Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why I left the Democratic Party and went back to being independent.

OK, Hillary Clinton wasn't the only reason, but her candidacy was the final revulsion in a long string of signs that the Democratic party didn't want, or care about my vote.

I can really start this timeline with when I read a quote from Jomo Kenyatta something along the line of "does having two parties make you twice as democratic as we are?" Kenya was a one Party State and western democracies, such as the US, were trying to push "multiparty democracy".

One of the cold war staples was "free and fair elections", which seems laughable after the 2016 Presidential election.

I came up with this a while back (probably after the Philadelphia DNC).
My timeline is:
1980--Supported Anderson, but ended up voting for Carter, who lost anyway.
2000--Gore wins the popular vote, yet doesn't become president
2004--The Candidate I wanted to vote for, Gen. Wes Clark, dropped out before I had a chance to vote for him.
2008--Clinton v. Obama--Obama won and the pact was made for 2016
2015--Clinton is chosen to be democratic nominee before any votes are cast.  Sanders is "drafted" by popular demand.
2016--Sanders does well to my surprise, but the system is totally rigged against him.
--AP calls the primaries for Clinton before the largest state in the Union, California, has voted along with 6 other states and territories.
--Between AP calling the election and DNC in Philly, it becomes obvious that I have no voice in the primary selection process and I DEMEXIT.
--DNC Philly makes it clear the Democratic Party isn't.

US parties are supposed to be "coalitions", but that doesn't really work and the Republicans have become the party of the "right" (I won't call it conservative since it isn't),  The Democrats the party of the "Left": although many progressives and liberals are showing disgust with the Democratic Party (as are a lot of  conservatives with the Republican Party).

Sanders was willing to take his candidacy to the end of the cycle.  I have to admit that I was surprised he did as well as he did.  But the Democratic Party isn't truly "democratic" and Clinton was the chosen candidate.  It was said that the Dems preferred to lose with Clinton than win with Sanders.

But it is the lack of democracy in the process and unwillingness of either party to address this problem which drove me to the Greens.  The Greens were the only party talking election reform.  After all, Clinton was more about the big donors than the little guy (as the Sanders phenomenon pointed out).

It is the continued scapegoating with silly theories about Russian involvement, when it is pretty obvious that what cost the election was the electoral college.  Neither third party candidate on their own stole the vote from Clinton either: numbers here.

Quite frankly, the reason I voted for Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton was that Stein was the only candidate who was addressing the issues I cared for: including election reform.  I am not sure whether people who supported Clinton really knew, or cared, what she believed in.  I say this because one of the incentives for writing this is a run in with a Clinton supported who somehow believed Clinton wasn't a hawk.

Quite frankly, I don't think it made a lot of sense to try and debate hardcore Clinton supporters because I am not sure what they thought about Clinton or her politics.  I only know I didn't like what I saw when it came to her policies. 

They weren't what I believe in.

Or that I could trust her.

The problem with the Russian scapegoating is that if you analyse it, you find that the real failures were from the Democratic Party.  But it's a lot easier to blame someone else than address the systemic failings of US politics.  And I won't be voting for the two major parties unless some drastic changes happen.

Quite frankly, it was not the Russians, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, or anyone beside the "Democratic" Party which drove me back into being independent.  I doubt I will bother with wasting my vote in a sham primary election (or showing much interest in that process).  Bernie and the Greens point out how much of a sham the current political situation is in the US, which is why I went with them.

See also:
The Democrats' performance as an opposition party? Pathetic

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The forgotten Second Amendment case: Presser v Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 6 S.Ct. 580, 29 L.Ed. 615 (1886)

This case should be brought into more prominence in the "Second Amendment Scholarship" since it is basically a refutation of the "unorganised militia" silliness.

The facts of the case are that Herman Presser was a member of the "Lehr und Wehr Verein", an Illinois corporation set up "for the purpose of improving the mental and bodily condition of its members so as to qualify them for the duties of citizens of a republic. Its members shall, therefore, obtain, in the meetings of the association, a knowledge of our laws and political economy, and shall also be instructed in military and gymnastic exercises." The company had no license from the governor of Illinois to drill or parade as a part of the militia of the state, and was not a part of the regular organized militia of the state, nor a part of troops of the United States, and had no organization under the militia law of the United States.

Presser was then charged and convicted of violating Illinois Military code by "unlawfully belong to, and did parade and drill in the city of Chicago with, an unauthorized body of men with arms, who had associated themselves together as a military company and organization, without having a license from the governor, and not being a part of, or belonging to, 'the regular organized volunteer militia' of the state of Illinois, or the troops of the United States."

Presser uses the argument put forth by the people who want to say that they are somehow part of a militia because they belong to the "reserve" ("unorganised") militia, not understanding that they aren't really a constitutional militia unless their "militia" is organised under USC Article I, Section 8, Clause 16.

The US Supreme Court upheld Presser's conviction and said
It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government. But, as already stated, we think it clear that the sections under consideration do not have this effect...

It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government. But, as already stated, we think it clear that the sections under consideration do not have this effect.

It cannot be successfully questioned that the state governments, unless restrained by their own constitutions, have the power to regulate or prohibit associations and meetings of the people, except in the case of peaceable assemblies to perform the duties or exercise the privileges of citizens of the United States, and have also the power to control and regulate the organization, drilling, and parading of military bodies and associations, except when such bodies or associations, are authorized by the militia laws of the United States. The exercise of this power by the states is necessary to the public peace, safety, and good order. To deny the power would be to deny the right of the state to disperse assemblages organized for sedition and treason, and the right to suppress armed mobs bent on riot and rapine.
This decision's significance in the Second Amendment Jurisprudence is that it makes it clear that the Amendment relates to the forces set up under Article I, Section 8, Clause 16, and not individual purposes.

US v. Miller made clear that the Second Amendment has the "obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces (organised in accordance with USC Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 & 16), the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."

Justice William O. Douglas, who was a member of the Supreme Court explained Miller in his dissent in Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972):
The police problem is an acute one not because of the Fourth Amendment, but because of the ease with which anyone can acquire a pistol. A powerful lobby dins into the ears of our citizenry that these gun purchases are constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment, which reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

There is under our decisions no reason why stiff state laws governing the purchase and possession of pistols may not be enacted. There is no reason why pistols may not be barred from anyone with a police record. There is no reason why a State may not require a purchaser of a pistol to pass a psychiatric test. There is no reason why all pistols should not be barred to everyone except the police.

The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” Id., at 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, “must be interpreted and applied” with the view of maintaining a “militia.”

“The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia – civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” Id., at 178-179.

Critics say that proposals like this water down the Second Amendment. Our decisions belie that argument, for the Second Amendment, as noted, was designed to keep alive the militia.
The problem is that Heller-McDonald gave credence to a legal theory with no basis.  The worst part of those decisions is that a bogus legal theory was been given an official sanction.

There is an upside, Heller-McDonald are very limited in their scope.  Not to mention very friendly to firearms regulation.  Since "Gun rights" are not a legitimate right, there is no reason they should not be strictly regulated.  As I said before, the Second Amendment does say well regulated.

And regulated means under rules, as Article I, Section 8, clause 14 makes clear.

It's time this case made it back into the Second Amendment jurisprudence where it belongs. It questions the "individual" nature of the right as belonging outside of the militia context.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What if HIllary Clinton had "won" the 2016 election?

