Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Honest Bumper Stickers 2016 Part V: Fast And Trumpious

Okay, on the serious side, if any campaigns out there need to hire a guy to design bumper stickers for them, gimme a call, 'cause I am seriously in need of some on-the-side consulting fees to take care of a few medical bills (who knew a sore shoulder and sleep apnea CPAP gear would cost this much even with full-time health care benefits?)

In the meantime, here's my portfolio of work:






And now, for the party brands:



So, I hope to hear from the Sanders or Kasich campaigns any day now... yup, any day...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

When I Talk Of The NRA Worshiping Guns Over Lives, I Am Not Joking, And I Am Not The Only One

Just going to link to Rude Pundit on this, because the Lafayette shooting hit him where he lives:

You can remember learning in school or at a museum or maybe on the Discovery Channel about human sacrifice in ancient or distant cultures, whether it was the temples of the Aztecs and Incans down south or the bogs of the British Isles, where the Celts performed their rituals. You can remember how you felt: the gruesome fascination followed by disbelief at the stupidity of the reasons. Killing the slaves of a dead master? Ludicrous. And the tribes and nations that sacrificed children, virgins, whoever to appease angry gods just seem insane in retrospect. The circular logic was mind-boggling: We must cut out the hearts of these kids so the gods will make the crops grow and keep away the storms or volcanoes. But if there is a storm or volcano and the crops all die, we'll just sacrifice more kids because obviously we didn't please our mad deities last time...
...The mass shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, hit home, literally, for the Rude Pundit. That's where he grew up. It's where he went to college. It's where his family lives and where he visits twice a year. He can't count the number of times he has been to the Grand movie theater on Johnston Street, right across from the Judice Inn and its delicious Cajun hamburgers. From the Grand, you go northeast on Johnston and make a left on Jefferson Street to get to Parish Ink, the t-shirt and design shop where he regularly bought souvenirs from home to give as gifts, where family bought gifts for him. He spoke a few times to co-owner and designer Jillian Johnson, praising her work and laughing at the puns on the shirts. Johnson was one of two women who were shot and killed by (shooter shall be damnatio memoriae) while they watched the film Trainwreck in the bone-chilling air-conditioning that makes the Grand an oasis in the smothering Lafayette summer...
...The Rude Pundit thought about the Inca, the Mayans, the savage tribe of Skull Island when he began trying to piece together something to say about the Lafayette shooting. It's long been apparent that the United States is now a death cult built around the worship of guns. The dead in each shooting, whether it's gang-related in Los Angeles, accidental in Virginia, or mass shooting after mass shooting, are treated as a necessity in order for us to stay safe. How is Sandy Hook any different than the Aztecs stabbing a child to keep the city from destruction? How did that work out for them?...
...Our firearm-centered death cult is based on a deliberate misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. No matter what courts or lobbyists or corporate-manipulated citizen-tools say, the Second Amendment has a conditional phrase, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State." You can pretend that that doesn't matter or you can lie about what it means, but "well-regulated" is in there, and we live in a country that is far, far from regulating guns, let alone militias, well. The Second Amendment wasn't meant to be a murder-suicide pact. It was meant to deal with a widely-spread, small population that wanted to kill the British and some Indians. A rational nation would revisit it to clarify or change it. In the United States, that would probably just mean craven politicians frightening Americans into taking out the opening phrase so no one can bring up the argument against more guns anymore... 
...If we continue to do nothing, we are all mentally ill and we are all extremists. We are just another bunch of Mayans, watching the high priest politicians cut out the hearts of the children in Newtown, the churchgoers in Charleston, the women in Lafayette, all to appease the malicious gods of the NRA, holding the gore aloft so all may see it, hoping that our  sacrifices are deemed worthy, not realizing that the gods are illusions and that we're just killing our way into oblivion.

To every American who believes in the need for gun regulation, for gun safety, for PUBLIC SAFETY, for the Love of God let us get to work.  End the craven political stalemate, drop out of the pro-gun party that is the Republicans, push for candidates who WILL vote for gun safety laws.  There are 248 million Americans who want universal background checks, opposed by 5 million NRA members (a solid majority of whom would agree to that law but are represented in bad faith by an obsessed leadership that won't listen to their own) who throw a hissy fit every time the very idea of common-sense safety laws are even breathed.

They've got the guns, but we got the numbers.  And we've got the one power that matters under the Constitution: we've got the power to vote for responsible leadership.  It is time for us 248 million Americans to USE that power for our good.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Brief note: Yes, I Plan On Making Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 This Saturday

I am hoping to share the day with my nephews, who are into gaming and some of the comic book narratives, and a little of the science fiction movies/television.  We'll see how it goes.  Some of my library co-workers not working Saturday may make it as a former co-worker in the area wants to show.

