Sunday, September 10, 2017

Link Bundle #3

Clearing out yet more old tabs on the browser.

Cop catches his supervisor on video demanding to know why he hasn't arrested enough black people. 

Different cops beat the hell out of a black man, then claim self-defense, not knowing surveillance cameras would prove their lie.

North Carolina Republicans were working to systematically make it difficult if not impossible for Democratic-leaning people to vote.

North Carolina isn't alone in working to disenfranchise voters. Republicans are using wild claims of illegal voters to justify voter purges- despite the fact that the people making the claims are known liars and con men.

A concise description of what the alt-right is. Short: cowardly fascists. 

Another reminder: the alt-right is not about free speech. It's not about tolerance. It's not about anything else except racism, bigotry, and evil. To say "alt-right" is the same thing as to say "KKK", "White Citizens Committee," and "Nazi." It's all the same thing, just wearing a fancy suit and waving a Kekistan flag.

And Trump, let it be always remembered, is their man. He's proven it by his words, his deeds, and the company he keeps. (Note: Ben Rodriguez, a former creative collaborator of mine, has become an ardent follower of Castalia House publisher and Rabid Puppies fascist troll Vox Day, the man quoted in the first linked article for saying, "There is no more Republican vs. Democrat. It is now whites vs. non-whites and white quislings.")

Speaking of Kekistan: How alt-right trolls took an obscure, poorly drawn cartoon and made it the face of hate, racism, and sadism on the Internet.

A common tactic of abusers is to tell their victim, "What's the matter with you? I'm just playing with you!" It's a common lie, and the alt-right uses the "I'm joking" defense for the exact same reasons. The idea is to get the victims to let them continue, to let them grow stronger, to get a tighter grip on them, until escape becomes impossible.

 Written a year ago, before Trump's election, this article is a lot more sympathetic than most would be today. What I take from it: the well-off despise those with less than they have, and the poor whites generally despise non-whites who appear to get government help they themselves are too proud to accept. Oh, and both sides are fervent believers in conspiracies.

Short version: when wealth concentrates, it ceases to circulate, choking the economy. The more concentrated the wealth, the more it tends to concentrate even more, squeezing everyone else.

Short version: self-control is a total myth. Any system that relies on it to function WILL fail.

I must remember to seek out and buy some Penzey's spices.

A thorough coverage of the history of Presidential disability in office, and how government coped- or failed to cope.

A reminder that the world has seen rich businessmen elected to executive office before. The trend is, the richer the businessman, the MORE corrupt his administration.

We are in a new cold war with Vladmir Putin's Russia, even if few in Washington want to admit it. Putin is deliberately spreading misinformation to influence elections around the world. His end goal: to discredit democracy, weaken Russia's enemies, and bring about a world order of totalitarian, white-supremacist regimes. And Putin's support of Trump's campaign, about which more facts come out every day, was part and parcel of that.

And I think I'll stop there for now.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mass Link Bundle #2

Not getting better using this. Let's see how many tabs I clear from my browser this time, beginning with the oldest.

In the south, and especially in Harris County, if you have no money, you have no justice.

The next time a Republican tells you that conservatives support equal rights for women, tell him about this. Or tell him he's full of shit. Both are true. (By the way, this story is from 2015, but Strickland still holds office.)

If you live someplace in Texas with a homeowner's association, or with a deed restriction, you may find out the hard way that you don't own your home at all- and that you have no legal rights worth respecting to try to keep it. HOAs in Texas are insanely powerful- and unaccountable.

Thanks, Bill and Hillary Clinton. Some of us remember.

Cutting taxes only boosts wealth for the rich. It doesn't make the economy stronger. Also, water tends to be slightly damp.

Remember, hard work does NOT equal success. If your boss can get away with paying you less than you're worth, he WILL- and he'll pat himself on the back for doing it.

The next time a conservative says, "You socialists just want stuff for free! I paid for mine!", point out that they could be getting what they're paying for for a LOT cheaper- by socializing it. That's how Scandinavia does it.

Responsible (white) gun owner pulls gun on black man because he's scared of black people.

Three victims of the CIA's torture program sued the doctors who designed the torture methods. And they won.This is the first, and so far only, victory for those seeking justice for the Bush administration's crimes.

(Paywall) Kansas gutted taxes; California hiked them sky-high. Now Kansas is sinking economically while California is soaring.

An excellent argument, with studies cited, against universal gun ownership, but my favorite bit is the simple response to the insane notion that the Second Amendment preserves the right to armed resistance against our elected government.

The Atlanta Braves got a special law passed for their new Cobb County stadium to give them a monopoly on expensive parking spaces- with no public transit option- all in the name of "safety." Riiiiight.

