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Saturday morning laws of cartoon physics

A little humor to start your day.

I sincerely hope that the youth of today are being properly schooled in these immutable laws. There are others in the film context, such as the pie always finds the face of the most pompous person at the party.

More false equivalency

At this point, the media’s insistence on finding some sort of equivalency between Trump and Clinton is becoming almost comical. The latest example is the AP article about the Al Smith Dinner, in which the reporter strains to make the argument that both Hillary and Donald were out of line. Hillary’s jokes were, in fact, well within acceptable parameters, though it is quite possible they were expertly crafted to get under the Donald’s skin. On the other hand, there is no way that accusing someone of being corrupt is consistent with a tradition of good natured ribbing.

But the walls may be tumbling down. The New York Times is calling it the way it actually happened.

Of course, anyone with an ounce of insight could see that Donald should have found an excuse to stay away. He is absolutely unable to poke fun at himself, or to take it as all in good fun when someone pokes fun at him. Some say that he ran for president in large part because he was steamed at the way he was mocked at the 2011 White House correspondent’s dinner. Assuming he loses, and is safely put out of the way (no revolution), then it would appear that the Democrats are, in fact, good at long term strategizing, because they couldn’t have picked an opponent more to their liking.

To follow up on a point I made in the first paragraph, the Clinton campaign has been truly brilliant in crafting zingers that get under Donald’s skin. She did it in each of the debates, and she did it with pretty much perfect timing. I was a Bernie guy, but I have to admit, it’s unlikely he could have cut Donald down to size as well as she’s done. But then, I’ve been saying for a long time that Donald simply doesn’t know how to interact with intelligent women. You can take the preppie out of the prep school, but you can’t take the prep school out of the preppie.

The Great Debate, part 3

For a number of reasons I won’t go into here, I watched last night’s debate, though I would have preferred to skip it. To a certain extent I’m not good at judging winners and losers, because I actually judge debates based on who makes more sense and who tells fewer lies, which is a criteria used by very few.

One of the reasons I wanted to avoid watching was because Chris Wallace had, inexplicably, been chosen to “moderate” the debate, and I knew he would skew Trump-ward, which he did, though it didn’t help the Donald all that much. I largely agree with this post at Daily Kos, which highlights some of the more egregious offenses, though it doesn’t mention the use of the term “partial birth abortions”, which is nothing more than a right wing creation. Basically, almost every question had a right wing slant.

The ones that particularly got me were the economics questions, one on the budget and one on Social Security. Each question was premised not on fact, but on right wing talking points. Each was prefaced by reference to “studies” created by results oriented organizations; i.e., they got the results that fit their agenda, in large part because they refuse to consider policy positions that they don’t like. If the debt were the overwhelmingly important problem Wallace claims, how is it that the United States government is still able to borrow at close to 0%? And how is it that Wallace can ask a question which takes as a given that we must either reduce Social Security benefits or let the program die? Gosh, Chris, aren’t there any other alternatives, such as taking a bigger slice of your bloated paycheck? To her credit, Hillary would have none of it, and, -is this surprising?-, Donald didn’t answer the question.

The Social Security question is one that has always amazed me, because it’s been asked for years, in one form or another. The basic premise is that Social Security will go broke in 20, 30, 40 years (take your pick), so it is absolutely critical that we do something now! Now! NOW! This from the same people that will tell you there’s no hurry about taking action to combat climate change, because after all, it it’s happening at all it won’t be really bad for 20, 30, or 40 years.

Well, the Presidential Debate Commission wanted to be fair and balanced, so they had to pick someone from Fox to prove that they were. It mattered not that the result would be an unfair and unbalanced moderator. Thankfully, it didn’t matter whatsoever. Donald swung and missed at all the softballs, and Hillary usually reached base, even if she had to bunt.

An Open Letter to Aundre Bumgardner

(For those who don’t reside here in Groton, Aundre Bumgardner is the state representative from my district, which also includes a slice of New London. )

Dear Aundre:

Well, it looks like you’ve passed the Trump test. Instead of voting for your party’s standard bearer, you are going to vote for Gary Johnson, the guy who has never heard of Aleppo. You said so last night at your debate with Joe delaCruz. Aundre, I know you were in a tough spot, it being sort of difficult for an African-American, even one who has affiliated himself with a party that has specialized in race baiting for the past 48 years, to back an open racist. But Aundre, I think you owe your consituents a bit of an explanation. If you’re voting for Johnson, you must, perforce, feel that the country would be better off if his policies were implemented rather than Hillary Clinton’s. Of course, there’s every possibility that you haven’t the slightest idea what the man stands for, but I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. So, Aundre, can you tell us why you support the following:

  • Eliminating public schools. (Actually, this one should be easy for you, since you’ve been the beneficiary of misleading pamphlets by the for-profit charter school industry.)
  • Abolishing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and the income tax, replacing that tax with a regressive national sales tax.
  • Eliminating all environmental regulations, thereby assuring that global warming will proceed apace. But then, maybe you agree with Gary Johnson that we shouldn’t worry about global warming because in a billion years the sun will swallow the earth anyway. Why, it’s just around the corner.


