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Profile Information

Name: Mister Rea
Gender: Male
Hometown: Houston
Home country: Moon
Current location: afk
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 43,168

About Me

I live in Houston, if you can call this living. I teach history to 11th graders. They don't appreciate my genius. I'm an active Democrat really only around election time (knock on doors, make a few phone calls, maybe donate a dollar or two if I think it'll do some good). I'm 48. I'm datin a real special gal right now, but if I don't watch my step I may have to edit out this sentence. I have pretensions toward being a director of performance art, although I've only put on one show (as of Dec 2011). I'm currently working on a second show. Our group is called Invisible Lines (www.invisiblelines.net). I mostly drink Shiner Bock beer because it's a mouth full of heaven. I'm a nut about George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, and John Dewey. I've resisted for three years saying "I told ya so" about Barack Obama (but then again, I supported Biden in '08 so my room for complaining is minimal). That said, I'll certainly vote mediocre over evil any day of the week. I want Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016. And a pony. I totally want a pony.

Journal Archives

There's something creepy going on in this photo of the Donald among his flock

Look closely

There's an extra arm in that picture, coming over the shoulder of the women in the pink hat, that doesn't seem to belong to anyone in that photo. It's just a disembodied arm, floating out to touch Donald Trump, like the hand of God. It reminds me of that "hand out of nowhere" that's holding the butter knife in da Vinci's "Last Supper".

Also, I'm pretty sure that other woman up front is asking The Donald to eat her baby for good luck. I wish I had a baby to offer to The Donald for his next meal. He hungers... he hungers.

Check in if you're torn between amusement & fear over Donald Trump.

He's always seemed like a joke to me. There are three possible scenarios facing this parallel universe in which Donald Trump becomes a viable political candidate. Either he wins the nomination and loses the election, or he wins both nomination and election, or he loses the nomination and remains the same old shameless publicity hound we've all come to know and shudder about. Not one of these scenarios is actually a laughing matter.

I mean, yes, I get a certain karmic gratification in watching this smarmy huckster turn the merely clownish Republican quadrennial posturing contest into an ugly slosh pit of personal beefs. It's generally recognized that his cult-of-personality campaign and reality-show type bickering with other candidates are just chickens coming home to roost for the Republican Party that's been demagoguing on his pet issues for decades, albeit with far less showbiz pizzazz than the Donald.

He's nominated, but loses

In a word, he's Trumpenstein, the monster coming back to kill the doctor who cobbled the beast together in the first place. So watching the "grown-ups" of the GOP, like Jeb Bush and...uh, any other grownups who might be running... get their asses handed to them is fun. And of course, if the Donald gets the nomination, it'll be a peach watching him pick a VP running mate, since he's managed to call just about everybody else in the party a "loser."

I've always voted Democratic because I think Republican policies are bad for America. But Trump seems to be something new. He's bad for democracy. His outright mockery of political campaigning, his lowest common denominator trash-talk style of avoiding substantive debate. I don't mind him tanking the Republican Party--their fake conservatism and two-faced war-mongering has left them over due for a cataclysmic ass-whooping for a generation. But I think Trump's childish antics could actually damage democracy itself (even more than America's lackadaisical participation rates have damaged democracy so far).

In 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012, the losing Republican candidates took their microphones on Election Night and walked back from all the personality attacks they'd launched on Clinton & Obama. They spoke variations on "The people have spoken; He's a good man and let's now get behind our new president." Sure, they never get Congress to go along with the 'Country First' rhetoric, but that type of language on the culmination of a campaign with civil-war-level fervor is important for the functioning of a civil democracy. I may not've thought much of McCain's or Romney's policy approaches, but they were experience politicians and I knew on Election Night they'd do the right thing. They knew that in politics, you win some and you lose some.

But can anyone seriously envision Donald Trump making that sort of speech? It's not just that he's not used to losing; I genuinely don't think he understands what losing means. He's never met a "worthy adversary" in his life. Either you fawn over him or you're a loser. Even when he declares bankruptcy in his business ventures, he's not "losing"--he's just winning by a different set of rules. His penchant for embracing fringe conspiracy theories, not because he believes the malarkey but solely for publicizing himself, will come into play if he loses by any margin. The payoff to that on a close election night is pretty frightening. Imagine him telling a pumped up Republican/Tea Party base "The Obama Administration stole this election for the Democrats." Don't think he wouldn't try that if it kept him 'in the cycle' during the post-election cycle. I think he's capable of unleashing genuine post-election violence for the first time in 150 years.

