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sofa king

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Member since: Wed Apr 14, 2004, 04:27 PM
Number of posts: 10,857

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Most of them seem to be introverts, too.

Making treatment available to a troubled introvert can be quite difficult, as asking for help is (sadly, obviously) a fate worse than death for some.

I personally think that the gun issue is intractable and will remain so for hundreds of years to come. We simply have to acknowledge that they are here forever and if we try to take them away, we will wind up arming the very people we seek to disarm while also disarming everyone else.

I think instead we need to be teaching, from an early age, tactics designed to teach people the importance of using cover (not concealment) and working collectively to evacuate the vulnerable from the scene while others work to overpower and disarm a potential assailant. Those tactics won't work if everyone has a gun--then it becomes a military tactical question and civilians always suck at those. I don't know what unarmed crowd tactics are or what they are called, but we all need to learn them and practice them together, in schools.

This is an awful thing to say, but I think it's true: if an aspiring mass murderer knows he's going to eventually be torn apart by the very people he seeks to harm before he can enjoy the luxury of his own suicide or death-by-cop, that person will think harder, and hopefully better, of what he wants to do. That might provide the motivation to seek treatment, when other options do not.

I suspect that problem is covered.

I have noticed that this President has become so used to rabid opposition that he reveals his plans incrementally and only when they are fully formed and largely irreversible.

So working back from that point, how would you nail down the nomination and fix it so you don't take a hit for it in Congress?

First, you would nominate someone highly qualified and in a position to overcome a filibuster. That would be John Kerry, whose interpersonal relationships on Capitol Hill, particularly in the Senate, are quite good. He could still go in as a recess appointment in mid-January even if the GOP in the Senate blocks him, so getting him in is the easy part.

Losing one Senator would be a reverse, it is true, but we did so well in the Senate this time around that we actually picked up seats when only a year ago I was pretty sure we were going to lose control of the Senate, too.

We are almost certain to pick up a few more next time--but we are within half a dozen seats of a filibuster-proof supermajority and for the last two years of President Obama's term, that is going to be more important than having his second pick at SoS.

So we have one seat to burn if we need to burn it, though we certainly don't want to do that.

The next obvious thing to do would be to pick a Mass. politician who can fill Kerry's shoes, someone with wide experience, particularly in Congress, high visibility, and strong oratorical skills, since the person is going to have to campaign like hell out of the gate. A sitting Member of the House might be a good choice, because you can pick a prominent Representative from a comparatively safe district and run that person without a high risk of losing both seats.

So, I conclude, the next move is going to be to go after Ed Markey and beg him to consider changing wings of the Capitol. I believe Markey has refused to do this in the past, or been overlooked for other reasons. But on the surface Markey seems to me to be the best and most obvious choice.

Markey necessarily would offer coattails to his chosen successor, too, because Markey's base of operations in any statewide campaign would certainly be in his old district, where he can easily campaign with his replacement.

At the very worst, this move temporarily loses one Senate seat and one House seat, with a strong chance to get both back in two years. At best, you rotate one of the Democratic Party's best war-horses into a rewarding position that he deserves, and potentially create two more in his place in Congress.

You can't take my word for it, but you can expect the President to do something better thought out and along similar lines.

Behold, I am your prophet!

Carved into stone on August 8, 2012,


So now, the oil-Republicans are back to the Katrina strategy of claiming their refineries are down....

Expect to see more "accidents" like these in the next six weeks. Gasoline has to hit $5 a gallon for Romney to dig out of the landslide in which he is already waist deep.

But that won't work either, and if we can show they colluded and deliberately caused their refineries to fail, we'll have the power to run every last one of them down this time.

And what do you know? Hunting season is open, and BP is already in the bag.

That GOP advantage, unfortunately, is sure to change.

Republican control of the House through gerrymandering will have its sociological consequences. It is going to ensure that the little guy continues to get screwed, and that in turn, sadly, is sure to work for Democrats in a very unfortunate way.

As working class jobs are eliminated in Republican-controlled rural communities, those reliably Republican people will gravitate toward higher population areas that offer menial jobs and better services, and they will convert or be canceled out by more sensible voters.

Or, sadly, the more intransigent ones will remain behind, sink into life-threatening poverty, and die sooner than they should.

Meanwhile, better educated people who are adept at technology will spot the virtues of living and working from home in beautiful, underpopulated places with a choice of cheap foreclosed-on properties to acquire. So the movement or death of every Republican may wind up resulting in not only canceling out his own vote, but also creating a likely Democratic vote in that person's place.

