Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Racism, Sexism, and Class Prejudice Make Us Fools

Or, mediocre white men.

The excellent Digby writes about Paul Ryan:
Poor Paul Ryan. The golden boy of the Ayn Rand crowd was once assumed to be a future president, or at least one of the great statesmen of the Republican Party. He was considered a rarity among Republican pols --- a policy wonk with the polish and personality of Ronald Reagan. (I know that sounds crazy, but people really did think that.)
In his years as Presidential hopeful and Speaker of the House he was revealed to be an incompetent fool. The man is not remotely credible, never was. How did he get so far?
Objections on the left to conservative officials often center on their intellectual failings: their literal disbelief in facts and their repetitions of errors. Conservative economics makes no sense, the conservative understanding of science makes no sense. Their foreign policy is brutal and criminal. They fail even at remembering what they said a few days ago, even with technical aids. Liberal blogger and podcaster Driftglass is fond of saying, “Memory is the liberal superpower” and this is true: conservatives do not remember, even from a few days ago, what was said. Rudolf Giuliani, Michael Cohen, Brett Kavanaugh, Republican lawyers all, seem not to know the law, or even how to negotiate. These mediocre white men come apart when stressed. They are incompetent.
Why then are they in charge of anything?
As a society, we have a bias towards mediocre white men. As a society, we make the mistake of raising skin color, sex, and appearance over other characteristics, downgrading intelligence, honesty, and competence. It is not hard to know that Donald Trump is a dangerous fool and a poor executive, or that Giuliani is a poor lawyer, or Cohen was a corrupt lawyer who made his way by making corrupt deals, or that Kavanaugh started cheating in high school and never stopped. These mediocre white men have competence in some areas but, without the bias that supported them in their careers, they would be powerless mean non-entities.
Racism, sexism, and class prejudice make us poor judges of character and vulnerable.
Racism, sexism, and class prejudice make us fools.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

What I Want From The New Democratic House Majority

Establish a Democratic policy consensus so that the party can unite to defeat the Republicans. Establish a policy presence in the public mind, and lay the ground for retaking the Senate and the Presidency in 2020. These I think are the most important things.
I think Indivisible, in Indivisible on Offense, offers some of the best ideas on how: messaging bills, must-pass bills, investigations, and defense. Investigations, I think, are the strongest of these, because the House can conduct them without a need for Senate Republicans. Investigate Kavanaugh. Investigate the Trump/Republican Russia connections. Investigate medical price-gouging. The House Democrats cannot unilaterally pass legislation, but they can embarrass the Republicans, and that can be powerful. If we make them look like weak fools, their popular support will shrink.
The House can propose budgets. It could also reinstate the Gephardt rule, saying that when a budget was passed, the debt ceiling would be raised, thereby avoiding debt ceilings.
House Committees can hold hearings and explore ideas. When it again becomes possible for Democratic bills to become law, these could become the outlines of bills. Topics I would like to see explored are:
1.     Climate change!
2.     New economic policies. The economic policies we have been relying on since Reagan have proven to be abysmal failures, leading to a boom and bust economy, poverty for many, and poor employment conditions. We are in dire need of reforms and I would like to see the possibilities explored.
3.     New foreign policy. The US is now supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The House cannot stop this, but it can at least hold hearings. Beyond that there is an enormous need to deescalate conflicts worldwide and resolve the emerging conflicts that environmental destruction will bring. Even with the full power of the US government this would be difficult but, again, we can at least explore possibilities.
4.     Bankruptcy reform. I would like to see the House explore the possibility of returning to bankruptcy law that allows for dignified fresh starts. The Republican bankruptcy reforms of 2005 made bankruptcy much harder on individuals, and this arrived just in time to make the crash of 2008 even harder. Likewise, dignified bankruptcy ought to be allowed for people who will never be able to pay their student loans. Let’s have Senator Warren testify on this.
5.     New immigration policy. What we have now is cruel and expensive. Let’s explore possible reforms!
6.     New firearms policy. Our far-too-lenient firearms policies are literally terrorizing our children. Let’s discuss changing this.
7.     New domestic terrorism policies. On the one hand, we put our people at risk with useless surveillance. On the other hand, our biggest terror threat – domestic far right terror – is also our least policed threat. Easy access to firearms may also make it easy for foreign terrorists to act on US soil.
8.     Policing reform. Our police forces are shot through with racism. Let’s discuss what to do about this.
9.     And on, and on.
Finally, I have a personal hobby-horse: I would like to see the House unilaterally reestablish the Office of Technology Assessment, destroyed by Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in 1995.
During its 23-year history, OTA provided Congressional members and committees with objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century. It was a leader in practicing and encouraging delivery of public services in innovative and inexpensive ways, including distribution of government documents through electronic publishing.
Right now, I would like to see the OTA look into the genetic engineering of children, the impact of social media, and, yes, climate change. I’m sure there are many more topics that would bear investigation.
Even if the House doesn’t take these up immediately, we can push them to do so.
So let’s get started!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

