Monthly Archives: June 2016

Wingnut vs. Wingnut

I cannot believe I’m about to praise Senator Mike Lee (R-LDS) but there’s a first time for everything. Why? He’s been out-wingnutted by some dipshit NewsMax teevee yakker:

“Hey look, Steve, I get it. You want me to endorse Trump,” Lee (R-Utah) told NewsMaxTV host Steve Malzberg. “We can get into that if you want. We can get into the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he’s made statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant. We can get into the fact that he’s wildly unpopular in my state, in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church. A people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1838. And, statements like that make them nervous.”

<SNIP>

The host pointed specifically to Trump’s insinuation that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as relatively trivial in comparison to Clinton’s scandals, but Lee didn’t see it that way.

“Right, right. He said that. He actually said that. He said that without any scintilla, without a scintilla of evidence. Now that concerns me,” Lee said.

Lee ritualistically said he could not vote for Hillary Clinton but the notion that accusing someone of being party to the Kennedy assassination is “relatively trivial” is obscene. I’m no fan of Tailgunner Ted or his nutbar factor-10 father but that’s a serious accusation. It’s a crime against American history to casually drag anyone into the event that changed the country forever. Apparently, Hillary’s email and Vincent Foster’s death are more important than the murder of a President.

In addition to praising Mike Lee, on this matter and this matter only, I’d like to offer some rare praise for the Mormon Church and its members. They have been consistently hostile to the Insult Comedian’s inflammatory comments on immigration and minority religious sects. It’s good to see that someone in what Gore Vidal famously called the United States of Amnesia has some historical memory. Persecution of one religious minority can easily turn into persecution of others.

Praising Mike Lee and the LDS church brings to mind that old expression “even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in awhile.” Why they would want to do such a thing remains mysterious to me but I am not well-versed in rural ways. So it goes.

Another Day…

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Another indication that the Traveling Train Wreck of the Trump Campaign is less Snake Oil/Medicine Show and more insult to that tradition…at least Medicine Shows worked at being, if not entertaining, original

As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial — one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. “I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar,” he said in the 2005 video, adding, “I’m teaching what I’ve learned.”

Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and had been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute.

Yet there was an even more fundamental deceit to the business, unreported until now: Extensive portions of the materials that students received after paying their seminar fees, supposedly containing Mr. Trump’s special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier.

And, in today’s news

Donald J. Trump vowed on Tuesday that as president he would put an end to policies that send American jobs overseas, threatening to impose tariffs on Chinese imports and promising to punish companies that relocate their manufacturing to countries with cheaper labor.

But such declarations are at odds with Mr. Trump’s long history as a businessman, in which he has been heavily — and proudly — reliant on foreign labor in the name of putting profits, rather than America, first. From cheap neckties to television sets, Mr. Trump has benefited from some of the trade practices he now scorns.

To which anyone with even a casual familiarity with the political cycle and/or Trump would say, duh. C’mon. The guy’s a fraud from his crappy hair weave to his self-declared inflated net worth…to whatever cheap knockoff substitutes for his soul. Yet, to those who’ve declared their loyalty, nothing…nothing at all…will sway them. So, sorry to repeat, but, to repeat, this election isn’t about trying to sway anyone already on the Trump Shitwagon. Don’t bother with them…just assume they’re basically the same dead-enders that stuck to the bitter end with Bush Junior and Dick Cheney…and they’re not anywhere close to an electoral majority. But make damn sure everyone else gets to the polls…otherwise, it’ll be a disaster.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Whose Body?

Dorothy Sayers was one of the founders of modern crime fiction. Lord Peter Wimsey is one of the original amateur detectives and one of the most enduring characters in the mystery genre. Despite being a toff, he received the pulp fiction treatment:

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A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile

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Cunning and guile are essential components of political leadership. The two Presidents that top my list FDR and Lincoln had both attributes in spades. My number three, George Washington, has been painted by history as a stuffed shirt, but he allowed Alexander Hamilton to do the heavy lifting and take all the heat. GW denounced political factionalism while being an arch-Federalist. It *is* true that it’s possible to have an overabundance of cunning: Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair come to mind. Most of their problems were down to slyness turning into slipperiness. Overall, cunning is a good quality in a leader: if only second-term Woodrow Wilson had shown the cunning of first-term Wilson the post-Great War scene might have been less of a shit show.

As Tricky would say: let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not opposed to principled stands in the face of majority opinion. I just believe one should first try to finagle one’s way around them in order to get something accomplished. As always, I am a member of the center-left wing of the Get Shit Done Party.

One of my main concerns about Barack Obama in 2008 was that he lacked cunning and guile. I was wrong about that. It took some time but few Presidents have been as politically adept and cunning in dealing with both friends and adversaries. The ability to project idealism while backing it up with cunning is a gift given only to the greatest leaders such as FDR and Lincoln.