I do plan on cosplaying, wearing the Jedi robes mom crafted for me that I wore at MegaCon earlier in the year.  So it may yet be a long and busy day for me.  Here's hoping it goes well - no morning downpours, easy walkpaths, lots of benches to sit on between patrols, posing with cute bounty hunters, etc. - and I promise to document the atrocities.

gonna meet my boss R2 and do a little roll-out

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Brief NSFW Post About Huckabee's Invoking the Holocaust to Fearmonger Over a Treaty With Iran

F-ck you, Mr. Huckabee.

A true man of Christ would accept peace as an option.  An honest man looking to lead our nation would view diplomacy as a virtue.  A leader would accept working with our allies abroad towards stabilizing the world.

Only a sick bastard would use the Holocaust to fearmonger.  Only an idiot would think that making a treaty with Iran that ENDS their nuclear weapons program could possibly lead to another round of genocide.

F-ck you, Mr. Huckabee.  This is the last thing I am ever going to write about you.

When Beltway Media Is Out of the Loop

There is something tangible to the "what the hell happened" response of the mainstream media this week, all involving the combined fascination and fear the media elites have with Teh Trumpster.

After the Republican leaders and most of the Washington DC power circles attacked Trump for going after one of their beloved own - Senator McCain - the prognosticators and experts and talking heads were crowing that Trump had finally gone too far, had insulted a hero POW, was likely to lose supporters from the vast number of Vietnam War vets and other vets who leaned Republicans.

Instead, Trump's polling numbers have stayed well in the 20 percentile - give or take a few points - and remains in a clear lead among the Republican primary candidates.  We're all - guilty party here alongside the Beltway media elites - talking Trump (even as we're all in the need for bathing in holy water once we walk away from the blog writing).

The media probably couldn't understand why, although I kinda figured Trump wasn't going to get hurt at all by going after McCain.  Because he wasn't so much going after John McCain the Vietnam Navy pilot, he was going after John McCain the Media Darling.

Look, back in the day before the Republican Party got to be too insane even for me, I backed McCain, I liked him as a candidate in 2000 mostly because he wasn't Dubya (by that time my ire for the Bush clan due to Jeb was greater than anything else) and partly because he showed bipartisan efforts as a Senator.  Problem with him now is, I swear McCain gets invited to Sunday talk shows every week.  He's become a go-to interview subject for the mainstay political roundtables to where he's over-saturated the market.  They - the media elite - hang on his every word even when he's not the real guy they ought to be interviewing on that given topic.  They act like he really won the Presidency in 2008 or something.  It's gotten annoying, even to a former fanboy like me who will on occasion forgive McCain for the sad-but-unavoidable pandering he did to win the GOP nomination back then (I do, in fact, absolve him of making the horrific move of picking Palin for the Veep spot: he wanted someone the party wouldn't take, so he went either out of spite or frustration for a complete unknown whose governing record wasn't deep enough to reveal how much of a loon she was.  I blame a poor vetting system and a party obsessed with image over competency...).  Anyhoo.

THAT is the guy - the Interview All-Hours-Of-The-Day McCain - Trump was really targeting: Trump was pointing out how McCain's reputation was vastly inflated all because of his years in a POW camp.  And most of the Trump fanbase knew that.  A good amount of the Republican voting base knew that: it may surprise the media elites to know that McCain is not all that popular to the Tea Party and Far Right crowds.

It's amazing how an entire profession - media people, whose backgrounds are supposed to be in journalism and are supposed to handle information and data on a regular basis - can be so clueless, out-of-touch, and misinformed about a lot of things about their own nation, their own audiences.

I'm amazed but not surprised.  I've known for over a decade that the higher-end of the media power structure - the national media, the cable and nightly newspeople - have been disconnected from the general public ever since the Lewinsky scandal.  How the talking heads were all predicting doom for Bill Clinton, that he had to resign for having betrayed everyone (mostly themselves), the moral indignity of it all (swoon)...  Only to find a majority of Americans still liked Slick Willie, that they backed him during the Republicans' failed effort to impeach, and that all of their outrage had been mocked or ignored.

The disconnect is still there, and it's gotten worse.  Per David Atkins at Washington Monthly:

The interesting question is why there is such a disconnect between the establishment pundit class and average American voters.  ...The professional political class lives in same socially rarefied air as America’s business...elites, culturally and economically separated by a widening gulf of inequality and disconnection that prevents them from grasping at an emotional, fundamental level the challenges faced by normal families...

