Thursday, October 20, 2016

There's places Governor McCrory's Carolina Comeback hasn't even passed near to.

Losing bigly.

What I learned in the third presidential debate

clinton knockout.jpg

In 1984, the philosopher Aaron Sloman invited scholars to describe ‘the space of possible minds’. Sloman’s phrase alludes to the fact that human minds, in all their variety, are not the only sorts of minds. There are, for example, the minds of other animals, such as chimpanzees, crows and octopuses. But the space of possibilities must also include the minds of life-forms that have evolved elsewhere in the Universe, minds that could be very different from any product of terrestrial biology. The map of possibilities includes such theoretical creatures even if we are alone in the Cosmos, just as it also includes life-forms that could have evolved on Earth under different conditions.

...But the octopus exemplifies the possibility of a creature that is cognitively sophisticated, that we are inclined to credit with a capacity for rich conscious experiences, but whose behaviour is hard for humans to understand. Taking this idea further, we can imagine conscious beings far more inscrutable than an octopus. Such beings would appear down there with the brick on the H-axis, but for very different reasons. To describe and explain the behaviour of a brick, the elaborate concepts we use to describe and explain human behaviour are unnecessary, since it exhibits none to speak of.

Murray Shanahan, “Conscious exotica: From algorithms to aliens, could humans ever understand minds that are radically unlike our own?:, October 19, 2016

The big Republican accomplishment is that they have detoxified their brand.

David Brooks, November, 2014, quoted at Driftglass.

My first thought: someone drugged Donald Trump.

He kept his shit together for sixteen minutes at the start of the debate last night. His sentences had subjects and objects, beginnings and ends.

He was calm and measured in his speech and manner. He displayed a normal orientation in space and time.

Of course, the first three topics: the Supreme Court and gun control and abortion rights, helped. Each requires carefully threading a series of rhetorical needles, bolting together code phrases and reciting them in the right order. He proved he could summon the focus to do that.

The blogger Driftglass shorthanded the discussion this way:

Clinton gives a coherent, sensible answer to "Whither the Supremes".

Trump: The Supreme Court hurt my fee fees.  Hillary will use her magic lady powers to eliminate the 2nd amendment.

Clinton: How about some reasonable restrictions on gun ownership?  And now I shall demonstrate my wonkpower!

Trump: Hillary is an angry lady.  Angry angry lady.  I am strong.  Strong like bull.

Trump: Rocket launchers for everyone!

Trump: Hell yes, I'll overturn Roe v Wade.  And then I'll arm the shit out of our precious fetus-Americans!

Trump: Hillary wants to kill babies.  She does.  Rip that baby out of there. She'll do it!  She's crazy!

Hillary wants the government out of your vagina.  Trump wants the gummint in there.  Waaay in there, grabbing, grabbing, grabbing just like Donald Trump.

The Supreme Court, Donald Trump mused. “It’s what it’s all about...I will uphold the second amendment, and all the amendments.”

Trump, who must be the best in all things, is what I call an Expansive Originalist. He will protect the Constitution, including bits that don’t exist. As fellow adulterer Congressman Mark Sanford (“Man, if Billy Bush had been MY wingman…”) told Newsmax last summer, after a Trump Q&A:

Noting that at one point, someone asked Trump what he would do to protect Article I powers, "I think his response was, 'I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII,' going down the list," Sanford said. "There is no Article XII."

Trump also appeared, indirectly, to show some interest in President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 plan to pack the Supreme Court to get his way, telling debate moderator Chris Wallace, when it comes to future Supreme Court picks, “I’ve named twenty of them.”

(But under the Roosevelt plan- which allowed a new justice to be appointed for every sitting justice over 70, up to six- Trump would only get to appoint three. Given that the other five are in their fifties and sixties, it looks like Trump has been selling his Gang of Twenty a Trump University civics course.)

Trump kept his cool for sixteen minutes before his chest began heaving beneath his red necktie (the man has a factory in China, little Chinawomen churning out cravats for twenty cents a day. Because “her husband” signed the worst deal that has ever been signed by anyone, ever, in the history of the world, so he could give that little Chinawomen work. And still he only has, like, five neckties, and the red one he wears all the time. So sad).