This is one of those "alternative history" scenarios where you don't have to look too far since Hillary DID win the popular vote with 65,853,516 (48.5% votes) to Trump's 62,984,825 (46.4% votes), but lost in the electoral college by receiving 232 (43.1%) of the electoral votes to Trump's 306 (56.8%) votes.

That makes this question a bit like the "what if the British won the War of Independence?" Where one should just look at Canadian History.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton would have won the election if the electoral college didn't exist, but she would have been stuck with a legislative branch that was controlled by the opposite party.  Not to mention a party which dislikes her intensely (as do quite a few democrats).

I would guess that we would have another ineffective Clinton administration that would probably last only one term.

But, don't get your hopes up about it being much better than the situation the US is currently in since the legislature would have been the same as it is now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Penigma reveals the Russian mastermind who led to Trump's"surprise" Presidential Victory!

Catherine the Great!

Yep, you got that correct, Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great (Екатери́на Вели́кая, Yekaterina Velikaya),  Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796.

That's because the only thing which made Donald Trump president was the electoral college, an institution created by the US Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2-4).  So, if there really WAS any "Russian" influence in the process that made Trump president of the US, it would have had to have been produced during the reign of Catherine the Great!

The Fact is Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65,853,516 (48.5% votes) to Trump's 62,984,825 (46.4% votes), but lost in the electoral college by receiving 232 (43.1%) of the electoral votes to Trump's 306 (56.8%) votes.

Of course, it is far easier to blame the Russians for this defeat than it is to address the real issues behind Clinton's loss.

Although, that is a strategy that is sure to backfire since any claims of "Russian" interference result in the faults of the Clinton Campaign: her being a weak candidate, DNC misconduct, and pretty much everything that was common knowledge to Sanders' supporters and Clinton opponents.

Any real discussion of Clinton's loss must include the faults of the US system of elections: especially the radical overhaul of the electoral college, which was supposed to have prevented foreign interference in the US presidential process ( The Federalist Papers, No 68).

It is blatantly obvious that the Electoral College serves no useful purpose, but that won't be addressed as long as people refuse to address the real cause of Trump's becoming president.

Then again, any real investigation of the US election would be a threat to the current Democrat-Republican duopoly. The duopoly thrives on the illusion that US elections are somehow "democratic", but it is hard to make that claim when an institution designed to be anti-democratic is allowed to continue its existence.

See also:

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July to our Penigma readers
Why the Yankee Pennamite Wars matter in the 21st century

Image result for Yankee Pennamite War, image
Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania
(location of the three Yankee Pennamite Wars)
Crospey Francis Jasper, 1823-1900

As we celebrate the founding of our nation with the Declaration of Independence, in the more recent context of the challenges this nation faces in our modern era, it is worth reviewing a bit of history.  The American Revolutionary War ended with the Peace of Paris, aka the Treaty of Versailles (there have been many other treaties of Versailles) in 1783.

We began and fought the War of Independence as a nation founded not by the US Constitution but by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.  That perpetual Union did not last all that long, ending in 1786, when it was replaced by the current, much modified United States Constitution which went into effect in 1789.  The Declaration of Independence almost presciently anticipated that change to our current form of government.

From the official web site of the US Senate:
Written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and in operation since 1789, the United States Constitution is the world's longest surviving written charter of government. Its first three words –– "We the People" –– affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens.

Sadly few of my fellow Americans, and then mostly newly naturalized immigrant citizen, are knowledgeable about our history.  When you look at the original foundation of this country, founded in bloody revolution, and then look again at what amounts to a second bloodless revolution with the replacement of the Articles with the Constitution, changing profoundly who we are today and how we became our modern nation.

There were middling better known events, like Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion, that contributed to the need to create a better, stronger, and very different founding document.  Less well known but perhaps more indicative of those stresses were the Yankee Pennamite Wars, aka the Pennamite Yankee Wars, of which there were three.  The wars primarily involved Pennsylvania and Connecticut, but other states involved themselves as well.  The final resolution came in 1799, when the disputed Wyoming Valley became part of Pennsylvania.

Because of the vagaries of early cartography, there was a part of what is now Pennsylvania that was awarded in colonial land grant days to more than one claimant colony, subsequently involving multiple states in this series of conflicts.  In brief summary, the first Pennamite 'war' ran from 1769-70, the second in 1774, and the final conflict, which the more limited federal government of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was inadequate to address --- and the distant government of the UK which had created the problem was inadequate and impotent to do so as well.

The two important elements to take away from this relatively obscure bit of our history are the need for a strong and adequately large federal government, in part to resolve conflicts between the states and between local jurisdictions as well, in order to have a strong and functional nation.  Another element is that any such federal government must exist not to serve special interests, but must exist to serve the people of this country --- and corporations are not people.  But the most important lesson, one that had to be relearned only a little more than a half century after the resolution to the third Yankee Pennamite War, was that we CAN resolve the challenges to this nation peacefully, without bloody revolution, without shooting our fellow Americans.

I wish all of our readers and their friends and families a happy and safe celebration of our Independence Day, and I hope this humble post will contribute to any thought you give the topic today and going forward.

If this leads you to browse a little history, I hope you consider checking out the Yankee (Connecticut) and Pennamites (Pennsylvanians) conflict.

Friday, June 30, 2017

1984 - Where Weak is Strong. The Weakest President in My Lifetime

Yesterday Donald J. Trump again proved he is an amoral, immature, con-man.  He lied about a reporter and attacked her.  Why?  Because she has (along with her husband/co-host) repeatedly called into question the honesty and overall mental health of a man who can be goaded so easily.  In short, she wondered whether a man who occupies the White House, but who can be so easily distracted and pulled into pettiness is qualified, and more importantly, stable enough for the office.  That’s the job of journalists.

So, Trump, in 40 words or so, proved she was exactly right.   He attacked her personally for questioning his judgment, stability, and decency.  Many have criticized Trump for proving (again) he’s effectively an amoral sexist, and criticized him for attacking her as a woman.  Ok, I get it, but it’s also not new and frankly, isn’t compelling to his base.

What SHOULD be disturbing for his base is this.  Trump does not prove he is strong by attacking those with far less power and authority than the President has, he proves he is weak.  He proves he is a bully, he proves he is facile, he proves he is insecure.  He is like the adult man who hits his child for speaking back to him.  If that’s strength, then it’s an ugly, immoral kind I could never think of as strong.  Strong is knowing when something is beneath your engagement, strong is realizing you have responsibilities, and living up to those responsibilities.  Mr. Trump has never taken accountability in his life, so I suppose expecting him to do so here is foolish, but the question I have for his ardent followers is this, what is strong about someone who excuses his conduct and blames everyone else for his misbehavior, even when he has far greater problems which we need him to deal with.  What is strong about a man who picks fights with those who have nothing like the power to fight back that he has to punish them?  Do we think of fathers who beat children as strong?  If you don’t, what exactly do you think is strong about this?  Is there anything you’d think was beneath his office, if not him personally?
This conduct isn’t really about sexism.  Trump’s election proved conclusively sexism is alive and well.  No, this is about the petulant bullying of a man so weak he can’t handle criticism and will threaten people with the power of the Presidency to settle personal scores.  That’s not strong, it’s pathetic and deeply disturbing.
But.. no matter, being a bully is not weak any longer, it's apparently being strong, at least in the Orwellian world of Donald Trump where his lies are truth, his fake Time news is real, and real news is fake.  Yes, those are the signs of a strong man, or maybe the signs of a strongman, but they are also REALLY the signs of the weakest man I've ever seen in a position of real power.  They say you can judge a man by how he treats people who he sees as being in a lesser station.  If we use that as a bell-weather, then Trump is the weakest man the White House has seen in modern times, if not ever.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Second Amendment is a victim of desuetude--LIVE WITH IT!