The low-end journalists, the ones working local markets and on papers and magazines (the ones not yet dying out) may still earn within the real middle-class range (between 40k to 70k yearly) and may well remain connected to the real world.  However, once you get to the cable channel level, the nightly news level, the talking head level, those are people pulling down the seven-figure incomes and book deals of the upper classes.  Even the ones still "thinking" themselves as liberals/left-leaning are going to find themselves unable to fathom what a family living under $10 an hour has to do to survive.

The professional political class tends to believe that there is a mythical American “centrist/moderate” voter who loves John McCain and Joe Lieberman because they are serious, respectable moderates who “get things done...”
Note: we don't.

...The fact that the centrist voter is largely a myth doesn’t dawn on them, because they spend more time misreading poll results than they do actually talking to average voters. (Hint: lumping progressive and conservative voters who call themselves “independent” together into a single voting bloc and then marveling at their seemingly moderate collective policy choices isn’t terribly smart statistical analysis.) In a Washington DC where John McCain is a permanent fixture of the talk show circuit, McCain is the “maverick” and bellwether of serious opinion. In the real world, John McCain is just another extremist Republican to Democrats, and a despised Establishmentarian to the Republican base.

The media elites don't grok that McCain might not get all the fans agiggling because they meet with him so often and interact with his circle of friends to where they are blind to how others outside that circle would view him.  Epistemic closure at its simplest.

And by the by, moderate voters DO exist, we just don't sit there going Ooh and Ahh at everything you all say on the cable shows and Sunday morning gush-fests.

In the elite pundit world, voters are fairly happy with American society generally but unhappy with Washington specifically because of an “extremist” environment where no one cooperates to pass respectable centrist legislation. But in the real world, voters understand that the middle class is coming apart at the seams—which leads more knowledgeable left-leaning voters to support economic populist approaches to reduce inequality and hold corporations accountable, and that leads less educated, more racist and reactionary conservative voters to try to restrict immigration from allowing others to take “their” jobs...

To the media elites, those views both Left and Right are considered 'extremes' mostly because they can't see themselves being on the wrong side of income inequality (it's not their fault they're rich, after all) that's driving those views in the first place.  It's far easier to sit in their hermetically-sealed studios sharing coffee and jokes with "experts" like themselves and joke that it's all "Washington's fault" without realizing their part of that Washington culture - hi, Morning Joe! - making it a mess.

Easier for them to sit on the sidelines wondering where all the good times under Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill went than it is to empathize with the growing evidence that the United States has fallen apart and needs serious reforms and fixes - to our tax codes, to our highway budgets, to our immigration system, to our drug war and incarceration policies, to our racial conflicts and growing body count - that just can't be bothered with because they would involve messy disagreements among their own.

I said it before: it's not that we need term limits on our elected leaders, we need term limits on the Talking Heads dominating the cable news shows.  We need to slap some journalistic sense - and journalistic ethical standards - into these vapid chatterers, and remind them there's a real world outside the Green Rooms.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

About Gun Deaths: Best Solution

Another mass shooting, again at a movie theater this time in Lafayette LA. Another angry guy with a gun, and yet another moment in America where NOTHING WILL GET DONE BECAUSE OUR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP HAS THE COLLECTIVE MORAL COURAGE OF A SLUG.

"Now is not the time" to talk about gun safety, says Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Okay fine, boss.  WHEN will be the time to talk about gun safety you sonofabitch?  Because these mass shootings are becoming so commonplace in the United States that if we go by your rules of "oh we can't talk after a tragic shooting" we will never find that time, because it's happening pretty much once every day: people tracking mass shootings this year have found 204 such shootings over 204 days!

This is madness.

It has been madness for ages, but we crossed the moral event horizon just a few years ago with the Sandy Hook massacre.  One of the most horrific mass shootings since Columbine, one in which there was mass outcry and a concerted effort to even talk about gun safety as a necessity...  And then nothing.  We moved on to another tragedy.  The Sandy Hook families were mocked by the gun-worship crowd of the NRA, we even had people denying the shooting even took place.  Nothing else happened, we moved on, and now we're at yet another public place defiled by an angry gun-wielding madman.

We are piling up the dead as though we are a war zone.  And in a way, we are.

We are at war between the average American citizenry (hi there!) versus the very few but very noisy and very angry gun-worship crowd (the National Rifle Association is the most prominent).

Just on one topic alone the vast majority of Americans are speaking out: Universal background checks.  A Quinnipiac poll in 2014 found that roughly 92 percent of Americans favor a universal background check for gun purchases, and that's roughly the same number of gun owners who support it.  The Pew Research Center has polling from 2013 showing about 81 percent of Americans favoring universal background checks.  We can infer at the least there's 80 percent of Americans favoring this one law: and yet Congress fails to pass any such legislation because the NRA - which opposes such background checks because they fear a federal gun registry - browbeats most other politicians - Democrats as well as Republicans - into submission.