His mouth started forming that goldfish “O” that presages a thought churning up from the magma cauldron, to be blurched out on the debate stage. Immigration triggered a massive pyroclastic flow:

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama personally mule smack into New Hampshire.  Sniff!  They do it!  Sniff!  Mmmm. Sniff!  Delicious heroin.

Bad hombre?  Really?  We're going there?  Of course we're going there.   

Trump: Believe me.  Sniff. Believe me.  Sniff.  Believe me.  Sniff.  Believe me.  Sniff.  Believe me.  Sniff.  Believe me...

Clinton: Donald hates illegal immigrants so much that he hires them to build his shitty buildings.

I relaxed. Old Donald- the Zaphod Beeblebrox of politics- was back, his second head burst out to take control of tossing the word salads for the next 66 minutes. It was 9.25 pm.

He started demanding a right of response to Hillary Clinton’s answers. Them he just started interrupting. With only one moderator- after twenty years, Fox News finally got into the club)- Trump skipped his “ganging up on me” plaints from last time and went straight to Michael Korda’s and Robert Ringer’s business-as-bullying books from his Wharton days. He even thanked Wallace when he felt the moderator was carrying his water by asking the right things: “Good question.” “Correct.”

The Donald motormouthed his way through the next half hour (“On Wikileaks, On Putin, On Syria, and Nafta! I’m skipping details 'cause I’m Trump, I don’t hafta!”) before completely losing it around 10.00.

I thought, watching his Twitter feed during the debate, he was getting overheated multitasking: during the 90-minute event, he posted 51 tweets. Then I scrolled down to the first, where he advised he was turning over his account to “my team of deplorables.”

Now we know the truth of the 3 a.m. tweets. Either’s he’s got the concierge desk at the empty Trumpotel in DC posting on the overnight shift, or someone on the campaign staff has discovered Buffer. Either way, he declared himself the debate winner at 3.14 am today.

You might have thought the abortion discussion would have exhausted the possible combinations of “Trump” “vagina” and “grab.”

You’d be wrong. Wallace brought up The Women:

Trump: Everything has been debunked.  Sniff!  Obama hired thugs!  Sniff!  Watch James O'Keefe's bigly video! I never met anyone, I never knew anyone.  Sniiiiiff!

Trump: Hillary hired all of these horrible women who accused me of that stuff.  They have all been debunked .  Everything is a lie.  I'm sure of it, just as I'm sure Obama is a Kenyan Commie from space!

They're not laughing with you, Donald.  They're laughing at you.

Trump:  I'm going to -- Sniff! -- change the subject now --  Sniff!  -- because I'm looking like  -- Sniff!  --  like a lying pervert  --  Sniff!

Trump: Quit talking about my creepy, deviant business, Chris.  I've broken bigger men than you and I'll tell you what questions you should be asking me!

I learned that Donald Trump knows all about the plight of Haiti because he was in Little Haiti in Florida and boy do they hate the Clintons. I can remember when, back in the 1980s, Haitians were at the bottom of America’s immigrant shit list. Not only were they black and foreign, they spoke French, which explained why they were drug-addled voodoo zombies rogering each other to death in the AIDS-petri dish of an island until the word came to board legions of leaky boats and set forth to infect America. Good times. When that lot came ashore, we just clapped them in federal prison and forgot ‘em.

I also learned something that should give some pause to Trump Troofers, but won’t: he considers he can do anything he likes until someone passes a law to make him stop. I don’t pay taxes. Hillary, why didn’t you pass a law to make me pay some? I built my buildings with loss-leader Chinese steel. Why didn’t you pass a law to make me stop doing that, Hillary? I don’t feel like following the Constitution any more, Congress. Why don’t you pass a law to make me comply with it?

Knowing the kids were safely tucked in bed across America, Trump After Ten was the alpha baboon, his flaming, technicolor ass in full display (and man oh man, if you saw any side shots of him behind the podium, catch those side vents on his suit jacket bulging out. That man got boo-tay! He’s positively steatopygic!). For once with such tiny, pussy-clutchin' paws, that man can fling his poo!