That just scratches the surface of course, Aundre. You must also know that the Libertarian party has also historically opposed civil rights laws because, after all, the freedom to discriminate trumps (sorry about the use of that word) any right any group might have to be free from discrimination, regardless of the context. Because, you know, …liberty.

But perhaps I’m being unfair. Perhaps you don’t know any of these things. It’s the “Libertarian” party. It has the word “liberty” in it, and maybe that’s good enough for you. Why should you bother to educate yourself about the beliefs and history of a party you’re supporting on a one-shot basis when you’ve never educated yourself on the history of the party with which you’re actually affiliated.

But explain to us, whether you know what you’re doing or not, why should we make the same mistake we made in 2014 and send you back to Hartford? Wouldn’t we all be better off, including you, if you went back to school and took a few history classes?

In some cases, past performance is a guarantee of future performance

Here in my home state Senate district, we have a race between an intelligent progressive candidate and the 2014 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor; a candidate so disastrous that the Republicans did their best to put a lid on her during the entire losing campaign. She was a do-nothing town councilor here in Groton for years, but she has a talent for self promotion, and oddly enough, it appears she has snookered a some members of the environmental community here in Groton, despite the fact that she has never used her official position to advance a single environmental cause. So, the following is addressed to those Groton environmentalists who have somehow convinced themselves that Somers is their candidate.

Heather Somers says when it comes to picking presidents, it doesn’t matter what a candidate says, it matters what they’ve done. It seems only fair to apply that standard to her. Heather has tried hard with words to ingratiate herself with environmentalists, but what has she done? She was on the Town Council for years, and during her time in office she did nothing to oppose the Republican majority’s hostility to open space nor did she take the lead to advance any environmental issue. She said she felt there was already enough open space in town and she joined with her fellow Republicans to attempt to take dedicated open space to build a school. She has a record, and there’s nothing in it to indicate that she cares about the environment in the slightest.

Tim Bowles doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He secured $5 million dollars for the Preston Riverwalk project, slated to break ground in November and create 700 jobs. He is a past president of the Connecticut Sierra Club. He has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and he believes in the critical need to protect our environment, combat global warming, and preserve our open spaces for future generations. If you want a state Senator you can trust to vote right on environmental issues, vote for Tim Bowles.

I think this is a reasonable question

Why are stupid people like Steve King on television time and again while intelligent people so rarely make an appearance? In the latest of the many, many stupid things he has said on national television, King recently claimed that the fact that Republicans stole the Florida election from Gore in 2000 (no fraudulent votes, just deceptive ballots and a refusal to count) is proof that the Democrats will be stealing the 2016 election through massive fraudulent voting:

Rep. King replied, “Partially unsubstantiated — I would agree with that. But I would look back at the 2000 election and the fiasco in Florida and the 537 votes that decided the presidency and say that if Al Gore had not accepted the decision of the Supreme Court, we would have had discredited elections in this country back then…”

It wasn’t voter fraud that disrupted the 2000 election in Florida but corruption in the state of Florida’s Republican party, led by Katherine Harris, that obstructed every effort to get an accurate count and then a bogus ruling by the Supreme court.

via Crooks and Liars

If Chris Murphy or Joe Courtney have been on television for one minute for each hour King has spewed stupid, I’d be shocked.

Friday Night Music Briefly returns

After all, he won the Nobel Prize. I don’t know if he deserved it, but he didn’t not deserve it, if you know what I mean. It’s not all that easy to find acceptable videos of Dylan doing his own music, especially from the early days. I had to reject what I could find of a few other songs before settling on this one.

I guess we’ll never know who Mr. Jones was, but most of us can rest assured that it’s somebody else.

And for anyone who thinks Dylan didn’t deserve the prize because half of his songs are incomprehensible, all I can say is try reading T.S. Eliot.

The Donald Implodes

All of this stuff about Trump would be really funny if there wasn’t still a chance he could win. (This is America, after all. Remember what P.T. Barnum said) But, even so, it’s still funny. A few random observations today.

