Archive for the ‘The Press’ Category.

So the Problem is Social Media?

I had an interesting discussion last night about what has driven our fact free world or more specifically alternate realities depending on how you pick your facts. The gist of my protagonist’s argument was that being awash in media, and especially social media is driving the spread of false narratives and fake news, and once it is out there it spreads so fast that you can’t put it back in the bottle with real facts and data. Now that is certainly true, but I think it is an effect, not a cause, multiplied by technology. I have all kinds of technology, I get news 24/7, yet I seemed to be able to navigate the junk just fine.

I think in some ways this is generational. I was raised in a time when science and accepted research were respected. There were, certainly, a lot fewer narratives to choose from, and I did not think my teachers, whether they taught science, history, or English were just given their opinion on things. Now everything can be questioned and good grammar apparently is in the eye of the beholder? Questioning things is good, but I think we have unleashed a monster in those that neither understand the psychology of the self, or true critical thinking.

Let’s start with the psychology of the self as I like to call it. That is our tendency to decide things from the gut, and pick and choose facts/stories based upon what we want to believe. When I was a young boy, I learned the scientific method. It was based upon removing those biases from the analysis through a systematic application of rules. As I became a young man, I learned what it meant to really know something, not just a feeling or a wish, but to know it. The second part of this and probably closely related is critical thinking. I hear something I want to believe, that supports some wacky idea I have, but is it true? What is the source? What are other interpretations of events.

Let’s take my insistence that President DFF colluded with the Russians, tried to suppress the investigation, and is an ignorant racist. Start with racist. Define what that means because if you are going to have an argument about whether he is, both of you better have the same definition. My definition is simple, he stereotypes various groups, and he favors white people (or discriminates in policy and actions against people of color). I believe based upon his own word and actions, it is quite clear he is a racist. But the argument you might have with someone who disagreed would be around do we have facts or data so support that definition. And we have tons of it.

Ignorant is easy to prove once you understand it means lack of knowledge. He is clueless as he has demonstrated with his myriad of false statements about any number of things, including immigrants, white racists, guns, etc. His interpretation of history boggles historical fact. Next up, has he tried to obstruct the investigation into the Russia incursion? Again the data is overwhelming and the argument that this is just what he was used to in his real estate world falls apart a year later and he is still at it. Did he collude? On that one we simply don’t know yet. Somebody did. One can make a reasonable assumption based upon his actions that he is covering up something, but right now that is just an opinion. See the difference? I cannot connect the dots on the last one, except the number of dots left to connect are getting fewer. Mueller will do that one and probably find that the hold on President DFF is his money laundering of Russian money that his whole family was involved in. Again I am simply connecting dots we have, but I don’t know it yet.

So in this world of massive information, how do you pick out fact and fantasy and how do you avoid labeling things you don’t want to believe fake news? In the end, I don’t think anything has changed really other than if you want to create an echo chamber of your beliefs it is certainly easy to do these days because you can pick a million sources of information and close out those that are not convenient. But man used to believe amazing nonsense about gods and magic and when it turned out not be an effective way to survive in the world, we got science, so too will this happen now. More on that in a minute.

Certainly we need to do a better job of teaching critical thinking in schools. That is an up hill battle because it challenges a lot of local religious beliefs (if you apply it to religion which schools scrupulously avoid, but spill over is unavoidable, you start questioning faith, Heresy!). Religious thinking in and of itself lends to the whole psychology of believing something you want to believe without critical examination. It is called faith. In the modern world we tried to separate religious thinking from secular rationalism (The Enlightenment), but as you can see in today’s Republicans, faith-based ideology (markets are always best, flow down works, tax cuts are always good, to solve gun violence we need more guns, and big government is always bad) has taken over rational analysis. Certainly we need to teach what it is to really know something (models, testing, and examining conflicting data) and that we are programmed to self-select what we want to believe. If we had that knowledge and tools, social media would be ineffective in swaying our opinion.

In the end what really changes people is when their ideas fail and they personally suffer for those beliefs. I would argue that conservatives have just about everything wrong, with a small element of truth buried in there somewhere (like self-discipline is good and we do need to hold people accountable, but only if it is a level playing field). The people in the rust belt who are all gung-ho right now on tariffs think they will get their jobs back. They won’t (See Trade, Tariffs, and North Korea). The tax cut won’t bring rising wages or a fair share in profits earned because of their increase in productivity. Building a wall and making America unfriendly to immigrants will stifle our economy. Cutting regulations will stimulate some business, but we may find that the world we then inhabit is uninhabitable (think about the Lesser Depression in 2008). Believing global warming is a hoax will leave us unprepared for the future. There is a ton of data out there to show these are all fool’s errands.

