State’s Rights – How That Works

If you’re an American, as we all are, I wonder why anybody would believe that kids in Mississippi deserve a lesser education than kids in New York.  How do we rationalize women in Louisiana deserving less access to healthcare than Californians?  Shouldn’t people in Texas have as much of a right to vote as people in New Jersey?

Why that’s a liberal viewpoint and not just an American viewpoint is beyond me, but here we go.

Over the course of the Obama admininstration the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department waged legal battle on behalf of the people of Texas, against the State of Texas (meaning the elected government of Texas) fighting for access to the voting booth against laws restricting same.  New AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has announced that the federal governmnt is no longer going to challenge the State of Texas.  State’s rights in action.

For the last six years, the Justice Department has sided with the citizens and civil rights groups fighting Texas’ voter ID law, which a federal judge at one point found to be intentionally discriminatory against black and Latino voters. But its position changed Monday when the department decided to drop its claim that Republican state lawmakers enacted the law to make it harder for minorities to vote.

Elections have consequences.   In cases like this the worst instincts of some states have been blunted by the actions of the federal government.  When the federal government is predisposed to allow those worst instincts to run wild it most negatively impacts people in those blood red states who get what they voted for.  Which like “wishing for” you might be well advised to be careful of.

Trump Plan Preview – Let’s do everything we’ve done before that we know now doesn’t work and nobody needs

Let’s spend more on military.  A time honored tradition of hack politics, of course, so well illiustrated in Dr. Maddow’s book “Drift.”  Every president up to Bush pushed to increase military spending to the point that we spend as much as the next 10 countries combined. We have like a dozen nuclear aircraft carriers and the Russians and Chinese have 1 each and they’re diesel powered.  It’s a fucking joke and absolutely everybody knows it now, not just peaceniks.

Let’s get tough on crime, private prisons and drug wars.  Holy Colorado people!  My God this one is easy.  Even Republicans have grasped by 2017 that the “get tough on crime” drug war with private prisons plan is completely counter productive, a colossal waste of money and destructive to people’s lives without having a positive effect on ANYBODY! Except the owners of private prison stock.

Special emphasis on the drug war part as the Trump people are signalling that they want to be tougher on pot.  WHY?  WHO’S ASKING FOR THAT?  There’s literally no constituency for this at all.  I suppose there are parts of the Christian Conservatives who are still in public denouncing pot as devil weed (but toking up in private, we all know).  Trump’s libertarian followers listening?  All of those “give him a chance” people?

It’s simply let’s do what Reagan did 35 years ago and even his skeleton in 2017 would say “Really?  Why would you do that in 2017?”

Holy fuck!

Trump – “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” – Everything Wrong With America in One Handy Sentence

Trump said that.  He did.

“We have come up with a solution that’s really, really I think very good,” Trump said at a meeting of the nation’s governors at the White House.
“Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” he added. “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

Every Republican responds to that in a positive way: “see, he’s learning, cool.”

Every Democrat smacks their hand to their forehead and screams: “SWEET JESUS, YA THINK?”

Of course it’s complicated, incredibly complicated!  A complex, interconnected spider web of a jenga game with moving pieces.  Especially when you’re trying to help people get access to healthcare, but limited to finding market-based solutions –  BECAUSE REPUBLICANS DECREED THAT WAS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE WAY TO DO IT!

So The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as based on a Heritage Foundation idea, implemented in Massachusetts by a Republican governor, was a long hard slog through minefields all the way though writing, enacting and executing.  The BIGGEST PROBLEMS OF COURSE BEING THE CONSTANT CARPING AND SCREAMING OF REPUBLICANS WHO CRIED WOLF ABOUT ITS PROVISIONS BEING DEATH PANELS AND THE END OF FREEDOM!

So Republicans decreed it had to be a conservative, market-based system, Democrats and healthcare experts worked for years on it (because Republicans wouldn’t lift a finger), an alphabet of state and federal agencies had to be involved in implementation and courts then went over it with such a fine tooth comb that one line out of hundreds of pages landed the legislation in the Supreme Court.

And now that Republicans, whose practical legislative experience over the last 8 years invoved only the letters “N” and “O” (1/13th of the alphabet to be exact), have to actually come up with a plan to fix a profounndly complicated policy and they CANNOT, BECAUSE EVEN SPENDING FIVE MINUTES THINKING ABOUT THE COMPLEXITY OF IT ALL MAKES THEIR HEADS HURT.

