May 04, 2016

Why I killed my High Country News subscription

When my suburban Dallas newspaper company went belly-up in 2009, and the parent company of the newspaper where I wound up next went into Chapter 11 my first day of work, I naturally tightened the belt a bit.

Among things lost was a subscription to High Country News. It was a magazine I loved.

I still read the non-paywalled articles. And I still touted stories it had done on social media. But, I wanted to read its in-depth pieces, and I wanted to resubscribe.

So, I got a digital-only subscription. Which I have let lapse. And won't renew.

Nor am I likely to read the non-paywalled articles. Nor am I likely to tout HCN on social media any more.

It's gone off the rails somewhat. And, late-February issues finally turned on a light bulb.

As far as I can tell, it's given in to the Overton Window.

When you have a staff writer who repeatedly has called Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski a "moderate," that's what we call a "tell." When you run a photo caption about Sagebrush Rebellion folks having their constitutional rights violated and never use the word "alleged," that's a concern.

The straw that broke the camel's back? Numerous problems related to their commenting system. They generally revolved around articles about the Bundys taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and the amount of "constitutionalist" drivel, followed by outright conspiracy theories, that people there started posting.

Yes, you may have an old, proprietary or semi-proprietary back-end system for website content management in general. But, I suggested a couple of easy fixes.

One was to limit commenting to subscribers only.

If that was too draconian, another one was to put a three-day, or maybe five-day, limit on articles being open for commenting. I'm sure that either one is easy to do. I know that Wordpress-based websites, and I think even the free blogging version of Wordpress, allow that. If your CMS doesn't allow for either one of those, it's time to look at investing in something new, because it has problems otherwise.

And, you don't even need that. Given that HCN web staff will manually close comments for an article, they could easily do that for every article after a three-day or a five-day comment window.

An "attentuated" version of enforcing commenting guidelines was the straw within the straw. Calling an apparent tea partier a tea partier is apparently a personal attack, rather than arguably nothing more than a label, even as the tea partier (and others on other threads) hijack comments by repeatedly going into the deep weeds of constitutional misinterpretation.

Further exacerbating it is that it's invariably non-subscribers doing this. Per evolutionary biology, I don't have to feed the beast on the well-known "freeloader" problem.

The Overton Window would also explain why the likes of Felice Pace no longer write there. Let alone Jeff St. Clair.

That said, there were other reasons, too.

HCN repeatedly emails me, and presumably all subscribers, about advertising opportunities for coming issues and special sections.

Erm, I'm not a business. And, I shouldn't have to be forced to find out how to opt out of such emailings; they should be an opt-in system.

That said, these issues are probably related to why Pace and St. Clair no longer write there — they probably spook some donors.

And, yet, it can't email me personally about my feedback, and how they're addressing commenting issues — if they are at all.

Call this all the feedback of a jilted lover.

May 03, 2016

Hillary Clinton cabinet unveiled

Through the power of a mix of Wikileaks and a still-craptacularly-unsecured Democratic National Committee data server, I've been able to uncover just who Hillary Clinton will have in her Cabinet.

Chief of staff: Huma Abedin

Secretary of State: Henry Kissinger's cloned stem cells

Secretary of Treasury: Lloyd Blankfein (actually, sad real rumor has Larry Fink of Black Rock, a man on record as wanting to privatize Social Security)

Chairman of Council of Economic Advisors: Paul Krugman, a man who started in government in Reagan's CEA, in case you didn't know

Secretary of Defense: Peter Daou

National Security Adviser: Bibi Netanyahu

Secretary of Education: Deray McKesson

"Drug czar": Mark Kleiman, who only wants drugs legal if he can neoliberally protect the poor from themselves

New Cabinet position, with multiple heads

Secretary of Neoliberal Identity Politics: Cory Booker

Clinton Youth (think 1933): Julian Castro; or was that Raul Castro?

A few other non-Cabinet rank, but important positions?

Communications director/press secretary: David Brock

Leader of faith-based programs: Bill Clinton (think about the laying on of hands)

This will be updated in the future.

May 02, 2016

Deep East Texas notes, part 2

It’s time for another blog post about truth vs. fiction on religion here in Deep East Texas.

I’ve blogged elsewhere about how there is no statistical difference on divorce rates and adultery rates between conservative Christians and the general populace. There’s less clear evidence, but I suspect there’s also little difference in the two populations, in “setting up house,” per the rest of the old phrase, “without benefit of marriage.”

