December 03, 2016

Maybe Trump will tie both parties, and #neoliberals, into knots on #freetrade (updated)

Most people have heard about the keeping of 1,000 850 Carrier jobs in the US, with the flip side of approximately $7 million in incentives for Carrier's parent company, United Technologies. (It should be noted that the deal doesn't save as many jobs in the US as Trump first claimed, but, does require Carrier to make new investments in the Indiana plant.)

Setting aside issues of the military-industrial complex, it seems the biggest mouth-foamers on this one (Kevin Drum was the first I saw) are majority neoliberals, follow by people who, whether neoliberal or not, would be identified as Democratic Party apparatchiks above all.

Well, Trumpy ain't done yet.

First, he's targeted another company, Rexnord, that has announced plans to move jobs to Mexico. This one, like Carrier, is headquartered in Indiana, which makes one wonder how much power to cut deals like the Carrier one Trump will have after Jan. 20, 2017, when Mike Pence becomes vice president and stops being governor of Indiana. No matter. That bridge will be crossed then.

Second, and in clear disagreement with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Trump has openly espoused a "buy American" requirement for iron and steel in water infrastructure projects. Yes, per the story, he's arguably hypocritical, as his skyscrapers have used imported steel.

So what? If he wins this battle, it will send out shock waves. First, by the number of Congressional Democrats that are already supporting him, Trump may force those Party apparatchiks to do what they don't want to do on their own — accept non-free trader, non-hardcore neolibertarians into party leadership, and apropos the just finished presidential primaries, to accept them as candidates, as well.

As the likes of Matt Stoller have already said on Twitter, Trump may well actually deliver more on jobs protection than Obama promised.

And, on cost savings from federal contractors, too.

It remains to be seen how it pans out, but, The Donald bashing Boeing over estimated costs for a new Air Force One is refreshing. (And, contra Politico, on paper at least, more robust than Presidents Obama or Clinton on the Democratic side.)

And, even St. Bernard of Sanders is wrong on this one, and I presume acting as Democratic (because he really is a Democrat) apparatchik first, labor backer second.

As Stoller has also noted, as have others, in the case of Carrier, presidential administrations both Democrat and Republican have given trade preferences to defense-related industries. And (although I disagree with them) states and municipalities have long had economic incentive grants. Bet you did as Burlington mayor, Bernie.

Survey says?

Per this piece, Mayor Bernie supported a bond issue that helped benefit a high-end development. When it didn't get a two-thirds majority, he used an eminent-domain lawsuit in conjunction with the state. Per The Nation (which mentions part of the Lake Champlain development but "overlooks" the suit) Bernie provided seed money for start-up businesses. The Nation also says he "helped" other businesses, not just start-ups, but again, no details, except in one case where it says he "provided capital." This was all part of the Community and Economic Development Office that Sanders created as mayor.

Yes, Bernie did help nonprofits, help get affordable housing, and more, but! He gave already established businesses money — possibly after hints they'd move elsewhere or something.

And we haven't even mentioned Senator Sanders voting to increase federal handouts to Big Ag dairy farmers, and Rep. and Sen. Sanders lusting after F-35s.

Of course, when other people are having buyer's regret over voting for a man whose Treasury Secretary-designee foreclosed on their houses during the Great Recession (setting aside that the woman in question induced her own moral hazard by buying the property in the SoCal bubble market for rental income), things will be very fluid politically for some time. That itself is generally good.

And, even there, blame Obama's Treasury Secretary, Tim Geither, and Obama himself, for setting up an alleged "bailout" plan for homebuyers that was really a way to launder more money to banksters. Trump is replacing an incrementalist and knocked off another; again, the fluidity is generally good, IMO.

And, Trump might upend the GOP as well. Paul Ryan's Wisconsin district has a fair amount of blue-collar workers. If he opposes Trump on issues like this repeatedly, I would in no way be surprised if Trump tried to get Ryan "primaried" in 2018.

December 02, 2016

A Word to the Disabled


I wasn't disabled myself
But I was, briefly,
A blur of gray,
An attempt to turn and spin and brake
And a crash.
A compact car loses
To a full-size truck.

I stare at my arm
And my displaced hand.
With numbness,
Then shock.
The doctor said;
"Not your typical break."

Lids don't turn;
Tops don't pop;
Tab don't pull.
Not for months, not easily.
Not with that left arm.
I learn that life is more difficult
When I can't open the diced tomatoes
With my hand can opener.
Having to learn new ways
Of putting on shirts
And not even wearing some,
Because it was too hard,
Is part of a process, too.

I've gotten better.
Fortunately, if not young,
Despite my PT's words,
I'm not old.
I'm healing
And looking at full recovery.

But, I've learned, 
At least briefly,
What it's like to be semi-disabled,
And gained
A bit of empathy
For the fully disabled.

It's not just physical challenges, 
Or so it seems.
Fear. Anxiety. Frustration.
Many other emotions.

And, to the disabled —
I hope I remember
At least a bit of what I have learned.