Make no mistake that this is a human tragedy of enormous proportions, one foreseen by people on our side since at least the Reagan Era. I think we've already seen evidence of the Great Republican Die-off in this election, where statewide and nationwide races broke Democratic 3 to 1.

What I think that means is that for the next three or four elections, Republicans will be competitive in the House, but their avarice will have literally sucked the life from Republican voters, and the GOP's dried husk will soon be pressed between the pages of the history books. Their policies will begin to homogenize their own districts even before the next census is taken, and that in turn will begin to increase Democratic influence in the state legislatures where the next redistricting will take place. Eventually, all of their rigging will be unable to resist the pressure, and they'll pop like the economic bubbles they so very much love to create.

I know this--or rather, believe this--because I am watching it happen here in the Shenandoah Valley. Rural Republicans are converging on reliably Democratic cities ("cities" in Virginia can be vanishingly small) because they can't afford to drive dozens of miles to buy groceries at the Wal-Mart, or require medical attention, or lost their homes, or have fallen victim to some other conservative policy designed to fuck them.

In the meantime, the number of younger people with disposable income and Paypal credit cards seems to be doubling every month. There is already a massive demographic shift afoot here, and I am certain it is happening everywhere else where Republicans ran rampant, crashed out, and left the people on the ground bereft.

The biggest danger to Republicans is their own un-malleable past, and the consequences of their prior behavior can no longer be averted. But we tried.

There is another possibility.

So it's the eve of the election and a new patch is frantically distributed in the most important tossup state, Ohio. Nothing new here, except for one BIG thing.

Consider the fact that in recent days the Ohio polls have moved outside of the margin of error in favor of President Obama. He's now five points ahead and his lead is growing, while the MOE of the polls is usually around 2.5 to 4 percent.

That means that the election in Ohio is now no longer close enough to steal with any degree of plausibility. A divergence in favor of Romney would be easily identified and investigated.

So... what if the voting machines in Ohio were already programmed to throw the election to Romney, and now panicked election thieves are desperately trying to undo the fix so that they don't spend years in pound-me-in-the-ass prison?

Last night, before I saw this discussion, I opined that the same thing may be about to happen in Virginia, as the President's growing support is about to pull him out of a statistical tie by the end of the week. I suggested that if that were the case we might see a rash of emergency updates precisely like these going out in Ohio as election workers in fear for their freedom suddenly attempt to reverse machines that are already programmed to steal it for Romney. The truly damning circumstantial evidence would be emergency updates across multiple makes of voting machines--Virginia uses many different kinds.

As I think about it more, I am beginning to wonder if two different and contradictory forms of election manipulation are at work, and now threaten to expose the entire operation.

Some time back I wrote here that I expected to see Romney's imaginary "surge" evaporate about a month out from the elections. I felt that the media and pollsters have a professional and financial interest in keeping the race tighter than it actually is. A closer race increases viewers and readers, attracts more money and sells more ad time and space. Those with an actual partisan interest know that fake momentum can, over time, build actual momentum as run-with-the-herd types switch allegiance to the fellow who looks like he is going to win.

But the pollsters have a second, much larger interest in calling it straight in the all-important day-before polls. If their final calls are off, the pollster stands to lose out on the next general election revenue stream--who pays attention to Zogby anymore after he famously blew the call in '04? But everyone reads Nate Silver's blog, because he nailed it in '08.

So, I concluded, the pollsters were going to "walk back" the polls to the true numbers (in favor of the President) so that they could make an accurate call just before the election--exactly as Rasmussen did from October to November in '08.

But that didn't happen this time.

So... what if the voting machine thieves were taking the pollsters at their word, and now they are seeing the polls suddenly shift and they are realizing that someone else's election manipulation threatens to expose their own work? They would frantically scramble to undo the fix, is what I think they would do, and it looks to me as if that is just what they are doing in Ohio.

But keep in mind that I was wrong about my first guess, and there is no reason to think that this second one is any more credible than the first. I'll say this for sure: Mitt Romney does not give a shit if his underlings are caught stealing the election, as long as he gets in.

Oh, look who showed up to the masque!

You know, I was just going to float that obscure Edgar Allen Poe joke without any message. But then I decided that the story would be fun to read again. Here it is:


Ever realize you're making a far darker quip than you thought you were? Here is the last paragraph:

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.


I heard Petty is going to talk to an empty car.

The Backfire Effect: why Obama didn't call out Romney.