On George H W Bush and the Patriarchy

Singer-songwriter Tom Smith, writing on Facebook, links The Rude Pundit on G H W Bush.

Oh, yeah. He was a really awful President, though he did a few good things. Possibly the worst two things he did was covering for the treason of Iran-Contra and paving the way for, first his son to go to war for no good reason, destabilizing western Asia, and then for the election of Donald Trump.

But, hey, say the pundits, he was a a vaguely paternalistic white guy and we should respect him for that. They are so easy to con, these white men and women. Show them someone they think might be their grandfather or their father, who was nice to their family, and they must be an OK President. That's why Trump is unpopular. It's not that he's destroying so much of what the USA has worked so hard to build. It's that he's vulgar. He's like the creepy uncle that everyone loves to hate. But a well-mannered grandfather who hates women and gays, that's OK.

Saturday, December 1, 2018


"Doesn't this reflect a swing between competing factions? The Republican minority wins control, then the Democratic majority responds. But with each swing, the country tips further to the right. Has it fallen over?" – link

"But [Comey's] emails." – link

"I think most of the authoritarianism we are now experiencing can be summarized as 'same s*** different century.' It's not new, it's not brilliant, it's not anything except brutal and terrifying." – link

A Unit of Climate Impact Measurement

"We have ice shelves breaking off of Antarctica that are the size of Rhode Island. We have wildfires in California the size of Rhode Island. Maybe we should start measure climate change impacts in units of #RhodeIslands" – Climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann on Twitter, link.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Putting the Socialism Back into Social Media

A few days ago, I saw this on Twitter:
Today I am thinking about how grateful I am for Twitter. I know lots will think it’s silly, but you see, I started tweeting regularly after the breakup of all breakups, when I was so heartbroken that I was desperate for anything to keep my mind occupied. I started interacting with more & more people, feeling free to share my thoughts on things happening around us, and connecting with a lot of folks in academia I might not have been able to otherwise. I’ve learned so much from so many on here, I’ve been directed to resources that have made me both a better teacher & a better person, & I’ve been exposed to perspectives that have blown me away & rethink some of my most enduring perceptions of the world.
Some tweeps & I now communicate regularly outside of Twitter, people I would have never had the opportunity to meet, but now we share our thoughts & experiences & pics of our families. So while Twitter has some issues, for me it’s made this big big world a little smaller, and for that, I am grateful. Thank you to everyone I’ve interacted with on here, I think you’re all damn cool. 😊 Except all you Nazis. You suck. – @DrPsyBuffy on Twitter
Reading it took me back to my early days on Usenet, one of the earliest social media platforms. This kind of story goes back to the very beginnings of social media. Real old-timers remember the Bandykin mailing list, created in the early 1980s when Bandy (Andrew Scott Beals) lost his girlfriend.
So what happened? How did we end up in trollworld? Why are the Nazis taking over?
The early net was not heaven. There was plenty of conflict. Oversharing and trolling emerged early. Then, as now, people argued that one must allow abuse as free speech. But there were no huge incentives for abuse, either; one didn’t make money from being a troll. Nowadays, all the owners of the big social media sites want, first and foremost, to get and keep user attention and to keep people on the site as much as possible and the most effective way of doing this is through sophisticated trolling. Beyond that, the big social media sites also want to sell information about their users and advertising. When you joined a mailing list or a Usenet group, what you found there was what you joined for. On Facebook, the system is constantly trying to distract you, as well as filling your screen or window with advertising. Looking at the Facebook screen, literally ½ of it is filled with content not relevant to your online social activity. If there is an ad shown in the timeline, the area shrinks to ¼ .
Positive social activity does not generate as much traffic – people will want to go offline and do other things and don’t respond as compulsively to joy as they do with fear and anger. So, the current economic model of the advertising-supported web is slanted heavily to the negative. It is like a rough saloon, where the music is loud so that people will drink more (this has been measured) and the fights are good for business.
I have arrived at the view that the old socialist economic model of the internet, supported by government subsidies and donated time and service was healthier. So let’s put socialism back into social media!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review: Jaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

