Monday, October 24, 2016

Atrios TV

For the low, low price of $1000/month you can watch a webcam stream of me blogging.

Afternoon Thread


The Last Honest Man In Washington

Evan Bayh is a horrible human, but we probably need him to win.

I'm so old I can remember when he was going to leave Washington behind to go teach in Indiana, or something. That lasted about a week.

Hopefully he wins. Besides, The Left needs a chew toy in the Senate. I guess it could be him!

Casinos, Convention Centers, and Megamalls, Oh My!

My mild obsession with the America Dream is related to my much larger obsession with the general issue of why we can't have nice things. Sure there are corrupt local interests that are going to find ways to funnel government money into their pockets, but why can't they funnel government money into their pockets and then build nice things instead of stupid shit? Defense contractors don't have to actually make Freedom Bombs. You could give them them the SUPERTRAIN contract instead, and they could take their 20% and funnel the rest to someone who knew how to build the damn things. Anyway, my list of "nice things" might not be yours, but who thinks casinos and megamalls really are nice things worthy of government subsidies?

The grift isn't going away, but why is it focused on such horrible things? It's one thing to pay the 20% (or whatever) corruption tax and still have the potholes filled and garbage taken away. It's quite another to pay the corruption tax and have nothing but an empty carcass of a mall that will never open. I get that we can't dislodge the grifters, but can't we at least overpay them for nice things instead of shit?

The American Hellscape

I'm not one who dismisses "economic anxieties" as part of the root of Trumpism. Things usually aren't monocausal. Comfortable people usually have better things to do than fetishize their racism. People whose kids are doing well are a bit less likely to fret about how things aren't quite as wonderful as they were when America Was Great. You don't have to be poor to be living paycheck to paycheck. You don't have to be poor to be justifiably frightened about your retirement prospects. One step away from losing your house is one step away from losing your house even if that house is a McMansion and plan B isn't homelessness. Your kids don't have to be victims of opioid addiction to wonder just what the hell is up with The Kids Today when their economic prospects look bleak, and even with an improving economy are unlikely to ever recover from The Great Recession. Even if you have Medicare, your kids might not be able to afford health insurance. The Medicaid expansion is great, changes in how insurance companies are regulated are great, but the "exchanges" are still shit. I read an argument recently which was something like "yah, well, not that many people are actually on the exchanges so don't judge Obamacare by them." So, uh, ok, why bother inflicting this shit on people? A giant expensive rube goldberg machine for a slightly better CBO score. How things are always done.

That doesn't justify the racism and xenophobia. Immigrants and blah people aren't to blame for these things. But it can bring it unjustifiably to the foreground. Add in the usual phenomenon of people getting older and watching the world they knew disappear around them, and the insane messaging they hear regularly...

Monday Morning

Guess I'll get my flu shot today.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Night

Tomorrow is... Friday!!!

Voter Fraud

For many years, The Left (mostly) has been concerned about election fraud through voting machine tampering. This is a reasonable concern. A reasonable concern about a thing does not mean a thing has happened or that there is necessarily evidence of a thing happening. This is a thing which could happen. We don't have one national election system, but it could certainly happen in certain states and smaller municipalities. Has it happened? No idea. But it's not a crazy idea.

Actual voter fraud, where people go and vote in the place of dead people, or fake multiple voter registrations and vote multiple times, or undocumented individuals register and vote, is pretty much impossible. Sure it's possible that it happens occasionally, but it's basically impossible for it to happen at election-tilting levels, and completely impossible for it to happen at presidential election-tilting levels. Given the way the voting system works in Philadelphia, which is now ground zero for these sorts of accusations because black people vote here sometimes, it literally would be impossible. It would require a conspiracy at a scale that half the city would have to know about it.

Anyone making the charge is just saying there's something inherently suspicious about people of color voting. This is Trump's line, and that of his homonculus Rudy Giuliani. They're full of shit, and they're racist shits. Trump's gonna get attention as he is actually the Republican candidate for president (heckuva job, guys!). There's no reason to give any attention to Rudy, unless giving platforms to racists is just another part of the bothsides game.

America's Worst Humans

Brit Hume.

Afternoon Thread

Get your Sunday on.

Deep Thought

I could write another paid essay about how Other People Should Vote and People Who Don't Vote Are Bad People, or I could spend two hours on a corner with a clipboard registering people to vote. Decisions, decisions.

But What If The Nation Is...Divided???

I hate this lazy faux-patriotic pundit trope about National Unity. That isn't actually what the political process is about. In a liberal democracy it's about implementing the will of the majority, with plenty of protections for the minority (or -ties) limiting that power. Quirks of various systems limit the ability of the elected majority to assert power more even more. The only "unity" necessary is that we agree not to kill each other and instead fight it out in the next election. It's a way of resolving disagreements, not removing them. And the day after election day all of those disagreements and hatreds will still be there. It's somewhat important for elites to pay respect to certain ideals like "peaceful transition of power" and "the person&party that win get to govern" but that isn't about "unity."

It gets accompanied by people bleating about how we need to be able to get along, and talk to each other, and love the people we disagree with politically, and write big checks to the people who set up organizations claiming to be dedicated to these ideas. Yah, well, most of us live in this world and have friends and family and coworkers who we have to talk to and get along with etc. and it has nothing to do with "unity" just being a fucking human being who can usually manage to go to a dinner party without fighting with the host about some stupid shit Sean Hannity said yesterday.

And that's even without mentioning what "unity" really means, which is "shut up and eat the shit we feed you, peasant."

Morning Thread

Nippy this morning.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday Actual Evening

Have a video.

Saturday Almost Evening

No you're the hack.

Afternoon Thread

Brought to you by a really nasty woman.

Missing Narrative

I think in a way it's good - both in terms of how it impacts how the campaign is covered as well as a bit of a sign that in some ways (just some, and not completely) we've actually progressed - but it's also a bit of a shame that there isn't a greater recognition that holy shit we're about to have our first woman president.

Because holy shit we're about to have our first woman president.

Morning Thread

Weird seeing all the political signs when you've already voted.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Night

Special Happy Hour

It's Friday after all!

Petty Dictators

The big man is a small man.

Also, too, corrupt.

The Third Rail

One of the great mysteries of the last 15 years or so is how stupid Democrats became about the popularity of certain issues. I don't think The Atrios Agenda always has majority support. I actually pay pretty close attention to opinion polls and have a good sense of when, on a surface level at least (polls don't always fully capture nuances), the plans I will implement as your benevolent dictator will be popular. But once upon a time we all knew that cutting Social Security was "the third rail" and that generally "free stuff for the elderly" (I know it isn't really free, just check your tax return), was really popular. Hell even George Bush rammed through a flawed but still popular with the elderly drug benefit add on to Medicare. Because, you know, there are a lot of them and they vote.

I never quite understand why on an issue as obviously popular as Social Security, "making Fred Hiatt happy" was more important than "getting lots of people to vote for you," but that was where we were. Even Republicans understood that what they wanted to do would be hideously unpopular and it was weirdly Democrats who were pushing it more, at least for a time. Yes, yes, if Republicans were your malevolent dictators they'd gut Social Security, but since they still have to win elections even they aren't completely stupid.

Hopefully that era is over. For a little while at least. Could even win some elections that way!