I think this is starting play out. While Democrats (myself included) salivate for Mueller to save us, what will really save us is to examine the world we live in, the changes that are happening, and come up with a plan based upon a rational analysis of the best way forward. So far, except for Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, Democrats are floundering. But there is hope all around the country as new young people challenge the status quo that Republicans represent, and Democrats fail to challenge. The old ways are failing, we all know it, and that was the impetus to the last election. It will also be the impetus to the next one and maybe this time we have learned our lesson about an ignorant, racist, nativist approach to our future. Maybe those basic values that established the Constitution and what made us exceptional (diversity and an equal chance to succeed) will rise again. Maybe.

The Traitors Within

I think the one thing about the Mueller 13 Russian Indictment is that while it was an attack on American and an attempt to mislead, it was mostly on social media, sometimes amplified by Fox News, and they are notorious sources of the real “Fake News”. When somebody sends me an article on Facebook, I ignore it. What was the source? Now I know that the conservative media and President DFF himself wants you to ignore the mainstream media, and yes, sometimes in an attempt to get the news first, they get it wrong, but they correct it and most of the time real journalists vet stories carefully and the best place to get the truth is established newspapers like the NYT, Wall Street Jounal or WaPo. Yes they all have opinions, but that is on the editorial page not the stories in the rest of the paper.

The thing that amazes me is that anyone believes anything they see on Facebook or Twitter posing as real news. Are we really that gullible? What went on in the last election on the Trump side was insanity, and not just his, but truly gullible and ignorant people acting on fiction and nonsense. Is it really that easy? I guess the problem is we are and few people actually read real newspapers anymore and get their news from Fox News and their feeds on their social media. We have forgotten what it means to know something, or at least many of us have.

How did conservative media and conservatives sour the population on science and facts? How did they turn most of their supporters away from news sources that might actually give them the truth? As we sit here and know (well at least some of us do) that the Russians interfered in our election, and of course they impacted the outcome, what about the conservatives that have worked so long to dumb down a large population in the United States to be susceptible to such an attack? You see where where I am going? The Russians certainly attack us, but whether wittingly or not, Republicans made it possible.

Now the question is how do we bring them back to reality? How do you teach people who look for what they want to believe, to look for what is, otherwise called critically thinking? The media helped with all this with he said/she said interviews without an honest broker of facts. Loudest most aggressive wins the day as he out shout the other so he must be right, right? Add to that the press briefings from the White House are full of lies and misrepresentations.  Who can forget the very first one about crowd size?

Sure science can be politicized, but usually by non-scientist, the first and most egregious was the Tobacco Industry which lied to us and miss represented the science to sell us addictive cancer sticks. The right took a page right out of their play book for global warming. Science, if you really understand it is a method that takes predisposition out of the process.  It is called the scientific method.  They don’t hunt just for what they want to find, but what there is to find, and then it is tested and vetted to death.  But the Right Wing Machine has turned science into politics because they don’t like what science shows us.  It does not fit neatly into their view of government.

But once you cast doubt on real science and facts, you have created a monster you cannot control. President DFF is not only attacking science and facts, where he tweets out lies and misrepresentations that are easily exposed just by running video from a few days before, but he is trying to undermine the very agencies that secure our government. Once again the aim is short-sighted, it is to try to survive an investigation into his connections to Russia and probable money laundering. If there was nothing there, why would he care? But he is undermining in his weak-minded followers the very institutions we depend upon for our security. And once again, Republicans have jumped in to help.

So yes, we were attacked by Russians but it should have been noise in the background that no one paid attention to. Instead it most probably changed and election and the root cause of all this is not the Russians, but the right wing attack on our democratic roots that depend on critical thinking, rational debate, facts and science. Yes, they are in fact, the traitors within. Forget the Russians, these are who are the real threat to our country.

The Equivalency Argument

A good friend sent me an article everyone who still has thinking brain cells should read. It is about how the Right and Left are not two sides of the same thing, but totally different animals. There is no middle ground. It is an argument I have been making for a long time, although Brian Butler, the author, makes a much more focused and rational argument. I only bring this up because I constantly get attacked as being too shrill and you will never reach the other side or change minds by calling them out. We need to listen more. The answer which if you read this article and understand it, is that there are no minds to change. The two sides are about two entirely different things.

This is important when the false equivalency of both sides do it is thrown out there. It is important, as Mr. Butler points out, when the press and newspapers try to accommodate both sides for readership or viewership. The reality when they do this is that they create a false reality of equivalence. In fact they have to accommodate the Right’s distortion of reality and when they do they simply become the loud speaker for nonsense like the paranoia of Obama and Hillary’s emails, easily proven false, but the noise was made and it cannot be taken back. That is the Rights agenda, co-opt mainstream media.

