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JHan's Journal
JHan's Journal
October 26, 2018

De La Soul - Stakes is High

October 19, 2018

NRA Goes on Downgrade Spree in the Wake of GOP Defections

The NRA doesn’t want its “enemies” to see its candidate ratings in one place. We scraped the data, and found a surge in Republicans docked for breaking ranks.

"Every election season, the NRA assigns letter grades to thousands of candidates in state and federal races nationwide. This grading system has become a notorious indicator of a politician’s fealty — or opposition — to the influential group. The grades can make or break campaigns.

Earlier this month, the NRA published its grades for the upcoming midterms, but they’re not easy to access: The NRA website requires users to provide a street address before returning the names and grades of every candidate in the corresponding district. It’s not possible to search by a candidate’s name, or to look up every candidate in a state. In order to see every House and Senate candidate, you’d have to plug in a full street address for each of the country’s 435 congressional districts. So that’s what we did.

We’re releasing an archive of the NRA grades for every House and Senate candidate, as well as candidates for statewide races like governor and attorney general. (Although the NRA also grades candidates for state legislative bodies, we haven’t scraped those.)

Of the 15 downgraded Republicans, more than half were docked two full grades or more. In contrast, the NRA downgraded just six Republicans in 2016, and only one of those involved a swing of more than one letter grade. The 2014 and 2012 election cycles saw eight and seven GOP candidates downgraded, respectively — only three of whom involved swings of more than one grade.

The spike in downgrades is partly due to a revolt of sorts among Florida politicians in the wake of the Parkland school shooting earlier this year. Governor Rick Scott, whose intimate association with the NRA had earned him an A and a speaking slot at the group’s 2017 leadership forum, was dropped to a C this year for signing a bill that raised the minimum age for purchasing a long gun to 21.

Brian Mast, a Republican congressman and Afghanistan war veteran from Palm Beach who was elected in 2016 with the help of an A rating — and $30,000 in campaign support — from the NRA, proposed banning AR-15 rifles and universal background checks after Parkland. He was rewarded with an F rating, and marked as a “true enemy of gun owners’ rights.” His fellow Florida Republican, Representative Carlos Curbelo of Miami, was also downgraded to an F from a B+ for endorsing a slew of gun control measures after Parkland. Curbelo has taken $7,450 from the NRA since 2014. (Mast, Curbelo, and Scott did not respond to requests for comment.)


As in each of the past four general elections, the vast majority of Republican candidates — about 93 percent — received grades of A- or higher. But the share receiving an F has begun to grow, from virtually none in 2012 to 2.2 percent this year."

Interesting read. The NRA is losing ground.
October 18, 2018

A Vanishing History: Gullah Geechee Nation

"On the Sea Islands along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, a painful chapter of American history is playing out again. These islands are home to the Gullah or Geechee people, the descendants of enslaved Africans who were brought to work at the plantations that once ran down the southern Atlantic coast. After the Civil War, many former slaves on the Sea Islands bought portions of the land where their descendants have lived and farmed for generations. That property, much of it undeveloped waterfront land, is now some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

But the Gullah are now discovering that land ownership on the Sea Islands isn’t quite what it seemed. Local landowners are struggling to hold on to their ancestral land as resort developers with deep pockets exploit obscure legal loopholes to force the property into court-mandated auctions. These tactics have successfully fueled a tourism boom that now attracts more than 2 million visitors a year. Gullah communities have all but disappeared, replaced by upscale resorts and opulent gated developments that new locals — golfers, tourists, and mostly white retirees — fondly call “plantations.”

Faced with an epic case of déjà vu, the Gullah are scrambling for solutions as their livelihood and culture vanish, one waterfront mansion at a time."

October 16, 2018

The Myth of the Lazy Nonvoter

Not sure if this has been posted yet.

"Ever since key federal protections were dismantled by the Supreme Court in 2013 – including portions of the Voting Rights Act, which required some states and localities with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedures — state lawmakers have had more latitude than ever to enact laws affecting whether, how and when one can vote in a federal election.

To explore the hurdles that voters face this election, we created five voter profiles: the voter with no ID, the procrastinator, the student, the working parent, and the convicted felon.

The Impact of Restrictive Voting Laws

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, since 2010, at least 23 states have enacted laws restricting the ability to vote in some manner, including many states with competitive midterm races. These new laws limit early voting, make registration more difficult and introduce stricter photo-ID requirements, factors that particularly affect African-American, Hispanic, low-income and young voters. The outcomes in those states this November could hinge on which Americans — eager as ever to participate — are actually able to cast a ballot.

The Brennan Center estimates that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have, and will not get, the documents required by strict voter-ID laws, and these numbers are higher for certain groups.

“Paperwork requirements are the No.1 way to suppress the right to vote,” Ms. Lang said.

Some of the states that enacted stricter voter-ID requirements after 2010 saw a significant reduction in voter turnout in subsequent elections."

Republicans have gamed the system to their advantage, but they aren't Gods - they bleed just like us. Some of our candidates are competitive in States /districts we never dreamed would be in contention just a few years ago. Dems are also fighting Republican efforts to limit the franchise at the state-level where they occur. Voter suppression and Republican disdain for democratic norms is no reason for cynicism or hopelessness, they are reasons to intensify our efforts to GOTV and vote blue.