That's all Blogger will let me do for now...


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mass Link Bundle

I really need to use this blog more often.

One of the problems with Facebook is that it makes it easy to just "share link", say a little bit about a thing, and then forget about it... and Facebook's magic makes it impossibe to find that link ever, ever again.

Another problem I have, not connected to Facebook, is that I will often read a link, think, "I want to say something about this, but I need to think about it," and then... just... let it sit there... in the tabs on my browser...

... which, at the moment, are up to something like a hundred tabs.

So, this is me, clearing out some (not all) of those tabs, and at the same time archiving the links in a place where they can be found. Some of these go back quite some time- they've been building up.

Starting with the most recent and moving backwards through my tabs row:

On how direct cash aid to individuals is the most effective means of ending poverty and boosting the economy, but envy and hatred of the poor sabotages it.

I like parts of this proposal, but I agree more explanation needs to happen.

Democratic leadership is still pro-business, anti-worker, and deaf as a post to what people are actually asking for- specifically, that corporations be reined in and that people get a decent wage and conditions at their jobs.

Of course, mechanization is on course to eliminate most human jobs, leaving the majority of mankind unemployable unless we do something about it.

White people forget that the Detroit Riots were a reaction to decades of police brutality and public segregation against black people.

This guy was the first: as of this week, three or four other top cybersecurity people have bailed out of executive-branch departments. Wonder why?

Brian Babin, my Congressman, wants to make it illegal to extend civil rights protection over transsexual people.

If you were wondering how Donald Trump won (despite the ten kazillion opinions on that subject expressed since the election), here's one clue: Hillary Clinton is even more disliked than he is.

Re: Trump-Russia collusion: How much more smoke does there have to be until we can safely assume there's a fire?

... and, well, I've run out of room in the tags. Guess I'll do more of this tomorrow.

Free speech needs limits if other freedoms are to be respected.

I do not believe freedom of speech is, or ought to be, absolute. I believe words matter, that words have consequences, and that words can be used and are being used to harm others and to tear down our society.

I have a couple simple rules that guide what I consider speech not worthy of protection by our society.

If you tell a deliberate lie which can be objectively proven to be a lie, with any reasonable expectation that it will be taken as the truth by a normal listener, that speech should not be protected.
If you advocate for the physical harm, dispossession, separation, or expulsion, either directly or as a proposal for public policy, of a group of people as a group, without regard to justice for any individual within that group, with any reasonable expectation that other people might be persuaded to act upon your advocacy, that speech should not be protected.

I'm sure, with enough careful parsing, I could come up with one or two more, but these two are the big ones. Deception should never be free speech; and bigotry should never be free speech.

This is why, for example, I regard Colin Kapernick's protest as free speech, but I do NOT regard InfoWars and Breitbart's lies as free speech. The former told no lies and did not advocate for anyone else's harm. Alex Jones and Steve Bannon do both on a daily basis.

Likewise, I don't regard the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville as free speech. I regard it as a terrorist rally advocating the destruction of democracy and equality in the United States- in short, as an act of war against the rest of us.

I take seriously how important freedom of speech is, both as a creator of fiction and as someone who spends a lot of time thinking about political matters. For example, if you tell a lie not knowing it was a lie, that is defensible up to the point you are informed otherwise. As much as I would like to say, for example, that spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy claims, not objectively disprovable but designed to make people more likely to accept violence towards Jews, shouldn't be protected... I don't see any way of doing it without also taking away the right of voters to hold elected officials under suspicion without obvious evidence of wrongdoing.

But although there may not be a clear line to show where a speaker's good faith ends, lying and demonizing others by race, religion, gender, or sexuality are so far beyond that line that there ought not be any doubt.

And I believe it's high time that we, as a society, quit holding the viper to our breasts. Totalitarians will always use a society's freedoms as a tool to bring that society down... but it is possible to maintain most of those freedoms without letting the totalitarians win.

No deception. No advocating pogroms. Not even as jokes (or, as Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh continually claim in court, "non-factual entertainment programming").

Because your right to free speech ends where your fellow man's right to not be attacked in the streets begins- even if you're not the one doing the attacking.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nixonian government is back in Washington.

Well, yes, the obvious sign tells us all that...

President Trump has fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, the White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday. ...

Senior White House and Justice Department officials had been working on building a case against Mr. Comey since at least last week, according to administration officials. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire him, the officials said. ...

Since the news came out, a lot of Democrats have called the firing a blatant interference in the investigation into Trump's ties to Russia. Which it is, obviously. (Trump claims the investigation doesn't even exist in the open letter of termination he sent to Comey.) But the first Democratic voice, and the one which will likely win the day, was that of long-time Democratic Party leader Dianne Feinstein:

"President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change,” Feinstein said. “The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee."