If we're talking numbers, there's roughly 29 to 34 percent of Americans who claim to own at least one gun.  Out of 310-plus million Americans that's about 105 million Americans at most.  And then consider the NRA membership: there's no specific numbers but at most it's around 5 million.  That's barely a tenth of total number of gun-owners themselves, nowhere near the numbers able to claim that they speak for any majority at all.

And if we're talking about numbers: there's 80 percent of Americans who would want expanded universal background checks.  That's about 248 million Americans.  Who the hell speaks for them?

That's where the problem sits: we don't have the political will to do anything about gun safety because the politicians aren't paying attention to 248 million Americans who are spread out and unfocused over 100 other issues, and they pay attention to the 5 million Americans who focus singularly on guns and worship their guns and indulge their ability to open-carry their death-toys wherever they want. (am I being a little biased and demeaning here? Yes.)

We're stuck because the NRA has spent the last 40 years re-writing the interpretation of the Second Amendment away from "states requiring the well-regulation of militias to serve the states' needs" and into a "gun owners shall not be infringed on their urge to shoot everybody they can."

It doesn't help that the Second Amendment is an awkwardly worded amendment.  It hurts that people don't see the historical value of it and why such value has diminished: back when that amendment was created, we didn't have much in the way of law enforcement or the ability to defend our open borders.  When the Founders passed the Constitution and focused on the Bill of Rights to address specific issues, they nearly all focused on the "militia" aspect of the Amendment as a necessity for the national defense.

The Founders preferred militias over an organized standing army as they 1) viewed standing armies as a threat and 2) didn't have the money to pay for a standing army of sufficient size.  Militias and state defenses made more sense in the 18th Century because back then it took days if not weeks to receive news: a foreign incursion into the frontier wouldn't have been known about until it was too late.  Letting the states manage those affairs as local matters - with men and material closer at hand - was the way to go.

It took the War of 1812 - where the state militias performed miserably, forcing the nation to forge a stronger and trained federal army - to prove otherwise, and even then it took almost all the 19th Century to move away from state-raised armies - the Civil War in particular - to an organized national force we pretty much have today.

The need for state-run militias - what we'd call the National Guard, although certain states still maintain separate guard forces - isn't as important due to massive improvements in communications and technology and armaments.  Our borders are now closed: there is no open frontier, and we've got the means to spot enemy forces from miles away with minutes' worth of response times.  Given the nature of the modern United States as a global power with a regular standing Army, our government and our citizenry are comfortable with such an army standing at the ready.  In that regard, the need for the Second Amendment as a defensive measure for militias has diminished.

What remains is the second half of that Second Amendment, the one that the NRA obsesses over to everyone else's hazard: "the right of the people to own firearms shall not be infringed."  Back when the Second Amendment was written, firearms were useful and in trained hands deadly; but they were also inaccurate, hard to prep, technologically primitive.  As far as weapons went, they were relatively low-risk.

That War of 1812 had almost laughably low casualty rates from actual combat: most troops died from illness that war.  It took technological advancements in the Civil War to turn guns into more lethal weapons, and the mechanization of the rifle from single-shot to repeating fire to increase such lethality.

Historically, during all this time (19th Century) gun control laws were common-place and common-sense.  The Wild West wasn't that wild: most towns imposed gun check-in requirements.  While owning a gun to keep yourself safe traveling across the vast vista made sense, it also made sense for the towns to put a cap on the risk of gun-fights erupting in their shops and saloons.  The individual right to bear firearms were infringed on a regular basis.

Blame the myth-making of the Western movies and TV shows of the 20th Century that made it seem shoot-outs between gun-toting good guys and bad guys happened once a week on the dusty streets of Dodge City.

Yet thanks to the NRA's constant campaigning to relax gun safety laws across the board, we're less-regulated today with firearms than those mythic days of yore.  And the firearm the NRA promotes today bears little resemblance to the firearm of our Founders: where our ancestors had single-shot rifles that took minutes to reload and was inaccurate as hell, we're facing semi-automatic (if not full auto) rifles carrying 50 bullet magazines.

These are the weapons that Jefferson and Washington and Adams wanted us to carry?  These are the weapons that shall not be infringed?  A solid argument can be made that the Founders did not intend the average American to carry such firepower with them wherever they went: that the firearm was to be in service to the militia, which was supposed to be under the regulation of Congress.