You don’t want patronization
Any more than pity.
You’d like respect, and understanding,
Along with sympathy.
Even better — empathy, if possible.

Above all, you’d simply
Like to be seen as human.
And not a mascot,
Not an “always on” inspiration,
Or otherwise on a pedestal.

Simply human.
With the full gamut
Of human emotions
And human drives.

I hope I remember.
If I don’t,
Especially if I know you personally —

Please remind me.

December 01, 2016

#Recount2016 — never fear, Greg Palast is here to explain #AuditTheVote

If you've been following the twists and turns of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's recount request of three states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — from this year's election, three states that Donald Trump "flipped to red" after Barack Obama won them in 2012 (and 2008), you've seen that this already has more twists than a cat has lives.

I've already blogged twice on this. To summarize those as the backdrop for the third post, the set-up for the header:

Greg AtLast, intrepid undercover journalist, is here to get
to the bottom of the bottom-dwelling of Recount2016.
In my first post, I noted that the Michigan State prof calling for this, along with others, by demographic profile alone, seemed to be a Clintonista. I also noted that his alleged anomalies actually weren't and that some of the auditability issues he alleged weren't entirely true in his own state of residence, Michigan.

In my second post, I discussed how Stein was going off half-cocked, and that that's not just my opinion but that of a majority of the Green Party's executive committee. I also looked at how the party executive has been pissed since she officially endorsed Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic primary, then — even though she had no legal authority to do so — offered to step aside for him as the Greens' presidential candidate, under the right terms of agreement.

(I forgot to explicitly mention in that second post that I cannot understand why the Greens' executive committee didn't vote unanimously against the recount as configured. I totally agreed with the reasons the majority stated in opposing it and even added my signature to the executive statement. Actually, someone else can.)

Well, never worry about being puzzled over all of this

We now have Greg Palast and his mythical fedora weighing in with alleged answers.

Fortunately for the portion of left-liberals that want to always, not selectively, be part of the "reality-based community," we also have a follow-up weigh-in

Greg Palast's doppelgänger, Jungian shadow and more, Greg AtLast, is here to take a look at what Greg Palast has to say.

Palast started with a blanket claim that Stein isn't hunting Russians.

AtLast notes: It's true she's never directly used the word "Putin," BUT — both she and the Haldermans of this issue have hinted at "foreign elements," and one would have to be an even dumber fuck than Palast to think Halderman and Stein meant anything other than Vlad the Impaler.

Palast then says "the Green team does not yet even have the right to get into the codes."

AtLast notes that, per the above, there is NO "Green team." There is a "Stein team." Period. Thanks for further muddying the waters.

Palast next claims that most "undervotes" were actually machine-read intended votes, without any proof to that end. And, he gets more egregious in calling undervotes "spoiled."

AtLast notes: Nope, first on the "spoiled." As they don't ruin the ballot, an undervote by definition cannot be spoiled. As for intent of undervoting? AtLast knows of multiple people who have deliberately undervoted themselves, including in the current election.

Further refutation of Palast's conspiracy theory, or of bad machine scanning of ballots, even? Wisconsin set a record for write-in votes. People just didn't like either Clinton or Trump, even whlie caring enough to vote in other races.

AtLast adds that Palast is filtering his rhetorical, Palast-theoretical softballs through the filter of Robert Fitrakis, Stein's lawyer in the recount. Fitrakis is another Ohio 2004 conspiracy theorist, who even co-wrote a book about alleged massive vote fraud there. Reality? A couple of Cleveland-area elections officials were convicted of fraud, technically, on the real-world grounds of massive laziness. And that was it, per both Mark Hertsgaard, respected liberal writer, and Democratic Congressman John Conyers. Indeed, Fitrakis' screed is one of two explicitly critiqued by Hertsgaard in his Mother Jones piece.

He lists a bunch of alt-left (sic) claims that Fitrakis et al uncredulously passed on, including in at least one case after a Democratic official tried to correct them. And, some of his ire, or whatever, is direct specifically at Fitrakis, noting at the time he was on good personal terms with one of his co-authors, and the author of another book about Ohio 2004.

(AtLast at this point reminds readers that things like decreasing voting machines in some precincts, shortening early voting time windows, etc., while despicable, is legal and not fraud.)

Even worse, per the title of another book of his, "Star Wars, Weather Mods and Full Spectrum Dominance," which has no editorial review on Amazon, Fitrakis is apparently a chemtrails whack. (See page 5 of that PDF.)  Or see this piece; let's drop the word "apparently," in my opinion.

AtLast says: I LOATHE chemtrails conspiracy theorists. For personal and professional reasons both.

AtLast also notes that he didn't follow the Ohio 2004 recount more closely since Bush's margin of victory was greater there than Trump's was this year in any of the three states under question, or else he would have commented earlier on about a swamp in obvious need of draining.

