Now We’re Getting Somewhere.

I’ve been griping for a while about how early the election season starts. In fact, I’ve been griping about the coverage of the 2016 elections since February of 2014.

Well, things are finally going to get started. The Iowa Caucuses are just around the corner, bringing the promise of a narrowing Republican slate of candidates, the inevitability of Governor O’Malley packing it up, the potential for Hillary to Mess Things Up, and the slimmest possibility of Bloomberg jumping straight into the middle of this game at the last possible minute. Who knows: the candidates might even talk about important issues rather than just sniping, blaming, and misleading.

Sit tight folks, November will be here before you know it.

In the meantime, you are encouraged to turn over your encryption keys, stop using cash (ha, right. Thanks to Jukkou for the link), and be afraid of terrorism instead of all the things much more likely to kill you.

In Closing: Why things are likely to get much worse in Flint; “literally not your father’s Oldsmobile”; outbreaks; and the return of practical effects.

Blood from a Turnip

This morning when I woke up, I had 67 email messages in my inbox. Over 60 were asking for donations: this candidate, that political movement, charities and whatnot. There were more in my spam folder, and yet more that had already been filtered to a “political” folder.” Another half dozen begging messages or so have arrived every hour since then. More than a few have tried to guilt me into giving, imploring me to help unlock matching funds, defeat political bad guys, or simply implying that my lack of giving must surely be a mistake. Yes, I did a bunch more “unsubscribes” today. Part of me wishes I had thought to add up the minimum recommended donations for each one of these emails.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I have a total 80 begging emails today — remember, that’s just today, and that’s a bare minimum. And let’s say that on average each one asked for “only $5.” In real life, some asked for only $3, and others asked for $20. So, 80 emails times $5 each is $400.

Yeah, not gonna happen.

I do declare, I have no use for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Reince Priebus.

EDIT: 4 more emails asking for contributions arrived while I was writing this post!

For the record, the other emails were almost exclusively asking me to buy stuff. At least I would have something at the end of that transaction.

In Closing: hush now; Japan has always had a knack for making things smaller; let’s do this over the Holidays and hope nobody asks a bunch of questions; well, being forced to buy a product from highly profitable corporations is better than nothing, I guess; Unintended Result; nothing to hide, in a world where buying gardening supplies can get you a SWAT raid; and thank goodness Radley Balko is out there telling the truth.

Sharing an Email

Since she sent it to about a bazillion people, I hope Elizabeth Warren won’t mind my sharing it with you:

Bridget,

Over the past four years, millions of people have fled their homes in Syria, running for their lives. In recent months, the steady stream of refugees has been a flood that has swept across Europe.

Every day, refugees set out on a journey hundreds of miles, from Syria to the Turkish coast. When they arrive, human smugglers charge them $1000 a head for a place on a shoddy, overloaded, plastic raft that is given a big push and floated out to sea, hopefully toward one of the Greek islands.

Last month, I visited the Greek island of Lesvos to see the Syrian refugee crisis up close. Lesvos is only a few miles away from the Turkish coast, but the risks of crossing are immense. This is a really rocky, complicated shoreline – in and out, in and out. The overcrowded, paper-thin smuggler rafts are tremendously unsafe, especially in choppy waters or when a storm picks up.

Parents try their hardest to protect their children. They really do. Little ones are outfitted with blow up pool floaties as a substitute for life jackets, in the hope that if the rafts go down, a $1.99 pool toy will be enough to save the life of a small child.

And the rafts do go down. According to some estimates, more than 500 people have died crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece so far this year. But despite the clear risks, thousands make the trip every day.

I met with the mayor of Lesvos, who described how his tiny island of 80,000 people has struggled to cope with those refugees who wash ashore – more than 100,000 people in October alone. Refugees pile into the reception centers, overflowing the facilities, sleeping in parks, or at the side of the road. Recently, the mayor told a local radio program that the island had run out of room to bury the dead.

On my visit, I met a young girl – younger than my own granddaughters – sent out on this perilous journey alone. I asked her how old she was, and she shyly held up seven fingers.

I wondered what could possibly possess parents to hand a seven-year-old girl and a wad of cash to human smugglers. What could possibly possess them to send a beloved child across the treacherous seas with nothing more than a pool floatie. What could make them send a child knowing that crime rings of sex slavery and organ harvesting prey on these children.

