Thursday, May 26, 2016

Houston Area Leadership Vacuum: Why the budget was passed.

It's not a "show of support" or solidarity, it's the continuation of the patronage system.

Turner: Unanimous Budget OK Sends Strong Message. Mike Morris, ($$$)

Councilman Greg Travis' attempt to cut an additional 1.5 percent from the budget failed, with only his vote in support. Councilman Jerry Davis' proposal to partially restore the 11 district council members' cherished service funds passed unanimously.
Turner's proposal had cut that two-year-old program - which gives district members $1 million to spend in their areas - to $250,000 per district. The members will keep those general fund dollars but, thanks to Davis' amendment, each will get an additional $500,000 from cash the city receives from the Metropolitan Transit Authority for infrastructure repairs.
The combined $5.5 million is part of nearly $62 million in so-called "general mobility" payments the city expects to receive from the transit agency in the coming fiscal year. That figure does not include another roughly $60 million that Metro will contribute to specific capital projects in the city.

Sorry for the long block-quote but this is the important part of a long story.

In short, the City Council of Houston REALLY wanted their slush-funds restored and, when they received most of the funding back (to shower on people who can help their re-election chances/financial well-being after term limits) they acquiesced to the Mayor and passed his budget.

Supposed 'rabble-rouser' Kubosh only required $110K to cave, on a pet program to pull cars out of the Bayou.

So, in some sense, Turner is correct, the unanimous passage of the budget DID send a strong message. The message that the Houston Way system of patronage is alive, well and thriving under his watch.

Fiscal prudence?  Not so much.

And in case you're keeping score: Under Turner Patronage > general mobility.

And the vacuum continues to expand.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

BadPolitics: D. C. is a place with no redeeming value. #PostGOP

I just came back to Houston from a day-trip to Washington D.C. to attend some meetings with regulators regarding new oil and gas royalty-valuation regulations.

As an illustration as to what's wrong with government:  The bureaucracy believes that this regulation will cost industry almost $100 Million dollars per year (that's low FWIW), and we were granted a 30 minute audience with one of the king's minions.

That this happens with great regularity shows the ever-deepening hole that is becoming the regulatory state under President zero.

D.C. is a monument to the leviathan.

They actually put on their license plates "taxation without representation" because they don't have a voting congressperson (and think they should qualify for statehood) in D.C. They have a highway system that seems to be designed by morons, a public transit system that continually catches on fire, and an entire system of being that's designed to both reflect, and promote, the Federal government system. (The tallest building is, by law, the Washington Monument, which fulfills the ideal that nothing, or no one, is more important than the government.)

Alphabet soups are everywhere, and young workers spend the day either surfing porn (if news reports are to be believed) or (apparently) running around in parks. Only a few workers seem to actually be getting any work done and most of those are lobbyists from private industry.

There is an earnestness around those who work for the government, an attitude of arrogance as well, as if what they are doing is really more vital to the survival of the Republic than the attainment of wealth by those in the private sector. When asked, in private moments, some of them will admit that what they are doing is how things ought to be. Sharing a beer with some of them is typically the best way to get them to cop to this, a belief in not only their superiority, but in the inherent good in government and the all-encompassing evil in the private sector.

Then, they're off to run in the park or head to a concert or do the things that young, primarily Caucasian it should be noted, progressives like to do. (When they're not telling people what it is they should do).

I was amazed to find out that D.C. had Uber and Lyft.  But then, Uber'ing around town is still considered "cool" despite some of the older cronies in the Democrat party saying so, my belief being that it will eventually win out over the tired taxi lobbies as the old guard fades away into their well-off political retirements.

D.C. is a land of mass-marketed "craft" beer, modern-day taverns that feature gourmet, "organic" food, often marketed as "farm-to-table" but probably from the back of a Sysco truck, of pub-crawls and late morning work times which allow for sleeping in after you've had two too many the night before.

IF you can afford to live in D.C. of course, which only a select few (again, mostly Caucasian, progressive) can.  The rest of the crowd have to move out to the sticks where it's becoming more and more difficult to get into town, where a commute from Springfield can take over two hours, where the Metro system is such a mess it burns more often than not, and has just fired most of its management. Most people just walk.

Despite all of this, there's a pride around D.C. of their public treasures. The Pentagon (of course) was roundly ignored but almost everyone took pains to point out that we were "just caddy-cornered" from the White House, and that I should visit D.C. soon because "there were some great new monuments" to be seen. You get the feeling that even the people who are lobbying against the Obama administration are voting for him. Part of the reason for that is job security, and part is because D.C. has fallen victim to a sort of Statist group-think.

There's no job small enough that the Government cannot, and should not, go for a large, unwieldy solution. There's no issue so inconsequential as to stoop below a regulatory need. Everything that you do, the air you breathe, the water you drink, the poop you take, the food you eat, the alcohol you consume, the TV you watch the decisions you make that harm no one whatsoever except yourself. ALL of that must be regulated by one of the thousands of alphabet-soup organizations that make up government in the U.S. of A.

And the seat of that government lies in Washington D.C.  whose primary residents are working overtime (within union rules of course) to make absolutely sure everyone and everything is operating within the parameters that they have decided is best.  And this, is ALL they do.  All day, all night. Because it's what we've asked them to do.

Now you see why it's going to be such a task to untangle the regulatory state.  Because hives of these people exist not only in Washington D.C. but in every State Capitol and every major city and every county seat and every small bit of government you can find.

Behold how free.

Friday, May 20, 2016

PostGOP: When (almost) everyone gets it wrong.

This story, is one of those rare occasions where everything that I typically write about can be found in one nice, neat package.....

Republican Tries to Block Muslim From Office. Mike Morris & Rebecca Elliott,$$$)

Fair warning, I'm going to selectively quote a little more than usual from this story. Please go read the whole thing if you have access behind the Chron's firewall.

1. PostGOP & BadPolitics:

"If you believe that a person can practice Islam and agree to the foundational principles of the Republican Party, it's not right, it's not true, it can't happen," Gordon said.
Yes, Mr. Gordon, it CAN happen.  As it can with Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, Mormons, 7th Day Adventists.....

But attitudes such as this are one of the reasons why I've abandoned the GOP to itself (again).  The first time I left them was in response to family Bush, of whom I'm not a fan, and what I felt was the abandonment of conservatism by the party proper.  I returned because the Democrats are SO bad that I was frequently voting fairly close to straight-ticket anyway.  Then Trump happened, and all of the bad stuff that makes up the GOP bubbled to the surface.  There are many who feel this way and don't want to be part of a party that is biased, bigoted, anti-Semitic and exclusionary.

What should have followed is a stripping of Mr. Gordon's position of Chaplain, and a motion to censure.  But, it didn't so that's that.

2. More BadPolitics:

Mustafaa Carroll, of the Council on American–Islamic Relations' Houston branch, was less sanguine.
"There is no religious test necessary to be a public official in the United States of America," Carroll said. "This country is founded on religious pluralism and if he (Gordon) knew about the document the Founding Fathers wrote, then he would know that."
The problem with this logic?  Syed Ali was not running to become a 'public official' he was running to become a 'party official' and there's a huge difference between the two. In fact, if Mr. Carroll knew "about the document the Founding Fathers wrote" then he would know that the Constitution is mute on the subject of political parties.

Certainly, they still cannot discriminate based on a protected class, and one could make a reasonable, and accurate, argument that religion is a protected class, but this is not a Constitutional matter as much as it is one of internal party politics.  Which leads me to....

3. BadMedia:

Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, who last year rallied votes for Houston's since-repealed nondiscrimination ordinance, said she found Gordon's comments "abhorrent."
"That attitude is so disruptive and doesn't speak for the kind of country we are and should be," she said.

It's amazing to me that the Chronicle, in an article that is obviously and frankly about party politics, chooses to 1. Quote Ellen Cohen (who has no dog in this fight) in the first place and 2. NOT identify her as a partisan Democrat.

