Happy Wednesday Widdershinners. I hope your day is a good one.
Just a short post to move us along.
Yesterday’s speech by President Obama was exceptional. It was a Consoler-in-Chief, inspirational, experiential, and spiritual masterpiece. I’ve not been a fan of Obama for the most part, but yesterday’s valediction in Dallas was extraordinary. For a Kenyan Muslim, he sure knows a lot of scripture.
Bernie Sanders finally endorsed Hillary. It was a full-throated endorsement. Even prior to yesterday, 85% of Bernie’s voters have already seen the light on the road to Damascus and climbed aboard the “H Express”. My only criticism of the event: Bernie needed hugging lessons.
The great Bogey Yam is continuing his auditions for the new Fox show, “So You Think You Can Vice President.” Yesterday he was in Indiana kicking the tires on Gov. Mike Pensive. It seems as if Pence has mainlined some serious carotene – he appeared as pumpkinesque as the Bogey Yam.
Congress is leaving on vacay early. It’s an abbreviated vacay of just seven weeks so, of course, they would leave early. It appears Paul Ryan didn’t want to vote on terrorists getting guns because, well, summertime is fun time for terrorists. Funding for Zika, opioid addiction, veterans – all that stuff can wait – the NRA (Non-Reasonable Americans) said so.
It’s not like Congress hasn’t been doing important stuff. Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the Congressional Overreach and Reach-Around Committee, figures what the country needs is another investigation of Hillary. He’s written a letter to the D.C. U.S. Attorney asking him to make Hillary stop being mean to the Republicans still recovering from their DIY lobotomies.
That’s pretty much the news, but I’ve meaning to mention another subject for a couple of weeks. Today’s a good day. If you have watched any of the cable shows, particularly NBC or MSNBC (motto: Our anchors canoodle, but never on air) you have been bombarded with the “Hillary Trust Deficit”. Mrs. Greenspan gets cross-eyed and her toes scrunch each and every time she gets to blather on about the Bogey Yam being more “trusted” than Hillary.
Here’s why I bring this up. The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll on that question is bogus. Totally worthless and contrived. I can go into the reasons in the comments, but suffice it to say, survey instrument construction is central to serviceable data.
The WSJ/NBC poll asks the question as, “Being honest and straightforward.” Using straightforward as the modifier to honesty is a ruse to drive down Hillary’s numbers to follow the preordained narrative. Even though 76% of everything the Bogey Yam says has been fact checked as a lie, he is perceived to have no filter on his pie hole, despise “political correctness,” and believes insulting others is his right under the “13th Article” in the Constitution.
If you pair “honest” with “truthful”, as the Pew Research Center survey did, the results were within the margin of error even during the height of emailgate and gategate (scandals yet to materialize from Republican fever dreams).
The other issue is this, and it’s not limited to just NBC/MSNBC as they troll for addled Fox viewers, if there isn’t an issue upon which to drive a wedge, how can they sell time based on viewership? In other words, there has to be something to make a horse race a race – no one wants to watch Secretariat matched up against a three-legged mule with a limp.
Not that Chuckles Todd and his poll-baking, elfin friends would ever admit to this, but they don’t really have to. Here’s the proof:
On each and every issue other than “Reducing Special Interests Influence” Hillary trounces the Bogey Yam or is within the margin of error. So be not in despair my friends. Be not troubled when the yakkers wax prolific on Hillary’s deficiencies and der Drumpf’s strengths. Given the Republican primary, the yakkers are just trying to dress up a three-legged mule that outdistanced sixteen other asses.
What’s on your mind today?
Good morning! Fighting through last week’s sadness will be no mean feat. It will take persistence to escape being taken hostage by the maudlin teams of glibly morose cable emcees.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to find those sites where the argument of the day is one side or the other in the raceguncivilrightsprivilegepoliticalimpolitic debate. Ratings come before understanding and there is neither separation nor confusion in the hierarchy between the two.
Being a one-stop shop here at the Widdershin Mart, I thought I’d leave it to others to delve into those indecipherable issues. I wanted to share something more definite and infinitely more quantifiable.
Last week FBI Director James Comey proved himself with quite a principled performance before the Chaffetz House Oversight and Overreach Committee. The most significant charge leveled at Hillary was that she is no technogeek. After two years of investigation, Director Comey pronounced Mrs. Clinton unfit for service on an IT help desk.
As I watched the nearly five hours of testimony, I had the feeling of déjà vu all over again. I felt I had been there before – that we’ve all been there before. And we have. So with the help of the Googling machine, I did a little research to see how much it cost for this experiential familiarity.