Desuetude is a doctrine that causes statutes, similar legislation or legal principles to lapse and become unenforceable by a long habit of non-enforcement or lapse of time. It is what happens to laws that are not repealed when they become obsolete.

Unfortunately, this doctrine currently only enjoys recognition in the courts of West Virginia and nowhere else in the US. Perhaps this is why Scalia somehow decided that he could bring an outdated, anachronistic, and defunct section of the US Constitution kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.  It's bad enough the Second Amendment serves no real purpose these days since there is no longer a citizen's militia (as if there really ever was) and it has been replaced by a large, standing military in peacetime.

The best argument in favour of desuetude might also be the simplest. In the words of one commentator, "it is part of the intelligent cooperation the courts owe the legislature to relieve it from the burden of seeking out and repealing statutes that clearly serve no modern purpose." Given the purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure the continuation of a system which died out at childbirth and was possibly stillborn), it serves no purpose.

If anything, it stirs the minds of those not willing to understand it to take it out of context: Historic and Constitutional. It has been removed from its purpose by judicial fiat which has decided that the purpose is not relevant to the guarantee.

On the other hand, repeal by desuetude is much like repeal by sunset clause. Indeed, we could call the doctrine of desuetude an implied and indefinite sunset clause. Once the purpose was declared invalid, then the guaranteed right becomes invalid.

Recent events demonstrate the mischief an antiquated law can cause if it is not properly repealed: especially when the law is as misinterpreted and subject to misconceptions as the Second Amendment.  The Second Amendment does not address self-defence.

Even more importantly, it cannot be conceived as allowing people to act against the legal framework (e.g., article I, Section 8, clause 15; Article III, Section iii; and 14th Amendment, section 3).  The fact that absurdity has been given any credence goes beyond my comprehension.

It makes far more sense to declare the Second Amendment dead judicially than to amend it completely out of Constitutional context.  In fact, judicial amendment of the Constitution is totally ultra vires (beyond its power).

The "When we hang the capitalists, they will have sold us the rope" department part 3

This is the silly rhetoric which has taken the US right from being anything vaguely "conservative" into the realms of lunatic fringe:
“The courts do not have the last word on what the Constitution is. They decide particular cases, they don’t make law. Their decisions, unlike the Roe v. Wade usurpation, don’t extend to the whole of society, they’re not supposed to. And we may have to reassert that proper constitutional balance, and it may not be pretty. So, I’d much rather have an election where we solve this matter at the ballot box than have to resort to the bullet box.”

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The "When we hang the capitalists, they will have sold us the rope" department part 2

“if congress keeps going this way, people are looking for 2nd Amendment remedies.” 
                            --Sharron Angle, who served as a Republican member of the Nevada Assembly from 1999 to 2007. She ran unsuccessfully as the 2010 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Nevada.

Don't go whimpering if the "wrong" people start acting what you have been promoting in your ignorance.

Especially when it is a BOGUS interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is so far removed from the Constitutional context as to be a total absurdity (US Constution, Article III, Section iii).

Actually, I guess that corrects the Threeper's definition of themselves so that it should be III.iii to show they are really TRAITORS according to the document they claim to follow.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The "When we hang the capitalists, they will have sold us the rope" department

OK, this tweet is wrong on many levels.

The first one is the believe that somehow the Second Amendment invalidates article III, Section iii of the US Constitution.

Or that a document that begins:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
somehow contains the seeds of destruction of the nation.

The US Constitution was written as a response to Shays' Rebellion and a read of what the drafters thought about that event should eliminate any doubt that the Constitution somehow condones rebellion if it isn't clear enough from the Constitution itself.

Nevermind that the military structure envisioned by the founders which was supposed to be guaranteed by the Second Amendment is as non-existent as the American Dream.

But this is what happens when one chooses to ignore the purpose of the Second Amendment ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State") and call it somehow meaningless.  Saying that a clause in the constitution which is somehow "mere surplusage" is a statement which makes judicial review meaningless (see Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (more) 1 Cranch 137, 2 L. Ed. 60, 1803 U.S. LEXIS 352).

If the people who make idiotic statements like this would take a few moments to consider the ramifications of the Alexandria shooting, then we might actually get somewhere.
They need to understand one person's freedom can be seen as another's tyranny. One person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist.

They can't go making statements like that and not understand that they may have just put a target on their OWN backs.

Even more importantly, one cannot have a serious war on terrorism and make weapons easily accessible to your enemy.

If anything, the Second Amendment's "well regulated" needs to be brought into the debate. And it fucking well doesn't mean "well-trained",[1] but under strict civilian control (the real issue of the Second Amendment is civilian control of the military, not personal weapons--that is exactly what you will find if you actually do some thinking and stop parroting idiotic statements which are detrimental to the constitutional structure of the US).

If gun rights are enumerated, then they are under very tight control.  As State v. Buzzard, 4 Ark. (2 Pike) 18 (1842), pointed out about  the absurdity of the individual right assertion:
However captivating such arguments may appear upon a merely casual or superficial view of the subject, they are believed to be specious, and to rest upon premises at variance with all the fundamental principles upon which the government is based; and that, upon a more mature and careful investigation, as to the object for which the right was retained their fallacy becomes evident. The dangers to be apprehended from the existence and exercise of such right, not only to social order, domestic tranquillity and the upright and independent administration of the government, but also to the established institutions of the country, appears so obvious as to induce the belief that they are present to every intelligent mind, and to render their statement here unnecessary.
The US Supreme Court said in Presser v Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 6 S.Ct. 580, 29 L.Ed. 615 (1886):
It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government. But, as already stated, we think it clear that the sections under consideration do not have this effect...

It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government. But, as already stated, we think it clear that the sections under consideration do not have this effect.

It cannot be successfully questioned that the state governments, unless restrained by their own constitutions, have the power to regulate or prohibit associations and meetings of the people, except in the case of peaceable assemblies to perform the duties or exercise the privileges of citizens of the United States, and have also the power to control and regulate the organization, drilling, and parading of military bodies and associations, except when such bodies or associations, are authorized by the militia laws of the United States. The exercise of this power by the states is necessary to the public peace, safety, and good order. To deny the power would be to deny the right of the state to disperse assemblages organized for sedition and treason, and the right to suppress armed mobs bent on riot and rapine.
US v. Miller was not helpful to the revisionist agenda of the Heller-McDonald decisions because it made clear that the Second Amendment has the "obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces (organised in accordance with USC Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 & 16), the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made.[2] It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."

The Second Amendment is a victim of desuetude and it was  Scalia's job to have declared it such.  But it is now the public which must come to the realisation that the Second Amendment serves no purpose in modern society.

Before it ends up being the self-destruct button for the United States.

[1] Military regulations are not a drill manual, but the rules of conduct.  And while we are discussing Article I, Section 8, we should mention clause 14 which states:

"The Congress shall have Power To ...make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces...."