And yet the NRA has convinced the courts of just the opposite, arguing the second half of the Second Amendment in ignorance of the first half (as well as ignoring Article I Section 8 of the Constitution enumerating Congressional powers to regulate militias for training and federal oversight).  As long as that Second Amendment is there with that poor wording - and yes, the two halves of that amendment conflict with each other - we as a nation are hampered in our ability to protect our public places from gun-worshiping death-dealers.

So that's what has to change.  Not just the mindset that guns are needed - they're not, and most Americans don't own one and don't WANT to - but also the Constitutional Amendment at the heart of the debate.

Good thing the Founders gave us - their descendants - the power to amend that Constitution when able, when there are enough of a shared agreement among us that laws are broken and need fixing.  It's messy, it's difficult, and even with good intent there can be consequences, but it's doable.  We as a nation can and should look at amending the Constitution to replace that Second Amendment with a better worded, more modern law.

That means everybody who has a stake in this debate - that is, the 80 percent of Americans who want at least universal background checks - need to follow what I'm recommending here:

1) Get every American who wants gun safety laws put in place to drop from the Republican party - official party of the NRA - and switch to No-Party-Affiliate.  This is the cheapest - FREE to do - and easiest - it takes minutes to fill out the form and submit it to the county elections office - thing to do.
I'm arguing for people to quit the Republicans because that's the party most beholden to the NRA.  If needed, people can easily drop from the Democratic Party too.  Hell, switching to Democrats may simply make the NRA put pressure on them once they figure out what's happening, so don't even sign with the Dems.  Just go full Indy.  This move alone would signal to the party leadership - on both sides - that there are many disgruntled voters and many of them no longer hewing to the party dogma (of either side).
Current voter registration is about 36 percent Democrat, 34 percent Republican, 26 percent Independent.  What level of panic do you think will hit the Republican leadership - and also Democrats - when the numbers of registered voters switch to 33 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican, 38 percent Independent when enough voters switch to NPA?  That's what the goal here should be: a clear warning flag to the GOP that they're losing the American voters.

2) Get every American who wants gun safety laws to publicly insist on voting only for state and federal candidates for office who will ignore the NRA and pass those much-needed laws.  Put this in letters to the elected officials on a daily basis, put this in letters to the editors at newspapers and local TV stations.  Actively interview and confront political candidates during election years and let them know: this is a problem they cannot ignore, and this is a solution they need to support.

3) Remind the NRA that they are only 4.5 million members out of 100 million gun owners - meaning they do not represent every gun owner - and that is out of 310 million Americans - meaning they sure as sh-t do not represent all of America.  They'll likely put their fingers in their ears and shout "La-La-La" and then accuse all non-gun owners of being wimps or Commies, but 248 MILLION AMERICANS ARGUING FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS CANNOT BE WRONG, and they need to speak for themselves.

4) If enough elected officials at the federal and state level are on board, pass a new amendment that abolishes the OUTDATED Second Amendment and replaces it with an amendment that allows for gun ownership but with strict, clear and enforceable limits to ensure gun safety and the protection of the many millions of Americans who DO NOT WANT GUNS.
A better worded amendment could go like this: 1. An American citizen can register to bear firearms for personal defense, 2. that the state license the citizen, and ensure proper training, public safety, and personal safety to protect others from any abuse or improper firearm handling, 3. that firearms are manufactured and sold under strict federal guidelines under the enumerated powers of Congress, 4. that Congress regulate and ban all offensive / assault firearms to ensure the public's right to peaceably assemble.
The need for militias is already stated in the Constitution (Article I Section 8), the Second Amendment was meant as a clarification. With this new amendment, such clarification isn't needed (and in this day and age, militias are irrelevant to the national or state defense thanks to the establishment of National Guards).

That is a lot of work, I admit.  There will be a lot of screaming - mostly by the NRA, who will have a conniption if these ideas are even breathed in the public forum.

But we are at the point - from Sandy Hook to today - where gun violence MUST end.  We MUST stand up, we MUST do something about the spread and easy access of weapons - The Gun - of mass death.

WE must.  Okay, America?  Otherwise WE will keep dying in the streets, and the malls, and the movie theaters, and the churches and the schools and the office spaces and...

Friday, July 24, 2015

They Made The Rules They Now Regret

I know it's crooked, but it's the only game in town
- attributed to a con artist, Canada Bill Jones

The Republicans - and their media overlords - are apparently getting more worried about their self-inflicted damage, also known as Candidate Donald Trump.

The first part is the coverage.  The biggest reason Trump is leading - for now - is because Fox Not-News and their conservative media cohorts - hi, Rush! - can't stop their coverage of Trump as he rails against immigrants and trashes the reputations of established party leaders (dissing John McCain, doxxing Lindsey Graham).

