Wednesday, November 30, 2016

And Cheers to Google Doodle

Jagadish Chandra Bose was an awesome scientist.

I Still Like Pelosi

There are leadership issues with the Democratic party, but I think they're more DNC, DCCC, DSCC related than the top posts (not a huge fan of our incoming senate minority leader, but it seems he'll at least have to pretend to be better with Warren and Sanders owning the Dem base). So, yea, there are problems, but I'm still with Nancy Pelosi.  I think she's done a hell of a job overall.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Yes, Yes, A Million Times Yes!

Every time Republicans win something everyone (Republicans, sure, but also media and Democrats) acts like they actually won in the sense that we think of it, i.e., as though they got the most votes, but Republicans haven't won the most votes in a national election in quite a while including 2016.  This election more people voted for Democrats for: president, senate and house, and the only reason Republicans control all those things is the messed up system of electoral nonsense that exists in this country.

More people in this country wanted Clinton as president (or at least not Donald).  More people in this country want Democrats to control the Senate and House.  Democrats who are in those bodies need to act like they have the mandate of the people BECAUSE THEY FUCKING DO!

Republicans are good at winning election because they have learned and are willing to game the system (voter suppression, ballot initiatives, gerrymandering, appeal to lower population small states that hold disproportionate voting clout).  Democrats, however, are--and have been for a while--the party that the majority of people in this country actually wants in power.

It would be really nice if the media would also do that but the media, despite perpetual noise about "liberal media bias" actually it actually gives far more credence/deference/respect to things Republican than to things Democratic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Self Control Ain't What It Is

Diet, exercise, spending, and saving are all considered demonstration of self-control or a lack thereof, but that is probably not the right way to think about it according to a study discussed in this article. It's apparently just that people with better habits aren't tempted as much.  Possibly because they have better habits.  

I also think there is something to be said about the relative ease of different activities.  If you have to spend half an hour getting ready to get exercise then you aren't going to do it very often, even if you like it.  If healthy eating requires lots of prep work and lots of cleanup then that becomes less likely too.  This is why mostly automated saving in 401k's is better than someone personally moving money into a savings/investment/retirement account and why the fully automated social security program is even better.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Let's Blame it on _____________

I'm sure that (mostly the left) is going to spend millions of words going over things like why some people voted for Trump and how to reach out (the right doesn't give a damn about people that voted for Clinton, though to be fair, the politicians elected by the right don't actually give a damn about the people that voted for Trump either).

Democrats need to be better.  This was true in the 90's, then the 00's and still in the 10's.  The Democratic party just sucks.  Obama is a cool guy who spent way too much time caught in the weeds negotiating with Republicans and trying to turn around people that hate him and what he stands for rather than fighting for the people who elected him (and, ironically, those who hate him too).

At that link the question is asked "Do we try to assimilate and emphasize our similarities, or do we celebrate differences and endorse multiculturalism?" and that strikes me as very wrong.  That isn't an either/or proposition.

He is Jewish and says they assimilated, but there are lots of Jewish delis around (particularly in the northeast), Chanukah is--while neither a high holy day, nor largely celebrated--a widely acknowledged part of the winter holidays here and is commonly referenced in popular culture.  Part of assimilation is celebrating differences and it is inherently an endorsement of multiculturalism.  It isn't like Italians assimilated and now no one knows anything about Italian culture/food/history, because they are all just "American" now.

The catch is that in order for a new group to assimilate it has to be accepted by the broader community.  This is almost certainly easier for people who look like the dominant [white Christian] culture.  I suspect that this is why LGB (and even T) rights and acceptance have advanced so quickly this past decade while Middle-Eastern and Hispanic acceptance have been a bit slower, and even moved backwards.  There's also a family effect where the stereotypical rural white man could end up with a gay son.  He's probably not going to find out his son is Persian.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Couple Good Reads

So much is terribly depressing and/or infuriating right now.  These two aren't exactly happy, but for democrats, liberals, compassionate people, human beings, non-racists, feminists, pro-LGBTQ...pretty much everyone save for the cesspool of humanity that elected our next president, these are worth reading.

Atrios is not normally this long winded, and he certainly makes many of these points on a regular basis, but shit is fucked up and bullshit.

The other is from Dean Baker at the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).  It's a bit harder to read, but does point forward rather than back.  He concludes:
I would argue that we have pursued policies that have been deliberately designed to shift income upward over this period...It is understandable that the losers from these policies would be looking to lash out at the winners. Voting for Trump was a way these people could spit in the face of the people who they see as wrecking their lives. 
It’s not pretty, but the best way to respond is to give them real ways to improve their lives and stop having all the benefits from growth go to those at the top. Trump is not going to help the people who have been left behind, and we have to make this fact as clear as possible. But we should also be showing them policies that will have substantial and direct effects in improving their lives.
That's pretty much how I feel about why people voted that way, and it pushes on my frustration with the Democratic party these past [20] years.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Harry Reid:

I can't find a link to the source (I got it from Digby).
“I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America. 
“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America. 
“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president. 
“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear. 
“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces. 
“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try. 
“If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”
We can still hope.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Twisted Logic

There is a very twisted logic that operates US elections.  The components make sense but assembling them into a whole leads to a twisted, regressive, non-functioning pile of shit.