Our Democracy was based upon liberal principles of the Enlightenment. Make no mistake, Republicans of today reject those principles. Here is Mr. Butler:

Outside of the specific American context, the word liberal describes something more abstract and less partisan. Internationally, it describes a philosophical approach to organizing society that is capacious enough to include people who believe governments should provide robust safety nets to citizens, and people who believe taxes should be low and the poor left to fend for themselves. What those people share is a common commitment to basic Enlightenment-era ideals like equality, democracy, and empiricism…

Democratic politicians, liberal activists, and journalists have different purposes and respond to different incentives, but they are all liberal in that global sense. Two decades after Newt Gingrich redefined what it meant to be a Republican, it is clear that Republican politicians, conservative activists, and the right wing media have become adherents to a fundamentally different political tradition…

The job of the mainstream media isn’t to cast judgment on people with different value systems, but journalists can’t do their jobs well if they aren’t aware that the value systems of mainstream journalism and American conservatism are different and in conflict. It should be perfectly possible to apply the neutral rules of modern journalism to both American political parties while accepting that Democrats (and journalists and scientists) descend from the enlightenment tradition, while Republicans (and their allies in conservative media) descend from a different, illiberal tradition—and that this makes the parties behave in different ways.

In other words, the Right no longer adheres to the principles of the Enlightenment that is the basis of our Constitution and democracy. I have written copious blogs about how the Right does not believe in democracy at all, but in this short analysis by Mr. Butler he shows how they have veered off. There is no middle ground in these two belief systems, one based upon elites and subjugating the masses as second class citizens who should fend for themselves, and the other who believes in strong safety nets and leveling the playing field. If you doubt this think of what is happening to Dreamers and immigrants, how we have turned ICE into a Gestopo force, how gerrymandering and voter suppression is ripe in Red country. Think about how Republicans refuse to bring up votes on things the majority want. And it goes on and on.

That is why in my last blog I said we have crossed a line. There is no more argument to make with Republicans or said more fairly what has become of the Republican Party today, simply a line to be drawn so we know where the battle line is and to remove all of them from power. There is no more accommodation because if we do, we lose who we are and what we stand for. That is what this next election is about. I do not write this blog to change minds, but to wake those minds up that can still be woken, We are no longer in a rational debate. That ended for Republicans many years ago. It is just time Democrats woke up to that and entered the battle. The one thing that distinguishes us from Republicans is that we are fighting for truth and honesty. They shunned that years ago.


There are so many things to rail against in this nightmare of Republican control and an idiot as our President. Agencies that have long tried to protect the consumer, the worker, the sick, the poor, the environment, and education are now headed by people who want to tear them down. The State Department is being gutted and our place in the world and our ability to affect world politics is diminishing rapidly under Tillerson. I would laugh, but it is too sad, to think about all the people who hated government, oblivious to what government actually does for them, or claimed both sides are just as bad, and then watch the destruction of America by Republicans. It was and is their stupidity and ignorance that got us here. It was and is the arrogance of some Democrats who do not understand the status quo is not working.

So once again, because there is so much destruction going on around us, I would just like to comment on a few things. The first should be the national shame of our response to Puerto Rico. We should be involved in massive rebuilding right now and yet many people are still without water and electricity. And no one seems to care. Watching what happened there, I would have to say capitalism failed. It was a time to mobilize, get in there, feed the people and start a massive rebuilding campaign. We did none of those as supplies arrived and then sat in warehouses. 60 Minutes had a segment last night on a chef who went down there and fed millions of people. He became very frustrated with the whole FEMA system where no one seemed to be in charge and rules instead of need drove the train.

He finally did get FEMA money and he pointed out that there were good people down there trying to help, but their hands were tied by government rules. And on the last go round, FEMA denied him money to continue his operation. I got to thinking about that. The government wants to prevent waste and rampant profit making by awarding to a low bidder. Remember the debacle the Puerto Rican government got into after they awarded a power restoration contract that was a giveaway to a Trump crony. Then I think about how the Cubans were able to move massive amounts of people to safety during the hurricane and quickly came to the aid of their citizens while we floundered in the Caribbean.

What comes to mind is that maybe the profit motive is not the best motive or efficacious way to deliver aid and help. Maybe in the time of crisis, capitalism fails and fails miserably. Maybe we should be turning to NGO’s already vetted and award them grants if we cannot mobilize our own resources. And one might ask, why could there not have been a massive military presence there to help? We rebuilt schools in Iraq, but can’t do that in Puerto Rico? Will we learn anything from this. Not under President Dumb Fat Fuck and the Republicans who are bent on a tax cut to destroy America, but make the wealthy great.

Next, I would like to comment on the rush to put all imbecilic men in the same category. Certainly what Al Franken did was childish, crude, and offensive, but certainly not in the same league as Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who are both accused of rape or attempted rape. I certainly understand many women’s sense of anger and frustration at all the loutish men they have been subjected to with no real recourse. But “kill all the lawyers” is not the answer and in fact is playing right into the hands of the Republicans. See! Both sides do it, and nothing changes.

Sadly women (and here I am going to get in big trouble) who have maybe suffered some of this loutish behavior feel the need now to expose it, but they may be doing their cause more harm than good. That we have a sexual abuser in the White House and about to elect a pedophile is not the same as someone who stupidly and inappropriately grabbed your ass. None of it should be tolerated any more (or then), but we may, by equating both behaviors, be in fact weakening the cause to end it all. Just as an aside, and of course I have never been in a position of real power over anyone, but had I grabbed anyone who I was dating or working with’s ass, they would have clocked me a good one.