The reason my mind turned to cunning and its use in politics is because of two politicians who lack it: Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. Both men are true believers who make fine speeches but seem to lack the ability to convince other politicians to follow them. One cannot be a leader without followers. A talent possessed by both FDR and Lincoln was an uncanny ability to convert adversaries into supporters. The best example of all was Lincoln’s relationship with his 1860 nomination opponent and Secretary of State William Henry Seward. Seward famously tried to get the President to sign a document that would have made Seward de facto Prime Minister. Lincoln stopped the effort and commenced wooing Seward. It worked. The two men became close colleagues and even closer friends. It takes a subtle and flexible nature to do this; a more recent example involves Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

There’s an outstanding piece today by Slate’s Jamelle Bouie  about how Senator Sanders squandered his influence with a combination of recalcitrance and excessive purism:

Sanders wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee, but he still held a good amount of leverage in the form of his voters. After a tough primary, they were hesitant to back Clinton, a fact apparent in the polls. Clinton stood ahead of Donald Trump, but not by much: Her lead was weakened by the party’s unbridged divisions. By holding off on a concession and an endorsement, the Vermont senator was keeping this leverage in reserve ahead of the Democratic National Convention. It made sense.

Still, it was a risky move. Whatever influence or leverage Sanders had was tied to his voters. As long as they stuck with him—and didn’t move to Clinton—he could make demands and win concessions on items like the Democratic Party’s platform, a key object of his rhetoric over the past month. But if his voters moved without his endorsement, either pushed by fear of Trump or support from other Democrats, then the value of his support would fall accordingly.

Which is what happened. In his nonconcession speech, Sanders told supporters their “major political task” was to “make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly.” It turns out that was the message that landed.

Another example of Sanders’ tone-deafness involved the Democrats recent anti-gun efforts in the Senate and House. Sanders did not attend the Senate filibuster and showed up for a few minutes during the House sit-in with camera crews in tow. His apologists have yammered on about his need to placate rural gum owners in Vermont, but if he were the uber-principled pol they paint him as, he would have done more. He was undermined by his lack of cunning and guile. Symbols matter and he could afford to lose some votes in Vermont in exchange for supporting his colleagues. It’s one reason that only Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley supported him during the primary season. Merkley is now supporting the presumptive nominee.

Jeremy Corbyn is afflicted with a similar lack of cunning and guile. He’s had a year to woo his parliamentary colleagues to his side but was too busy making speeches to the converted. When his lacklustre performance in the EU Referendum campaign was called out, he fell back on rhetoric and ideological platitudes. He lost a vote of no-confidence yesterday 172-40, which means he either needs to resign as leader or face another leadership contest. Btw, despite claims by British and American dudebros alike this isn’t a Blairite plot but a genuine revolt of members who do not want to face the electorate with Corbyn as their leader.  A bit of cunning and guile applied in the last year might have prevented it. Once again: you cannot be a leader without followers.

It continually amazes me that people don’t understand that everyday people skills are applicable to politics. Earnest speeches aren’t enough, personal relationships matter. If you’re clueless or abrupt with your colleagues they’re unlikely to want to help you. We all compromise every day of our lives but some are gobsmacked when politicians do the same thing. Politics is about helping people and the only way to help people is to win elections. You cannot extend Social Security benefits from the sidelines. You need to be in the game.

Principles and ideals are important, but without cunning and guile one cannot put those ideals to work. A refusal to compromise is every bit as bad as over-compromising or caving. Leaders without cunning and guile are mere disaster purists who won’t accomplish anything and will find themselves without followers soon enough.

Malaka Of The Week: Nigel Farage

There are three things I think everyone should do if they want to become a well-rounded adult: work retail, wait tables, and play team sports. One reason for the latter is that I hate poor sports be they winners or losers. The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner and that is why Nigel Farage is malaka of the week.

Nigel Farage has been the leader of the UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) off and on for the last decade. UKIP is a right-wing anti-EU anti-immigrant party, which has been making gains in recent years. Farage is one of the reasons. He has cultivated a jovial “cheeky chappy that you’d love to have a pint with” persona. He’s another in a long line of fake men of the people having made his fortune as a commodity broker. Oddly enough for a Europhobe, Farage has been a MEP (member of European Parliament) since 1999.

Farage has let his cheeky chappy mask slip since the Brexit vote. Yesterday at the European Parliament he ripped it off and went full metal malaka. I’ll leave it to the Guardian’s Marina Hyde to describe his triumphalist dick waving:

Farage has been building up to this moment his entire political life, as he tells everyone at every single opportunity. In which case, how is it humanly possible that his speech to the European parliament today could be so artless, so crass, a scarcely refined version of some England fans’ infamous recent chant: “Fuck off Europe, we voted out”? To couch it in the sort of imbecilic historical inaccuracy which is the only language Farage understands: this speech was so bad that they’re now quits with us for saving them in the second world war.