Anyone with a shred of familiarity with the US Constitution should be ashamed at pushing the absurdity of the revisionist "individual right" interpretation of the Second Amendment as being so far removed from the text to be an obvious non-sequitur.

See also,!/articles/1/essays/54/military-regulations

[2] " the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made"--this means that the Second Amendment MUST be read as a whole.  That basically invalidates the bullshit spouted by the Heller and McDonald decisions and the pseudoscholarship which would remove the Second Amendment from its Constitutional context.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Danger of the Reality Challenged Right (or "Hey, Mitch" part 2).

As if having Donald Trump be president isn't enough to clue people in on that.

Anyway, this relates to the Britsh election and Theresa May's flirting with the Democratic Unionist Party, which is a quarantined version of the US religious/reality challenged right wing.  I thought about mentioning this article from the British satirical site the Daily Mash which makes it plain how far out the DUP happens to be: if the comparison of Iris Robinson to Michele Bachmann didn't.

The Guardian is reporting that Conservative MPs are objecting to this alliance, which is good.  I have found that non-US conservatives are reasonable people who one can have an intelligent conversation with even if you disagree (e.g., I staunchly believe in the EU and European Monetary Union, or Euro).

On the other hand, US "conservatives" have been willing to use hot button issues to short circuit the masses intellect for far too long.  Gun control is a prime example of this. 

I find it amusing that this public safety issue has been turned into a "battleground" for "left v. right" when there are loads of examples of true conservatives being staunchly "gun grabbing". Case in point being Richard Nixon is on record as saying:
"I don't know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house. "The kids usually kill themselves with it and so forth." He asked why "can't we go after handguns, period?"

Nixon went on: "I know the rifle association will be against it, the gun makers will be against it." But "people should not have handguns." He laced his comments with obscenities, as was typical.[source]
And let's not forget Jim "Bear" Brady happened to be Ronald Reagan's press secretary (and some of the Goldwater republicans who ran the Brady Campaign).  But that is one of many toxic issues which the Republicans have glommed onto in a successful campaign to get people to vote against their self-interests.

On the other hand, I read this on the Guardian website:
The Observer has learned that the DUP was planning to dodge a row when negotiations began by avoiding the inclusion of any controversial social policies, such as opposition to gay marriage or abortion, in its so-called “shopping list” of demands to the Tories. Party sources said it would be seeking commitments from May that there would be no Irish unity referendum and no hard border imposed on the island of Ireland.

However, some Tories remained concerned that a pact would damage a brand they have spent years trying to detoxify.
The DUP is opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage. It has also appointed climate change sceptics to senior posts within the party. That is in contrast to the UK Conservative Party which at one time made climate change a plank in its platform, but it now seems to be missing from their website.

Another point, Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s secret negotiator with the IRA after the 1998 Good Friday agreement, said on Monday: “If Mrs May depends on the DUP– Ian Paisley’s party, not the old Official Unionists who used to work with the Tories – to form a government it will be impossible for it to be even-handed.”

David Cameron's ill fated gamble on Brexit may have just sentenced the Tories to a slow and lingering death.  Let's hope the same befalls the US religious/reality challenged right.  I know that some of the more reasonable right wingers have defected to the Dems already, which is why neoliberal Clinton as the nominee instead of Sanders.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Thoughts on the British Election

Britain has a hung parliament, which means that neither party really has enough members to make a majority.  The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is now being seen as a coalition ally for the Tories. That goes to my Thoughts on US Third Parties since the DUP is a relic of the troubles and known to people like me who spent time in Ulster, but pretty much ignored.

Unless we are talking about Iris Robinson, who is sort of the Ulster version of Michele Bachmann, but much more amusing.  Iris went down with something called Irisgate. [1] Michele Bachmann is only an embarrassment for people who come from Minnesota (Iris did her part to embarrass Ulster Unionists,  but did it in a way that was funny [2]).

So, Most people know little about the DUP besides it being a political party founded by Ian Paisley which Iris Robinson once belonged to: if even that much. Of course, that pretty much sums up the DUP for those who don't know anything about it.

On the other hand, this is a party which pretty much would be like the religious/reality challenged right wing of the US Republican Party: Except they had nothing to do with Irish Republicans since they were Unionists (people who know Irish politics will get that comment).

Well, other than trying to kill the Irish Republicans (which clarifies the previous comment a bit).

Where was I? Oh, yeah, an otherwise insignificant party is playing a big role since there isn't a real majority in parliament, which also gets into how a parliamentary system works. 

That is the party with a majority runs the show. The leader of the majority party runs the government. If the party can't run the government it is dissolved, which happens if they can't pass a budget bill. 

Taking that description it is easy to see why the US isn't a parliamentary democracy since the current "leader" not only lost the election, but lost it with 46.4% of the popular vote (his opponent did slightly better with 48.5%, but still not a majority).  The opposition is known to not pass budget bills, leading to the government actually shutting down.

The US would go through governments faster than the Italians or Belgians, making both countries seem paragons of stability, if it were a parliamentary democracy.

Seriously, the bottom line of watching the UK election is that the US has a defacto parliamentary system since the legislature has the power of the purse.  Any small party (or faction) is better off being separate since the large "coalition" parties are meaningless. 

Another thing I have to say is that people are sick of politics as usual.  The Brexit vote, US, French, and UK elections have demonstrated that "non-traditional" politicians can do well.  Bernie did a hell of a lot better than I thought he would have.  And Trump showed that a clever politician can game the system (he spent far less than Clinton and got free publicity by being outrageous).

Also, people need to understand they are not as powerless as they are led to believe. In the US, they can vote their consciences in legislative elections to make more of a statement than they can in the presidential election.  The real power is in the legislature (which makes the electoral college superfluous).

And the establishment parties need to understand that they are near the end of life if they don't undergo drastic changes.

[1] Irisgate probably made Iris Robinson better known than her husband, Peter, which compounded the embarrassment since Peter Robinson was DUP leader at the time.
[2] Alternate version of this here.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
(Variously, who will watch the watchmen?
or Who will guard the guards?)

I've liked this phrase since I first saw it when I took Latin as a youngster, nearly fifty years ago (definitely over 40 years ago).  Roman History taught me that the tribunes were able to wield tribunitial power and overrule the watchers. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a Tribune.

Which is just a fancy word for lawyer, which I ended up being.

Anyway, I've been using this phrase in relation to out of control police (and general government power) for nearly 50 years.  It was pretty much the only useful thing I retained from taking Latin.

That said, I had to laugh when this site appeared in my radar with this statement:

"This is a very cool phrase indeed and you can use it to be pseudy, cool, or downright intellectual - and at the right moment it can be bomb shell in a discussion, chat-up scenario (I have dropped it often myself with great effect :-), or even to liven up a really boring business meeting"

On the other hand, it is useful to remember that the courts are there to do just that.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Paris Accord Surprise?

I am amazed that people are so shocked by Trump quitting the Paris Accord on climate change since it was one issue that was ignored in the Presidential debate according to the Guardian.[1]  Well, Mother Jones says it got 82 seconds of attention during the 2016 debates, which was 82 Seconds more than it received in 2012. Although Mashable doesn't agree with Mother Jones.

