Happy New Year

I’d like to look back on a year that in a lot of ways was shit-tastic. 2015 disappointed me in lots of ways. Mass shootings were everywhere in the news, in fact according to some sources they happened at a rate greater than once a day. Want to review the greatest hits? Here you go: mass shootings As a sick complement to that, police shootings are up too. police shootings We lost a bunch of beloved celebrities, among them Leonard Nimoy and Lemmy of Motörhead. The thin mask of humanity covering the GOP was finally discarded as every single candidate for the Republican nomination have gone full Voldemort, every single one of them is cartoonishly evil, they have abandoned their century-old “frugal steward of the public’s funds” pose and gone full austerity sadist. Any program that helps anyone without a billion dollar bank balance is somehow now an unaffordable communist subsidy of people they see as no better than morlocks. And our Democratic candidates are so goddamn timid in their repudiation of the Republican platform that it makes me sick. How hard is it to not be a reluctant apologetic leftist and “bleeding heart liberal”? Get a freaking megaphone and shout at the top of your lungs why being a liberal is the smart, sane and compassionate choice. Pick up a slogan that works like “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and hit the conservatives over their head with it whenever they freak out about terrorism or ebola or the possibility that some poor person somewhere might be getting helped by the government. Get on every soapbox you can find and hit the republicans over the head with their chummy relationship with the worst people in the world from oil industry titans desperate to stop any kind of action against global warming, to billionaire plutocrats who’d prefer to be autocrats, to evangelical weirdos with dreams of turning the US into a horrifying mix of George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s tale, to firearms manufacturers selling home massacre kits under the guise of protecting our 2nd amendment rights.

It’s enough to make me despair. And yet I can’t be the guy that calls for all of the wingnuts and likely Trump voters to be stripped of their voting rights or worse. The conservatives, reactionaries, evangelicals and others who vote reliably republican aren’t space aliens, they aren’t sheep, they aren’t zombies. I don’t know how to reach them though, especially given how many of them seem to think that any attempt to address the issues that are of an actual existential threat to the USA and humanity as a whole are met with accusations of communism or worse. A statistician of my acquaintance introduced me to a saying common in her line of work, “all models lie, but some models are useful” And I think that statement is true across a far broader range of subjects than just statistics. We all have in our heads a model of “how the world works”. But the model in the heads of conservatives is so different from my model it’s hard to believe we both live on the same planet. And since some of the most powerful figures on the right have gained that power through a lifetime of fearmongering and pandering to the worst instincts of the American electorate, none of them are going to be eager to reverse course unless they think they have to.

Even now they are silent on the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge center by the same group of assholes that stood off the feds at the Bundy ranch. It’s not clear to me if they really want to start some shit with the feds or more likely, want more publicity for on line fundraising so they don’t have to go back to their dead end real life jobs. I’m not even going to criticize the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, as I’m sure the last thing they want heading into an election cycle is the publicity disaster of a shootout with a bunch of guys that have been claiming for years that Obama is a tyrant. By not giving them the violent confrontation they are seeking, the Obama administration saps the legitimacy from their movement. The trouble is, that strategy of refusing confrontation can look a lot like weakness. So once again, a fraction of the country is like the Coyote getting outraged that the road runner isn’t stepping into his crude and obvious trap.


Comments: 28


It’s probably counterproductive to use force against them, rather than just wait for them to grow bored and hungry.

But it’s more than a matter of looking weak.

There’s the issue of excessive police force (and violence) being used against unarmed protesters like Black Lives Matter and Occupy, while right-winger armed with actual guns are treated with kid gloves.


Well, not to split hairs, but the violence perpetrated against the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter was not committed by the Feds, that was *all local. So far the Feds have shown admirable acceptable restraint in dealing with the protest movements during the Obama administration.