There is an excellent discussion of men and facing up to our testosterone urges. Sadly we all have these urges but the difference is some of us cross the line and some of us don’t. Maybe we ought to be discussing the nature of men’s sexual urges so we can get out in the open that we all have them and what is and is not acceptable. It might help some to understand their feelings and deal with them more appropriately instead of acting them out.

Lastly, I would like to point out some logic or non-logic. If you want to learn how to confuse and lie by using bad logic just watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a White House briefing. Her major tactic is the equivalency argument I used above, the other side did it so why pick on us. Doesn’t matter what the other side did, but whether the behavior is atrocious and who now occupies the White House. Sad the press lets this slip by them. We have all heard the admitted defense, which if you don’t admit something, you can’t be held responsible for it, even though 14 women have come out to claim otherwise.

Then there is the excuse for Roy Moore that he would be better than a “Democrat”. The agenda is more important than morality. We are not the only ones. I think of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar who looked the other way during the massacre of thousands in the Rohingya crackdown in the hope that the she can make a difference in the end instead of a stand now that might staert a full military take over again. It is that old failure of logic that the ends justify the means. But when the means turns our to define who we are, we may lose everything. See Republicans for further examples.

Just Think’in

Moore’s campaign has taken to repeating Alabama’s motto, written in Latin on the state coat of arms in 1923 and translated to “We dare defend our rights,” while Moore backers have repeatedly argued that their state has the right to decide its own fate in the Dec. 12 special election.

“Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election, not the media or those from afar,” said state party chairwoman Terry Lathan.

Yep, a free and fiercely independent people will elect a Bible thumper who wants to destroy the Constitution by establish a theocracy, while being a pervert that sends a strong message to women, enjoy yourself on your second class pedestal. Shame on that evil media that tries to point out your stupidity and ignorance.

Nearly a year into the Trump presidency, countries around the world are scrambling to adapt as the White House has struggled to fill key government positions, scaled back the State Department and upended old alliances. Now some nations are finding that even if they are frustrated by President Trump’s Washington, they can still prosper from robust relations with the California Republic and a constellation of like-minded U.S. cities, some of which are bigger than European countries.

We don’t need no stink’in federal government. As President DFF tries to pull us back into the dark ages with his Republican enablers, those of who can, do. Let places like Alabama, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania sink back into the muck. They made their choice and have screwed this country.

“This administration’s mandate on judicial selections is crystal clear: Choose judges in the mold of Justice Scalia, Justice [Clarence] Thomas and now Justice Gorsuch,” McGahn said.

This is a story about the Federalist Society (truly conservative dumb) providing a list of right wing nut jobs to President DFF to ensure when the people throw them out of office, they still will control our courts. And you want to know why people are losing faith in our institutions? Look at Republicans.

Trickle down economics is back with a vengeance in the new Tax Gut bill being pushed by Republicans. One of my favorite economist who I used to read religiously back in the day wrote this about it:

The liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith in 1982 likened the trickle-down idea to horse manure: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”

The people in Kansas recently got a lesson in this, now maybe the whole country will too.I guess I ought to throw this one in from Will Rogers about President Hoover back in the 1930’s to show you how bad ideas just never seem to die as long as those with money control the government:

“The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy,” Rogers wrote in his syndicated column in 1932. In fact, Rogers argued, money tends to trickle up — from the hands of the poor into the hands of the rich.

Then there are the calls for the death penalty for Al Franken. “Set an example!” Here is Ruth Marcus with some sanity:

Let us stipulate: Franken behaved like a big, not-so-fat idiot. His behavior was appalling. Under the guise of rehearsing for a skit, he allegedly kissed fellow USO performer Leeann Tweeden against her will, sticking his tongue in her mouth. He posed for a decidedly not funny photograph in which he appears to grope Tweeden’s breasts while she is asleep. Not okay. But also not Roy Moore, Democratic version — or even Bill Clinton, 2017 edition. On the spectrum from predatory to boorish, Moore and Clinton are on one end, Franken closer to the other.

Some things we can learn from, some are perversions. Apparently in our search for simple minded solutions we seem to lose our ability to separate the two out. Finally, I will leave you with this:

According to the Trump Twitter Archive, between Jan. 10 and the end of October, Trump tweeted about “fake news” 141 times. One stands out. On Feb. 17, the president tweeted this: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American People!”…Listen to William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 37 years, the man in charge of the missions that captured Saddam Hussein and killed Osama bin Laden. McRaven graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism. He’s now the chancellor of the University of Texas system. And after the president’s tweet, he told students: “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

Now the piece goes on to say the Press is biased and editorializes on the front page, whether true or not, is wrong. I just happen to think when the Press reports the news and it seems biased against President DFF and the Republicans, it is because the truth itself has a liberal bias. Get over it.

Does Democracy Work Anymore?

