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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 19,780

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How We Got Here, Why It's So Hard to Fix

Our government was constructed from a blueprint - our Constitution. The basis of that plan, and the thing that differentiated it from the monarchy-evolving-into-parliamentary-system government it replaced, was to equally apportion power and influence to all citizens (at that time, white male property owners) without regard to privileging factors of family descent, wealth, and religious conformity that had determined power and influence in England.

Flawed as the white-male-property-owner (WMPO) citizenship basis was, the equal apportionment of power to all citizens was truly revolutionary. Yes, the WMPO had to "own property", but the comparatively poor holder of a small homestead was guaranteed the exact same access to power and influence in the new government - via their VOTE - as the wealthy owner of vast properties. Yeah, they stacked the deck for slave owners with that bogus "3/5 of a person" thing - that's the "equity flaw". The "equality principle" was still transformational, even with the "equity flaw".)

Confused about the difference between "equality" and "equity"?

We have been lucky so far. Almost every major change to the Constitution has focused on a) strengthening the equality principle and/or b) correcting the equity flaw.

Today's Democrats and Progressives focus on this, partly from a belief in the fundamental importance of justice. More practically, we know only the combined efforts of ALL of us, fully empowered and with full access to all opportunities, can build a sustainable economic and social structure that will support a large, diverse population and succeed in meeting the existential challenges of our time.

But something's definitely gone wrong. Our government has degraded in many important ways. Everything from a tax code that privileges billionaires to a whole branch of government that has disequalized more than half the citizenry. How did this happen?

Was it a long-planned conspiracy by a small cabal of evil super-powers in the shadows, pulling strings and manipulating puppets?

Ummm, no... that's their shtick, not ours.

Right from the beginning, there were two "cracks" built into our self-governance.

Remember the basis for the "equality principle"? That all rested on the definition of citizenry - who that principle applied to. When we look at it, we see the goal as being to ensure equality, and expand who it applies to, by increasing equity. We believe the very purpose of the Constitution is to provide a framework for that expansion, toward a 'more perfect Union' where all human beings under our Constitution's jurisdiction share the same fundamental rights, and citizenship is afforded to all who are willing to commit to fulfilling its obligations.

There is, however (and has been, since the beginning) another view of the equality principle, based on a view of "citizen" shaped by those who were originally privileged in the Constitution. Reading the document their way, the mission of government is not to build a broad commons held in equity, but to protect the rights of citizens in a zero-sum polity. Historically, this belief is held by a minority, with the extent of its support waxing and waning based on perceptions of threat and socioeconomic conditions.

This legitimate difference in Constitutional interpretation is one of the built-in "cracks" in the foundation of our self-governance. And it has been exploited to create the "culture wars" of our era, far beyond legitimate differences in perception and interpretation based on the second "crack".

This one is built into human nature and exacerbated by our social culture. We'll never be without people who seek power and influence greater than the system entitles them to, or their natural endowments merit. A well-designed system includes fail-safes to limit opportunities for the acquisition of illegitimate power and influence.

But America has always had a near-religious reverence for wealth. Lacking a built-in hierarchy of aristocracy, we create in informal hierarchy of wealth, fed by a mythological sense of "opportunity" available to all. Wealth becomes equated with all kinds of superior character traits from intelligence to self-discipline to ingenuity and drive. Recently, evangelical Christianist sects have even equated it with virtue itself, divinely anointed with monetary success.

Our Constitution did NOT privilege wealth as a path to power, in fact, it explicitly denied that privilege in the "one person, one vote" principle of equality.

But the wealth-worship nurtured in our culture (with encouragement, naturally, from those who have accumulated wealth themselves) created another "crack": The deeply toxic delusion that in America, anyone COULD be wealthy, if they worked hard and/or got lucky - and "the system didn't punish them by taxing it away". This delusion is exploited to subvert those who are not, and almost certainly never will be, wealthy, to support the agenda of those who have already accumulated wealth.

