Category Archives: Politics

Please eschew the Twitter-Virtue Olympics

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Please eschew the Twitter-Virtue Olympics.

As Musk sullies up the place, and Trump throws his tantrum, and the Nazis, anti-Semites, racists, and other slobs throw their vacuous weight around, many people are considering leaving Twitter, or have already left. Others have chosen to stay until some threshold is reached, and still others don’t have solid plans to leave, and that lack of planning is often intentional, they’ve just decided to stay for one reason or another.

As intentions are declared, we sometimes see a virtue-based argument advanced, and in one out of five* of those cases, the virtuous justification for staying/waiting/leaving comes along with an urgent plea or even a demand that other so the same.

Stop doing that shit, please.

A friend told me he’d had enough, with Trump coming on (which he hasn’t actually done yet) and he can’t stomach being there. I get that. I have similar intestinal reactions. Today I had lunch with someone in the voting biz, who said, “I can’t leave Twitter, because so much of the election protection community is operating there, it would be irresponsible.”

Another person told me they’d prefer to leave behind Musk and Trump, but she also didn’t believe that Musk will own Twitter for much longer. Others have noted that they don’t want to be here but also want to see it collapsing from the inside. No one can turn away from the train wreck. This may be a unique opportunity to watch the train crash from inside the train.

Some have made the argument that their data will be stolen if security lapses. There’s a good argument there, if Twitter has your credit card, but I’m not sure how leaving protects the information they already have. So maybe that isn’t a good argument.

I’m simply asking people to note that there is a very small chance that your particular decision as to what to do with Twitter is the absolutely correct decision, and that the argument you are making to justify your choice is the best possible argument. One in five chance you have it right*. So when you make the argument, and then attach to it an admonition to others who have a different argument that you are doing the right thing and they are not, you have a four in five chance* that you are being obnoxious, not wise. So, the smart money is on stating your case but with a framework of openness to other ideas, rather than using your decision to signal your virtue and smartness.


*These are of course totally made up numbers, but you get the point.


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This is what a red wave looks like; a preliminary analysis of the Nov 2022 election*

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Republicans told us they expected a red wave in this year’s election. There was absolutely no rational reason to say that, but they said it, and since they said it, the so-called but not-really “liberal” press reported it as fact.

So, since the Republicans, who only lie and would not know the truth if it bit them on the ass (which it frequently does in fact do) said it, and the New York Times verified it in breathless scary headline speak, let us assume it is true. There was a red wave on November 8th. Given this, we can now define what a red wave looks like.

  • Democrats hold their slim grasp on the senate.
  • Repbulicans will win the house as all out-of-white-house parties do, but by one of the slimest margins in history (and they could actually not win, not all the votes are counted yet).
  • Democrats won gubernatorial races that were either flips or serious threats against incumbents in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Maryland, and Massachustts.
  • Democrats flipped the legislatures in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania.
  • Abortion rights were enshrined in the constitutions of California, Michigan, Vermont.
  • Kentucky rejected an abortion ban.
  • Missouri and Maryland legalized Marijuana.
  • Nebraska raised the minimum wage.
  • South Dakota expanded medicaid.
  • There is evidence that the November 8th election is the death knell for Donald Trump’s relevance. Finally.

So, that is what a red wave looks like! We love red waves! All hail the red wave!

So, how did it happen? Because all politics are local, and I’m not talking about pot-hole local, but local as in each election is in fact an independent thing.

  • Independents voted with Democrats.
  • People were not tricked into voting for odious candidates because Trump told them to.
  • For the first time in history other than 2002, the in-the-white-house party almost cleared the table.

I suspect that the places where the Democrats did less well, they were hampered for these reasons, depending on the race (and this is mainly in the house):

  • Highly focused gerrymandering by Republican governors.
  • Trump failed to zero in on a particular candidate, so they were less likely to be rejected in an election that, in part, was a repudiation of Trump and MAGA.
  • In a few places, highly privileged white supremacists are simply in too high a number to ever do the right thing.
  • Inflation and other economic issue blunted Democratic support in some cases.

Analyses are still being done, but keep this in mind: it appears that Republicans outperformed Democrats in many areas in voter turnout (R+4). Republicans showed up to protect their MAGA nuts, and Democrats did not show up to protect democracy in as large a number. It was the Independents showing up that saved us, especially independent women, especially in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. So, when Democrats say over the next two years “there are more of us than there are of them” and “we just have to turn up” tell that person to STFU and get to work on actually turning out Democrats and not just pretending Democrats turn out. Because they don’t. If they did not in this election, Democrats are proven unreliable.

Preliminary exit polling shows that abortion was the second most important issue across the board for most voters, and the most important issue for most Democrats, more so in certain states where the issue was more on the table in local legislation.


*Most of the data presented here, and much of the opinion, is stolen directly from Pod Save America, “You Vetter Believe It!” podcast.


