• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    eurobrat on One Tiny Mistake…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Evil people want to shove a so…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Evil people want to shove a so…
    riverdaughter on Evil people want to shove a so…
    campskunk on Evil people want to shove a so…
    eurobrat on D E F A U L T
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Tina Turner (1939-2023)
    jmac on D E F A U L T
    jmac on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    William on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    William on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    jmac on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    William on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    Propertius on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    Propertius on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    December 2021
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

  • Top Posts

What else can you do?

Paul Waldman writes in WaPo that Republicans hate Anthony Fauci, not because he’s given out information in a scientific fashion without absolute certainty, but because Democrats like him for that very reason.

I think we can see this anti-Democrats attitude in many aspects of modern American life. Joe Manchin represents a state that went for TFG by something like 50 points. But by taking the majority of the country hostage over the Build Back Better spending bill (Waldman again)he’s in a position to also issue demands. He could make West Virginia a swanky place with the best of everything with the exchange of his vote. He hasn’t done it.

Do his constituents know they can get whatever they want or are they so hell bent on screwing over Democrats that they would deliberately squander a once in a lifetime opportunity to remake themselves from being a destitute state reliant on coal?

I think West Virginia was supposed to be the model for district 13 in the Hunger Games and we know how that turned out.

Hatred of Democrats is a version of oppositional defiance disorder that’s very difficult to treat. What can you do when a person’s reason for being is contradicting everything you say?

I’m going out on a limb here but I think it’s because no one has been held accountable for perpetual contrarianism that’s serves no other purpose than to make other people mad.

This week, I reluctantly had to apply a little accountability. I didn’t want to do it. But the situation with Covid kind of forced my hand. I don’t get a lot of vacation days and I don’t want to be even a little bit sick when I have some time off, especially around Christmas. My vacations have been of low quality for the last decade. At this time of year, I feel like I’m crawling to the finish line and a week off between Christmas and New Years. Maybe this year I can go ice skating or something. I’m sure not going anywhere. So let me be healthy at least. I ask for little.

I’ve been vaccinated. Are you kidding?? I’m not a immune system denier. It’s not a technology so advanced it’s indistinguishable from magic. I got my booster over a month ago. But I don’t even want a mild case. And I don’t want other people I care about to get a mild case either that is going to screw up their Christmas plans and kill their taste buds during hors d’oevre season.

I get it that some people think they are making a principled stand on their personal freedoms regarding the vaccine. But all I can see is an obstacle to me enjoying my break. The principle goes right over my head. Sure, a person can hold out forever and never, never, NEVER get the shots under any circumstances. How does that make me feel? Um, like my Christmas break is not very important to a vaccine denier.

So now we come to immovable objects and irresistible forces. I’m not going to get the dug in resister to get a shot. And in a way, resisters are shoving their personal freedom in my face and saying “deal with it”, like MY Desire to not get sick is inconsequential.

So, for this holiday season, if you’re not vaccinated, you will need to wear a mask, get a test or stay home. It will deprive me of your company. I will be disappointed. But not nearly as disappointed at waking up on December 27 with a scratchy throat and dead tastebuds.

I haven’t been treating the lack of vaccination as the aggressive, in your face, feasting on liberal tears that it apparently is. Now I have. It has made me completely deaf to any reasoning about the vaccine. Reasons are just cover for what they’re really up to. The boundaries have been set. Violating them is an act of aggression.

Gotta make alternate plans for Christmas.

All or Nothing

There is a musical group I like, called Au Revoir Simone. I had never heard of them until 2017, when I watched “Twin Peaks: The Return.” An absolutely amazing series, and perhaps I will write about it some time here. The end of each episode featured an artist, an individual or group, playing a song at “The Roadhouse,” also known in that season as “The Bang Bang Bar.” Both David Lynch and his music director made some brilliant musical choices, introducing me to some artists which I had never heard of; and I have a pretty good background in pop and rock music, except not so much in the last ten years, when my favorite music shows went off the air.