So I started, there were investigations into Nannygate, Travelgate, Filegate, Whitewater, Rose Law Firm, Vince Foster, Special Prosecutors, Benghazi Committees, and now the FBI email probe. Congressional Republicans actually took 140 hours of sworn testimony on the urgent question of whether the Clintons had misused the White House Christmas card list. That really happened. Best I can tell, these are the costs:
- The costs of the Clinton Administration probes were somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 to $110 Million. Almost half, $39.2 Million, was attributed to the four and a half-year investigation by Ken Starr resulting in the impeachment over lying about the Monica Lewinsky affair. There are estimates of the Starr investigation alone costing $70 Million.
- The Benghazi Committee cost $8,000 per day and approximately $6.8 Million total to follow eight other committees and not produce one scintilla of new evidence.
- The FBI email probe of Hillary looks to clock in at about $20 Million for the FBI alone. There is really no good estimate of State Department or other agency costs.
So all told, conservatively, our government has spent somewhere between $110 and $120 Million on Clinton investigations. Outside of Bill lying about a blowjob, Hillary has been charged with nothing, nada, nil, not a whit of wrongdoing.
What’s more – this political talking point of the “system being rigged” is so inconceivably far-fetched and improbable it should come with a roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil suitable for designer hats.
In the inimitable words of Sol Wachtler, former chief judge of New York State, “You can indict a ham sandwich.” In fact, Judge Wachtler, himself, was later indicted and spent fifteen months at taxpayer’s expense in federal prison. Like most successful and quotable attorneys, Wachtler was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and eventually got his law license reinstated. Ham sandwich indeed.
If any of these prosecutors or investigators had believed for one moment during these $100 Million worth of investigations that Hillary was indictable, she would have been indicted. Celebrity hunting is the sport of the ambitious and it’s always open season – no limit. If there had been a whiff of smoke, you better believe that $100 Million would have bought a roaring fire.
You can be sure you will use this tidbit from the Widdershin One Stop during this political season. File it away for future use.
What’s on your mind today?
Good Saturday and weekend to you Widdershins
This time we can truly say thank goodness this week is over! Yes, the heat is on, and in many ways.
It did not start well with the announcement and statement by F.B.I. Director James Comey regarding Hillary’s use of her private email server when she was Secretary of State. The good news was that he stated there was no way anyone would make a decision to prosecute her or her assistants over the server. The bad news is that the Republicans were, to say the least, not happy with that decision and decided to call the Director
on the carpet, uh to Capitol Hill to answer some questions they had. They still didn’t like the answers they got and so the merry go round will continue.
Then, two episodes of dismay and disgust as, once again, two black men were shot and killed for seemingly no reason at all in Baton Rouge and a St. Paul suburb. After that, a third episode of utter horror as a lone sniper opened fire on Dallas police officers as the officers were present at a peaceful protest of the first two shooting events. The attack killed five officers and injured another seven.
After these events this week, let’s have a “time out” shall we? I don’t know about the weather where you are Widdershins, but it’s been hotter than, well, it’s been hot this past week. Heat indices in Bama were in the 100° range and in nola there were heat advisories most of the week. So with that let’s take a look at some songs about summer, heat and the like. There are tons of songs out there with mentions of heat, fire, summer. I’m also adding in some images of dogs and heat because although we aren’t in the dog days of summer yet, they’re approaching.
(1) Summer in the city ~ The Lovin’ Spoonful
(2) Hot Summer Night ~ Grace Potter and The Nocturnals
(3) Hot! Hot! Hot! ~ Buster Poindexter
(4) Heat Wave ~ Martha & The Vandellas
(5) Too Hot ~ Kool and The Gang
* * * *
Now sometimes when it’s too hot you want to cool off
(6) Ice Ice Baby ~ Vanilla Ice (now don’t laugh too much!)
(7) Rupert Holmes ~ Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
Okay Widdershins, you get the drift and idea. I know you’ll be able to come up with some songs and we can take our minds off of shock, sadness and the like for a day or two.
When I was a boy, I loved Superman – reruns of the original television program with George Reeves. I knew Superman was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
I knew it. With every fiber of my being, I knew it.
When I was six or seven I heard that Superman was dead and had been dead for years. I was not having it. I knew it wasn’t true. A speeding bullet couldn’t kill Superman because, well, he was Superman.
I made my case. Superman was not dead. I knew it because I believed so hard. Things had to be exactly like what I believed them to be. It was my world. Undisturbed. Perfect. Superman couldn’t die.