You may disagree with this reading of the war; Nigel would regard it as hugely overcomplicated. This, he repeated once more, was a victory against “big politics”. “Virtually none of you”, he bellowed at the MEPs, “have ever done a job in your lives.”

Watching him was like watching the live abortion of Churchill’s oratorial legacy. As the latter’s grandson Nicholas Soames observed: “Appalling ghastly performance by that dreadful cad Farage in the European parliament. #hownottoinfluence.” Agreed. There is soft power, and then there is politics as erectile dysfunction.

Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult not to speculate as to the psychological underpinnings of the Farage condition. “When I came here 17 years ago,” he shouted, failing to hide his nervous elation, “you all laughed at me. Well I have to say: you’re not laughing now, are you?” He made it, you losers! He got out. He’s in the big leagues now. He’s the guy who just turned up to his school reunion in a white limo with two dead-eyed escorts on his arm.

Above all, the performance offered a reminder that Farage makes everything in which he is involved a race to the bottom. The opposite of a Midas, he may as well be nicknamed Brownfinger. His excruciatingly aggressive display eventually drew boos from the chamber. “Ladies and gentlemen, I understand you’re emotional,” urged the assembly president. “But you’re acting like Ukip.”

Small, petty, bitter, and vindictive are among the words that come to mind. The man has realized his “dream” and still feels the need to bully, browbeat, and insult those who dare disagree with him. Farage not only spiked the ball, he stuck it up his opponent’s collective asses. Nigel Farage is the ultimate sore winner and that’s why he’s malaka of the week.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Alone Together

Dave Mason’s exit from Traffic remains acrimonious to this day. Alone Together was his first solo effort and it puts the rock in rock. Literally.  I thought of this album cover whilst driving through the a part of Virginia that was full of limestone quarries. It wasn’t our quarry but I give you this week’s cover without further adieu:

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The album packaging was rather unusual as described in this Wikepedia entry:

About 30% of the records were produced in so-called marble vinyl, a swirled mix of pink, brown and beige, rather than the usual black vinyl.[3] The original record jacket is a tri-fold with a half-pocket on the inside to hold the record (originally issued without a paper inner sleeve). The top of the tri-fold has a die-cut image of Mason in a top hat, collaged behind a rocky outcrop, and there is a small die-cut hole at the top to permit the jacket to be hung on the wall as a poster.

I’m presenting two views because one will not do:

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That’s some fancy shit, y’all. Here’s the whole ding-dong album on the YouTube:

All the Times Nothing Happens

I started a new job in April, one that necessitates my taking the L downtown each day. I’ve been riding the train off and on since we moved here, and never had a problem except when with out-of-town friends or family members who already think I am about to be raped and murdered every day here in the urban hellhole.

Like I bring my mom on the very touristy Red Line, and of course that day there’s a guy peeing off the end of the platform and singing.

Yesterday the train was crowded, rush hour bodies crammed next to one another as we all tried not to notice the closeness and the coffee breath and the summer sweat. I could see, over a young woman’s shoulder, that she was reading Game of Thrones. Beside her a little girl was reading Harry Potter.

At every platform, we crushed in closer.

If you thought about what holds the world up, you’d go stark raving mad inside a second.

Passengers on the train called 911 to report the stabbing, and an officer was already near the 47th Street Red Line stop as the train pulled up, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

The suspect stepped off the train, saw the officer and surrendered, Guglielmi said.

Police still are conferring with prosecutors on charges. The weapon was recovered at the scene.

It’s not how often something happens here, I tell out of town friends and family. It’s how often something doesn’t. We gather in ways that would make us targets all the time here. Every morning commute is the next packed nightclub floor. Anyone with a gun could … anyone with a bomb could … anyone with a knife.

This many people, this close together, this often, and nine times out of ten the worst thing that happens is someone’s wallet gets lifted.

I’ve seen musicians jam on the train, total strangers dancing along. I’ve seen a whole car, Mr. A included, get involved in an argument about the precise ethnicity of Jesus, and collectively ignore a ranting panhandler into calming down, and help a woman whose stroller got stuck in the gap between the car and the steps. People have offered me water when I was hot and when it’s below zero everyone huddles under the warming lights and makes the why the hell do we live here face.

This isn’t me saying it isn’t that bad. It’s me saying that we exist in a state of fragile truce, at all times. If you thought about it too much, if you saw it moving past you, you wouldn’t be able to stand it.

We exist, in this country, in every country, in inescapable interdependence. Contact is inevitable, leading to information bleed. I make accommodations, every day, for others. So do you. We do it without knowing it, looking past things, moving over, bending down.

What happens if that just stops?