"But why would people so woefully lacking in the basic facts of an issue think they were the best informed? Social scientists call the effect, 'pseudo-certainty.' I call it, 'being a fucking moron.'" -- Al Franken

The use of cognitive bias against the public can probably be traced back to the United States' foundation. Consider, for example, the rapier-like tact Americans used in the Declaration of Independence, directing all of their ire against Great Britain's slowly maddening King instead of the Parliament that they knew had wronged them. I think it is a classic example of misdirection, in the same family of dishonesty as mentioning Osama bin Laden in the same paragraph every time one mentions Saddam Hussein.

Last night, Mitt Romney made the most of a particular cognitive bias which we all need to know about. It is called the Backfire Effect. Here is a link to the paper.

People have a bad habit of clinging to disinformation, particularly if they are fed the disinformation first. If the disinformation is refuted, many of us simply give up trying to figure the problem out and default to the first thing we learned, and if the first thing we learned is crap, we believe the crap.

We are all vulnerable to some degree to the Backfire Effect, but there is a critical difference in the way the Backfire Effect works between conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans.

The shortest version I can give is this: when a conservative lies and a liberal refutes the lie, conservative observers become more likely to believe the lie. This effect does not work in reverse--because liberals have better thinking skills, I say, but I'm biased. This is part of the reason why an alarming number of American doofuses are still shambling about thinking that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and why the vast majority of them are Republicans.

Up to now, Mitt Romney's biggest problem has been that he hasn't won over the right-wing authoritarians who make up the most important voting bloc in the Republican Party, and maybe in all of American politics. They are diligent voters and can be easily programmed with lies, fear, and racism, of which they are fed a steady diet by Fox News and AM radio. Almost one in four Americans fits the profile of a right-wing authoritarian.

Despite every effort, right down to nominating arch-conservative darling Paul Ryan, Romney just hasn't been able to convince them that he's their guy.

And why should they think so, when Romney gamed the nomination process, knocked off the conservative authorities they trust one by one, and silenced all dissent at the convention? He had to steal it from them before he can steal it from us, and they haven't easily forgotten.

Last night was Romney's last big chance. He's got the press and the pollsters pulling for him to make it a closer race, because it is to their personal, professional, and financial advantage. He has finally assembled the captive audience of right-wing authoritarians he needs to win over. All he needed to do was to finally, permanently, establish himself as a conservative authority, someone the conservatives can trust.

He needed President Obama to help him, by doing what every Democrat, including myself, wanted him to do: call Mitt a liar.

So Mitt Romney went out and did what he's best at. He lied his ass off. He changed a central plank of his platform at the debate in an attempt to draw out President Obama, to encourage the President to raise his voice and express outrage at such malicious dishonesty.

But President Obama wouldn't bite.

Instead, the President stuck to his own policy, his own platform, and pointed out only the most basic and agreed-upon flaws in whatever Romney's so-called plan is today (or rather, last night, because I'm sure he's walking back half of what he said right now). He tried not to show flashes of anger or disgust, as Al Gore so tragically did in 2000.

It was probably disappointing to all of us here to see the President steer away from direct confrontation, but it probably also sealed the election for him.

Consider what would have happened had the debate swung a different way.

Gov. Romney: "I'm not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That's not my plan...."

President Obama: "That's bullshit. You've run on that all year."

Millions of Democrats would have stood up and cheered at that moment, to be sure, but it wouldn't have done a damned thing to change the political landscape because we're all already going to go out and vote for President Obama, and every other Democrat on the ballot. We're all registered now, right?

Just as certainly, a giant mob of tea-partiers would have been on their feet and whooping. That would have been the signal they needed, the sign from baby Jesus that Mitt Romney was the anointed one. They would have dusted off their IDs and registrations, and they would have come out and voted--at a higher frequency, unfortunately, than we do. Millions of our votes would have been canceled out.

We need to realize that right now an unusually high number of right-wing voters are far closer to reality than they usually are. They don't trust Mitt Romney, and they shouldn't, and it is to their credit that they do not in spite of the enormous psyops being run on them.

But we also need to acknowledge that these voters unfortunately tend strongly toward racism, and are highly motivated to vote against President Obama simply because he is a person of color. President Obama will never win their vote--but he might win their non-vote.

So that is why President Obama didn't "win" last night's debate. Because this debate wasn't about us. But do you know who is going to refute Mitt Romney's bullshit? We are. In the voting booth.

They are soooo close to being our temporary friends.

My overall impression of conservatives lately is one of resignation and bitterness. But they lack the outrage and lust for vengeance that they should have.