But the Chron, under their new, flown-in-from-Boston leadership, is not about reporting the news these days. They're more about pursuing page hits with slide-show pictorials and allowing cub reporters to opine, seemingly unedited, on hot-button issues. What they cannot shoe-horn into their hard-news coverage, they force into Gray Matters.  

Of course, the Democrats, famously, booed God at their 2012 convention and the Chron was mum while one idiot at a County party meeting does something stupid and it's front page news. If you're running under the assumption that having morons as members is a monopoly held by the Republicans then you're not paying attention.  Both parties have idiots on their voter rolls, far more than each would like to admit.

4. GoodPolitics: (and good people)

The one good person in all of this?  Syed Ali...
Ali, who works in the insurance business, said Gordon's comments did not offend him.
"I don't have anything against him. That's his point of view," Ali said. "Freedom of speech, Constitution of the United States, his belief, his thought, his experience, his individual mind – that was his mind, and that was his speech. That's fine with me."
I like this guy.  And I like Felicia Winfree Cravens as well, but I do think she's putting her head in the sand a little bit regarding the exclusionary proclivities of many within the GOP.  For all of the talk of "big tent Republicans" the truth is there are many who would rather see the party reduced to a single person shanty whose only residents meet some extremely strict purity tests.

I can tell you that I will fail them.  And, eventually, you will as well.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tales of a sub-par media outlet: Polls we like. (Vs. companies we don't)

Imagine, if you will, that Exxon/Chevron/BP you name it released a poll suggesting that over 60% of Texans were in support of hydraulic fracturing (i.e. fracing). What do you imagine the reporting, if any, would look like?

Let me give you a hint:

"Oil-industry backed poll shows 60% of Texans support fracking"

Yet today we get a poll released by a healthcare group showing that 60% of Texans are in favor of expanding Medicaid and no one bats an eye.

Study: Texans Favor Medicaid Expansion. Jenny Deam, ($$$)

More than 60 percent of Texans support an expansion of Medicaid here and plan to take those views into the voting booth in November, a new survey commissioned by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute finds.
The survey results, unveiled Wednesday at the annual Medical World Americas convention in Houston, show the public at odds with the state's Republican leadership, which has steadfastly refused to consider such an expansion, calling it wasteful and a bad solution.

Since this is an article in the Houston Chronicle, I've not yet seen either the cross-tabs or the wording behind this poll. A Google search for the same revealed nothing.  All we know is what the article, and the Texas Medical Center, are saying, and we're supposed to accept that as 100% true.

Forgive my skepticism but I have a hard time believing any poll if it's backed, funded and released by a group that has a bias in the outcome unless I see the details behind it and have a chance to look at how the questions were worded, whether trade-offs were proposed etc.  These details matter.

It's similar to the issues that I consistently have with the Houston Area Survey which constantly asks broad questions without once suggesting that a trade-off is always going to be required.  Yes, people would love to live in a more urban, centralized environment but they wouldn't want to do so if a.) they had to live in a high-rise condo or b.) pay 5 times what they pay for their current homes.

The same goes for Medicaid expansion. Unless you have no heart (and I'm presuming that most of you do) then you're all for everyone getting the healthcare they need.  The problem lies in the trade-offs.

What if an expansion of Medicaid means that the State will have to raise your (yours, not just the people making slightly more than you) taxes?  Or, create a State income tax that will soon probably be non-deductible from Federal taxes?

What if you will be required to lose a portion of coverage that you care about because hospitals and doctors will be required to care for a certain percentage of high-financial-risk patients?

From what I can tell, the biggest impediment to Texas expanding Medicaid is the red-tape that it will force the State to absorb. The Obama Administration could have chosen to offer block-grants to the States, allowing them to establish systems that work for them (Texas is not the same as Arizona for example) but instead they chose a 'one-size-fits-all' solution that is fitting none, and in many cases causing the exchanges to collapse and the bill to cast doubt on the efficacy of the private medical system. (Which, it should be noted, it exactly what it was meant to do)

But a bigger issue is that Houston's former newspaper of record is becoming an opinion magazine rather than a repository for journalism. Whether on this issue or where people pee and take shits the Chronicle is no longer a trusted source for information.

TXLV: How did this group ever come to dominate State politics? #PostGOP

I haven't written much about Governor Greg Abbott's Texas Plan for a couple of reasons. First, I think it has a snowball's chance in West Texas chance of going anywhere and second, I honestly thought it was one of those things that would be brought up, and then fade away into the dustbin of political history.  I, wrongly, considered it to be the Gardisil of Texas political movements.

Imagine my surprise then when, almost half a year later, and people are still writing and talking about it.

Article V Convention is the Wrong Way to Address our Constitutional Crisis. Tom Pauken,

The latest politician to jump on the bandwagon and call for an Article V Constitutional Convention is the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. He proposes to invoke a never previously used provision of the U.S. Constitution, Article V, in order to call a convention of the states and pass a series of constitutional amendments to restore states’ rights.
This would require 34 states to agree to such a convention; and (even more difficult to imagine) convince those states to endorse the 9 specific amendments to the Constitution proposed by Abbott. Then three-fourths of the states would have to ratify those amendments.
As a friend of mine has observed: You have a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing all that happen in our lifetime.

True.  But, to go one step further, I'm certain that the root-cause of our current problems is not the Constitution itself. That old document seems to have held up fairly well over time.

Our problem is that we haven't listened to it.

The solution to this problem is not to amend the damn thing, or just scream loudly (as Pauken does here) that Congress has the so-called 'power of the purse' (they really don't if you understand vetoes and how they are overridden). The solution lied in the GOP offering up strong, constitutional candidates for voter consideration and not jumping into the hog trough that is the government patronage system whenever the voters decided it was their time to be in charge.  The Republicans failed at that badly. In fact, they made more sophisticated the blunt instrument that was Democratic Machine Politics.  That's saying something.

The question, in Texas, is this:  How in the world did this collection of low-functioning idiots ever get into power?  Because if you can't beat the following, what does that say about your party Democrats?

Greg Abbott: He was the Attorney General of Texas, demanded to be called, and signed his communications with, 'General'. During his time in office he filed a bunch of lawsuits against the Obama administration and issued press releases about them.

Dan Patrick: Oddly enough, he is possibly the most professional of the current group in charge in Austin. But he's no conservative in the classical sense and he has a worrying tendency to demagogue the hell out of an issue.

Glenn Hegar: A politician's politician. Largely irrelevant in State politics until he won the Republican Primary with Tea Party backing. Qualifications to be the highest financial officer in Texas?  *crickets* Learned all he knows about the office from Susan Combs, who continually exhibited both a proclivity for misstating revenue projections, creating new taxes and spilling data everywhere.

Ken Paxton: The new attorney general who is probably guilty of securities fraud.

George P. Bush: The latest in a long-line of carpetbagging members of the Bush family (Based in Maine) who have decided to use Texas to burnish their conservative credentials in an attempt to rise up the political ladder. He's the epitome of a 'kissing hands and shaking babies' politician.

Sid Miller: He of the 'Jesus Shot', cupcake amnesty and huge bonuses to staffers.  Either an idiot savant or the most calculating political operative in Texas. (Honestly, it's hard to tell which)

Of course, it's well known that the Democrats have given us Chris Bell (perennial candidate), Bill White (perennial bore) and Wendy(?!?) Davis (perennial laughingstock) as fodder in the governor's race, but they haven't offered up much in the other races either.  Leticia Van de Putte?  Meh. Sam Houston (gimmick), Barbara Ann Radnofsky?  Pffft.

In fact, it's gotten so bad that the most high-profile elected official in Texas is currently Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, he of the Sheila Jackson Lee Regional Political Machine and professional tosser of word salad. Turner isn't so much about implementing policy as he is making fuzzy calls for "Something! to be done (although he never says specifically what) and appointing commissions (blue ribbon we are sure) to study the issue.

