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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,906

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The Impeachment Investigations/Hearing Will Continue Until...


Between eight and ten weeks before the General Election next November, at which time the House will vote to impeach, along Party lines, and send the Bill of Impeachment to the Senate, where McConnell will schedule an immediate vote on Removal From Office after an extremely pro-forma "trial" which will result in a No Removal verdict again on Party lines; OR

Until it becomes clear that there are sufficient votes in the Senate for a Removal verdict, in Speaker Pelosi's best estimation as one of the most experienced leaders in the Legislative Branch.

The second option is, of course, preferable-- but highly unlikely.

The first option will give the House the longest possible time to rub American voters' noses in the Consequences of Voting From Stupid Motives, and maximize public awareness of GOP scumfuckery.

Either option works.

Hang in there.


The GOP Might Wanna Think About a Different Kind of Damage Control

My word, they're hangin' on teeth and toenails, aren't they?

They must actually believe that the only reliable voters remaining in their corner are a few thousand members of the 1/10th of 1% constituting the Oligarch class, and the terrified white racist, misogynist xenophobes who will happily charge mortar fire to retrieve [Redacted]'s soiled diapers.

True, the raw demographics are emphatically not on the side of the Party as it has constructed itself in the wake of the "Reagan Revolution". Groups that have historically been skeptical of militant status-quo protectionism are a fast-growing portion of the electorate. And their traditional base is shrinking.

But the hill they chose to defend- a cobbled-together bastion of pseudo-Libertarian enabling, white Evangelical Dominionist fervor, and easily ginned-up xenophobic paranoia among aging, propaganda-addled Caucasians, all underpinned by massive infusions of Oligarch cash- is crumbling fast. And a good many of their Old Guard status-quo militants are sneaking through the lines and making for cover in the trenches.

I never exactly loved the GOPpies. But I understood the need for what they used to be-- a check on the speed of progress, a countervailing voice in the change process, the Keepers of the Flame of Established Institutions and Procedures.

Every aspect of that "what they used to be" has gotten lost in their obsession with obtaining and holding onto power at all costs. They've trashed established institutions and procedures, stridently subverted any meaningful change process with noisy propaganda, and rushed at a heedless and dangerous speed into the changes promoting their own agenda of power and greed for the smallest sector of the electorate- the ones with the money.

And now it's dawning on them that the group of die-hards on their crumbling and eroding hill is no longer enough to protect their grip on power, no matter how hard they lie, cheat, steal, and subvert the Republic. Every effort at damage control sends more of their former followers slinking under the razor wire and down the back of the hill.

Maybe it's time to try a different kind of damage control.

I'm not sure what. But I'm damn' sure that what they're doing now isn't working.

I suspect that if they want to remain viable as a Party, it's time to throw their hardline core bodily on the incoming grenades, and let the survivors take the painful Walk Into The Wilderness while they reconstitute themselves along less destructive lines and with an agenda focused more on serving the Constitution and less on protecting the proceeds of their smash-and-grab raid.

It can certainly be done.

And, given the inherent nature of the Democratic Party, they'll actually get plenty of help from a longish term of Democratic majorities in power.

The alternative- oblivion for the GOP and a long painful political and economic recession as the Democratic Party undergoes meiosis- will leave everyone poorer and more vulnerable. Yes, even the Oligarchs in their bubbles. They have no idea how fragile those bubbles really are. Let's hope they learn without the rumble of the tumbrils in the streets.


In 1964 My Dad Sold His Car So He Could Go To a Marine's Funeral

My Dad was just-divorced and, to say it gently, not well off. But he was a Marine (retired.)

He'd been through basic with this particular guy. I was too young to know many details of their friendship but it wasn't the only funeral of a buddy my Dad attended. But I remember this one because my grandparents were so disapproving of him selling his car so he could travel to San Diego for the funeral.

Dad, however, felt obligated. Not just because it was a buddy, but because THIS buddy had told Dad to take his "married with family" exemption from deployment to Korea.

Piecing it together much later, I think he was really conflicted about that, although a guy with two children under the age of two and a wife in poor health after the second birth was an easy Honorable Discharge for the Corps, in those very early days of the Korean conflict.

Anyway, the buddy told him "Get out, Skip. I'll sort these (::sigh:: racist slur, because that's how American Marines talked about the North Koreans back then...) for you."

A year later the buddy was Stateside, in a wheelchair. He never walked again, and in 1964 the cumulative effects of his wounds finally ended his life. He was 35 years old, never married, no kids.