This is how serious a problem it's become: Rupert Murdoch, who officially OWNS the Fox News channel and pays everyone's salary there, can't even get his own people like Roger Ailes to listen to him:

One reason Murdoch is taking to social media and deploying his publishing properties to attack Trump may be the simple fact that he hasn’t been able to control his most powerful media organ: Fox News. According to sources, Murdoch has tried — and failed — to rein in Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who, insiders say, is pushing Fox to defend Trump’s most outlandish comments. This week, Ailes told his senior executives during a meeting that Murdoch recently called him and asked if Fox could “back off the Trump coverage,” a source told me. Ailes is said to have boasted to his executives that he told Murdoch he was covering Trump “the way he wanted to.” The implication was that he wasn’t going to budge... 
...It’s understandable that Murdoch would be frustrated. Fox News has been a ringleader of the Trump circus. Shortly after Trump jumped into the race, he had a "2-to-3 hour" private lunch with Ailes, sources told me. Last month, Fox gave Trump more airtime than any other candidate. And, according to sources, the channel's personalities are taking an active role in aiding Trump, both on- and off-camera. One source explained that Ailes has instructed The Five co-host Eric Bolling to defend Trump on air. A review of Bolling’s comments shows that over the past week, he’s gone to bat for Trump numerous times...
...Inside Fox News, the Journal editorial (Note: which Murdoch owns) is clearly seen by some as a message to Ailes. It seems doubtful, however, that he is listening. “Roger claims not to care,” an insider said... 

You might remember Roger Ailes if you've read The Selling of the President: he was one of the media people handling Nixon's 1968 campaign and was a major figure in McGinniss' classic book.  He is one of several legacies left behind by those Nixon years, a figure who spent decades trying to create a purely conservative media outlet and finally got one in Fox. Who is now reveling in the final end-game of the much-vaunted Southern Strategy weaponized under Nixon's tenure: the rise of a conservative populist figure devoid of reason and full of emotional pandering.

What is happening now between Murdoch and Ailes is akin to watching a pro football team owner trying to tell his Head Coach-slash-General Manager to think of improving the team's talent with smart free agency signings and drafting a highly-scouted defensive lineman, only to wail in horror on the Rookie Draft Day as that Coach/Manager goes and drafts a PUNTER in the First Round. (for those of you who don't follow football, let the experts tell you that drafting a Punter in the First tends to be a REALLY BAD IDEA)

The other part is the debate itself.  Terrified of what Trump could do on the stage, some party players are urging the big names - Jeb, Walker, Rubio - to boycott if Trump garners an official invite:

...One idea that came up was to urge three leading candidates — Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor; Mr. Walker; and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — to band together and state that they would not participate in any debate in which Mr. Trump was present, using his refusal to rule out a third-party bid as a pretext for taking such a hard line. The thinking, according to a Republican involved in the conversations, was that the lesser-funded prospects who have been eclipsed by Mr. Trump would follow suit, and the TV networks airing the debates would be forced to bar Mr. Trump in order to have a full complement of candidates.
But none of the campaigns have shown any appetite for such solidarity, for reasons ranging from their strategic interests and not wanting to make Mr. Trump a martyr, to fear of making an enemy of Fox News, the preferred cable network of conservatives and the host of the first debate...

Another problem with that boycott idea is obvious: in a crowded field where the ONLY major front-runner (so far) will be Trump, avoiding the first debate for the other major names would be akin to shooting off your own foot.  The remaining candidates - most of them struggling for ANY media attention - would gladly join the same stage as Trump and try to pilfer Trump's fanbase through their own pandering.  Just because Jeb Bush or Scott Walker might not show won't mean the likes of Carson, Cruz or Huckabee would also avoid the moment.

There's a bigger problem as well: having set up the rules of the debate - whomever hits the Top Ten in average of the major polls, and filed proper with the FEC - the Republican Party is going to look like fools trying to change in public the rigged game days before the table is set.  They knew full well going in that Trump was polling relatively high among the party base.  They knew they had the likelihood of inviting someone who had no political experience and a potential to embarrass himself and the party.  They could have earlier set a tougher guideline such as actual campaign wins - which would have knocked Trump, Carson, and Fiorina off the list - and not a lot of people would have complained then (save for Carson's and Fiorina's backers).  Either they figured Trump - when it was time to put up or shut up - wouldn't have risked the potential business losses or he wouldn't have risked public humiliation.

But Trump is now blowing those hopes to pieces: he's clearly willing to swallow his short-term losses in exchange for long-term infamy, and he's proven there is no level of shame that can humiliate himself.  And being a self-assured billionaire, he's under no obligations to listen to anybody as there's no financial backers or potential threats from the national party to keep him in line.

