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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 17, 2021   Strategic Political Economy “You lost. Stop acting like you won” [White Hot Harlots (lyman alpha blob), via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21] “The abortion issue has been lost. I cannot fathom any plausible near or medium-term scenario in which the actually existing American left mounts a successfu […]
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Fitness Month: Cool Down

The view from my treadmill.

There’s a storm outside. Flashes and a deluge. I’m done with my workout. Waiting for my heart rate to settle down a bit more before I head out into the storm.

I get to my target heart rate the heart rate drops pretty nicely from there but I like to cool down slowly and take my time to get to my resting heart rate of about 68-70bpm. I found out in 2019 that I have a heart murmur. Maybe my heart has to work just a little extra. The doctor told me I might feel a little winded after exercise. It explains so much.

I did pretty well today. Probably could have gone further but my old Nikes are, well, old. They don’t cushion as well as they used to. It’s time to retire them for a new pair.

Ok, cool down over, my water bottle is empty. The rain has slowed to a drizzle. Time to go home.

Cool down music to rock your Gypsy soul:

Cursey words never sounded so true

Sick people are getting crowded out of hospitals because of Unvaccinated Covid patients:

I just have to ask, was it worth all of this stress, threats of violence, enmity? As one doctor on Twitter wrote, “it’s not chemotherapy”. No one is forcing you to take something that’s going to make your hair fall out.

But the guy above has a point. If you were willing to put your trust in your Republican leaders over the medical professionals, then tough it out at home. Don’t be a hypocrite.

The Only Game in Town

It’s an old and trenchant joke, which has over time become a phrase used in a variety of contexts. The essential joke is that a man is talking to his friend , who asks him how he did in his weekly poker game. The first man says, “I lost again. They were still dealing from the bottom of the deck; and one time a player pulled out a card out of his sleeve which turned out to be an ace. And when I won a big hand, they said that it didn’t count, because one of my cards touched the edge of the table, so it was a misdeal.” And the friend says, “That’s terrible. Why don’t you just get out of there, and never play again?” And the man says, “But it’s the only game in town!”

Not to have to explain a pretty obvious joke; but it says something about the nature of gambling. Some people love to gamble, particularly if it looks like a game of skill. It is a welcome diversion from the normal daily occupational concerns. So much so, that they don’t want to give it up, even if they almost always lose; or in this extreme case, are guaranteed to lose. There is only one poker game in this particular town, so if they don’t play in it, they don’t get to play at all. So with a shrug of the shoulders, they go off and keep trying, and keep losing.

We could analogize that to any gambling game, though a fair poker game can certainly be won by an astute player. And there are other gambling games where knowing the odds and playing smart, can at least cut the house’s advantage. But most people who go to Vegas or the Native American casinos, are pretty sure that they are going to lose, but they do it anyway. It is just a human characteristic, at least among many. There are other people who would not get within ten miles of a casino floor, much less a weekly poker game. But the fact that many do, and the somewhat strange psychology of it, is what makes a joke like that resonate with gamblers.

“The only game in town” can be used to describe anything which you feel you are compelled to participate in, as you think that the alternative would likely be worse. Politics is like that. We have a supposed democratic government, and a system of elections. The system is unfair, of course; to a substantial extent it is rigged in favor of the very rich, who are now allowed by virtue of the “Citizen’s United” Supreme Court decision, to pour in billions of dollars to support candidates who will fulfill their wishes, without ever having to identify who they actually are. They also control most of the media, and thus can fill the airwaves with their messages, even pretending that it is coming from groups which are falsely named for vague concepts like “People for Fairness,” or “Let’s Keep Money Out of Politics.” It is the same people, just disguising themselves for their purposes.

And it is also possible that they fix elections. We know that in Florida in 2000, the Secretary of State Katherine Harris deliberately delayed the recount long enough for the Supreme Court to step in and say that it was too late, “safe harbor,” or some such malleable concept which George Will kept talking about as if it was in the Bible, when all it was, was another tactic that Republicans employed to win. The “Brooks Brothers Riot,” where a bunch of Republican business types pounded on the doors, to stop the vote count. Who even allowed the butterfly ballots, which caused many elderly Democratic voters to somehow vote for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore? It was all in the nature of a fixed game; and Republicans had to win Florida, so they were going to win it, even if they had to resort to the techniques of any crooked gambler who had cards in his sleeve, and a marked deck to start with.