And Hillary Clinton? A very loud, strong, "no comment."

So the Democrats, after a little puffing and posturing, will cave, and the Republicans will successfully block the investigation, and Trump will accomplish what Nixon couldn't. It's this sort of thing that had me propose a "Gonzales Amendment" back when Dubya was president. We need it now more than ever.

But that isn't the only news out today that makes me refer to the current government as Nixonian.

On Monday the president nominated 10 people for federal judgeships. Thanks to an unusually large number of vacancies on the bench, there could be many more to come.

"This is just a down payment," said John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation. He noted there are more than 100 open seats on the federal district courts and appeals courts.

. . .

All of the nominees appear to be cut from similar judicial cloth.

"They are all highly regarded in conservative legal circles and by practitioners in the states where they reside," Malcolm said.

 The thing is? Barack Obama nominated liberals, moderates, and even conservatives to the federal bench, often taking requests from hard-right Republican Senators.

Trump, like George W. Bush, is appointing and will appoint nothing but hard-line, far-right-wing conservatives to the bench, because conservatives don't believe in things like "playing fair" or "balance of power" or "including all viewpoints in the discussion"- concepts which Democrats have idolized to the point of nullity.

For the past thirty years- since the Democratic Leadership Caucus and Bill Clinton took control of the party- the Dems, unwilling to unite as the liberal party, have been playing softball. Republicans, centered on conservatism, have played hardball. Like Nixon, they will stoop to anything to get their way- and as Democrats have yet to learn, dirtiest fighter always wins.

The government we have now, sliding into fascism and dictatorship, is what happens when one political party is more interested in scoring political points, playing defense, and seeking compromise for its own sake than in actually standing up to overt evil. If this republic is to be saved, the Democrats need to grow a spine and take a stand for the people, rather than cowering in fear for their offices.

I don't have high hopes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What kind of administration are we dealing with?

DONALD TRUMP - President of the United States

Investigated and prosecuted for refusing to rent or sell housing to non-whites from the 1970s clear up to the 1990s. Repeatedly reported as ordering black employees off the floors of his hotels and casinos when he came to visit so he wouldn't have to look at them. Father was a known member of the Ku Klux Klan.

STEVE BANNON - Chief political advisor to the President

Until recently publisher of Breitbart, and thus oversaw the publication of biased or outright false "news" stories presenting blacks, Jews, gays, feminists, Hispanics, and immigrants in general as violent criminals seeking to destroy white civilization. On record as saying his goal is to destroy the American government as we know it and to replace with the raw exercise of power. Records from his divorce proceedings show a history of anti-Semitic statements and domestic abuse.

STEPHEN MILLER - Senior policy advisor to the President

College classmate and close ally of alt-right neo-Nazi activist Richard Spenser, and co-organizer of white supremacist rallies and events with Spenser at Duke University. Overt white nationalist.

JEFF SESSIONS - U. S. Senator, nominee to become Attorney General of the United States, senior legal advisor to the President

Was rejected for a place on the federal judicial bench in the 1980s after statements of support for white supremacy and overt hostility to blacks were revealed in Congressional testimony. Fought (mostly successfully) to oppose desegregation and equal funding for public schools in his home state of Alabama. As state attorney general, only supported civil rights cases brought by white plaintiffs. A leading voice against racial, gender, and sexual equality throughout his political career. Advised other countries on efforts to enact white nationalism into law.

BETSY DeVOS - AmWay heiress, school privatization and desecularization advocate, nominee to become US Secretary of Education 

Young earth Creationist and fundamentalist Christian. Sister of Erik Prince, who founded Blackwater, a private mercenary force sent to Iraq by the Bush administration's Department of State ostensibly as bodyguards. Blackwater made no secret of their desire to be "crusaders" and to kill Muslims regardless of other considerations, leading to a scandal after secret reports of Blackwater massacring unarmed civilians became public knowledge. Blackwater relabeled itself as Xe after losing its federal contracts and shifted its focus to providing security for certain dictators.

There's probably- almost certainly- more names that could be listed here that I don't know about.

But this ought to be enough to make it crystal clear that the Trump administration is centered around the belief of white nationalism and white supremacy, and that persecution of non-whites, non-straights, non-males, and non-Christians will be official government policy throughout his term of office.

And if the Republican Party does not openly and strongly resist this policy, then it must also be regarded as a white supremacist organization- and treated accordingly.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's always important to remember that the enemy is also us.