But we have to be nice to them and don’t insult them so much.

They are the worst people, the least and the dimmest and nobody deserves this.  Nobody. Not even the intellectually and curioisity challenged people that elect and re-elect con men and fools as regular as clockwork.  Everybody deserves good, responsible government.  Period.

[Maybe that’s another difference between conservatives and liberals, I would give them good, responsible government even if they would deny it for me.]


Mexico Did a Sugary Drinks Tax and Sales Keep Falling – Legit Debate

They actually did it.  Those crazy commie Mexicans actually did a form of what Leninist Mayor Bloomberg tried to do in New York but was denied by freedom loving Americans corn syrup industry lobbyists.  They passed a tax on sugary drinks in Mexico in 2014 and sales fell 5.5% (which is what the lobbyists are actually afraid of, the tax working the way it’s intended).  Critics said sales would level off, but then in the second year they fell even harder by 9.7%.  Sure bad for the sugary drinks industry (what we call “pushers” in health conscious anti-freedom circles), but good for the overall health of Mexicans, especially poorer people.  Less consumption of junk food has overall long term benefits for society’s spending on health problems.  So they’ll benefit from smaller waste sizes and lower healthcare tax burdens.

The finding represents the best evidence to date of how sizable taxes on sugary drinks, increasingly favored by large American cities, may influence consumer behavior. The results could have consequences for public health. But they also matter for policy makers who hope to use the money raised by such taxes to fund other projects. Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., and the Illinois county that contains Chicago have recently passed taxes similar in size to the tax in Mexico.

I am absolutely pro-tax on sugary drinks for the sake of overall health.  Sugary drinks are a pox on a society in which empty calories are so abundant it takes effort to avoid them, versus the great predominance of human history where acquiring calories represented a difficult mathematical formula – how many calories do you have to expend to gain the calories you need to survive.  Per Jared Diamond’s “Germs, Guns and Steel” one of the cornerstones of a thriving society is the ability to create calories efficiently.  Hunting and gathering presented a precarious calorie chasing challenge.  Places that could cultivate cereal grains thrived while those that are mainly sustained by tubers do not.  Easily acquired calories creates leisure time, creates learning and innovation, etc.

A mere dozen species account for over 80 percent of the modern world’s annual tonnage of all crops. Those dozen blockbusters are the cereals wheat, corn, rice, barley, and sorghum; the pulse soybean; the roots or tubers potato, manioc, and sweet potato; the sugar sources sugarcane and sugar beet; and the fruit banana. Cereal crops alone now account for more than half of the calories consumed by the world’s human populations.

The development of easy calories was a great thing, until it wasn’t anymore.  For many reasons the 20th century saw a tipping point where the equation of consumption of calories minus calories burned changed in favor of diabedes, obesity and the increasing health problems of too much success as a society.  (So much winning we’re dying earlier.)

So here we are with, in my opinion, one of the few legitimate conservative versus liberal debates on how to deal with such a problem.  Conservatives loathe using taxation as a social cudgel to curb “vices” like smoking, overeating, overconsumption, etc.  Use eduation and let people make free choices.  Liberals say, education? sure.  Choice? sure.   But simple economics, which conservative should respect, dictates that taxation works to curb bad habits and provides funds to fund said education and deal with the societal costs of the problem in the meantime.

Anybody who looks at the long term issue of cigarettes would concede that the heavy taxation on the product has had a very large part in the decrease in smoking over the decades, maybe not as large a part as the dissemination and broad acceptance of the science that smoking is profoundly bad for you, but a disincentive is a disincentive.  If anybody thought the increase in cost wouldn’t work the lobbyists fighting it would be otherwise employed fighting climate change or rationalizing fracking or something.

The argument that higher taxes curtails freedom is a self-refuting argument.  People are free to choose the product, and often do, despite the higher taxes.

What Bloomberg likely did wrong in NY was try to prohibit drinks larger than 16 ounces rather than just tax it all, as other cities have done.  Obviously vice taxes are well established, while prohibition is also established as pretty damn ineffective.

Crazy thing is we sure learned our lesson with the prohibition of alcohol, and yet people who completely understand that prohibition was a spectacular failure in the case of alcohol, still push it for narcotics.

