Now for the important political issues

The Democratic national convention starts tomorrow, in Philadelphia. The important question is…where to eat? And I will just tell you that all those recommendations about where to get genuine Philly food should be simply ignored, and the Pat’s vs. Geno’s competition is irrelevant. Fuhgeddaboutit. It’s really easy.

Find a food truck. They’re everywhere. Not only is the food good (for a greasy value of “good”, but you do want a taste of Philly, right?), but you’re supporting hard-working entrepreneurial Americans of the lower and middle class. And you can get it while you’re exploring the historic parks or the art museum or the science museums or the fountains downtown.

You probably don’t want to eat a cheesesteak before visiting the Mütter Museum, though. Just a word of advice.

You have just one job…

Some days, this is exactly how I feel:

The system is broken. It’s tainted and corrupt. Democracy itself is deeply flawed; it’s only as good as the electorate, and the electorate is a swine pit full of yahoos and holy rollers and used car salesmen.

But it’s the only system we’ve got.

So put away the torches and pitchforks. If democracy is a system that gives a voice to liars and scoundrels, chaos is worse, allowing the most unprincipled to freely claw their way to the top. We have to work within this system and get it to change.

I was unenthused about Clinton. She’s a creature of the establishment, and isn’t going to change the world, and in fact, will probably accentuate some of the worst features of the American way of doing things: a reverence for the status quo, a kind of selfish pragmatism, and a callous disregard for the billions outside of our borders. I’m even less happy with Kaine, because he seems to be the kind of blithe liberal who puts a smiling face on stasis. Worse, he’s a clear signal that the Democratic party has decided that the wretched boogeyman of Trump is so awful that they can just say “fuck you” to progressives and put up a slate of the same damned thing they always do and change nothing. What this country really needs for democracy to work is a sane, principled, responsible conservative party so that our liberal party has to really work to differentiate themselves…and so that when the liberals lose, as they do, the country doesn’t immediately descend into missile-launching, jesus-screaming, hate-mongering capitalist viciousness.

Resign yourselves. This isn’t the election that will revolutionize the country (we hope). November is a holding action. We need to hold the wolves at bay for a little longer, so vote for the Democrat at the top of the ticket. One immediate positive effect of electing Clinton/Kaine is that maybe the far right Republican party will react by becoming even more extremist and complete their self-immolation, so that a more rational party can emerge. (Unless they win, which means we’re in really big trouble for at least a generation, so don’t let them win).

Then please pay attention to something other than the presidential elections. It’s a disgrace that we get almost 2 years of media hype building the process for this one office into a giant suck of time and money, and then everything evaporates at the equally important mid-term elections, and the turnout drops off to shameful levels. Vote in every election, and for or against every candidate. Everything matters, your school board matters, your congressional representative matters, your senator matters, and yes, the president matters…but if we continue to elect the same idiots to the senate and house of representatives, the president matters less than you think.

But right now, we — and by “we”, I mean the Left, progressives and liberals and centrists, and even you so-called “classical liberals” and Libertarians and Rockefeller Republicans and cautious conservatives — have one job to do, and that is to stop the great orange fascist asshole from winning. That’s the number one priority for us all. Don’t screw it up. Don’t go flitting off to Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or some other spoiler. Hold your nose and vote for Clinton.

And if you don’t like the establishment Democrat — I don’t blame you at all — then work locally to get change in the years to come. Get good progressives into positions that can influence the government in productive ways. You don’t like the rules that rig the elections for establishment favorites, like this super-delegate nonsense, or the electoral college? Work to change those before they become a factor in future elections (I suspect everyone who is squawking now will forget about it immediately after this election, and then four years from now will start squawking in indignation again). If Clinton annoys you now, tough — she’s going to be the nominee. But you can support a primary challenge four years from now, if you start working now to build a climate that gives such a person a framework.

I swear, one of the worst things about the American system of democracy is the way we treat the trivial act of pulling a lever as the be-all and end-all of citizen involvement in politics, and the way this simple-minded approach to democracy leads to a crisis every four years.

A Russian connection?

I’d say it was disturbing if it wasn’t so unsurprising. Donald Trump seems to have an awful lot of ties to Putin.

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin’s increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support of Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.

I remember a time when getting cozy with the Russians would have been the kiss of death for a politician, especially a conservative politician. But nowadays, our right-wing authoritarians love them a right-wing authoritarian no matter what country they’re from.