Welcome to the world where Republicans live. They live in a world of epistemic closure where if you dream it hard enough and say it loud enough and repeat it often enough, it has to be true.
They believe it, therefore the phantasm is true. The emails would finally do in the mean, evil, hateful Hillary. A simple black box chocked full of electronics would do what Whitewater, Rose Law Firm, Travelgate, Christmas Card listgate, Vince Foster, Arkansas drug smuggling, Kenneth Starr, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Denise Rich, Marc Rich, impeachment, Rudy Giuliani, Rick Lazio, AUMF, Iraq War, and Benghazi couldn’t.
Republicans knew the emails would bring Hillary down. They knew it because they believed it so hard. Fox told them so. Rush and Hannity told them so. The clown college called the GOP primary said so. It was on Drudge, the Blaze, and Breitbart. It just had to be so.
Until it wasn’t.
And the messenger of the impossible: FBI Director James Comey. The same Comey who is a Republican, who has contributed to John McCain and Mitt Romney, who served in the Bush Administration, and rushed to the side of Attorney General Ashcroft when Dick Cheney was orchestrating the continuation of unconstitutional surveillance.
Comey’s statement about Hillary’s email was untethered. It most likely violated DOJ and FBI policy in non-indictment cases. He’s now going to find himself defending the decision not to indict from statements he made supporting an indictment through his gratuitous remarks. In essence, Comey was against it before he was for it while being against it.
If the old political adage is true, “If you are explaining, you are losing,” then Director Comey is about to relive the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones. And the Bastards are all supposed to be on his team.
Hate is a powerful emotion, but is it so all-consuming and mesmerizing to Republicans that they would turn their back on the country? Can they believe so hard as to not believe at all?
Here are three short videos for some perspective.
What’s on your mind today?
How was your weekend of handling small explosives and scaring the pets? If your weekend included extended family get-togethers, I hope the appropriate rules of non-engagement and détente were in place. There’s nothing worse than tainting an otherwise enjoyable cookout by having to clear space on the grill for a brother-in-law whose attendance could just as well have been handled by a socially awkward doorstop.
Each 4th the fireworks get a little stronger and our unifying principles seem to become more mottled. Being the habitual optimist, perhaps we are on course to solving some of the disunity with Hillary’s election, but even with Hillary’s experience and deft hand at working across the aisle, impediments will remain.
If you listen to the “meat puppet resembling a Demon Sweet Potato,” all we have to do is be less politically correct, rip up trade agreements, default on the sovereign debt, and kill the families of suspected terrorists. Translated that equates to glorifying intolerance, plunging a world economy into free fall, and creating revenge-seeking terrorists whose rage will burn white-hot for generations.
The real question is not what the Demon Sweet Potato says, but why someone who has no political experience, no visible network of support, and can’t even spell the word temperament has license to say them as a presidential candidate?
What has gone wrong?
And before we get all high and mighty about the Republicans losing their way, we need to come to an honest reckoning with why a Socialist, who wasn’t even a Democrat fifteen months ago, could garner 43% of the primary vote? Then there was the viperous Texan who was the last candidate standing against Trump who built his career on committing dominicide by killing effective government.
From the article I’m suggesting to you:
Trump, Sanders, and Ted Cruz have in common that they are political sociopaths—meaning not that they are crazy, but that they don’t care what other politicians think about their behavior and they don’t need to care. That three of the four final presidential contenders in 2016 were political sociopaths is a sign of how far chaos syndrome has gone. The old, mediated system selected such people out. The new, disintermediated system seems to be selecting them in.
The biggest obstacle, I think, is the general public’s reflexive, unreasoning hostility to politicians and the process of politics. Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last universally acceptable form of bigotry. Because that problem is mental, not mechanical, it really is hard to remedy.
Chaos syndrome is a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization. It begins with the weakening of historical institutions. As the influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualistic and unaccountable. The system atomizes. Chaos becomes the new normal—both in campaigns and in the government itself.
A second virus was initially identified in 2002 that between 25 and 40 percent of Americans (depending on how one measures) have a severely distorted view of how government and politics are supposed to work. These people are “politiphobes,” because they see the contentious give-and-take of politics as unnecessary and distasteful. Politiphobes think the obvious, commonsense solutions are the sorts of solutions that they themselves prefer. But the more important point is that they do not acknowledge that meaningful policy disagreement even exists.
Washington doesn’t have a crisis of leadership; it has a crisis of followership. Our most pressing political problem today is that the country abandoned the establishment, not the other way around.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
My apologies to the author of How American Politics Went Insane. I’ve butchered Jonathan Rauch’s very thoughtful essay in order to provide a taste of his prognosis and cure. It is a long read, but it is a worthy investment of your time. There is no better way to honor the spirit of July 4th than contemplating ways in which we can bring sanity back to governance.
