Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It's broken. Time to fix it.


A very liberal social media friend of mine, who I must admit has seen more of the world than I have, has publicly declared that they will not vote for Biden. In his worldview there isn't much difference between the two men - and his worldview is mostly about wars and corporate control of this country. Biden won't change very much about either of these things. He's voted for war, and he makes Bill Clinton look like a bleeding-heart.

So today he posted on his own stream the following: "Biden voters: what, if anything, could prompt you to not vote for Joe, and vote Green or abstain? Or is this just blind faith?‬"

My response? "Nothing."

In an ideal world it would be nice to have more than these two options, and no Biden isn't the best we could have even gotten from the Democrats. But someone needs to get MORE votes than Trump, and his method, while principled and perfectly acceptable, isn't going to get it done.

The biggest problem with the whole third party option is that no one keeps pushing for it in the off years. You can't build a base by pushing for it every 4 years - it must be constant and loud, and no one has really done that.

Biden is no Liberal. No argument there. He's a corporatist in the mold of Clinton. And yes, some of the awful things Trump has done aren't going to stop. This is America, after all. That country you want (and that I want as well) doesn't exist. It got stabbed in the back by Reagan and has been in decline ever since.

But for THIS election, and this election only, it's not about the goals and ideals. It's about getting rid of Trump, and by extension the people working for him and appointed by him. At the very least, Biden is interested in having a functioning government whereas Trump certainly isn't.

It's about kicking the asses of the worst government every living human being in this country has experienced, and that's why I will be voting for Biden.

All that said, my friend raises a valid point although he didn't say it explicitly - why is it that at least in our own lifetimes the choices have to be the lesser of two evils? Granted, this time the gap is larger than ever, but why is it that no new parties have ever gained any ground in the past century? It's not like we haven't had other political parties in charge during this country's long history.

Our very first President wasn't a member of a political party. Our second was our one and only Federalist. Four of our Presidents were members of the now extinct Whig Party (and bonus points to you if you can name all four). President Andrew Johnson tried to re-brand the Republican Party as the National Union Party but that didn't take hold. If Teddy Roosevelt had won the final time he ran, we would have had a Bull-Moose President.

Unlike most of the civilized world, we elect a leader by choosing a person. In England, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, and so on, and so on, the leader of their country is decided upon what party can gain the most votes. Then it's the leader of that party who becomes the leader of the country. While this system can have problems, like the fact that Italy has had over 50 governments since World War II, or like in Israel is a coalition can't be put together sometimes the government collapses, it is one of the few systems that doesn't fall to just two party rule. Yes, in many cases there are only two parties for a majority of seats but in many cases this is not so.

The problems with our system on the other hand, are legion and lend themselves into two party factionalism. The first is the absolute stability of our election day is built into the Constitution. When no one abuses it this is a great idea, but it also ingrains a complacency in the American public at large - in that we only need to think about politics at certain times. Go to any of the other countries I've mentioned and you will find a largely informed general public, because they need to consider it more just as part of their daily citizenship.

That complacency leads to a second problem, money. The Republican and Democratic Parties are ingrained into the fabric of our political thinking, both having been around for more than 150 years and monopolizing the political landscape. They have the same advantage that whites have over minority populations, especially blacks, in that it's systemic - and it's backed up by the money. The only two even moderately successful third party candidates in the last century had lots and lots of money - Ross Perot because he was rich and Teddy Roosevelt due to name recognition. And they both lost.

It's impossible to raise the kinds of funds necessary to create public awareness and support against a system where over 99% of all the money already goes to the parties of the entrenched.I promise you, if Jeff Bezos decided tomorrow to donate even 15% of his money to a third party that it would be all over everywhere.

This entrenchment has led to another problem, wanting power for the sake of having it, which has gotten worse over the past 40 years. There is no incentive for people in public office to just do the public good if they never have to leave. The obvious solution to this is term limits, but there is a problem with that as well - we would wind up lobbyists as the most experienced people in government, which would just mean that whomever has the most money gets to write the rules. This should be unacceptable.

And then there is the Electoral College. Because of the thresholds involved in getting a place in the Electoral College and to get your vote to count there, it is impossible to get counted there without an out and out win of a state. As in more than 50% of the vote in that state. Because of the winner take all format of the EC it just can't be done with a plurality. And because of all of the other problems this simply isn't going to happen.

So how do we fix it?

Well, short of Jeff Bezos donating his entire fortune to a new political party the only thing possible is a Constitutional Convention, which is provided for in the existing Constitution. Per Article V a convention can be called if 2/3 of all the states agree to it. As of this moment, that is 34 states. It can be as simple as the Governor wanting to do it or as difficult as getting the same margin to agree to it in the various legislatures, depending on the state. This is going to take some time to accomplish but it can be done.

