The Voter ID argument is backwards

I keep seeing Republicans post lists all the things that you need to show an ID to do and then argue that asking for an ID to vote is perfectly acceptable. I’m tired of playing defense on this. I don’t want to argue to stop them from making it harder to vote, I want to argue for ways to make it easier to vote and have them try to stop it.

You showed ID? You should be registered to vote automatically. If you need ID to buy a house/rent an apartment/apply for licenses/apply for unemployment/register for college/etc, then at that very moment when you established your identity and showed that you eligible to vote, you should be registered to vote or your voting information should be updated.

Have them argue against it.

Louie Gohmert invoked The Air Bud Rule

While the House Judiciary Committee was conducting official business the Republican Party objected to on entirely political grounds, meaning that the investigation would uncover republican criminality and corruption they wish to leave covered, one representative, Louie Gohmert decided that he would disrupt the hearing by making noise. When confronted about this, he stated “Then there’s no rules about when you can make noise

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/06/24/louie-gohmert-bangs-table-judiciary-hearing-vpx.cnn

So what does this have to do with Air Bud? Oddly enough, I think you can understand a lot about the GOP by watching Air Bud.

If you’ve never seen it, Air Bud is a 1997 Disney Movie about a dog named Buddy who can play basketball. And as Disney plot mechanics demand, Buddy is a truly good boy when it comes to playing basketball. The conceit is that Buddy gets to play and win an important championship game because there is technically no rule about dogs playing basketball.

While that is certainly true, there is no reason to think that Springfield Massachusetts’ Dr. Naismith had intended that his game would include canine athletes when he invented the game in 1891.

Let’s get back to Louie Gohmert. While it is true that there may not be an explicit rule about making noise by taping a microphone, there is also no reason to think the founders had intended that disruption of the procedure would be the way to object to a witness going long a few minutes long in his testimony to congress.

In the same vein, there was no rule about a standing filibuster. No rule about having multiple Benghazi investigations after the first failed to uncover criminality. No rule about having an impeachment without witnesses. And so on. Sure, there are norms about these things but not explicit rules. And like in Air Bud, there is no reason to think the founders intended the legislature would work this way.

John DiIulio called them Mayberry Machiavelli in 2002, telling Ron Suskind

What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

In 2012’s Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann described the issue in It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the Politics of Extremism describing

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

While Louie Gohmert is most certainly an idiot, it would be wrong to dismiss this as just idiocy. Louie Gohmert didn’t even bother to ask the witness any questions because Gohmert wasn’t thinking about the witness. When you look at Air Bud as being a deliberate norm destruction tactic because they are focused on GOP losses in November and other electoral objectives, this makes sense.

Thrilling Tales of Chickenshit Conservatism: BLM Edition

When someone claims to support the policing reforms being won by the BLM protests but insists they can not support BLM because they prefer ‘all lives matter’ they are engaging in a disingenuous tactic I call Chickenshit Conservatism, taking a cue from the Dead Kennedy’s song Chickenshit Conformist.

I consider Chickenshit Conservatism to be a special case of what is commonly called bothsiderism. When used correctly, it’s a bad faith tactic for turning an indefensible position into an unquestionable status quo. This seems to be increasingly common on Facebook where racists, fascists and swamp dwellers want to spread a message even of just letting bad things happen to other people, even when that position is unpopular.

Step one: Agree to the liberal position or positions of your interlocutor. Start off by saying you agree that racism is bad. That police brutality is bad. They have no place in our society. You may be doing this because you agree or because you don’t think the status quo is actually racist. But you can just as easily do it because you don’t mind the racism but know it is indefensible.

Step two: Recite the litany of Clinton and Obama failings. And this is why this is such an effective strategy-the Democratic party doesn’t have a great record on policing, and have some responsibility for the awful policies on mandatory minimums, the war on drugs, mass incarceration etc, so they have a point. That’s all mostly true. By reciting the litany you can build the empathy those of us on the left crave and make totally sensible claims.

Step three: Ignore, dismiss or grossly misrepresent all attempts at reform while defending the counterargument with unsourced or just made up factoids.

They might say “Defund the police? But when happens if I call 911?” You can calmly point out that no one is actually talking about defunding down to zero dollars. Of course there will still be armed police officers. “But crime is going up!” they counter. You calmly cite figures showing that crime is in fact going down. Why aren’t they doing something about the looting? Well, that’s what the police should be doing, isn’t it?

What’s happening here is sometimes called sealioning and this can be exhausting. They will keep asking questions and citing reasons why they can’t support any change while ignoring anything you say in response. The big point here is that they will never actually defend the conservative position nor the status quo. They might appeal to bipartisanship but then ignore that only one party has interest in fixing anything. Don’t think you can ever satisfy their criteria for change. They aren’t looking for solutions, they want permission to support a position they know is indefensible in polite company. They want a clear conscience while they look the other way.