That’s when he went after the Clinton Foundation: Hillary Clinton is so base, she even took money from nations where they throw the gays off of businesses! I mean, “buildings.” She took incredible sums of money from governments that treat the women so badly. What a nasty woman. No one respects women more than I do.

Aunt Hillary was ready. I’ll be happy to compare the Clinton Foundation to the Trump Foundation, she purred. I could take the rest of the debate to talk about the good the Clinton Foundation does. In fact, I think I will!

Once Chris Wallace finally wrested control back from Mrs Clinton, she produced her shiv and concluded, “The Trump Foundation takes other people’s money, and uses it to buy six-foot portraits of Donald. What kind of foundation does that?”

Then he looped back around to Syria, which he, until his ten-year-old son explained it, thought was a breakfast food. Mosul? Muesli? Sounds the same to him.

Anyway, ISIS, they’re gone. They hired charter buses and got the hell out of Dodge. But because they are so crafty and clever, we are gonna spend months, and “many, many lives” conquering enemy long gone (I had expected him to cite the legendary Battle of Rock Ridge, lovingly recreated in Blazing Saddles. Saving Private Ryan’s Normandy invasion scenes had nothing on the fake Rock Ridgeites being blown into the air).

Mr Trump revels in death. He keeps score with the bodies of others. The more there are, the more right he was that others were wrong.

In this case, he revealed he imagined ISIS got away because America has been saying, for ages, “We’re a-comin’ to get ya’ll, ISIS!” “Where is the element of surprise?” he pleaded, exhuming Generals MacArthur and Patton again. Driftglass said,

Trump thinks a massive army can prep for a major battle, sneak up on Mosul and attack during reruns of the "The Apprentice".

America then detoured with Donald through the emails again, and the national debt. Mr Trump talks a lot, but in a context-free manner that left 55 million viewers wondering, “Who the f**k is John Podesta?”

Mr Trump’s big finish was, of course, his announcement that the election is a TV series with a season-ending cliffhanger. Will he concede the election he veered between being rigged against him already and “If she wins, and I don’t for a moment think. that. will. happen”?

The rigged election gambit is a risky one. Mr Trump has framed it in populist terms: the screwees on his side vs the screwers of the business/media/political establishment. It is not so long since he declared himself “unshackled” from his own party’s fetters.

Already we see the vise tightening on Republican officeholders torn between principle and tenure in office. If they distance themselves from their nominee for president, the pitchforks and torches crowd summoned by an angry black man with a gun (Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke) will turn on them. If they continue hashtagging #ButISupporttheNomineeofMyParty, the squishy, educated middle of the GOP will bolt.

But on November 9, there will be others who have won besides Hillary Clinton (if she loses, what happens to the rigging narrative? Just a jape, or did the riggers rat on the old establishment for space at the gold-plated trough of the new?). Will the unshaken Republican control of the North Carolina General Assembly be the result of rigging, given the party’s iron rule over district boundaries, voter restrictions, and the hours and days and places we can vote?

Our troubles will end November 9. They will just be warming up.

Oh, yes- Mrs Clinton was at the debate, too. All she proved is that she is not a lunatic. That was enough for me.

Gennifer Flowers did not attend last night’s debate, either.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stuff I read today: October 19, 2016

small boy reading.jpg

-20 days remain until, as President Ford put it, our long national nightmare is over. Or we wake up the next day and find it is just getting started. There is another presidential debate tonight. The Donald has cast aside his Clinton bimbos for President Obama’s half-brother (sluts to nuts, that’s The Donald), who is carrying on in the noble tradition of halfwit presidential siblings Neil Bush, Roger Clinton, Billy Carter, and Sam Houston Johnson. He will sit in the audience, give interviews to Breitbart and WorldNetDaily, and then return to his well-earned obscurity.

-Mrs Trump #3 has been doing an apology tour for the Trump Talk tape. She says she does not believe the things her husband bragged of doing. Therefore, they did not happen. She is smart: Descartes is her favorite scent for photo shoots on bear rugs.

She is sticking by her man, as Hillary Clinton did in such presidency-disqualifying ways, like calling the media names and traducing the victims. One can see why she is the perfect apologist. Decades younger than The Donald, she has no idea what he was doing when he was doing what she says he didn’t do.