October 15, 2018

Remember when military policy was discussed almost daily?

We are getting reports about the situation in Yemen but coverage of Foreign Policy is mostly about Trump antagonizing our allies.

Trump has increased drone use by 450%. So far he is "outperforming" Obama in civilian casualities due to foreign intervention.



Funny how that works.

I get that Domestic affairs are a mess, and deserving of attention, but there's also a lot of chasing of shiny objects ( Stormy Daniels comes to mind) while Mattis has free reign at the defense department, unchallenged and unchecked. I fear we won't know the true scale of damage until Trump and his Enablers and Cronies have left office.

October 14, 2018

Abrams slams GA opponent over 'voter suppression'

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams joins Tapper to discuss her opponent's voter registration laws, which stalled 53,000 voter registrations, Democrats strategy for winning midterms, and the stakes behind her historic election.

1) She points out that the issue with Kemp is his pattern of behavior aimed at suppressing votes. "When you know that what you're doing is having a disproportionate effect on PoC and Women and you do it anyway, that erodes the public trust in the system."

"The miasma of fear that is created through voter suppression is as much about terrifying people about trying to vote as it is about blocking their ability to do so"

2) Stacy repeated talking points on healthcare ( "expanding Medicaid is not "Progressive" but a good economic decision" - in response to Tapper's question about whether her progressive approach is a reflection of your typical Georgia voter )

3) "The best approach for Democrats is to vote and be engaged in politics."

October 13, 2018

The Proudboys

The Metropolitan Republican Club invited The Proud Boys to one of their gatherings, and of course, violence ensued:


This is a photo of them, all proud to be fucking idiots. Note that they're using, and ruining for sane people everywhere else, the A-okay hand gesture the alt-right has twisted into a symbol of supremacy to TrOlLtEhLiBz

There are also a few brown faces, which doesn't surprise me. Their presence doesn't change the fact this is a hate group. Ideas can unite people from different backgrounds, whether those ideas are anti-establishment, misogynistic, anti-immigrant or racist.

The Daily Beast looked into this about a month ago:

David Neiwert, author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump, says, “The ranks of people of color who show up to these right-wing events are totally dominated by males.” He says the alt-right targets white males between the ages of 15 and 30 with a message of male resentment, which ends up attracting black, Latino, and Asian men as well.

Neiwert says many young men of color in the far-right grew up on conservative traditions common in minority communities. Their journey to the far-right has been enabled by the ease of recruitment in the internet age and the endorsement of extremism by Trump.

Entry points to the far-right include male-dominated video-game culture, the anti-feminist gamergate, troll havens on 4chan and 8chan, and the conspiracism that flourishes on websites like Infowars. Libertarianism is another gateway.

“A lot of these young guys,” Neiwert says, “especially from the software world, who are being sucked into white nationalism, start out being worked up about Ayn Rand in high school.”

I mean, I just use Ayn Rand as a feeler for figuring out who not to date.

So who are The Proud Boys?

Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice, left Vice in 2008 because of "creative differences". Since then he's forged a far right/alt-right path culminating in the creation of The Proud Boys in 2016. He's the sort of Supremacist in the vein of Mike Cernovich and Stefan Molyneaux- rather than flaunt his anti-semitism and racism outright like most unapologetic white supremacists, he opts instead to veil his bigotry with coded language. When faced with accusations of racism, he uses his marriage to a woman with Indian Ancestry and their children as his get out of jail free card.

These are the core tenets at the heart of being a "Proud Boy", a mash-up of reactionary garbage.

"Minimum Government"
- this really means a rejection of social and economic justice and a rejection of checks and balances.

"maximum freedom"
- which exists nowhere, It's a pipe dream fueled by Libertarian delusions about what freedom actually means. Without checks and balances, the powerful will use their freedom to dominate with impunity. "Maximum freedom" allows those with more power to impose their will on the less powerful. Always. "Maximum freedom" isn't even feudalism, it's barbarism.

"Anti-racism" and "Anti-racial guilt"
- where "White guilt" is deliberately conflated with a collective responsibility we should all share to improve quality of life, so people are not targeted and discriminated against because of their immutable traits. "Anti-racial guilt" is a rejection of introspection. And the alt-right, which this group aligns itself to, cares about race a whole lot so "anti-racism" is also a lie. The politics they support are the politics of anti-immigrant rhetoric, poor shaming and race-baiting. It is the politics of voter suppression and undoing every bit of progress that was made to address racism in America.

"pro free speech" / "anti-political correctness"
- what they really mean is speech and behavior without consequence and without challenge.

"pro-2nd Amendment,"
- where they reveal their delusional fantasy of overthrowing the government. It also means intimidating those less powerful or those they hate with juvenile displays of machismo - like open carrying in a restaurant like a fucking moron.

"Glorifying the Entrepreneur"
Here's a spock gif addressing this very serious problem:

"Venerating the Housewife"
- a call to revert to traditionalism, where a woman's role in life is to be subservient to men. The only acceptable sort of woman for a Proudboy is a traditional woman who submits to them.

