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10:00 AM, Feb 27, 2023 toot this
Can Russia Contain its Putin-shaped Loose Cannon?
The military picture of the war in Ukraine is that as soon as the mud dries, Ukraine will begin maneuver-based warfare against which Russia has never had any defense. Putin's forces will be pushed back to pre-2014 lines by mid-Summer.

The political picture is much more open-ended though. After Russia loses its war, and the war will be characterized as a loss for Russia by any metric, Putin will be severely damaged. He might be able to have his internal propaganda channels frame the outcome into a complimentary shape, or even make the history disappear, maintaining support among the elderly, docile Russian population who haven't fled the country. But the rest of the world will see Putin as the leader of a country without the military might to threaten anyone.

The people and governments of Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Scandinavia, the Baltics, The Caucasus, Japan, and any other countries Putin has threatened will have received a clear message that Putin cannot back up his posturing with actions. His allies, vassals, and would-be allies will no longer see him as a valuable ally.

As Russia's global position depends heavily on its primacy, a President who is not valued by allies, and not feared by anyone else is of no use to Russia. As such, I think we're going to see a lot more people falling out of windows in the Kremlin, and the nightmare scenario of Putin incinerating one of his own cities in a false-flag operation may play out, but that's still extremely unlikely to move anything into Putin's favor.

Putin is a wild card, but I just can't imagine any options available to him that will not change what I see as a fact: the future will not have him in it.

3:34 PM, Feb 22, 2023 toot this
I Don't Believe the Military Experts
Over and over, Western military experts have given Russia the unconditional benefit of the doubt, and it is against this fatalist outlook that the Ukrainians have amazed the world. The, "Russian offensive" that the experts warned could possibly tilt the war back into the Kremlin's favor is tapering off now.

The Russians are short on armored vehicles-- they've lost most of their infantry fighting vehicles, and their museum of main battle tanks that were made for our grandparents' generation has just about played out --and are reduced to just mindlessly sending waves of "infantry" into Ukrainian fire, supported only by poorly-operated artillery for which ammunition is running low.

All seems to depend, the experts say, on whether or not Putin declares another mobilization. Surely, another 300,000 Russians sent to the front lines would bolster the beleaguered attackers in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Avdiivka, and all other parts of Russia's 600-mile front line. It makes sense that if Russia's advantage in numbers was exacerbated, Ukraine would fall, right?

Yeah, all of that is nonsense.

First, a new mobilization would have to be actively obeyed by the Russian public, and that seems highly unlikely, given the mass exodus that took place when Putin announced the last mobilization in the Fall. A new mobilization would create enormous problems for Putin, as his "special military operation," is devastatingly overdrawn, and increasingly difficult to depict to his people as anything other than a failure.

This is a repeating theme, but it bears mentioning again: Ukrainian artillery has annihilated and demoralized Russian supply chains. Simply moving troops, food, ammunition, medical supplies, tools, and vehicles to the front is an extremely dangerous undertaking for the Russians. As a result, all commands are issued from hundreds of miles away, by people without a clear picture of the battlefield. Supplies cannot be stockpiled within 100km of the front, as they will be quickly destroyed, so that means the artillery support needed by the Russian infantry is hamstrung.

Keep in mind too that every Russian soldier who arrives at the front line is less effective than the fallen soldier he replaces. Morale is disastrously low, and the strategy of the Russian command does not and cannot change. "Take that city," are the orders. "Gain ground!" So they simply run their unsupported infantry into enemy fire, suffering unacceptable casualties.

Ukraine suffers from none of these problems. On the contrary, they are training up on technologies that will enable their use of state-of-the-art offensive equipment and tactics that the Russians have never had. They have enough food, clothing, tools, supply chains, communications, and morale to continue a war of attrition far longer than the Russians. The result will be that when the mud dries in April or May, the Ukrainians will drive the Russians out of their country, and reclaim all the territory they lost, including Crimea.

So when I hear military experts talking about how this war will be a grinding war of attrition for another year, I don't believe them for a second. Russia is hanging on by a thread, and when the mud dries in the Donbas, the thread will be cut.