The closer: Insist that the status quo will get better if we are all just had more patience. Give it time.

At some point you just get fed up and your interlocutor either walks away or they walk away with some half-ass comment about the alternatives not being viable and we should just wait and see. This is the tell. Just as many people are being hurt by looting. No one is being helped by the rioting. Things will just get better.

There seem to be three ways to handle this

  1. Call it out. Say “I don’t actually think you want to consider alternatives, I really think you’re looking for an excuse to support the status quo.” and then walk away.
  2. Use judo. “Can you tell me what policies or changes you would support and why?” “Oh, you haven’t seen any or thought about any? well what news sources do you read?” “Oh, you haven’t read much news? Well what sources do you normally trust?” and keep going. What you want is to get them into some self reflection.
  3. Confront their lack of skin in the game. What if you are wrong? Who is hurt if you are wrong? Get them to admit they aren’t actually effected by the problem they are willing to stand by and ignore.

And stay tuned for more tales of chickenshit conservatism.

COVID-9-11

If the president is going to compare COVID-19 to the 9/11 attack then I would like to propose that we start counting all mass deaths in units of 2,977. The one good thing about this idiotic metric is that’s since this is how many people died on 9/11 and 9/11 is one thing the American people can all agree was a national tragedy worthy of collective action it seems perfectly safe to assume that any event with a 9/11 sized body count should be taken just as seriously.

So let’s look at some other major tragic loses of life:

TragedyDeathsIn 911’s
Afghanistan24400.82
Hurricane Maria30571.03
Iraq44241.49
Covid-19 (May 1st 2020)7434724.97

Using this handy chart (I got the numbers from the google knowledge panels) we can see that Afghanistan, Iraq and Hurricane Maria are all in the same order of magnitude as 9/11 while COVID-19 is in the order of a month of Hurricanes or a century of war.

Hurricane Maria isn’t there by mistake. I will loop back to it a the end.

Think of what we were asked to do to prevent another 9/11 and how little we are being asked to do to prevent the deaths of our families and friends now. We were asked to endure security theater at the airports. The USA PATRIOT Act. To rally behind an idiot president and pretend he wasn’t exploiting a tragedy. DHS. The creation of ICE. These are all things we as a nation did. Gladly. We sacrificed blood and treasure. Our sons and daughters lost lives and limbs.

As a nation weren’t asked to do anything on the scale of 9/11 for Katrina or Maria despite tragic deaths on the same scale as 9/11. No national commitment to rebuild and restore. There were no national movements to lessen the harm from future storms. No calls to sacrifice to make us all whole again. Nothing even close to the 9/11 scale at all. And why? Why is it so easy to call on Americans to support destroying another totally unrelated nation and so hard to call on Americans to save lives of fellow Americans right here at home?

Benghazi is dwarfed by the other tragedies, why did it get so much more attention than Katrina did? It’s almost as if the republican party is willing to exploit national security for its partisan policy goals.

After 9/11 we were willing to join together, to act decisively, as we were reminded non stop for years following. What is happing now is nearly a month of 9/11s. We should be treating this far more seriously and the call for action should be far greater. We should not be finding a way to “9-11” the COVID response into a an excuse to exploit national security concerns for partisan policy goals, which is what this administration is doing in comparing COVID to 9/11. We should be looking to treat all tragedies seriously, learn from out mistakes and prevent future tragedies as best we can.

That the republicans are more focused on exploiting tragedy than learning from it should be a bigger story.

Republicans love Socialism almost as much as they hate Americans

All the current discussion about Coronavirus bailouts for hotels, hospitality,  skittish markets and the energy sector reminded me of this chart from a few weeks back.

Trump’s signature domestic policy is a big government socialist wall built on confiscated private property just like Khrushchev built. His signature economic policy is tax payer funded subsidies to guarantee equality of outcome for farmers hurt by his anti-market policies. Nothing about that should surprise you, the GOP has made it perfectly clear that this is an endless supply of dirty socialist money for the demographic that votes for, fights for and funds the campaigns of the Republican party. Everyone else can drop dead.

If you have trouble understanding the process that leads the GOP to defend 19 billion for farmers to not sell food while cutting 2.5 billion in food stamps for people who would like to buy food then just think back to these core narratives of the 2016 campaign:

  1. Poor white people in the rust belt are poor because of Mexicans and China and bad trade deals. They need a person to put them first and act on their behalf to correct this injustice that others have done to them. People who disagree with this are commies/hate America/are out of touch elites.
  2. Poor people of color in urban areas are poor because they are lazy and have a bad culture, they have a victim mentality. They need to learn to take care of themselves, stop claiming victim status and expecting other to fix their problems. People who disagree with this are suffering from white guilt/being politically correct/are SJWs.