-Another generic Trump shill with the “I don’t know anything about Russia” name of Boris Epshteyn says President Obama won North Carolina by fraud in 2008. This would be interesting if President Obama was running again this year. But we know the Republicans won control of the NC legislature in 2010; Mitt Romney carried the state in 2012 and Pat McCrory was elected governor and the GOP increased its legislative majorities and they took control of the state Supreme Court. So there is no more vote fraud in North Carolina. As Driftglass puts it, “On any given day, by the middle of any given sentence, the typical Trump surrogate is already denying that they said what they said at the beginning of that sentence.”

-At the Family Research Council- whose brief did not include the effects of adultery and incest on evangelical families while Josh Duggar worked there- the head hater, Tony Perkins, says just the thing to make his home state of Louisiana great again is an attorney general who will write anti-LGBT discrimination into all state contracts. Perkins, who otherwise believes government is big and evil, says, “It’s hard enough to win a government contract. Now imagine that your beliefs are a disqualifying factor!” But he is all in for business being able to set- and exceed!- quota in types of people not to hire.

-As American conservatives continue to juggle the Snowden=Bad, Manning=Bad, Assange=Good triangle, it turns out the Wikileaks head is just a London expat teen whose foster parents found out what he was doing on the Internet.

-Curt Schilling, a homophobic SOB who mouthed off so much ESPN fired him, is running for the US Senate seat held by Elizabeth Warren. He will road-test Trumpery post-Trump. Channeling the Great Cheeto, Schilling says it was stupid of Rhode Island to guarantee a big loan for him to start a bidness that immediately failed, but because it was there for the taking, he had a right to blow it on his dumbass idea. The Senate race is a chance for Bill Weld to atone for signing on for this year’s wild ride with the Libertarians’ flat-earth fracker, Gary “Make Jill Stein Look Great” Johnson.

-It turns out you are 15 times more likely to be killed by lightning than to see a proven case of voter fraud. This does not assuage the fears of Republicans who do not believe in science or maths. They are the sort keen to put scrap the demon-inspired metric system and put the Biblical cubit back in their cubic feet. Plus, as NC GOP leaders tell us, you can’t take the anarchist out of the college student or the fraud out of the Negro voter.

-America’s favorite thumb in a cowboy hat has gone digital.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I'd have expected Send in The Clowns myself.

Richard Kind, once of Spin City, lately of Gotham, channeled his inner Donald this past weekend.

Stuff I read today: October 18, 2016

I have what passes for an education in this day and time, but I am not deceived by it.

-Flannery O'Connor

- 21 days remain until the dead rise and demand ballots. On Tuesdays, I catch up on politics, economics and public policy.

-  “The first global computer network emerged thanks to capitalists behaving like cooperative socialists, not socialists behaving like competitive capitalists.”  Here is a  fascinating, and short, history of how the Soviet Union muffed its chance to make over the world.

Now, the article concludes, the Soviet ghosts are having their own back. American’s screaming about how #DamnObama gave away the Internet will seize upon this as proof of their demand to Make the Internets Great Again, even as they clamor for the sort of nationalist, social-control ring fencing that makes the demand impossible to realize.

...But in an interview with Sean Illing published on Wednesday on Vox, the 62-year-old talk radio mainstay conceded that the “dark forces” unleashed by Trump’s candidacy had a lot to do with his departure.

“Well, it made it a lot easier,” [Charlie] Sykes said. “You basically feel the world kind of shifting under your feet and you look around and say, OK, I’m a conservative talk radio host in a world in which the conservative media is basically setting itself on fire. Do I really want to still be part of this?”

The midday host on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee, Sykes was a leading voice in the #NeverTrump movement, which culminated in Ted Cruz’ victory over Trump in the Wisconsin primary. But now Sykes is questioning the support his more traditional brand of conservatism has from listeners.

In the Vox interview, Sykes admitted being surprised by Trump’s rise, something he thought unthinkable a year ago, even though conservative talk radio for years has been voicing many of the same views that have mobilized Trump’s base.

Illing noted, “Conservative media has been flirting with these darker forces for decades. Trump is the culmination of something, not the beginning.”