Send a little girl out alone. With only the wildest, vaguest, most wishful hope that she might make it through alive and find something – anything – better for her on the other side.

This week, we all know why parents would send a child on that journey. Last week’s massacres in Paris and Beirut made it clear. The terrorists of ISIS – enemies of Islam and of all modern civilization, butchers who rape, torture and execute women and children, who blow themselves up in a lunatic effort to kill as many people as possible – these terrorists have spent years torturing the people of Syria. Day after day, month after month, year after year, mothers, fathers, children and grandparents are slaughtered.

In the wake of the murders in Paris and Beirut last week, people in America, in Europe, and throughout the world, are fearful. Millions of Syrians are fearful as well – terrified by the reality of their daily lives, terrified that their last avenue of escape from the horrors of ISIS will be closed, terrified that the world will turn its back on them and on their children.

Some politicians have already moved in that direction, proposing to close our country to people fleeing the massacre in Syria. That is not who we are. We are a country of immigrants and refugees, a country made strong by our diversity, a country founded by those crossing the sea fleeing religious persecution and seeking religious freedom.

We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers because some politician dislikes their religion. And we are not a nation that backs down out of fear.

Our first responsibility is to protect this country. We must embrace that fundamental obligation. But we do not make ourselves safer by ignoring our common humanity and turning away from our moral obligation.

ISIS has shown itself to the world. We cannot – and we will not – abandon the people of France to this butchery. We cannot – and we will not – abandon the people of Lebanon to this butchery. And we cannot – and we must not – abandon the people of Syria to this butchery.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

That’s pretty much all I’ve got today. Oh yeah, except that closing the French border to refugees would not have stopped what happened in Paris since all 8 attackers had EU passports. That’s much like the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were in the US legally, with passports under their own names. But hey, REAL ID is making you safer from people who don’t have all their documents together, right?

Tilting at Windmills

Today’s 2016 Election news — and remember, despite the clown car of candidates, the actual election is still over a year away — is perhaps the only time that Jim Webb will be the top story. He’s dropping out of the race. The next part is just bizarre. Reuters put this best:

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb said on Tuesday he will drop his long-shot bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and explore an independent run for the White House.

Yeah. Low in the polls, but he claims that’s because Anderson Cooper is a big meanie who let Hillary talk twice as long as him. So even though by his own admission independents don’t win, he thinks he’s got a shot.

Maybe he should invest in lottery tickets instead. They’re a better bet.

In Closing: Love this guy’s art; it’s in the stars; Bronies are now apparently a subject of scholarly research; at the very least, taxpayers should not be funding unsafe activities for children; I still think PreCheck is a bad idea if the TSA is really trying to stop terrorists (and a brilliant one if they are really trying to control the masses); on the economy; oops! and pizza alternatives — most can be made vegetarian, a few can probably be done vegan, some can be done gluten free.

The Grown-Up in the House

Here’s just a little round-up of things people are saying about John Boehner’s resignation. The consensus is that now there is no “adult supervision” of Republicans in the House of Representatives. It’s looking more and more like the House is headed towards the river on the road where there’s no bridge. I sure hope those Duke boys know how to fly.

In Closing: There are folks out there still trying to ram the TPP through before anybody can ask pesky questions like “what’s in it”; in which an economist slaps down the political blogger; on inflation; even diet experts disagree about diet (except for a handful of obvious facts like “veggies are good for you,” “drink enough water,” and “too much sugar is bad for you”); and it’s the Supreme Court!

I am apparently being “Ridiculous”

“I don’t mean people are packages, so let’s not be ridiculous,” the New Jersey governor told an interviewer on Fox News Sunday who pointed out that foreigners do not have labels on their wrists.

“This is once again a situation where the private sector laps us in the government with the use of technology,” Christie said. “We should bring in the folks from FedEx to use the technology to be able to do it. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

I’m not entirely sure how he intends to “use the technology” without something that seems very much like barcoding visitors. Maybe mandatory checkins with local authorities?

In Closing: this might be worth watching, but nobody better get in my way on the 21st. Got that??

Chirstie Shows his True Colors

So the latest “brilliant idea” from the Presidential candidate Chris Christie is to track immigrants as if they were Fed-Ex packages. Claiming that 40% of illegal immigrants are here on expired visas, his idea is to keep track of where they are, “And then when your time is up … however long your visa is, then we go get you and tap you on the shoulder and say ‘Excuse me, thanks for coming, time to go.’” Yes, real quote. Also, no specifics on how that would work. It’s not exactly dignified to slap a bar-code on them when they arrive at the airport. Hey, make sure the hotel scans that for you regularly, mmkay?