This happens:

The first time I watched that video I looked at the two assholes yelling abuse at a dark-skinned man, in front of a woman wearing a hijab.

The second time I watched it, I looked at everyone else.

Yelling back. Saying stop. Saying this a disgrace. Saying that’s not fair. Saying that’s not right. Saying we’re not like this.

And it’s easy to say we are, because we are. I know the same Trump supporters you know. I’m a middle-class white chick and I don’t know all of the America you know, but three days after 9/11 I saw unemployed shitheads paint their chests red, white and blue and yell about “dune coons” up and down the street, and threaten good people, and do more than threaten.

It’s not that we’re not like this. It’s that we’re like this. And we’re like the people who yell back, too.

A.

Let’s Compromise on Compromise for Compromisers!

One of the most satisfying consequences of the Trump defenestration in November will be the end of all these takes about how Trump just happened. 

Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

For example, they long for bullshit “bi-partisan” solutions to thorny problems like if women are people and if wars should be based on actual facts. They pretend there is a BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME for every situation, including delegitimizing people based on their race or sexual orientation, and when called on their snide shit, they write lofty view-from-nowhere crap about how rude everything is now.

UGH.

Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.

I recognize you. I see your presence, your physicality, the weight of your reality. I hear your words and can understand your viewpoint and seeing as you do not think I am a citizen under the law I AM DONE NOW OKAY.

Guys, can we fill out a checklist here, that says we have pondered one another’s existence before defeating soundly in an election the ideas that suspected terrorists have a right to guns but poor schoolchildren should earn their food?

Like I would just like to get some work done today.

The antipolitics people elect legislators who have no political skills or experience. That incompetence leads to dysfunctional government, which leads to more disgust with government, which leads to a demand for even more outsiders.

The antipolitics people don’t accept that politics is a limited activity. They make soaring promises and raise ridiculous expectations. When those expectations are not met, voters grow cynical and, disgusted, turn even further in the direction of antipolitics.

The antipolitics people refuse compromise and so block the legislative process. The absence of accomplishment destroys public trust. The decline in trust makes deal-making harder.

Word which appears nowhere in this list: REPUBLICAN.

We’re now at a point in which normal political conversation has broken down. People feel unheard, which makes them shout even louder, which further destroys conversation.

Also lives. The cocktail parties are awkward but here in Chicago they are talking about shutting down a whole school system so you’ll pardon me if I prioritize that over how hard it is for David Brooks and his friends to have nice chitty-chat.

Politics is in retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist. It’s taking pleasure in that difference and hammering out workable arrangements.

Yes. Let us come to a workable arrangement with Trump and the people who support him, with the Brexiters who screamed at immigrants this week to LEAVE LEAVE LEAVE. Let us continue to bend over backwards to help and understand and pet and accommodate.

Normal people — of all political stripes — think non-white, non-straight, non-male human beings have a right to exist and be protected under the law. They have a the right to be counted as full citizens of the United States.

Trump and his followers think they don’t count as people.

Maybe, in attempting to solve this intractable, uncomfortable problem, we could compromise and BE NICE. Recognize other viewpoints. Count them as half.

No. Wait. Three-fifths?

A.

Did You Eat A Bowl Of Stupid For Brexit?

I’m sure you’ve all seen this venerable meme:

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It occurred to me that the whole UK EU Referendum mishigas gave me a pretext to make a  brexit/breakfast pun and you know me, I cannot resist a good pun. Or a bad one for that matter. I need to meme two of the four horsemen of the British political apocalypse before moving on. I decided to be kind to Cameron and Corbyn but they deserve it too:

Farage-Bozza meme

Now that I’ve loaded up the Eurosceptic clown car with two bozos named Nigel and Boris (the Bozo-like Bozza is Johnson’s nickname) it’s time for some substance. I’m going to use sub-headers Odds & Sods style.

Calling America: American pundits have been exposing their utter lack of knowledge on the subject of British history and politics ever since the vote took place. One usually sagacious broadcaster actually led a Brexit segment with this: Will Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson be the next Prime Minister? It literally cannot be UKIP leader Nigel Farage. He’s not an MP and UKIP’s lone seat in the Commons is held by a right-wing Tory defector. Repeat after me: One must be a member of Parliament to be Prime Minister. Period. Case closed. It’s even been over 50 years since a member of the House of Lords was PM. Farage is out but as a Tory MP Boris is the frontrunner to succeed the hapless gambler, David Cameron. Home Secretary Theresa May seems poised to run as a stop-Bozza candidate but Johnson is the favorite.

Back to us Yanks. This is about the UK, not about the US. Any analogies between the two political systems are strained to say the least. Yes. Donald Trump is a loudmouth xenophobic bigot BUT our electorate is only 63% white whereas the British electorate is 87% pale and pasty. The numbers don’t add up, so people should knock it off. Besides, Bill Kristol thinks it’s applicable, which means it’s not.