And that agenda, naturally enough, is to acquire sufficient political power to put a "thumb on the scales" to protect their wealth and the means of acquiring more. Which will enable them to use that wealth to amass MORE political power to protect more of their wealth and more ways to keep acquiring it - however toxic, damaging, and exploitive that process may be, however greatly it increases an economic inequity that is eating away at the very structure of our freedom, our self-governance, and the ability of our planet to sustain life.

But this isn't a cabal or a conspiracy. Forget Bretton Woods or Davos or Bohemian Grove - sure those are where the elites meet to suck feet, but they don't actually "control" anything and they have no more ability to lay deep, complicated, multi-generational plots and carry them out than any other bunch of self-interested short-term thinkers. No, they're just individuals making choices, day by day, to protect themselves, and to build support for their agendas. They do share large chunks of their agendas with other rich and super-rich people, but that doesn't mean they're always working together, or taking orders from each other.

And their natural choice, over many, many decades, has been to strengthen the Republican Party, where there is fertile ground to support their agenda. The "protect citizenship privileges in a zero-sum game" mindset that interprets the Constitution as the tool of a natural elite of thinkers and super-capable people who strongly resemble the WMPO "Founders" just happens to potentiate agendas based on the individual right to get mine at the expense of your well-being. The fear-based POV inherent in zero-sum game theory and the "othering" of those who aren't part of the "people like us" who should be protected and privileged made it easy to exploit the "Someday I'll get lucky and then I don't want the Gummint to take it away and give it to brown people" mindset.

As soon as they had some successes, they built on them. Citizens United was a huge success, but it wasn't the result of a shadowy conspiracy. Just lots of money-fueled work exploiting culture-war issues and the inherent vulnerability of an opposition committed to both equality and equity, unwilling to distort equal protections and limit freedoms in the cause of protecting and restoring justice to those most disempowered.

Citizens United hammered a wedge into the wealth-related crack. More money is exerting more power in the sphere the Founders explicitly wanted it excluded from, and using that power to perpetuate and increase its control of the system.

There is no one Evil Genius we can take down to fix this. Not even a "League of Villains" meeting on a private island somewhere. For all their gaudy self-indulgence and florid monkey-wrenching of particular bits of the economy, even the exemplars of a young generation of fragile, amoral billionaires are just acting from self-interest. It's their outsize wealth and the sycophantic cooperation of the GOP that allows them to do so much damage.

Fighting our way out of this is going to take generations, and involve some long, difficult fights about free speech, economic structure, maybe even Constitutional amendments - none of that is easy.

Fortunately, the balance is beginning to tip.

And in the end, if you look back at our Constitutional history, the truth remains: Almost every major change to the Constitution has focused on a) strengthening the equality principle and/or b) correcting the equity flaw.

We will prevail.


I plan on wearing my pussy hat to the polls this year.

It has no lettering on it, no slogans, no pictures. It's just a knitted cap with pointy corners.

It's not red or blue. It's pink.

I wonder if I'll be the only one wearing one?


Coyote Greg and Coyote Ron may not get the cess they're hoping for from their cruelty...

How Democrats Can Turn the Tables on DeSantis

Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, the Republican governors of Florida and Texas, respectively, have exploited thousands of migrants by busing and flying them to New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Martha’s Vineyard, off Massachusetts. The idea is simple: Make the Democrats deal with the border crisis and prove they’re all hypocrites, human rights be damned.

As a matter of optics, it’s not yet clear who has emerged ahead. Martha’s Vineyard, rather than the large cities, captured the public imagination in the past week. Indeed, the crisis didn’t become a crisis until DeSantis picked as a destination an island retreat for the ultra-wealthy. In that sense, Democrats did fall for the immoral stunt. They cared more about Edgartown than Midtown. Lis Smith, a prominent Democratic strategist, tweeted, “Trap laid, bait taken, right wing gets their headline” with a picture of a New York Post front page that declared, “Liberals Deport Migrants.” The conservative newspaper accused “rich Dems” of hypocrisy because they’d sent the migrants to a military base on Cape Cod, where they could be provided temporary shelter and humanitarian aid. Of course, many Martha’s Vineyard residents embraced the migrants. That part of the conservative narrative—of snooty white liberals cowering in horror—was simply untrue.

