I thought he was supposed to be the stable, normal one?

Mike Pence. Establishment politician. There to add a little gravitas — as much as a wingnut Republican can — to the chaos of the Trump ticket. So what’s the calm one saying?

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Thursday predicted that Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, would be overturned if Donald Trump is elected president.

I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it, he said during a town hall meeting here. We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.

OK, the Republicans were already the lunatic party, do they need to keep re-emphasizing it?

Meanwhile, Jill Stein is making vague anti-vaccination noises.

I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication, Stein said. Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say? — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust. And I think right now, that is the problem. That people do not trust a Food and Drug Administration, or even the CDC for that matter, where corporate influence and the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of influence.

You know, vaccines aren’t the big money cash crop for the pharmaceutical companies that the anti-vaxxers think — and Stein ought to know that — and accusing the FDA and CDC of being in the pocket of Big Pharma is a rather strong accusation. But then, she sees an opportunity to get out of the tenth of a percent bracket in the coming election, so she is pandering madly to the ignorant lefty vote right now.

Should I mention Gary Johnson, as long as I’m looking at the competition? Nah, not worth it. Libertarian, <hiss> <makes sign of the cross>

On the positive side, Amanda Marcotte makes a good case that Hillary Clinton has a winning strategy.

Donald Trump gave Clinton a huge gift with his ridiculous “I alone” line from his convention speech last week. It allowed her to portray herself as the opposite: A team player, a listener, a coalition-builder, and humble public servant. She literally said of being a public servant that “the service part has always come easier to me than the public part”.

“None of us can do it alone. That’s why we are stronger together,” Clinton added. It was a masterful stroke. By framing the presidency in terms of service and community, Clinton both contrasted her vision with Trump’s narcissistic one and fought back against stereotypes that hold that ambitious women are heartless shrews who don’t care about anyone else.

It’s also a good look next to Pence’s anti-woman stance.

OK, enough politics. My wife is taking me out to see Ghostbusters shortly, obviously because she wants to indoctrinate me in this silly idea that women can do the same things men can do. Like catching ghosts.

Could someone tell Bill O’Reilly the first rule of holes?

He’s doubling down on his slavery remarks.

BillSgFox

He’s also freaking out with paranoia. He invited a couple of his odious pals — Geraldo Rivera and Eric Bolling — to whine at each other in their very own little safe space (on Fox News!) about how persecuted they are by liberals who want them dead.

I don’t want them dead. I’d be content if they were fired for incompetence and I never heard from them again.

What’s also annoying is that they keep patting O’Reilly on the back and telling him he’s a “historian”. He’s not. He’s a hack who has a ghost-writer churning out conspiracy theory books that he slaps his name on. I like this comment: “History isn’t just a word, it’s a discipline“. O’Reilly isn’t qualified to use it.

If he were a historian, he’d know that Abigail Adams wrote about the slaves building Washington DC.

it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of clothing…whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast, Such is the case of many of the inhabitants of this place.

Not much has changed, I guess.

I also rather like this paraphrase of O’Reilly’s claim.

Never forget: they were slaves, with all the deserved horror that word evokes. Americans stole people’s freedom and dignity and used them for profit.

Which is also a nice summary of modern Republicanism.

Resign, Bill.

A numerical reminder

I just saw this, and it’s important to keep in mind.

rethugs

I know some people are unhappy that they didn’t get the presidential candidate they wanted, and have declared that they will never vote for Hillary Clinton.

Fine.

Refocus.

You aren’t going to get Bernie Sanders this time around. You aren’t going to get Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, either. But if you could work to shift the balance in those lower level offices, you can make a difference.

Is this hope I’m feeling?

After the Republican national convention, I was stuffed to the gills with cynicism and despair. It was a week-long orgy of America-hating yahoos ranting about the people who aren’t white American men destroying the world, and as one of them, it made me feel awful for my species.

Then I watched bits and pieces of the Democratic national convention. It started badly, with more people chanting “No! No! No!” and generally being irrational, but it got better, starting with Sarah Silverman.

To the Bernie or Bust people…you’re being ridiculous.

Yes. It is possible to favor Sanders’ ideas without being an ass about it, and to recognize reality. You know, even if Sanders had the nomination, it wouldn’t be as if you flicked a light switch and the world got better, right? That whether it’s Sanders or Clinton, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us?

Bernie Sanders also demonstrated principled graciousness.

In these stressful times for our country, this election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up. While Donald Trump is busy insulting one group after another, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Yes. We become stronger when black and white, Latino, Asian-American, Native American – all of us – stand together. Yes. We become stronger when men and women, young and old, gay and straight, native born and immigrant fight to create the kind of country we all know we can become.

It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Among many other strong provisions, the Democratic Party now calls for breaking up the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. It also calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.

I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children.

Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.

Now it’s time for all of us who voted for Sanders in the primary to follow his lead.

And Michelle Obama set the right tone.

It’s looking like we won’t be wallowing in a week of hate, and I’ll be coming out of this with a lot more optimism.

The calculus of Trump

Mano has the latest John Oliver video. Savor the “feelings”.

I’m baffled by the math in Trump’s latest ad, though. He is proud of the fact that his convention speech was 75 minutes long (yeah, I can talk for a long time, too, it doesn’t make me a hero) and that people applauded for 24 minutes (so? It’s the Republican convention), and then he calculates that 24/75, or 33% of the time was spent in applause, as if that were an accomplishment. Oliver points out that is actually 32% of the time, so he even got the simple math wrong…but shouldn’t it actually be 24/(75+24), or 24% of the hour and a half of the final speech?

Of course, if feelings are what matters, it was 24 minutes divided by an intolerable unendurable indefinitely long period of misery, so subjectively the period of applause was an infinitesimal fraction of the total pain.

Weaponizing atheism

Here’s my take on the wikileaks exposé of DNC emails: there was nothing illegal done (other than the hacking of private servers, that is). We’ve got a set of private communications that confirm that Hillary Clinton was the establishment candidate, and the establishment was working to skew circumstances to favor Clinton while trying their best to seem impartial, when they weren’t. It’s the politics of deception, saying you’ll do one thing while doing something different, and nobody should be surprised that politicians do that sort of thing. It does not invalidate the Clinton nomination, because every politician is working within an institutional framework, and is part of a team — Clinton just had deeper roots and a more effective team than Sanders.

But it still disappoints me.

One thing that Charles Pierce points out about it is that it was just plain stupid. If the establishment wants to support an establishment candidate, be forthright and competent about it. This makes the DNC look like a pack of babbling amateurs.

Further, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been exposed as a political hack, and not a very good one at that. She is an embarrassment too prominent to hide, and so has resigned as DNC chair…which is only appropriate. But then Hillary Clinton has immediately re-hired her to co-chair her election committee! If Clinton wanted to confirm that she was not running a fair nomination campaign, she couldn’t have come up with a more effective strategy. Appearances matter in politics, and that is one ugly relationship.

And then there is the reminder that not even the Democrats represent me, and that the Democratic establishment sees atheism as a useful tool for sliming candidates. This email is simply repellent.

It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

It would also serve to highlight his Jewishness to the electorate: win-win!

Isn’t it nice to know that the citizenry of the USA are more bigoted against atheists than Jews, and that the DNC would consider exploiting that? And that now, thanks to the incompetence of their staff, the Republican party, which is even more bigoted, will be using this information against the Democrats?

I take it back. This is lose-lose.

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.