Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Fear Chart

Take a look at this chart.

It's fascinating from the standpoint of what drives voters to the polls in the age of hyperpartisanship. No doubt this is a good sign for the Democrats as they will be highly motivated to go to the polls in November.

A deeper analysis shows that conservatives are more concerned with terrorism and high medical bills than I thought. That tells me that Medicare For All might play more significantly with these voters.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Trump Has Made It to 80% Dictator

Back in 2016, Steven M Walt, a Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University, put up a post about how you can tell if your leader is a dictator. He recently updated this last week and Trump is "failing" his dictatorship test. By "failing," Walt means that he's only 80% of the way there. He ranks Trump as "Flashing Red Light" on 3 and "Checked" on 5.

Here is the one that bothers me the most.
3. Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or domestic security agencies.
Trump has railed against the so-called Deep State ever since he became president, for one simple reason: He objects to any institution that might serve as a check on his own actions. That’s not how presidents behave; it’s what dictators do. Look what happened last year: Following well-established legal procedures, patriotic civil service members brought a case of questionable presidential conduct to light, beginning with the whistleblower’s report about Trump’s attempt to get the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. This revelation led to Trump’s impeachment, where we learned that he had relieved the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, because she objected to Trump’s politically motivated machinations in that country.

Since his acquittal by Senate Republicans, Trump has launched a vicious campaign of payback. He fired former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland (whom Trump had appointed) because Sondland reluctantly gave damaging testimony to the House impeachment inquiry. He fired National Security Council staffer (and Purple Heart recipient) Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and then suggested Vindman ought to be disciplined further by the U.S. Army. In proper mafialike fashion, his vengeance also extended to Vindman’s twin brother (also a serving Army officer), even though the latter wasn’t involved in any of these machinations. And let’s not forget his personal interference in the military’s disciplinary proceedings against former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who was accused of serious war crimes by numerous other SEALs and convicted by the military justice system for lesser offenses.

The unifying purpose behind all of these actions is obvious. What matters to Trump is not someone’s expertise, professionalism, loyalty to the country, or dedication to the Constitution. What matters to Trump is whether members of the foreign service, the civil service, or the military are personally loyal to him. That’s the demand he made of former FBI Director James Comey, and when he didn’t get it, Comey was fired, too. Right out of the dictator’s playbook.

Folks, there is no such thing as a “Deep State.” What we have is a president who is actively politicizing the civil service, the military and domestic security agencies and getting push back from it from people that know how wrong this is. We lost a president (Garfield) because of civil service corruption. We passed a law (the Pendleton Act) to prevent exactly what Trump is doing. People need to study this law and how our government actually works as opposed to having irrational and emotional feelings get the better of them. In short, Trump and his supporters are lying (again) about the government.

Don’t believe them.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Trump As A Vessel Of Their Hatred

As it looks increasingly likely that Bernie Sanders is going to get the nomination for the Democratic Ticket, conservatives are in full-on meltdown mode over the prospect of a democratic socialist for president. The problem is that their rage has got them so blinded as to what it all means that all they can see is gulags, re-education camps, and the end of all this holy about America. Holy crap, are they in need of some therapy!

The first thing they need to realize is their hate, anger, and fear at democratic socialism has nothing to do with what they erroneously believe is going to happen when Bernie wins. Like most emotional adolescents, they have worked with themselves up into such a lather that they actually believe that Bernie Sanders, a Jew, is going to start gulags and destroy us all with central planning. What they are actually upset about is being shown to be ideologically wrong and soon, coming to a theater near you, irrelevant. They REALLY hate losing arguments and this will, no doubt, be the ultimate loss.

Of course, even if they are shown to be ideologically wrong, the age of Trump has shown us that pretending to be right is their only answer. How did this come to pass? Well, Trump has become a vessel for all their hatred, anger and fear at all of the things and people they don't like, starting with liberals, elites and smart people trying to accomplish good things for the country. That last bit really sends them into a fit because they take their feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and inferiority and somehow transform that into Hitler, Stalin and death camps.

I suppose it is a death in a way...a death of hysterical nonsense and a birth of actual solutions to real problems. Sanders won't get all of the things he wants when he is elected but at least someone will be in there to put together a government that is more representative of what the people of this nation want.

In the final analysis, it's their own fault. They threw their lot in with a mentally unstable criminal who was hilariously and easily able to con them into fervently believing cultish beliefs. They will blame everyone but themselves and Trump when they lose both the presidency and the Senate. So, now we are left with a good chunk of our population who simply will not accept facts and reality.

What are we going to do with them?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Blunting Troll Suppression

Hey Russian trolls and other right wing bloggers/commenters, the African American community is on to you. They get that you purposefully discouraged voter turnout in 2016 and they are ready for you this year. And they have the backing of local city councils, as the link notes.