12:52 AM, Feb 19, 2023 toot this
How Will it End?
I think enough has happened now that some solid predictions can be made about the end of the war in Ukraine, which I believe we will see before the year is old. It was almost a year ago that Vladimir Putin offered spurious, hollow excuses for his country's imperialist, genocidal invasion of Ukraine. The success, such as could be gleaned based on the bad information Putin was acting on, of the "special military operation," was contingent on the successful capture and continued operation of Hostomel Airport, west of Kyiv. But Western intelligence alerted Ukrainian officials of this plan, and though the Russians did wind up capturing the airport after a tug-of-war over its control, they did not manage to do so before the Ukrainians cratered the runways, rendering the site unusable for the planned landing of very large reinforcement forces, supplies, and materiel. From then, we saw the Russian invasion crumble in the north, and soon, the Russians retreated completely from the assault on Kyiv. The war never moved decisively in Russia's favor again after that.

Now, Putin has allegedly commanded his forces to complete the conquest of the four oblasts(Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson) where he staged fraudulent votes to "annex" them into the Russian Federation, last year, by the first anniversary of the invasion, February 24, 2023. As such, a large Russian offensive is currently underway-- mostly in the effort to capture the strategically unimportant small city of Bakhmut, where Russian forces were already breaking like waves on cliffs, against the Ukrainian defenders --and it is going very poorly. On some days, over 1000 Russians have been killed in action-- commanded to sprint into enemy fire by inexperienced, optionless officers, because they know Putin will kill them and their loved ones if they disobey --while thousands more have been wounded out of combat capability. The Russians lack experienced soldiers to lead their newer soldiers, while every Western military considers these experienced soldiers(non-commissioned officers, or "NCOs") absolutely indispensable. Orders come from generals and political leaders hundreds of miles away, to gain ground. Lacking any strategy other than overwhelming shows of force and numbers, the Russians simply run their men into the Ukrainian meat grinder, trading thousands of lives for meters of territorial advancement.

The Russians have very low morale, and after only a day or two in the war, those who survive are even less inclined to fight. It is my belief that over the course of the in-progress offensive, they will suffer calamitous losses, with unnumbered tears back home for the fallen, all without accomplishing any decisive gains. When the personnel committed to this offensive are expended, the Russians will have no option on the battlefield other than defense, while the Ukrainians continue to demoralize the Russians with superior artillery range, and far greater precision, disrupting logistics, command, and striking Russian forces without warning, and with devastating effectiveness. The Ukrainians, even now, have very high morale, are well-trained, disciplined, organized, and are increasingly equipped with and trained on modern Western systems. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and technicians are training in Western countries on how to use these and other Western systems, and are showing a great aptitude for it.

The ground in the Donbas is muddy and soft right now, and will remain so until probably April. This means that a relatively small number of Ukrainian defenders can hold off the zombie-like Russian attacks and inflict catastrophic losses on them, while companies, brigades, and divisions of Ukrainian soldiers can train in Poland and the UK on sophisticated maneuvers they will use to retake territory in the Spring, using modern maneuver-based combined-arms warfare and modern Western equipment the Russians cannot match. Even when the war began, and the Russians were fresh, well-equipped, and as well-trained and as disciplined as the Russians get, they had no grasp of such tactics, and no effective defense against them. Now-- and especially after hollowing themselves out in the current offensive --the Russians are a shadow of a shadow of the force they were before the invasion.

So it is my strong belief that the Russian offensive we are seeing now will taper off in about a month, with 100,000 fresh Russian corpses fertilizing the sunflowers of Donetsk, and 200,000 men will return to their families in Russia with missing limbs and other permanent disabilities. After that, the initiative on the Ukrainian battlefield will be Ukraine's, and will that not change until the lines are pushed back to where they were before 2014. I predict that by Memorial Day, the outcome of the war will not be in any doubt, as the Ukrainians overrun Russian defenses, and Russian forces surrender en masse. By the 4th of July, Ukraine will have pushed the Russians back entirely, and the war will be over.

That is how I think the war would go, if not for a couple of factors. Vladimir Putin cannot afford to lose this war. He cannot afford to lose any war, but it is happening now. He will become increasingly desperate in the coming weeks and months. I think Yevgeny Prigozhin(the owner of Wagner PMC, the mercenary group doing most of the fighting and dying in Bakhmut, and also, as it happens, the man responsible for the 2016 election meddling in favor of Donald Trump) and Ramzan Kadyrov(the leader of Chechnya) will die under suspicious circumstances, as they are both positioning themselves to supplant Putin in the Kremlin. I have little doubt of the deaths of these men coming soon, but one thing I am not certain about is how Putin will react to defeat.