AtLast also notes that Fitrakis is co-chair of the Ohio Green Party's steering committee, per his Wiki page. He is also part of a so-called "Green shadow cabinet," which is NOT affiliated with the Green Party. However, even without that affiliation, that and his state party connection may explain why the GP executive committee vote against Stein wasn't unanimous. And, it is probably cautionary as to how much closer to the "reality-based community" the party will, or will not, become, as long as people like him are in the core.

At the same time, Margaret Flowers, the Green's Maryland Senate candidate, and seemingly part of the anti-Stein faction, who spilled the beans on the party's internal dissent, is also part of said shadow cabinet. (This was all for the 2012 election cycle; it's not been updated for 2016.)

Palast then notes that nationally, in the 2012 presidential election, nearly 1 million provisional ballots were discarded.

AtLast notes that Palast doesn't mention that, sometimes, provisional ballots are tossed for good reasons. (He does commend Palast for not claiming that every ballot tossed was done nefariously.) He also notes that 65 percent of provisional ballots were accepted. Therefore, calling provisional ballots "placebos" is more spin than reality.

Beyond that, Palast appears to be pulling numbers out of his bupkis.

Also in Ohio, AtLast sees Ohio State prof Ned Foley say that only 618 provisionals were cast in Wisconsin due to lack of photo ID (about 750 total provisionals), of which 502 were rejected. And Foley actually has a link.

Palast then tries to make it look like mail ballots that are tossed are tossed nefariously.

AtLast responds: First, there's reasons why mail-in ballots have specific rules. It's called: Fraud Prevention! Actual fraud has happened with mail ballots, including multiple cases at least partially involving them in Dallas County in 2010. Actual election experts tell the general public that mail ballots are at least as weak of a link in the chain of secure voting as are voting machines. Second, Palast doesn't claim how many mail ballots were tossed nationally, unlike provisionals. AtLast suspects the number is pretty small.

Palast rhetorically asks: Is Stein going to get rich?

AtLast says: Nobody's claimed that. Some people did, legitimately, wonder why she appeared to shift the goalposts after she started her fundraising drive. Maybe Palast should ask Stein or Fitrakis about that.

AtLast also rhetorically asks back: "Is Fitrakis going to get rich? What's his lawyerly charge per billable hour? How many billable hours has he already racked up?"

AtLast also remembers that David Cobb is a lawyer and wonders if he's getting paid legal billing for his advisory role to Stein.

Palast is right about is the partisan nature of many states' election commissions. That's about the only thing that's right.

AtLast observes: Blame Obama. Blame Obama for not fighting better for governors and state legislators in the 2010 midterms, which allows the GOP to do massive gerrymandering for post-2010 Census redistricting.

November 29, 2016

Who's stupider at the NYT, Friedman or Krugman?

This is an epic race for the bottom.

First, Krugman continues to be an ever-more-rabid Clintonista. Over the weekend, he essentially accused FBI director James Comey of treason. No, really:
Beyond the treason angle, Krugman is being trolled to the max by a man who's a classic troll.

This is also the same Krugman, Nobel winner in economics, who on Election Night blamed Jill Stein for Hillary Clinton's losing Florida, even though, in real time, Donald Trump's margin over Clinton was three times that of Stein's total votes.

But, Teapot Tommy, aka My Head is Flat Friedman, isn't going to surrender without a fight.

First, his latest book is stupid enough. Per Gizmodo, it also has one of the dumbest graphs of all time. It's so dumb that Matt Taibbi is running a contest for the best skewering of it. At left is my entry, which if you click the Gizmodo link, you will see directly plays off Friedman's original.

Can't put it much more clearly than that, can we?

All of this shows its no wonder that, when the New York Times, a decade or so ago, first proposed a paywall, Times Select, and limited it to columns and other semi-proprietary material, that the columnists bitched. They were afraid of finding out what the public thought they were actually worth.

November 28, 2016

TX Progressives talk recounts, Castro and more

The Texas Progressive Alliance is more familiar with the word "emolument" than ever before as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at statewide judicial race results by State Rep district in Harris County.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos agrees with Donald Trump.  The election is rigged.  On his behalf.  Thanks to the Electoral College. Why I refuse to sit down, shut up and get over it.

SocraticGadfly takes a critical look at Jill Stein's vote recount push, and while noting it's noble, finds a number of problems, mainly with the likely Clinton-loving professor who pushed for it in the first place.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled that Henry Cuellar is one of 18 Democrats in the US House refusing to denounce Stephen Bannon, the white nationalist, who is Trump's pick for chief strategist.

The death of Fidel Castro was the latest of seminal 2016 moments, but no more so than for Mrs. Diddie, whose stories of leaving Cuba in the arms of her parents in 1962 were retold for another generation by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value went to Galveston on Thanksgiving Day and posted a nice picture of the beach. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Space City Weather remembers the November 1992 tornado outbreak in Southeast Texas.

The Bloggess explains her strategy for surviving family get-togethers.

The Texas Election Law Blog reviews the case for a Presidential recount.

Grits for Breakfast marvels anew at the way some members of our Court of Criminal Appeals operate.

The TSTA Blog calls the A-F campus grading system "shameful".