It's gotten so bad for Democrats that some of the dimmer members of the TLSPM have resorted to running around with their hair on fire and begging forgiveness from the same idiots that elected Bill de Blasio. The next thing you know they'll be crying to the folks who thought putting Rahm Emmanuel and Jerry Brown in office was a good thing. When y'all are done on the fainting couch, would you mind blow-drying away the tears?

There are a lot of reasons why Democrats are so bad in Texas. Most of it has to do with the fact that they've been in the political wilderness for so long they've forgotten what it means to actually run things. They have a bench that's thinner than the Steinbrenner-era Yankees farm system and currently have a platform that's out of sync with the needs of Texas voters. It's hard to win an election in a State where your policies would damage most of the voters financially. It's even harder when you double up on that by continually insulting them.

But the biggest problem right now in Texas is the Republicans.  Facing a fairly serious funding threat in Texas Education, a deteriorating infrastructure and little money to pay for it, and an economy that's sputtering but not regressing the biggest items on our leader's agenda is going to be who takes a shit in which public restroom and sanctuary cities.  And a Texas Plan in search of a problem that doesn't exist.  The Constitution is not broken, amending it in a way that provides the State with more power is not the solution.  The State's already have plenty of powers, the issue is getting Congress to understand that and act accordingly.

It also would have helped to nominate a strong Presidential contender to run against one of the worst nominees in recent history but that ship has sailed.

What's needed now is something resembling real leadership, a plan to simplify and broaden the Texas tax code while making it shallower would be nice (i.e. eliminating so-called 'exemptions' and lowering the overall rate) as would taking a wrench to education funding, road construction and even ERCOT, which is a rickety old thing in need of some work and attention.

Sadly, none of those issues are anywhere on the radar. Nor will it be in the near future.

It takes true leadership to do these things, and Texas currently has none.

PostGOP: 'they'

These are some pretty rough times for those who consider themselves to be conservative (or, a better description, classically liberal) in their politics as they are watching the one political party where they hoped to find refuge be overrun by Trumpets hailing the Bronzed Ego and progressive/Statist policies in what they hope is a run to the White House and a stick in the eye to all of those who are broadly defined as 'they'.

And who is 'they'?

In political terms 'they' is my favorite group, because 'they' can mean whomever you want it to mean and it can be constantly changing in meaning and you never have to apologize, or get accused of flip-flopping. In fact, you can have different 'they's' on the same issue and no-one will care.

'they' are the great political equalizer, an enemies list for those too timid to make up an enemies list and an ideal scapegoat for our modern politics. 'they' are usually, unless 'they' is being used by a conservative, the 'Jews' (who are not the Jewish people but a subset of wealthy, Zionist Jews who apparently run the banking system throughout the world and are the masterminds behind the biggest long-con in human history.) the wealthy, (Not ALL of the wealthy of course, just those who don't donate heavily to progressive politicians.), Wall Street (unless they are paying Hillary Clinton to give a speech, or are married to Chelsea Clinton), Republicans (OK, pretty much all Republicans), the White Man (non-progressive/enlightened of course, also straight),  Anyone who does not live in the city (you know, the rubes) and whatever target group offends the current oppressed minority to which the Democratic politicians is pandering for votes. (They flexible like that).

For Republicans it's a little easier.  'they' are Mexicans (a broad identifier for ALL people of Hispanic descent because...different), Muslims (radical of course), Communists (or socialists, progressives, leftists whatever) and pretty much anyone who is not Caucasian and a fan of Lee Greenwood (who, it should be noted, wrote the worst song in the world with 'Proud to be an American').

Most of the electorate (the underclass) doesn't give much thought to 'they' when it's said, as our internal cross reference just bounces it up against the people we identify as 'they' and file it back for future reference.

The only exception to this is when one of 'they' says 'they'. Obama likes to use 'they' very much as a dog whistle to his supporters. "There are some who say (insert straw-man here) cannot be done. We 'they' don't know, or understand our resolve."  In all cases 'they' is cross-referenced and inferred to mean either "me" (or "you", depending on your internal person) or some fictional group that President Zero has invented in his head.  When Republicans use it progressives snark. It's what they do.

The biggest problem with 'they' is that there is no 'they' running around out there with signs on their forehead or a scarlet 't' on their breast. 'they' is a great political tool because, for the most part, the American electorate is all too willing to believe that 'they' exist.  It's much easier to come home from work, look at your 3.4 children your 1.4 dogs and cats and the goldfish that died because little Timothy put dish washing liquid in the water in an ill-fated attempt to bathe him, to drive your Chevy Cobalt to and from work every day and blame 'they' for keeping you locked in a middle-class rut than it is to say 'hey, I could turn this around.'  We love 'they', and we need them around to keep our sanity, the same way Sports fans in Cleveland need blown calls and referee conspiracy theories.

'they' is what makes political fundraising go. If you don't give money to candidate 'x' then 'they' are going to win. And when 'they' win 'they' are going to do things to the US Constitution that would make Josef Mengele blush. (Neo-Nazis and fascism being a very big part of 'they' mind you). 'they' are Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees all wrapped up into one Constitution and freedom shredding package.

I'm not a political science major, but I'm pretty sure that Identifying and Leveraging 'they' is an advanced level course, one you cannot take until you swear the blood oath that all politicians must swear and donate what remains of your heart for research on degenerative diseases. In our cynical, modern word 'they' is the ultimate hedge against bad times.

Because there is always a 'they', and 'they' will never stop trying to un-elect your chosen incumbents and undo the mighty work that they have done.

Therefore we must be extra vigilant and, if you could, click on the link below and give $5, $10, $25 dollars?

Anything you can to stop 'they' and advance the cause of my personal financial liberty freedom.

My name is Cory Crow, I'm running for absolutely nothing and I approve this message.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

PostGOP: Don't guilt me bro.

The Trumpets have won. With the primary season (thankfully) winding down it's clear to all but the most fervent of GOP holdouts that the Bronzed Ego will be the GOP nominee for President of the United States and he will face off, and probably lost to, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This, we are being told, is going to be the fault of the splintered conservative movement who, due in large part to principle, refuses to cast their lot behind the presumptive nominee. In fact, according to many Trumpets, the "cucks" (so-called cuckservatives [more on that later]) will be the main driver if the GOP senate and house cars go crashing off of the cliff.

This is not true for many reasons.  The first of which being that there's no obligation to anyone in this country to support a political party. None, nada, zilch, zero, bupkus. You are no more required to support GOP candidates than you are required to support a football team in your city, or a college team because it happens to be near where you live.

In fact, the entire idea of cuckservatism (A play on cuckold, who is a husband whose wife is cheating on him) is false on it's face.  No one is forced to be married to the GOP.  As a classical liberal idealist I am certainly not, and neither are you. There are political principles on which beliefs are anchored and as long as a party promotes candidates who promote and aspire to those then they have my support. Should the party abandon my principles for those of others?  Bye.

There have been several writers articulate this elsewhere but this essay in Red State by Brandon Morse lays out the best case for abandoning the GOP that I've seen in a while. Here's a sample:
I didn’t want to feel like I need to defend people like Mike Huckabee, or Sarah Palin anymore.  I hate that I was with a party that sometimes outright refused to embrace the culture. It annoyed me that this party only wanted to get involved with certain communities when it was time to vote. It was a party that was just as guilty of tribalism as the left, while it maintained that it was a party that respected individualism.

I was sick of its morphing definition of freedom depending on what policy it was passing. It was a party that continuously snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and thought that if it was sure it couldn’t win a fight, it just wouldn’t fight.

I was sick of being in a party that was stuck in the 1980’s

Yup, As a matter of fact, I've long bemoaned the GOP habit of requiring its standard-bearers to put on Reagan's ideological underwear and prance around for the party loyal. It revealed a backwards thinking that resulted in stale ideas and even staler candidates slogging it out over previously contested ideological ground.

