Monday, July 25, 2016

Bickering on the Railroad Tracks While the Freight Train Comes

I've not been so worried and depressed about the future of our country as I am now for a long time, maybe ever. I feel like a railroad train is about to hit us and the different factions of the Democratic party are bickering about who gets to sit in a better place on the tracks. The establishment and the insurgent wing of the party are equally to blame right now.

Hillary's campaign and the Democratic establishment are currently trying to win the election of 1992. They have appointed another centrist corporate democrat in hopes of luring in a few more undecided white male moderates while the left wing of their party is walking out the back door. They put up a little progressive window dressing on their platform while leaving everything the corporate centrists really want. They try to cover up Debbie Schultz's incompetent and unfair management of the DNC by having her resign from a position she was about to have to give up anyway only to bring her on board Hillary's campaign. Even if the Russians are responsible for the Guccifer2 leaks, they wouldn't have mattered if Schultz had done her job right. They are happy to warn us about the danger of a Trump presidency, but won't do anything about the fact that their platform does nothing to improve the lives of the disenfranchised poor whites that can push him into victory.

As for the Berners, one of whom I was once proud to call myself, the dead enders have unnecessarily personalized their dispute with Hillary and made the entire thing about themselves rather than the good of the country. Their slogan is supposed to be #NotMeUs; they should change it to #UsNotYou. They have become so obsessed in their hatred of Hillary that they blow every issue completely out of proportion as much as any Republican. Rather than simply demanding accountability for the fact that DNC showed some unfair favoritism for Hillary they say that the primaries were entirely rigged and millions of votes should be discounted. Rather than say that Hillary made a bad decision hosting her own email they declare themselves sudden experts on national security and happily join in calls to lock her in prison. They say the superdelegates are undemocratic and should be abolished and in the same breath ask the superdelegates to overrule a three million vote majority that they disagree with, mostly minority and poorer Democrats. They rail against elitists and in the same breath say that they know what's better than the rabble that gave Hillary a majority.

I hope that both sides will wake up to the danger that's coming and put protecting the country ahead of their squabbling. I hope they can do it in time. Right now I am not so sure.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

All the things that have gone wrong in this clusterhump of a convention pale before Ted Cruz's non-endorsement. One really can't exaggerate how bad this is for Trump. No politician is more popular with religious conservatives today than Cruz, and he basically gave his followers permission not to vote for Trump. But it's worse than that, because as Marshall points out here Trump's campaign is all about dominance. Again and again he has made conservative alpha males - Roger Ailes, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, etc. - knuckle under to him, and Cruz just looked him in the eye and kicked dirt on his shoes, right in his own house.

There was a smart way for Trump to handle this, and Newt Gingrich knew what it was: get up and pretend that Cruz said what he was supposed to say. With his reality-distorting skills, Trump might have gotten away with it, too. But it was his own supporters on the floor that made that impossible. Their boos and imprecations made it clear exactly what Cruz was doing.

The only bad news about this is that I predict this will be the best thing that could have happened to Cruz's odious political career in the long run. Right now he might be reviled, but the most likely outcome in November is a Republican party in ruins. They will be desperate for a savior, and it will have to be someone that didn't support to Trump during this election. For the next few elections, I predict that Donald Trump will be to the Republicans what the Iraq War was to the Democrats in 2008. Jeb Bush and John Kasich were smart enough to know this, which is why they stayed home. But Cruz just one-upped them. When he's running for the nomination in 2020 and/or 2024 he will boast about this moment.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Of all the ugly silences to emerge from the shootings of ‪#‎AltonSterling‬ and‪#‎PhilandoCastile‬ none speaks more loudly than that of the ‪#‎NRA‬ and other gun rights activists. Both men were killed for 1) being Black and 2) carrying a gun, in that order. Whatever Wayne LaPierre thinks about the first of those things, he is supposed to care passionately about the second. Each man was carrying his gun legally and Castile even had a license. In other words, they were exercising the very rights the NRA has fought so hard for.
But if a person of color were to go over to the NRA website to see what they have to say about the issue, they'd see a picture of Wayne LaPierre and the caption "We Don't Need You." Whatever that caption is supposed to mean, it is a pretty good summary of what the NRA really thinks of gun owners of color. They will raise holy hell if anyone even threatens to infringe on the right of a white person to have multiple assault rifles with 30-round clips, but say nothing when two Black men are killed for legally carrying pistols.
And to take it a little further, one of the justifications for everyone having guns that the NRA and the right wing use is the supposed ability to shoot back if you think the government is oppressing you too much. A person of color being approached by a cop today has a non-trivial chance of being killed and a much larger chance of being beaten, harassed, wrongfully arrested or stolen from. By the NRA's logic, if they have a gun they should just start shooting first. I do not think people should do this! I am just demonstrating what would happen if people of color were to follow the right wing's idiotic beliefs to their logical conclusion.
A few days ago I reposted an article previously posted by Manny Jalonschi which made a well-documented case that the real reason for the second amendment was to allow slaveholders to continue to oppress their slaves. In other words, the original meaning of the 2nd Amendment was the right to keep and bear arms by white people. In practice, it still means pretty much the same thing.
As further evidence I offer the second picture, of an officer at a Confederate flag rally peacefully trying to talk down a white man standing threateningly in front of him with one hand on a pistol. The cop doesn't even have his gun out. If the cop had so much as taken that guy's gun away, I bet Wayne LaPierre would have something to say about it.
As a result, I recommend that in the future we call the supposed "National Rifle Association" what it really is, the ‪#‎WPRA‬, or‪#‎WhitePeoplesRifleAssociation‬.