Sykes’ response: “If you and I had this conversation a year ago, I would’ve disagreed with you vigorously. I would’ve said, ‘There you go again with the darker forces garbage.’ Conservatives have been accused of this for years. But obviously there’s some truth to what you’ve just said.”

And he conceded his complicity in the conservative movement’s embrace of those darker forces.

“I’m different than Rush Limbaugh, but there’s no question that we got caught up in certain word salad, certain narratives that perhaps we did not fully understand how they were playing among our base"...

- In the Twitterverse, Buck Sexton says, “It's not confidence inspiring to complain that you lost a competition because it was rigged before you've actually lost it.”

- American conservatives have been getting schooled for years on how to turn word meanings inside out by pollster Luntz. A blogger argues Luntz’s GMOs have now escaped the lab:

‘Racist’ is the new queer. The same daring, transgressional psychology that, for gay people, converted an insult into a durable token of identity may persuade a mass of people who otherwise would not have challenged the social taboo surrounding racism to accept the epithet with defiant equanimity or even to embrace it. The assertion that Trump’s supporters are all racists has, I think, become partially self-fulfilling. In and of itself, that will make America’s already deeply ugly racial politics uglier. It will help justify the further pathologization of the emerging white underclass while doing nothing at all to help communities of color except, conveniently for some, to set the groups at one another’s throats so they cannot make common cause. It will become yet another excuse for beneficiaries of economic stratification to blame its victims. Things were bad before this election. They are worse now, and we should be very careful about how we carry this experience forward. These are frightening times.

- Esquire’s Charlie Pierce mutes his usual, highly entertaining and Menckenesque braying for a thoughtful consideration of which candidate he supports for president, and concludes:

I also think that electing the first woman president to follow the two terms of the first African-American president would be an altogether remarkable event and that it's the best argument against the notion that electing HRC would be a demonstration of the status quo.

It’s a telling point. The only variation among the ever-lengthening string of old white guys the Grand Old Party has come up with over the last 150 years is that they just keep getting wealthier and more negative and exclusionary in their visions for us, the ones they seek to govern.

- A week ago, Governor Pat McCrory sounded the two-note siren of his campaign: throngs of Negroes casting fraudulent ballots, and “unvented” Syrian pretend-refugees (on the latter point, consider the libertarian Niskanen Institute’s analysis here).

The McCrory party’s armory of ideas, The Civitas Institute, has been waving that bloody shirt for weeks. Donald Trump has been working that nerve for months. Never mind that it’s not true.

It’s even less likely than catching a welfare recipient flunking a drugs test.

-Chris Christie says the candidate whose presidential transition team he leads is out of control, but the GOP’s Casper Gutman remains proud of his own work for the cause. Never mind he seems to have condemned it as irrelevant with his own mouth.

More and more, the prospect of the Trumps going to Washington is looking like a high-concept reboot of Green Acres. Mike Pence will play Sam Drucker; and Rudy Giuliani, the hatchet-faced railroad hatchetman, Homer Bedloe.

Playing against type, Ted Cruz will bring his smarmy insincerity to the comic stylings of Mr Haney. Arnold the Pig? What’s say, the greedy fracker Ken Hamm?

- The Bank of England’s bloggers are launching new, much shorter, microposts, in a foretelling of the central bank’s post-Brexit level of influence.

- The Hedgehog review considers America’s inexplicable romance with 12-Stepism. We embrace it because the only thing about it that works is self-exculpation.

- Do you have friends who rail against Facebook for not following their view that freedom of speech means never seeing anything annoying? Noah Smith has some ideas.

- Science Friday remains a bastion of fact. It is worth bookmarking for that reason.

- In a democracy, among the most frightening phrases known to the common man is: “The [ __________] is in session.”

It’s worth remembering, the day after the 2008 Republican candidate for president said he and his Senate colleagues are going to whittle the Supreme Court down to a nub, one death at a time, that the Court- 216 days without a full bench, and counting- is in session.

Monday, October 17, 2016

One Day in Brooklyn

Birthday wishes, indeed.