That’s really at the heart of American malaise about our political system. Let’s face it, on many issues Americans actually do agree and yet Congress (Republicans) ignore those wishes to please a small base that controls their election futures. Here is how the WaPo put it this morning:

Seven in 10 Americans say the nation’s political divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War, according to a new poll, which also finds nearly 6 in 10 saying Donald Trump’s presidency is making the U.S. political system more dysfunctional.

The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll — conducted nine months into Trump’s tumultuous presidency — reveals a starkly pessimistic view of U.S. politics, widespread distrust of the nation’s political leaders and their ability to compromise, and an erosion of pride in the way democracy works in America.

Remember that even in the presidential election minority ruled. I have argued before that when you look at gerrymandered districts and the power of Senators in small rural states, the majority is in fact not represented at all. We are a nation badly tilted to representing a minority of conservatives in rural areas. And worse, it would seem that those who are elected serve themselves. Said another way, Republicans are evil.

Hey wait a minute, why single out Republicans? Democrats pander for money too. True, and in that they are both morally and ethical challenged, but there is no equivalency here. Who wants to take away your healthcare? Who wants to gut government so that we can afford tax cuts for the wealthy. Who denies ever worsening climate change? And in that gutting of government we are talking about taking from the disadvantaged. If that is not evil, nothing is. Republicans have justified this with a philosophy of tough love, that giving people handouts simply make them weak and lazy. That might be true if we had a level playing field and those who did not do well truly did not work hard. But facts and data belie that.

The real evilness is on display today in a dumbed down electorate that has been fed propaganda and has a hard time with what is fact and what is opinion. In order to continue their conservative ideas which don’t work, it was necessary to warp reality. They adopted the tactics of the tobacco companies defending cigarettes against the fact that they cause cancer. Lie, repeat the lie, buy off scientists and other experts, and pretend there is doubt in the science. Add in the press echoing these lies without fact checking them and here we are. And that is what they do today about global warming, tax cuts create jobs, immigrants are the problem, or Obamacare is failing (well it will be as the sabotage it). How can democracy work if the electorate is tricked with the real fake news. Oh and note Republicans have joined in with President DFF (Dum Fat F*ck) in trying to now discredit real news and facts.

But the real evilness here is their attempt to discredit Mueller and his investigations, and starting new bogus investigations of Hillary and the Obama Administration to try to distract us. Now the dishonesty here is breathtaking. Here we are with a foreign power for sure manipulating our election with fake news and most likely colluding with the Trump campaign. They don’t care because they have sold their soul to their agenda. Think what would have happened if it was a Democratic Administration with these same allegations. You don’t think we would be up to our eyeballs in investigations and fact finding? Oh, and don’t get distracted with the lie about all campaigns do opposition research. Of course they do, but they don’t collude with a foreign government to get it and as I believe will come out, then collude to release false information targeted to specific voters. This sadly will be lost on most voters where nuance is not their forte. That is the Republicans hope, and that is truly evil.

Just as an aside we know pretty well what happened in that meeting with the DFF’s son, Jared, and Manafort. We know now for a fact that the Russians were there at the behest of the Russian government to get the Magnitsky Act repealed. This law barred the travel and use of our banking system by listed Russians for their complicity in the murder of a lawyer in Russia and other human rights agendas. Putin is frantic to get this repealed because as probably the richest man in the world, his money is in the banking system around the world and he is terrified other countries will follow suit, which may I add, Canada, not one of our “puppets”, just did. What is in question is what did the DFF’s boys agree to and do.  So unless you are a total DFF doofus, there is a real problem here and now Republicans are trying to cravenly hide it.

So what’s the answer.  I used to think it was getting money out of politics and maybe it is.  If our politicians weren’t begging for money about 50% of their time (30 hours/week), maybe they would be less susceptible to lobbyists and big donors.  But what happens if we actually would do that?  Then the big money would just go independent to try to shape public perception to control our government that way.  Try to keep in mind that most news is for profit, and Congress people, terrified of a misinformed public, would vote for them and not country, as they do now.  So we have to think this through.  Since the Supremes gave Corporation the status of individuals with free speech rights, backed by billions making their megaphone truly mega, we have a real problem in how they can control the message.

The only answer is for open government and an informed electorate.  I am not optimistic after seeing the last election and how stupid, and stupid is the kind word here, the electorate really is.  Those that control our agenda are parochial and ignorant and I do not know how you transplant critical thinking.  It is clear to me that arguing with the facts is useless. Maybe our hope is the big crash.  Republican conservative’s ideas simply will not work except for the very rich and many blue states are simply going their own way.  So we travel back to our beginning when we had a confederation of states and need a new constitution.  It took them more than 200 years, but the ignorant and stupid have now undermined that constitution.

Mueller is now making his moves and my guess is we are in for a turbulent time.  President DFF is immoral, ignorant, and unethical.  As the facts come out, we will see if the nation will survive.  It is funny to think that the worst in political system, the Republicans, have the fate of our nation in their hands.