In our system of government there are so many veto points that even an out-of-power party can do quite a bit to stop progress (mostly by way of the fillibuster in the Senate, and the president's literal veto power).  This means that to have a functioning government one of two conditions needs to be met: all the branches need to be controlled by the same party, and in the Senate that must be a supermajority (60 senators), or the minority party in the Senate must consent to allow the majority party to govern, and/or (depending on who controls what) the two parties must cooperate and work together.

It makes sense, however, for the out-of-power party to do all it can to stop the in-power party from achieving anything perceived as good.  Republicans, and only Republicans, have taken this to heart and understand that even if they control Congress, anything good (or bad) would get credited to the president (not really fair but that's the way it goes).

So it makes sense for the party that is not controlling the executive to make things in the country worse, so that the voters are more likely to change the control to them.  Republicans are perfectly content to harm the country so that they can gain in future elections.  If Democrats were willing to do the same, this might balance out but they are not.  Democrats, unlike Republicans, actually try and accomplish as much good for the country/their district as possible whether or not they are in power.  This means that they cooperate with Republicans to make bills more to their liking.  It also means that if they succeed the Republicans get credit, which means a weaker position in future elections (so Republicans are more willing to cooperate with Democrats if Republicans control the presidency).

This has the natural result of politics that will favor Republican policies over time.  This is true even if (as is actually the case) Democratic policies have more support in the electorate, and (as is also true) the evidence indicates they are better for [the economy, the planet, people's welfare, happiness...].

So why don't Democrats play the game the same way.  There are logical reasons for this too.  The main one is that Democratic voters are far more likely to believe that compromise is a good thing to do.  This has gotten less true of late, and is less true when applied to politics than to life in general, but it is still the case.  

Republicans play politics as a zero-sum game.  Democrats do not.  This means that, frustratingly for any thinking person: Republicans are more likely to win in the long run, and the US is more likely to lose (note: not because of policies, though I think that too, but because periods where Democrats are in charge, Republicans are fine with hurting the US to gain power back, but the reverse is not true).

The twisted logic is that it could be that voting for Republicans may be what is best for the country and best to advance Demcratic priorities, and that this will continue to be true so long as the two parties are playing different games.  Either Democrats need to wise up and play the same game as Republicans, or voters need to get over racism, sexism and xenophobia to actually vote for the party that has their interests in mind.  The past few decades hasn't left me with positive feelings about the Dem establishment, and after this election, I don't have much hope for the latter.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

"That's great it starts with an earthquake..."

The USA, in memoriam: it was a nice ride while it lasted.  My take is twofold, though both are arguably the same (the Democratic party establishment is horrible and just doesn't fucking understand US politics).

First, every presidential election brings out a lot of people who don't normally vote.  Most of those people, like most of the electorate just vote for the same people/party they do every 4 years.  However, lots of people (and it'd be nice if there was polling for this but I doubt it is possible) vote for "something different," or more accurately vote for the least political [seeming] candidate on the ballot.  Obama was clearly that, so was Bush Jr., and also Nader.  In the 90's it was actually Perot, though Bill Clinton didn't seem as much the politician as either Bush Sr. or Dole.  Reagan was also a non-politician politician and may have been the one to start this trend.  There isn't a candidate we've had that is less politician like than Donald and so they voted for him.  (Note: in my previous diatribe on his supporters these voters mostly fall in the "stupid" category.)

Second, the Democratic party establishment has a tendency to get behind competent, capable, long-time party insiders like Hillary (in 2008 and 2016) and Kerry and Gore, that most of the electorate consider boring and/or corrupt (and, unfortunately, no, it doesn't matter that they are wrong).  Kerry was not an exciting candidate and there is a very good chance Dean could have won.  Yes, Gore probably did win, but it's pretty easy to stipulate that his boring persona hurt him, of course it's hard to see any other candidate as the nominee that year since he was VP and all.  Obama managed to overcome a lot of the party establishment by actually winning some of them over.  This year, Bernie was the Dean candidate: he probably would have won the general but the party establishment steamrolled him and pressured others to stay out of the race to clear the field.  It was Hillary Clinton's turn.  She was a bad candidate in 2008 and was again this year.

Now, this isn't her fault and it really is frustrating for me to dump on her in the wake of Donald.  She is competent and would have made an excellent president, and the negative perception that people have of her is largely due to decades of asinine media coverage of non-scandals.  Even if there wasn't that, however, she is just the consummate insider, and a small but significant segment of this country just fucking hates politicians that seem like politicians.   (I don't particularly like her but very specifically for her too-militaristic foreign policy stance and friendliness with bankers.)

Friday, November 04, 2016


Good God I hope network/cable news morons read this story at Vox and apologize to the American people.

Ha, ha, just kidding, they can't read!  If they could they clearly wouldn't be acting the way they are.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Think We've Evolved Since the Salem Witch Trials?

Nope.  There's an inkling toward the end that some actual abuse may have happened in some of those cases, but it got tied up in the satanic panic and so is all questionable.