What was horribly tragic?

Christy Sheats posted this on her facebook page last March.

It would be horribly tragic if my ability to protect myself or my family were to be taken away, but that’s exactly what Democrats are determined to do by banning semi-automatic handguns.

You know exactly where this is going, right? Sheats is dead, shot by the police after she refused to drop that handgun, after she’d used it to murder her 17 and 22 year old daughters.

I think the tragedy is that no one took her guns away before she killed two people with them.

More for me, none for thee

Republican families also feel the sting of our economy.

The wife of Maine Gov. Paul LePage has taken on a summer waitressing job near their Boothbay home. And she’s saving up for a Toyota RAV4.

Good for her. It’ll also give her more independence, and especially when her husband loses his job in the next election, I hope, that’ll give them some income to fall back on.

But of course it’s being politicized by Governor LePage.

Ann LePage had kept quiet about the gig, but her husband told a crowd at a recent town hall that his wife took a job to “supplement” his lowest-in-the-nation $70,000 salary. This year, the Republican governor unsuccessfully proposed to more than double his successor’s salary to $150,000.

Hang on, there. His wife quietly took on a hard, low-paying job to be able to afford some luxuries, and the governor is braying about it to justify getting a raise?

Look, he’s getting paid more than I do. You want to justify getting paid more? Do it by citing the work you do and how you deserve it for that, not by whining about how poor you are, when you aren’t. This is especially ironic coming from a governor who just had a tantrum over foodstamps, trying to end them because people who are really poor use them to occasionally buy a Twinkie. I guess he doesn’t see how similar that situation is to a well-off middle class family wanting more money so they can buy a shiny SUV.

Maybe when LePage shows a little empathy for the people he’s supposed to govern, it would be time to consider rewarding him for a job well done. I can’t see giving a raise to one of the worst governors in the country.

I’m so sorry, United Kingdom


Or should I say, I’m so sorry, England and Wales? Because it looks like you’re going to have to drop that “United” stuff soon. You might also want to reconsider that “Great” prefixing “Britain”. Brexit won their referendum. The UK is going to begin the process of breaking from the EU. Stock markets are reacting with shock. The people who despise Nigel Farage are also shocked. Other countries in Europe are dismayed.

I’m afraid I see it in terms of what’s going on in the US today, and that worries me. Gary Younge’s take on the vote is informative. He talks about the incompetence of the Remain campaign, and how it was oblivious to the concerns of the people and set itself aside as the smart people who know better than you do, and never made a good case for remaining in the EU. And then he tears into the Leave campaigners.

It is a banal axiom to insist that “it’s not racist to talk about immigration”. It’s not racist to talk about black people, Jews or Muslims either. The issue is not whether you talk about them but how you talk about them and whether they ever get a chance to talk for themselves. When you dehumanise immigrants, using vile imagery and language, scapegoating them for a nation’s ills and targeting them as job-stealing interlopers, you stoke prejudice and foment hatred.

The chutzpah with which the Tory right – the very people who had pioneered austerity, damaging jobs, services and communities – blamed immigrants for the lack of resources was breathtaking. The mendacity with which a section of the press fanned those flames was nauseating. The pusillanimity of the remain campaign’s failure to counter these claims was indefensible.

Not everyone, or even most, of the people who voted leave were driven by racism. But the leave campaign imbued racists with a confidence they have not enjoyed for many decades and poured arsenic into the water supply of our national conversation.

In this atmosphere of racial animus and class contempt, political dislocation and electoral opportunism, the space for the arguments we need to have about immigration, democracy, and austerity simply did not exist. Our politics failed us. And since it is our politics only we can fix it.

I see this same dynamic playing out here in the US. The almost-successful Sanders campaign tells us there’s a huge part of the electorate that wants change from politics as usual, and yet the Democrats have anointed a moderate conservative, status quo candidate. Will Clinton actually respond to that productively? Will she make changes in party policy that will appeal to that broad swathe of the country that wants a more progressive government? She could end up the David Cameron of America.

Younge’s description above also fits the Trump campaign. The know-nothings are always a force to be reckoned with in this country, and if Brexit could win, could Trump rally the same forces to win here? That’s possible (but unlikely, we say, although everyone was saying Brexit was unlikely, too), but one way it could happen is if the Democrats try to take an uninspiring middle course.

What do I mean, “if”? The Democrats always take the path of trying to avoid offending anyone, and thereby end up pissing everyone off.

The world’s a somewhat scarier place this morning. I hope my country doesn’t end up contributing even more to the fear.

Can we get these rules here?