The Democrat’s Never Stop Repeating the Same Mistake Over and Over

There is an insightful article in the NYT about how Senator Jeff Flake’s withdrawal from the Senate race next year has thrown both parties into disarray. Let this set the tone:

Establishment Democrats have high hopes for Representative Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist who recently dined in the Blue Room of the White House with President Trump, teaches a bipartisan spin class in the House gym and has broken ranks with her own party on key votes. She was one of only seven House Democrats, for example, who voted to create a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

But those impulses toward bipartisanship have soured Arizona progressives against the candidacy of an openly bisexual woman who would seem to fit the liberal mold.

“There are issues, murmurs within grass-roots groups and the progressive community, the environmental community and others, including immigration advocates,” said Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona and a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who is withholding his endorsement of her.

Yesterday in a casual discussion with a conservative friend I heard that old foolish refrain that all we need is both sides to work together and both parties are controlled by the extremes. Now nothing could be further from the truth, and this is the false equivalency that has produced our stalemated and stagnant government*, where we fail to assign the blame and government in general suffers. When was the last time the Democrats worked with Republicans (this crazed mob) and it has worked well for them?  Remember the tax cuts under Bush and the ballooning deficti?

In fact, we just the lost the last election (sans the Russians and Comey) because the Democrats have become too much like the Republicans. Who knows what they stand for any more, and the above story is another, let’s cater to bad ideas because it might appeal to moderates who have those bad ideas. That would be the “let’s just all hold hands and work together” fools.

What we have here is, and I know I am beating this to death, a failing economy and a dumbed down electorate, courtesy of the Republicans. What you say! How can the economy be failing when the stock market is at record highs? So who is benefiting? As our current economic system’s structure favors the 1%, the rest of us are not gaining and the numbers show that most people do not believe their kids will be better off than they are. Moderate establishment Democrats are part of this problem and what we see from the above, is more of the same, again not recognizing that conservative economic and social dogma is the problem, but let’s work with them, right? We can get elected and then stand for nothing and change nothing substantial.

Also on the second part of my assertion, that Republicans have dumbed down our electorate, have you seen our president? The “deplorable base”, that is about 38% of the population either does not care that he lies and misstates the facts or they believe them. These are the global warming deniers, believe blaming immigrants or building a wall solves all problems, and believe Trump actually has business acumen is stead of an old fashioned con artist. The real test here is when the truth is exposed, as it is everyday, they don’t care. But they control the Republican Party, hence why Flake is getting out. Conservative as he is, he can’t stomach their ignorance and antisocial behavior.

Now we got Trump because the Republicans went on a dumbing down campaign of noise over the last 30 years that the media magnified as they loved to cover noise instead of substance. Equivalency awarded to science deniers. Equivalency awarded to a shouting contest without interjecting data and facts. Treating facts as opinions. That is how we got here, and like the big tobacco companies denying the cancer link to cigarettes, the Republicans took their cues from them. And conservative who rue the day Trump came on the scene, created the path for him to follow. There are no moderate or principled Republicans that do not have full responsibility for the DFF.

Now we have a Congress controlled and elected by that 38% that the media and the Republicans created. So Democrats should elect someone who will work with them (read capitulate)? There is a basic truth here that no one is talking about yet, except of course for Bernie and Progressives, that the system is broken. That conservatives have had us on the wrong path, even the moderate ones, and establishment Democrats are just culpable. I have argued before what is wrong and what needs to be done. There is a great study from The Roosevelt Institute that lays out the changes we have to make to return our nation to one of rational debate, based upon facts and science, not ideological dogma. It tells us how to change the rules of our economic system to more equitably share the profits and make us all better off, not just the 1%.

Progressive are starting to make those arguments. Electing people who go to work in Congress to work with failure will simply bring us failure. It is time for real change based upon a common set of facts and a vision. That is the way forward and I fear the Democrats are becoming superfluous if they continue this pandering to bad ideas and polls instead of making the arguments to change the system. It is ideas that will drive change, not compromise to failed ideas. The young get it, and those in failed economies (manufacturing) get it. Maybe it is time for a little soul searching by establishment Democrats.

*I could go back over how many times the Democrats came to the table and tried to compromise with the Republicans, but instead of boring you to death, let’s just look at recent history.  Most Americans want Obamacare fix, not destroyed.  How did the Republicans proceed?  With a plan no one could see or amend, and while claiming Democrats would not work them, they lined up to work with them, but the plan was never to compromise or fix Obamacare because dogma requires them to return to the old failed market place system.  Tax “reform” is following the same game plan.  Hide the plan, have no way to pay for it and hope a couple of Democrats will like tax cuts for the wealthy if it somehow helps them.  Real tax reform is hard and will take years.  That is not what we are seeing here.  The Republican ideology is small government, unregulated markets, and tax cuts alway stimulate the economy when the evidence is overwhelming this is a disaster except in a few anedotal cases. There is no equilancy here and asserting it is destroying the country because we fail to see the problem.