He's nominated and (gulp) wins

More frightening still is the idea of Donald Trump winning. The Republic could survive eight years of Reagan, though we were all worse for the wear. We even survived Dubya and his NeoCon puppeteers, though several thousand soldiers and marines and airmen and civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time didn't fare so well (not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the potential millions who've suffered as the middle east unravels from Bush's policies). But the international order, the resilience of the American economy, and global civilization as a whole remained intact. Trump's wrecking ball approach to policies is a perfect recipe for trainwreck after trainwreck with negotiating with Congress, with international relations, with any type of military crisis that might come along, with immigration (obviously), and with slowing down global climate change.

He's not nominated, but remains a bee in democracy's bonnet for the foreseeable future

Of course I still think his candidacy is going to burn out and someone else is going to secure the nomination. But for the Democrats, that could be the worst of all possible worlds. As a nominee, even the Donald would be chained a bit by having to get along with the rest of the GOP he needs for the campaign. As an unaccountable mouthpiece, Trump would still hog unreasonable amounts of time on CNN and the Big 3 networks with his brilliantly inflammatory fusillades. He is nothing if not adept at getting attention and redirecting any public conversation back to himself and his wacky worldview. The Democratic nominee would have to not only fight his/her Republican opponent, but also swat away the swarm of mis-facts and personal slurs that a PR-savvy Trump, who will have plenty of free time on his hands (he apparently sits around all day watching Fox News and Twittering most of the time right now, even while he's running for the nomination). And if that scenario troubles you, keep in mind that this is the least cataclysmic of the three scenarios I've described.

So yes, he's fun right now. But he's nothing but trouble for the country. And frankly, I don't see an out. Not until 2020 when Kanye runs to save us.

It's official: I like NO ONE for president this time.

When I was a kid I got excited about some candidate early on all the time. Gary Hart in 84, Al Gore in 88, Clinton in 92... Being a Democrat was fun. But then I turned 30.

As a young adult I still found the occasional candidate who chugged my engines... Wes Clark in 04, Joe Biden briefly in 08. I like the smart ones. Oh, hell, they're all smart--smarter than me at least. Being a Democrat was a chore, but a pleasant one; a rewarding one. I came to see our party's role was to clean up whatever mess the Republicans caused when they got into office. Like how nature turns poop into mulch.

I was happy with Obama. I mean, I was demographically pleased. It validated something in my patriotism to see race matter just a little bit less in America--at least on that one level--even as racial and class distinctions got steadily worse. The years of Democratic operation of the Executive Branch has eased the crush of the middle class a bit, but hasn't really reversed the horrible trend. Politics seems less joyful, less fun, when it's reduced to a bloodsport to protect the interests of cynical international oligarchs.

I was surprised at how many Democrats and fellow DUers fell for the Barack Obama in their heads instead of the one their eyes should have seen. He was an establishment candidate from the get-go. Don't get me wrong: I don't use the word "establishment" pejoratively. I like moderates, I admire compromisers. History teaches that they get the most lasting reforms done... when they're able to. Affordable Healthcare, like. I approved his middle of the roadness, but only because I hoped that meant he'd do sensible reforms rather that repeat two years of Clinton first term mistakes and end up checkmated by the knuckledraggers for six years. I smugly chortled to myself as I watched liberaler liberals than I convince themselves he was an Illinois Jim Hightower, a 21st century Lincolnvelt. Call me cynical, but he smelled of Eisenhower to me. And he has governed as such. I have no regrets, but in 2016 I don't want to vote for more of the same.

So Mr. Obama was my last lover, the last guy I found I could get that twinkle in my eye while I voted for him. I'm a liberaler liberal than I was seven years ago. Watching moderation fail to reverse decay does that to a rational mind. I want change--real change. I want election reform and lobbying reform and security state reform. I study enough history to know that level of change has to come from the grass roots--democracies usually stumble when they march behind messiahs. And I'm pragmatic enough that I know both that only a Democratic president will work for that kind of reform and that only a certain kind of Democrat is going to get elected. But there's structurally unsound political infrastructure creaking under our nation's floorboards. And I want a candidate with the eyeballs and the elbow grease and the salemany charm to get in there and fix it.