He knows that the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine, or against civilians anywhere, will turn Russia into an instant pariah, and give NATO all the cause they need not only to intervene in Ukraine, but also to strike Russia's military directly. NATO exists to answer the threat of Russia. Its entire purpose is to avert a nuclear catastrophe, and as such, it would be foolish to assume that NATO's posture for longer than most of us have been alive is not one of being a single command away from executing a coordinated conventional attack on Russia that will eliminate their nuclear capabilities and raze their military with lightning speed. Let's call it, "The NATO Plan." The minute a nuclear launch is detected, the NATO Plan will be executed. Russia's intelligence, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union, is far inferior to that of the US, the UK, or France individually, let alone their combined abilities. But even so, I am certain Putin is well aware of the imminent threat of The NATO Plan, and knows that even a desperate launch on his part would spell the end of Russia as a military power within minutes.

What I do think Putin would be willing to do though, is incinerate his own people in a false flag operation. I think it is highly likely that he would strike a major city in the distant parts of Russia with a nuclear weapon, and claim it was a NATO attack, in an attempt to align another nation with him in a war against NATO, and to muster a patriotic mobilization of his own people. Here, though, I think he underestimates the intelligence capabilities of the West. For one, I think Antony Blinken will warn against exactly this scenario before it happens(just as he warned the world of the invasion and Putin's approach to it, ahead of time), so that if/when Putin tries it, the world already knows he is lying. I personally think that Putin striking a city, even within his own country, would be reason enough to execute the NATO Plan. Second, it will be easy for the West to document the entire flight of any nuclear missile, showing that the attack was obviously Russian in origin.

Putin will become increasingly desperate, but his own lack of originality will be easy to work around, in my opinion. Ukraine will be free and victorious before midsummer.

12:53 PM, Jan 31, 2023 toot this
tagged with politics
Eliminating the IRS: The Solution for a Billionaire Near You
I really dislike criticisms of the House GOP's proposal to replace the IRS and presumably all federal taxes with a 30% sales tax. When they are framed as, "it will hurt working families," it's an appeal to emotion, which I consider a cowardly way to talk, even if the statement is true. And cowardice is usually a means of hiding something, so it sets off my bullshit-meter almost as much as when snake oil salesmen try to convince me to buy something that has, "adaptogens" in it. Before I go into this in any detail, let me first say that what is being proposed has no chance of getting any oxygen in the Senate, let alone a vote. Further, President Biden would never sign it. But just to explore the idea, let's dive in.

The wealthiest taxpayers in this country pay the majority of their taxes not through income, sales, or property-- but through capital gains. They make an investment, and sell it for a profit. That profit is taxed at a modest rate as it is-- a maximum of 20%, which is much lower than income tax for the highest earners --yet it is a very high priority for the politically-connected wealthiest Americans, to eliminate it. This is part of the GOP plan.

At the other end of the income-slider, most taxes are paid right now through state and local sales taxes, which of course would not be removed by the GOP plan. They would go right on being assessed and collected, with a brand new 30% federal rate on top of that. As the lowest-earning Americans are overwhelmingly living from paycheck to paycheck, they have minimal financial options. Home ownership is well out of their reach, as is investment. Their income is low enough that they effectively pay no taxes on it. In short, they are subject to the whims of the political ruling class, and have little say in their lives. "I got no rudder," as philosopher Malcolm Reynolds once said.

The vast majority of federal tax revenue in the US comes from the wealthiest and the highest earners. Their taxes fund most federal programs. Their contribution is high, and without it, the federal government would be starved for funding. But what has to be kept in mind about this dynamic is that these people can afford it. They can afford to eat whatever and whenever they want. They can afford to donate to charity. They can afford to send their kids to high-priced private schools. They can afford home ownership and private investment. They can afford comfort, safety, and luxury. They can afford to live however they want.

They can also afford to spend money to lobby elected officials to deregulate their industries. They can afford to spend money to lobby elected officials to relieve their tax burden. They can afford to spend money to establish astroturf organizations to fool lower-income voters to vote for the interests of the wealthy and not their own. They can afford to spend money to get their allies elected to office. The list goes on.

The aim of the GOP's tax plan is to shift the tax burden away from the wealthy, and onto the lower end of the income spectrum. And on the lower end, people decidedly cannot afford the added expense. The result of this will be a cocktail of disastrous consequences. More people would turn to crime. More people would turn to public aid programs to simply survive, placing a heavy financial burden on state and local governments. Fewer people would be able to afford healthcare, increasing subsidies and local government expenditures to support non-paying hospital visits.