But the Democrats have an opportunity here. Rather than lament yet another disingenuous culture war that Republicans are thirsty to wage, Democrats of all ideological stripes should use this moment to celebrate the very places that could become permanent homes for migrants fleeing violence and economic calamity. Since the pandemic-induced crime spike, Trump Republicans have inveighed against big cities, taking up an incendiary and racially coded 20th-century playbook to throw Democrats on the defensive. Few prominent Democrats have offered an adequate counterargument. Now political leaders who care about immigrants should declare, affirmatively and loudly, Yes, send them here.


If the Biden administration wants to get ambitious about reviving the ailing cities of the Rust Belt, federal officials could actively help migrants relocate there. The federal government could coordinate with mayors and governors ahead of time, instead of busing migrants without warning to politically expedient locales, like DeSantis and Abbott did. Cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis have long bled residents and would be well served with a new class of immigrants enthusiastic about finding work and wanting to remain in a country far more stable than their homeland. Refugees, in great enough numbers, could begin to repopulate vacant neighborhoods, launch new businesses, and eventually create new generations of taxpayers. Some may even decide they want, in the years to come, to move to Florida or Texas. Perhaps by then, the governors of those states will perceive them, simply, as Americans.

Something I've been saying all along. This family realized they were at risk of horrible suffering and death staying where they are. So they grab only the essentials and, determined and persistent, cross multiple borders, risk all kinds of peril, looking out for each other all the way, to get to a land of "opportunity"? Where they can be safe, build a future for themselves, raise their kids to have a better life?

Well, these are Americans, then. They're the kind of neighbors I want.

A two-pronged approach of opening the lemonade tap here at home, and working diligently to help other nations in our hemisphere build stability, prosperity, and functional, participatory governance will end the "immigration problem" within a couple of generations. Which is actually pretty fast, in sociocultural terms.

And Coyote Greg and Coyote Ron can rot in the dustbin of history along with the other tyrants, grifters and mass murderers.


When the dust settles in Ukraine

Zelenskiiy, the Ukrainian government, and the Ukrainian military have said from the day the Russian invasion began, that it will be over when every bit of Ukrainian territory is free of Russian control. Some, even knowledgeable political and military analysts, assumed that was a negotiating tactic, propaganda for domestic morale, etc., and that ultimately Ukraine and Russia would negotiate an end to hostilities that would leave Russia in control of some part of Ukraine.

It now seems more likely that a) It will be over when every bit of Ukrainian territory is free of Russian control; and b) that may happen a lot sooner than the knowledgeable military and global geopolitical analysts imagined it could be accomplished.

Slava Ukraini, indeed.

So the world better begin planning now, for the aftermath of this war.

The rebuilding of Ukraine is the most obvious challenge. They have been literally bombed back to the Stone Age in large parts of their Eastern territory. Population has been massively displaced, almost all resources will be depleted, agricultural production capacity substantially diminished, infrastructure destroyed and/or seriously degraded, and economic and social capabilities across all sectors significantly reduced.

The Ukraine government, to the extent it can spare capacity right now to think and plan ahead for the massive rebuilding that will be required, has signaled a desire to reconstruct as a "green state" - implementing environmental reconstruction and building stewardship and sustainability into everything from infrastructure to economic development. This is an important goal, but without support from the rest of the world its achievement could be delayed or even denied in some respects.

Those parts of the world that value principles of human progress, civilization, and cooperative/collaborative models of geopolitical interaction have promised help to Ukraine, and that's wonderful. However, as anyone who's ever run a disaster reconstruction effort knows, there's meaningful assistance with regard to the needs, situation and future well-being and sustainability of what's under reconstruction, and then there's truckloads of surplus and unwanted junk landing on top of you, messing up your logistics and requiring a lot of insincere thanks and appreciation for the donors' noble sacrifices.

If we want Ukraine to become an anchor for positive progress in a key region, we need to be prepared with the first kind of help, and very generously. And while it may look like an expensive and possibly risky investment, it will pay off much bigger in the long term. If Ukraine is able to develop and pilot new technologies that the rest of the world can build on as we all address climate change together, it'll be a win-all-around.