The bottom line is that it didn't receive a lot of attention during the campaign, which was one of the many reasons I went Green (but that is another post altogether).  Climate change deniers can keep their heads in the sand about this issue, but it is fairly obvious it is happening (again another post, but I did notice that Europe had much warmer temperatures than parts of the US recently among many other things).

I've posted that conservatives in other nations have admitted to the reality of climate change, but reality denial is what makes one a "conservative" in the US.  The real shock comes from the people who didn't vote for Trump, who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes to Clinton (only winning in the Electoral College), being surprised by all this.  On the other hand, some of us weren't too sure about Clinton's position on this issue as her interaction with this Greenpeace volunteer highlighted.

I am not going to get into Public-Private positions, but it would have been nice if this issue and the environment had been a much more significant issue in the past campaign. The fact it wasn't mentioned seems strange given the importance this has to life on the planet.

[1] The Guardian mentioned the lack of attention this issue received during the campaign at least twice.  Not sure about the USMSM since I don't pay too much attention to it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The absurdity of claiming gun ownership is a "god given right".

OK, the first question is WHICH deity granted this right?

One is hard pressed if you wish to say it is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God who grants this right.  The Hebrew Bible dates from the 9th Century BC. The New Testament dates about the First or Second Centuries, maybe Third Century AD, if you want to place some latitude in there since it is pretty much accepted the New Testament was written during the First century AD. The First Council of Nicaea (325AD) is credited with setting the Bible as it is currently accepted. [1]

You might get closer if you are willing to accept that the term "Allah" just means "god" without any monopoly of that being Islamic since the Quran was written in the Seventh Century.  You might get away with saying the Quran was written in the Eight Century. That gets you close.

I say that because Gunpowder was invented in China during the late Tang dynasty (9th century) with the earliest record of a written formula appeared in the Song dynasty (11th century).

You would think that if a deity were involved here, Gunpowder would have been invented much earlier! This argument  reminds me of the The Jatravartids in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, who, are small blue creatures with more than fifty arms each and are unique in being the only race in history to have invented the aerosol deodorant before the wheel. [2]  You would think if a deity wanted people to have guns he would have produced them closer to when he was alleged to have created humans.

You're a bit hard pressed if you want to say humans have only been on the earth for 7 millennia and guns only popped up in the last one of them.

We can also get into the fact that early firearms were prone to exploding (modern ones can as well). That was due to not having strong enough metal to handle the explosive power of gunpowder: even early gunpowder.

Doesn't sound like any god was too keen on a Prometheus giving this fire to humans to me.

That said we can get into the fact that firearms are conspicuously absent of most accepted religious texts.  Revelation is always notoriously debatable. [3] 

Religion has no place in the Constitutional framework as Article VI of that document points out (that's the same provision that says Obama can be a Muslim and President):
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
I've pointed out before that rights usually require some form of legal basis to be valid.  Anyone can claim anything as a right, but that means nothing unless there is some real basis for the right.[4]

The US is a secular society for good reason, which is that we don't want other people imposing their religion upon us.[5] The US was founded on religious freedom for the reason that people can use religion to oppress others.

Otherwise, why would you care if Obama were a Muslim or not?

Actually, claiming a supernatural deity gives you a right to a a firearm opens up a large can of worms.  This was intended to point of the problems of saying a deity who commanded not to kill (or murder if you want to split hairs) gives you a right to an object which breaks that commandment.  It is not a legal stretch of say the first amendment applies to the internet (or broadcast media), but it is a stretch to say an all knowing, all powerful deity somehow forgot to make firearms on the eighth day: especially if doing so would violate his commandments.

[1] We can debate books of the Bible, but the Council did set forth the Bible as is commonly used.  Now we can have a seriously fun and nonproductive debate if you wish to use apocryphal works: MY APOCRYPHAL WORKS SAY YOU ARE WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
[2] Suitably religious in tone:
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Many races believe that it was created by some sort of God, though the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle VI believe that the entire Universe was in fact sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure.
The Jatravartids, who live in perpetual fear of the time they call The Coming of The Great White Handkerchief, are small blue creatures with more than fifty arms each, who are therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented the aerosol deodorant before the wheel.
However, the Great Green Arkleseizure Theory is not widely accepted outside Viltvodle VI and so, the Universe being the puzzling place it is, other explanations are constantly being sought."
--Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
[3]See above: My revelation  says YOU ARE WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Snowflake an insult?

I know my co-bloggers are from snow country and I've lived in areas where winter weather can be harsh.  My experience tells me that anyone who wants to call someone a snowflake isn't very familiar with snow and its effects.
I haven't been called a snowflake, but snow is nothing to be discounted if you don't know how to deal with it.

Look at how snow can paralyse areas.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Roger Moore quote

“I regret that sadly heroes in general are depicted with guns in their hands, and to tell the truth I have always hated guns and what they represent.” 
Roger Moore

More Seth Rich

I mentioned the unsolved murder case of Seth Rich in the Heeeyyyy, MITCH! post and this is a follow up.

Seth Rich is the DNC staffer who is alleged to have leaked the Hillary emails to Wikileaks.

It seems that Fox News and Sean Hannity in particular have dropped this as news:
Both Fox and Hannity invited a torrent of criticism for a report on 16 May that Rich, a 27-year-old staffer at the DNC, had been in contact with the website WikiLeaks prior to his fatal shooting in Washington in July of 2016. The unsubstantiated report was published and promoted on both Fox News, most heavily on Hannity’s primetime show, and the network’s local Washington affiliate, WTTG-TV.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Fox News said the article in question “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting”.
“Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed,” the statement read. “We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.”
Sean Hannity wasn't totally giving up, but said this about his dropping the story:
“Out of respect for the [Rich] family’s wishes, for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time,” Hannity said.
Even so, the characteristically bombastic anchor blamed what he dubbed as “liberal fascism” amid a campaign targeting Hannity’s advertisers in the wake of his promotion of the false report.
“I promise you I am not going to stop doing my job,” Hannity said. “I am not going to stop trying to find the truth.”
I've got to admit this sounds a bit fishy to me, but maybe Fox is going to change with the passing of Roger Ailes.

Quotes here come from Fox drops Seth Rich murder story as Sean Hannity attacks 'liberal fascism'

Monday, May 22, 2017

US elections are ranked worst among Western democracies

I found it interesting that Posner's article I mentioned in the piece on the electoral college was written to support the Obama presidency, which means that the right can be sore losers: even when they truly lose.

My dislike for the electoral college isn't just because someone lost even though they had the larger share of the popular vote: it is because it is one of many anti-democratic aspects in US politics.  None of these have been questioned in the US.  One of the many reasons I made the Demexit was that the Democrats were far from democratic, or they would be screaming about the electoral college costing the election.

Anyway, the University of Sydney's (Australia) Electoral Integrity Project has duly noted the systemic problems in US elections.

Again, Left and Right should be upset.

But I don't think popular elections are truly popular in the states.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Heeeyyyy, MITCH!

Yep, I am calling Penigma's fav right wing blogger to pass on some what isn't news to us on the far left, but is for pretty much everybody else.

