The question we need to ask

Last April I declared that “I voted for Bernie in the primaries, and I’m voting for him again in November. No matter who the “official” candidates are.” Now that the primaries are over, and the candidates are official, it’s time for us Bernie supporters to sit down, assess the situation, and ask a couple very important questions.

The first question is, “Are we going to give up now that Hillary has won?” If so, then fine, let’s take our ball and go home, and vote for Bernie, or Jill, or nobody. We tried to make the world a better place, and we failed, so the hell with it all.

But if we’re not giving up—as I am not giving up—then we need to ask the second and even more important question: under which presidency will we be better able to pursue our struggle and build an even stronger base for the next campaign? [Read more…]

A new kind of race

I’m reading various polls and pundits who say Hillary is still ahead of Trump. The margins are fluctuating, and getting scarily closer, but she’s still ahead. And we trust these results, because they’re not just one poll, they’re conclusions reached by analyzing several polls, comparing their methodology to the accuracy of their results in the past, and accounting for known biases. They’re just about as scientific as you can make them.

Except for one thing: they’re measuring the way politics used to work. You get a huge political machine built, you organize your ground forces, and of course you secure a huge cash reserve to spend on media and other campaign expenses. The best machine wins, just like the best machine has always won, and you can predict the outcome of the race by measuring the efficiency of the machine.

Only Trump isn’t building a machine. Pundits and pollsters are gawking at him with bemused contempt wondering when—or if—he’s ever going to get around to running a real campaign.

And he’s within a few points of Hillary anyway. It’s like he’s entering the Indianapolis 500 on foot, and keeping up.

That should scare the hell out of the pundits. I don’t think they’re quite grasping the nature of what they’re seeing. If he’s keeping up, and he’s on foot, then this isn’t an Indianapolis 500 style race. And that means it isn’t necessarily going to be won by the most powerful and efficient machine.

I think what’s going on is that Trump, with his reckless, feckless, unpredictable behavior, has established himself as the first true None Of The Above candidates we’ve ever seen. We, as a nation of both liberals and conservatives, have lost faith in suave, polished glitzocrats and their retinue of handlers and focus groups and marketing know-how. We’re tired of well-funded manipulators treating their electorates like putty to be pushed and prodded and molded according to well-documented sociological techniques. Even die-hard right-wingers, who still respond predictably (and regrettably) to demagoguery, are unhappy with it.

When Trump defies conventional political wisdom, when he does “stupid” things that make experienced politicians roll their eyes in disbelief, he’s putting himself outside their cozy cabal. And that’s what makes him so appealing to his supporters. They probably can’t articulate it, and probably don’t even see it that way themselves, but I think that’s the underlying appeal.

That’s why I view predictions of Trump’s defeat with the same grain of salt I view (in hindsight) the experts who predicted Bremain would win handily. I think they’re all failing to recognize that politics in 2016 isn’t politics as usual. It’s changed drastically since 2012, and I don’t think they’re taking that into account.

“No intentional misconduct”

PZ Myers says that we should just put aside any controversy over Hillary Clinton’s private email server, since the FBI probe announced there was “no intentional misconduct” on the part of the former Secretary of State. It was “sloppy,” he says, “not criminal.”

What he glosses over there is the fact that “sloppy” is criminal, as a number of others have found. There’s also evidence that her testimony contained a number of false statements regarding her use of an unsecured email server for transmitting classified information, and that at least some of the evidence has been not only deleted from the hard drive, but scrubbed clean with special forensics-defying tools designed to prevent even the FBI from recovering the information.

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ADF recruits artists in quest for anti-gay discrimination (“part of the USAToday network”), has published a propaganda piece entitled, “Phoenix artists sue rather than create art for same sex weddings.”

Brush & Nib is an upscale hand-painting, hand-lettering and calligraphy company that creates and sells customized art, including for weddings.

Brush & Nib reflects who Joanna and Breanna are and what they believe — only creating art consistent with their Christian beliefs.