Then there's the other challenge: Post-Putin Russia

It's just a guess, but an additional agenda for Bill Richardson's recent very low-key diplomatic visit to Moscow was as much to scope out the potential players in a post-Putin Russia as to negotiate specific hostage resolutions. As a good many analysts have pointed out, the Putin-precipitated collapse of Russia into a mid-tier nation in global power and influence still leaves them with "spoiler" capability in the form of their enormous nuclear arsenal, U.N. veto, and positional value as a client state and resource pipeline for China.

And that's just how they'll end up, if whatever leadership remains in Russia continues to be oriented toward a kleptocratic oligarchy. It's an Awful Warning of what happens when a nation's leadership values kleptocracy, via strongman autocracy, direct oligarchy, or a weak autocrat fronting for an oligarchy. Russia should be making every kleptocracy-enabling nation with any remnant of a broader self-governance structure seriously rethink the risks and costs of their downhill slides, based on that vivid, technicolor Object Lesson.

Whether any kind of assistance could help Russia pull back from its own depths of kleptocratic degradation and reshape itself with a government focused on building a functional, broad-based economy with broadly-distributed benefits and a robust middle class, I don't know. They're pretty far gone. Stubbornness and resilience cut both ways, in pushing through or avoiding difficult change.

I think it's worth a try. In low-key ways. There may be cracks in the facade that honest, well-crafted offers of assistance might hammer some wedges into. If any leadership remains with the potential to work toward a vision of a genuinely strong Russia with a broadly-based, sustainable economy producing population-wide benefits and building increasingly-robust self-governance into their future, we should be finding them and providing them with some help.

None of this will be easy.

But it's essential, if we want to keep this planet habitable for our grandchildren.


I'm hoping that QE II's last act of service to her people (and humankind) comes with her departure.

I'm not a huge fan of monarchy in any form, but the strange hybrid Britain has evolved is at least interesting to watch. It's value to Britain (and perhaps the world) is another discussion. The point now, is the impact of the Queen's death and how that might play out if we are lucky.

To be clear, I don't think there are any major geopolitical downsides to worry about - her passing was not unexpected and it's certainly been thoroughly planned for, with attention to minimizing any possible tangible negative effects. The intangibles may further fray the substance of a key ally's culture and exacerbate some existing tensions, but that could do little beyond intensifying an existing tendency.

But what about silver linings?

Britain as a whole, and particularly England, has long cultivated a national identity of 'fortitude in the face of challenge'. The Dunkirk spirit. Another part of that identity is the profession that they value the concepts of 'duty' and 'sacrifice' as emblematic of their national character, collectively and thus, hopefully, individually.

We can argue about the role of privilege and wealth in her life, but right now what is very much to the fore is the late Queen's exemplification of those values - a life of duty, and the sacrifices that entailed. (Sure, she never missed a meal, but how many meals did she have to attend and pretend to like, and act graciously to hosts she may well have preferred never to encounter?)

Day after day, year after year. It wasn't a job she could take time off from or look forward to retirement from. For all the good things she had to share her enjoyment with a whole nation, even a world, publicly and gracefully. All the bad things she similarly dealt with in the full glare of a scrutiny unimaginable to almost anyone else. Year in, year out... the state of her health, her decisions about child-rearing, her relationships and judgments from the most trivial to the most consequential always second-guessed, discussed endlessly, commented upon as though every member of a vast audience had a perfect right to critique.

In the coming days, thousands of anecdotes will be retailed, recalling her best qualities, and always touching on the highest of high notes: Duty. Loyalty. Sacrifice. Kindness. Attention to the humanity of others.

Perhaps these things will suddenly become fashionable again.

Wouldn't that be a good thing?

And isn't this just about the perfect time for humankind to be reminded of the admirability of those qualities?

We're facing existential challenges on a global scale that are not unlike the existential challenges Britain faced at the outset of WWII. From somewhere in the grab-bag of "national character", assisted most ably by their Royals, the Brits drew forth reserves of reverence for duty and self-sacrifice and a willingness to cherish the admirability of remaining kind and loyal and human in the face of terrible challenges.