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This is not the West Wing: Listen to Dan Pfeiffer spill his guts

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This is a take that gets a blog.

I direct you to a five minute portion of the November 3rd episode of Pod Save America, “Last Call for Democracy.”

Pfeiffer is correct, and you have to listen to his rant on Pod Save America. This is a brilliantly articulated version of what rolls around in my head all the time.

Starts at 25 minutes and 15 seconds (to include John Favreau sigh). Ends at 29:20

“Last Call for Democracy.”


Listen to all of it, please. Then report back in the comments.

Walk out your fucking door, and touch some grass.


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Local Liberal Press Produces Mild October Surprise

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An unusually upbeat (in a sense) day in our local paper, just before the election.

Star Tribune headline tells us that the MAGA extremist running for Governor has a tax plan that would ruin the economy. Tope headline of the paper.

Lower down on the same page: Jan 6 panel subpoenas Trump, with a pic of Bannon being shuffled off after sentencing. Trump has a November deadline.

Still on front cover:

Iran, China intelligence among seized documents

Calls for (MAGA Extremist) Sviggum to resign (from UMN regents) intensify (after he says that what may be the whitest of our campuses in Minnesota is too diverse! He refuses to resign, by the way, so this is going to be an interesting fight.)
Biden Touts Falling Deficits

Inside the paper:

  • Emmett Till statue unveiled
  • Good news for Ethiopian refugees
  • First woman (Eve?) PM of Italy
  • Page A5: Bannnon gets 4 months
  • PA Man gets 34 months for attacks on press, cops, on Jan 6
  • Seized (Trump) document describes Iran nuke program

Today’s Strib editorial excoriates MAGA republicans for being insane, mentions litter boxes and bat-boy myths.

Piles of amazing infrastructure news.

DFL AG Ellison’s big GOTV push at UMN

GOP donor in sex trafficking case tapdancing

Weekend weather in the 70s.


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The End Of Democracy As We Know It. Coming soon to a polling place near you.

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As if you care.

There is new polling, extensive and high quality polling, that seems to make clear one small problem we have in the United States.

Nobody really gives a hoot about key issues such as abortion rights or democracy. People will get mad, there will be demonstrations, but when large percentages of Democrats (yes, I said Democrats) tell us that they prioritize gas prices over democracy, and polls show, as they do, that if the election were held today, Republicans would take over the US House and possibly the Senate, then we have to admit that we are a Republican nation, a nation not in favor of freedoms or democracy. We are an anti-abortion nation, a back ally nation, a nation where we are ready and seemingly even happy to let a right wing fascist government control our lives.

I see it day to day. I see people who in the past helped Democratic candidates not showing up, not donating money, letting someone else do it. But there is no “someone else.” When Democrats lose this rare two-year trifecta on November 8th, and a Republican House is sworn in come January, we will begin a two or four year long deconstruction of this country. Enough election deniers will be in the power positions in key states that the republican party will be able to “elect” (but not really elect) whomever their party puts up for 2024, probably Donald Trump. There is a good chance that at the same time Trump is sworn in, a Democratic house will be sworn in, but with only the slimmest majority. Then two years after that, Democrats will stay home again, and there will be a Republican (Trump) in the White House, a Republican Senate (with McConnell in charge), and a Republican House with who knows which monster in charge.

The only pertinent details will be which of the old men who are bent on turning us in to a fascist country die of natural causes earlier than their plans ideally require. But that is just a detail. Others are eager to step in.

I partly blame the left. We removed the possibility of empathy as part of our way of being when we shouted down anyone who claimed it, in our rush to blame our allies for everything that our enemies are actually doing. We threw out half our good messaging when it failed to come from a repressed group, even if it was about repression. We developed and deployed abysmally bad messaging and wore it as a chip on our shoulder, a guaranteed recipe for losing any argument. We let our identity politics undermine our pro equity efforts. Then, after doing that for about a decade, we stopped showing up. We explicitly put “self care” as our number one priority, then forgot to move to number two after a suitable recovery peirod.

I thought 2016’s election was depressing, but that was just the beginning of the end. The elections of 2022 and 2024 will be the actual end, and we are letting it happen. Making it happen. Choosing for it to happen. When the Republicans take the majority, we will simply have to admit that this is a MAGA Republican country. We are a democracy that is about to vote out democracy, democratically.

This is my third or fourth missive declaring our failures, but in the previous ones, I also asked for help, asked for people to step up. I now see that as too unlikely. Nobody stepped up, and the polls show that nobody will.


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Christian Conservatives: Just don’t vote.

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Being a conservative means that if you vote, you must vote for a rapist, a liar, a violent offender, a person with anti-Christian values seeping out of their pores. Being a Christian means that you know you will go to hell if you support the smashing of half or more of the Ten Commandments. Being a conservative means you can’t vote for the empathetic, intelligent, humanistic Democrat. Being a Christian means you should vote for the progressive, liberal, or centrist candidate. But you are a conservative so you can’t.