Stuff I read today: October 17, 2016


There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception- James Thurber

It’s a poor rule that won’t work both ways- Frederick Douglass

-22 days remain until America celebrates the Jonestown Mass Suicide with a nationwide re-enactment by the voting-age population.

-Apparently readying the Republican version of The Age of Two Popes, presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to allege the election is rigged. Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence says the party will accept the election results.

-GOP policies are, similarly, fracturing. Donald Trump continues to insist he will “give the employment” to “the blacks” in their urban hellholes. Former urban hellhole mayor and lifetime achievement race baiting winner Rudy Giuliani says this year’s October Surprise will be Halloween’s rescheduling to Election Day:

GIULIANI: There are -- there are -- there are a few places, and not many in the swing states, there are a few places where they have been notorious for stealing votes, Pennsylvania, Chicago. There have been places where a lot of cheating has gone on over the years.

I know that from my own knowledge of bussing people in from Camden. When I ran for mayor of New York City the first time, some people voted eight and 10 times. And the second time, I had -- I had firefighters and police officers outside checking on the buses, so we take down the number of the bus. The bus had voted 10 times. And then we wouldn't let the bus vote again.

TAPPER: So, you're...

GIULIANI: And when I asked Randy Levine, who is now the president of the Yankees, who did this for me, I said, how much of the cheating did we stop, he said, I think we stopped about 75 percent of it. We're still going to have to give them about 25,000 votes.


GIULIANI: I'm sorry. Dead people generally vote for Democrats, rather than Republicans.

-People who whinge about the trifecta of political correctness, accepting black and brown people as humans, and gays being forced down their throats as reasons America Ain’t Great No More, “listen up!” as Franklin Graham says. Alas for you, news from the fact-based world finds diversity does nothing at all to undermine personal and economic freedom.

-To the braying of law & order supporters who constantly refresh their browsers for the latest presidency-disqualifying Hillary Clinton Wikileaks, columnist Charlie Pierce responds: “Information doesn't become a bombshell just because you stole it.”

-Seth Godin says when it come to voting, you get the ketchup you deserve.

-Here’s the NC roundup:

In western North Carolina, the more Republican the county, the most likely it is to have stalled or declining population growth, and the least likely it is that minorities want to live there. Charlotte Agenda, the go-to for hard news, leads with the story of the Queen City’s new yuppie bank.

Want to know who’s crowding out the car dealers for TV ad space in North Carolina? Here’s a list of the groups determined to beat you into submission.

NC Congresscritter Renee Ellmers- defeated last spring’s do-over congressional primary, after fellow critter Walter (“Freedom Fries”) Jones accused her of adultery with yet another House critter- continues to ignore advice about appearing on news shows. On CNN this past weekend, she called Trump’s accusers “a 'he said, she said' situation". Indy Week reports:

That is what happens when all pols do is wander, show to show, drooling the same half-witted soundbites over and over. People see you coming, and lay palm fronds over their pike-filled pits.

Indy Week also sent a reporter to Franklin Graham’s Rally for Republican Jesus in Raleigh. There the loving children of God call him a fucking sodomite and a Jewboy. Longtime journo Ken Eudy took Franklin’s measurements but good.

NC Capital Connection says Pat McCrory won his debate, but gives above the fold coverage to a Civitas Institute (“we think, therefore we’re a tank”) study showing NC’s tax rates excel at make the wealthy wealthier. You can tell NCCC is a buncha serious intellectuals because they use British spelling: Civitas Analyses Tax Reforms in High Point Study.

In their debate, Governor McCrory chided opponent Roy Cooper for saying NC’ “rainy day fund” is too big. Apparently, McCrory secretly agrees: his budget director has told all the state’s schools to submit 2% budget cuts for next year. The Governor wants $173 million more to sit on.

Despite their anxieties about Negroes, students and the dead voting early- and often- NC Republicans have cast more early ballots than Democrats or independents.

The only part of the surgically precise NC voter ID law not challenged in court was its abolition of straight-ticket voting, so the Trumpocalypse may not sink Senator Sockless Dick Burr after all. But Talking About Politics, longtime Jesse Helms lieutenant Carter Wrenn reports, “In the meantime, the rest of us are still caught between a rock and a hard place – with the squeeze getting tighter.”

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