I was curious to know if there were any preliminary reports on the Brexit vote going on right now, so I popped over to the BBC. There’s nothing. They actually have some sensible restrictions on the media.

What can the BBC report?

* Uncontroversial factual accounts such as the appearance of politicians and others at polling stations or the weather.

* The practicalities such as when the polls are open, the wording of the question and expectations of when the result may be known are allowed.

* The BBC’s online sites will not have to remove archived reports.

What can’t the BBC report?

* The BBC stops short of actually encouraging people to vote.

* While the polls are open, it is a criminal offence for anyone, not just broadcasters, to publish anything about the way in which people have voted in the referendum, where that is based on information given by voters after they have voted.

* The BBC can’t report anything emerging from exit polls (which, by definition, are asking people how they actually voted), although the broadcasters have not commissioned any exit polls for the referendum.

* No opinion poll on any issue relating to the referendum can be published by broadcasters until after the polls have closed.

I marveled. The 24-hour news networks will be a circus on election day in this country — a very, very boring circus presided over by Wolf Blitzer and his mindless monotone, with Fox News providing the clowns. There won’t be any news here, either, but they’ll make stuff up.

To find out how the referendum turns out, we’ll have to tune in after everyone has voted. Amazing! And the BBC tells me that that will be at 22:00 BST, which is 4:00 my time (CST). We shall eagerly, but patiently, await the conclusion.

When picking your hill to die on, choose carefully

I am very happy that the Democrats in congress have chosen to develop a spine on gun control, and are having a sit-in to protest Republican intransigence. John Lewis was inspiring.

Elizabeth Warren has been outspoken in her support.

But here’s the problem: they’re making a stand over a very bad bill, one that attaches restrictions on gun ownership to being on the homeland security no-fly list. That is a terrible, sloppy, lazy list that is more a reflection of false fears of Muslims than it is of credible concerns about terrorism. As the ACLU explains:

Because of the extreme secrecy surrounding the No Fly List, people generally only discover that they are on it when they are denied boarding on a flight – often very publicly, at the airport. The public does not know how many people are on the No Fly List, and the criteria for inclusion are so broad and vague that they inevitably ensnare innocent people engaged in First Amendment-protected speech, activity, or association. The process the government has established for people on the No Fly List to challenge their blacklisting is grossly insufficient and violates the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee.

So the Democrats finally scrape up the courage to fight back, they get the leadership of a towering figure in the civil rights movement…and it’s all to increase the authority of a secret enemies list that tramples on our civil rights? There’s something seriously wrong here.

Always listen to the Glib Sociopath


But, you ask, how do I recognize a Glib Sociopath, the better to obey their authority? That’s easy. They usually put an “R” after their name.

Almost Every GOP Senator Just Voted to Keep Letting Terror Suspects Buy Guns

I agree that that bill is problematic: when being put on the terrorist watch list seems to be a matter of whims by conservative law enforcement officers, being a “suspect” is a damned poor excuse for suspending a privilege. But I also have no doubt that the same people are against closing the gun show loophole, or requiring reasonable background checks or waiting periods, and think a history of domestic violence is not grounds to deny someone a gun.

Cui bono?

The Trump campaign is flaming out spectacularly. His campaign financials have been released, and, much as I hate the way politics is priced out of reach for most people, he’s a loser.

Donald Trump’s campaign is almost broke, and is paying an unusual amount of money to Trump-owned businesses. That’s according to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s FEC filing, details of which were released Monday night.

The report provided a number of rather shocking facts, including that his campaign raised just $3.1 million in May compared to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s $27 million.

Even worse, you might wonder where that small sum of money is going. It’s going to Donald Trump, of course.

He’s also paying himself a salary, which is really weird for a billionaire running for president, and one of his biggest outlays is $208,000…for hats.

This is a joke candidate, right? Either that, or it’s the ultimate end game of capitalism: a guy paying himself to promote himself to become president of the US.

At least I’m becoming less worried that an inflamed orange hemorrhoid will be elected president.

John Oliver explains Brexit

When he tries to tell us Americans how bad things are getting in the United Kingdom, it was a bit jarring. Doesn’t he know he’s interrupting America in its current armpit sniffing mode?

He makes a good case that it’s economically nuts for Britain to leave the European Union, but I’m personally most convinced that Brexit is a bad idea because most of its proponents seem to be bigoted wankers. Don’t you realize that if you isolate yourself and close off your borders, Nigel Farage will be trapped in there with you?

The whole Brexit thing seems to me to be as stupid as Trump’s plan to solve US economic problems by building a wall…the big difference is that while we’ll never, ever build his stupid wall, the United Kingdom is very close to committing their act of gross stupidity.