So, there is only one thing you can do and save your soul: Sit out this election.

The extremist MAGA Trump Base has spoken. It is the tail that wags the Republican dog. The base has picked the candidate you get to support, or not, and the base has decided that power is more important than democracy, winning is more important than truth, hate is more fun than love, aggression and bullying is better than empathy and thoughtfulness.

And that is what you’ve got, that is all you’ve got. That is what you are voting for (or not).

Is this you? Are you that bad of a person? Or not????


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Fascism coming to America? Already there in the judicial branch.

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When I was a kid, I got in trouble (a couple of times, but there was this one time…) In truth, I had done nothing wrong, but I got caught up in a drug deal I had nothing to do with. The damaging evidence was planted by the police (I witnessed that and reported it to my public defense lawyer, who told me that’s how it works). In public, the judge was judgmental and stern, but reasonably well behaved. But there was a moment where I was sentenced, unofficially, to get a stern talking to by him in his chambers, instead of a severe actual sentence. In his chambers, he was a pompous ass. He stood to pace in his opulent office while lecturing me, and decided to re-tie his perfectly tied shoe. When he lifted his foot up to the seat of a chair, his robe fell open, and exposed … the handgun strapped to his leg. What an ass.

A couple of other times, such as in an unemployment dispute for example, the judge was an ass. In my life I learned that low level judges tend to be assholes. Perhaps that is my bad luck and not truly representative, but my experience shapes my opinion. I’ve never had the pleasure of standing in court, or in chambers, before a higher level judge. Maybe the higher level judges are not assholes, who knows.

When the right wing Trump/McConnell stacked supreme court ruined the Constitution and started America on its retraction of human rights long held and hard fought for, a lot of people were surprised. I think everyone expected the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, but I’m not sure most people expected them to lay out a road map for the retraction of most personal rights, which would be a necessary condition for the deployment of a full-on fascist government led in two years from now by Donald Trump, the real estate robber baron. (With the Proud Boys as his palace guard and Q-Anon as his brown shirts.) But I wasn’t that surprised, because I already knew that the judicial branch at the lowest levels had more assholes than the Russian Army.

Why do we revere our judicial branch? Our criminal justice system is unjust and has been for the entire history of this country. The judicial branch has been run by judges this entire time. Seems to me like this makes judges, by and large, even those with nice personalities, essentially assholes.

The most widely disseminated and widely listened to opinions about how judges are worthy of praise, trustworthy, important centers of civilization, etc, come from lawyers. Lawyers are self selected, then further culled by law school, many if not most spend almost no time in the presence of judges, so there is a great deal of further selection among them that do. Those litigators are a subset of people further subsetted, further subsetted, further subsetted, to work with, appreciate, and live by virtue of the existence of … judges. So of course lawyers say of judges what fish mongers may say of fish. Meanwhile there are fish that are complete assholes, and there are judges that are complete assholes. More, percentage-wise, judges than fish, I would judge.

The Republican Revolution is the takeover of our legislative branches by assholes. Started with Gingrich, continuing today, and with Trump, likely joined soon enough by the Executive branch. If and when Trump wins the presidency in a couple of years, and the Senate and House go Extremist Asshat, like is about to happen according to some polling, the executive branch and the legislative branch will join the judicial branch to become a trifecta of imperfection, a triumvirate of terror, a trinity of self-centered fascist demagogues.

One could argue that the judicial branch has been most of the way there all along, and this has been one of America’s best kept secrets. The transition of judges to moderators of a Gestapo-state will require the removal of those remaining judges who still believe in democracy, but judges take care of their own, and they will figure out a way to do that.

Keep this in mind: The courtroom is the opposite of a democracy. A courtroom is ruled with an iron fist. In their own courtroom, each judge has the final word, and can choose whom to give voice, and can choose what they may say and not say. Find a definition of fascism and apply it to a courtroom. It will fit nicely. The lawyers, observers, others, who work in that context and extoll the virtues of judges as fair, thoughtful, whatever, are to this fascism what the fish is to the water: they don’t realize that part of their world exists, so they don’t point it out, they don’t criticize it.

The judicial branch will be the first of three, not the third of three, branches of our government to turn full on Mussolini.

Mussolini was an asshole.


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Republicans Eschew Voters, Democracy

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Last night I attended a local League of Women Voters campaign forum to which candidates running for the Minnesota Senate and House from my local district (SD 42) were invited. Full disclosure: all three DFL1 candidates are my friends, and I support them politically. They are, Senate candidate Bonnie Westlin, House Candidate Ned Carroll, and House Candidate (and my own house rep) Representative Ginny Klevorn.

The forum was held in the well-appointed digs of the City Council, up the hill at City Hall. I note that my friend Ned, running for House but currently a city council member (at large) got to sit in the Mayor’s seat. All three candidates were asked questions collected from the public over the last several days, and at the venue just prior to the start of the forum. All of the candidates gave straight forward, excellent, well thought out answers to all but one of the questions2

DFL Candidates Westlin, Carroll, Klevorn. They showed up.