And yes, I’d hoped for more sympathy towards popular movements for civil rights from the Obama administration. The support has been tepid at best. Here’s hoping the next president has more guts to fight a system that’s fundamentally biased against the poor and against blacks and other races- and here’s hoping the general public forces that president to do so.

*except for all that coordination provided by the FBI when the local governments decided to roll up the Occupy camps. That was egregious and inexcusable.


I won’t go so far as to claim the Bundymen are as wholesome and all-American as the Fergusonite/#BLM mouthbreathers or the Baltimore Freedom Rioters, but I do expect my progressive brothers and sisters to cluck anxiously over the level of militarization and force which law enforcement brings to bear to control and disperse these civic protesters.

I’ll likewise leave it to the news-media establishment to determine the degree of Societal Soul-Searching these protests must needs engender—after all, if they’re that angry and desperate, there MUST be a concomitant social justice cri de couer of no small significance. Walk a mile in their shoes, whether it’s to the liquor store or the sheep dip.

All that said, I am nonetheless troubled by the callous yuks being generated over the Bundymen in the Meme-verse, wherein world Islamist tropes and titles are being subjected to snarky cultural appropriation, and in service of pejorative ridicule, no less. Gosh, I’d heard such loose usage offended and even radicalized our mercurial Muslim friends.


“Civic protestors”? Hardly. Armed & delusional thugs who have at the least trespassed, broken & entered, & made terroristic threats, while refusing to accept a federal verdict. I believe the word is sedition.

Zero-tolerance, I say.


“my progressive brothers and sisters”

“if they’re that angry and desperate, there MUST be a concomitant social justice cri de couer of no small significance.”

“Gosh, I’d heard such loose usage offended and even radicalized our mercurial Muslim friends.”

Your concern trolling is noted, Inkberrow. Try to be a little less blatant next time. Say, lead off with “I’m a lifelong Democrat”. That never fails to convince intelligent, aware people that you’re coming from a place of sincere thoughtfulness.


My apologies. The word “trolling” was supposed to be struck through. This is a test for future reference.

Unerringly Errant

I linked here from DOA on a lark and felt the urge to share a couple of insights that I recently gleaned and am still struggling to assimilate. Well, actually, the first is less of an insight and more of a joke. My brother, who actually works in finance and is literally the only liberal in his department, came up to me not long ago and said, “I just don’t get it. How do conservatives NOT realize that they’re the bad guys? It reminds me of this sketch I saw…” and then he showed me [a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VImnpErdDzA”]this.[/a]

Now, the actually important thing. My wife recently performed a rare act of direct translation between her family and me that led to an epiphany. She explained to me, after an argument I had with her siblings that felt like I was running on a treadmill, that most people do not use reason to formulate their beliefs. Not only that, but they don’t allow reason to modify their beliefs either. Most people start off inculcated with a set of beliefs and spend the rest of their life using that as a means by which they decide what sources of information are trustworthy. The fact that I go to great lengths to weigh the evidence on any issue in a neutral manner and to build my beliefs on a strong, logical foundation [i]makes me the weird one![/i]

Once I understood this, it made sense of a lot of phenomena, particularly young Earth creationists, 9/11 truthers, and flat-Earthers. I’ve had arguments with all of these people, spending hours systematically debunking every “source” they threw at me while presenting them with my own sources from peer-reviewed journals and reference texts, without them ever budging. Because in their minds, I was a shill and every source I provided that contradicted what they believed must, a priori, be part of the conspiracy (Satan, The Government, and NASA, respectively).

So while I understand calls to be more strident in our liberalism, ultimately that will just result in what we see happening with the GOP today: we will be preaching to the choir and only appeal to the ideologically set individuals. The moderates will be turned off by our rhetoric. Mind you, I don’t know what the solution is. The only way to combat this kind of mentality seems to be to earn trust first and then slowly erode their solidified beliefs from there. I’m just not sure how a godless, atheist socialist such as myself could accomplish that first task.


Happy New Year. Nice to see you’ve already attracted a troll.


