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. –

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.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

What is it with these weak men?

What is it with these weak men, going on and on about the wonders of brutality? In any of the actual brutal places they so admire, they'd have been nothings. Beating up on women smaller than they are, who are trained to submission, because no woman who had her own strength and self-possession would have them! These teenage boys on stilts, who think they get to run the world despite having no qualification or ability to do so!

Goes for Donald Trump, too. In a just world, he'd be the big guy at the end of the bar with a violent temper and not much else.

(An exasperated Tweetstorm, transcribed for posterity.)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh As Escalating Stalker

So here we have Judge Kavanaugh, who:
  1. In high school, by Dr. Ford's account, clumsily attempted rape, 
  2. In college, by Julie Swetnick's account, was an accomplished stalker and organizer of gang rapes, 
  3. Who, by David Brock's account stalked and harassed Vince Foster's family after his suicide, in what Paul Begala called "the most vicious, cruel, abuse of power I think I've ever seen in 30 years."
  4. Who stalked and harassed the President himself and his family.
  5. Did concealed and probably horrible things as a W. Bush administration official.
  6. And was, for his work, elevated to a judgeship on United States Court of Appeals
    for the District of Columbia Circuit.
There is escalation; he has both become more expert in stalking and harassing and over time has gained positions where he can stalk and harass more people.

I wonder if this is where police states come from.

(Revised extensively on 2018.10.02 due to further thoughts.)