Sixty people attended, about eight or so questions were asked and answered, by all three candidates. Which, if you think about it, does not add up. Three positions, three candidates, means only one candidate per position!

That’s right, folks, the Republicans did not show up. The campaigns were informed on the night before the debate that two of the candidates would not would not attend, and rumors that the third candidate would also fail to show came along as the day progressed.

The point of these forums is to provide a non partisan setting for members of the electorate to have direct access to candidates, and for candidates to stand or stumble on their positions on the issues defined by the voting public, and moderated by a fair third party (the LWV). This is something, apparently, that Republicans don’t want, or perhaps, can’t handle.

This is part of a trend3. Across the country, “Candidates, mostly Republican, skip debates, bar press during midterm campaigns.” Not only debates, but press conferences are being shunned by Republicans. This is happening by routine when races are close. Republcian campaiging is a game of duck, duck, grey duck, but instead of actual ducks, ducking debates.

Empty Chair
Empty chair. AKA Republican candidate not appearing at a fair and open forum.
The controversial pullouts from presidential debates are well known and well documented. There are way way too many examples to cite here without running out of links. I only have so many links to give. And yes, skipping LWV forums is very much part of this anti-democracy trend. This has been going on since at least 2018, but is much more widespread this year.

I am fortunate to live in a district that has shifted, since I’ve lived here, from red to blue. Indeed, the very first local person I met when moving here4 was then-candidate Ginny Klevorn. I was in my newly purchased driveway moving stuff into my newly purchased house, and this lady I did not know came along and gave her pitch for her candidacy. Naturally, my internal dialog was “is this person a Democrat or a Republican, hard to assume in this red town.” I was eventually to learn that Ginny is a DFLer, and an excellent one, and over time we became good friends, but equally important, she became an excellent representative. I’ve always been able to talk to her about issues, make suggestions, or more often, learn the nuances of current policy debates. Ginny would go on to lose that first year to the incumbent Republican, as was normal and common in this district, but the next year she took the seat, and every cycle after that, she has won more and more decisively. These days, when a person tells me they would like to run for office (I’m on committees that seek out candidates, so this is a frequent conversation for me), one of the first things I tell them is, “Look at everything Ginny Klevorn does, copy her, and you’ll have the best possible campaign.”

I admit the Republicans in this district are justifiably fearful of their DFL rivals. They should be scared out of their socks. Last weekend’s Plymouth Parade demonstrated why. Each of our candidates had very large crowds of supporters marching with them, each in a different part of the parade. Meanwhile, the Republicans, MAGA extremists every one, had to gather together into one group just to look like they had any support at all. There were more lawn signs attached to the hokey trailer they were dragging than there were supporters.

My community is one of those places where for years, many citizens went along in life avoiding politics, just voting for the incumbent, until one day he who shall not be named (to avoid sullying this post) got elected and there was a great awakening. There are still Republicans in Plymouth, Minnesota, but they seem to know their worth5, and have retained a modest sense of shame. So they don’t show up for debates. I’ll be they won’t show up to vote either.

Please, vote. Also, here are the links you need to donate to my three candidates, which you should also do.

Klevorn Carroll Westlin

By the way, they are all strongly pro-choice, and we need more pro-choice legislators in Minnesota, in both houses. We lack a clear majority, so your donation will be extra meaningful.


Footnotes:

1The Democratic Farmer Labor Party is the Minnesota version of the Democratic Party, founded in 1944 by a committee with Elmer Kelm, Elmer Benson, and led by the up and coming Hubert Humphrey. So it is mostly the Elmer Party and it glues together farmers, union folk, mostly urban progressives, Native folk, LGBTA and kin, poc, the Woke, a diversity of faith-based communities, non-libertarian suburban Conservatives, traditional Democrats, and so on and so forth.

2No one I spoke to after the forum considered it a valid question. It might have been the headline and sub-head of a Star Tribune editorial followed by a phrase amounting to: “yeah, so what about this, huh?” An unfortunate choice especially for the closing question of the evening.

3I thank my friend Audrey Britton, for sending me this Google search.

4I knew many people in Plymouth MN before living here, having married into a family of Plymouth folk, and having worked on several Congressional campaigns centered here, but this is the first local person I met AFTER moving in, a fine but important distinction.

5A small value.


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And in today’s news …

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Rethink The Police

Attempts at police reform, or more accurately, policing reform, are stalled by right wing tactics that paint any sort of critical examination as pro-crime, and centrists and “persuadable” tend to buy what the right wingers are selling. This pattern is common in many areas of progressive change. Then, along comes some other aspect of reality and bam, upside the head, anti reformers! Change happens anyway.