Also, after all this, even the most optimistic predictions show that this tax plan will not be sufficient for the federal government to pay its bills. That means the GOP, presumably in control, would propose cutting or eliminating expenditures for social security, defense, and medicare.

But none of that concerns the GOP's donors. And that's the point.

2:20 PM, Jan 14, 2023 toot this
tagged with roundup
Roundup: Job Satisfaction, Universal Pre-K, Book Fair, and Twitter wants your data
I was on call this week. Unlike some of my previous turns as the oncall, there was some interesting new work to do that required some thought. Also, I discovered that one of the more tedious web applications we rely on for our day-to-day work has a capable REST API, so I was able to write the beginnings of some simple tools that will remove some desktop tedium from our normal allotment. It always feels good to write something that will improve quality of life. I like to think that that's what I do for a living, as it's always what has given me the greatest pride in any job I've had. I'm a big believer in the removal of tedium wherever possible, to allow people to use their brains to solve real problems, in lieu of being stifled and daunted by boredom.

Back in 2020, voters in Colorado chose to increase taxes on tobacco products to fund the state's first Universal Pre-Kindergarten program by an overwhelming margin, with only small counties opposed, and every congressional district voting in favor. Governor Polis signed the complementing legislation into law last in April, and the effect will be that starting in the fall, our cost for Wendy's ECE tuition will be cut in half, saving us hundreds every month. With groceries pushing our monthly bills to new heights, this will be transformational for us, and I couldn't be happier with our elected officials.

It's Saturday of a three-day weekend now, and we're going to head over to Fiction after Wendy's, "nap," and attend a book fair the brewery is hosting in partnership with the Library. Good beers, and we'll probably run into some friends.

You may have noticed that even before Twitter was acquired and privatized on a trollish lark by an egotistical billionaire, it was a really shitty place to be. Twitter measures success in what they call, "engagement," which is just their name for a combined score for a given post increased by tweet replies, likes, and retweets. Using this data, they could more effectively identify content that would attract specific people, which is extremely valuable information for people who make their living making, selling, buying, and otherwise interacting with the business of advertisement. As such, Twitter moved away some years ago from just showing users the tweets of the people they follow, in favor of curating a feed of algorithmically engaging content that is only distantly related to the feed people want to see. To combat this, millions of people-- myself included --use third party apps to use Twitter, and they will disable the rage machine and just show you the content you chose to follow. As of some time in the last 24 hours, Twitter appears to be blocking third party apps. Whether it's a conscious but unannounced decision to drive people to the algo-infected official Twitter app, or just incompetence imposed by the aforementioned egotistical billionaire firing all the smart people, time will tell.

But if the future of Twitter is an inescapable algorithm, then I'm gone. Find me here.

11:45 AM, Dec 22, 2022 toot this
2022 Was a Very Good Year
A common take in social networking circles is that this year(and every year) is the worst ever. There's a certain satisfaction, I think, in being dissatisfied publicly. And let's be clear: some truly terrible things happened in 2022. The year began with a new lockdown, because of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, during which the greatest number of new cases was reported by a wide margin. In our house, the vaccines held, and we avoided infection until September, when everyone except Oscar got it. Hospitalization and death became largely the domain of the unvaccinated and the elderly, but the death toll was still monstrous, and even now, hundreds of Americans are dying every day from this. But from here I will mention in relatively chronological order selected events from 2022, and their longterm effects.


When the year began, Vladimir Putin was massing forces along the Russian and Belarussian sides of the Ukrainian border, assuring the world that it was just a training exercise. The Winter Olympics were held in a dystopian fashion in Beijing, with utilitarian concrete eyesores forming the backdrop of most of the outdoor events. As prelude to this, Putin visited Chinese president Xi, and the two implied to the world that they were the future. Their message was that authoritarians are strong and that Democracy breeds weakness and indecision. Almost as soon as the games ended, Putin announced to the world that he was invading Ukraine, intending to finish the job he started in 2014 when he stole the Crimea. The world shed tears for Ukraine, certain that they would be conquered in days, and that Russian imperialism would be the new normal on the world stage, ending the "Pax Americana" we've enjoyed since before our parents were born.