So it doesn’t count as socialism if the people getting the redistribution are white Republican voters in red states. Or industries that fund Republican campaigns. And as sure as the sun sets in the west; every time a tornado, hurricane or flooding ravages a deep red state you can count on the same GOP that blocked money for injured 9/11 first responders to trip all over themselves to air drop money into rural white communities to make them all whole again.

Republicans love socialism. For themselves. Everyone else can drop dead.

Never Trump Jurassic Park

I find myself warning my liberal friends about Never Trumpers too often. I am imagining myself as a tour guide at a Jurassic Park themed Sunday talk show, calmly warning my liberal friends to keep a safe distance from those Never Trump Raptors knowing damn well my liberal friends are being fooled by the Raptors feigned timidity just enough that we are all in danger of being eaten by those same Raptors when we least expect it. That will be during the next mid term, we have all seen this movie before.

We all want to believe that there is some common ground that supersedes the GOP desire to run up the deficit and gut social security and medicare. We have all convinced ourselves that there was common ground not that long ago. But we should never fool ourselves into thinking that the Never Trump Republicans represent a way forward to a return to common ground. This just isn’t the situation we find ourselves in today.

Case in point:

Chomp chomp chomp. See what Raptor Evans is doing? He’s trying to divide someone from the pack before going for the throat.

False equivalency aside, I don’t particularly dislike Evan. My biggest issue with him is his complete shock and dismay that his party would jeopardize national security for political gain. Well, Evan, a quick look at your bio shows that you were in the CIA in 2003. That is the same year Valerie Plame’s career in intelligence was destroyed to settle a grudge with Ambassador Joseph Wilson after he exposed George W Bush’s lie about Yellowcake Uranium from Niger during the build up to W’s disastrous Iraq war. All of this happened when Even was serving his country in the CIA. Did he not notice that his party jeopardized national security for the sake of political gain while he worked on behalf of out national security? No one talked about this around the CIA water cooler?

Every single Never Trump Republican, minus a few here and there who were too young; were part of the Bush years. They saw the exact same culture of lies, of foreign policy disasters. They all saw an aircraft carrier turned into a backdrop for a campaign commercial. The torture memo. This simply can not be stressed enough: they were all totally ok with it.

This gets me to the bigger point here. As much as Evan might dislike Trump, there is no reason to think Evan or any other never Trump would be happy with any Democratic candidate. As soon as a Democrat is in the Whitehouse, those Raptors are going to be much less timid. They’re all going to discover the deficit went up. They’re going to decide that we need a grand bargain. Do you think they’re going to be in any way open to the idea or working with Bernie or Warren or anyone on improving services? Or bringing the troops home? Or doing anything that would help a Democrat win a second term?

When looking at a never Trumper, always ask yourself “What side of the containment gate are they?”

Understanding the Trump years by watching someone eating mayonnaise out of a jar with their fingers.

Conservatives do you really want to understand how liberals feel about Trump?

Imagine how you’d feel if you walked into your kitchen and saw someone eating mayonnaise from a jar with their fingers. Just standing there in front of an open fridge with a jar in one hand and the mayo being licked off the other hand. After they lick that greasy hand to their perverse satisfaction, they just dip it back into the jar and repeat the process. You stand there in shock as they repeat this over and over and over again.

Like any sane person would, you take a long calming breath and confront them by letting them know how just how gross it is to eat mayonnaise that way. This is simply not the way to eat mayo. In this home we have always consumed mayo by spreading it on out food, never to excess and always with proper utensils.

Rather than admit that it’s gross, or admitting it isn’t the customary way to consume mayo they loudly respond “but hey! you eat mayonnaise too!” with all the phony outrage they can muster. You respond that this is correct, you do in fact eat mayonnaise. In this home we all consume mayonnaise. But we all use silverware to spread some on a sandwich. We don’t eat it out of the jar with fingers. We don’t put those saliva dripping fingers back in the jar. In this home we eat mayo the way we have always eaten mayo, by spreading it on out food, never to excess and always with proper utensils.

They take another lick. Their greasy hand goes back into the jar. They turn to you and say “Well, you just admitted you eat mayonnaise too, you hypocrite. I’m not going to bow down to you and your condiment correctness. I am going to Make Mayo Great Again.”

The one difference from the W years

One thing has changed in the Trump years. Prior republican administrations could be shamed into not eating mayonnaise that way. This administration insists that mayo should always be eaten this way, because it drives liberals crazy. This is why they can not be shamed. When you caught Karl Rove eating mayo that way he would lie and say he was drinking a glass or water. After being caught in that lie he would lie again and say it was leftover potato salad. The Trump years are the years of proudly saying “fuck you, this how we eat mayonnaise now. Offended? Good!”