"Western Chauvinism"
- so let's be real. The reasons these people like "the west" have nothing to do with freedom, access to opportunity, or some of the liberal ideas which improved our quality of life - like the Civil Rights Act. The Proud Boys get to decide the Western Culture they like....... which they'll use as a cudgel against those they demonize. This is all about dominance.
October 12, 2018

Our Favorite Cliche: A World Filled With Idiots

This article crossed my mind today.

Here, David Brin examines the popular appeal of dystopia and how they increase cynicism and paralyze our ability to imagine a brighter future. Perhaps one of the reasons dystopian narratives are so appealing is they tap into our mammalian response of fear/flight/fight in times of despair. Since there will always be chaos in our lives, worry and despair are inevitable, and the most convenient narrative, when faced with despair, is to imagine doom. Storytelling is a powerful communal force, and it is rare to find an imagined future that that isn't a barren wasteland. This negative framing of the future, Brin argues, is fatalistic and distract us from the now, and what we can do to change our trajectory in the present.

"It can be hard to notice things you take for granted — assumptions that are never questioned, because everyone shares them. One of these nearly ubiquitous themes is a tendency for most authors and/or film-makers to disdain the intelligence and wisdom of society as a whole, portraying a majority of their fellow citizens as sheep or fools.

Should this be surprising? The Euro-American fable has always featured an individualistic style. When the public pays for a fantasy experience, riding the shoulder of some bold hero or heroine, each customer wants to identify with a protagonist who is special, unique, or at least interesting in some way that departs from run-of-the-mill, batch-processed humanity. Even when the character seems unremarkable, he or she is marked as singular and fascinating by virtue of being the one whose thoughts and experiences we share.

That's the magic of "point of view."

While individuals get our empathy and sympathy, institutions seldom do. The "we're in this together" spirit of films from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s later gave way to a reflex shared by left and right, that villainy is associated with organization. Even when they aren't portrayed as evil, bureaucrats are stupid and public officials short-sighted. Only the clever bravado of a solitary hero (or at most a small team) will make a difference in resolving the grand crisis at hand.

This rule of contemporary storytelling is so nearly universal that it has escaped much comment — because you never notice propaganda that you already agree with. In other words, the reflex is self-reinforcing. A left-leaning director may portray villainous oligarchs or corporations while another film-maker rails against government cabals. But while screaming at each other over which direction Big Brother may be coming from, they never seem to notice their common heritage and instinct — Suspicion of Authority (SOA) — much in the way fish seldom comment on the existence of water.


Today's dominant storytelling [..] nearly always portrays one or two individuals in dire scenarios, without useful support from the societies that made them. There is no help or authority that can be effectively appealed to, because those leaders are at best distracted or foolish. More often than not society itself is the chief malignity that must be combated.

Of course these storyline scenarios mesh well with the intimate, thought-following style of Point of View storytelling. Modern fictional heroes — often talented to a degree that seems larger than life — are shown dealing with some problem or conspiracy that no one else noticed, or confronting the dire consequences of some massive cultural error, or uncovering malfeasance on the part of society's corrupt leaders. When in doubt, it seems, a writer seems best served by assuming the worst.

In its crudest form, this phenomenon has been called the Idiot Plot.

Why do film and fiction routinely depict society and its citizens as fools?.
October 12, 2018

"Hillary made me feel emasculated"

While I can't explain Kanye, I do know he's a grown ass man and makes his choices.

Maybe it's mental illness, maybe blaming mental illness is the wrong approach. Maybe he has been an asshole and cornball all along, and blaming mental illness is pathologizing his personality flaws.

Prior to 2016, Kanye was known to revel in being offensive. He lacked humility and a sense of boundaries. At times that produced some good art ( an opinion some won't share but art, after all, is a matter of taste, and I've enjoyed some of his work) Bucking social norms and being contrarian is nothing new for artists.

At times Kanye's antics have been amusing and good for dank memes, but what I'm seeing no longer makes me laugh.

His reasoning for supporting Trump was fucked up but honest. It's the most honest reveal from a Trump supporter I've ever come across:

It all boils down to: "Trump made me feel like a real man, and any focus on women emasculates me", it doesn't get more accurate than that when it comes to 2016.

See also:

"All this talk about black lives matter makes me feel uncomfortable so I'll vote Trump"
"All this talk about dreamers makes me feel left out so I'll vote Trump"
"All this talk about people who don't look like me is a waste of my time"

October 3, 2018

The Millennial Vote

There's a lot of talk about young people not being interested in politics and not showing up when it counts yada yada yada...

I think only 16% came out for midterms in 2014, and while I don't have data which covers previous trends, everyone I know is aware of what's at stake. I think we'll see an uptick, or least above average turnout, in voting numbers among millennials.

There is an understanding that the best way to send a message is by the ballot box instead of just bitching about Trump.

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Member since: Sun Sep 11, 2016, 01:18 AM
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About JHan

Be true, be brave, stand. All the rest is darkness.
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