But the Ukrainians had other plans. Since the 2014 invasion, and subsequent ongoing hostilities with Putin's proxies in the country's eastern regions, they had been receiving arms and most importantly training, from Western armies. The strongest push by the Russian forces was toward the capital, Kyiv, and it was stopped cold, as the Russians' primitive tactics, low morale, and lord-serf command structure was overwhelmingly outmaneuvered by the well-trained Ukrainian defenders. This became the theme across all fronts after a while, and by March, all Russian advances were halted. They retreated from their attack on Kyiv and refocused their efforts on making advances in the east, which were only made by brutally and criminally laying waste to cities with artillery, and at enormous human cost to the Russians. In June, Ukraine received HIMARS weapons from the US, and proceeded to demoralize the Russians on every front, so that the theme of the war now is that the Russians are pouring their poor into a well-organized, high-morale Ukrainian blender, and it's been clear for several months now that Putin cannot win the war.

I see this as good news, because the future that he and President Xi foretold will not come to pass. NATO and the world in general came to the aid of Ukraine, and Putin's allies are stepping away from him, and threatening withdrawal from his anti-NATO alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. He is exceptionally weak. His propaganda media has to keep pivoting in the face of repeated and devastating losses in the war. And perhaps most devastating of all: Sweden and Finland are joining NATO, effectively neutralizing any Russian influence and power in the region-- let alone the world. Vladimir Putin is the single most destabilizing force in the modern world, and he's not likely make it through 2023 alive. One of his oligarchs, Yegveny Prigozhin, owns a private army called the Wagner Group, and has said outright that at the behest of his boss, he meddled in the 2016, 18, and 20 US elections, and would continue this meddling in 2022. The mask is off, and it's become clear that defeat in Ukraine will spell a regime change in Russia. I can't say with any degree of certainty that the Russia of the future will be reformed as a good, responsible, benevolent world citizen, but Putin and his oligarchs will be gone, and that alone is a very good thing.

Abortion/GOP Implosion

In May, the Supreme Court leaked a document indicating their impending reversal of the protections provided by the Roe v. Wade, and in June, they followed through and overturned it. At first, this appeared to the world as what the conservatives on the Court and the adherents of the "pro-life" movement intended it to be: the end of an era of what they saw as government-sanctioned murder. It's obviously far more complicated than that, but that idea drives donations and elections, and that aspect alone, possibly did not occur to the conservatives on the Court who voted to overturn Roe v Wade. A massive source of donation income and voter mobilization for the GOP dried up overnight, and an unenthusiastic, largely disengaged Democratic base was blasted into action, with a concrete target and campaign issue for the upcoming 2022 election. Under the conditions in place before the Court overturned the precedent and allowed states to take away American rights, and set their sights on others, most agreed that the GOP was coasting toward a massive election victory. But what wound up happening was that the Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate by one seat, not losing a single Senator who ran for reelection, and the GOP took the House by the thinnest of margins, provided mostly by the gerrymandered Florida map. Because of Donald Trump's influence and compulsive need to pick candidates, the GOP nominated a slate of truly terrible candidates in 2022, and as a result, almost every election-denying candidate for state offices around the country was roundly defeated, assuring that any plans to fix the 2024 election were thwarted.

In the time since the election, pundits conservative and not, have agreed that to move forward the GOP has to expel Donald Trump, but his extremist allies are standing by him and the extremism, even though it lost the elections for them since 2018. The House is divided now between so-called moderates like McCarthy and Scalise, and extremists like Greene, Gaetz, Gosar, Biggs, and Boebert. If they manage to elect a Speaker, he or she will not have control over the GOP caucus, and the next two years will be characterized by something that's never afflicted the GOP in my lifetime: disunity. That's bad for the GOP's 2024 election chances, and that's very good news. Though that may not be the way things work out, as there is increased pressure among the people in Party leadership to stay the course, and keep moving to the right. If the extremists consolidate their control of the Party, Trump can come out of hiding and campaign on promises of getting revenge against Democrats and RINOs, and ride the wave all the way to another electoral rebuke in 2024, after which it's still not certain they'd get it through their thick skulls that America doesn't want extremism.

Also, the matters of abortion rights and female bodily autonomy remain unresolved on the federal level, and the Democrats have time to refine a compelling message for the 2024 campaign on these matters, which enjoy supermajority support from the American public. While this is happening, the GOP will be busy executing performative House investigations on Hunter Biden and "woke" school districts, and score-settling investigations against political enemies and rivals. They will pass bills that are doomed to fail in the Senate and White House, to ban trans athletes from competing, and punish physicians who perform abortions or gender affirming care. They will do this to perform for a base that is not large enough to win statewide and nationwide elections in 2024. And this is also very good news.