The only direct effect on the US is economically. The uncertainty caused by Brexit could trigger a global recession. That’s why the Insult Comedian’s support for Brexit shows that he’s an economic imbecile. Despite what Trump thinks, the Scots voted 62% to remain in the EU. Now they’re more likely than not to be an independent country within a decade.

Repeat after me: not everything that happens in the world is about us.

It’s time for a musical interlude. I guess it qualifies as the segment theme song:

The Fog Of EU History: It’s a pity that one of the original reasons for the EU has been forgotten in the Brexit debate. At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill supported some sort of European entity as a means of keeping the peace between the major powers. The EU is a great success in that regard. There’s been no Europe-wide conflict since 1945 and Germany has become fully integrated, not a pariah state like the Weimar Republic.

The British applied to join the European Common Market in 1958 but French General/President DeGaulle wasn’t having it. Originally, the Conservatives were the pro-European “big party” and Labour were predominantly Eurosceptic. After DeGaulle kicked the bucket, Tory PM Ted Heath led the UK into what was then called the EEC. After Labour’s return to power, PM Harold Wilson held a referendum on Europe to shut up his hard left-wing and won with 67% of the vote.

The Tories did not become the party of Euroscepticism until Mrs. Thatcher pushed them in that direction. She was the first of three Conservative Prime Ministers to be ousted because of EU-related issues. In her case it was by pro-European colleagues. John Major and David Cameron spent much of their governments fending off the Eurosceptic Right and were both eventually undone by the issue that *seems* to have been decided by the electorate last Thursday. I say seems because the devil is always in the details and the leave side is noticeably short on them.

Time for a foggy, Gershwiny musical interlude:

The Biggest Losers: There are almost too many to name but both the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, are at the head (or is that back?) of the line when it comes to losers. I changed my mind about being kind to the Posh Boy and Jez:

Jez-Posh Boy meme

The whole mess is primarily David Cameron’s own damn fault. He has spent 6 years as Prime Minister treating Europe as a party management issue. He kept kicking the can down the road. When in coalition with the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, he could blame everything on their leader, Nick Clegg. Cameron’s greatest triumph as Tory leader-the surprise winning of a majority in 2015-ultimately led to his undoing. He promised to hold an EU referendum after the election to keep his party united. Unfortunately, it was a promise kept; one that swept him out of power.

Like many Britons, Cameron *assumed* the remain side would win. Surely people wouldn’t be so reckless as to throw the European baby out with the bathwater? He was wrong. It was part down to what the Guardian’s Martin Kettle has described as the PM’s own “soft-Euroscepticism,” which is something he shares with his counterpart, the comically inept Leader of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn could be dubbed His Accidency, and nobody wants to be compared to John Tyler. Like Bernie Sanders, his support comes from old lefties and independents, not his parliamentary caucus. Like David Cameron, Corbyn is a soft-Eurosceptic. He only supported the remain side because of a threatened rebellion by Labour MPs. Note the similarity: it was a party management issue for Corbyn as well as the Prime Minister. Corbyn’s campaigning left something to be desired. I’ll let the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee handle it in a column entitled, Dismal, lifeless, spineless-Jeremy Corbyn let us down again:

Blame is everywhere in the air, as we thrash about in the agony of this moment. Jeremy Corbyn faces an immediate leadership challenge after a performance that was dismally inadequate, lifeless and spineless, displaying an inability to lead anyone anywhere. What absence of mind to emphasise support for free migration on the eve of a poll where Labour was haemorrhaging support for precisely those metropolitan views. Here was Labour’s golden chance to make this referendum campaign its own. Voters who blocked their ears to Labour on the doorstep this time may head for Ukip, never to return.

Labour has thrown away a golden opportunity to capitalize on Tory disarray because it has a dense pillock as its leader. This has nothing to do with ideology: Corbyn is simply too passive and clueless to pounce on this situation. Unfortunately, Labour’s huge losses in Scotland at the last election means that even a better party leader may be unable to win a snap general election. The good news is that Labour MPs are rebelling at the prospect of Corbyn leading them into *any* election. Speaking of future elections, Scotland is likely to hold another independence referendum and this time the YES side will surely win. 2014’s No-Slide was for naught. Repeat after me: Scots voted 62% to remain in the EU. All of the SNP’s post-Brexit maneuvering is about an independence vote. Nicola Sturgeon is a wily lass.

By my lights, David Cameron has been a terrible Prime Minister from day-one. His government’s austerity policies have screwed poor and working class Brits to the wall. He’s now made his defining mistake in holding and losing the EU referendum. He’ll also, more likely than not, be remembered as the Prime Minister who destroyed a 309 year-old union. Wales and Northern Ireland may well decide to leave the UK, which could result in a return to violence in Ulster. Cameron’s referendum mistake could prove to be even costlier than Tony Blair taking a reluctant nation and party to war in Iraq. One should really dub it Camoron’s referendumb.