There is a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, which I have known about early on when I signed on as a member of the class.  Let's toss in that this is the material that was published in Wikileaks about how the DNC violated its charter about neutrality in the primary, among other things, in pushing Clinton as the Candidate.
In July 2016, Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone that, “primary season was very far from a fair fight. The Sanders camp was forced to fund all of its own operations, while the Clinton campaign could essentially use the entire Democratic Party structure as adjunct staff. The DNC not only wasn’t neutral, but helped with oppo research against Sanders and media crisis management.”
I know you righties like conspiracy, and the DNC mess includes the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.  Rich is pretty much been shown to be the source of most of the material published by Wikileaks (look at Assange's twitter feed...).  That's been the buzz since the news of his murder came out.

The DNC Class action lawsuit is conspicuously absent (even on Fox News), which makes me wonder how much the powers that be have been jerking around the right.

We may find out if people like Mitch don't start doing their research (of course, that presupposes they CAN research...) since they can have a field day with how undemocratic the democratic party happens to be.

The real fun is finding the documentation of dissent from the Sanders camp and its repression by the DNC at the Philly Convention.  Try Craig's List...

Have fun!

Recommended reading:
-- Election Justice USA, “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries,” ElectionJusticeUSA, July 25, 2016,
--Is MSM distracting from class action lawsuits against DNC?
--DNC lawsuit: DNC won’t answer court’s basic question about state primary deals — Part 2 of 3 | The Florida Squeeze

-- Why Did Sanders Delegates Protest At DNC?
-- The Bullshittery of the DNC (a bit conspiratorial in tone, but it's the best compilation of some of the first hand accounts)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Abolish the Electoral College

I am amazed that this institution has not gone away long ago, or at least been reformed. This past election has demonstrated that most of the reasons for its existence are fatuous. lets start with:

It prevents foreign interference in US elections

This reason comes from The Federalist Papers, No 68:
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?
This seems to make any allegation of foreign interference (read Russia) absurd if the reasoning behind this institution is sound. I am surprised this hasn't been brought up as a reason that any investigation into this is just silly.

It prevents an incompetent from becoming president

The 2016 US election was one of duelling idiots. While one may defend Hillary Clinton as Threat not chicebeing well educated, she certainly lacked the knowse to deal with the election process (I refer you to Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign for documentation of her lack of political savvy, but that was pretty obvious to anyone watching the campaign). [1]

On the other hand, the US has been saddled by someone who appears to believe he wouldn't have won. I could get into Trump's candidacy, but this is a really bad one if this is one of the reasons for having the electoral college. I'd toss in the 2000 election as another example of the wrong person becoming president.

More reasons

I found Richard Posner's Slate article defending this anachronism. In defence of Posner, his article was written in 2012 before this past election fiasco. Posner gives the following reasons to keep this: Certainty of Outcome, Everyone’s President, Swing States, Big States, and Avoiding Run-Off Elections. I have to admit that the learned judge seems to be offering confused reasons.

Certainty of Outcome is a bad one for the learned judge to begin with since Gore won the popular vote by over 500,000 votes in 2000 and Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes (2,868,691). I found it hard to find a graph which gave the popular vote in the 2016 election, as opposed to graphics that showed the electoral vote, since this number is so disparate it makes this argument risable. [2] It would seem more certain in a truly democratic society, or at least one that likes to pretend to the rest of the world how great its democracy is.

Or is that pretence a relic of the cold war? Now that democracy is no longer an issue the US can get rid of its pretending its democracy is somehow better than the rest of the world.[3]

Everyone's president is a truly laughable assertion under Trump. How many people DIDN'T vote in the last election? Then there are people like me who voted for third parties.

The reality of the "everyone's president" argument made by Posner is silly is that he then goes on to "Swing States" and "Big States". Posner is trying to use the founder's belief that somehow the Electoral college prevents regionalism. Then he goes into the glaring examples of regionalism. It was Clinton's failures in swing states that cost her the election!

Bottom line on those three arguments: you can't claim that somehow the electoral college prevents regionalism when regionalism is what ended up costing the election of someone who won the popular vote by 48.5% (as opposed to the electoral college winner who won by 46.4% of the popular vote).

Reading Posner's article, the 2016 election points out the flaws in his arguments: the electoral college serves no point other than to be anti-democratic, which gets into "run off elections".

Those would be small prices to pay if they would be the cost of having the democracy the US has presented to the rest if the world through the last part of the 20th Century and the beginning of this one.

The problem is the electoral college is an anti-democratic institution which is an extreme danger to the electoral process. The sad part is that the travesty caused the electoral college is again being ignored. I noticed that the democrats were blaming everything except this fossil for their loss. Now, the silliness of foreign influence in US elections overlooks a reason given for this artefact.

The 2016 Presidential election has demonstrated that this institution needs to be abolished, or drastically reformed. Its existence has led to a constitutional crisis (not that the US hasn't been on the verge of one since its inception). But this one is one of proportions that can no longer be ignored.

The real bottom line here is that the US system of elections is in drastic need of an overhaul: does it take a Constitutional crisis to force this to happen?

[1] disclaimer: I voted for Jill Stein for many reasons other than just the "democratic" party running Clinton, but her choice was one of many sickeners the party gave me. The entire US election process makes me sick, but the duopoly really disgusts me.
[2] I knew Clinton was going to lose when the election results focused on the electoral votes as opposed to the popular votes.
[3] there is little difference between a republic and a democracy in modern political science. Besides, the French Revolution pretty much put paid to most of the anti-democratic v republican beliefs of the founders.
 [4] Here is my wish list of changes to the US system of elections. Only Jill Stein and the Greens seems to be willing to mention them:
open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform--if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Thoughts on US Third Parties.

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.
In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.
One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).
Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:
"It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns' agreement was negotiated "behind closed doors" and vas presented to the League as "a done deal," she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.
Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called "outrageous" the campaigns' demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.
"The campaigns' agreement is a closed-door masterpiece," Neuman said. "Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates' organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands."
Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.
I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton's "loss" was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the "losers" won the popular vote.
Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:
open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform--if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.
While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn't seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.
OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the "state" can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.
Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly's power against it.
Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.
[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

100 Days of Nothing

Donald Trump the candidate made dozens, even hundreds of promises.  Nothing new in that, all people seeking office make promises.  Congressmen promise to "do things differently" with great frequency and big, sweeping statements about either cleaning things up or "running things like a business" or a host of other silly promises.  They aren't honest brokers, they certainly don't bother to say to anyone that they'll be simply one of 435 voices in one part of the legislature.  Honestly, most don't even mean it.  I've met my share of Congressional Reps flying back and forth between my home and Washington DC so regularly.  Virtually all I've met promised to do things differently, virtually all became comfortable in their offices and in the Washington process immediately.  They clearly were paying lip-service to change.

What made Trump different, among many things, was that he was making promises which were so outrageous, so bombastic, it strained belief to take him seriously, yet, many people did.  It strained honesty to its breaking point to think even he thought the promises he made, the proposals he offered would get anywhere near passing, let alone work.

Yet, Trump made them, and made them, and made some more.  His followers often didn't seem to care if the promises were real.  Well, maybe except for one or two.  Each constituency had certain pet promises and each expected him to follow-through.  The chief among those was the promise to "bring manufacturing jobs back."  Trump made all these promises and those of us who had a small understanding of policy knew, knew beyond any doubt that they could not happen.  I'll lay out why following the promise, that each has failed and continues to fail.

Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Epic Failure): Repeal and Replace, Republicans had 7 years to formulate a plan, they never did (despite claiming to have done so), because throwing 15 million or more people out of the market and failing to ensure pre-existing conditions don't return to causing bankruptcy.  You have to expand the risk pool to cover folks and Republicans refuse to do that.