One area of reform is to curb the cowboy in the cop and limit high speed, high risk chases, which often have negative side effects. Like the one in St Ann MO, where a chase of a car with expired tags led to the permeant disablement of Brent Cox, who happened to be in a nearby car that was slammed into by the errant driver. When asked to limit dangerous overdone car chases, the chief told the press they would drag his car chases out of his cold dead hands. Well, not really. He said “St. Ann will chase you until the wheels fall off.”

Then the insurance agency stepped in and put him down. From reporting in the Washington Post (this is Washington Post Day on Greg Laden’s Blog, by the way): “….an otherwise silent stakeholder stepped in. The St. Louis Area Insurance Trust risk pool — which provided liability coverage to the city of St. Ann and the police department — threatened to cancel coverage if the department didn’t impose restrictions on its use of police chases. City officials shopped around for alternative coverage but soon learned that costs would nearly double if they did not agree to their insurer’s demands.”

Sometimes reform is just the natural organic thing that happens in a free market. Rarely, but savor the moment when it does.

The New York Time Is Biased

I had two headlines in my morning email:

“White House reaches tentative agreement to avert national rail strike”

and

“Railroad unions and companies reach a tentative deal to avoid a strike”

The former from Wapo, the latter from the NYT. Leave it to the NYT to understate Biden. They have a reason. Everybody loves a close horse race, so keep the horse race close and the value of your add space rises. I only subscribe to the NYT because when I told them to bugger off a few months ago they bribed me by offering a super cheap subscription (like a dollar a month or something crazy) so I kept it. You should try that! Just call to cancel and they’ll give you a great deal.

The Wisdom of Linsey Graham …

At first I was only getting snippets and I was confused. Lindsay Graham will ban abortion in 15 weeks. So hurry up and get yours. No, no, Lindsay Graham will ban abortion FOR 15 weeks. Like a moratorium? No, no, Lindsay Graham will ban abortions AT 15 weeks. For reference, that is 15 out of 40.

The truth is more like this: Lindsay Graham got drunk again.

One of the most common terms that comes to my mind when I think of Lindsay Graham, other than “lush”, is “bone-headed.” This morning, I was pleased and amused to wake up and find Ruth Marcus saying (in Wapo, not in my apartment), “Graham’s move might be politically bone-headed, coming less than two months before a midterm election in which voters already appear angered and energized by the court’s action. But it is just the opening salvo.” Nice.

Ruth’s main point: “… it is not hard to imagine a moment when Republicans have the power to proceed [with such a ban], and use it.” But on the ground, in this year and at this time, the MAGA-trumps “…rattled by midterm polling, scurried to distance themselves from Graham’s proposal and talk up states’ rights.”

So to complete the sentence at the head of this comment: “The Wisdom of Linsey Graham … is drunk

Ken Star Is Dead

I will not here speak poorly of the dead. I did that on Facebook and it was pretty satisfying. That is all, have a nice day.

No, but seriously, Eugene Robinson has some things to say about Ken Star.

Sports sucks

I love this paragraph, that I found here:

The greatest threat to the integrity of pro sports is the unchecked, immoral owner. He slithers across all of these leagues, rich and toxic and indestructible, profiting from sports’ charm without upholding their virtue. You can expose his misdeeds, shame him and force him to answer to people who are supposed to have real power. He will escape, though. And those like him will multiply.

A few interesting things about the Queen’s death (long live the King)

They made the coffin 30 years ago.

In 1901, the horses carting Queen Victoria’s gun carriage (that’s what they use to parade the coffin around) broke free, so some British Sailors pulled Victoria’s cart for a while. Therefore, at some point during the ceremony, Royal Navy sailors will likely drag the carriage by foot for a while. This is how ancient traditions start.

You know what a plinth is. Well, a catafalque is a wooden plinth for a royal coffin. Now you know that too.

The queen’s Royal Sovereign’s Scepter is three feet long, bears one of the world’s most famous diamonds, and has a core of Unicorn tail hair taken from the same Unicorn as the Scepter wielded by the royal house of Freedonia.*

The Royal Orb … well, there is a royal orb. What the heck? It’s actual name is Globus cruciger, and it is really old, from back in the Age of Orbs I suppose.

The state hearse is a Land Rover. Therefore it will break down during the ceremony and the cost of repair will exceed the Royal Funerary Budget so the Queen’s coffin (did I mention the coffin was made 30 years ago) will have to be dragged the last few blocks.

source


*That part is mostly but not entirely made up


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Democrats will make gains in both the House and Senate in 2022

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If they work hard enough.

MAGA Extremist Don Bolduc’s win in NH is an example of circumstances that will lead to the the Democratic Party picking up, rather than losing, seats across the Congressional races. This race is for the Senate, but this most current (and last for the season) example of a primary illustrates a phenomenon being played out in both Senate and House races across the country.

Not only will the Democrats pick up seats in the Senate, but they will add, not lose, seats in the House.