I think the “winners” of the referendumb are losers as well. Euroscepticism has defined the British Right since 1988. What have they got left to bang on about? That’s why Boris Johnson laid low until yesterday. The mess that he helped to make may well be on his plate come October. It would be a fitting punishment for his egregious malakatude. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: the only thing Boris has in common with the Insult Comedian is bad hair. On paper, Johnson is qualified to be Prime Minister but who knows if he or anyone else will be able to clean up this mess.

British Stupidity, American Lessons: I know I said this isn’t about us BUT there are a few things we can learn from this looming disaster. First, party politics should never be placed above the national interest. That’s why the UK is facing this disaster. Second, vote in every election and do not cast protest votes that you’ll regret. There are millions of Brits whose vote amounted to a cosmic FUCK YOU to the so-called elites of the establishment who are now sorry they voted that way. Here’s how a certain internet smart ass put it on the Tweeter Tube:

I hope the Dudebros of the American Left are listening but I suspect they’re busy whinging because the so-called Bernie of Britain is in trouble. I have a new term for this: disaster purism.

Like all human institutions, the EU is flawed. Much of the discussion has been about economics and abstract notions of sovereignty, but the EU’s human rights and labor charters are documents that protect citizens and workers from the excesses of both government and the private sector. The EU is not perfect but it’s kept the peace; something Europe was desperately in need of after two World Wars in 30 years. Repeat after me: Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I’ll let a British cultural icon have the last word:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the DNC – unconventional edition

OK – I’m back – two broken-down cars and major recarpeting/flooding repair later.

So – instead of bitching and whining about politics on the Book Of Faces, I was actually doing something constructive.

Stop laughing.

Credentials

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View from my room of the (damn I hate saying this) Alamodome. Whoever picked this venue should have been played the Deguello.

 

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My district (SD12) was crammed into a cinderblock  brusebad –  I mean “meeting room”, and we proceeded to vote as if our very beings depended on it.

 

All of my candidates (save two) won their slots, and at least four of the votes were close enough to require runoffs, some being decided by one or two votes.

So not only did my vote count, you could say it was a tie-breaker.

So much for the “Oh, my vote doesn’t count” whine, eh?
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From the main floor – here’s something you don’t see very often – Mariachis For Hillary!
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For the A/V geeks among us – a view from the control center:
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Anywhoo, pretty standard rah-rah stuff on the convention floor – the real work is done in committee and in the voting blocs.
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Except…
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At the close of the convention, as people started leaving (there’s only so many 30-minute speeches people can handle at one sitting), some Sanders delegates tried to pull a fast one and do an end-run around the majority.
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How?  Follow below and find out.
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Even Their Gods Are Wrong: Game of Thrones Thread

As always, come for Robb’s fuzzy collar, stay for Catelyn’s OMG WE ARE SO FUCKED NOW face. All the Stark feelings.

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GOP Governor Hates City Schools, Giant Surprise

I have reached the stage of Bruce Rauner where I can’t even have a rational argument anymore. I just yell obscenities at the TV screen, which is one of many, MANY reasons I am no longer allowed to watch local news at home.

(The major one being that when Kick was about 5 months old I was watching some local report on a child molestation case in which the criminal rapist was described as having “had sex” with his victim, and I yelled YOU MEAN HE FUCKING RAPED HER so loud I scared the baby. Also, nobody is transported to an area hospital. Where the fuck else they gonna go? Ugh, local news is such crap.)

So anyway, my state’s governor has been all over TV bitching that the sainted white suburban taxpayers, who worked so hard for their kids’ good schools, shouldn’t have to pay for city kids. He used the word bailout, which is horseshit: 

Illinois sends school districts funding from 19 major categories of education aid, including general state aid, block grants and pension subsidies. Accounting for all those dollars in Rauner’s budget for next year, CPS will receive just 69 cents in funding for every dollar the rest of the state receives — on average.

Chicago students are 20 percent of state public school enrollment and our taxpayers pay 20 percent of state income taxes, yet we receive less than 15 percent of state education subsidies.

The missing 5 percent approaches $550 million, enough to save Chicago schools.

So just shut up, you l;HDSFK;ALKSDFJW;OIEUR. Just shut up. Quit yelling at poor people while you lunch with the rich smug jerkwagons who created this mess in the first place:

“A bailout for Chicago is not fair to taxpayers, and it doesn’t solve any of the problems for the taxpayers,” Rauner said after speaking at a Illinois Taxpayers Federation luncheon in River North, where he received a couple of chuckles in his criticism of both unions and Democratic leaders.