My Dad visited him only once, before I was born, but kept in regular touch. When he got back from the funeral he told my Mom that there were nearly forty other Marines there.

Oh, here's the kicker-- How the buddy got his wounds?

He went to pull a ROK troop who was pinned under half a jeep in a live-fire zone to safety.

Not anyone he knew. Just a South Korean guy who was fighting the same fight, whose unit had covered for his and fought side by side with his.

But that was worth it to the Marine because THAT'S WHAT MARINES DO.

If you're fighting their fight with them, you're their buddy, too. They won't leave you, they won't let you down.

Thinking about what the Corps morale must be like right now makes me cry.


Talking Taxes

Why is this post in Democratic Primaries?

Because most if not all of our candidates have proposed ideas and policy changes that will have tax implications. And the tax implications of any proposal are likely to be used by both primary opponents and the Massive Lie Machine (MLM) as an oppositional strategy.

And because Americans have been very effectively trained to place a strong negative filter over the very concept of taxation, and equally effectively trained to swallow misleading-- to use the kindest term-- information on the topic of taxes.

To be fair, that training wasn't all that difficult because taxation can be (and, in America, IS) an enormously-- and probably needlessly-- complex topic. With that in mind, I'll start with a disclaimer: I'm not going to try and talk comprehensively about taxation and the implications of any specific proposal from any specific candidate.

But I DO encourage DUers, especially any/all of us who will be involved in campaigning, discussing policy issues, refuting bullshit from the MLM, etc., to learn as much as possible about taxation as an issue area, and here's a pretty decent starting place with a lot of good, accessible, readily-understandable discussion and analysis: Tax Policy Center.

With that out of the way, let's go straight for belling the cat:

Yes, taxes will go up.

This is actually a good thing, for all of us, even those of us who will end up "paying more taxes". But that's a damn' hard thing to convince people of.

And the admission: Yes, we'll experience some hardship.

Almost everything we will need more tax revenue for will, ultimately, pay us back for that hardship, and then some. Both conceptually and in real, pragmatic, quality-of-life terms. (And yes, that does include everyone up to the top 1/10th of the top 1%, who will indeed experience benefits but won't notice because their wealth has insulated them from the costs of living in a decaying infrastructure and devolving commons, and they no longer have the capacity to value 'living in a better society' in personal terms. Fuck 'em anyway.)

Start by yanking the clown mask off the holy doctrine of the Vaunted Private Sector as the best method getting a bigger bang for the public buck:

* Because private sector business is such a paragon of efficiency and responsiveness to market conditions, right? Excuse me while I bust a gut laughing. 'nuff said, really. No, really... Do your own damn' homework.

* Because the private sector can do things so much cheaper than the government, with all those regulations and public employee unions, right? Carefully restrain your laughter and point out that cheap-assing the labor force only works if you don't ALSO have to build in big fat executive salaries and a constant quarter-over-quarter dividend growth for your shareholders. And a cheap-assed labor force ultimately costs the taxpayer MORE than a well-trained, well-compensated public sector workforce, in public safety net benefits.

* Because Big Government as a provider of large institutional services is historically a sewer of procurement corruption, featherbedding, nepotism and other costly administrative work practices, and the Vaunted Private Sector runs a lean, mean, efficient machine with no tolerance for that crap. Again, let's try hard not to bust a gut laughing, and point out any of the wonderful "privatized" institutions that are doing such a great job, like the privatized prisons, the mercenary auxiliaries replacing various military functions, the unblemished stellar record of charter schools and for-profit higher education... well, the list goes on and on.

Essentially, we're talking about rebuilding the kind of public-private partnerships that electrified rural America between the wars, built the Interstate Highway system, sent astronauts to the moon, protected consumers from exploitation and recklessness in the financial industry, sparked the development of the Internet and dozens of other amazing advances that took us to the top of the world's lists relating to things like life expectancy, infant mortality, etc. Until we tossed it all over to the Vaunted Private Sector and started the downward slide under Ronald Reagan.

So, yeah, that's gonna take tax revenue. Under Democratic leadership, the methods of taxation will be designed as progressive. That's not an ideological term in tax lingo. In taxation terms, "progressive" taxation is simply designed to distribute the burden of taxation on equitable, rather than equal, terms.

Wait, what? "Equitable rather than equal?"

Flat-taxers talk about how "fair" it is that "everyone pays the same".