All in all it seems like the rational choice for both conservatives and liberals – do not prohibit but disincentivize through taxation.

For the Record: Even Trump DHS Reports That Travel Ban Pointless

The pattern holds.

  1. Trump (and for that matter conservatives in general going back to Bush), asserts something that plays directly to something their malinformed base believes;
  2. Democrats, liberals, progressives, hell, anybody who actually has expertise about the subject says “that’s unproductive at best and dangerous at worst”;
  3. History shows the latter was right, again; and
  4. The former do not concede, but keep irrationally fighting on to prove points long since decided.
  5. [corollary point: decades later conservatives finally concede point but assert that a. they were wrong for the right reasons, or b. they were the ones who fought the initial idea which was actually a liberal idea. i.e. The Gaslight Corollary.]

Best historical examples of the literal phenomenon are Vietnam, Iraq, but there are literally hundreds of examples of fights for and against things like Social Security, child labor laws, etc. There is the complication that some conservatives never go to points 4 or the corollary and keep fighting on against things like unions, environmental protections, a minimum wage, etc. playing the long con.

Today we have the Muslim ban that actually only encompassed 7 majority Muslim nations (that Trump had no business in) that have statistically posed no threat to Americans. The ban itself was shoddy as hell, couldn’t hold up to legal scrutiny and by the way wouldn’t have achieved anything anyway. Which is the main point of the report his own DHS issued. A nation based strategy makes little sense as “…citizenship is an unnreliable threat indicator.”

This Trump administration is all in on an extreme base strategy, no compromise, no reaching out, no moving center. Which makes it all the more problematic for them when say his Defense Secretary says we’re not interested in Iraqi oil. Or his new National Security Advisor contradicts everyone in Trumpworld on the use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism”.

Thank goodness there are rational people in important national security positions. But how long can that hold when the rest of the admin. is hung ho on ONLY reaching that malinformed base and stoking their victimhood and nationalist anger?


Worst People in the World

Are our wonderful elected officials who do not want to meet with their constituents and go the step further to insult them and distort their exercise of democracy.

Rep. Peter King (completely unwarranted Wing Nut – NY) says that screaming protesters “diminishes democracy.”

“There are people who are just angry, they’re angry that Trump won, that Hillary lost. There’s others who are being, I guess, egged on, if you will. So I’m assuming that they’re all legitimate, but to me it just does not serve a purpose. It really diminishes democracy if you’re gonna show up at a meeting to just scream and yell,” he told AM970’s Joe Piscopo Thursday, in an interview surfaced by CNN.

It makes it louder and less pleasant for Vichy Republicans like King that have gone along with Trump’s coup.  This is how King works when he’s on a conservative outlet like Joe Piscopo’s show on Salem radio Network, vs. the more reasonable legislative mask he puts on when he’s on mainstream media.  He is a two faced fascist enabler, which is inexcusable from Blue New York.

Rep. Vicki Hartzler from rural Missouri called meeting with her constituents “unproductive” right now.  So she’s a coward.  But she went further and said that the Woman’s March was 3 million people on the fringes of the Democratic Party who largely held signs that were pornographic.

“What has not been reported is the reality of a lot of their signs and a large proportion of the message was very, very graphic,” she claimed. “It was very pornographic. Their signs, their posters, it was pornographic is all it was, and no media has talked about that, and it was very sad.”

Oh just fuck you!

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who didn’t want to be a senator, says he isn’t interested in town halls because of their “hostile atmosphere.”  So he scurries away like a coward.

Florida is a big state, this is the time of year that a Senator from a state like Florida might hold a series of town halls to hear from their constituents.  He might even be eager to do so since he had vowed not to run for re-election (he said he hated the Senate), and then did a 180 and ran and was swept up on the Trump-mania, that he denounced, then joined. Rubio could join the resistance again and be a hero, but that’s not what Little Marco is made of.

And finally Worst Person in the World Emeritus, NRA Shill Wayne LaPierre.  Who says the protesters across the country are both being paid to show up and disrupt but also:

“They’re angry, they’re militant, and they’re willing to engage in criminal violence to get what they want.”

Hm, so they’re desperate to destroy things to get what they want, but they’ll only do it for a paycheck.  So confusing.


The Horror, The Horror

They know they’re a minority and the public is not on board with them.  They do not care. They will persist in pushing a nationalist, fascist agenda worse than anybody could have imagined (unless they listened to Bannon on radio everyday when he had a show on SiriusXM).