HAHAHAHAHAHA SO FUNNY KIDS MIGHT NOT HAVE SCHOOLS THIS FALL. It’s hilarious that teachers are being underpaid! Hysterical! It must be so nice to hear that kind of stuff over your fucking tuna nicoise you asshole ;alkdfjsal;skdfjpwoiqeurpwoifjsdlkjf.

A.

This Has To Be Peak BOTH SIDES, Right? RIGHT??!

Please tell me this is it: 

Roughly two in three Americans say they think Trump is unqualified to lead the nation; are anxious about the idea of him as president; believe his comments about women, minorities and Muslims show an unfair bias; and see his attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican American heritage as racist.

A slimmer majority say they disapprove of the way Clinton has handled questions about her use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state, and half of Americans are anxious about the prospect of a Clinton presidency, underscoring the historic unpopularity of the two major-party candidates.

Reminder, first: Every time you cite a national poll to prove some point about a presidential election, Presidents Mondale, Gore and Kerry get together to talk about how much the Bush family sucks.

Second, OH FOR SHIT’S SAKE.

Two thirds of America thinks Trump is a racist, xenophobic trashbag. Roughly half of America thinks seriously, how did Clinton not think this e-mail thing would bite her in the ass, and we have no idea how she’d fix any of the shit that is currently burning down. THESE TWO THINGS ARE EXACTLY ALIKE.

Just ENOUGH. This kind of mealy-mouthed appeasing crap will not save you from accusations of bias from the third of America that went insane after 9/11 and likes to spend its time yelling CUCK CUCK CUCK on the Internet. Those assholes already hate you and they aren’t going to change.

The strain is actually starting to SHOW, y’all:

In fact, so strong is many Americans’ opposition to Clinton and desire for a change in Washington that even some registering their disapproval of Trump say that as of now they feel compelled to vote for him.

Nevertheless, in a head-to-head general election matchup, Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 39 percent among registered voters nationwide, the poll found.

Six of your asshole Berniebro friends are not voting for Clinton because THE REVOLUTION, man. Nevertheless, in a head-to-head general election matchup, those shitbirds don’t matter and nobody gives a fuck.

I know it’s boring to write story after story that says this is gonna be a slaughter, so this week we’re seeing deluge of OMG BREXIT CLINTON OVERCONFIDENT DOOOOOOOMED crap, but if you are going to pull something trying to make it sound like there’s a race happening, just don’t. It’s embarrassing.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: The Life & Times Of Ralph Stanley

The great bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley died this week at the age of 89. Mr. Stanley was one of the most soulful singers I’ve ever heard. He will be missed.

Here’s a TNN documentary about him:

Finally, here’s one of Ralph Stanley’s signature songs:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

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Economy of Grace by Kehinde Wiley.

It was a long ass road trip, y’all. Our first destination was Richmond, VA to attend our nephew Zachary’s high school graduation. He goes to a small public school for super smart-n-independent kids. There were 42 graduates, which meant that each of them got to say something. They even introduced the entire staff including the custodian. It’s a racially mixed class so, naturally, the black parents were loud and raucous whereas most of the white folks were polite and quiet. Boring. I tried to make up for that by whooping it up but I could not come close to the African-American mother who shouted out “Don’t you cry, baby girl” when her daughter approached the podium. It did not work. Profuse tears were shed.

Another highlight of the trip was seeing the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts. It’s entitled A New Republic and offers a fresh take on the masters by a talented black artist. If it comes to or near your town, check it out. Don’t tell them I sent you, they won’t give a shit.

We attended the Wiley exhibit the day after a horrible storm front blew through Richmond causing 150K power outages and general havoc. I’m not sure if General Havoc sided with the Union or the Confederacy. We had to drive through it but, much like the Rain Man, Dr. A is an excellent driver. Things were so hinky in Richmond that the museum alarm went off as I was looking at the VMFA’s fine collection of George Bellows’ work. It started bellowing so we exited, it had nothing to do with brexit. I’ll probably write something about that for Monday. I’m too pooped to mock Cameron, Corbyn, Farage, and Bozza right now. Note: the Johnson blond straw ‘do is real as you can see from this picture with his father:

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Photo via the Guardian.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Thursday was actually the day I got home but what’s a bit of artistic license among friends? Artistic licentiousness is an altogether different matter. A musical highlight of the road trip was blasting a bootleg of a 1993 Squeeze show as we barreled through Birmingham, which according to Randy Newman is the greatest city in Alabam. Me, I prefer Mobile or the town in Alabama where the tusks are looser. The rim shot belong to Groucho Marx, not me, y’all.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, this week’s theme song. It’s The Day I Get Home by Difford and Tilbrook from the Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure; including one from the phenomenal 1993 Some Fantastic Place tour with Pete Thomas on drums and Paul Carrack on keys and vox:

After the break, I’ll post a few more trip tales as well as another homey/homely tune. Gotta stretch my legs, it was a long road trip.