This book is what I have come to expect from Jaron Lanier: a snarky, exasperating introduction to some valuable and interesting ideas. So, whyfor the four stars? Because it is timely and because it has some important things to say.
Broadly, Lanier argues that: (reason 1) social media has turned into a giant stimulus-reward behavior modification system which leads to compulsive engagement and (reason 2) it is selling the time and attention of participants and doing so in a way which affects both them and society as a whole in a negative way. To put it in other terms, it is a giant continuous engaging distracting hard sell and surveillance system. Now, behavior modification has its limits. Notoriously, once someone stops participating in a behavior modification program, the program stops having effect, which is why, for instance, alcoholics have to keep returning to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. But with social media, the program never stops. It is the television that is never turned off, always yammering in the background, always distracting.
Lanier goes on to explore the consequences of this in the subsequent eight chapters, one for each argument. These are less convincing, and Lanier, who after all was a Silicon Valley impresario, making the pitch for his position, throws out arguments rapidly, hoping some will stick. He is better, I think, in interviews, and here he is explaining to Harper Simon of the LA Review of Books:
The problem, however, is that behind the scenes there are these manipulation, behavior modification, and addiction algorithms that are running. And these addiction algorithms are blind. They’re just dumb algorithms. What they want to do is take whatever input people put into the system and find a way to turn it into the most engagement possible. And the most engagement comes from the startle emotions, like fear and anger and jealousy, because they tend to rise the fastest and then subside the slowest in people, and the algorithms are measuring people very rapidly, so they tend to pick up and amplify startle emotions over slower emotions like the building of trust or affection. – from an interview with Simon Harper in the LA Review of Books[1]
Some of the book is unexpectedly timely: covert advertising, targeted through Facebook’s vast surveillance system, influenced the outcome of elections in the USA and UK, both in negative directions, and when Facebook came under investigation, it proceeded to attack its critics by trolling up anti-Semites. And this pales in comparison to the Myanmarian use of social media to assault its Rohingya minority, Chinese use of social media to abuse its Muslim population, and the vast “social credit” system that China is attempting to build, which will certainly lead to a society where social media trolls are a major factor.
I will briefly protest yet again that lasting citations must include more than URLs; URLs, as Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World-Wide Web, foresaw and Sarah Kenzidor recently found to her sorrow, are ephemeral.
So, a timely book with some serious flaws. Read it anyway.

[1] Simon, Harper, “Delete Your Account Now: A Conversation with Jaron Lanier.” LA Review of Books, October 8, 2018. Available at https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/delete-your-account-a-conversation-with-jaron-lanier

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The border. I was right. Wish I had been wrong.

Me, back in 2008:
Oh, you hominids could make the border into a killing field, make a feast for us corvids. That would stop them from coming, probably. The people who ran Abu Ghraib and run Gitmo, they'd be happy to do it for you. And then they'd do it to you.
I was writing about undocumented workers; at the time the current refugee problem had yet to emerge.

White House authorizes use of force for troops stationed at border: report. (The Hill.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Wall Street Democrats For The Lose

A scathing opinion of Seth Moulton and the anti-Pelosi faction from R J Eskow: Wall Street is leading the attack on Pelosi.
This ersatz rebellion’s most visible leader is Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, a custom-crafted biography in a suit who appears to hold no core beliefs. […] During his short political career, Moulton has received a total of $1,723,870 from the investor class that comprises the so-called “FIRE” sector — financial, insurance and real estate.
It seems to me that the Democratic Party is still trying to serve both Mammon and the people and this still cannot be done.

Monday, November 19, 2018

White Women Voting

How many women are threatened into their votes by their partners? How many are pressured in other ways?