This is the far right conservative wet dream that even Tea Party nut jobs did not have the balls to try to push on the American people.  Rendering every administrative agency a lapdog of the industry it’s supposed to regulate, eventually eliminating them entirely. Bannon and company will do it and bet that they can baffle enough people, suppress enough votes and keep pushing to shut down real democracy so that they can profit from it.

It’s up to us to stop them by voting in massive numbers in 2018.


Republicans Have a Wierd Way of Showing Compassion

Republicans have for awhile! That’s why Repubs like G.W. Bush and Jack Kemp had to create “compassionate conservatism” – they had a bad reputation for being tough love, hardasses that talked a good game about Jesus, but didn’t follow anything he said. They would revert to Old Testament stoning when they should have gone with love thy neighbor.

This current group truly does not give a fuck about being called Pharisees.

Pulling an undocumented woman out of a hospital when she was awaiting brain surgery? Okay. She must have had gang ties.

“It is heartbreaking and inhumane.”

Taking health care coverage from people? You better or you’ll lose!

… if Republicans fail to repeal Obamacare, expect massive stay-aways next November…

Treat transsexual youth like pariahs in order to protect the snowflake fee fees of straight Christian Taliban? You betcha.

Charles Blow calls it the Death of Compassion, but it’s not, it’s merely the unmasking of Republicans as being cold, hateful, heartless, compassion-less automatons.

The rest of us who have been called “bleeding hearts” for caring about people and “tree-huggers” for caring about our only planet are feeling compassion more than ever for more people and animals and plants than ever! And empathy!

Lets not forget the controversy over “empathy” awhile back. Another one of those words that you would think would be non-controversial and certainly bi-partisan. I mean, if you think human emotion is not something dictated by political party. But Republicans begged to differ and claimed that empathy was a dirty fucking hippy invention.

“The Trump phenomenon is devoid of compassion, and we must be closed to compromise.”

Like Christians have always pled, when accused of hate – love the sinner, hate the sin. Nevermind that Jesus told them not to judge, they judged.  And we too will judge.  If you stand with Trump, you are not compassionate, you lack empathy, you condone hatred and prejudice. If that conflicts with your view of yourself, that’s not me. That’s you. Get out of the Republican Party, denounce their policies.  Join the resistance or not! But stop pretending that tithing to your church to help the other members of your church, while doing nothing for the vast majority of your brothers and sisters you do not know, makes you a hypocrite. A Pharisee. And an ass!

I Think The Reaching Out to White People Thing is Almost Officially Dead

It will be officially dead when/if the DNC chooses Keith Ellison as the new Chair. It was a lot of people’s first panicky instinct after the disaster of 11/8 (I went to a lot of 11/8 funerals, believe me, no bagpipes, but lots of crying).  But once the real numbers came out we were able to see what a chimera that “disaffected white Obama voter turned Trump voter” really was.

Steve Phillips laid out in the Times in “Move Left, Democrats” how the real target should be the outsized amount of third and fourth party voters who want the party to be true to its FDR base of working people (of all colors) and less of a corporate shill pretending not to be (sorry if that is unfair to Hilary, but there it is).

The far more important — and largely untold — story of the election is that more Obama voters defected to third- and fourth-party candidates than the number who supported Mr. Trump. That is the white flight that should most concern the next D.N.C. chairman, because those voters make up a more promising way to reclaim the White House. The way to win them back is by being more progressive, not less.

As Phillips notes, this is a far more fixable problem.  Around 2 million people voted third and fourth party in 2012 and that exploded to 8 million in 2016.  Many of these people likely already regret that irrelevant protest vote.  They, in effect, said a pox on both your big party houses while believing their vote wouldn’t effect a baked in election.  They didn’t really want Trump, just didn’t feel like they could vote for Clinton either.

As Democrats in the 80s  can tell you, chasing the so-called Reagan Democrats was like chasing after an ex-girlfriend who was clearly out of love with you.  Moreover, they started EST, developed a crack habit and decided to only eat hubcaps made in the USA.  Just let them go.

PS – Reagan Democrats are all dead, but somehow are still kicking like zombies for people like Chris Matthews.  Ask him about how Reagan and Tip O’Neill solved problems over drinks, I dare you.