Regardless of who the candidate is, black turnout is going to be at an all time high.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Mandatory Vasectomies

Alabama State Rep. Rolanda Hollis has come up with a wonderful way to blunt abortion bills: make the male body responsible too. If a woman's womb is going to be the ward of the state (see also: The Handmaid's Tale), then so should a man's testicles. Ms. Hollis has put forth a bill calling for men to get state sponsored vasectomies after their third child or their 50th birthday...whatever comes first. The howls of derision from the pro life crowd in the comments and tweets made me ROTFALMFAO.

Male reproductive rights must be protected at any cost!

But not female reproductive rights...

This whole kerfuffle has made me reflect, though. What if men were held as responsible as women for pregnancies? And why don't you ever hear anything about that from the pro life crowd?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Comments Are Fully Open

Given our plethora of new readers from Reddit, Quora, Twitter, and other locales, we have decided to open up comments without moderation. Too many people have complained that they don't like having to wait to see what they wrote published and that it takes too long to go through the filter.

I've also decided to allow comments of any kind as this is an election year and it's going to get ugly anyway. Anyone previously banned from posting here is welcome to post again. I challenge those individuals (mostly from Kevin Baker's blog) to make their assertions without personal attacks on me. If they do, so be it, but it pretty much proves that they have nothing of substance to offer and zero convictions.

We will delete any spammy things like product ads or sex stuff. Also, any sort of doxing is a big no-no. People have the right to privacy. My associates in the police department (two of which are fans of this blog and Trump supporters, go figure) regularly monitor my traffic and will be all over anyone who doxxes.

With that, comment away!

The Meme Heard 'Round The World

This morning, I posted this meme on Reddit.

And my karma points exploded. The best comment?

They know. These aren't stupid people, well I guess they are but you know what I'm saying. They would rather be on a sinking ship with an inept captain than admit that they were wrong.

Indeed. Hubris and ego are big problems with the right. I'm certain that some of them really believe that socialism in any form is evil. But most just want to "win" and be "right."

The cognitive dissonance that is going to occur if Bernie is the nominee and wins is going to cause some of these folks to go fucking batshit. They are going to whip themselves up into such a lather that we may have to hold them down as their lives improve. It sort of reminds me of a little kid who doesn't want to take his medicine.

Do these assholes honestly think that people don't travel outside of the country anymore?

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Chest Thumping, Insecure Nonsense of Kevin Baker and His Merry Band of Authoritarians

The Democrats are a near lock to win the electoral college in 2020. How do we know this? Look no further than Rachel "the Doc" Bitcofer.

A recent piece in Politico has elevated her to national recognition and I highly recommend following her on Twitter as well as examining her model for 2020. Bitecofer saw some basic facts in the election of 2016 and was able to correctly predict the outcome of the 2018 election down to the seat. She also predicted Virginia in 2019. Those facts say that for the first time in history, Republicans lost the white, male, college educated voted in 2016. Trump's path to the White House, as she puts it, "which was the political equivalent of getting dealt a Royal Flush in poker, is probably not replicable in 2020 with an agitated Democratic electorate."

There is no such thing as a "swing" voter anymore. Not in this age of hyper-partisan politics. It's all about turnout and any of the top candidates in the Democratic field are going to destroy Trump.

So, when I read the chest thumping, insecure nonsense of Kevin Baker, quoting a likely Russian trollbot, I just shook my head. Projection. Again. Some things never change.

Because the shock is going to be entirely on his side of the aisle when he can't seem to fathom, the day after the election, how Trump lost. And so badly. Likely, he, along with other Trump supporters, will blame the media and the elites and others they are all jealous of but in the final analysis, it's going to come down to the simple fact that there are more of us that are going to vote than there are Trump voters.

Bernie has a fucking army. Young people will turn out for him by the millions. Mayor Pete will turn out moderates and a whole new generation of voters. Amy Klobuchar will pull the Democrats who voted for Trump back into the fold. Bloomberg, even if he isn't the nominee, will spend billions to defeat Trump. Kevin, do you not understand what you are up against?

Kevin et al, I would suggest seeking therapy for your issues with people that are successful, intelligent, accomplished and do things to help people (i.e Democrats and the few Republicans left who aren't Trumpified). You guys have built an entire political ideology around petty insecurity, irrational jealousy, feelings of inferiority and inadequacies, and childish bullying. Your party is fucking done. You just don’t see it yet.

Moreover, your party has become an authoritarian cult and you are cheering it on. History has not been kind to leaders and supporters of such endeavors. I’d recommend changing your tune fairly quickly if you don’t want your life to be miserable.

