Noisy me

Politics is full of noise, and, sad to say, I’ve added my own share to that mess. That makes me sad, because I see politics as the way we – and “we” varies from issue to issue, community to community – sort out our differences. Make society work.

The alternative to politics is not peaceful anarchy; the alternative to politics is violence.

In the United States, we do it badly, but we do stick to politics to resolve our issues. In a nation of this size, with the vast differences in beliefs and opinion that make up the American people, we rarely resort to violence to resolve political differences. Rather than violence, most Americans choose a second alternative to politics: submission to whoever wants to be in charge.

These are our choices: violence, surrender, politics. The latter should be cherished, seen as a privilege, the right of free human beings living in civil society. I view politics that way. No one is imposing rule by the gun in the United States, and I’ll be damned if I let anti-democratic forces control things. I choose politics because this is the one means I have available to me to affect progressive, peaceful change.

So my failure to live up to my standards hurts. When I think how I’ve added noise and not substance, I’m humiliated. I can do better than that.

Don't worry. They'll be there.

There is significant worry among Dems that Sanders voters won’t show up for Clinton in November should she win the nomination. Calls for “Bernie or Bust” or for Sanders to run as an independent are loud right now in the heat of the primary campaign. I don’t think this should concern those of us who want to elect a Democrat as President, be it Sanders or Clinton. The voters will show up.

Enough to win, that is.

In 2008, after a primary that was far more contentious, far more divisive than this one has been, there was a “PUMA” movement: Party Unity My Ass. Clinton supporters, so hurt and angry at the process, stating they would never vote for Obama, and to hell with “bringing the party together”. How large was this movement? At the end of the 2008 primary, about 50% of her supporters.

Obviously, most of them changed their minds. In the end, most Clinton supporters did vote for the Democratic nominee. Faced with the possibility of John McCain becoming President, and Sarah Palin Vice-president, the necessity to do their civic duty overcame their anger. Plus, in Denver at the DNC convention, Hillary Clinton made a stirring endorsement of Obama and, by the time election day approached, most of her supporters stood with her and voted for the man who had defeated her in the primaries.

And guess what? The number of Sanders supporters swearing they’d never vote for Clinton is about one-third smaller than those who swore they’d never vote for Obama. How many of those “Bernie or Bust” voters will stand back in November and see the possibility of President Trump or President Cruz and do nothing? Especially when the person they admire so much, Senator Sanders, says “Get out there and vote”? Because he’s going...

HRC & the Return of the 50-State Strategy

Dr Howard Dean's 50-state strategy being revived by Hillary ClintonAnyone who has followed Dr Howard Dean since 2003 knows this about him: the Clintons hate him. He messed up the party that year and showed how to push the insiders out of the way – a lesson Obama used to beat Hillary in 2008. As DNC Chair, Dean took back the House and paved the way for Obama. He had the kind of success with the party the Clintons had failed to even come close to.

So when Rahm Emanuel became Pres Obama’s chief-of-staff, it was not surprising that Dean was given no place in the administration. Nothing. Obama had his House majority because of Dean, but Dean was personna non grata to the Clintonites, so Emanuel, a Clinton flunky if anyone deserves that title, kept him on the outside.

Which made his early endorsement of Hillary Clinton very surprising. It’s not like he owes her anything, other than perhaps a bit of payback. But he got on-board with her campaign and, as is his wont, he’s been solid for her. Howard Dean does not do waffles. Why, I and many other deaniacs wondered, why did Dean endorse her after the way he’d been treated?

This may be my creation in terms of making a connection, but check out Bloomberg:

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has signed joint fundraising agreements with 33 state Democratic parties, according to a Wednesday filing with the Federal Elections Commission.

The Clinton campaign now has deals in place with the Democratic parties in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas, among other states and Puerto Rico, to create "victory funds." Contributions to those funds will be

...

Bailey: How much will he owe PPA?

On March 7, Jules Bailey got the endorsement of the Portland Police Association, the cops’ union. Here’s the final paragraph of The Oregonian’s article:

Bailey's political consultant, Stacey Dycus, has connections to police work. She worked on efforts to save the mounted patrol and, more recently, with the union on last year's billboard reading: "Having enough police matters."

And in case you don’t remember that billboard –

Portland Police Assn endorses Jules Bailey whose campaign consultant has close ties with the union and who refuses to oppose the 48-hour rule

The Mercury had the story back on October 7, 2015:

A Black Lives Matter banner hanging from the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland since just after police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has a new neighbor: A billboard displaying the message, "Having Enough Police Matters," that went up Tuesday on the next block.