  1. Eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with one person, one vote.
  2. Solve the entrenchment problem, and I'm including the lobbying problem here as well.
  3. Take money out of politics - make federal elections be federally funded and each candidate funded equally - let the best ideas win.
  4. Make it possible for Congress to call a new election. Don't make it easy, but don't make it impossible either.
  5. And probably lots of other ideas too...
We need to get started on this campaign now. Because we liberals/progressives are behind. The conservative/religious right/nut job factory/Republican parts of our political process started work on this 40 years ago. They've had to cheat their way there, with gerrymandering, rigged elections, voter fraud, but they're made it over 30 states more than once in the last 40 years. Just look at their fight to control state legislatures and Governor's offices. They've spent more money on that than on Presidential Elections.

We haven't done it at all.

The past four years has taught us (and everyone else in the world) that our experiment in near-democracy is very fragile. It is in decline. We have to want to preserve it and I'm not convinced that enough of us understand this now.

Or we need to shake it up and replace it with something stronger, with a better warranty. That's the American way, isn't it?

And because I love you, I thought you should know how to make a proper lemonade.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Your concern is trolling...

 If I may note a couple of things for our Republican Colleagues:

1) Shut the fuck up. You weren't going to like ANYONE that Biden picked. You were going to say that anyone he picked would be a mistake. Your concern is trolling.

2) Shut the Fuck up. She was born in California. She's an American. End of story.

3) Shut the fuck up. Stop making statements about how "black" Kamala Harris is. That worked so well for you idiots the last time around, after all.

4) Shut the fuck up. Who on Earth thought it would be a good idea to refer to Ms. Harris as "Marge Simpson"? The American people adore Marge Simpson.

5) Shut the fuck up. Stop giving me your excuses about trying to "save" the Postal Service. You're not. In fact, doing anything whatsoever to slow the postal service is a felony. As in "go to Leavenworth" felony.

6) Shut the fuck up. No one takes Kanye West's candidacy seriously. We know you're behind it. But at least we've now got a reason to send Jared Kushner to prison - he can't be working on both campaigns.

7) Shut the fuck up. Ending the Payroll tax is an horrific idea. It kills Social Security and Medicare in one fell swoop. 

8) Shut the fuck up. Do you honestly think Ronald Reagan would have accepted Marjorie Greene? So do I. And that shows how deep your problem really is.

9) Shut the fuck up. "Nasty" hasn't been an effective way to demean a woman since Janet Jackson sang about it. Why do bullies always insist upon nicknames?

10) Shut the fuck up. Tucker Carlson is a racist. Stop defending him. He just is.

11) Shut the FUCK UP. The United State's response to COVID-19 has been embarrassingly terrible. I mean, the kind of terrible we usually use to refer to North Korea, of The Sudan. We're not leading. We're not following. We are the subject of PITY.

12) Shut the fuck up. Yes, this is the worst job any administration has done with the economy/.Not best; worst. 

13) Shut the fuck up. If you find yourself starting to talk about stuff like this, maybe consider stopping.

14) Shut the fuck up. Puerto Rico and D.C. both get to decide if they want to become states. Afraid you'll never win the Senate again? What does that tell you about your message? Need a hint?

15) Shut the fuck up. We do not need to reopen our schools until we have solved for COVID-19. We do not need to re-open the economy until we have solved for COVID-19. 

16) Shut the fuck up and put a mask on. 

17) Shut the fuck up. If you are in politics loyalty is to the Country first. Always the Country First. And that means the Constitution - you remember your first day in office? They makes you swears, precious. You swears!

18) Shut the fuck up, whomever is using Herman Cain's twitter account. The man died. Allow him some semblance of dignity. Or at least respect. You at least respected him, right? See item #10.

19) Shut the fuck up. ANTIFA are NOT fascists. You keep on using that word as if it were interchangeable with other words. It is not. I AM ANTIFA.

20) Your ideas don't work. They belong on history's scrap heap, with Nazis, Fascists, Racists, and a whole bunch of other words you keep using wrong. Just shut the fuck up.

And because I love you, Cory Wong and Cody Fry:

Monday, August 10, 2020

Five Orders

 Don't feel sorry for me at all. I missed getting screwed by this by a whopping $0.67.

There were four "executive orders" signed by Trump over the weekend. Well, actually three were only memos and the one that actually is an executive order doesn't put money in anyone's pocket (and in fact makes it worse).

Actually, there were FIVE orders, but one of them only became public today. I'll get to that in a moment.

The one everyone is talking about is of course the addition of $400 to the unemployment benefits everyone gets, provided that the states pay for it up front, congress agrees to reimburse the states, and the money comes from FEMA just as Hurricane Season starts up. That one was a memo, by the way.

The other one everyone is talking about is the temporary stoppage of the payroll tax - for which I make $0.67 per week too much to qualify for. That's okay by me. The tax is only deferred - it's still going to be due by April 15, 2021. The difference is that I'm still (maybe) going to get a refund. Everyone still working who makes less than I do probably won't. Oh, and if it becomes permanent,. as Trump suggested, Social Security ends almost immediately, because that's how it's funded. This one was also a memo.