It may be that white women are less supportive of Trumpism than their votes show.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Gloating More: Reflections on a Blue Wave


Yes! The Democrats took the House and credibly defended a difficult map in the Senate. I hope there will now be more checks on Trump and the fascist Republican Party.
There is something in this victory to please multiple Democratic factions: women, people of color, and social democrats. Personally, I am pleased that part of my essay Turning Out the Left has been vindicated. I am also pleased that young people, feminists, people of color, and social democrats seem to be forming a coalition; after infighting of the 2016 election I was wondering if that was even possible.
On the other hand, I expect a horrible lame duck session; I expect the Republican Congressional delegation to take all advantage possible of their remaining weeks in power.
Once the new Congress is seated, both parties will be choosing new leadership in the House. The newly-elected social democrats will come into conflict with the Wall Street Democrats. I do hope the House Democrats will use their subpoena power to investigate the Trump administration’s corruption and crimes against humanity.
Given that the Senate and the Presidency are both in Republican hands, and a right-wing Supreme Court majority, I am not hopeful for much Democratic legislation until 2020, and the Court may do much damage. Still, skillful Democratic legislators may be able to at least get some decent deals through. At least, I hope, they will protect the social insurance programs.
So, a lot to hope for, but not immediately. We must keep our hopes up and take heart from our success at the polls and in investigations.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Review: Tom Nichols, The Death of Expertise

(Crossposted to Goodreads.)

“And for what purpose? Why are we encouraging the spread of this lunacy? I mean we here, in North America. I don't mean […] the richest people in the world battening on the poorest. That's just greed, which is a comparatively clean kind of vice. I'm talking about perversion, horrible, disgusting, systematic, deliberate perversion of the power of reason to destroy people without killing them, to strip them of their initiative, their joy in life, their hope, […], their last ultimate irreducible human resource, hope. Out of sheer desperation millions of people are abandoning the use of reason, bankrupting themselves to buy [new age junk], in a last puerile attempt to outdo the bastards who've made "reason" a dirty word.
“They've done it, you know—it's the dirtiest word in any human vocabulary right now. And it's been brought about in my own lifetime, almost entirely. Cold rational decisions, every step leading to them perfectly logical, underlay the wars in Asia […] and at every step we lost. Not just the wars, but bits ourselves. Compassion. Empathy. Love. Pity. We systematically chopped ourselves down to the measure of a machine.
– Fictional psychologist Xavier Conroy, from John Brunner’s The Jagged Orbit

I decided to go and read Nichols The Death of Expertise, since he is a prominent never-Trump figure whose public persona I rather like.
Oh. My. God.
This is a book of excuses by, I think, an enormously guilty man. Somewhere in the back of his mind he probably knows that it is conservatism that mounted the huge attack on knowledge and expertise that began in the last quarter of the 20th century. Somewhere in the back of his mind he probably knows that this was done to defend the policies which his political faction supported: the relaxation of financial law, widespread war, ecological destruction as a way to gain wealth. There’s some good material here on the genuine disrespect for knowledge and the problem of the value of intellectual authority when the basics of many subjects are widely and quickly available. (Anyone who has tried a home repair based on YouTube videos has something to say about this matter.) I read this just after Lanier’s Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now and the books have something to say to each other.
But this is an arsonist fighting the fire he helped feed. The vast amount of distortion that has been introduced into public discourse and is maintained by huge spending on propaganda is almost entirely from Nichols’s own political faction. It was “conservative” experts who rationalized the policies that killed millions through pointless war. It was “conservative” experts who rationalized the lawless financial and economic policies that destroyed the savings of the American middle class. And it is “conservative” experts who are still attacking the knowledge of scientists to defend the continuing destruction of the earth’s planetary environment.
Congratulations, Dr. Nichols. Your side won. And now you are surprised and angry that your victory has turned to ashes? This is a start. I am glad that at least you at least are willing to acknowledge that it is ashes. But it is time to look back at your intellectual sources, to, as economist Brad Delong says, mark your beliefs to market.