Perhaps the Queen's passing will open that tap again, providing Britain and the world with a chance to reflect on the value of looking out for each other instead of looking out for 'number one'. Shining a spotlight on the importance of being willing to sacrifice for others rather than grab whatever you can, while you can. Offering a glimpse of the rewards that come with rising to the best of ourselves, rather than the relentless pursuit of our own advantage at the cost of empowering the worst of ourselves.

I'd like to hope so.

In any case, respect, Queen. You've earned your rest many times over. Hope the corgis who've gone before find you and make you welcome.


Judge Loose Cannon is trying to nail shut a barn door that is off its hinges...

...and the livestock are miles down the road already.

By this time there is virtually NO hope of preventing more information about [Redacted]'s crimes from hitting the front pages of news sites and the lead-offs of broadcasts pretty much on a daily basis.

Too many people have seen too much of the material.

This is, of course, dreadful and catastrophic for national security, as every part of the NatSec establishment scrambles to move people out of harm's way, re-route information flows, deploy new encryption protocols, assess the damage and come up with strategies to minimize and/or counter the effects.

However, in the "Inevitable Silver Lining" category, it is also catastrophic for [Redacted] as the information just keeps hitting the awareness of the voters and the remaining members of the power structures who are either a) genuinely patriotic or b) intelligent enough to assess the odds of their ability to main control of their own assets as the chaos level escalates.

Judge Loose Cannon isn't going to make the slightest dent in this. By now, it's the equivalent of trying to stop a freight train with a ball peen hammer.


This is a LOT bigger than [Redacted].

What we are seeing is a form of warfare ordinary citizens rarely see.

This is the unraveling and exposure of a long-term offensive by a hostile power with multiple operational goals:

* Infiltrate, subvert, and degrade the operational capacity of the government of the United States.

* Destroy the capacity of America's intelligence community to effectively gather useful intelligence and carry out counterespionage operations.

* Provoke civil unrest, division, and disunion by the use of propaganda operations that also support the other goals of the offensive.

* Infiltrate, subvert, and degrade the mission orientation and action capability of institutions charged with armed security and safety of America, both military and civilian organizations.

* Create a substantial and heavily-armed cadre of American citizens prepared to engage in civil violence and attacks on the U.S. government.

At this point, it seems reasonable that anyone who claims otherwise should be investigated for active conspiracy in the offensive and/or unwitting action as a covert (unknowing) asset.

Most likely many of those claiming otherwise are merely dupes and ignorami. But the higher in the government they are, the more access they have to power and influence, the more likely it seems they are assets or conspirators.

DoJ and all of the government organizations involved in dealing with this offensive and mounting an effective counter-offensive are being exceptionally careful and deliberate for some very good reasons, including an awareness that their own organizations are already riddled with assets and agents who will be diligently attempting to subvert their efforts by "poisoning the tree", spreading disinformation and distraction, etc.

This has been a very long game indeed, and the turnaround, to be effective, will not be fast. There may be some swift actions here and there, but for the most part, it will take place very quietly, on a need to know basis in many decentralized but coordinated action groups, and we won't hear much about it.

In the long run, whether [Redacted] ends up in a Supermax or not is possibly one of the less consequential results of the counter-offensive. It may happen, or not. You can bet the calculations are being run very carefully with great attention to factors that most of us will never know. If "highly public accountability" becomes a very important thing, we may see a perp-walk. If that is subsumed in more concrete operational goals that would yield key gains overall, you can be they'll still find ways to make the remainder of [Redacted]'s life extremely unhappy.

He is ***ked either way.

It's enough for me-- IF we ultimately win this quiet, covert war. Thoroughly. Completely. And with lasting effect.


I am NOT 'hoping' for riots when [Redacted] is perp-walked. But I do believe they'll be useful.

Riots are not peaceful protests. I could totally support peaceful protests, as they would generate many amusing misspelled signs and loony chants, etc. Everyone has a right to protest and I support the rights of [Redacted]'s cultists to do so as well.