Now the Republicans are stuck with a blowhard con artist dominating the first debate while more qualified political figures - Governor Kasich in particular may well miss the starting round unless his fortunes change in a week - sit at the little kids' table in frustration.

What's happening here is that the Republican Party leadership - both the organization itself and the media outlets openly associated with them - tried to rig the game after the relatively embarrassing fiasco that was the 2012 primary season.  But they've tried doing this after having rigged everything else: having mounted a massive obstructionist program against Obama and the Democrats by vilifying them as the evil opposition, which enforced a partisan anti-everybody agenda that Trump is easily exploiting; having pushed for more rich-people's money flowing into campaigns via court rulings like Citizens United that Trump can use to basically keep himself afloat and even threatening an independent run if the Republicans reject him; using media outlets like Fox Not-News to script and shape the Republican message to shill to an ever-angered and ever-gullible audience, now attuned to Trump's calls towards hatred and outrage at the Republican leadership itself.  Now they're finding that all the tricks they've used to set this all up are now tripping their own efforts.

That quote above about how that rigged game was the only one in town?  The guy saying was a con artist himself: leave it to a con artist to try conning the con, much like con artist Trump conning the rigged Republicans.

Murdoch, the Bushes, Reince Priebus and the RNC, their financial backers like the Kochs, they all have to live with the fact that they created the only rigged game in town with these GOP Primaries and the public debates... and NOW they're no longer in control of the fix.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It Has To Be Done: GOP Debate Drinking Game 2016 Edition

(Note: Getting some traffic for this entry, so I see a need to update with fresher drinking rules as the gaffes pile up...  Update to the Note: if anybody has a suggestion for a drinking rule to this game, by all means add it via Comment below or else tweet me @PaulWartenberg okay?)

So this came up.  Oliver Willis of Like Kryptonite To Stupid and contributor to Media Matters brought up how Jeb Bush's campaign was selling watch party tickets for about $2700.00 (!) and I joked about how it would be cheaper to just stay at home to watch, order $40 in pizzas and sit around with drunk friends mocking the whole shindig.  Then this idea came up:


Yeah, I'm kinda thinking up a few rules for a drinking game meself.  And I don't drink alcoholic beverages, and even I'm thinking about how to get drunk enough to watch the coming circus act.

So, the drinking rules to the August 6th Republican Debate for the 2016 Presidential Nomination shall be thus:

IN GENERAL

  • If any candidate talks about meeting Ronald Reagan in person, take a drink.
  • If any candidate talks about kneeling before St. Ronnie and asking for his blessing to serve the cause as THE CHOSEN ONE, take two drinks.
  • If any candidate shares a passage from his erotic Reagan fanfiction involving light bondage and tax cuts (we live in a Fifty Shades world now), throw bottle at screen.
  • If any candidate praises Fox Not-News for "honesty and credibility", throw bottle at screen.
  • If any candidate tries to out-pander Trump, take a drink. This also applies to Trump, who is allowed within the rules to pander as much as inhumanly possible.
  • If any candidate says nice things about Jon Stewart and suggests Jon shouldn't retire this year from the Daily Show, quit drinking and stay sober because you've just witnessed the impossible.
  • (Update: from @word_34 aka SkarkWeekSneak) "Hillary" "email" or "server", you have to do double shots.  Throw in "Benghazi" here too.
  • (Update) If any candidate accuses Obama of being the Worst President Ever, throw a dart at a photo of Dubya taped to the wall and take two drinks.
  • (Update) If any candidate calls for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, take a drink.  If the candidate calls for the arrest of Planned Parenthood staffers, take two drinks.  If the candidate calls for the arrest of women who go to Planned Parenthood even for basic women's health care needs, turn off the TV and get stinking drunk because the Republicans are pretty much writing off the women's vote even in Red States.


FOR SPECIFIC CANDIDATES

For Donald Trump
  • If Trump says something insulting, take a drink.
  • If Trump says something demonstrably false, take a drink.
  • Actually, don't do either.  The second he opens his mouth under those rules, you're pretty much gonna be passed out by the fifth minute of the debate.
  • If Trump says he respects Latinos and can easily win their votes, take two drinks from any Dos Equis brand in front of you and laugh your ass off.
  • If Trump complains about China in any way, take the Made In China tab on any Trump-labeled designer wear and tear it off, then take a drink.


For Jeb Bush:
  • If Jeb says nice things about his brother's administration, take two drinks - one for Dubya and one for Cheney - and yell at the screen.
  • If Jeb brings up school vouchers, take three drinks.
  • If Jeb says there shouldn't be immigration reform, drink whole bottle.
  • If Jeb says Obama is a terrible foreign policy President, take a drink from every bottle made by the 2003 Coalition of the Willing, and then vomit on a picture of Bush the Elder. Please have towels and trash cans handy. 