Now allow me to point out that — even if we take Mr. Christie’s often-quoted statistic at face value, this will catch at most 2/5 of illegal immigrants at some point in the future. It won’t do anything about the other 3/5. Hmm, interesting fraction that, since many illegal immigrants work in jobs that routinely violate labor laws, or are in outright slavery.

 

Back to the idea of somehow tracking every non-American who shows up at an port of entry, including airports and border crossings. Maybe give them some kind of emblem to pin on their jackets?? Now, if the Religious Right wing of the Republican base actually knows the tenets of their faith, they should have a specific Bible verse coming to mind.

Anybody who really wants to talk about the illegal immigration problem needs to address the fact that it can take many many years to get normal permanent status and/or become a citizen. There are only a limited number of permanent visas and green cards issued each year, and most immigrants must maintain that status for 5 years before applying to become a citizen. Dealing with current immigrants under these quotas is much like attempting to drink a gallon of milk using a teaspoon.

But hey, it sure sounds cool to track them like some package you’ve ordered.

In closing: boat; no, she can’t; irreproducible results; what recovery?; the plague.

Just a little JEB! Roundup.

So everybody knows now that JEB! Bush has said some, ahem, ill advised things about worker productivity, right? By now pretty much everybody who isn’t huddled up on the far ultraright end of the spectrum with Donald Trump’s hair has weighed in. Here’s an economist, twice, a CNBC commentator (you know, where people talk about business?), a Moderate, and more smart people. By morning, there are likely to be more people saying similar things.

Of course I guess it doesn’t really much matter which party your Wall Street lackeys belong to.

In Closing: Pow Pao!; evidence that we mostly need better enforcement of gun laws; rich people habits you can (mostly) do too; the IRS will never ever call you to say you owe money; Sure they did (and I totally thwarted 3 tiger attacks last weekend — hey, you didn’t hear about any tiger attacks in Vegas last weekend, now did you??); trade deficit; “lemme take a selfie“; bad charting; Disney Princes.

Music Monday: It’s still over a year from now….

So Scott Pelley pointed out that it’s “only” 594 days until the 2016 elections and what were candidates waiting for. Um, what?

So anyway I have this survey from the Democrats about Hillary’s potential presidential bid. I notice there’s not an option for “No, I don’t think she should run at all!” And no, I don’t want candidates who have to be “pressed” to run on progressive ideals; I want an actual progressive to run! Better yet, I want that progressive to stay progressive after election day.

No, not Elizabeth Warren. She’s more important where she is.

In Closing: Waah; interesting; throwback; the radioactive man; on Obamacare.

Wacky Democrats

So today I received a “One question poll” on which Democratic accomplishments make me the most proud. Let’s examine these a little more closely.

Health Care Reform: You mean Romneycare 2.0? I concede that Obamacare is an improvement over what we had. However, it still “fixes” the problem by forcing us to do business with the very profitable corporations that got us into this mess. I’d feel better if there were a public option. I’d feel a lot better if there were some concession that kids can’t control coverage: they don’t have employers to provide it and they don’t have a way to make their parents able to afford coverage. Don’t tell me this can’t be fixed, because Howard Dean DID. By the way, it’s not in any way health care reform, but rather health care insurance reform.

60 Straight Months of Private Job Sector Growth: Tell that to JP. If the there’s so much job growth, how come there’s no wage growth? How come Forbes has to promise it will start any minute now? How come underemployment is such a huge problem?

Rescuing the Auto Industry: Yeah, I guess they did that. Of course the corner that used to have a HUUUUGE Chevy dealer in town is now a vacant lot.

Reforming Wall Street: Big reform. Now the bankers have to be more careful how they screw you. Too Big To Fail still exists, banks still only follow their own rules, very few corporate criminals have ever even been charged let alone convicted, and the attempts to water down an already watered down law continue.

Historic Action on Climate Change: Really? Activists had to work too hard to kill Keystone XL, the gas industry still markets itself as “clean,” and we’re all excited about a “target“?

Expanding Equality: I have not the faintest idea what they’re talking about.

So six items, all but one done at best halfway. I am not proud at all.

In closing: my mom would have liked that manager; still an awful idea; not all ideas are equal.