General Kelly and Seeing the Real Problem

After the FF (Fat F*ck, aka President Trump) turned the killed servicemen into a political issue, and then totally botched  the call after the Press had asked if he had made any calls (where he lied about other presidents), Generally Kelly came out and made an impassioned plea to depoliticize the whole issue, explaining what happened.  Now this should have both been pointed at his boss and ended the issue, but then he turned around and made a partisan political attack on the Congresswoman in the car where call was made (at the request of the grieving parents).  Trump of course lied about all this instead of saying, I botched and I am truly sorry, to which Kelly did not deny the conversation, but attack the Congresswoman for making a “private” call public.

Well, bull shit.  First she was asked to be there and it was put on speakerphone.  Was the President alone when the call (No)?  Secondly he offended them with his lack of empathy, which is just another instance of why he should not be president.  But then Kelly made a partisan attack on the Congresswoman, racial in undertones, showing he is not the steady hand that some were hoping for.  Kelly even made references to “other” gold star families who have spoken out and he had no right to tell them they cannot use their First Amendment rights. Then there was what was sacred discussion that let you know this man is so far removed from reality that he too is dangerous. I think Lawrence O’Donnell took his attack apart better than anyone because he had the guts to.

I want you to note one other thing.  What General Kelly heard and told the FF to say is not the same thing he said.  It is a classic example of how little understand the FF has of the human condition.

Meanwhile the Republicans passed a budget bill on all Republican votes that most of them do not know what is in it.  It was to get a win.  So far the reasonable experts tell us a couple of things.  It busts the budget and like Kansas, may create a fiscal disaster. Tax cuts don’t necessarily equal growth.  Meanwhile Wall Street is doing great and the FF is taking credit when what is really driving the economy right now is low interest rates, set up in the Obama Administration.  If as most of us think, giant deficit spending that the budget bill and the follow on tax cut will create become a reality, the interest rate will go up, and kiss the economy goodbye.

The other part of this is that less than 52% of Americans own stocks, and the majority of the FF’s supporters do not.  How Wall Street does has little with working Americans, and let’s just review, Bank of America just downgraded Chipotle stocks because they think they pay their employees too much.  Bring back slavery!  That is the mentality we are dealing with.

Meanwhile, ex-Presidents Bush and Obam took on the FF finally.  Of course there is some real hypocrisy here, but at least major figures are starting to stand up.  I am off to Oakland for a Van Morrison concert and will try to ignore the madness that is our government these days.  Happy Friday.

The Fat F*ck

Sorry, but that is now how I see this despicable man we call the President. As the days go on, you start to wonder why the nation does not throw him out. He stands before us and tells one lie after another, and his behavior obscene, totally unbecoming a president of this country. I have to wonder how anyone at this point thinks he has either business acumen or is a crafty politician. He is a blathering lying fool. The latest was as he stood in the White House Garden pretending he and Mitch don’t despise one another and blatantly lied about President Obama and other presidents meeting with the parents of fallen service men. It was such a blatant and distasteful lie that went beyond the bounds of the new normal of his lying. There is such a sickness here that permeates everything he does. And what he does is out of meanness, spite, and ignorance.

Look at the lies he spouts about Obamacare. He is wrecking it with no thought to what comes next for the people who will suffer. He tells the whopper that most Republicans tell us that we will have more choice and our premiums will go down and he opens the door to junk plans and cuts subsidies to policies for the really poor. Oh and look at that group in the picture with him. Pander white f*cks who have got theirs. And any reasonable analysis tells us this is all a big lie. Sure you will be fine if you are healthy. But when shit happens, and it will, you are back to the pre-Obamacare days where the number one cause of bankruptcy was health issues and medical bills.

Then there is the nonsense he spouts on the Iran nuclear deal. And what he is doing here is mixing apples and oranges. Sure Iran does bad things, but the one they are not doing is building nukes. That is what the agreement was about. And no, there are no violations and it is working. So he just walks away or is going to “negotiate a better deal”? Um, what about the other countries that actually make this thing work? What we are seeing is that the trust of the United States to keep its word is non-existent. That ought to work out well with North Korea.

Here we have a man who is shocked, shocked, shocked at Harvey Weinstein and yet he admitted to sexually assaulting women, but that was just “locker room”. Here we have a man who flaunts using his position of power to enrich himself. Here is a man who stands before the nation and tells us lies about the electrical power plants in Puerto Rico, and threatens to abandon them, our fellow Americans. And here is a man who rates everything he does by the reviews he gets. He spends days on the NFL and says nothing until pressed about the servicemen killed in Africa.

I don’t know how much more evidence you need that he is not fit to be anywhere near the oval office. He is a smug, arrogant, buffoon in the best of lights, and a mean nasty little man who is working out his feelings of inadequacy on the nation by lashing out, destroying everything in his wake in the worst of lights. The really sad thing is that many of us and press lets him off as we get used to his lies. But I find him an embarrassment to the whole notion of what it is to be an American. So let me say this loud and clear, “THAT FAT FUCK IS NOT MY PRESIDENT. I think John McCain, knowing his days are numbered probably said it best when he took on the Trump/Bannon faction of his party when he got his Liberty Award yesterday, but his aim should have been wider at the lack of spine both he and his party have shown over the years to bring us to this abomination. Let’s not forget the ignorance of Sarah Palin. So I will leave you with this, and it is truly a sad thought. I have never been so ashamed and embarrassed to be an American. That is the times we are living in.