Riots, on the other hand, are not good no matter what 'cause' they are in aid of. Riots are the worst impulses of human pack mentality acting out violence and destruction and they rarely end well for anyone. No one has a right to riot, the freedom to do so is not guaranteed in our Constitution in any way.


If the GOPpies doomsaying "riots if [Redacted] faces the consequences of his criming and treason" are offering this up as a 'threat' I should remind them what happened the last time.

January 6th, 2021.

I've lost track of how many of those rioters have been identified, arrested, indicted, tried, and sentenced, and how many are awaiting trial. Hundreds, anyway.

And this is a good thing. Because the only risk greater than the riots that may or may not result from [Redacted] being held accountable are the consequences of IMPUNITY. Should [Redacted] NOT be held accountable, what will the next wannabe-authoritarian dictator manage to accomplish with the aid of their Oligarch enablers and funders?

Riots will at least allow law enforcement the opportunity to identify and hopefully get some of the worst of the would-be fascists rooting for the death of American representative democracy off the streets.

So, no... I'm not hoping we get those riots. I'm hoping we get ACCOUNTABILITY. And if that provokes riots, well, hopefully that will allow additional ACCOUNTABILITY. So we'll put them to good use, regardless of the painful cost.

You can't scare me with that B.S.

Just thought you should know, GOPpie traitors.


"Kitchen Timing" - A Legacy From Joe Biden's Mom

Joe Biden grew up in a quintessential Irish Catholic family in the 1940s and 1950s. He was the oldest of four kids. You can bet he spent plenty of time helping his Mom - that's what a good son did, back then.

And every holiday, every big occasion, Joe got to watch the unique talent of an Experienced Mom: "Kitchen Timing"

This is a skill few of us appreciate until we're old enough to be responsible for preparing festive meals for our own family and friends.

Kitchen Timing is not easy, people. You need to know exactly when and how to do every step involved in preparing multiple dishes - some of them complicated and only rarely served - so that they all reach the table at peak edibility: Hot things hot. Cold things chilled. Crispy things crisp. Smooth things smooth. No lumps in the gravy, no melted edges on the Jello salad.

You need to know when to purchase your ingredients, so they'll be fresh and available. When to start prepping them. How long to marinate, chill, pre-heat, etc. How to coordinate one oven and four stove burners for maximum efficiency. When to add the final seasonings. How long to "rest" the roast.

Start too early - you have potatoes sitting there getting cold and crusty, rolls becoming chewy, salad greens going limp.

Start too late - you inevitably end up burning something, dealing with lumps in the gravy, underdone veggies, cream that won't whip because the beaters and the bowl aren't cold enough.

It's a mix of art, craft, and most of all - experience.

Joe learned it at his Mom's knee, and took those skills into politics with him.

What, after all, is an election, but a Major Feast for which a political party has to have every dish presented at peak readiness for the voters?

We are watching a master who studied at in the kitchen of a master, prepare our Midterm Election Feast, people. And everything is going to reach the table at its best, a veritable crescendo of political cuisine.

Thank you, Catherine "Jean" Finnegan Biden. You done good. I bet your Thanksgiving dinners were awesome.


Document classification/declassification is not the equivalent of divorce in Islam.

A person, even a person with the highest level of power and security clearance, yes, even the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States, cannot just state before a witness or two "I declassify you" and make it so.

Declassification, like classification, is a process, part of the legally-mandated information management protocols of the U.S. Government.

While a single official (such as the President) can initiate that process, they cannot complete it. Depending on the type of document and the topic matter and the level of classification, the declassification process may require a review and sign off by various agencies/officials. If they are unwilling to do that sign off, there is an appeal process that requires additional review and sign-off.

Once any/all required declassification sign-offs are complete, the process is still not finished. The declassification process must be logged and the item's classification status changed in all records, catalogs, and histories pertaining to that item. All copies of the item itself must be retrieved, re-covered (provided with an up-to-date on-item indicator of its new status), and its new storage location(s) and access protocols logged and noted.

Then, and only then, is a document fully declassified.

For [Redacted] to say "I declassified that" without a process log showing that all of those steps were completed is as ridiculous as him claiming that up is down because he made it so.

Oh, wait... he does that all the time.


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