Friday, November 2, 2018

2016: The Black Working Class Vote

Been thinking. Dangerous thing, a raven thinking.
The Democratic Party was wrong, in adopting its studied neutrality in matters of economics at the national level. Intersectionality made this into a racist policy. Both banks and the general public were left to their own devices, and so the banks with their extensive financial resources did well, while the general public, its savings drained by years of unsupportive economic policy, did poorly. This led to the economic abandonment of people of color, who were hammered in the crash of 2008. This abandonment, in turn, led to people of color in the north midwest abandoning the Democratic Party after 2008. As Shah and Wichowsky observed in “Foreclosure’s Fallout,” in Milwaukee County in 2012, foreclosure decreased turnout in the heavily (27.2%) African-American county.
Ordinarily unemployment around the time of an election increases turnout (see, for instance, Levin et al, “Participation in the Wake of Adversity: Blame Attribution and Policy-Oriented Evaluations” but this is one of a long series of articles to this point); there is an urge to make one’s voice heard.
But there has to be the expectation that someone is listening! In 2018 Malaika Jabali wrote “The Color of Economic Anxiety” about African-American voters in Milwaukee. She quotes Fred Royal, the president of the Milwaukee NAACP chapter, about the Clinton campaign: “African Americans, especially African Americans in this city with [high rates of] poverty, 50 percent black male unemployment for […] years. That shows you the systemic racism that isn’t being addressed. And if you’re not going to speak to that, why would I be engaged?” What did reach those voters? The pro-union message of Bernie Sanders; the old black union men and the young black voters of Milwaukee supported Sanders in the primary. They also remembered William Clinton in Arkansas, the bipartisan racist anti-crime agenda of the 1990s, the anti-union, pro-business agenda of his faction of the Democratic Party. Milwaukee African-American union leader Wendell Harris commented, “I didn’t like him. He was the architect of the New Democrats, and in essence they were supposed to be as close to the Republicans as possible to still be considered a Democrat.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign was wrong. Clinton’s “other basket” never contained many white men, not even a majority of white women (but see White Women Voting.) They could not be brought to vote for her. Bernard Sanders was wrong. White working-class voters hadn’t turned to racism because of hard times; they were racist to begin with.
On the one hand we had the racist and sexist vote, energized by years of attacks on Hillary Clinton and Trump’s promises to the white working class. On the other hand, we had the African-American working class, worn down by years of bipartisan anti-union policies and the crash of 2008, the foreclosures and the years out of work. There was the extensive Russian propaganda to aggravate the conflict; to support the bigots and discourage the African-Americans. In northern states like Wisconsin, the white working class turned out for Trump and the black working class stayed home.
The Democratic Party lost 2016 because of racism: they paid more attention to white voters they couldn’t reach and not enough to working-class people of color they could have reached. The conservative economic policies of the Democratic Party in the 1990s led to short-term success and long-term failure.
To succeed, the Democratic Party must court women and people of color. Policies must address both economic issues as well as racism and sexism. Democratic politicians must be seen to support people of moderate means of all races.
It is going to be a close election. I do not know if enough has been done for the Democrats to win, or if there is enough revulsion at the fascism the Republicans have descended to bring the Democrats to power in at least one of the houses of Congress. Whether or not the Democrats win, they must change. To continue as they have is to cede the field to the fascists.


Enten, Harry. “Registered Voters Who Stayed Home Probably Cost Clinton The Election.” FiveThirtyEight (blog), January 5, 2017. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/registered-voters-who-stayed-home-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/.
Jabali, Malaika. “The Color of Economic Anxiety | Current Affairs.” Accessed November 1, 2018. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/10/the-color-of-economic-anxiety.
Levin, Ines, J. Andrew Sinclair, and R. Michael Alvarez. “Participation in the Wake of Adversity: Blame Attribution and Policy-Oriented Evaluations.” Political Behavior 38, no. 1 (March 2016): 203–28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-015-9316-6.
Shah, Paru, and Amber Wichowsky. “Foreclosure’s Fallout: Economic Adversity and Voter Turnout.” Political Behavior, October 19, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9509-x.
“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.” Accessed November 1, 2018. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/milwaukeecountywisconsin/PST045217.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Short Thought on the Mail Bombings

It all seems too pat, you know, exactly what a right-wing crank would do. I keep wondering if they’re going to trace these bombs back to a studio apartment which contains a dead body and a pile of Antifa and Democratic literature, or maybe a stack of Sanders literature. After the election it will be discovered that this was a Russian false flag operation, but by then it will be too late. 

[Late update: but in fact it was a right-wing crazy. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.]