By conventional wisdom the Dems will lose House seats (or not, but usually lose in a midterm year) based on the “Generic Ballot” which over the last several months, as is the case in most midterm election years, has the Generic Republican beating the Generic Democrat in Congress. The Senate is a little tricker because how the Senate seats go is more subject to local (state level) conditions, incumbents have more sticking power in some cases, and there are few enough seats contested in a given year that the effects of the Generic Ballot can be statistically swamped by those other factors.

The reason why the Generic Ballot does not work this year even in the house is because it assumes there are two parties, but there are actually three this year: 1) the Democratic Party (same as before, and more unified than in most years, and now including most Independents); 2) the much reduced in size Regular Republicans plus Independents not absorbed by the Democratic Party; and 3) MAGA Extremists.

When something like this happens:

“Election-denier Bolduc wins GOP Senate nomination in N.H. Contested GOP races divided party leaders, exposed differing positions on the 2020 election, and pit far-right candidates against more moderate rivals”

That makes the distinction between those three parties come into play.

Here is what will happen in this and many other races in the general election. All the Democrats will vote for the Democrat. The Independents absorbed by the Democrats will stay loyal to their new affiliation. Many of the Independents that went Red and the Regular Republicans will not vote for the Republican, with many may not voting at all in this race, a few voting for the Democrat. The MAGA Extremists will all vote for the Republican election-denier, if they can pull their heads out of their butts long enough to find the polling place. But there are not actually THAT many MAGA Extremists.

This is happening in races across the country. In many, perhaps most of these races, the Republican will still win because these races are happening in the stinking hell-holes known as Red Districts and Red States. But some are happening where the Red-Blue gap is X wide, normally, and the percent of the electorate either swayed or kept home is enough to close that gap. I’m not sure at this point what those numbers are, and local conditions will also matter a lot. For example, a candidate that, independently of being a MAGA Extremists, is an unmitigated ass, may get fewer votes just because of their losing personality. And, I’m pretty sure that will apply to most or all of the newly involved MAGA Extremists.

This last point applies to Bolduc. He has alienated himself from the mainstream Republican Party, which is wide and broad in New Hampshire, through a series of dumb-ass actions since 2002. He has made the claim that Covid-19 vaccines contain microchips. He accused former Governor Sununu as being a “Chinese Communist Sympathizer,” when we all know that if Sununu ever had a sympathy for anything (he doesn’t) it would be with Putin and the Oligarchy not the Chinese Reds.

On top of all this, note that at this moment, the Generic Ballot has shifted from its usual direction of the party in the White House, and the democrats are winning it. At this moment.

Speaking of Donald Bolduc, I made you a meme:


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What should the British do with their monarchy?

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I think most American progressives would agree that a form of government that does not have a monarchy is better than one that does. So, it is not surprising that so many people see the death of the Queen of England* as a moment to consider ridding Great Britain and the United Kingdom of any vestige of monarchy. I mean, why not? Many Americans on the opposite of any known political spectrum from progressives saw the end of the Trump Presidency to be a moment to consider the end of democracy and installation of a fascist MAGA state!

But I wonder if monarchy-hate is fully appropriate, given some of the reactions I see from actual subjects of the Queen/King. Said subjects seem blind to the argument that the monarchy is a burden on the budget, has no practical use, and is linked to a history of colonialism and repression. Or are they?

Here is why these ideas may be misguided if not just wrong.

  1. The monarchy has not been the prime mover in colonialism and repression since well early in the 18the century. The monarchy is a part of, and an increasingly no-effective part of, the British government during the last 300 years of British colonial advancement, colonial retraction, and colonial separation. One could easily argue that the parliamentary part of the British government is more responsible for everything that happened than the monarchy. Not to let the monarchy off the hook. I’m just saying that if you have a small gang of thieves and get rid of one of them, you still better keep checking your pocket to see if your wallet is still there.
  2. The portion of GDP attributable to the monarchy is difficult to determine. The annual cash flow of the monarchy represents about one one-hundredths’ of a percent of the British GDP. The annual cost to taxpayers is about 3 one thousand’s of a percent of the British GDP. The total value of the monarchy (if you sold it off tomorrow) is between 2 and 3% of GTP. So, the monarchy is a low-maintenance very valuable asset, assuming that it produces some payback.
  3. Compare it to sports. In America, we have no monarchy, but we do have sports. Sports takes up more American cultural space and energy that the monarchy takes up British cultural space and energy, I would assert. Or at least, they are in the same ballpark, as it were. Sports value as a percentage of GDP is about 2 tenths of a percent in the US. Small nationwide, but huge compared to the equivalent annual cash flow of 1 one hundredths of a percent for the British Monarchy. American sports are a burden on the American budget (every time a city is asked to build a new stadium or bail out a team, or as a function of increased vandalism and criminality associated with sports culture) but with limited practical use, and linked to a history of segregation, racism, nurturing of violence and criminality, and overall stupid behavior. One could argue that sports has advantages, and one can argue that the monarchy has some value too.