And since the Bible very clearly states, “Thou Shalt Not produce hand-lettered invitations for gay couples announcing their impending wedding,” they should have a Constitutional right to discriminate against any potential clients who happen to be gay, amirite?

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Redundant “protection” bill fails in Louisiana

Oh noes! reports that Louisiana lawmakers failed to pass a law that ostensibly would have protected churches and pastors from the non-existent threat of being forced to perform gay marriages against their will. Now the only thing protecting conservative Christians in Louisiana are the First Amendment, a number of federal laws that already protect religious liberty, and a couple centuries or so of legal precedent.


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How to fake authenticity

The actual article is behind a paywall, but according to the headline and a short snippet, the best way for Hillary to convince people of her authenticity may be—wait for it—talking about her faith. At least, so her “Director of Faith-Based Outreach” is saying.

Burns Strider (right), director of faith-based outreach for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008, says if she talks about faith, people will see her authenticity.

In other words, if she adopts the same sort of religious pandering the Republicans have been using to manipulate people for decades, she can dominate the “gullible voter” demographic. Lip service to religion is all it takes to convince believers that you are “authentic,” just like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and Duck Dynasty.

And the sad thing is he may be exactly right. Says a lot about religion, doesn’t it?

What to ask the hate-preacher in your store

As a preliminary caveat, I think it’s only prudent to say that confrontations—especially with irrational people—have a non-trivial potential for escalating into violence, and we need to understand that and be careful to avoid it. Knowing when to shut up and let the store/security staff take over can be key.

That said, it might be fun to ask, as a mental exercise, what would be a good question to ask a hate-preacher if they happened to storm in to your local Target and begin harassing innocent shoppers?

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Different, thus dangerous

According to a report on NPR, almost a dozen states have joined together to file a lawsuit seeking to protect bigotry and privilege against an onslaught of justice and equal rights for minorities.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, says the federal government has “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

Yes, a “massive social experiment.” Those evil government officials, with their bubbling test tubes and unstable nuclear reactors, rubbing their rubber-gloved hands together and gleefully cackling, “Let’s take a bunch of innocent, harmless people and see what happens if we mind our own business and leave them alone, MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

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What “apocalypse” looks like

I was listening to Christian talk radio on the way home again, and one of the two co-hosts had an interesting story to share. It seems he and his son stopped at one of the larger gas station/convenience store combos so his son could use the bathroom, and while he was waiting outside the single-occupant mens room for his son, a man came up and said, “You waiting to use the rest room?” The dad said yes he was, whereupon the newcomer said, “Well, I guess I’m feeling like a woman today,” and entered the women’s rest room and locked the door and used it.

And that was the end of the story. No women were involved, no sexual assaults occurred, no one was injured (unless you count the tarnished pride of the guy who was so desperate he had to use the ladies room). All that happened was that a person who might otherwise have suffered an embarrassing and messy biological malfunction got to use a perfectly serviceable facility that would otherwise have gone unused.

Of course, this being Christian talk radio, the discussion thereafter was all about “how far America has fallen” and “haven’t Christians been warning us this would happen” and “isn’t it shameful that the President would get involved” and so on and so on. But I couldn’t help but think, “This is the end of America they were so worried about? A guy making a joke while taking harmless steps to avoid peeing himself?”

And they wonder why more and more people are ceasing to take Christianity seriously.

A martyr for “clarity”

Poor, persecuted Roy Moore. As you may have heard, he’s been suspended (with pay!) pending the outcome of proceedings against him in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. The suspension follows a complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center after Moore’s refusal to comply with the Supreme Court decision upholding the right to gay marriage. But according to the Christian Post, this is all just a big misunderstanding. Moore wasn’t trying to obstruct justice. Not at all! He just was a little confused about a few things.

Travis S. Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council, told The Christian Post that while the Supreme Court decision is clear, Alabama’s high court has not contemplated the full impact of this decision on all pending orders. Chief Justice Moore was simply stating that fact.

“Chief Justice Moore has merely pointed out this lack of clarity, and noted that until the state’s high court rules with finality, the administrative order to probate judges from last March remains in effect,” said Weber.

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