Category Archives: Politics

Don’t Be Confused With A Trumpo-Russian Troll: Chances Are You Already Have Been…

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… if you are doing what a lot of people are doing on the Internet. Being wrong!!!!

The Russian organized and operated trolls that will attempt to ruin the 2020 election will use this technique: They will sow divisions among Democrats so that the process of selecting the best candidate to go up against Trump will be so badly damaged that they can’t win.

How will they do this? By declaring particular candidates as not electable. By declaring that this or that candidate’s positions are entirely different than they actually are, in a way that makes potential supporters turn away. By causing friction among those who are otherwise allies or friends so that social networking communities are ripped asunder, and so on.

The thing is, something like 1 in 5 or maybe far fewer such apparent operatives are not actually Putin-deployed trolls. Rather, they are you, or others like you, who have fallen into this pattern. Time will tell if this pattern has been promulgated in small or large part as an arm of the Russian attack on our democracy, or if people are just acting this way because it is human nature. But it does not matter. Employing these and similar tactics in our public conversation about our candidates looks and works the same, and has the same effect, whether the act is bought and paid for by the Republican-Trump-Putin axis, or whether it happens all by itself.

Don’t be confused for a Putin Troll. Being like a Putin Troll is the same exact thing as being a Russian troll.

All the bad things people say

You can’t fairly judge a candidate based on what people on Facebook or Twitter tell you. Such comments are more often than not inaccurate, often purposefully so.

Example

Claim: Candidate X thinks America is not ready for healthcare for all! Next!

Truth: Candidate X makes a clear statement that we need universal single payer healthcare. The same candidate then lists several possible steps to get there.

Example

Claim: Candidate X is the only candidate that can beat Trump.

Truth: Most people can’t even name most of the candidates, and there has not been a single debate. There are candidates that haven’t even declared yet. There is simply no way to say who can beat whom. As a matter of fact, there is a pretty darn good chance Trump isn’t going to be the guy to beat anyway. He’ll be pushed out or removed or in some other way unavailable.

Please consider this strategy:

The election is so early that not all the candidates have even declared,and most are in fact unknown with respect to position or abilities, regardless of what you may think. So:

1) Wait to declare a candidate you prefer the best. If you like one candidate above the others, do go ahead and say nice things about that individual, but please do not write off the other candidates or attack people who have a different opinion.

2) Wait to write off individual candidates that you really don’t like. There is nothing wrong with having such an opinion, but for now, please do what your mother tried to teach you: If you have nothing good to say about someone, keep your stupid mouth shut for now (I’m sure she was thinking it that way, though she may have used other words).

3) Don’t repeat the trollish comments you hear. They are not hard to identify. A very smart and thoughtful friend of mine did this recently, the first example above is based on that. A candidate was attacked by a troll on twitter. The attack was very inaccruate. My friend simply repeated the attack. Don’t do that, makes you look like an idiot, and it amplifies the trollish message.

4) Don’t BELIEVE the trollish comments you hear. In the case mentioned above in Number 3, virtually no one seems to have responded to the recycled attack by questioning it. Make up your own damn mind with facts you have obtained from good sources and verified. It isn’t that hard. It is your responsibility, your job, to do this.

5) Remember where we are. We are at present BEFORE the beginning. This is not the time to weed out candidates. Take your time. Remember, there is a Democratic debate (probably two) in June. Wait until at least the debate to start weeding out candidates, and even then, be fucking civilized about it, not trollish. Please.

6) Please make the distinction between the process of selecting a nominee and running for president. There are important differences at many levels. A full third, in my estimation, of the embarrassingly stupid things people said during the 2018 race came out of ignorance of the difference.

7) Part of your message, your public opinion, should always be how you will support the nominee no matter what. Note that you can’t really say that now if you also say “I will never vote for Candidate X no matter what.” So stop saying the latter, always include the former. As part of this, please do not let the perfect stand in the way of the pretty darn good.

8) Do not complain about the system of selecting a nominee unless you are willing to spend at least a little time helping to select the nominee other than just showing up like a drone on Primary day. Stand up and do something. You are needed.


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Why is knowledge power?

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And freedom? And why is education power and freedom?