I’m agnostic, and I prefer to follow the lead of British progressives. It is their monarchy, after all.

Americans tend to think we threw off the monarchy centuries ago because we did not like it. That is not what happened. America rebelled against unequal tax and representation by our government (we were part of Great Britain) as it applied to the Americas, and against home-country (UK) rules against killing Indians. Our government in London told us we had to stop grabbing land that wasn’t ours. The British government was on the verge of getting rid of slavery, which Brits in the Americas (our forefathers) did not want to do. Our revolution was not about being a democracy instead of a monarchy. It was about us being an out of control asshole on the world stage, not held back by certain British sensibilities. So fellow Americans, maybe lose the impertinence, OK? Not a good look coming from one of the very small number of countries that maintained slavery longer than everyone else, and then converted slavery into something as close to slavery as possible for the next rest of time.

Finally, I suspect most people who are down on the monarchy are not aware that the role of the British monarchy in the British government is not to rule, but to be dignified. Like this:


*I know I know, she is not the “Queen of England” except that she is, but also, Queen of some other things too. As an American I’m not into getting sidetracked by the whinging about the complex national identity associated with that which is British-ish and related.


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Fundy Christians, MAGAjerks, Proud Boys, School and Library Board Members, Ban-Burning Books

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I use the word “burning” metaphorically. But it might as well be literal. If you ban a list of books in a system of libraries, the libraries have a bunch of recycling to do, and eventually … to the county incinerator go the books.

Book Man
In fact, I give you no truck, no room, no wiggle-space, if you even look at a book funny, because that is how it starts. I am champion of the books, all the books, and I am not alone, not by a long shot.

Here is a recent, disturbing, but typical example. Christians in Boundary County, Idaho, mobbed the local public library board, demanding the removal of a large number of books, including Gender Queer: A Memoir* by Maria Kobabe**, a book the library did not actually have.

These thugs intimidated the administrator of the libaries, Kimber Glidden, into resignation, in which she noted:

“My experience and skill set made me a good fit to help the district move toward a more current and relevant business model and to implement updated policy and best practices. However nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, intimidation tactics, and threatening behavior currently being employed in the community.”

Gidden told reporters at Route Fifty that “If [this] was really about banning books, we’d have to have the books.” Food for thought. They don’t care about the books, they only care about being bullies, and intimidating people who love books, and the kids the books are there for.

In another case, MAGA-Republicans and Fundy-Christians took over the Lafayette, Louisiana library last year and this happened:

  • The library board rejected a grant to fund a program about voting rights, saying it was too left wing.
  • A display about Pride Month was cancelled, and today library displays are forbidden about any distinctive group — even French Cajun culture, of which Lafayette is the unofficial capital.
  • And this summer, when a popular librarian, Cara Chance, ignored that order and put up a display that included queer teen romance books, the board tried to fire her.

The actual police showed up at the Granbury High library in Granbury Texas to investigate a complaint made by book-burning-fundies last May. Five books were subsequently removed from the library shelves. The removal of these books was targeted harassmement of Trans students and other non-heteronormative-binary people by the school admins. This sort of thing has caused loss of life among school children. Even in relatively liberal Minnesota suburbs, a school board member went out of his way to indicate his discomfort with non-heteronormative school children, as noted in this LTE written by Yours Truly:

Plymouth Sun Sailor, Aug 11, 2022.

Locally, where the Jay Hesby problem recently emerged, we have an open seat on the Wayzata School District board. Hesby is one of a few candidates running. Sheila Prior, an active member of the school community especially interested in reading education, is also running, and she is by a gazillion miles my choice for the upcoming special election. (Feel free to visit her web site and donate ten bucks or more to this great cause. I just did!)

I gets scarier. Recently in the Reno Nevada area, suited up members of the “Proud Boys” (I call them Cucked Children) actually entered a library to disrupt a children story time because they did not like the book that was being read. They did the same thing near San Francisco, South Bend, Indiana, and Woodland California. There was violence. Over books. At events involving children. Derek Chauvin got extra time on his murder sentence because he carried out violence in the presence of children. For christakes.


Notes:
-* Links to books on Amazon help support this blog, see note below
-** From the publisher:

2020 ALA Alex Award Winner
2020 Stonewall — Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Then e created Gender Queer. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fan fiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: It is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

This special deluxe hardcover edition of Gender Queer features a brand-new cover, exclusive art and sketches, a foreword from ND Stevenson, Lumberjanes writer and creator of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and an afterword from Maia Kobabe.


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Turns out you can buy less misery

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Over the last year and a half, the Democratic White House and Congress carried out an amazingly successful experiment in small scale personal guaranteed income, with the expanded Child Tax Credit and similar programs. Democratic Governor Walz in Minnesota has been trying to do something similar.