He ordered Student Loan Payments suspended until January. That's all fine and dandy, but the money is still owed. Oh, and you also have to apply for it, and show hardship. This one is ALSO a memo.

The executive order: You should read it. He spends the entire first paragraph bashing the Chinese. It states that it shall be the U.S. policy to try to prevent evictions. To consider halting them on a case-by-case basis. No evictions have as of yet been halted. And on those case by case basis the first consideration is to CONSIDER financial aid, not halt evictions. While it is an executive order, it doesn't actually DO anything.

And I held this one off until last, the 5th "order" was to tell states that they are to resume "normal" operations regarding SNAP (what we used to call food stamps). A general waiver/expansion was granted to give states flexibility on who qualifies for SNAP, and as a result the number of people in the country who use the program increased 17%. 6 Million People who now had access to food they had lost due to the pandemic. The states have been ordered to go back to a pre-COVID-19 footing by September 1, 2020.

So what is the end result of Trump's orders? The removal of tax relief in 2021, evictions, an increase in Student Debt, a racist screed against China, and soon to follow, BREAD LINES. It's been 100 years since we've really seen those on a massive scale. We're about to again, unless Congress acts - which they probably won't.

Allow me to amend that: The Senate probably won't. The House passed their part of the bill back in April.


On another front.

I have no room in my life for mean people. Angry, sure. Committed, certainly. Opposed to my own ideas, of course. But not mean. This is just mean.

If you still can find yourself supporting this administration, kindly fuck off. You've killed this country, and I want no part of you.

When I was a child we were proud try at least claim to be the greatest nation on Earth. We're not anymore. We don't even break the top 50. And it's their fucking fault. We are an empire in decline, and our current Nero will be remembered as the capstone that brought it to an end. Our 40 year decline is nearly complete.

I don't know how to teach any of you not to be a dick. I've tried, and have changed not a single thing. The dicks are still dicks, and the good people are still good. I have not one person in my life who is middle ground, regardless of political affiliation. I have Republican friends, believe it or not.

But at this point we are no longer trying to prevent the destruction of the American way of life; that's already come and gone. Everyone says that they would stand up and prevent this country becoming Fascist. Instead, we all just watched and it slid into our pockets.

We need to make a decision on what AMERICA will be NEXT.

Because if this continues, I want no part of that either. There are plenty of better places to live.

And because I love you, this:

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Quarantine Project Vol. 1


On average, 45,744 people per day were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US in July. 1,418,078 people total, in August.

30,003 people died. 1 out of every 55 Americans has caught this as of the end of August. In July it was 1 in 72.

Original post from Early August 2019:

On average, 61,136 people per day were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US in July. That's 1 out of every 176 people. 1,895,207 people total, in July. 40% of all cases, just in the past month.

25,000 people died. 1 out of every 72 Americans has caught this. 1 month ago it was 1 in 176.

Anyone... anyone who thinks things have improved deserves a kick in the fucking teeth. Anyone who SAYS that things are improving deserves prison. I'm not fucking kidding. Anyone who thinks that things are going well after being presented with the facts is lying, has an agenda that doesn't involve things getting better for the country (and most likely has no interest in governing but instead enriching themselves), and deserves to be voted the fuck out of office. That means the White House and nearly every Republican in Congress, almost every Republican Governor, and their state houses.

In a civilized country the Democratic Party of our country would be the right wing, a new Progressive party would be the Left, and the Republican Party would be relegated to the same place as the Federalists and the Whigs.

I firmly believe that the absolute NEGLIGENCE of the US government is criminal. As in lengthy prison sentences for all of them. While I do believe that every administration deserves a chance to move on from what happened before, we've never had an experience like this. We've never had an openly racist, misogynistic, authoritarian, LYING administration like this one. We can't just let this go. The truth MUST WILL OUT.

Recovering from this will take a massive effort, unlike anything seen in generations. We need to invest in medicine, science, education, and rebuild relationships with a world that for the most part either pities us or feels sorry for us. In less than 4 years our reputation in the world has been destroyed, our economy is in tatters, and we've become the only nation on Earth where someone's opinion matters as much as FACTS. It will cost TRILLIONS. But the returns will be so much more.

We must change. We must acknowledge the mistakes, and hold the wrong-doers accountable. We must do it QUICKLY.

We must move our health care system away from being shackled to our employment system. We must STOP giving opinion, no matter how closely held to religious belief, the same weight as science and fact.

If we can't do that, then maybe we don't deserve to be saved.

In the meantime, think of the people on the front lines. Tip your delivery people generously. Wear a mask. Social Distance. Be kind, even when you don't want to be - and I admit this one is hard for me too. You are probably only a slice of someone's day - you have no idea at all where in that day you wandered into - the good part or the bad part.

Thank the Doctors and Nurses. They're all going to need some time off if we get through this. I know it's tooting my own horn because I participated in this project, but they deserve support and relief.

Fight the Good Fight
Practice Safe Sex.
And Never be Afraid to Sweat.