Nice to see you too, Major Kong. Sadly it’s only a concern troll. I’m just going to pull out the hook and throw him back.


I’m the news media, I blog. That makes me at least as authoritative of an authority as anyone that works at Breitbart, so I will now attempt to determine “the degree of societal soul searching these protests would be insurrectionists should engender”. It’s OK to try and see things from the opposing viewpoint. My grandfather was a farmer and my uncle and cousin still own that farm and raise beef cattle. …Oh that’s right they own that farm not lease the grazing land from the feds at 10% of what the market would charge for that amount of forage. There’s no “open range” in Wisconsin.

At it’s heart I believe that like the Luddites of England, “ranchers” have a complaint, which is to say they can’t make a living the way they always had. Now, for the Luddites of England it was because the new automation meant that anyone used to earning a living with a spinning wheel couldn’t possibly compete against the cheap production output of automated mills. Let’s compare and contrast that with ranchers who’ve been raising cattle on land better suited for raising jackrabbits and creosote bushes for the century or so since the feds used the army to chase off the Native Americans.

You could claim that in that century of treating leased land like their own private feed lot that they have been responsible stewards of the environment and the public wealth, but you’d be wrong. The history of ranching in the west is the history of overgrazing, of badly thought out dams, of erosion, of tax rebellion and petty violence. Sure, ranchers and cowboys loom large in the myth of the hardy pioneers of the American West, but just like the pilgrims, their time has passed. Too many people are thinking about land as more than just raw material for industrialized agriculture and livestock raising. That land is an ecosystem, a vital habitat for the plants and animals that were here long before the ranchers. Those sagebrush plants and gopher tortoises are uniquely evolved to make the most of the land in the way that cowboys and ranchers really don’t. The bird refuge at the heart of this issue is vital habitat for dozens of species and millions of birds. And we live in a democracy. Or even if you want to make a distinction without a difference, a representative democracy. Where the elected government has, on behalf of the citizens of that country decided that the wildlife sanctuary is more important than the grazing rights of two of the most cantankerous, destructive and borderline homicidal ranchers alive in Oregon today. They weren’t even banned from grazing their herd and moving on the wildlife refuge, they were just restricted as to what times they could do so. And they retaliated with death threats, with attacks, with poaching and with arson. Because they thought that the rented land of the US government was their little kingdom. But the days when ranchers could control the lands they use like their own private kingdom are over. And law enforcement and the court system has shown them the error of their ways.

So what are we losing? The freedom of BLM employees to enjoy death threats at work? The expense and risk of fighting brush fires deliberately set to cover up evidence of poaching? The damage of grazing cattle on the fragile habitat of endangered species? The idea that ranchers get a lifelong carte blanche to harass and intimidate federal employees? I can’t think of anything worth saving that we are losing by jailing those ranchers. But that’s the hill these armed squatters and extortionists are doing their level best to die on. The world has moved on. Just like steel mill employees in Youngstown, ranchers that can’t make a living within the the BLM’s rules, are going to have to find a different way to make a living and maybe even uproot their families to go where that is easier. So, I’m not suggesting it’s easy, but it’s the big, grown up, manly, cowboy thing to do. Or, they could try a page from the the old west playbook and show up on property that doesn’t and never did belong to them, and claim because they have guns, that its theirs now, and they can see how well that works against the feds in the 21st century.


Austin, it might have occurred to you that I was being facetious with “progressive brothers and sisters”? And Helmut, facetious too where “concern” is, um, concerned?

I am certainly a lifelong Republican, and I’m just here puncturing liberal sanctimony balloons. I got here from the blogroll of an old Slate Fray friend with whom I’ve long corresponded.