The whole point of the enlightenment is that knowledge sets us free. “Wherever the people are well informed,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “they can be trusted with their own government.” That we are less free than we can, and should, be is the point of Shawn Otto’s book The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It. If you’ve not read it, please do so.

It is also the point of, let’s see … the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Under Trump, these freedoms are threatened daily. We are at a tipping point. A Trump is possible when the politicians and elected officials of this country have taken enough power from the voters that they can make voting itself a non-democratic act. A Trump is possible when ignorance becomes the willed objective of a large portion of the thought leaders of our society. Once a certain point of institutionalized repression of democracy, and a certain point of culturally determined ignorance, are reached, someone like Trump can become president and then, imperialized by whichever powers control him, push us the rest of the way.

That is the point of the best of this year’s Super Bowl commercials. The only one worth watching. In fact, better than the game turned out to be. This is it, from the Washington Post:


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Does “June Medical Services v. Gee” = End of Abortion Rights? This Week?

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Ian Millhiser, writing at Think Progress, thinks so.

Lawyers representing a Louisiana abortion clinic and at least two physicians filed an application in the Supreme Court on Monday asking the court to halt a Louisiana law that is identical to a Texas law the justices struck down in 2016.

The court is almost certain to deny this application in a 5-4 vote — possibly as soon as tonight. When it does so, it will effectively mark the end of Roe v. Wade.

Yes, the court is very unlikely to hand down an opinion this week which uses the words “Roe v. Wade is overruled.” But these abortion providers filed this application because a federal appeals court openly defied the Supreme Court’s most recent abortion decision. When the court refuses to enforce its own decision, that will send a clear signal to lower court judges throughout the country that they are free to uphold restrictions on abortion.

You better read this here.


Recommended reading: Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History, 2nd Edition (Landmark Law Cases and American Society)


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The Fight that Broke the Democratic Party

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The Trump presidency had done a tremendous amount of damage, to our country, our society, our culture, and civilization in general. It is appalling. The only thing more appalling than Trump himself at this point is the gaggle of Senate Republicans who support Trump. They are the sticking point. Were they to give the go-ahead, Trump would be out of office in ten days.

Continue reading The Fight that Broke the Democratic Party
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Klevorn Present Acomb Present

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That’s Ginny Klevorn, my MN House Rep, and Patty Acomb, from the district to the south but part of my DFL organizing Unit, the Fighting Forty Fourth. Feel free to click through and give them money. Ginny and Patty are part of the Blue Wave which replaced a Republican majority in the Minnesota House with a DFL majority.

Evil Supervillain Omnibus Prime.

If you feel like slogging through it to about 1:54, you can see the former Republican house leader yammering on and on about how bad the Democrats are. This is a man who exemplifies the old expression: Better to remain silent and be thought an idiot, than to speak up and remove all Daudt.

Thanks Representative Ryan Winkler for casting appropriate doubt on what was heard in the chamber!


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Violence in the United States Congress

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There is probably a rule, in the chambers of the United States Congress, that you can’t punch a guy. Living rules are clues to the past. Where I live now, there is probably one Middle or High School age kid across 130 homes, but we have a rule: You can’t leave your hockey goals or giant plastic basketball nets out overnight. So all the old people who live on my street have to drag those things into the garage at the end of every day, after their long sessions of pickup ball. Or, more likely, years ago, there were kids everywhere and the “Get off my lawn” contingent took over the local board and made all these rules. So, today, in Congress, you can’t hit a guy.

But in the old days, that wasn’t so uncommon. You have heard about the caning of Charles Sumner. Southern slavery supporter Preston Brooks beat the piss out of Senator Charles Sumner, an anti-slave guy from Massachusetts. They weren’t even in the same chamber. Brooks was in the House, Sumner was in the Senate. Sumner almost didn’t survive the ruthless and violent beating, which came after a long period of bullying and ridicule by a bunch of southern bullies. Witnesses describe a scene in which Brooks was clearly trying to murder Sumner, and seems to have failed only because the cane he was using broke into too many pieces, depriving the assailant of the necessary leverage. Parts of that cane, by the way, were used to make pendants worn by Brook’s allies to celebrate this attempted murder of a Yankee anti-slavery member of Congress.