And, here, that relates to an online-only media outlet in this area. The boyfriend and girlfriend are “housekeepers.” And, she, at least, is definitely a conservative Christian.

Indeed, they recently did a website upgrade — mainly I think on making it load faster, as it doesn’t look much different, or much better, than before. That’s the set-up.

Anyway, she had a post on there, talking about the upgrades, about how she had “prayed over it.” Really? I’m sure the upgrades didn’t cost that much money. But, that’s that type of mentality. 

I know that the Sixth (or Seventh) Commandment, depending on your variety of Christian or Jewish poison, talks about adultery. It’s clear that is extramarital, not premarital, sex. However, various aspects of both the Jewish Tanakh/Christian Old Testament and the Christian New Testament condemn all sex outside of marriage, whether premarital or extramarital.

Indeed, Jesus said, “He who looks at a woman who is not his wife with lust in his eye …”

So, sorry, folks. Like on other matters sexual, you, like other conservative Xns, are hypocrites. Shock me.

Oh, and don’t try the “it’s like marriage.” First, ancient Israel and the secular society of ancient Christianity recognized formal, legal marriage. Second, yes, Texas has common-law marriage, but both partners have to hold themselves out as husband and wife. (Of course there’s no gay or lesbian common-law sex in Texas.) And, I don't know if they're actually living together or not, but according to that itinerant Jew, even that doesn't matter.

Then, in a recent trial here, the state DA used the old “do you go to church” rhetorical question of a witness to allegedly establish his honesty. Well, we know churchgoers — and church leaders — lie, and even lie with impunity. Witness the papal sexual abuse scandal.

Besides shock me, infuriate me. The old acronym, IOKIYAR, is used by many political conservatives to excuse GOP behavior, or by non-Republicans to mock that. Maybe we need to change the R to a C.

April 29, 2016

Ted + Carly; Donald + ???

Lucifer and What D. Fuck?
Well, now that Lucifer Cruz has named Carly (No Anticipation) Fiorina as his putative Veep months before the GOP convention in Cleveland, what next?

The first what next is this won't work.

St. Ronald of Reagan, in closer stalking to Jerry Ford in 1976 than Cruz is to Donald Trump this year, tried it with Richard Schweiker. All he got was having to explain "why" to hardcore conservatives without significantly closing the gap.

Beyond that, Cruz looked less trustworthy than Reagan even before this, and for someone pretending he's not a real politician, this is what it looks like.

Why Carly?

California. Period. End of story.

It, for the GOP as well as Dems, is the biggest prize left.

However, it is NOT winner take all; it's a proportional race.

Rafael would have been better off, arguably, playing Lucifer with former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Besides, Carly won't help him with the evangelicals in the OC out in SoCal, who have not "broken" for Cruz anywhere anyway.

Why? They, like others, like a "winner," and think Cruz is a geek.


Back to the second half of the header.

Before last Tuesday's primaries, when the possibility of no clear GOP winner loomed larger, I speculated about a Trump-Cruz team to ward off a brokered convention trying to bypass both.

Well, a brokered convention looks unlikely, in large part for the fact that the majority of remaining GOP primaries, and remaining available delegates, are awarded proportionally. And, among the few WTA states besides Indiana is New Jersey, clear Trump territory.

So, whom might The Donald pick?

1. It won't be Ted Cruz. Bet on that.

2. Just possibly Kasich, since the two haven't tangled a lot. Maybe Boehner, if he wanted to reach out to the establishment otherwise. And, no, sit down, Sarah Palin. Trump ain't that dumb.

3. Or, setting Palin aside, he might go wild card. It's quite possible.

April 28, 2016

All over but crying, Dem side, or Hey #Sandernistas, coffee! Smell it

Apparently the #FeelTheBern fanatics, the #Sandernistas, aren't yet ready to face that they're at the "BUST" fork of their other hashtag, #BernieOrBust, even after Tuesday night's generally poor showing, as described by me yesterday.

OK, let the man himself, or his campaign, spell it out in 72-point font. (A reference lost on those who claim not to read a newspaper, but who get their online news from a blog or some other site that links to a newspaper's website.)

Sanders, although his direct campaign fundraising pulled even with Hillary Clinton last week, has now started shit-canning staff.

First, the money.

The Sandernista kids on the block may look at the start of the story and say, he actually raised more than her recently.