That election showed us how far the Republicans would go to win.; which is, as far as they need to. The “Bush v. Gore” decision of the Supreme Court, was a product of finally obtaining a majority there which were basically Republican plants. It is for that purpose irrelevant that Sandra Day O’Connor occasionally did something good like voting in favor of keeping the right to abortion; because when it came to deciding an election, she and four other Republican Justices simply voted for Bush to win.

That is the only way to look at that decision which made no legal sense whatsoever, even to them, as witnessed by the fact that they specifically limited the decision to just those set of facts! In other words, “We want Bush to win; we will make up some reasons, not based on anything but working backwards from the result we are determined to get; and then, if it were to happen that the Democrats would be in that position another time, what we decided here cannot be used by them, because, as in another poker joke, “t’s only good one time.'”

That was one of the worst decisions in the history of any so-called Republic. Vincent Bugliosi, former District Attorney of Los Angeles, wrote a very angry and persuasive book about how disgraceful this decision was. It didn’t do any good, however, it never seems to do. It does remind me of that other joke, which I have told here before. A man is invited to play in a poker game with players he does not know, but who seem like nice guys. He is playing, and not doing too well. But then he gets a tremendous hand, four aces. He bets big, and when he is called, he triumphantly shows his hand, and prepares to rake in the chips. But the other player says,, “Hold on! You have a great hand, but I have a Bonanza!” “What??!” “Yes, I have the jack of hearts and the four of clubs, plus a nine.” That’s a Bonanza, and in our game, it beats every other hand.” The newcomer is astounded, and very unhappy, but all the other players say that this is their rule that they had come up with years ago.

So the man is very upset, but decides to keep playing. Finally, near the end of the long game, he gets a hand, a Bonanza! Jack of hearts, four of clubs, plus a nine! He raises continually, and puts all his money in the pot. When the cards are laid down, he proudly announces “A Bonanza! I win!” The other player shakes his head, and says, “Oh, I am sorry! Didn’t we tell you, the Bonanza can only be used once a night?”

And that is what the Supreme Court did, but with robes on, and looking solemn and stately. And what were we to do about it? Republicans had set up a system in which more and more parts of it were filled with people who would twist logic and the laws to get the result they want. At that moment, if not before, we Democrats knew that the game was fixed. But we did not give up, because how could we? It is literally the only game in town. And if we walk away from it, the Republicans would win all the time. So we keep plugging away. We might have gotten cheated in Ohio by Diebold machines in 2004, who can be sure? In 2008, it was some Democrats, the Obama people, who literally rigged and cheated in caucuses in ways which were documented in some brilliant articles by Riverdaughter on this blog. But to the winner went the spoils, and we could not abandon the game.

In 2016, Republicans used Russian assistance to target demographics of voters through algorithms devised by a shadowy group called Cambridge Analytic. After the propensities of various voters in key states were specifically identified, Russia bombarded them with ads; and far worse than that, fake and spurious “news stories” which were all spun to derogate Hillary Clinton and promote Donald Trump. These ads were put on social media with the consent of people like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. It was the biggest dissemination of lies in American political history, and it was done with the help of a foreign government, which is a violation of the law. But they got away with it–again, even though Paul Manafort virtually announced it in advance, when he said, “Watch Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.”

And after 2020, where they actually lost, because there were enough people who voted for decency and logic, Republicans did what any corrupt fixer of gambling games would do, they put in new rules to make sure that they would never lose again. I don’t need to go into all of that, we know just about all of what they are doing. People who call themselves “gamblers” but who are crooked people who are determined to win at any cost ,and who think that they need to win, because their ego and their need for power and their finances cannot allow them not to, will just keep looking for ways to cheat.

It is said, probably accurately, that the most crooked riverboat gamblers would pull out their pistol and shoot anyone who accused them of cheating ,or even showed the extra cards they were using. I saw a movie in which that happened; the gambler denied it, then when the other player proved it, he just shot him and walked away. It was shocking to see, but that is apparently what many did; they were willing to go as far as they needed to, to not get caught, and to keep all of their ill-gotten gains.