Level of Frustration and Other Topics

Today is one of those days I truly hate being old. I look at the devastation in Sonoma and Santa Rosa, and I want to get out there and help. I look at the devastation in Puerto Rico and I want to hop on an airplane and help them rebuild. And the truth is, I wouldn’t be much help. I would just get in the way. That wasn’t always the case, but I simply can’t do it anymore. It is this stark reality of my limitations. It is that reality that I am not what I used to be nor am I going to be again when I could take on almost anything.

I think what makes this doubly frustration is there is so much that could be done and we have a government led by a moron. His best attributes are his ability to tear things down, lie, pander with ignorance and racists, and connive. I know in California, we have good government and good people who will rise to the occasion. So does America, but under the leadership of Republicans and the village idiot, we see a wrecking ball, not leadership to build from the ashes. There is no vision there except some super capitalist utopian hell envisioned by Ayn Rand. I read this this morning about one Santa Rosa woman who lost her home and wanted to get in my car, but again, I would just get in the way:

She’s answering the logistical questions one-by-one: Where will they live? When will the children return to school? She has no answer for the most difficult questions about her upended life: Will things ever be the same?

“Our house had a certain smell to it,” she said. “It was our house. When you come home it has that smell. How can I replicate that smell for my kids, or is it gone forever?”

“This is ranking up there with when my brother died. It’s right up there — one of the worst things that’s ever happened in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my husband and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.”

I like to think that we Americans are optimistic and enterprising, that we can fix these things. We are actually, and we can, except we now have a Republican led government that can do nothing, and wonders along with their leader, how they can blame the victims for this tragedy. Remember in Puerto Rico it was their fault because they were in debt (again aided and abetted by Washington and profit sucking financial institutions).

I guess my biggest frustration is there is so much that we could do. There is so much to fix and I want to leap out of my chair and get at it. But like our now Republican enfeebled country, my knees won’t allow any leaping, So I sit here and write. My time on this planet is now limited. But couldn’t we just start fixing a few things so when I do leave I know we are moving in the right direction? I have to figure out how to turn this ship around if only one mind at a time. Like the woman above, and I will rephrase: This is ranking up there with one of the worst times in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my wife and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.  We so need a leader to lead us out of the wilderness we have gotten lost in.

Okay, perspective. I can only control what I can control and I am actually a very very lucky man even with the prostate cancer. The world (bubble) which I live in is very blessed. So let’s turn to baseball. Last night the LA Dodgers beat those uppity Cubs and there was a controversial call at home plate. Since some of the disastrous injuries in baseball occur with the catcher trying to block the plate with a runner trying to score (See Buster Posey), it was ruled that unless you have the ball, you cannot black the plate. In this game, as the catcher was catching the ball, he stuck his leg out behind him to block the plate (good way to get your leg broken) and tagged the runner out. On replay it was overturned ruling the catcher was blocking the plate before he had the ball. The old farts in baseball were all aghast. Stupid rule! That is the athleticism of the game! It was great play!

On the contrary, I think they made absolutely the right call. To do anything else would have once again announced open season on catchers trying to catch the ball or make a tag. It would have turned baseball into football at home plate. The thing I love about baseball is that it is driven competition without the violence and hate. This would change that. What I get from all this is how hard change is for people who are used to a certain way of doing things. And that is in a microcosm the problem this country faces as change is accelerating and the Republicans feed fear promising to drag us back to a time that never existed.

One last thought from Nicholas Kristof who took some criticism for his trip to North Korea, which I actually thought was quite informing and alarming as we move toward war and the DIC has no clue what game he is playing. Nicholas defended his actions with this and in this world where news is now a profit center so on-site reporting is at a minimum, we ought to think about:

Being on the ground in a country lets you see things and absorb their power: the speaker on the walls of homes to feed propaganda; the pins that every adult wears with portraits of members of the Kim family; the daily power outages, but also signs that the economy is growing despite international sanctions; the Confucian emphasis on dignity that makes officials particularly resent Trump’s personal attacks on Kim; the hardening of attitudes since my last visit, in 2005; and the bizarre confidence that North Korea can not only survive a nuclear war with the U.S. but also emerge as victor…

I left North Korea fearing that we are far too complacent about the risk of a cataclysmic war that could kill millions. And that’s why reporting from within North Korea is crucial: There simply is no substitute for being in a place. It’s a lesson we should have learned from the run-up to the Iraq war, when the reporting was too often from the Washington echo chamber rather than the field. When the stakes are millions of lives and official communications channels are nonexistent, then journalism can sometimes serve as a bridge — and as a warning.

And let’s never forget how they failed us with the DIC, right here in our own country. Not my President.