Monday, October 22, 2018

Foreclosures and Voting, Race and Class in the 2016 election

I have here a recently completed study, "Foreclosure’s Fallout: Economic Adversity and Voter Turnout," from Shah and Wichowsky in Wisconsin. The study examines data from Milwaukee, evaluating the likelihood of voting in 2012 depending on whether or not a household was foreclosed on. I will let the authors speak for themselves:
We conclude that homeowners facing foreclosure were less likely to vote in the 2012 presidential election. […] As the wave of foreclosures caught millions of Americans in its wake, it appears that troubled homeowners responded with political quiescence. […] Our results suggest that political elites may have faced less pressure to address the shortcoming and failures of the policies and programs implemented during the foreclosure crisis. [Ellipses are mine.]
Did this quiescence extend to 2016? If so, it likely contributed to Trump's victory. Multiple studies have shown that Trump supporters were motivated by racism. Perhaps there is a second part of the story, where foreclosures and long-term unemployment discouraged other voters.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


(Notes and links to a Ford skeptic over at Ian Welsh's blog.)

Yes, I do believe her. Simply on the odds, without anything beyond basic information about the careers and lives of Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh, and their testimony, it is overwhelmingly likely that she told the truth. The law school saying is, “When the facts are with you, pound the facts, when the law is with you, pound the law, when neither are with you, pound the table.” Dr. Ford pounded the facts; Kavanaugh pounded the table.

Beyond that there is other evidence, though the Judiciary Committee Republicans and the Trump administration avoided bringing much of it into testimony. Former sex-crimes prosecutor Allison Leotta, writing in a Time opinion piece, lays out the case:
What’s striking about the Kavanaugh case is that the evidence we saw at the hearing was more significant than what is presented in many criminal trials where a guilty verdict is returned. Dr. Ford’s credible testimony, her statements making this accusation years earlier, and her lack of motive to lie, especially compared to the incentives for her to stay silent, would be legally sufficient to sustain a criminal conviction for attempted rape. And that does not even consider the substantiating evidence provided by Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge’s autobiographical novel, Kavanaugh’s own crude yearbook statements and his evasiveness during questioning. If this were a mugging, we might just say “case closed.” But the real shame about Mitchell terming this a “he said she said” case is that here, there are dozens of potential witnesses like Mark Judge who were not called to testify. […] if we are forced to endure the concept of “he said, she said,” we must at the very least look at the other two she’s. – http://time.com/5413814/he-said-she-said-kavanaugh-ford-mitchell/

Election 2018: Revving Up the Culture War

Administration moves:
  • Kavanaugh and the pro-rape vote
  • The “caravan” from central America
  • The new anti-trans policy
All this is working to turn out Republican voters against what would otherwise be a blue wave. It is splitting the anti-Trump-and-Republican coalition as well. With each conflict, the Democrats lose a few more voters, and the Republicans gain a few.

The opposition coalition is weak like cardboard and, challenged, has a tendency to fold like wet cardboard. So here's the Trump administration, spraying water on the cardboard.


Vote, 2018 Version

It is a curious fact that, even among the opponents of democracy, the vote is considered important. That is why there is so much effort to persuade people not to do it, to persuade people to vote for candidates who can't possibly win, to prop up splitter candidates, to make it difficult to get permission to vote, to revoke people's permission to vote, to lose people's permission to vote, to falsify the vote, to not count the vote, to claim the vote isn't valid. Your vote counts, and your political opponents know it. That's why they don't want you to do it.

And vote downticket! Many state legislatures and governorships are up for grabs and there's a bunch of initiatives too!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Race and Class, Part ∞

(Completely rewritten on the day of posting.)

I would like to see a study asking white voters if they had a long period out of work or lost their homes, or had friends and families who did. I would also like to see a study asking people who turned out in 2008 and 2012 and did not turn out in 2016 the same questions.

The centrists want so desperately to sweep the crash of 2008, largely due to Republican and neo-liberal policies going back to Reagan, and failures of the response to it by the Democratic Party and the Obama administration under the carpet. Out of work for years? Lost your home due to mortgage fraud or abuse? No problem!

Yeah, right.

“You cannot lie to the working class, James, not even once. They will know, and they will never trust you again.” – fictional Friedrich Engels

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tweet to a Never-Trumper

You have advocated horrible things, long before Trump was ever elected. I want to see some signs of shame and repentance.

Or how can I trust you?