Build a Border Wall and Make Mexico Pay (Failure):  Trump promised Mexico would pay, he didn't mean in 10 years when he said it and his followers didn't think that's what he meant either.  He has asked for some initial surveying, but the local land owners who would have to forfeit their land have balked.  The cost to build the wall is FAR beyond what the national treasury can afford (and far beyond $30B, it might be more like $100B or even $500B).  His own party doesn't want to pay that much and with net negative immigration from Mexico, the facts don't support the need.  Most importantly, though, no one ever said a wall could not be built, but rather that it could not work and would be immensely costly.  Both those things are proving true.  Our primary source of illegal immigration is from Europe, not Latin America and the cost is absurdly large (including the manning of such a wall which would cost ever more Billions).   It's a non-starter to many Republicans.

Naming China a Currency Manipulator: Trump didn't do this, period.  If Trump intended to use China to influence North Korea (and he said he was going to do so), and that made naming China a currency manipulator untenable, then this promise was a lie, let alone a failure.

Defeat ISIS VERY Quickly With His Secret Plan:  Trump said he'd defeat ISIS very quickly but couldn't reveal his "plan" because he wouldn't tip his hand.  Upon taking office Trump announced.. ta dah! He had no plan and asked the Pentagon for one.  Now, the Pentagon already had one, the one it developed for President Obama which has reduced the area held by ISIS in Iraq by 60% and in Syria by 40%.  Trump's apparent "other plan" was to let the Russians help the Syrians quash the rebels in Syria, including and especially the pro-democracy rebellion centered in Alleppo.  The clear hope was that Russia will then help the Syrians take-out ISIS, but that isn't happening yet, and it sure as hell isn't quick.  Instead, the Shia government (backed by Iran) in Iraq is taking back Mosul in a bloody fight, supported by US aircraft, something happening prior to Trump's arrival. 

NATO Allies Would Pay Up or He'd Leave NATO: 

While a handful have said they'd pay a bit more, his statement that our NATO partners only pay 2% of the total bill for NATO forces was of course, wrong and absurd and so our allies told Trump to get real.  Then came the problems in Syria, and cries from Ivanka, and suddenly NATO is 'no longer obsolete."  As if it ever was.. but he needed his security blanket/mental salve so he says it WAS obsolete but something, somehow changed?  No, nothing changed other than this charlatan became aware of NATO's purpose and European leaders schooled him on just how stupid his stance and words were. 

So, we have 100 days of really nothing.  His Tax Reform, delayed.  His promised investigation to "voter (non)fraud", unaddressed by day 100 though he said he'd do so immediately.  The only thing he's done is issue some mostly pointless or rebuked executive orders.  What a winner.  I'm getting tired of all this winning.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Resist the Right, Oppose 21st century Fascism!

Let us hope the resistance in Europe to the oppression and bigotry of the radical right, represented by this election, is part of the opposition that has been generated world wide to and by tRump.

This the signal of a turning point marking the success of resistance,, their resistance, our resistance.

Not so much ding dong the witch is dead, more sing and shout the witch is OUT!
Fascism and extreme Russian controlled conservatism FAILS --- EPIC FAILS -- in France!

A little Edith Piaf, maybe I'll add a good video of the Marseilles. If the numbers improve appreciably, I may throw in some dubbed Jerry Lewis.

 Why the celebration?

Because in an election that for some time had been polled as possibly close, or with potential upset tRump-like win for Le Pen, this election mattered. With fears that the French Fascism of a far right wing nut, one who is also controlled by Putin, backed by Russia trying to pull off an inside take over of government, it matters. France is of one of the more significant member countries of both NATO and the EU, therefore this mattered very much.

It has been said in the past that 'X' number of Frenchmen (and women) can't be wrong, to which the comedic rebuttal has often been that all those Frenchies couldn't be right, just look at their fandom of Jerry Lewis (hugely popular in his day). I don't know how many French voters there are in the raw numbers, but the percentages are remarkable.

Marine Le Pen has lost, lost big, lost (as of the count as I write this) 65.1% for Emannuel Macron to 34.9%  for the perennial fascist. 

Or if I vilify female Nazi wannabees, to ape a turn of phrase from the male chauvinist pig/cochon,  Rush Limbaugh,"Femi-fascista" Le Pen.

No Frexit (French Brexit) now, no pull out of NATO either. No governmental racist policies -- and for a country that includes the Dreyfus affair in its history, that is saying something.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Update on the Fox News Downfall

In addition to Bill O'Reilly's well deserved exit from Fox News, on Monday, the door slammed on now former co-President of Fox News, Bill Shine, amid a cluster of NEW law suits over both corporate sexism and racial discrimination.  Some of those stories include reports of black female employees being coerced into arm wrestling white female employees, for the gratification of their white male bosses.

Shein took over from sex crazed exec and office pervert (alleged) Roger Ailes, effectively the founder of Fox News.  It appears he did not do much if anything to change the toxic misogynistic and racist culture of the organization.

Further rumors that are credible say that Sean Hannity will be out by Friday, giving rise to rumors that Fox News may be on its way to a substantial decline or even a possible collapse.

We have another deplorable supporting the Fox News misogyny, Michael Reagan weighing in.
Another anti-women conservative, the son of the disastrous conservative president Ronald Reagan,
who tweeted in defense of Fake News, apparently ignoring that the dress of women on camera was dictated by the management:
"If women are going to wear low cut dresses that show cleavage don't be harassed when we men look. Or should we sue for sexual arousal?"
Apparently Reagan never got the memo or the upbringing that men and women are each of us responsible for our own feelings and reactions, and especially for unacceptable behavior.  The issue here is that unacceptable behavior, including unprofessional conduct. 

It is ironic that so many of the women of Fox News are now found on MSNBC.  Perhaps even more surprising is that there is an apparent friendship and mutual adration society that has quietly existed for a while now between Roger Ailes and MSNBC  super star Rachel Maddow.  The story goes that Ailes is a huge admirer of the work done by Maddow.  It is worth noting that as Maddow has gained experience she has surpassed the performance of Fox News, particularly in the more desirable demographics.

I found it ironic while posting the news of the departure of another figure from the right wing propaganda outlet, notorious for its factual inaccuracies and partisan malice, grotesque hypocrisy, racism and on-air sexism, that some of the more ignorant right wing trolls claimed that the worst thing that ever happened at Fox News was some slightly salty language.  They denied the findings of the law firm that Fox hired to investigate the charges against the company which found them to be true.  And credible journalism like the New York Times reported that the sexual harassment extended at times to women being intimidated into being groped, kissed against their will, and women being coerced to perform oral sex acts on executive in the Fox News offices during working hours.  The trolls were apparently a mixture of women and men on the right, among some of the most misinformed individuals I have ever encountered (based on their expressed beliefs appearing in comments), which argues well for the accuracy of Hillary Clinton that both sexism and misogyny were factors in her election defeat.