So, no, I'm not a cuckservative any more than you, Trumpet, are a serious political thinker.  And I don't care what type of Trumpet you turn out to be you still don't have the power to guilt me into anything.

Second, what's left of the GOP is pretty much damn near unlikable to begin with. The internal party machine has devolved into a loose collection of petty old folks who like to rage loquacious in regards to how "they" built something and "they" are not going to let it fall to the ground. It's a landscape filled with petty grudges, lost hopes and personal fiefdoms that need to be torn down, burned, and the egos that built them used to salt the ground. In the end, the GOP turned into less a political party than a loosely configured series of regional authorities with little in common, except a burning desire to keep control of their "piece".

It was never going to work long-term, fueled as it was by ego and alt-right media, I'm just surprised it took this long for a demagogue to come in and take advantage of the mayhem.

The sad thing is, and no matter whose side your on this is tragic, the GOP true-believers are actually getting what they want this election cycle. Namely, the worst Presidential candidate the Democrats could nominate in the person of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Thus proving the old adage that the GOP are the only people who could f**k up a wet dream.

So no, you can't guilt me into believing that my not voting for the Bronzed Ego is, in effect, a vote for the Anointed One. You cannot put this blame on me. You own all of it GOP by electing as your standard bearer an unscrupulous dog who is willing to roll around in the dirt with the fleas.  Suddenly you find your house infested with white supremacists, luddites, Ann Coulter and a host of folks with a devotion to all things anti-intellectual and you want to throw that at our feet?

Not happening. You own Trump GOP, now good luck going to the polls with him. The rest of us will be busy trying to build whatever comes next. Hopefully we do a better job than you did since we know by your example what not to do.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Presumptuous Blogging: Things you should read. (05/17/2016)

It has been confirmed with management that the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed a train.....

There's no Houston problem too big (or small) that a Sylvester Turner Task Force can't fix. - By "fix" of course we mean act like he's actually doing something to address the problem without actually doing anything to address it.  If you haven't been paying attention, this has pretty much been his MO throughout his career: Identify problem, make a speech, say it needs study, look for patronage.

I give you the worst idea for a future GOP platform ever: "Bert Keller quickly ticked off his top five. He would empower conservative, Christian principles in government; abolish firearms licenses; secure the border; cut taxes; and limit access to public restrooms for transgender people." - Yuck. Sounds like a future in the political weeds to me.

Yes, the hollowing of the middle class is a problem. A bigger problem is that one political party seems to not care while the other is consistently offering up "solutions" that will only make the issue worse.

Stay Classy Seattle

The FTC is stuck in the 80's - Living life as a "Wall Street" movie remake and seemingly unaware that the economy has moved forward. A total reconstruction of the American regulatory mechanism is way overdue.

While the #NeverTrump crowd is growing smaller it is becoming increasingly important, for the future of conservatism, that they exist.  GOP party loyalists will do what they do. That doesn't mean that running toward the path of political expediency is the right choice,  Also, the people that created this mess are in for a huge fall.

That 2nd rate cities are lining up against Uber explains a lot. - That Houston is rushing to line up with them explains even more.

A reminder that family ties still matter. - And that the government cannot act as a surrogate spouse. Regardless of gender.

Government theater is nothing more than the trappings of royalty. - We have devolved into watching the French Royal Court in the monarchies last days manifest itself in D.C. and in politics across the land. It is by no accident that the quality of our elected leaders has diminished as their opinions of themselves have increased.

Hispanics should be the future of the GOP.  - But they won't be.

The progressive response to the TxSCOTUS NOT overreaching is illustrative. - They're freaking out.

The issues that a country focuses on tell you pretty much all you need to know about said country. - Translated; America is turning into shit.

An unintended consequence of basic economy is going to be a rise in price for standard economy - Rebranded as "premium economy" or something similar but it is going to cost more.  People will bitch and moan, and then pay the rock bottom prices for less service.

If the end result of this election cycle is the end of the alt-right media - Then I'll view it as a small silver lining in a big gray cloud.

The Old Gray Lady leads off with a sketchy Trump hit piece. - I'm not a Trump fan (duh) but this was hideous (and predictable)

And it's only going to get worse. - As the media morphs into full-on "Clinton protection mode".

Yes, the GOP is in crisis.  And it's going to transform the party.  That said I believe that the one coming for the Democrats will be even worse.

The Never-Ending Expansion of the Houston Area Leadership Vacuum. - It is probable that there is not one person in City Government with the base competency to govern right now.  As a matter of fact, it's probable that this is the case.

And finally.....

I predict that history will not reflect kindly on the Obama Presidency - It should also be noted that the young snarky, leftists who view themselves as rhetorical monsters will be among the first rounded up, lined up against a wall and figuratively shot when the political revolution does eventually come. History has a way of weeding out its bad actors.

And no, you should never let any of them make you feel bad about either yourself or your politics. Flannel Boy and his kind are the worst type of person, elitist, stupid and cocksure of it. Whatever follows the GOP should take steps to secure their exclusion from the clique.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tales of a Sub-Par Media Outlet: Down the Memory Hole. (District D version)

In a recent editorial the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board had some negative things to say about Houston City Councilmember (District D) Dwight Boykins:

Towing Wreck. ($$$)
Despite all the back-and-forth over background checks for Uber drivers, nobody seemed to care about Gonzalez's criminal background when the city gave him a towing contract. Boykins and the rest of council let him into a city program with plaudits, and now more than 50 Houstonians say they've been exploited by a criminal enterprise.
So before you ask who's driving you, or who's towing you, make sure to ask the more important question: Who's representing you?

That might be a good question to ask the Editorial Board themselves who, during the last election and the election before, endorsed Mr. Boykins offering up no concerns regarding any ethics lapses that might concern the public or cause them to ask "Who's representing you?"

So it's a little disingenuous for the now haughty gang of idiots that make up the Editorial Board to be lecturing voters when they themselves didn't do their job.

Of course, they don't mention that in the editorial here because you're not supposed to worry about those things.  What you're supposed to worry about is that, for one reason or another, Dwight Boykins is now off the patronage reservation and is finding himself (rightfully) in the cross-hairs.

Kind of makes you wonder what else the Chronicle is missing when reporting on local issues? It also makes you wonder why the Chronicle continues to spend large amounts of money that could be redirected to actual local reporting keeping a group of ciphers on the payroll?

That's one of the perks of editorial writing in today's (lightly read) age I guess.  You never have to apologize for getting it wrong. Imagine a tree, falling in a forest with no one around.

PostGOP: A Sense of Place and Purpose.

I live in Texas.  And, in Texas, there's currently a lot of hand-wringing and navel-gazing going on among the Texas Lock-Step Political Media (TLSPM) regarding what it is to be Texan and what MAKES people Texan and why it is that a still-solid majority of the state's know-nothing populace continues to vote Bible-thumping, know-nothings into office despite their providing reams of evidence that the key to transforming Texas into a modern-day Shangri-La is three-fold: 1. Stop fighting with Washington D.C. and just accept all of their spending mandates. 2. Shutter the State's largest industry and go green. 3. Increase taxes to confiscate whatever wealth is left.

Of course, the TLSPM won't admit this because they understand that to do so would mean a tacit admission that they deeply dislike a majority of their customers and, even they get this, that is a bad business model. So they write curt little editorials and stories praising "fracking" and suggesting that the oil and gas industry can survive, provided they adhere to, and stop pushing back against, all of the Federal regulations that are coming their way.  What the TLSPM doesn't realize is that the people in charge of the federal regulatory state are members of the "keep it in the ground" movement whose goal is to cease all oil and gas production on federal lands. (Or, more likely, they do understand this but expect that their readers don't.)