There's more to write about, but this post is already way too long, so I will end it here.

3:35 PM, Dec 20, 2022 toot this
tagged with dotw
Tower ESB
After a short hiatus of only seventeen years, Draught of the Week returns! I was enjoying a game night with my brother and sister recently, and I mentioned that I wanted to bring it back. They both said, "what's that?" I am, after all, very important.

I wanted to try not only a new beer, but a new place, and I found it. Years ago, I took the bus(as I am wont to do) to meet Ali at Cherry Creek North for something or other, and found that I had to change buses at 29th and York. When I got off the 28, I found that the next 24 wasn't to be expected for almost a half an hour, so I grabbed a bag of doritos and an orange soda at a corner market near where I would catch the next bus. The place where I bought the aforementioned health food was a corner market that, at the time of day that I visited, was a popular place for teenagers to try to purchase vaping products and accessories. It was thoroughly unimpressive. Fast forward to today, and all the houses in that area are expensive, and the corner market is now the Ephemeral Rotating Taproom, and it's absolutely wonderful, though more than a little bit expensive.

In the time since the last time I did one of these, four men inhabited the White House, my thirties came and went, I got married, moved to Denver, and had two kids. So this being the first time into the breach since 2005, it seemed appropriate to bring everyone involved in the passage of those years. Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden were not available, but Ali and the kids found time in their schedules.

The bar offers an impressive selection of draught beers, and as part of their modus operandi, they devote roughly half of their approximately forty handles to a single brewery-- preferably local --and showcase said brewery for some period of time. The day we went in(Dec 17, 2022), the featured brewery was unfortunately not local, but outstanding all the same. Ali helped herself to a Nocturnum while Wendy looked on.

Ali and Wendy

I got an Ectogasm to start off. It was absolutely delightful.


I enlisted the aid of my friend Bobby, whose online presence you'll just have to imagine for yourself, and encouraged him to bring all members of his household, so his better half Kendra attended as well, and got herself a Delirium Christmas which I think used to be branded "Delirium Noel."


Bobby and I decided on the Tower ESB from Glendale's Bull and Bush Brewery. Neither of us had ever tried it before, and we agreed it's a delight. Nutty, smooth, and subtle with its surprising ABV north of six percent, Bobby and I enjoyed every drop, and Kendra even joined us when she got a taste from Bobby's glass.

Tower ESB

Tower ESBs

The numeric ratings which characterized the first run of the DOTW were of course arbitrary, but also never really did justice to the beers in question. So I am going to let the description and the experience stand for themselves. If you want numbers, there are well-filled entries for this beer on Untappd, BA, and RateBeer.

The beer was delicious, the fellowship was welcome and much-needed, and the venue was superlative enough that everyone is eager to go back. Just to be clear, our party was four adults and two small children(who thankfully behaved well), and we never felt out of place. There were mostly adults there, but ours was not the only party with children. Everyone was very respectful and friendly. I would recommend every aspect of our trip to anyone.

I can't wait to do another of these! Problem is next weekend is Christmas, so we'll probably have to take a bye for a week, and maybe two. In general, with a life of parenting and work, it will be difficult to maintain the mostly weekly cadence I had when I did the first 34 of these, but I will make an effort to get back out there as much as I can.

10:47 AM, Dec 9, 2022 toot this
tagged with politics
What's to Become of the Orange Man and his Prisoners?
It looks like Trump's going to be indicted relatively soon, in more than one place and on multiple charges. The Jan 6th Select Committee's final action will be the release of its full report, along with criminal referrals to the DOJ, and the grand jury in Georgia is gathering up evidence through his compelled confederates. His real estate business was found guilty on all charges in the NY case, and every court in the land has authorized the use of his tax returns and the secret documents he stole from the White House as evidence against him.

With all this, you or I would get, as Dan Akyroyd said in the seminal film Sneakers: "a hundred years in the electric chair," but Trump will get away with far more than a normal person. I personally don't see a perp walk in his future, but I do think that the mounting legal entanglements, his approval of genocide, his fealty to Vladimir Putin, his sexual proclivities, and all the other scandals will amount to basically nothing in terms of support from his party and base.