That is the metaphor, if you will, of what Republicans have been doing. They make up the rules;, and they install judges who will always find in their favor. And in the further trip into darkness and depravity under Donald Trump, they were trying to put only loyalists in every cabinet position, those who would say that what was a completely fair election devoid of fraud, was fixed. Once they got a cabinet member or election official or two to say that, the Republican fascists and their mouthpieces in the media would call for a new election, or contend that Trump should stay in office, “until this all gets worked out,” which is never. And if that didn’t quite work, well, they were going to send a mob to the capitol to shoot a bunch of congresspeople, and cause so much mayhem, that there would not be the certification of votes. And Trump could declare martial law, as the Nazis did when they set he Reichstag fire.

It is interesting, if of course not satisfying,, to see this all in in terms of the fixed poker game. How is the decision in “Bush v. Gore” not like the players making up something called a Bonanza, and then saying that only they can use it? How is dealing off the bottom of the deck, not like delaying the vote recount, suppressing votes, passing laws directly intended to do nothing but win for them? “Whatever it takes,” They have no morals, they have no scruples, and they now have shown that they will go as far as they have to, to win, every hand, every time.

Yet, it is the only game in town. The alternative would be to just walk away, but then they win. That is actually part of their goal: dispirit Democratic voters so much, that they just lose heart either to not vote, or only in precincts where it is not so onerous. Republicans virtually tell you what their goal is; as if the crooked player told the rest of the table how he were dealing.. But whereas the poker players can get up, accept their losses, and just vow never to play there again; the people of a purported democracy have to keep trying, however they can.

Do you know that the courts have long held that they will not enforce gambling debts? We can understand why they do not want to get involved. We now have a Supreme Court which does the same thing; they will not overturn even the most radical gerrymandering or state voting suppression laws. They use terms like “Federalism,” to hide that what they are really doing is allowing Republicans to fix any game they want. “Hands off, “Laissez-faire,” “States Rights” have always been cover for the same thing.

This of course is not all they do to fix the game. And sometimes we Democrats help them, like the honest poker player who does not seem to realize that never taking any advantage at the table, always wanting to play honorably, conceding hands where he might have had the advantage of seeing the opponent’s cards,, is not admired by the corrupt players, but is rather viewed with contempt as a sucker to be exploited.

In light of all of that, I will take the liberty of reposting the poem I wrote the other day, just very slightly changed. We may be compelled to keep playing in the “only game in town,” but it is one that we have to win, there is no reward whatsoever in losing it.

A Song For Our Political and Social Era

In the Politics game, there are many to blame

And sometimes up is down

You might win for a while, and risk a smile

But you’re always preparing to frown

Through all the years

The laughter and tears

You keep on hearing this chant

“If you’re a Republican, you can do it,

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t”


So Thomas and Kavanaugh are both on the Court

And Cuomo and Franken are not

They were both thrown out of their elected jobs

And did not get the hearings they sought

But Matt Gaetz is doing well and will show and tell

Of his conquests and photographs

When the Democrats say that he has to pay

The Republicans point and laugh

They harass and rape, but even caught on tape

They’ll say it’s a hoax and a lie

For us, allegations subsume explanations

And our own side will take up the cry

“They must resign, should be charged with a crime,”

They’ll threaten and urge and rant,

“If you’re a Republican, you can do it,

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t”

Your side says, “Me, Too!” Their side says, “It’s you!”

As they try to fix all the elections

You try to be pure, to always insure

You can give all the moral directions

You stand for morality, they stand for venality

But no matter how you rant

If you’re a Republican, you get away with it

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t

At the end of time, all of them made their climb

To petition at Heaven’s gate

The pure ones expected they’d all be elected

And they’d cringe at their enemies’ fate

But the gatekeeper spoke, “Here’s the jest and the joke

You can sing and recite and chant

But Republicans somehow get in here,

And the Democrats simply can’t.”

“Whether it;s sex, or bouncing checks, there’s a double standard here

You can cry and moan, and destroy your own

But they won’t even spare you a tear

And all of your virtue will only just hurt you

As your enemies mock and sneer

And they’re your own rules, you misguided fools,

It’s time you ended this cant,”

“If you’re a Republican, you can do it,

If you’re a Democrat, you can’t”