See, not only is Romney an asshole and not their guy at all, but nearly every damned Republican in Congress voted to raise their taxes by an average $1600 next year, by holding the middle class tax cut extension vote hostage again, and dooming all of the Bush tax cuts to expiration in January. They're going to pay dearly, in taxes, to vote Republican.

It's starting to dawn on them that they are being duped by some very wealthy people whose interests do not coincide with their own. But they aren't truly pissed off about it yet because they simply know nothing about the paragraph above, even though it's all out there to read.

There is something they could easily do about it if they really were pissed off, which is to go out on Election Day and vote for every Democrat on the ballot. If they can flip the House and deliver a supermajority of Democrats to the Senate, then they get their tax cuts back and can spend the next two years building a party of their own that isn't being dragged around by the uber-rich. If they're so against President Obama that voting for him is impossible, they could write in the candidate of their choice and go all-D on the downticket items.

They could fuck over Romney, protest the President, and pay themselves all at the same time.

But they have to figure that out on their own, and they won't, because the media sources which feed them their information are actively keeping the information they need away from them. They still have no idea the GOP fucked 'em over this.

If one of us tries to tell them, they will automatically believe the bullshit they're told even more. (No, really! It's called the backfire effect.)

So instead we have to sit here and watch the poor bastards stew in their own ill will, when if they would jump the aisle just this one time they could improve everyone's lives at a net profit to themselves. Heartbreaking.

The Three-Party race of Obama vs. Romney vs. Romney

This morning, I've been asking myself why this Presidential race is reminding me so much of 1996.

Through the lens of history, 1996 went like this: the presence of Ross Perot, as the most powerful third-party candidate since the King Fish, assured a runaway reelection for Bill Clinton, and Bob Dole never had a chance.

But that ain't the way the story was told at the time. In the press, it was neck-and-neck all the way up to the final weeks. Bob Dole and his awful rhetoric was pitched every day, and while talking heads occasionally wondered if his "meanness" would work against him (he would be a bipartisan traitor to today's Republicans, by the way), the truth was scrupulously avoided for months.

Then, in weeks after the election, there was an infuriating flood of half-apologetic articles where people inside both parties and the press sheepishly acknowledged that they knew how it was going to turn out the whole time.

So what makes this election so similar to 1996? There is no Ross Perot running this time (though a mini-Perot, Virgil Goode, is working some black magic in Virginia).

But there are at least two Mitt Romneys: The Lies of Mitt Romney Past, and The Lies of Mitt Romney present.

The bottomless dishonesty of Romney and his campaign has been truly impressive. He has lied every day, repeatedly, 533 times in 30 weeks, according to Steve Benen. He has reversed his opinion countless times on innumerable subjects, including insurance mandates, abstinence, Iraq, minimum wage, abortion, and immigration. He has evaded every detail about his personal finances and what, exactly, he intends to actually do if he is elected.

Not even George W. Bush was this dishonest in 2000. And that is saying one hell of a lot.

This sort of deception works quite well with the right-wing authoritarians, if the candidate has already established himself (and it is always a male in the front slot) as an authority to be trusted. But unfortunately for Mitt, his gaming of the primary process and the boxing-out of far right wingers made Romney an object of suspicion, rather than a leader whose lies are not to be questioned among the rank-and-file Republican voters.

So Mitt's mendacity is not invisible to the far right, as it usually is.

Now, in order to tack to the center for the general election, Mitt is forced to drop many of the lies he told during the primaries--the lies which failed to win over his most important voters--and tell a new set of lies designed to appeal to better informed voters.

It is obvious that he wishes to run two parallel campaigns, one liar to kiss ass to the knuckledraggers, one liar to win over everyone else. We saw that yesterday when he told one set of lies on national television, then hours later reversed himself on AM radio, apparently in hopes of floating both lies at the same time.

But the positions of the two lying Romneys are mutually contradictory, and neither demographic is too blinded to notice that, particularly with their pet issues.

Romney is canceling himself out, by having to run against himself.

I think that Romney's radioactivity at this point has an excellent chance of burning into the Congressional elections as well, because many far-right conservatives will be too disgusted (and self-interested) to bother to turn out at all. If his tax returns open him up to criminal charges, Romney could even taint the results of the 2014 mid-terms.

I think Mitt Romney may be the worst Presidential candidate I have ever seen. That doesn't mean he's going to lose--Mitt's true expertise is in taking decisions away from people--but it does make a legal path to victory nearly impossible.

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