But he does do one thing that the GOP can't abide: he loses elections, and he loses elections FOR his party's candidates. That alone is reason enough for the GOP's leaders to want to push him out of the Party. I think having to answer questions about how they can support a literal monster, with a galaxy of incontrovertible evidence to back up the statement, will just be icing on the cake-- a buzzing fly in the GOP's ear --but enough to make them finally, publicly, explicitly expel him from the Party.

Apoplectic, Trump will burn down the Republican Party in furious retaliation, because the worst thing anybody could ever do to him is ignore him. He demands the attention of the world, and if the GOP isn't willing to host him anymore, then they deserve to be destroyed.

What happens next? If the GOP leadership expels him, he will breathe fire out his anus and pull the temple down around him, pulling the wingnuts out of the Party with him. If they continue to duck into elevators and otherwise dodge questions about him, they will keep losing elections, and it will get worse.

9:29 AM, Dec 7, 2022 toot this
tagged with politics
The Future of the FIlibuster
In the 118th Congress, there will be 51 Democratic Senators. At least 49 of them want to abolish the filibuster. The holdouts are Manchin and Sinema. Joe Manchin is comfortable with his intransigence, as it makes him the most popular Democratic Senator in the US, especially in his deep-red home state. His re-election in 2024, whether it works or not, is proceeding exactly according to his plan.

But in Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema is in trouble. She has already been censured by the Arizona Democratic Party, and they've already committed to ensuring she does not get the Party nomination for her bid at re-election, also in 2024. I think her resolve to oppose her Party may wither when the 118th Congress is seated.

Whenever she's crossed her arms and closed her eyes in the face of her party, she's had the luxury of not being the only one to do so-- or at least for her sullen opposition to just be symbolic, presumably a performative overture to Republican and Independent voters in Arizona.

That will not be the case in the 118th Congress. Manchin's position is a foregone conclusion; he will opposed the elimination of the filibuster(though he has stated in the recent past that he would support a reform that restores the talking filibuster, rather than the "weekly email by an intern staffer" filibuster). But Sinema has never been out on that limb before, and I doubt she will make that stand.

With that said, I believe the 118th Congress will eliminate the Senate filibuster, beginning a new era of functionality, cooperation, and most importantly, accountability in the Senate. It is my personal opinion that it should be its own agenda item. The message needs to be that the issue is not Democratic policy, but Senate functionality. With a Republican House, Democratic policy has little chance of getting anywhere anyway. But that doesn't mean the filibuster should stay.

Senators owe it to their constituents to have an on-the-record position on every issue on the docket, so they can make a more informed decision on election day.

11:40 AM, Dec 6, 2022 toot this
tagged with politics garunoff
Walker or Warnock?
In or around 2010, the GOP went completely crazy-- embracing populist messages conveyed on cable news, allowing relatively newly minted members of Congress like Michele Bachmann to push around the party leadership for premium committee assignments, and a far greater voice than a member of the House would normally get after only two terms.

In 2010, the Democratic Party's worst enemy-- poor election turnout -- granted the GOP's crazy wing what it saw as a mandate, so it's easy to see how they lost sight of the way the wind was blowing. In 2010, the majority opinion in the US was that marriage was between a man and a woman. Even President Obama is on the record for having that stated position.

But that was over ten years ago. Now, the issue of marriage equality(and many other issues that were considered red lines for the GOP in 2010) enjoys majority support in both parties, yet the Tea-Party-turned-MAGA GOP are still performing for older 2010 voters. The world changed while they had their dated, populist blinders on, and it's cost them unacceptable losses(or unacceptably poor gains) in three elections.

So entrenched and committed is the GOP in its current political course that almost none have condemned or broken with Donald Trump on his choice of dinner guests, or for his belief that the Constitution should be dismantled to assure him is purportedly rightful place in the White House, or for stealing classified documents and storing them next to the paper towels in his resort, or any of a litany of baldfaced crimes and assaults on the fabric of freedom, democracy, and decency.

We have been waiting and waiting for gravity to reassert itself under Trump and the out-of-touch GOP, and it just hasn't happened. He wields enormous political power, and arguably has the power to reduce the US to a vassal to his will.

Despite the abject failure of his influence that happened in the Midterms, the result of today's runoff in Georgia will absolutely validate him with the GOP if Walker wins. If Warnock wins, maybe, just maybe, GOP leadership will find their courage and self-respect, and publicly denounce Trump, and announce that he and the GOP have parted ways.

Maybe, but it feels like Trump has weathered worse storms.

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