Minnesota Extremist Republicans have not only fought tooth and nail the famous “Walz Checks,” they also left billions of dollars in federal money on the table, a huge state surplus that could be used to fund education, give money back to families, and do other good things, for one reason only: to have a bigger and better hissy fit than otherwise possible.

Demand the extremist Republicans running the Minnesota Senate either do their jobs or step aside. Then, even if they do (they won’t) vote them out in November.

Vote #DFL. For example, these candidates.


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Is The US On The Verge Of A Civil War: Yes, apparently

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How Civil Wars Start* and how to stop them” is a new book by Barbara Walter. Not Barbara Walters, Barbara Walter.

I quote from recent WaPo article:

“[There is a] scale that goes from negative 10 to positive 10. Negative 10 is the most authoritarian, so think about North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. Positive 10 are the most democratic. This, of course, is where you want to be. This would be Denmark, Switzerland, Canada. The U.S. was a positive 10 for many, many years. It’s no longer a positive 10. And then it has this middle zone between positive 5 and negative 5, which was you had features of both. … scholars found was that this …variable was really predictive of a risk for civil war. That full democracies almost never have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars. All of the instability and violence is happening in this middle zone. “

The US is in or near the middle zone.

This idea makes a lot of sense. This appears to be a must read book.


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All Minnesota Republicans Have Extremist Anti-Women Positions

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GOP Extremist Erik Mortensen
“Mortensen [invited] Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison to his home for a Thanksgiving weekend party last year during the pandemic, in defiance of public health orders at the time that discouraged … gathering to limit the spread of COVID-19.” -Minnesota Reformer
As far as I can tell.

Want me to go over them one at a time? OK, fine.

Let’s start with The Mort.

Republican Minnesota House representative Erik “The Mort” Mortensen (Shakopee area, southeast of the Twin Cities)* wants all civil and legal rights granted to a fertilized human egg. Mortensen only barely won his most recent race, and is running for re-election against Brad Tabke, DFL endorsed**. Marijuana candidate Ryan Martin is also running in this race, and is likely to spoil the election for the DFL as he did last time, allowing a rabid anti-abortion member back into the house (and forestalling the legalization of Marijuana***).

Mortensen has staked out his position on abortion very clearly in legislation he has introduced: He intends to control women’s reproductive choice by using a draconian law, and will do so if the Extremist Republicans running in the North Star state take over the government.

GOP Extremist Erik Mortensen
Mortensen recently got into trouble for doxx’ing a fellow legislator in the Minnesota house. A DFL woman, of course. He has no sense of boundary or respect.
If you want to protect reproductive rights in Minnesota, consider helping out Brad Tabke in this key race. If you want to see Marijuana legalized in Minnesota, do not support the legalize marijuana candidate, that won’t do it.

There are Republicans who will tell you that Mortensen is not so much one of theirs. He has, in fact, been in big trouble with the Minnesota Republican caucus (in the house), but not because of his extreme policy views. Rather, he has complained openly to and about the Republican leadership, and how they handle the process of making sausage, er, laws, from bills. Mortensen, in effect, knows nothing about how the legislative process works, so when he sees something he does not understand, he thinks about it carefully and learns, becomming a better person. Only kidding. What he actually does is to go off the handle and complain. He is not smart enough to figure out what to actually get mad at vs. what to learn from.

The problem with the MN GOP washing their hands of Mort is that Mort is right on board policy wise, and is a leader in the anti-choice movement within the Party of Strong Dislike****. The abiding truth is that the Republican Party has a single position on each issue, and it is easily discerned: Whatever makes liberals cry. In this case, as they see it, taking away the rights from each and every woman and giving those rights to a cell.


GOP Extremist Erik Mortensen
Mortensen drew an HR complaint on his first day on the House Floor when he spoke inappropriately to two DFL women, one of which happened to be Speaker. What an offensive dummy.
*Fort those outside of Minnesota, that’s Erik with a “K,” which goes along with Mortensen with an “en,” and the town is not “Shake -0- pea” (like when you make a veggie smoothie with legumes) but rather “Shock -a- pee” (like when you are shocked about something and have to pee). We also pronounce the K in Knute and Knife. Well, one of those anyway.

** DFL is Minnesotan for “Democratic Party.”

*** Yes, there appear to have been times when a Republican faked being a legalize Marijuana candidate in order to help another Republican win, though I’m not saying this is the case here. But it is. This particular candidate, Ryan Martin, is known to be a Republican and has ties to a known spoiler of this nature who ran for Congress in Minnesota’s second Congressional district.

****(Minnesotan for “hate.”)

Sources:
New House Republican caucus gives Shakopee lawmaker the boot

Shakopee GOP lawmaker doxxes DFL colleague in Facebook post, could face ethics complaint

Freshman Shakopee lawmaker jokes about getting HR complaint on first day

Emergence of ‘Mort’ draws scrutiny of race where pot candidate pulled votes


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