In other news supporting the contention that the radical right are members of an adult version of the Little Rascals' "He Man Women Haters Club" has been the news that Rep. Fisher in New Hampshire was one of the originators of a particularly toxic and noxious sub reddit, a type of forum / website, in which he makes the observation
..on The Red Pill made by one of Fisher’s alleged usernames in 2008 reads, “rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

...The Red Pill frequently normalizes rape, diminishes female intelligence and discusses the best ways to pick up women, including “negging,” a tactic in which men say backhanded compliments to women in order to lower their confidence and make them more open to sexual advances.
This is conservatism in the 21st Century.  Those who do not share these deplorable and repugnant views in how they conduct themselves are however far too willing to include in their party and their politics those who do act and think like this in devaluing and demeaning women.  This is the GOP that accepted TRump as a candidate and support him in his presidency.  This thinking is where the racist and the sexism in policy originates on the right.  And the Evangelical Right is smack in the middle of it, as are the far right white supremacists and other people Hillary Clinton correctly identified  as deplorables.  Just as Racism drove right wing hatred of Obama for being bi-racial, this misogyny drove the hatred of Hillary Clinton.  Neither was rational or objective. No one repudiates it on the right, no one drives out these people on the right.

Fox News and Republican candidates and Conservative polices all normalize the view of women as lesser, not equal.  This is true in opposing equal pay for women as much as in treating women as sexual objects or second class citizens without the same rights and true equality.  The right is attempting to make misogyny socially acceptable and to make other hate such as racism, religious intolerance, and hate and fear for the LGBT acceptable.  The opposition to so-called "political correctness" is just one facet of this effort to undermine women in society.

And in other news another Right Wing Extremist, a be able to have an abortion as the result of either.

From CBS News:
Mourdock, a Tea Party-backed candidate who beat longtime moderate Senator Richard Lugar in the state's Republican nominating contest earlier this year, expressed his view that "life begins at conception" and that he would only allow abortions in circumstances in which the mother's life was in danger.

...Republican candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen,"
His assertion, lacking internal logic, that nothing happens without the will of God would then presumably extend as well to murder or crimes against humanity.  Because nothing can happen without God's will making it so -- which should include abortion, giving the majority of conceptions do not implant or otherwise naturally terminate, so.......approved by God. This is the same mindset that gives rapists custody of their children conceived from criminal acts, and the same mindset in other parts of the world that see no crime in rape, if the victim subsequently marries the rapist, because then "all good".

I have to wonder if Murdock were raped, but did not get pregnant, if he would still find that an Act consistent with the approval of God? I'm betting absent the accident of pregnancy he would not.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday fun day: again, let us point and laugh at their president

It should surprise no one  'Prez' Don  the Con displayed massive ignorance while antagonizing our good neighbor, and number 2 trading partner and good ally, Canada.

Donald TRump at least nominally won the presidency by winning the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Wisconsin, although all three were narrow and possibly tampered wins.  For example there was a problem with more votes than voters in Wisconsin.

Of those three states that nominally put Rump over the top, only one shares a border with Canada, but Rump rather spectacularly doesn't know which one.  I personally would be surprised if Rump could correctly name the capitol of any of the three, in spite of attending college in Pennsylvania.

In contrast as something of a party trick, our excellent senator, Al Franken, can correctly and accurately draw the map of the United States, with each state correctly bounded and located relative to the national boundaries and adjoining states, and each capitol city correctly named.

TRump has threatened trade wars with Canada, ignorant of the harm that would do to both nations and to our mutually essential relationship.  Further the issue which demonstrated Don the Con's belligerent stupidity is that American milk producers don't have a trade problem for a particular dairy product, ultra-filtered milk, rather there is a problem of oversupply, a glut on the market, of that milk product. That is properly the problem and responsibility of the producers to correct, not consumers, past or present.

I have yet to see where anyone in the TRump appointed administration, much less the Goat-in-Chief himself, has asked that fundamental question ascertaining excess product.  This in spite of the conservative obsession, or more accurately empty lip service, to free market capitalism, and to individual responsibility for their success or failure.

Our neighbors to the east in Wisconsin either have to adjust production to suit demand, or find new markets.  The fair and rational solution is not to attempt to bully or arm twist buyers to purchase their product.

Trade wars and tariff conflicts, as history teaches us, is the single most consistent cause of wars. So it is especially troubling that the illegitimate President, along with his party and supporters, is so profoundly ignorant of geography, history, and economics and so offensively hypocritical.  Rump has to go, he is dangerous, dangerous to us, dangerous to the world.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thursday Schadenfreude: Bill, Sean, and soon Rush go bye bye

We have had the satisfaction and gratification of seeing crusty old white lechers, predators and perverts being driven from right wing propaganda outlets.

Roger Ailes is gone from Fake aka Fox News, as is Bill O'Reilly.  It is looking increasingly as if Sean Hannity is being sued for similar sexual harassment misconduct and will likely follow them out the door.  New accusations are emerging, with new suits likely.

In other news, iHeart Communications notified the SEC that they expect to go into bankruptcy, likely by this time next year if not before. IHeart, owned by Bain Capital, is the media company that puts Rush Limbaugh on the air.  Limbaugh is no longer the conservative kingmaker power figure he used to be, thanks to the long term abandonment of not just Limbaugh but other radio personalities like Hannity, after the utterly undeserved abuse Limbaugh inflicted on Sandra Fluke and his persistent racism, sexism and general misogynist bigotry.  The man who invented the term feminazi is effectively being neutered.

Feminists, both men and women, have been the driving force behind these changes to previously robustly profitable right wing propaganda outlets. We have flexed our collective economic, social and political muscle, with boycotts of businesses that directly take offensive positions, like Chic Fil A which was anti-LGBT and anti-gay marriage, which later did a 180 degree change of position due to persistent opposition, including from socially progressive feminists.

A local conned-servative blogger, friend of both Penigma and myself, and sadly, the father of a daughter now in her early 20s, regularly attacks feminists generally, and women in politics specifically, including opposing equal pay for equal work and equal opportunity regardless of gender.  In a recent blog post he and his little minion followers that was typically demeaning and disrespectful towards women and their capabilities.  One comparison likened women to fluffy growling kittens, while making yet another exaggerated hyper masculine analogy in which macho male conservatives, in reality, old wrinkly crabby flabby white guys who do little other than whine and promote right wing propaganda lies, are mean, dangerous Rottweiler's to weak fluffy kitten feminists. I feel badly for any young woman who has to be subjected to denigrating women and lack of support for fair employment treatment, including a lack of support for a fair wage for her labor.

In that context the schadenfreude is sweeter at the victory of feminists and other progressives in successfully holding right wing misogynists accountable.

I have long mocked Republican math, where numbers have little or no foundation in objective reality, but are instead solely reflective of ideology -- and fantasy, or one might say more accurately, delusion.

Hard reality, there are more women than men.  There are slightly more girl babies born than boys, and more girls survive infancy.  On the other end of life, women live longer than men, and the trend is now for men to live less long, not longer, regrettably. News articles I have read lately all argue that more women are being employed in traditionally male sectors of employment, and that will continue, and conversely, predictions are, more men will become employed in traditionally female dominated jobs.

That is a reality presently, and in the probable future, which favors feminism and fairness, not regressive conservative misogyny and sexism.

Conservatism suffers from a persistent belief in false ideological narratives, and from a nasty set of prejudices that have always put them on the wrong side of the issues that form the arcs of history.  That argues more not less schadenfreude to come at their expense.

Since I cannot alter that, I will make the best of it and simply enjoy it. We will, like the great Liz Warren's example, persist; and sooner or later we will win.