Please don’t limit your comments to the reading. What’s on your mind today?
It all started about 175 million years ago with the gradual breakup of Pangaea. That was a breakup without a vote unlike our British friends last week with Brexit. So to celebrate our 1776 Amerexit, I thought we might celebrate all things British.
Why you ask?
My British friends always criticize (or criticise for the British spelling) Americans for our tendency to make everything about ourselves — such as the exceptionalism I can never explain.
In any event, instead of focusing on ourselves, given the horrible next couple of years the U.K. is going to experience, I’ve put together some weird British news and some British music. Your musical contributions are encouraged because there is so much from which to choose. Enjoy.
Happy 4th of July and Amerexit of 1776
Here’s some British news of the weird.
The Bunyadi restaurant opened in London in June for a three-month run as the world’s newest nude-dining experience, and now has a reservation waiting list of 40,000 (since it only seats 42). Besides the nakedness, the Bunyadi creates “true liberation” by serving only food “from nature,” cooked over fire (no electricity). Waiters are nude, as well, except for minimal concessions to seated diners addressing standing servers. Tokyo’s Amrita nude eatery, opening in July, is a bit more playful, with best-body male waiters and an optional floor show — and no “overweight” patrons allowed. Both restaurants provide some sort of derriere-cover for sitting, and require diners to check their cellphones at the door.
Least Competent Criminal: Damian Shaw, 43, was sentenced in England’s Chester Crown Court in June after an April raid revealed he had established a “sophisticated” cannabis-growing operation (160 plants) in a building about 50 yards from the front door of the Cheshire Police headquarters.
A March fitness club ad pitch in Sawley, England, pictured an extraterrestrial with the caption, “And when they arrive, they’ll take the fat ones first!” The ad was denounced by an anti-bullying organization as “offensive.”
Life is good now for British men who “identify” as dogs and puppies, as evidenced by a BBC documentary (“Secret Life of the Human Pups”) showing men in body outfits (one a Lycra-suited Dalmatian, “Spot”), exhibiting “sexual” expressions (stomach-rubbing, ear-tickling and nuzzling their “handlers”), eating out of bowls, gnawing on chew toys, wearing collars (so as not to be a “stray”), and jumping in the air for “treats.” However, decency demands that a Pup must only feign urinating against a lamppost.
England does not have no-fault divorce and still requires couples prove adultery, abandonment or “unreasonable behavior,” which leads to strange claims. For instance, one divorcing woman’s petition blamed her husband’s insistence that she speak only in Klingon. Other examples of “unreasonable” behavior (gathered by the Times of London): a husband’s objecting to the “malicious” preparation of his hated tuna casserole, another’s 15-year silence (except for writing him Post-It Notes), a husband’s distorting the fit of his wife’s outfits by frequently wearing them, and one’s insistence that a pet tarantula reside in a glass case beside the marital bed.
Here are a few songs starting from the great British invasion and moving forward.
And just for added measure:
Good Saturday afternoon Widdershins!
I just wanted to put up a quick post with some updates and some links to a couple of good articles. I hope you are having great weather wherever you are today. It is 96 ° here so I am sitting in my air-conditioned comfort.
Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI about her use of a private email server as secretary of state, her campaign said Saturday, as federal investigators neared the end of the probe that has hung over her White House bid.
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, gave a voluntary interview for 3 1/2 hours on Saturday morning at FBI Headquarters in Washington, her campaign said.
“She is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said. “Out of respect for the investigative process, she will not comment further on her interview.”Spokespeople for the FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment Saturday.
Here’s another excellent piece on how Bernie lost another competition: that would be the competition to capture the Democrats on the left side of the party.
Elizabeth Warren is the surrogate he was supposed to be. His supporters have become Clinton’s.
Warren certainly did energize that crowd when she and Hillary appeared together in Cincinnati.
Warren was a compelling surrogate, giving Clinton the kind of strong and affirmative endorsement she needs to win over skeptical voters. And Clinton, in turn, was energized, touting her policies and platform—and indicting Trump for his attitudes and behavior. It was a grand display of party unity: Warren and Clinton, the left and the center-left, united against a common foe and cheered on by thousands of excited Democrats, all ready for the general election.
It’s definitely a good read and shows how Sanders screwed up yet again.
Okay this was just a quick little post to steer y’all towards a couple of good reads. Feel free to add any comments you want to below…or continue enjoying your Independence weekend.