The first artist which played was the Chromatics. Then the next one was Au Revoir Simone. Three very bright and talented women from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, who all play keyboards. They are not some kind of insipid novelty act, they are brilliant melodically and lyrically, and their vocals are also pleasing. I think that they were David Lynch’s favorite new group, as he met them when they were both touring in Europe, though not together. He has raved about them, and I can see why, as sometimes their melodies have the dreamy and haunting quality of “Twin Peaks” and the great music created by Angelo Badalamenti and Lynch himself for the earlier shows.

Anyway, as is often the case, I found out about Au Revoir Simone just as they were going on “hiatus,” as they call it, each doing various solo work. I do not know if they will ever reform, but they are still friends, and have their website up. If you like pretty, sometimes dreamy, sometimes catchy, other times sweeping, melodies, check them out, as a rather famous DJ in Los Angeles, Rodney Bingenheimer, used to say.

The specific reason I am writing about Au Revoir Simone, as that sometimes I think of their song “All or Nothing,” as sort of a theme for our current time. The song is not political, it is probably about romance, making a decision to do something, move forward, not just sit there and feel like you are not getting anywhere. “Everywhere is somewhere, baby/ So can’t you see we’re in the middle of somewhere/ Nowhere just means knowing nothing/ Of where you’ve been or where you’re going/ Feels farther.” (By the way, do not rely on the lyrics of this song printed on the internet, they have them wrong, as they often irritatingly do).

Yesterday I listened to another scholarly person, a professor at Harvard, talk on air about how our government is simply not functional, in that it has enabled a radical minority party to basically control things, because of the way the Founders set up the electoral system. We know all about that, how we ended up with this bicameral system where the House reflects popular votes, and the Senate is constituted with two senators for every state, no matter the population.

And then the system of the Electoral College, perhaps a novel idea at the time, and designed to keep the Southern states from refusing to join the union. but awful now in how it continues to give more disproportionate power to the small states, since their electoral votes are based on the number of legislators; and the provision that “each state gets three electoral votes, even if their population is very small,” is completely undemocratic.

California gets 55 electoral votes, they just lost one in the recent census count. Wyoming gets three. If it were based on population, California would have 210 electoral votes, as the population here is about seventy times that of Wyoming. Without doubt, the vote of a resident of California is worth about one-seventieth as much as a resident of Wyoming, which is beyond appalling, and contrary to the principle of “one person, one vote,” which must be central to an actual democracy.

As the professor described, somehow this went on for centuries, with no one saying too much about it. But now as the Republican Party has become totally anti-democratic, we can easily see how they have taken advantage of the inherent inequalities in our system, plus added their own gaming, in terms of completely undemocratic and sometimes racist gerrymandering, to virtually destroy the democracy, which is supposed to accurately represent the votes of the people. And we are very aware of how even that is not enough for them, they want to rig it so that their own people can decide who won their elections. Steve Bannon was exultant about that the other day, and he is a thoroughly evil, anti-semitic totalitarian who wants to create a dictatorship in America, patrolled by a militia like the one the Nazis had, and with concentration camps as well.

So we hear all about this; and the educated professors come on the shows, and point all this out; and the well-meaning host never seems to ask them, “Well, what can we do about it?” That’s the only answer I want to hear; I am well aware of the current tableau. But either the host can’t think of that question, or he or she and the guest both seem to think that there is nothing we can do about it.

That brings me back to “All or Nothing.” Because if you are losing a crucial game or match or situation, because you are being cheated, or because of terrible structural unfairness in the system, your two choices seem to reduce to doing nothing and just lose and give up, or “going for broke” as the gamblers and sports coaches and players say.

Of course none of these analogies is the same as the political one, nor are any of them exactly like any other, but they are still meaningful. If you are a football team which is outmanned, and the other squad is just grinding the ball down the field, and stifling your side, as the clock winds down, your only choice is to take gambles, even if they are low-percentage plays. Throw deep, trying to hit a big play, or get a pass interference penalty. Blitz on defense, trying to create a turnover.