And I'd recommend following the Doc on Twitter. I realize the cognitive dissonance might be too much for you but it will ease pain of what's coming. It will also help you remember that happened in 2018 and 2019.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What's the Real Reason Parasite Could Win?

There have been dozens of stories in the news about Parasite being the first non-English language film to win the best picture Oscar. Few believed it could win because of an insurmountable hurdle: it's in Korean with subtitles.

I haven't seen this movie, or any of the other nominees for that matter, so I can't comment on the artistic content. But I can address the issue of subtitles.

This prejudice against subtitles has always baffled me. People complain that subtitles and closed captions are bad because they take your eyes away from the action, or the surprise is "spoiled" because the text appears before the actor speaks the words.

I turn on closed captions in English language shows all the time. My hearing is slightly damaged, but I don't want to expose myself to loud sounds because they'll just damage my hearing further. So when there's a background noise, like the dishwasher running, I turn on captions.

And on the completely altruistic side, I turn them on when my wife is sleeping.

Then there are production problems in some shows: sometimes the music or sound effects drown out the dialog and it's impossible to tell what the actors are saying. Sometimes the actors have accents that are difficult to understand -- usually English actors with regional accents in BBC shows.

This prejudice against subtitles gets a little ridiculous. My dad has severe hearing loss but refuses to wear hearing aids. He watches TV with headphones turned up to 11, but won't turn on closed captioning. Which is required by the FCC for people just like him.

(I do have one complaint about closed captioning, however: it's often riddled with errors. They seem to use automatic voice recognition on a lot of shows, and the text produced is often missing words, or misunderstands what was actually said.)

Then there are shows that make creative use of subtitles. The first series I noticed doing this was Heroes, which featured long conversations between two Japanese characters. The subtitles were often deployed inventively in different locations around the screen, almost like speech bubbles in comic books.

In the case of non-English language films, some people say they prefer dubbing in English because subtitles are too "distracting." But for me, the mismatch between the words on the audio track and the actors' mouths is far more irritating (like the infamous Godzilla dubs). Frequently the intonation or emotional content of the English language track doesn't match the scene, or is over the top, or the voice actor they chose just doesn't fit the character. Sometimes the English dubbing or translation sounds so stupid that it completely ruins the scene.

In short, I would much rather see the film as the original writer, director, and actor intended it to be seen, without interference from another writer, another director, and another voice actor, all of whom were hired by the studio in what always seems to be a rush job.

There have been many suppositions as to why a film with subtitles was finally able to win an Oscar: it's the Netflix effect (they have a lot of popular non-English shows with subtitles), or the FCC's closed captioning mandate.

Admittedly, there is a downside to subtitles: they don't help slow readers, dyslexics or the illiterate. I wouldn't want to stigmatize people who don't like subtitles, but it's true that captions require a certain facility with the written word.

But I think a large part of it is that the voters in the Academy are like average Americans who are just getting older and harder of hearing, and like me are using closed captioning every day.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Best Campaign Ad of 2020

Run it over and over again the swing states. The guy is not mentally fit for office.

Friday, February 07, 2020

How To Win A News Cycle

The Age of Donald Trump has brought many lessons to politicians and pundits all across America. One such lesson is how to win a news cycle. Trump does this very well. He knows that if he does something obnoxious, people will either praise him or condemn him. As long as they are talking about him and he is in the news-ALL of the news-it doesn't matter what he did.

Nancy Pelosi has learned this lesson very well. She knew the cameras were on her when she tore up Trump's SOTU speech. Now, everyone is talking about that and not his speech. Fox News has been wall to wall on the Great Pelosi Shredding and their dear leader is nowhere to be found. Even Kevin Baker had to put up a post about it.

More importantly, it seems all right wing news and information outlets do these days is troll liberals (and Mitt Romney now that he grew a pair of balls and chose country over party). I was watching Fox News the other night when I was on the treadmill at the gym and all they did was show clips from CNN and MSNBC. Free air time? Really?

It seems to me that conservatives should put forth their own ideas and convictions...oh wait...sorry...I can't type anymore because I'm ROTF and LMFAO. Conservatives have no ideas anymore and have only one conviction.

Trolling liberals.

What the fuck do you guys even stand for?

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

The Trump Cult Doesn't Get It

The Trump Cult has one very big tell when it comes to the general election and it's their fall back position on everything.


They think they have liberals pegged as naive about Trump's chances in the general election. They assume that because we all thought Trump would lose in 2016 (as did Trump himself and most conservatives) that our predictions of him getting his ass kicked in the fall by any of the top candidates is the same naivete. It's not and here's why.