I'll look later in the story and say: "He's had a higher burn rate." Specifically, 91 percent vs. 84 percent, and 99 percent for March.

In other words, for all the money Bernie has taken in, $27 at a time, he ain't got much more than bupkis in the bank.

That's the first reality.

So, yes, he wants to concentrate his resources on California.

So does Hillary Clinton, and she's not cutting staff right now.

That, in turn means this may be about other realities as well. So, to the second link.

Tad Devine had already mentioned a "reassessment" a day earlier. So, that's what's happening. I don't care about the spin from other campaign management staff, not even the eminence grisé, Jane Sanders. Per the piece, Devine's got a reputation as a straight shooter. And, this seems like an honest assessment.

As for "spinning"? Yes, Sanders said that there are 40 states already behind them.

But, he only mentioned California among those ahead.


Indiana next week, the three primaries on the week after that, and the others on the same day as California, per the Democratic primary schedule, have almost as many delegates combined as does California. Add in DC a week later, and the non-California remainder of the schedule is worth more than California.

And, if he were to win California? It's not winner take all. It's got easy, concentrated delegate resources, yes, but it's an even more expensive media buy than California.

Plus, is he going to win?

I don't know about Gov. Jerry Brown, but Sens. Barbara Boxer and Betty Crocker (Dianne Feinstein), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are all very much in the Hillary Clinton camp.

I said this more than a month ago.

Bernie is NOT winning California.

Beyond that, winning California alone isn't enough anyway. He'd have to win more than 80 percent of ALL remaining delegates to have a majority of just elected delegates.

Now, you Sandernistas can start thinking about the Plan B of voting Green. You can vote for ideas first, individuals second, while also finding out more about Jill Stein as an individual.

Or you can hold on to your "bust" in two months and stay home in November.

Or you can fold your tents into Camp Clinton.

Which will it be?

If you think you need a couple more days "mourn time," I'll accept that. But, soon enough, you need to accept reality (which includes not waving an eked-out Rhode Island primary win as a talisman of "he's still in it") and decide what your plans for near the general election are.

April 27, 2016

Merika: Cradle of (cluelessness about) democracy, including by #Sandernistas

After Bernie Sanders pretty much got his clock cleaned in the latest round of Democratic primaries, we now have some Sandernistas crying out:
A. For him to run as an independent, and
B. That closed primaries are undemocratic.

I've already addressed A more than once, kiddos. He's way too "good" of a Democrat to do that, as noted here. The fact that he can't mention the Hillary Clinton-supported coup in Honduras, not even once? I wouldn't want him to run independent anyway. He'd detract from a true left-liberal voting opportunity. Per friend Brains, that comes with Plan B, voting for Jill Stein or whomever the Green Party nominates.

And, beyond that, as that should indicate, I vote for ideals first, individuals second. That's why the #ImWithHer on Twitter, with all the tribalism it portents, makes me want to throw up. (And, no, neither explicitly nor implictly, did Obama make the same type of appeals in 2008, for all of his own other neoliberal issues.)

Now, to point B, which I want to tackle in more detail.

Disenfranchising voters through overly rigid ID requirements? That's antidemocratic. Slashing day-of-voting poll locations by 2/3, even if your state budget is struggling? That's antidemocratic.

Closed primaries? Nothing of the sort.

Regular readers of this blog know that I support moving the U.S. more in the direction of parliamentary government. Well, in a parliamentary system, the whole schmeer is pretty much like a caucus here in the U.S. for states that use a caucus system.

And, you know what? Caucuses are closed. And, party establishments are key there.

(But, you have more than two viable parties to back. Usually more than three, even.)

Now, the real thing that's antidemocratic?

Is the presidential-focused two-party system, combined with non-majoritarian, first-past-the-post voting for House and Senate members.

Municipalities, in local elections, and school boards, likewise, require absolute majorities, not just pluralities, for elections. So why not the U.S. Congress and state legislatures? Especially when wedded to something like Instant Runoff Voting, this would actually start making America more democratic.

This is not meant to sound (too much) like a lecture, especially younger participants in the "system." It IS meant to be a wakeup call.

So, "Sandernistas"? There are many more, and more serious things, that America is undemocratic about than are in your philosophy.

Hat tip, Shakespeare.

As for Sanders himself? I'm glad that he's shaken up the Democratic establishment, but the fact that a relatively mild non-socialist is doing that speaks volumes about the party.