You might give up more touchdowns, but who cares if you lose 24-7 or 48-14? Of course, in real sports, there are many games, and the coach might prefer not to demoralize his team by being routed, and hope to improve in the next game. In our situation, we do not have any next game, if we lose this one. And thinking so, as we have always done, might be a dreadful mistake. So we have to pull out every play in the playbook, and not save it for some other possible situation.

Or if you are playing in a poker tournament, you have to stay in until all your chips are gone, or you win the tournament, you cannot just cash in what chips you have left. So if your stack is steadily going down, you can’t just sit there and ante the rest of it away, or play conservatively, waiting for a great hand. The next decent hand you get, you probably have to go “all-in,” bet all the chips you have, in a desperate effort to get back in the game

There are other analogies, but I’m sure that everyone gets the idea. So here we are, with the Republicans setting it up so that they can never lose another election cycle. And so what do we do about it, what can we do?

This essay is not about trying to concoct and lay out a step-by-step strategy, because it is possible that none of it will work, but still we have to try. I do know that some of the ideas floated, even by Democrats in office, seem to ignore certain electoral realities, such as the fact that to add seats to the Supreme Court, you would need a majority of both Houses; and wouldn’t the Republicans be able to keep such a bill from the floor in the Senate, via the filibuster? And why is it that the Republicans seem to have a whole group of people who spend every single hour figuring out ways to game and cheat the system, and we don’t seem to have our own strategists, not cheating, but finding strategies that might work?

If there is a way that this could be done, to somehow override the filibuster. to add seats to the Supreme Court, then we must do it. And add something like eight Supreme Court seats. We are told that if Democrats do that, Republicans could add even more seats when they had power. And I would say, “So? How would we be worse off than we are now?” If Republicans add twelve seats, we can add twenty the next time. They could not all fit in one room, so? Have 809 justices, make it all impossible to function; how are we worse off than being ground down by a Radical Right, undemocratically chosen Court, and a set of rules which are either completely inapposite to this century, or in the case of the filibuster, were made up by the Far Right? “But it’s a Senate rule!” Well, then we should make up new rules when we have the majority. Because what do we have to lose, as against just watching our democracy get taken away step by step?

We really have little time. Some suggestions I have, and I certainly didn’t come up with them, include the aforementioned trying to add Supreme Court seats in some way. Enacting all sorts of Executive Orders. Passing the Voting Rights Act.

Of course, we can bet that the states which have enacted draconian voting laws will just ignore the bill, even if passed. Then we must send federal troops in, as in the ’50’s and ’60’s. If they come out and start shooting them, then we will have the Civil War which many of them want. Or if they want to secede, I’m all for it, particularly if we are running the government, and have the crucial weapons to keep them from trying to attack us. Or maybe the Trump forces have infiltrated those levels, and they will have the weapons of mass destruction. I very much hope not. But we cannot just let them take the democracy away, as their massive voting suppression, and putting radical partisans in charge of election boards, is overwhelmingly obviously intended to do.

It is possible that the Supreme Court is now so radical, that it will nullify any laws we pass, or hold them in abeyance until Republicans can take over Congress in 2022. We have to have an answer for that, too, It might get so desperate that Biden has to cut off government funds to states which do not comply with a Voting Rights law, and that we start ignoring Supreme Court rulings, rather than letting them turn this country into a Heritage Foundation’s dream. Again, if we are in such a last-ditch position, who cares what the corporate media says, or what the Republicans threaten to do? They will do it anyway, once they gain unfettered power. They are truly fascists, it is not just a term of opprobrium, they are Hitler and Mussolini and Franco and Stalin, even if some of them talk in folksy drawls, and like NASCAR and pro football.

I do not mean to alarm anyone, but it seems to me that rather than just say, “Things are bad,” as they do every day on the news, we would want to do something very proactive. Non-violent, of course. But again, we have to throw deep, put all our chips in on one or two hands, take a risk that the boss will fire us if we stand up and tell him how he is violating our rights. Bob Dylan said it not so long ago, “If you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” It feels as if our political system is heading that way, so we don’t have anything to lose by taking some big chances and making some longshot bets. It seems like all or nothing, at this point. Actually, we will never get the “all,” but we cannot ever let ourselves slowly end up with the “nothing.”