Trump barely won in 2016 by roughly 80, 000 votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. He squeaked by. The Cult will have you believe that it was some sort of mammoth victory for them but, just like the "millions" that showed up for Trump's inauguration, it's pure fantasy.

Further, The Cult has to have the twice Obama voter go for Trump again this November or it ain't gonna happen. That one really causes some cognitive dissonance for them. They don't get that 2016 was a "fuck you" election and if anyone other than Hillary was the nominee, Trump would be running his own streaming service now and fleecing them for $8.99 a month. 2020 is going to be a different sort of election and not a repeat of 2016.

Any of the top contenders can wipe the floor up with Trump given his how detrimental his words and actions are to those twice Obama voters. They are sick of his bullshit and they will vote for Biden, Mayor Pete, Bernie or Warren. Honestly, they really only need a few votes in the Rust Belt and that's it. All of those candidates bring large constituencies with them and they are going to turn out to vote against Trump.

They did it in 2018. They did it in 2019 in red states. They will do it again this year.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The Very Predictable Iowa Caucus Disaster

Twenty years ago George Bush won the presidency by a single vote on the Supreme Court. Florida had botched the election by using punch cards in the polling booth, requiring voters to poke holes in a card, a card that was easily misaligned. The Court stopped a recount in Florida that would have almost certainly resulted in Al Gore winning the presidency.

It was clear then that there's only one valid way to register votes: on bubble sheets that can be quickly counted by mark-sense readers, or by humans if the machines aren't working, and to audit the machine-read results.

But companies saw a way to make a lot of cash: they sold the idea of using computers at the polls to a lot of states. This was a horrible idea, for dozens of reasons, but the main reason is this: elections only happen every year or two.

These computers are expensive and only get used for one or two days a year (or two weeks, in states that now allow early voting). The software is non-trivial and is only used once every couple of years, is difficult to test under actual conditions, and needs to be modified upon every use. Maintaining the hardware and operating system is a gargantuan job. All those computers are easy targets for hacking, so operational security is difficult at best, and impossible at worst. Worse, in every election since then there have thousands of complaints that the voting machines incorrectly count votes: touchscreens that registered a vote for a Republican when the voter selected a Democrat.

And all this is supposed to happen on city and county budgets, which are constantly hamstrung for cash, especially compared to things that happen on a daily basis, like fixing potholes and paying cops' and firefighters' salaries.

The last presidential election was severely disrupted by Russian hacking, and Donald Trump won because of that hacking.

So what moron decided they should write an app to register votes at the Iowa caucuses? What were they thinking? "Hey, let's give the Russians another chance to hack the election!"

To avoid that, they thought they could keep the app a big secret, and release it just before the caucuses to prevent said Russian hacking. What were they thinking? "Let's have an app that no one's ever seen and that's never been tested under life-like conditions decide who the next Democratic nominee is!"

To be fair, Iowa did have voters fill out presidential preference cards, so they should have a paper backup. But these are all administered in chaotic settings like high-schools gyms and cafeterias, usually by elderly people, so just how reliable is this system?

Then there's the problem with caucuses in the first place. Minnesota, where I live, used to have them for selecting the president, and in 2016 they were a disaster. Everyone wanted to go, and because everyone had to be there at exactly the same time, there wasn't even enough street capacity to accommodate all the cars going to the caucus: I sat in traffic in the same spot for 20 minutes until I finally I gave up and parked several blocks away.

Also, only certain kinds of people attend caucuses: party apparatchiks and driven, single-issue partisans. People just interested in selecting the candidate most likely to win are discouraged from coming.

For all these reasons, caucuses should be dropped in favor of presidential primaries that are run with the same rigor as general elections (rigor that should be improved with bubble-sheet voting). The selection of the next president should not be entrusted to party hacks and rabid pro- or con-abortion partisans browbeating their neighbors at caucus.

Minnesota has adopted such a presidential primary system, and all states should do so.

Republicans are having a field day with the Democrats' botched Iowa caucus. But the Republicans have completely abandoned democracy -- in Minnesota they completely prevented other candidates from running in the Republican primary, so Trump will be the only name on the Republican ballot -- just like the good old Soviet Union.

Minnesota will still have party caucuses to decide other issues and let candidates for local offices talk directly to the voters, but Minnesota Republicans refuse to announce where their caucuses will be, because they don't want anyone coming they don't control to bitch about Trump.

Finally, the idea that Iowa and New Hampshire should always get first shot at selecting the president is utterly bogus: those states do not represent the country in any meaningful way, and they should not get this outsized advantage that results from the extra attention that candidates pay them. There should be six to eight "Super Tuesdays" during primary season, and states should rotate among those every two years.

Saturday, February 01, 2020