But Texas has always been an odd place for a political journalist.  The reality is that, except in Austin, you're going to be widely disliked in Texas but adored almost everywhere else. Take Molly Ivins, who made a career of calling George W. Bush "shrub" repeating a few West Texas aphorisms and calling it a day.  Was Ms. Ivins a very talented writer/thinker?  Not really.  But she was a Democrat in a reddening Texas that seemed intent on voting in the wrong kind so that was enough for the rest of the nation. It didn't matter what Ivins actually said, or if her ideas even made sense, what mattered most of all was that she poked sticks in the eyes of Texas Republicans.

Fast forward to today and the devolution has continued.  "Texsplaining" is now a thing, policy is not examined based on merit but on how the author feels about it and the qualification for expertise is that someone has a family who has lived in Texas for a long time. What people don't realize is that being a sixth-generation Texan doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things if you didn't learn any of the self-reliant lessons of the past.

All of this brings us, belatedly, to the Texas GOP who, despite having been in charge of the State for the past 20-odd years, finds itself in a dilemma.

One thing that has fueled the TLSPM, has kept them going and has provided safe-harbor during the Democrat's time in the political deep-sea, is that the GOP is not all that great at this governing thing. I'm being serious here. Yes, the Texas Legislature is keeping the lights on and passing budgets and doing things.  But really, are they doing any more than some grad-level accounting students could do?

Right now Texas just (barely) dodged yet another school finance lawsuit bullet, is running out of funds to build and maintain roads and is about to come face-first with the reality that the State's primary income driver is in the midst of what is sure to be a prolonged downturn.

The Texas GOP response?  State-wide potty legislation and a candidate for Railroad Commissioner whose primary talking point is that he's pro-life. The Governor is going around telling everyone who will listen (and some who won't) that he's called for a convention of the States and is primarily concerned with Federal Government overreach while doing very little himself to insure the operational integrity of the state bureaucracy. In a time when the GOP should be attracting Hispanic voters in droves the top elected Republican in Texas has decided that the number one issue in the next legislative session should be sanctuary cities. The Lt. Governor has decided that he doesn't like the Statism of Texas' cities and wants to replace it with a Nanny-state of his choosing while the Comptroller is just fervently hoping that no one can figure out he's out of his depth.  There's an AG who is most probably guilty of securities fraud, a Land Commissioner who's unaware of the working of his own department (or that, increasingly, it's held in lower regard than the Federal Government in terms of industry relations and regulation) in his quest for higher office and an Ag Commissioner who probably should not have been elected to the position of dog catcher but (to his credit) is using his bat-shittiness to play the TLSPM like a fiddle.

Fortunately for the Texas GOP, the Democrats are worse. They are the side-show to the GOP's main act, a collection of functional idiots whose primary contribution to the political process in Texas is snark directed toward the voters. They insult Texans, and then spend two or three weeks in a deep state of depression after each election because the same voters rejected them. They have a gaggle of journalists and bloggers (the self-mockingly named "netroots") whose primary job is to remind Texans just how much they don't like the Democrats. It works to great effect if election results are any indication.

The Texas GOP cannot just sit around and hope that the Democrats remain stupid forever. Eventually they are going to nominate a candidate who brings more to the table than a "moonshot for Texas education" and pink tennis-shoes. Eventually they are going to find some candidates with the ability to articulate a vision that their growing numbers support. In short, the Texas GOP (and the national GOP for that matter) needs to stop being against some things and start being FOR something. They need a purpose, and a place, and it has to be and mean more than "government bad!" because there's ample evidence that this message is just not going to cut it any more. Gone are the days where the GOP can scream "Cut government and cut taxes on the rich to create jobs!" and expect this message to resonate.

Last weekend the wife and I took a road trip and saw the dilapidated state of Texas infrastructure. Our roads are a mess, small towns deteriorating, a sense of malaise in people's faces. In old-times Texas was filled with a can-do spirit and a rugged-individualism that, to be honest, has been somewhat romanticized (and overstated) in print and film but which was present at the same time.  When Texas started to boom it did so because of low-taxes and a reasonable regulatory environment.  It's important to note that there should be no rush to change this. The GOP should still stand for a light regulatory hand and sensible government that works.

But they also need to realize that the electorate is changing, that there is a base-level of government competency that people expect to see. It's not good enough to have low taxes but have an increasing amount of toll-roads and every highway that is not one be ones that developing countries would look at and say "that's OK, we'll pass". It's not good enough to have an education system that's bloated, going broke and trying to sue it's way to solvency, to have a higher education system that's ran by modern day robber barons who realize that they have an almost unrestricted ability to raise their prices to impossibly high levels with zero repercussions due to both subsidy and their monopoly on supply.

But the GOP also needs to understand that even the real-life rugged individualism that Texas once possessed is no longer there. If you find yourself getting disillusioned with Texas lately it's largely because there are very few Texans left living here. The very things that gave the State an advantage are now being looked down upon by transplants and a younger voter who didn't learn the lessons of the wild-catter, or only learned the wrong lessons. This is a problem that the GOP needs to both address and come to grips with, to figure out how they're going to re-teach this to a generation whose education centered around a fuzzy-headed college professor who never spent time in the private market and whose idea of economics begins and ends with the writings of Karl Marx.

And then, there's the elephant in the room. Or, rather, the lack of elephants in the room.  Because the biggest problem the GOP is facing right now is similar to the one Texas is facing. Increasingly, when you look at the GOP, in both Texas and around the nation, it's becoming pretty clear that there are no Republicans in it.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

PostGOP: On media framing and the party split.

The only people happier about the current mess in which the GOP finds itself than the Democrats are the media who are smelling chaos, page hits and sales.....

Republicans hope to hammer disagreements into unity. Mike Ward, ($$$)
On the day before Texas Republicans were poised to open their biennial convention where delegates will pick the hottest issues they believe their Red State government should address, longtime party member Bert Keller quickly ticked off his top five. He would empower conservative, Christian principles in government; abolish firearms licenses; secure the border; cut taxes; and limit access to public restrooms for transgender people.

"Talk is cheap. It's time for action," said the Dallas family-business owner and tea party activist who said he plans to vote his conscience as an alternate delegate at the statewide meeting. "This party represents the real grass roots, and that's what the grass roots want - action."

A few steps away, Houstonian Jeanette Porter, wearing a red jacket and GOP scarf, shook her head. "Standing up for conservative values is one thing. Crazy issues are another," she said, arguing briefly with Keller on the gun-license and restroom issues. "I vote to get away from the people who have been sniffing paint."

"Sniffing paint" clearly being the reasoned political response to policy platforms with which you disagree.

And while I admit I don't view Mr. Keller's vision of a GOP platform to be a viable road-map forward for the GOP, I do think his views are the result of honestly held beliefs, some of them are even defensible from a Constitutional perspective. Especially the gun issue, which Porter clearly considers to be a "paint sniffing" item.

The problem is that, at every turn, the for-profit media in this country are quite happy to chronicle the downfall of the GOP and pretty much ignore the sausage making that is going to occur in order to bring about a revamped party.

It will be up to whatever follows the GOP to make sure that this process is public, transparent and doesn't reek of backroom dealings.  It will also help if the platform is something that doesn't make either Keller or Porter all that happy.

Until then we'll just watch the media narrative unfold and wonder if the Democrats, who are struggling with the same issues in their party, get treated the same.  Of do they get a pass because their party structure was stronger and it appears that their preferred nominee is going to make it through, as distasteful as she is to most of them?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Merica: I pee, therefore I am.

The United States of America is currently facing several problems. We have a National Debt that is spiraling out of control, budget deficits that are making it worse, by all appearances our foreign affairs are under the total control of idiots, wages are stagnating, more and more people are leaving the workforce altogether and we're going to be stuck with two people representing the major parties in the race for President who shouldn't be entrusted to run a corner store.

In short: Things could be better in 'Merica right about now.  Granted, they could also be a lot worse.