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Rapist Vote

The Kavanaugh confirmation hearings seem to have boosted Republican voter involvement – maybe – apparently by turning out the rapist vote.
Question is: how big is the rapist vote? Sexual assault is distressingly common in the USA. But how many perpetrators are there? My quick searching shows nothing, which means there is probably no widely publicized study of the matter. RAINN’s summary of perpetrator statistics shows that most are men, many repeat their offenses and that, of perpetrators reported to the authorities, many have criminal records.
Beyond the actual rapists, there are rape apologists. If the water was muddy before, here it opaque. Fantasies of sexual desire are a staple of our culture among both men and women – probably of every human culture – and distressingly many people don’t distinguish between the fantasies of desire and the realities of sexual assault.
Could the number of Republican voters influenced by the Kavanaugh hearings be as high as 30%?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Justice Kavanaugh's Handle

(No, not that. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

One striking thing about Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings is that at no point was there serious consideration of substituting another reliable conservative. Why? I think it is because Kavanaugh has a handle – something that can be used to flatter or pressure him into ruling in particular ways. We have a hint of it in the reports of his finances – is he perhaps a compulsive spender? Or still a harasser, possibly someone who has committed rapes more recently than in college? There are also hints of that: reportedly he selected clerks based on appearance.

Whatever the reason, I think Justice Kavanaugh is a man who can be controlled by someone, and who is going to be controlled by that someone.

Punishment and Not: Failures of Leadership

President Gerald Ford, pardoned Nixon after his near-impeachment. (Nixon resigned first. The pardon rendered impeachment and investigation moot.)

President George H. W. Bush pardoned six alleged traitors involved in “Iran-Contra” in the Reagan administration, smuggling weapons to Iran which was then an enemy of the USA, to secure the release of hostages and to illegally support a revolution in Nicaragua.

President William J. Clinton was impeached for concealing an affair. This became a continuing stain on the Democratic leadership.

In 2006 Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the “Impeachment [of George W. Bush] is off the table,” despite the Clinton precedent and the great crimes of W. Bush.

President Obama declined to prosecute any of the Bush administration criminals, despite strong cases against them. He also declined to prosecute all but one of the bankers who caused the crash of 2008.

These people who committed crimes were left free to rehabilitate their careers. Nixon’s advisor Roger Stone participated in Trump’s Presidential campaign. He is under investigation by Robert Mueller and is alleged to have been one of the Russian connections to the Trump campaign.

We let the scorpions sting, then we let them free to sting again.

I do not know when, if ever, the USA will return to a just legal system, but part of that return has to be trial and punishment of these criminals. Laxness in punishment lets them rehabilitate their careers and commit yet more crimes. Punishment, even for minor crimes, damages their careers.


Misogynistic Terrorism

The behavior of women in our society is, at least in part, the behavior of a terrorized social group.

All the arguments about nature and nurture, about what is "feminine" and what is "masculine" behavior – these cannot be answered by data collected within our society.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Other Tweets

[What happens if the Democrats don't take the House.] Death camps. Repeal of the 14th Amendment. Women and PoC lose the right to vote. Revolution.

[To a disappointed conservative.] Tom, they never were conservatives. I think the entire Republican leadership has betrayed you.

[What will I do if Joseph Biden is is the candidate opposing Trump come 2020?] Vote for him. Bark! Bark! Says the yellow dog raven.

Remember: the management of CNN supports Trump. The publishers of the New York Times and Washington Post support Trump. NPR depends on Congress to continue to operate. Other media organizations follow the leads of these.

Feminist Tweets on Kavanaugh

Lord, they've turned out the rapist vote.

Are we to conclude, then, that much of the motivation of conservative men was not any of their claimed high ideals, but simple threatened masculinity? That the radical feminists have been right all along?

Will Kavanaugh work with any of the Court's women? I'm betting not.

I want to tattoo "The Party of Rape and Treason" to pale, pasty, flabby Republican butts.

Kavanaugh was radical before he was ever nominated. The man made his bones as a stalker and harasser working for Ken Starr. He's going to be just awful and we all know it.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Welcome to the Kingdom of Gilead

"Susan Collins Consents" – WSJ headline

(Screenshot, just in case the WSJ realizes what they've done and tries to rewrite history.)

I do not, in The Handmaid's Tale, recall this sheer viciousness of language.

I wonder, even, if women's right to vote is in danger. It would follow: some of the most committed opponents of the Republican Party are women, and after the likely (barring miracle or act of terrorism) confirmation of Kavanaugh they are going to be implacable opponents.

Beyond that, I think we can say that any women's rights case that comes to the Supreme Court will be decided against women. Not just Roe, but Griswold is in danger, not just Griswold, but decisions I don't even know the names of and new cases that aren't even named yet.