For Scott Walker:
  • If Walker brings up his union-busting habits, take a drink.
  • If Walker brings up his recall survivial, take two drinks.
  • If Walker brings up his John Doe investigation squashing, drink whole bottle.
  • If Walker tries wearing a Packer Cheesehead foam hat, drink from a Chicago microbrewery label and shout "DA BEARS"

For Marco Rubio:
  • If Rubio talks about his exaggerated family story where his parents fled Cuba well before Castro took it over, take a drink. 
  • If Rubio speaks against the opening of relations with Cuba, take two drinks.
  • If Rubio finishes the whole night without saying one word about immigration, finish off the bottle.
  • If Rubio any says anything in Espanol, drink whole bottle.

For Rand Paul:
  • If Paul mentions the gold standard, take a drink.
  • If Paul discusses the need to end American interventionist activity, take a drink.
  • If Paul still says we need to bomb Syria though, take four drinks.
  • If Paul lights up a blunt on-stage, do the same (in legal states only).

For Ben Carson:
  • If Carson gets a non-Obamacare question, take a drink.
  • If Carson actually answers a non-Obamacare question with a reasonable-sounding policy suggestion, drink whole bottle.

For Mike Huckabee:
  • If Huckabee claims he's a strong judge of character, scream "you hang out with child molesters!" and throw bottle at screen.
  • If Huckabee talks about jamming with Ted "I Worship My God-Gun" Nugent, take two drinks.
  • If Huckabee tries to compare anything to the Holocaust, light a memorial candle and throw bottle at screen.

For Ted Cruz:
  • If Cruz attempts to suck the soul or eat the heart of Donald Trump live on-stage, drink whole bottle.
  • If Cruz says anything about the legislation he's nuked in the House - while serving as a SENATOR - take a drink.
  • If Cruz employs oratory tools that rely heavily on the teachings and practices of Cicero and Pericles, take two drinks. 

For Chris Christie:
  • If Christie tries to quote Springsteen, throw bottle at screen.
  • If Christie gets arrested during the debate over his ethics failures and dragged off-stage, drink whole bottle.

For Rick Perry:
  • If Perry flubs a debate answer (again), take three drinks.
  • If Perry says anything about a "Texas miracle" involving that state's economy, take a drink, and then prepare to pass out because that's all he's got.

For John Kasich:
  • If Kasich is even on the stage, take two drinks right off the bat because it probably means Christie got arrested beforehand and there was an opening.
  • If Kasich talks about immigration reform, take a drink.
  • If Kasich defends his time working for Lehman Brothers, throw bottle at screen.
  • If Kasich mentions how he was with the bipartisan team that got a balanced budget going in Congress back in the 1990s, take a drink and pity the poor guy because he just used the word 'bipartisan' in front of a GOP primary crowd that considers it a trigger word.

For Rick Santorum:
  • If Santorum is even on the stage, it means Rick Perry got lost on the way to the auditorium, so take three drinks right away in honor of Perry.
  • If Santorum mentions gay marriage as the cause of all natural disasters, take a drink.  If the rule was to drink whole bottle, you'll end up dead from toxic effects (even if you substituted water! True story).
  • If Santorum mentions man-on-dog marriage as legal now, kiss Fluffy and take a drink.

For Bobby Jindal:
  • Seriously?
  • No, really, seriously?

For Carly Fiorina:
  • Seriously?  I just can't even give you a snarky answer because you lost your only other campaign attempt.  At least with Carson and Trump they're gonna qualify for the debate, but... Seriously, no, sorry Carly, this is it.

For Lindsey Graham:
  • This is where the rules of "top 10 polled" gets ridiculous.  Experienced politicians who paid their dues like Graham, disagree with them or not, it's not fair for them to sit out while amateurs like Trump and Carson get the spotlight.
  • If by the off-chance Graham makes the Big Dance, if he argues for bombing half the Middle East as a means of convincing our enemies and allies of our manhood, take a drink, break out a map, and start crossing off the NATO allies that are going to stop taking calls from our State Department.

For George Pataki:
  • Who?

For Jim Gilmore:

  • Bro, dude, seriously?  NOW you're putting in for this?  Bro.  THERE ARE NO SEATS LEFT IN THE GOP CLOWN CAR.  There are LIMITS even to the Clown Car.  Even *I* know Kasich was late getting into the game.  What are YOU drinking, Jim, to make you think you can even get in on this?  /headdesk

This is what I've got so far, Willis.  You can improve upon it.