It’s so beautiful. It’s something that brings people of different nationalities together in the common cause of tyranny.

“no political motivations”?

We’re learning more about the teenage boy who murdered 9 people in Munich.

The teen gunman who killed nine people in a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday was a mentally troubled individual who had extensively researched spree killings and had no apparent links to ISIS, police said.

Speaking at a press conference in the southern German city Saturday, police officials said the 18-year-old lone attacker — who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound — had no political motivations, and no references to religion had been found in documents in his home.

OK, definitely not ISIS-related. But what’s this about no political motivation? He was obsessed with mass killers, chose to go on his rampage on the 5th anniversary of the coward Breivik’s killings, and had Breivik’s image as an online avatar. He chose his victims: people who looked like immigrants to Germany.

The teenage friends comprised two boys of Turkish origin and two girls from Kosovan families, bolstering the theory that Sonboly chose his victims as he rampaged through McDonald’s and into a busy shopping centre. In all, seven of his victims were teenagers and the oldest was a 45-year-old mother of two of Turkish descent.

He was politically motivated, all right. These are the actions of a follower of the alt-right. That’s only non-political to a media that treats far right villainy as the default.

Oh, joy: new gurus

This article by Yvette d’Entremont is a bit discouraging: she gives a list of the usual dorkadonkulous fraudsters, like Joseph Marcola and Deepak Chopra and David Avocado Wolfe, but she also alerts us to the new loonies.

So now I’ve heard of Tracy Anderson, unfortunately.

The latest in a long line of bleach blond, tanned skinned, threateningly perky health revolutionaries Hollywood has spat forth is Tracy Anderson, pint-sized abomination of a trainer to the stars. In a home workout video industry rife with the physical prowess of everyone from Jane Fonda to Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriends, Tracy Anderson, at the very least, sweats sometimes.

She’s trained the who’s who of beautiful bodies — Gwyneth, J-Lo, Madonna — and isn’t that evidence that her method works?

And my image of Jessica Alba is permanently ruined. Jessica Alba, the actress?

Yes, indeed, Jessica Alba, who gave birth to a baby and then decided that she had also birthed a PhD in toxicology. While everyone else is trying to keep up with the Joneses by merely buying the latest trendy kale laced baby food, Alba mommed harder than anyone else by founding The Honest Company. She’s been scaring mothers sh*tless ever since with her hodgepodge of chemiphobic non-sense.

The Honest Company provides a handful of organic, non-GMO, gluten free, dragon-free, delivered-by-unicorn products that you need to keep your baby alive, in one piece, and moderately non-crispy. Baby formula, diapers, and non-toxic sunscreen are a few of their products available to the discerning parent.

I’m also learning that being a dishonest fraud is profitable, and that they are proliferating.

Tim Kaine?

I’m reading the news about Hillary Clinton’s pick for a VP.

Hillary Clinton has chosen Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to be her running mate, turning to a steady and seasoned hand in government to fill out the Democratic ticket, she announced Friday.

I thought that was Clinton’s reputation: steady and seasoned.

It may be an anti-establishment year, but Clinton’s running mate is an insider: A senator and former governor from the critical battleground of Virginia and a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

After a campaign in which Bernie Sanders gave her a strong run for the nomination, she picks the establishment guy. OK.

Kaine, 58, has long been seen as a seasoned and safe choice for Clinton, who could help shore up support among white working-class voters.

Bored now.

He went to Harvard law school, but before graduating served a year as a missionary in Honduras.

It was an experience that cemented his Catholic faith and strengthened his fluency in Spanish.

There’s nothing there to get me enthused, that’s for sure.

Advisers to Clinton see Kaine as a stable force on the bottom of the ticket, foregoing the allure of a pick that could provide more star power in favor of one they are hoping will be void of drama

Oh, jebus. So bored! Even the news stories are emphasizing his lack of pizazz.

Safe safe safe safe safe safe safe safe. I guess it’s one way to run the campaign, and it might very well work…but it’s really going against the grain of the political impetus this year.

I guess she figures all the reasonable people are already planning to vote for her, having no choice in the matter, so she is going to avoid taking any risks at all.


Another factor:

Clinton’s running mate is a catholic “personally against abortion, but…” writes informed consent and parental consent restrictions against the practice. He favors deregulating banks and businesses.

Shit.