Based on what we're currently identifying as our top issue however I think we're well on the way.

We Need a Restroom Revolution. John Sutter,
This isn't a binary gender world. People don't fit neatly into the "M" and "F" boxes. It's time our public restrooms reflected that. The fairest way to do so is to desegregate restrooms by sex, and that means eliminating the men's and women's rooms in favor of "all gender" restrooms.
Think that's an overreaction? Take a quick look at the history of bathroom politics in the United States. We've tried time and again to control who we sit and stand next to at the toilet.
In the 1960s, black civil rights activists were killed for trying to use "whites only" bathrooms. In the 1980s, gay men were harassed because the public wrongly assumed they could catch HIV-AIDS from a toilet. (AIDS was viewed then as a gay man's disease). Restrooms weren't required to be accessible to people with wheelchairs until the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990. And now, some cities and states are trying to keep transgender people out.
The only justification is bigotry and ignorance.

I am not, on this blog, going to try and sort through the fuzzy mess that is gender identity in the modern era. Nor am I going to opine on whether or not the Transgender community should receive a special accommodation to pee where they like, or whether everyone should receive said accommodation by "requiring" businesses, religious organizations or any other entity providing community access to their toilets strip the gender specificity from them.

You will make up your own mind on this issue and nothing that I could type here, no matter how logical, not matter how many facts I used to back up the argument, would change your mind.

I'm not going to do that because the entire reason the Left is forwarding this debate is because there's no compromise that will work.

You are either pro-restroom de-gendering or you are not.  You either want people to pick and choose or you don't. And no amount of lecturing or shaming or hollering is going to change your mind.

My argument is this.

Given all of the other issues that we are currently facing, is this really where we want to be drawing our swords right now?

We currently have an executive branch that views the citizens as the ant to their boot and they are not afraid to do some squashing if it means they get their way. We've had the IRS target political enemies of the President and no one said a peep and we now have a Justice Department who is running roughshod over pretty much anyone with whom they disagree in an attempt to force the change they cannot achieve politically.

We used to make fun of countries for doing shit like this, now they're laughing their asses off at us.

America has 5% of the world's population but we have 25% of the world's incarcerated living within our borders. Do we really want to round up all of the heretics on this issue, and the issue of climate change FWIW, and increase those numbers?

The problem with discussions surrounding all issues GLBTQ is that the default response by those in favor is either "homophobe!" or "transphobe!" which are not designed to debate, but to stifle debate. For all of the claims of the Right regarding being liberty loving and some such suggestions that A great State-wide urinal diktat is somehow superior to Parker's Folly at a municipal level is just slicing the same apple in different sizes. The same goes with North Carolina and Obama's (Increasingly) (in)Justice Department.

Those of a more libertarian lean might point out that different organizations are going to have different ideals about what is the desired potty preference for their members and should be free to implement them in a manner of their choosing.  A GLBTQ nightclub might find it a positive to have gender neutral toilets while a religious institution may not. Target may choose to provide a special accommodation to its transgender shoppers while Hobby Lobby might not.

It is possible that none of the institutions above choose to do this because of bias or hate. Perhaps they just do it to reflect the mores and needs of their customers?  Because that's why people are so angry about this issue.

It's not enough that they live and let live. (Although granted, some do not) Nor is it enough that they have lost the political battle on the matter of GLBTQ marriage.  What both sides want is for the other side to be totally discredited, arrested or barred from the public square and the ground on which their ideas took root salted. It's the same as with conservative Caucasians in the melting pot that is America, they want everyone else to change to be just like THEM, but they don't want to change any themselves. So it is with the GLBTQ groups. Everyone must change to provide them with special accommodations, but they are unwilling to undergo any metamorphosis themselves.

On all sides our politics has turned into a zero-sum game, and the ruling class is using our lack of maturity to control us with it.

Once the issue of GLBTQ marriage was settled there was an activist who publicly stated that "there was no reason for the GLBTQ community to side with Democrats now that gay marriage was a settled issue". In order to keep control over the voting bloc the Democrats ginned up restroom special accommodations and both sides fell into lock step.

Instead of looking at one another and realizing that we all have distinct differences that make us who we are the first impulse is to morph into the worst caricature of ourselves for the pleasure of those who rule. It used to be "us vs. them" now it's "us vs. us" and they're getting more creative in finding ways to turn the people against ourselves.

One final thought:  We all pee.  All of us.

PostGOP: What about the Tea Party?

The Tea Party is in disarray. Large portions of it supports the Bronzed Ego while the remaining bits are off licking wounds caused by the Exit of Cruz, Jindal and, to a lesser extent, Paul. As is usual, the left-leaning media doesn't quite "get it" and is getting it all wrong....

After Cruz Bows Out, Texas Tea Party Mulls What's Next. Mike Tolson, ($$$)
Early media reports that the tea party movement might support an independent bid for the White House was just talk, movement leaders say, but they agree there is no enthusiasm for Trump among those who paved the way for the raft of "outsiders" who have ousted longtime establishment Republicans around the country.

This is only partially true.  Because large tranches of the Tea Party ARE supporting Mr. Ego while others are still trying to figure out exactly what they are going to do. In Texas, of course, it's different, because much of the Texas Tea Party was invested in Mr. Cruz and cannot under many circumstances support the Bronzed Ego, and there's no chance they're voting for the Anointed One.

So, what should they do?  Glad you asked.

1. Go Local - This is something I felt the Tea Party should have done from the beginning. While they sat around misspelling signs and screaming about O'Bummer and what not municipal and state debt soared. For a party that supposedly cared about so-called "fiscal conservatism" they looked the other way while quite a bit of State spending was signed into law by Republicans.

2. Clean House - The surge of white supremacy that flocked to Trump? A lot of it found safe harbor in the Tea Party. And, as the above linked article showed, several politicians of an authoritarian stripe, especially in Texas, were able to ride the Tea Party label to great success. It's time to take a Brillo pad to the roster and clean out those who only pay lip-service to the Constitutional principals that TPers claim to be in love with.

3. Get Better Messaging - Astroturf stuck. Whether people like it or not the national progressive line that the Tea Party was a Nationally coordinated movement developed legs despite the fact that it just wasn't true. As a matter of fact, almost every negative stereotype that the left put forward about the Tea Party went almost unchallenged. Today, wrongly, the Tea Party is viewed as a de-facto hate group whose members have their strings pulled by National figures who are simply looking to cash in. In opposition, the Occupy movement (who is, in actuality all of those things) is viewed as a "grassroots" organization.

4. Get Organized - If anything, the Tea Party suffers from a complete lack of effective organization. Too many local groups have splintered, and formed offshoots because those in charge just can't get along. Removing the Tea Party leadership from a few individuals to a more corporate organizational structure would help.

5. Go back to calling out Republicans. - When the Tea Party first started, it was in reaction to the Bush financial bail outs. Except for a bunch of fluff about "RINO Hunting*" that was the last time they seriously came out against any Republican policy.  This needs to change, especially at the State level.

I truly believe that, if they run things right and clean up shop a little bit, the Tea Party can play a role in returning America to Constitutional principles in a country honoring the rule of law with a small but reasonable regulatory structure.  But to do this they're going to need to broaden their appeal.  Not to Progressives obviously, they are all but lost, but to moderates and people with no political affiliation who just want to be left alone so they can go about their lives.  The problem is that will take some work and change and, to date, the Tea Party has shown little proclivity for either.

*RINO Hunting being one of the stupider things that has ever been invented in political circles and is one of the reasons the Tea Party carries the bad reputation that it does. It also reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the Republican Party.  Which should not surprise you from a group where someone could hold up a "Get your government hands off of my Medicare" sign and no one said a word.