In the “even a stopped clock” department: I came across this about Steve Bannon, the CEO of Donald Trump’s campaign, referring to scammer Paul Ryan:

“Ryan’s agenda is not in line with the American worker. It’s in line with the Wall Street wing of the permanent political class,” the source close to Bannon said.

via Down with Tyranny quoting the Hill

It’s hard to argue with that, though what he thinks Donald Trump would do about it is a mystery.

But, that’s not really all that funny, just more of the same from the Trump campaign. What is funny, at least to anyone with a law degree, is the letter that Donald’s lawyers sent to the New York Times after the Times published what is now the first of many stories about women coming forward with stories about Donald (looks like it’s going full Cosby).

Here’s the last paragraph:

We hereby demand that you immediately cease any further publication of this article, remove it from your website and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology. Failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies. (Emphasis added)

Any lawyer worth his or her salt can translate that last line for you. It means: If you don’t retract that article, we won’t do a damn thing, because we know we have no case.

Even Jake Tapper, who, so far as I know, is not a lawyer, saw through it. (It’s on Twitter, but I can’t seem to get a usable link) The Times lawyers did too, and I can assure you they had a splendid time penning this response. I particularly enjoyed this paragraph, which makes the obvious point that Trump has no reputation worth protecting:

The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.

Whew! And just imagine how much fun they’d have doing discovery.

I don’t have proof, but I’d hazard a guess that Donald Trump only sues down: people and businesses that don’t have the financial wherewithal to defend against a phalanx of lawyers. He’ll never sue the Times. They know it, and he knows it. But if he really decides to do so, I’d advise his lawyers to get a hefty retainer up front, because after they lose they’ll never get a dime out of him.

Trump’s supporters explained

I think Juan Cole is on to something. He asks, why would anyone back Trump? His answer is persuasive, and worth reading, which you can do here.

His argument is that Trump’s adherents, particularly the men, want to be Trump. Read the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

But I nevertheless think that the men who back Trump no matter what are doing so because the celebrity real estate speculator and name-licenser provides them with an opportunity for ego inflation. By backing Trump , they are participating vicariously in the wealthy businessman’s persona. They can imagine themselves in the stretch limousine, they can imagine themselves putting China’s Xi Jinping in his place, they imagine never again paying taxes, they can imagine themselves having cocktails with models in the penthouse, perhaps the most despicable of them wish they could assault women with impunity.

There is, of course, no single explanation, but I do think that this is on the money with respect to a lot of Trump’s supporters. Sort of pathetic, really.

He’s got my vote

Well, not really.

I have fond memories of the Spaceman, Bill Lee, former Red Sox pitcher. It is my firm belief that when the Red Sox went into their 1978 tailspin, which ended in the infamous Bucky Dent homer (may his name forever live in infamy), Bill Lee could have stopped the slide had the gerbil, Don Zimmer, not benched him. Toward the end there, he was the only one loose enough to do the job.

Bill is long since retired. This year he is running for governor of Vermont, as you can read here. He’s running as the Liberty Union candidate, and he’s running an old fashioned campaign, as in the type of hands off campaign people like Jefferson used to pretend to run. No campaign appearances, no fund raising, no nothing really, except appearing at debates. The Republican candidate has insisted he be present, presumably figuring that any votes he gets will come out of the Democratic candidate, but that’s not really all that clear.

The Spaceman’s platform is pretty incoherent, but I loved this line:

I don’t believe in hand guns. I have a 36-caliber Colt conversion Jesse James gun. I couldn’t hit jack diddley with that thing, you know? But it will kill close range,” Lee said. “If you’re afraid, go out and get two grey geese, put them on your front steps and I guarantee you no one’s going to come up to your front door without you knowing about. We don’t need more guns, we need more geese. Thank you.”

Now, this just shows how highly educated (or well read) Lee is. He was undoubtedly making an allusion to ancient Rome, the citizens of which were, in fact, warned that someone was at their front door (or maybe the back door) by Juno’s sacred geese. The Gauls were turned back. Rome was saved. The Roman Republic (like all Republics?) eventually collapsed, but it gave way to Imperial Rome, which gave us Christianity and the Dark Ages, which eventually gave us the Renaissance and Protestantism, which gave us dueling persecutions, but also gave us the Age of Reason, which fizzled out pretty rapidly, giving way to fascism, nationalism, racism, authoritarianism, and capitalism with a heaping helping of global warming on the side.

We owe a lot to those geese.