Progressive-taxes talk about how the effects of taxation are proportional for all.

Democrats tend to be progressive taxers, which means that the actual effects of "higher taxes" will be distributed so that someone at the most financially vulnerable and needy end of the spectrum may not perceive any additional burden, someone in the middle might have to save longer to buy a new vehicle or economize on entertainment and clothing, and someone at the upper end of the spectrum might have to settle for a thirty-foot yacht instead of a sixty-foot yacht.

Personally, I don't much care for the several years-- maybe a decade or more-- of belt-tightening that higher taxes will impose on me. We're thinking of retiring, and that will complicate things as well.


(and this is a BIG but...)

I am really looking forward to what will happen to my quality of life-- and even more, to my daughter's and my grandson's quality of life-- as the investments in higher taxation begin to pay off.

Yes, a better health care system that involves a public payer source will be costly. But it will ultimately return so much of the money I'm currently paying on insurance, co-pays, out-of-pocket for medications, inflated prices to keep health-sector investors and venture capitalists getting their dividends, inflated prices that fund the marketing and advertising and executive salaries costs of the Vaunted Private Sector providers that I'm confident I'll end up with more money in my bank account. I'll enjoy better access and better quality of services in most of the essentials, and maybe experience a little aggro or some waiting occasionally.

I'll take that.

Yes, a better criminal justice system that returns the full spectrum of services to the public sector will be costly. But once we remove the incentives to lock up millions for minor and nonviolent offenses, so that private prison providers can make a profit, I expect costs to go down substantially. Yes, we'll have to invest, first.

And those investment successes will be replicated across dozens of institutional sectors and services as we return to ensuring clean, safe drinking water, sustainable and safe food production, efficient and environmentally-friendly transportation and communications grids, clean power generation, and so much more. Those "investment dividends" will be distributed to me and you and ALL of us, as the investors through our taxes. And CREATE GOOD JOBS DOING IT.

We will end up living in a cleaner, safer, happier society with better opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

Yes, we'll be "paying more taxes". But we WON'T MISS THE MONEY, because we won't have to be constantly plugging holes and preparing for disasters without a safety net and trying to save for investments in the future that will be built in for us and our children- dignified retirement, affordable higher education, available health care.

Yes, we'll have to invest our higher taxes and they won't pay off immediately. But they will pay off quickly, if we hang in there and keep building for our children's future.

So no, I'm not afraid of higher taxes, and you shouldn't be either. No one should be.

Except the people who've been getting obscenely wealthy stealing our well-being from us all along, of course.


The future: Party on my lawn, kids...

When I was in primary school and junior high, I would occasionally do the math and reflect on how very, very OLD I would be when the year 2000 rolled around.

And I would wonder what it would be like then. Would we have a "Jetsons" world, with flying cars? Would there be colonies on other real estate in the solar system? Would we have picture phones where we'd watch the person we were talking with in a teevee-type monitor and see their faces while we talked? We would certainly have solved the problem of poverty, right? And probably cured cancer, too.

As I got a little older I wondered if my doddering sunset years would be spent in a "Star Trek" world where doors get out of your way, and the doctor waves a little device over you and tells you what's wrong, and then you lay yourself down under a big weird-looking machine with pulsing lights and get up cured. And would there be a "Prime Directive" we all believed in, that would institutionalize values like respecting differences and balancing values among individuals and groups with the well-being of the whole society?

We have some doors that get out of the way. We have video calling that no one bothers to use because no one talks on phones anymore- they just send texts.

And I wish, oh how I wish, that we could put certain things from the past in a time machine and bring them here, now.

Don't get me wrong. I know that a lot of the things I'm nostalgic for were only possible because our society accepted appalling levels of racism, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression. I don't want to bring back little suburban crackerbox castles with white picket fences, or assumptions about which side of the tracks people should stay on, or ignorant ideas about how 'playing by the rules' will work for anyone.

And I know that an awful lot of "do the right thing" acculturation was pushed by the religious authorities representing a patriarchal judeo-christian worldview, and the whole 'do as you would be done by' notion really only applied to People Like Us. (See: "Church of Latter Day Saints", philosophies of commerce, among a myriad of examples.) And the quaint idea that it's better to be a good person than a rich person was misused to keep the proles in their places (didn't make it a bad idea, though).