Monday, May 09, 2016

PostGOP: It shouldn't be this way (but it is)

The calls for "unity" are already starting to flow in from groups of Republicans who are suddenly worried about losing a party into which they feel they themselves have "built".  Party activists, those who are not conservative, or part of any movement, and who enjoy being able to run around and claim "victories" are applying de facto purity tests to their fellow Republicans and threatening 'lists' for those who do not jump in line.

Meanwhile, polls are showing that the Trump GOP is in a heap of trouble.

Who will follow Trump off a cliff? George Will, National Review Online
Now, regarding realities: In 2012, 93 percent of self-described Republicans who voted did so for Mitt Romney. Trump probably cannot receive 80 percent of what probably will be, because of discouragement and revulsion, a smaller Republican turnout. Romney lost 73 percent of the Hispanic vote; Trump is viewed unfavorably by 82 percent of Hispanics and very unfavorably by 62 percent. Trump probably will receive significantly less than Romney’s ruinous 27 percent of this vote. And because of demographic trends and Trump’s motivating policies and insults, Hispanic turnout probably will be significantly larger than in 2012, as the white percentage of the electorate continues to shrink. Romney won just 37 percent of young voters (18–29); Trump is unlikely even to match this.

Hispanic voters, many of whom should be natural fits inside a GOP that could lose the racist language, might accidentally use this to wake up and vote in numbers more closely reflecting their population.  Could a red state like Texas turn purple?

Trump Anxiety Spurs Latino Voter Registration. Lomi Kriel, ($$$)
Since last summer, when Trump ignited a furor by labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, average monthly citizenship applications nationwide spiked nearly 15 percent to about 64,800 between August and January compared to the same period the year before. 
Of course, registrations don't equal votes but they do show that the Democratic Party seems to be on the verge of a historic win IF, and given their history this is a big if, they don't overplay their hand. There's evidence already that they are intent on doing so.

The Democrats are built to win. Peter Beinart, The Atlantic
The bad news is that the Republican Party will now almost certainly nominate the most dangerous presidential nominee in modern American history. The good news is that the Democratic Party is built to defeat him. The reason is straightforward. The Democratic Party has become, to a significant extent, an anti-racist party. The Republican Party has not.
In an anti-racist party, politicians who demonize historically discriminated-against groups are either forced into retirement or, at the least, forced to apologize. Obviously, what constitutes bigotry is not always self-evident. But if many of the members of a historically discriminated-against group perceive something as bigoted, that’s usually a good hint. 

Beinart, of course, is totally incorrect. The Democrats are not an anti-racist party, they have just chosen to use minority anger, direct it if you will, in an effort to belittle their political opponents without having to debate ideas (and discuss outcomes) or focus on the fact that, despite their high-minded rhetoric, their power structure is just as, if not more, lily-white and 1% as the Republicans.

The Democrats have become the party of old money, extremely wealthy Caucasians who view themselves as America's uncrowned royalty. As such, their proclivities are to rule, not govern. But to rule you need to distract the people from the fact that they are being ruled. In this case the GOP is playing right into their hands.

What a competent GOP would be doing is pointing out the flaws in the Democratic model. Because the party of the Donkey is not built to win, it's built to fall in upon itself when the largesse runs out. It's also full of competing forces who are going to find it difficult to reconcile.

Can Muslim Democrats ever coexist with GLBTQ Democrats? Can Hispanics ever coexist with unions?  Who gets in line first to receive the handouts? Whose neighborhoods and communities are given priority over the other? Which jobs are more important?

While it's true that the Democrats should be able to rally together to beat THIS candidate, a man who is so much a parody that there is still the belief that he is a plant place inside the GOP to mess them up by Hillary. A plan that, while intelligent, requires a level of strategic competence that I don't think the Anointed One possesses. Instead, I think that the Bronzed Ego is on an ego trip. Running for the fun of it and because he thinks it's good for the Trump brand.

But an anti-racist party is going to have to come to grips with the fact that its own leaders are very Caucasian and, to date, very unwilling to share power. Already the Democrats are going through the opening stages of Hillary remorse. Do you think expanded roles in power for Pelosi and Reid are going to help them? Or hurt? Do you think seeing in full bloom a lily white power structure is going to lend credence to their claims of inclusion? Or leave voters questioning why this is?

The good news is, after all of this mess has settled, there will be an opening for a re-worked GOP to come in and sweep up these dissatisfied voters, to approach them with a message that displays hope, not hate. That talks about criminal justice reform and not increasing penalties for petty crimes. A GOP that talks about freeing up the economic system from over-burdensome regulation (while, it should be noted, keeping some regulation to ensure safety and prevent against bad actors) and putting to an end the crony capitalism that is doing nothing but funneling money and power to well-to-do party backers.

The new GOP needs to reignite the vision of social mobility, that people can start off poor and wind up wealthy, that having wealth is not a bad thing, and that profit is fuel for an economic engine, not companies keeping money out of the worker's hands. People need to believe that they can start a business and make it, without the government moving in, at the behest of other companies providing patronage, and trying to shut them down through regulation.

The Democrats are correct about one thing. The deck IS stacked against the worker. What they get wrong is who is doing the stacking.  Whatever follows the GOP after the Trump debacle needs to figure out post-haste how to get that message disseminated. Because failing to do so could mean a generation in the political wild.  And by the time they come out it could amount to too little, too late.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

PostGOP: Why nobody likes Republicans any more.

I enjoy a good movie.  I really enjoy a good movie if shit gets blown up, if fighting aliens are somehow involved or if it's a comic book movie with unrealistic super heroes fighting the baddies with the fate of the world on the line.  The key to movies of this type? Make the fight scenes good and the CGI impressive, especially the CGI where shit gets blown up.

I think that most people share this feeling. We want our movies to be escapism. We get it that there's no way any man could do the things that Batman does and it's impossible for one man to walk onto an island filled with bad guys brandishing machine-guns (or worse) and walk away with only a couple of minor wounds. That's a requirement of action sci-fi films, you have to be willing to suspend your disbelief for a few hours and just take it all in.

That's why no one likes social justice warriors, those sad souls who pick apart every action movie and look for a way to interject their (increasingly whiny) politics into the mix in an attempt to guilt/shame everyone into submission who might have found say, Avatar, pretty enjoyable.

"It's the mythos of the white savior" they'll wail. Wondering why James Cameron had to model the Na'vi after the Native Americans and why the white man had to come and save them.

Well, for one thing, Sam Worthington, cast as the hero, is Caucasian and two, the hero typically needs to be someone the audience connects with.  It was through Jake Sully that the audience gained an understanding of the Na'vi that would have been tedious to have some sociologist stand on screen for 45 minutes and try to explain.

When Social Justice Warriors start to cry about every perceived slight in a work of fiction, I politely head out the door and look for the nearest bar.

Republicans, annoyingly, have a tendency to do much the same thing. When it comes to movies and pop culture it's as if they cannot quell the pressing need to come across as a scold.

The Trashing of a Generation. Armond White, National Review Online.

Is it overreaching — or being humorless — to recognize and critique a piece of entertainment that takes America’s schism lightly? Will fanboys — or for that matter film critics — ever understand that Marvel Studios has engineered a cultural coup that prevents viewers from thinking? How did we get here?
The answers are yes, and yes.

Because we're talking about a fictional MOVIE. We have a former skinny, undersized lad who was injected with a super-soldier serum, fabricated by a German scientist who fled the Nazi regime, who became a war hero before plying it in over the Atlantic and spending 60+ years as a frozen licking post for polar bears facing off against a womanizing, philandering, irresponsible functional alcoholic of a Billionaire who happens to dress in an iron suit with tons of scientifically improbable gadgets.

If there's one thing this movie doesn't need it's added gravitas in the form of social introspection.

What we want to see are the superheroes fight. We want to see some cool special effects and we want to have our heart strings tugged at when some of our favorite characters die. Oh, and if you could blow up some shit spectacularly along the way that would be cool as well.  I don't want my movies to teach me a lesson, I want them to entertain me.