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Friday Catblogging: Stink Eye

We’re home but Della and Oscar haven’t quite forgiven us for abandoning them. Here’s a picture of Oscar taken by our catsitter, Christy, on the second day we were gone:

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Neo Con Artist

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So earlier this week we were treated to the revelation that The Donald’s been using his position as presumptive GOP nominee to do what he does best — grift — including funneling $35K to the amusingly named and for all practical purposes totally imaginary advertising firm “Draper Sterling” … which, on the one hand, as I said, is part and parcel to Trump’s real, um, talent … but also … kind of low ball, if you think of it. Only 35 thousand? Reminds me of a line from a different show

“I don’t mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.”

That’s because we all found out this week that the Trump bandwagon is a more beat up, wheels missing Radio Flyer than anything resembling a modern presidential campaign, having unprecedentedly small amount of cash on hand at this stage of the game. Of course, the librul media, in an effort to maintain the fiction of objectivity not to mention the sale of advertisements and newspapers, probably in that order, either ignores this inconvenient fact or swallows whole absurd claims of fundraising prowess…well, the show — or at least the appearance of the show — must go on, right?

Sigh. November can’t get here soon enough…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Have Nude, Will Travel

We’re on our way home so, naturally, I googled “pulp fiction paperbacks travel.” Here’s the first result:

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It’s Only Poetry: #NoBillNoBreak, Gun Control, and What We’re About

The concern troll fu was STRONG with the Internet today, as Democrats led by certified badass and current sex symbol of the Athenae household Rep. John Lewis said oh, you don’t want to vote on gun control legislation? OKAY. Watch this.

Immediately other liberals and professional contrarians pointed out that the watchlist was garbage, itself a violation of all kinds of due process, and not something we should be in favor of making tougher.

The Democratic proposal has been catch-phrased and hashtagged as “no fly, no buy,” because it would prevent people who end up on government terrorism watchlists, including the “no fly list,” from purchasing firearms. This would do little to reduce gun violence, but it would add an additional layer of surveillance and government scrutiny to a particular class of people.

Which is true, and not the point at all. The watch list and the no-fly list are horrific GOP garbage.

The GOP won’t even vote in favor of its own garbage if that garbage is disapproved of by the NRA.

The GOP won’t even ALLOW a vote to expand their own bills if the NRA doesn’t want them to.

There is no principle they hold to that they will not abandon if the NRA asks them to.

There is nothing they won’t block if the NRA asks them to to.

They are run by the NRA, lock stock and about a thousand smoking goddamn barrels. And that is the point of forcing votes on legislation the GOP should be roundly in favor of. That is the point of sitting in.

It’s to say, what chance does actual gun control legislation have if we can’t even get this garbage through?

It’s to say, we are giving them everything they should want, and they are throwing it back in our faces for no real reason, so you tell us what else we’re supposed to do? You tell us how we’re supposed to work with people who won’t even work with us on stuff they used to work on!

For the past 8 years the GOP has lied and abused and obfuscated and postured. They shut down the government for the second time in history (the first time was their fault, too) out of spite at not being able to keep people uninsured. They are blocking a Supreme Court justice from having his nomination even considered.

For 8 years we’ve heard stories about how “Washington” or “Congress” is gridlocked, about how “politicians” don’t get anything done, how “both parties” are responsible for America “becoming polarized” and other nonsense that makes it sound like this is the weather and not the end result of electing Tea Party-sexual hairdos without two brain cells to rub together.

Tonight the story is that Democrats are demanding votes on gun control legislation, and are willing to put their bodies on the floor until those votes happen, and Republicans are blocking those votes and turning off the cameras and walking out of the chamber. That’s the story now.

America has been really hard to love, lately.

Between the ongoing violence in the city and the seemingly neverending stream of nonsense coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth, between the perpetual debate about how mean we should be to poor people and the fact that people genuinely think yelling on the internet is like having your head busted in at a protest, America has been a really prickly, unloveable place.

But tonight, hearing about the sit-in John Lewis and his fellow Dems were staging, people started gathering at the Capitol. People came and held signs and yelled that they were with those inside, that they were watching, that they cared.

Inside, on the floor of the People’s House, a bunch of men and women in suits sang We Shall Overcome.

A lot of people are calling this posturing. Calling it theater. But it’s not. It’s poetry. And there are worse things than poetry. People have sat on hard floors all night for worse things than poetry. People have died, for worse things than poetry. And nobody is poorer or dumber or hungrier because of poetry.

And if tonight  we are one iota less alone, in our fear and our anger, because of that poetry, then sing on.

A.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Les Moustaches

I’m not sure if this is album cover is real or fake. I am, however, sure that it’s deeply silly. Btw, Dr. A hates mustaches.

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