All the same, I'm nostalgic for my memories of a society that tried to teach children that sportsmanship was more important than winning. I have fond and probably illusory reminiscences of learning that all humans are part of the same family and we are all one another's keepers. And that we all do better when everyone does well. I definitely remember being taught that sacrificing stuff I "want" so that others can have what they NEED isn't particularly meritorious, it's just an expected part of being a decent person.

And I remember when the people who wanted my parents' vote didn't promise that people like me would be rewarded and people who were different were bad and responsible for everything we didn't like and should be denied the benefits we enjoy. Don't get me wrong, the people who wanted my parents' (and, for a short while, my) vote pandered plenty, but not in that particular way.

I remember thinking that all the boringness and timidity of politicians trying to show responsibility, respect the legal aspects of government, achieve a sense of gravitas, work within a flawed system and exercise what seemed like endless caution even when I urgently wanted the government to change BIG THINGS RIGHT NOW was a terrible, terrible thing. Boy, am I nostalgic for what I disliked back then.

But I'm coming to terms with the reality that even were my memories and perception of those good things of the past one hundred percent accurate, we cannot... and SHOULD NOT... restore some mythical 'better time' of the past.

We are living through a terrible geopolitical cataclysm that has upended the moral, economic, and cultural assumptions of the past. It hurts. It feels awful. It feels like the end of everything.

It isn't, though. Humanity has survived such cataclysms multiple times. Humanity has even survived, in pre-historic eras, apocalyptic climate changes. How, we can only theorize, because the historical record lies only in silent witnesses like archaeological relics and DNA revealing migration patterns.

We can't go back.

But we can go on.

The past has value in respect to what we have learned. Those who have studied history understand that "learning" is not an unmediated process. We interpret, we tell stories, we attach associations, we share our experiences and analysis with one another.

One person might learn from an experience "Someone Not Like Me was present when something bad happened to me. People Not Like Me are not to be trusted."

Another person might learn from the same experience "Someone Not Like Me was present when something bad happened to me. Bad things happen to all of us. We should strive to keep bad things from happening to each other."

The differences in who learns what are affected by mediators, trusted voices who help us analyze and process our experiences. Parents, teachers, leaders, friends, media.

I don't know what kind of world my daughter and my grandson will live in when I'm gone. It will be different. I have faith that it remains possible to make those differences good ones. To build on what we are learning now, and avoid the mistakes that brought us such collective pain.

And I believe that the way forward is more important than the way back. That when we have finished debriding the wounds wrought by the structural flaws in our shared community, we will have a chance to heal and grow in new and better directions.

But to do so, we must respect the qualitative difference between learning from the past and trying to restore the past. Demanding responsibility and holding those who fail us accountable, that is learning from the past. Trying to recreate models of accountability and responsibility that may have functioned in the past isn't learning. Learning must reveal new directions as conditions and values change.

That's your task, kids. I'll help if I can, but my solutions are necessarily Old Thinking. There's probably some good stuff there, but it'll only be useful if it can inform and improve New Thinking. You're welcome to it, but I don't demand you use it. Just... do your best. Build for tomorrow. Build for a tomorrow where YOU have the things YOU value for YOUR children and grandchildren.

It won't look familiar to me. I probably won't like it. I'll still talk about the Good Old Days.

But it's my lawn, and I want y'all to party there, anyway. Because it'll be your lawn soon enough.


Dear Fourth Estate: How About This Tactic to Fulfill Your Actual Responsibility...?

Dear Actual News Media of All Types (Online, print, cable, radio, podcast, broadcast... allayez):

It has come to my attention that, in spite of including the words "There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden" in various coverage of President Windrip's exposure as a blatant racketeer and extortionist, many Americans continue to believe there is a "there" there.

This is probably a combination of simple lazy "no smoke without fire" thinking and sheer bloody-minded denial. But regardless, it IS your responsibility, as the Fourth Estate, to ensure that factual refutation of such an obvious politically-motivated fiction reaches the widest possible audience.

To that end, I have a suggestion to offer:

Pick a three-day period sometime in the next two weeks.

Make a commitment that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU, at some point during that period, will make "There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden" your LEAD story or article.

Every newspaper. Every news show, cable, broadcast television, or radio. Every news website. Every news podcast.

For three days.

"There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden"

It will not convince QAnon, of course, nor the hardest-core MAGAts.

But it might go some distance toward restoring the confidence of America in the ability of our Fourth Estate to promote fact-based news coverage.

That is all.

Thank you for your consideration of the radical notion of doing your jobs.

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