I share it with you for the following reasons:

(1) The person who posted the link on Facebook where I could see it is is a supporter of GamerGate, Rabid Puppies, Castalia Press, and the well-known white supremacist Vox Day. The author of the article at the link was the organizer of the last Sad Puppies slate and is a close ally of the previous Sad Puppies leaders Larry Correia and Brad Torgerson and a frequent correspondent with Vox Day.

(2) I call your particular attention to this excerpt:

"Look, this is the problem we’re up against. Back in the nineties, I found Rush Limbaugh’s habit of referring to America under Clinton as occupied America, annoying and thought of it as a schtick. (Even though I hated what Clinton did on most fronts, starting with Motor Voter.)

"But in the last ten years, I’ve come to realize he was right. America was and largely still is an occupied country. Foreign agents (natural born, but recruited early by Soviet Agit Prop) control our media, our education, our entertainment. And most of what the occupiers have done is try to destroy that which is uniquely American: our individualism, and our system of government. They also try to inoculate against people finding about our system on their own and thinking it’s brilliant, by tainting the character of the founding fathers and the idea of America as a nation AT LEAST as good as any other, if not better."

Note: Sarah Hoyt thinks that no true American could ever believe that things like Social Security, a universal health care system, etc. were good things without being brainwashed by some foreign power.

But more important: this belief is not new to her. It's not even new to the past century. Yes, you could replace "Soviet Agit Prop" with "the International Jew", but it's even older than that.

Before the Civil War, Southerners, slave owners or not, almost unanimously insisted that slavery was not only the ideal state for blacks, but that blacks loved being enslaved... unless "Yankee agitators" came and corrupted them into wanting to run away or rebel.

Meanwhile, Northerners attacked Catholics and abolitionists on similar grounds- "Papist conspiracy," "radical foreign revolutionaries," etc. The American Party, better known to history as the Know-Nothings for their unwillingness to openly admit their true beliefs in public, elected large delegations to Congress, at one point holding the balance of power between Democrats and the emerging Republicans- on the strength of fear of "non-Americans".

At the height of the Gilded Age, after America had experienced twenty years of an economy where working people got poorer and the rich got extremely rich, the Populist movement arose. As part of their movement, poor whites allied politically with blacks in the name of economic equality. The conservative backlash was immediate- "N-----r loving socialists!" The alliance was broken, and ever since the movement for civil rights was portrayed by conservatives as a communist conspiracy imposed from abroad.

The Red Scare pushed by Woodrow Wilson after the October Revolution? It included special crackdowns on all organizations advocating racial equality.

One of the agents involved in that crackdown, J. Edgar Hoover, went on to become head of the FBI, creating COINTELPRO- an organization within the FBI dedicated to infiltrating, discrediting, and breaking up civil rights organizations on the grounds that they were Communist fronts.

Throughout American history, conservatives have claimed that they, and only they, are true Americans. They have proclaimed all efforts by minority or disadvantaged groups to seek a better deal to be conspiracies from outside, and thus un-American. In fact, they go so far as to say that the very concept of equality itself is un-American- that there is a racial, religious and cultural hierarchy which must be maintained to preserve American freedom.

And, all too often, that conspiracy is a Jewish conspiracy. It's important to note that both Hitler and Goebbels got a lot of their ideas from American publications- most notably the Dearborn newspapers and magazines published by infamous anti-Semite Henry Ford. Pre-World War II, "Soviet" and "Jewish" were synonyms not just in Nazi Germany, but right here in the United States as well... and in the John Birch and Tea Party circles, they've never ceased to be synonyms.

And here is Sarah Hoyt, a self-proclaimed libertarian, spreading the lovely Goebbels fertilizer for a new generation. Doesn't it smell like flowers?

Well... the stuff you shovel onto flowers, maybe.

She will protest that there's not a racist bone in her body, to which I reply: bullshit. Go to the first paragraph in my excerpt. The one Clinton innovation she points out as opposing is "Moter Voter," i. e. registering people to vote at the same time they get their driver's license. This wildly successful program was intended to make it easier for people- especially non-whites- to vote. And Mrs. Hoyt opposes it.

Which, in my view, is a telling clue to what Hoyt really means when she says the last ten years persuaded her that America was "under occupation." She means, it was under occupation by non-whites- only, like her spiritual ancestors in the Know-Nothings, she doesn't want to admit it openly.

I share this link because I want you all to see what American fascism looks like at the grassroots level... and to remind you that it's NOT all a Putin plot. Putin couldn't do a damn thing to us if we didn't grow this bullshit at home ourselves- and if some many of us didn't take a nice big sniff of it and pronounce it sweeter than roses.

Note the name: Sarah Hoyt. And then avoid anything attached to that name. This is what white supremacy looks like when it's trying to look respectable.