If indeed I’m a “troll”, I’m happy to leave off commenting here. I thought that meant “insincere” or “pretextual”. I’m neither, but maybe it depends on the venue. A progressive cloister or choirloft does not need or want me, conceded…


Don’t go away mad. We more or less welcome people of all ideological viewpoints here, at the deserted ruins of a once mighty snark blog. We don’t tolerate personal attacks, but most of us still commenting have been accused of trollery of one level or another in our history. When I got the keys to this empty mansion I decided within a post or two, to not say anything here that I wouldn’t say to the author or poster’s face. Face to face, I might need a beer or two to exhibit the frankness I pseudonymously employ here, but I like to think that the rules of internet debate have to account for the the existence of concern trolls and tone trolls. So if you are concern trolling, I am playing into your hand by replying, if you are a doughty adventurer and explorer of forgotten blogs, I’m just the salty old timer giving a qualified welcome to the unfamiliar face. So, welcome to Sadly, No! Inkberrow, if that is your real name.


Serious question: what is “concern trolling”? I was lampooning a stock liberal POV facetiously—is that the same thing?

I assure I am not Mad, nor angry; just willing to steer clear if I’m a fish to a bicycle. Inkberrow’s a UK spot where I used to live.

Consumer Unit 5012

Concern Trolling: “I’m on your side so I’m telling you – don’t be so MEAN and SHRILL! Your complaints are best voiced in ways that will be much easier to ignore!”



There’s the issue of excessive police force (and violence) being used against unarmed protesters like Black Lives Matter and Occupy, while right-winger armed with actual guns are treated with kid gloves.

i’ve heard it speculated that this is not a legit comparison in that the feds do not want another ruby ridge or waco on their hands.

i don’t know that i buy that, though…

while this ‘militia’ has generated some good comedy, i find it disconcerting to say the least, that yes, armed goobers can take over federal property and we just chuckle and shake our heads and make jokes, while a black man can get killed for picking up an air gun off a shelf at walmart.


You might assume that California is a state where the Republicans are fairly moderate — think Arnold Schwarzenegger — and therefore it’s a state where presidential candidates in the so-called center lane


And happy xmas and merry new year and all that shit.


It’s a two-fer:

voters always cheer when GOP pols demand a relitigation of a question that seems settled. Think Obamacare. Think Benghazi.

Pupienus Maximus

It’s Roy Batty’s incept date!



and yet another:

After all, what would ever become of pseudo-apostate Conservatives like Andrew Sullivan or David Brooks should they ever be truly stripped of their self-absolving Teflon fantasies about the real nature and history of Conservatism? (Think freshly shucked oysters in a convection oven.)


Over-armed force is always local. Hm. You know, if Obama could just issue an Executive Order declaring the Bundy Bund to be officially non-white, this would all be over so fast.


Still another:

Liev Schreiber leads a fine cast as Ray, a Hollywood “fixer” (think George Clooney’s eponymous character in Michael Clayton, or Harvey Keitel’s “Mr. Wolf”


18 U.S.C. § 2384

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Note that planning alone is enough to violate the law. You don’t need to actually do any of those things.


The federal government has never won a sedition case against militia-types, white supremacists, or neo-Nazis. Since World War I, they have won numerous seditious conspiracy cases against Puerto Rican independentistas, communists and others on the left, but no one on the radical right has ever been convicted of plotting to overthrow by force of arms the government of the United States. [Leonard Zeskind. Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream. pp. 144?171. Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2009.]


OK, so the Packers lost in the playoffs to the Cardinals. Which, ya know, makes me sad.
Does this mean they are now out of the running altogether? They are on vacation now till next season? They can hang up their helmets?


Sadly, it does. “Win or go home” is the cliché in the N.F.L. playoffs.

And now the only West Coast team remaining, the Seahawks, are beating beaten w/ a damn stick by Carolina.


OK, so the Packers lost in the playoffs to the Cardinals. Which, ya know, makes me sad.

ooooohhhhh, the emotions i went through in those last seconds! and i’m glad i didn’t smack talk too much before victory was so rudely snatched away from our boys…


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