And here is the original #BlackLivesMatter banner –

Portland Police Assn endorses Jules Bailey whose campaign consultant has close ties with the union and who refuses to oppose the 48-hour rule

Here’s Dycus in the same Merc article, stretching credibility to the breaking point:

Stacey Dycus said she sees absolutely no reason why anyone would connect the "Black Lives Matter" banner to the "Having Enough Police Matters" sign down the block, and asked the Mercury to explain.

Apparently she said this with a straight face.

A reminder:...

The War on Women: Erin Andrews edition

Here’s the top of the Sports Illustrated website this morning. Note:

  • an “analysis” of the Erin Andrews case,
  • written by a man,
  • with the swimsuit issues featured just below.

Perhaps we might learn a bit about why the idea of a “war on women” is not only real but goes far beyond basic rights like health care, equity, and opportunity. Take the so-called analysis. It’s not about the stalking, the video, or the other attacks on Andrews. It’s about the money and whether she’ll get. It’s written by a legal analysis. Yes, SI.com does have other articles addressing the more critical issues – “Female reporters speak out in wake of Andrews trial”; “Women on sports TV talk safety amid Andrews trial” – but this is the story that SI features at the top.

Right above the nearly naked woman who represents SI’s annual attempt to convert soft porn into sales.

And here’s the video that auto-plays when you go to the featured story:

Yup, another nearly naked swimsuit model, selling shaving cream. So before you read about Erin Andrews getting millions because some sick creep video’d her naked and put it online, you can goggle at a young women getting paid to be video’d almost naked and put online.

As in any war, casualties happen because too many people just don’t give a damn and demand that it stop. SI readers are happy to stare at the bodies without demanding safety for women – and few things would help provide that safety than to stop turning women into sex objects for men to ogle, online and in real life....

Bernie Sanders, the virtual Democrat

Bernie Sanders’ movement from longest-of-long-shots to contender has been built on the basis of two sets of voters: young and independent. Lots of overlap between these two groups, of course, but a common refrain has been heard from both: they love his message and they are tired of the two major parties.

So it might have been troubling for them to hear Sanders say this at his victory party in New Hampshire following his big primary win:

Because of a huge voter turnout - and I say huge - we won because we harnessed the energy and the excitement that the Democratic Party will need to succeed in November.

Yes, Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist non-Democrat running against the Democratic establishment, endorsed – the Democratic Party.

Sanders is no fool, and he’s also not an enemy of the Democratic Party. He caucuses with them in the Senate. He depends on them as his colleagues. He even shares in their ill-gotten gains from Wall Street, bankers, and other Clinton-type supporters through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He’s not been a registered Democrat until he decided to run for the nomination, but he’s been a virtual Democrat his entire time in the Congress.

And if he wants to be our next President, he’s going to have to be totally committed to the party from here on.

He gets it. He’s smart, he’s tactical, and, I believe, he doesn’t believe the Democratic Party is no different than the Republican. He knows better than that. He voted with Hillary Clinton 93% of the time while they were in the Senate together. He supports much of what Obama has done. He knows that many Democrats agree with him on many issues. He has no problem associating with the...

I am not. "ist" versus "ism"

Gimlet Media’s “Start Up” podcast had an interesting discussion about racism among the users of dating apps. The co-founder of one service, looking over the comments and preferences of her company’s users, was clear in her assessment: a lot of her users were racists.

She hated saying it. She wanted to think well of people she was trying to help via the service. But the evidence, backed up by data from research into multiple sites and services, is clear: racism is abundant and open in these apps and services.

The discussion made me wonder: Is there a difference between “being a racist” and “racism”? Are these the same thing?

I am not a racist. Period. End of story. I do nothing that a racist does. I don’t base my decisions on race. I don’t treat people differently because of race. I don’t make assumptions based on treat. I not only know all people are created equal and hold the same rights because we’re all human beings; I practice that.

Notice the active verbs in that paragraph. I am not a racist because my actions are explicitly and determinedly, not just non-racist but anti-racist. I do what I can to support what people of color in my community are doing. I speak out against the racist words and actions of other white people. I try to be just, equitable, and non-racists.

Again: active verbs. What I am doing, or trying to do.