Here’s the thing. You’ve probably heard that story, or some version of it, because it was a major example of violence in the US Congress. But in truth, there were many other acts of verbal and physical violence carried out among our elected representatives, often in the chambers, during the decades leading up to the civil war. Even a cursory examination of this series of events reveals how fisticuffs, sometimes quite serious, can be a prelude to a bloody fight in which perhaps as many as a million people all told were killed. Indeed, the number of violent events, almost always southerner against northerner, may have been large enough to never allow the two sides, conservative, southern, right wing on one hand vs. progressive, liberal not as southern, on the other, to equalize in their total level of violence against each other. Perhaps there are good people on both sides, but the preponderance of thugs reside on one side only.

Which brings us to this. You hears of the caning of Sumner, but you probably have not read The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War by Yale historian Joanne B. Freeman.

Professor Freeman is one of the hosts of a podcast I consider to be in my top free favorite, Backstory, produced by Virginia Humanities. Joanne is one of the “American History Guys,” along with Ed Ayers (19th century), Brian Balogh (20th Century), Nathan Connolly (Immigration history, Urban history) and emeritus host Peter Onuf (18th century). Freeman writes in her newest book of the first half of the 19th century, but her primary area of interest heretofore is the 18th century, and her prior works have focused, among other things, on Alexander Hamilton: Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic about the nastiness among the founding fathers, and two major collections focused on A.H., The Essential Hamilton: Letters & Other Writings: A Library of America Special Publication and Alexander Hamilton: Writings .

I strongly urge you to have a look at Freeman’s book, in which she brings to light a vast amount of information about utter asshatitude among our elected representatives, based on previously unexplored documents. I also strongly urge you to listen to the podcast. The most recent edition as of this writing is on video games and American History. The previous issue is covers the hosts’ book picks for the year.


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Democratic Candidates for President, 2020

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I’m starting a list, I’ll check it twice. Or more. The is the list in rough form. Please suggest who should be removed (for reasons of death or clear declaration that they are not running, not because you don’t like them, not just because you don’t like them) and who should be added?

After your comments and more research by me, I’ll clean up and refine the list. Meanwhile, I’m doing an initial informal bracket poll on Twitter. Go ave a look. Continue reading Democratic Candidates for President, 2020


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Is White Supremacy and Lynching People Racist?

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Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith got all titillated the other day when she thought about sitting in the front row of a public hanging. In the context of her race to be Senator of Mississippi. Which is the state in which the most recent well known lynchings took place, and that probably had more lynchings per capita than any other state. Her opponent, Mike Epsy, is a black man. Continue reading Is White Supremacy and Lynching People Racist?


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How to keep Trump in power through 2024 and beyond

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The first thing to do to keep Donald Trump in power is to make sure impeachment does not happen. The way to trick Democrats into going along with this is to use basic political Kung Fu, using their own weight and movement to bring them down.

Democrats want impeachment. So, trick them into insisting that the House file impeachment proceedings as soon as possible. At this point, the Senate, with its Republican Majority, will not convict Trump because all of those Republicans are loyal. Once the Democrats make hay out of impeaching Trump, and fail, they will look like losers, and the party that looks like the losing party will eventually lose. The Democrats will have spent a huge amount of time, effort, money, and political capital, on an effort that can not succeed. Continue reading How to keep Trump in power through 2024 and beyond


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Did Voters Vote Climate? Yes And No

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Voters seem to have liked many candidates endorsed by environmental organizations, or who had good climate change related policies. But, they seem to have rejected ballot initiatives, in Colorado, Arizona, and Washington, that would have moved us closer to the necessary energy transition. Continue reading Did Voters Vote Climate? Yes And No


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Trump The tank Engine Goes Off The Rails

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This is how we usher in a new era.

The observant will have noticed that over the last several days, during the closing six weeks of an intense campaign season, I posted as my Facebook banner an image representing each of the United States Presidents, starting with George Washington. There have been several interesting comments and observations made on these images. Special Thanks to Jim Crider, presidential historian, for his added insight on those Facebook posts.

This is the image that follows President Obama: Continue reading Trump The tank Engine Goes Off The Rails


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