut It Out

Dear Clinton supporters, please stop publishing Republican oppo research on Sanders.

Dear Sanders supporters, please stop being sore losers.

Don't make the mistake that the Republicans did while in opposition; they intensified internal conflicts so much that now they cannot agree on policy. Remember that you will eventually be negotiating, and that will be far more successful if you do not go into the negotiation hating each other.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Bad King Trump

Jim Wright tweets on Reality Winner, arguing that she broke the law and deserves punishment. I commented, and I think he objected, though he did not reply directly. I took my remarks down. But I keep wondering, regardless of deserving punishment or not: will what she did make a difference? Enough difference? Martyrdom gains its power through a willingness to accept consequences which most of us would not even risk – I would not willingly put myself at the mercy of Sessions and Trump – and through rightness. (Added: and, indeed, Winner is being held without bail.)

And another thought: in the bad old days, a bad king would have charged Winner with treason (added) and executed her summarily. I'm sure someone in the Trump administration, if not Trump himself, would like to do so. The constitutional safeguard against this, the very specific definition of treason, is a great bulwark against bad rulers.

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Racism is a common refuge for alienated white guys"

And as we’re still sometimes having the argument about whether outreach to the white working class requires betraying racial equality, consider that racism is a common refuge for alienated white guys. And currently we’ve got a generation of white guys whose fathers had steady union jobs with good wages and benefits that are now long gone. If racism is growing in this population, the way to combat that is not to yell at them, but to come up with ways to help them feel connected to a more progressive vision. Martin Longman has some thoughts on this. – "The Myths That Guide Us"

Proposing a Final Solution to the Islamic Problem

Representative Clay Higgins (R-LA): "Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all."