When you hear some MAGA uncle defend the Trump resorts kiddy concentration camps by saying “Obama built those facilities!” totally ignoring that those facilities were designed to hold kids traveling alone, not taken from their families, that those kids would be held for a few days, not several months. That uncle wants to eat mayonnaise out of a jar. With his fingers. And insist that he is right. That this is the correct way to consume mayo. And anyone saying we always used a knife to put mayo on a turkey club is fake news. All those pictures of people putting mayo on turkey clubs that way? Also fake news. George Soros took those pictures. He paid people to make those sandwiches.

Your MAGA Uncle is going to insist that it killing and Iranian Quds force commander without proper oversight, after tearing up the Iran treaty is basically the same as Obama having Bin Laden killed. Trump’s threat to commit war crimes is basically the same as Obama’s tough talk on deploying defensive missiles. What? You’re against killing bad guys? Mayo. Fingers. That’s how this works now.

This is how liberals feel about the Trump era. All the norms, conventions, basic decency and restraint we value are being shamelessly shattered. Those destroying them are dismissing any criticism with false equivalence, whataboutism and cries of fake news. You can not shame them anymore because they want this to be the disgusting new normal.

Liberals aren’t just angry, we are genuinely disgusted.

Take your fingers out of the jar already.

Jeff Flake doesn't understand the Republican Party

“The former senator, who was a frequent critic of Trump, called on his former colleagues to put themselves through a “simple test.” And that involves asking, “What if President Barack Obama had engaged in precisely the same behavior?” 

From: slate.com

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/12/jeff-flake-urges-senate-republicans-put-country-over-party-impeachment-trial.html

Jeff, they would reverse themselves. You should know, you were there. You watched your party reverse itself on executive oversight. The deficit. Golfing. Impeachment. On the issue of character in the executive. Free trade.

Quoting Paul Krugman from last year:

the real test came after 2016. A complete cynic might have expected economists who denounced budget deficits and easy money under a Democrat to suddenly reverse position under a Republican president.

And that total cynic would have been exactly right. After years of hysteria about the evils of debt, establishment Republican economists enthusiastically endorsed a budget-busting tax cut. After denouncing easy-money policies when unemployment was sky-high, some echoed Trump’s demands for low interest rates with unemployment under 4 percent — and the rest remained conspicuously silent.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/27/opinion/republican-economists-bad-faith.html

Jeff, if you don’t know that your party acts in bad faith, on almost everything, no one should listen to you.

Mitch McConnell is burning down the country so he can collect the insurance money.

At the time the Trump tax plan was passed, economist on both sides said pretty much the same things. It would inflate the deficit. It would lead to stock buy backs, not new investment. It would mostly go to a small group of people who are already wealthy. The GOP didn’t even bother to debate this point. They repeated talking points and shoved the bill through without debate. Without Democratic amendments. Without a second thought.

Bruce Bartlett was talking about this in 2012. It was called the “Two-Santa Theory” and it dates back to 1976 and was a core part of the Reagan years.

I want people to consider a second term for it. “Burning down the country to collect the insurance money

The idea is simple. You run up the debt. You privatize everything, transferring it to the same people who got bags of cash in the form of tax giveaways and subsidies. You then loot the nation’s insurance fund, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for it all. You burn the country down. You then fix the damage by collecting the insurance.

“New Treasury Department analysis on Monday revealed that corporate tax cuts had a significant impact on the deficit this year. Federal revenue rose by 0.04 percent in 2018, a nearly 100 percent decrease on last year’s 1.5 percent. In fiscal year 2018, tax receipts on corporate income fell to $205 billion from $297 billion in 2017.

Still, McConnell insisted that the change had nothing to do with a lack of revenue or increased spending and instead was due to entitlement and welfare programs. The debt, he said, was very “disturbing” and driven by “the three big entitlement programs that are very popular, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.… There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs. Hopefully, at some point here, we’ll get serious about this.””

Call it what it is, burning down the country to collect the insurance money.

From: newsweek.com https://www.newsweek.com/deficit-budget-tax-plan-social-security-medicaid-medicare-entitlement-1172941

Using the military as a campaign prop. Nothing new.

Hey, remember the last republican president? The one before Obama.

He used the military as a campaign prop. He politicized national intelligence. He made it office US policy to torture people. He used pardons to keep his advisors out of jail. He blocked investigations. He used shill media. He complained that the media was unfair. All of it.

If you pretend this all started with Trump, you’ll never be able to actually address the problem, let alone fix it.