One of my favorite movie franchises (non sci-fi) is the Ocean's Eleven series of movies. They are my favorites despite the fact that there are plot holes bigger than a California sink-hole laced throughout. For one, how did they get all of those flyers for strippers down into the vault?  Because the bags loaded with them went up to the van before the "S.W.A.T." came down.

We laugh about this when watching it, and then move on because it doesn't matter. I've suspended disbelief and I'm willing to let bygones be bygones.

I understand why every baddie (especially, FWIW Imperial or First Order Storm Troopers) are going to be historically awful shots. This despite the fact that they are, usually, the most feared shock troops in the galaxy, world whatever.

I understand that, at some point, the villain is going to spill the entirety of his plan, including key details, to the hero despite there being no reason for him doing so. This will either happen directly, when the hero is caught in an insanely complicated, and easily escapable death trap or in some presentation to associates that the villain is about to kill in which the hero is eavesdropping. (Remember the scene in Goldfinger, where Auric Goldfinger strangely explains the plan to the mafia members that he then kills off for no reason?)

I accept that the hero is the most well-trained, best-shooting, most-dangerous man ever invented and we must be reminded of that in every movie, especially those staring Gerard Butler.

I'm willing to believe that a normal cop, or a security guard, or just a workaday Joe, can suddenly have fighting skills that allow them to overcome legions of the most well trained baddies in the world through sheer grit, determination and a willing to bleed profusely on camera.

Because they are MOVIES. Not real life, not a reflection of real life and not some place where I want to go see some great moral lesson. It's to the detriment of society that we've rewarded a group of critics who do, and who want to make critiques on it.

This is a large part why we treat celebrities as being in possession of some mystical wisdom these days, and it's why a lot of people are tired of both Republicans (and Progressives) lecturing them when they just want a little bit of escapism from their hum-drum lives.

At home I've got the movie S.P.E.C.T.R.E. on Blu Ray. My plan is to watch it this week. I don't care whether or not the movie is realistic, I just hope the actions shots are good, the Bond girls are pretty and the villain is a good one.

Oh, and that the shit that gets blown up gets done so in a spectacular manner.

Friday, May 06, 2016

BadMedia: Fictionalizing the news.

I do not personally believe that this story ever really happened.

Using a Target Bathroom Just Got Really Uncomfortable, Really Fast. Ellie Delano, SheKnows

The outer door opened, and someone came in. She walked past the three open stalls and stood directly in front of my door. Then she leaned over and placed her eye firmly up against the gap between the door and the frame and stared in at me.
I am not making this up. And let me tell you, it was awkward. Bizarre, even. This wasn't a case of someone hoping all those occupied stalls aren't really occupied. Mine was the only stall that was occupied. She deliberately stopped and stared in at me. My startled eyes met hers, and she moved away, into one of the larger stalls.
I got out of my stall as quickly as I could, and as I stood washing my hands, her voice called out.
"Sorry about that," she said. "But you know, Target lets men and homosexuals use just any bathroom now. I was making sure you were a woman."


Because, we are starting to read stories like this all the time. Cases where 'enlightened' progressives run into the common class, unwashed as they are, and have their worst stereotypes consistently enforced. They then get to have their superiority moment with a relation (in this case, the woman's daughter is a lesbian, and they got to have a good Yuk, Yuk moment and call her names) before hastily beating a path online to write about it and moralize.

It's most probable that this is a fantasy wholly dreamed up in the author's mind.  And I'm sure she believes it, and might even pass a lie detector test.

But I doubt it happened as it's being recounted and you should too. We'll all be better off in these times if we apply a healthy dose of  skepticism to everything these days. And yes, I'm including first-person right wing accounts of Progressives behaving badly.

The fact is most people are just trying to get through their work-a-day lives without being too bothered so they can go home and eat dinner, watch TV, and try to figure out what in the hell their kids are learning with common core math.

So if you read a story where the foil appears to have come straight out of central casting?

It's most probable that they have.

PostGOP: "Look at Me!" politics.

This article in regards to protesting, and how it's run off the rails of late, got me to thinking....

The country owes about $20 trillion in debt. It will soon not be able to meet its pension and Social Security obligations. After slashing the military budget and raising income-tax rates, the United States is still running unsustainable annual deficits. The world abroad is becoming dangerously chaotic. Instead of protesting those existential crises, students cry over Halloween costumes, deride free speech as hate speech, devour their own liberal administrators, and dismiss $100 million payoffs as too little.

I call this "Look at Me!" politics and it has very little to do with what is actually being protested. In fact, in most of the situations Mr. Hanson recants I'd be willing to bet that the protesters in question couldn't identify one thing that would genuinely hurt their lives if not addressed.

Yes, the Social Justice Warriors like to think that they are righting a series of institutional wrongs but in reality, they're not.  All they ARE doing is shouting to the heavens, posting it on YouTube and hoping beyond hope that it goes viral.  It's the eternal quest for our 15 minutes of fame that is driving this, not some devotion to a cause. And it's not just college students who are falling victim, the media and politicians are just as bad.

Joe Scarborough has spent hours on his show bragging about how he was "right" regarding Donald Trump. His joy is not about Trump winning but to assuage his fragile ego. Donald Trump personifies look-at-me politics and has ridden the susceptibility of a significant portion of the American people towards it to all but lock in the Republican nomination. Hell, Barack Obama won two Presidential terms riding a look-at-me wave.

Wendy(?!?) Davis ran a look-at-me campaign for TX Governor, as has Kinky Friedman (who also continues to run for other offices with no other platform than 'look-at-me'). In fact, the intrusion of politics by celebrity has only, and will only, increase the prevalence of this going forward.

Kanye threatening to run for President?  Look at me.

Clooney talking about running for the Senate? Look at me.

Al Franken as Senator? Look at me.

Deray McKesson running for Baltimore Mayor? Look at me. (fortunately, few did)

Almost the entirety of the Fox News on-air roster is now look at me and the same can be said for MSNBC. After all, why does Rachel Maddow bellow?  Why does Sean Hannity wail?

Look at me.

If you want to find a contributing factor to why newspapers are declining?  Well, it's not really Look at me but it can describe why the quality in print is falling apart.

Paul Krugman, Ruth Marcus and, from time to time, George Will are very Look at me. In Texas we have Erica Grieder and Lisa Flakenberg who are seemingly incapable of writing a political column without reminding us, at least once, how relevant they are to the goings on.  There was one time that Falkenberg wrote a column that contained either "I, I'm or me" over 30 times.  That almost seems impossible unless you recounting a personal story (In which case, first person writing is understandable) or laying out a personal policy position (also ok) or producing first person fiction.

We are susceptible to this as a society because we currently live in an age where celebrity is worshiped, often with hilarious consequences. A few days prior the gaggle of buffoons that make up the Houston Chronicle Appendix Editorial Board penned a love letter to former Houstonian (and current New Yorker) Beyonce for Lemonade calling her "brave" and "trendsetting" and suggesting that she had written a rallying anthem for women (especially black women) everywhere. They gushed about how transformative Lemonade was and how it stuck a thumb squarely in the eye of her husband, Jay Z.

That's all well and good except that it appears Lemonade was nothing more than a plan by the Couple to double down on cashing in on the tabloid rumors.  In short, Beyonce is not "brave" she and her husband are "smart" however, in that they realize they are worshiped by a certain segment of the population and that there is a large amount of money to be made from that.

See any link to how the media covers politics?  That's a problem that needs to be addressed. There's nothing wrong with being the wonkiest, or smartest person in the room in politics. I'd much rather support those people than the bombastic bomb-throwers that our current fixation on celebrity is producing.  Unfortunately, the work to realize this reality will be tough.  Celebrity is a cultural fixation after all. To the point that one can find themselves famous just for being famous without exhibiting any real talent at all. (See: Hillary Clinton)