On the other hand: I am infected by the evil of racism. When I see a black man walking down the street, I see all kinds of stereotypes. I hear echoes of the fears about “thugs” and such. When I see a group of brown-skinned men speaking in Spanish on a street...

Polls, liars, and perceptions

Here’s a dirty secret about polls: People want to back winners more than they want to be honest about their own preferences.

Following the Iowa caucuses, both Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio made gains in national polls. For voters in California, New York, Louisiana, and every other state that isn’t Iowa or New Hampshire, nothing changed following the caucuses. The candidates were still the same people with the same experience and policies and backgrounds. Nothing substantive happened to change people’s minds.

Except some candidates won, and some lost. And Americans hate associating themselves with losers. We throw people under the bus with a speed that is stunning. And nothing leads us to kick out one beloved political or pop culture figure like another person coming along who is shinier, sexier, winningier.

Sanders tied Clinton in Iowa when the common wisdom was he would lose. Rubio finished third, and it was not only a strong third but the national media couldn’t stop crowing about how well he’d done. So come Wednesday morning, the two winners from Iowa were Sanders and Rubio.

Lo and behold, they went zipping up the polls. Same old candidates, brand new results.

For Clinton, this phenomenon will haunt her another week and a half: she’s going to lose badly in New Hampshire but should win South Carolina and Nevada. If she can win those decisively, the barely committed poll respondents who are swayed by whoever the latest winner was may change their minds yet again. Or it could be too late by then.

Trump’s advantage is that he has a big lead in New Hampshire and far fewer religionists to undermine his campaign. He has a chance to stem the Rubio tide. Clinton needs to lose by as little as...

Background checks hearing: remove the 3-day limit

Did you know: If you submit your background check paperwork to buy a gun and the paperwork isn’t done in three days, you get your gun! What could possibly go wrong?

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hear a bill (HB 4147) that would remove that three-day time limit, requiring all background checks to be completed before a gun can be legally sold. This is the very definition of “sensible” and “responsible” gun legislation.

If there is a problem with the background check system, the answer isn’t to bypass the system. If legal gun sales are held up because the system isn’t providing background check responses in three days, the system needs to be fixed. Putting the public’s safety on the line is not the right answer.

I don’t know what the extent of the problem is; that’s probably something that will be made clear (or not, depending on who is testifying) at the hearing. But I’m pretty certain it’s not a huge problem or the gun “rights” extremists would be calling for the entire background check system to be dismantled. My assumption is that it’s working fine as it is. And in terms of a system this large, “fine” means “occasional glitches”.

But if it isn’t, hoping that the person who gets their gun without the check being completed isn’t someone who should be denied the permit is too big a risk. The system exists to protect those of us on the other side of the gun. If we require all permits to be completed, even if it takes more than three days because the system isn’t working properly, then we at least have that level of assurance.

The onus isn’t on gun safety advocates to prove that someone whose check doesn’t get done in time will use...

The mind of the evangelical

Here’s some “insider baseball” on being an evangelical Christian, based on my experiences as a young man. Most liberals/progressives have a flawed, incomplete understanding of evangelical ideology; I’d like to help expand that understanding.

Politics was not part of my evangelical experience initially; I grew up a Democrat, voted for Jimmy Carter, and kept my liberal sensibilities throughout. I think it was my grounding in liberalism, passively shared by my mother, that eventually led me to question and then abandon my faith. But i think this could help some of you not familiar with evangelicalism to understand that mindset.

As a born-again Christian, you are taught two things (beyond fundamentals of sin and salvation). One, that because of your faith, the “world” hates you and thinks you are foolish. In fact, you’re taught it’s the world’s beliefs that are foolish because of their sinfulness.

Second, those who hate you because of your faith are going to hell forever. And you, as one of the redeemed, will rule with the Messiah over them for eternity.

In short, to be born-again is to combine self-hatred, paranoia, and narcissism. Fortunately, proof of what you believe is irrelevant: faith is its own justification. Evangelical Christians, of course, are not unique in this mindset; it is common to any binary belief system. Plenty of lefties, in fact, believe in this way, albeit without the “I’m gonna live forever” element.

Humans want to believe they are right, beyond any doubt, because that makes life easier to live.

The world proves to evangelicals, over and over, that these basic tenets are correct: gays, abortion, sex, liberalism in general, hostility from other religions (ignoring Christianity’s historic role in fomenting that hostility), and so on. Add to this a slew of creative interpretations of...

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