Friday, April 29, 2016

My case for the Lesser Evil

So this uncool of me, but I'm going to make the case for Lesser Evilism here. This is relevant if Hillary wins the nomination, which right now is the most likely outcome, though I still hope Bernie does. And let me be absolutely clear; Hillary is absolutely a lesser evil. It's ironic to say the least that the Republicans have blown out of proportion issues she doesn't really deserve much blame for (the email server, Benghazi) while ignoring the monstrosities she's partly or even primarily responsible for, like the Iraq war, arming terrorists in Syria, our intervention in the Libyan civil war which left the country a warlord-ruled dystopia, drone strikes killing innocent civilians, and on and on. With some of these, like Iraq, she'll go back later and say "whoops, my bad," but will not show that she has learned anything to change her behavior. So how could one possibly be willing to vote for someone like that?
People use a lot of different criteria when deciding who to vote for. Some people care more about foreign policy, some more about economic policy. There are single-issue voters who care about one thing like abortion or civil rights. As for me, when I vote for Candidate A over Candidate B I believe I'm saying nothing other than "things would be less bad with A in charge than B." It doesn't mean I like A, or agree with all or even any of their positions. That may sound cynical, and it is. But if I believe my vote matters at all (spoiler: it probably doesn't, see below) then I believe I should take into account how the choice of two politicians would affect everyone.
So, yeah, Hillary's foreign policy is fkd up, and she has way too many buddies on Wall Street. But I also have to consider women who could lose their reproductive rights under a right-wing supreme court. I have to consider families that for the first time have (admittedly shitty) health insurance and could have it taken away. I have to consider people whose benefits barely give them enough to eat who could have it stripped. I have to consider gay and transgender friends who could have their rights taken away. I have to consider national parks that could be turned into oilfields. I have to consider Arabic and Islamic people who could be harassed or killed under a fascistic government, and undocumented or even documented immigrants who could be rounded up and deported to places they may not have been in more than fifteen years.
But when The Revolution Comes none of that will matter! All those people will be free from the oppression of capitalism! Sure, maybe. But the Revolution has been coming for a very long time, and a lot of people have died waiting for it.
But you don't have to wait! You can fight and be an activist to bring freedom and rights to people now! Yes, absolutely, everyone should. I am full of admiration for my friends who are much more activist than I am, people like Manny Jalonschi who documents injustice in his writings, people like Gregg Gonsalves who has fought for the rights of people with HIV for decades, people like Meira Marom and Karla Esquivel who have fought for the Bernie campaign, Liz Di Nunzio who has been raising consciousness about labor exploitation in the tech industry and a lot of other people I'm sure I haven't mentioned. Please all of you don't ever stop. I am not nearly as politically active as I should be. I go to a lot of marches and protests, and I donated to Bernie and knocked on some doors for him, but it's not nearly enough. I plan to try to change that. And all of this political activity counts infinitely many times more than one vote in an election. But absolutely none of it contradicts or is prevented by taking half an hour on a Tuesday and walking to your local public school to pull a lever for the least bad option.
And let's be clear, for a lot of us, including me, our vote literally will not matter. If you live in New York, for example, write in Bernie, vote Green, write in Mickey Mouse or Cthulu (why choose the _lesser_ evil?). There is zero percent chance that the New York won't go Democrat, and since the electoral college is all or nothing state by state those are already D no matter what. So why not just say that? Because, honestly, "vote Democrat unless you live in New York or California or anywhere that's more than sixty percent Blue in which case vote Green but consider the Congressional vote" does not fit on a bumper sticker.
So there's my case. Proceed with angry comments as you wish.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

No Larry, Criticizing the actions of the Israeli Government's not anti-Semitism

I was ready to agree with Lawrence Summers about anti semitism in the Palestinian Rights movement, because that is a real issue. But then I got to the part where grew says anti-semitism includes "applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation." In other words, we must ignore Israel stealing Palestinian homes and killing them as long as some other countries are doing something just as bad! By this standard, pretty much any behavior short of full-on genocide is excused. The BDS movement should disavow anti-semitic statements in its ranks. But defenders of the Israeli government need to stop using charges of anti-semitism to dismiss valid statements of protest.

Microsoft's Command Shell zoo

Can Microsoft explain why they have to have at least seven different command prompts, each with different commands, for developers? In addition to the ones in this picture there is also the regular command prompt, PowerShell, the Package Manager console, and probably a bunch I don't even know about. In *nix there is one command prompt: the bash shell (unless you're an uber-geek who's installed some exotic shell on your own). Okay, there's the SQL prompt, but that's like a completely different program. Whose job is it at MS to make things unnecessarily hard?

On social media you should only post about...whatever the hell you want

I'm completely baffled by statements of the form, "you shouldn't post about _______ on social media." I've seen the blank filled in with politics, your pets, what you're eating, religion, working out and a bunch of other things. Your social media presence should be a picture of you and what you care about. If other people don't want to see it, they don't have to read it. If they don't want to see anything you write about, they can hide or un-follow you. 

I personally skip over any post about sports or God, but I don't resent their being there, because that's what those people care about. Post whatever you want, and I'll read what I want.