And I see no one running or might-be-running who offers me something that is neither status quo dynastics nor unelectable iconoclastism. I mean no disrespect to Hillary or Bernie fans. If there's an O'Malley fan out there, I mean no disrespect to your husband or son, whichever he is, either. I would like to get that old fire going again, see that candlelight, taste that red wine of liberal excitement one more time. My inner psychologist tells me my loins ache for a new Bobby, but we've been waiting for a new Bobby since 1968 and every one of those whom we've tried in my lifetime has fallen a little more short and then a little more shorter each go round. We'll never have another Bobby. Angels never touch the ground.

But though my cynical old liberal hearthead knows the ideal is unattainable, still, I look around for some candidate to mount a plucky can-do campaign, storm the bridge, and right this listing, rust-bottomed ship of state. But who? Mark Dayton seems like a good mix of liberal and pragmatic. Cory Booker looks like a potential game changer. Of course Elizabeth Warren would win my valentines no matter what deals she'd have to cut to win the nomination. But none of them are running.

What bothers me more than the lack of alternative to the heir apparent and the Philadelphia Eagles-designate who opposes her is that knowledge that there probably is someone out there who really could come out and set the grass roots on fire--but that they're all acquiescing to the dynastic coronation. Now, this is not an anti-Hillary rant. I'd probably vote for her over Mr Sanders. I won't cry if she sits in the Oval. But even the most fervid of her liberal supporters, if they are truly liberal, should be worried just a bit of what it means is going on behind the scenery of public debate if not a single one of her potential mainstream challengers is willing to step onto the stage and match wits with her.

As Sherlock Holmes might observe, there is the evidence of the hounds that do not bark. What does it mean to our democracy, not in conspiratorial terms but in sociological forces, if the "democratic" party of a widely diverse nation has an effectively uncontested nomination process. How can we call that democracy? And maybe this is why I feel this funk, this lack of romantic ardor for any candidate in the field. A generation ago the Democrats were the ones with the crowded stage of would-bes vying for the title of Bobby du jour. The Republicans have a whole clown car full of jackanapes to pick from. Where are our Lancelots? Where are our contenders? Why don't new and sexy politicians come a-calling for my vote anymore? Why can't we get it up?

But my narrative is drifting now. I will try and address some of my fears about whys in a later essay. I have a job to go do now.

Not sure if it's treason, buu-uut....

I'm not convinced what they did was *legally* treasonous, but it would be amusing to see what it'd look like if all 47 got sent upriver for violating the Logan Act and had to form a prison gang.

I can totally see McCain going all rorschach in the chow line and shouting "I'm not locked up here with you... YOU'RE locked up in here with ME!"

I feel like I've been locked up with the lot of them since 1994.

The president is simply wrong about the 47 Republican senators

In condemning the Republicans' active attempts to sabotage America's foreign policy and weaken the nation overseas, President Obama said yesterday...
"I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition," Obama said, according to CNN.

No, Mr President, it is neither ironic nor unusual for one group of insane religious zealots hellbent on bringing on a conflagration of holy wars to ally its efforts with another insane group of religious zealots hellbent on unleashing the dogs of war. They are perfectly suited allies, united in their hatred of peace and reconciliation.

the only real difference is that one group worships God, and the other group worships the Koch Brothers

Is it too late for me to request that they call it "QwertyGate"? I just like the sound of that.

I'm pretty sure this post is about Secretary Clinton's absurd email "scandal." Frankly I expect better from a Clinton scandal than "didn't use email the right way." The least we could get out of this is a decent "-gate" name.

What you find when you google "Jefferson on slavery"

This is interesting. Based on books I've read about it, Jefferson grew more vocal in his support of slavery in his later years. At least in his early career, he had the decency to be a hypocrite. But his political actions were limited to opposing the slave trade, not slavery itself. Most people don't separate those issues. In our time, that would be like failing to separate opposing car imports from the political issue of getting gas-guzzlers off the roads. Virginian slaveholders didn't like slave traders because they were undercutting market prices.

When I googled the phrase "Jefferson on slavery" I got this:

Thomas Jefferson and Slavery - Monticello

Thomas Jefferson was a consistent opponent of slavery his whole life. Calling it a “moral depravity” and a “hideous blot,” he believed that slavery presented the ...

Thomas Jefferson and slavery - Wikipedia, the free ...

The relationship between Thomas Jefferson and slavery has been extensively debated by his biographers, and by scholars of slavery. He owned plantations ...

Jefferson on Slavery < Thomas Jefferson < Presidents ...

It has often been quoted because of the eloquent appeal to end slavery as degrading to the Southern family and endangering the liberty of all. Jefferson was one ...

The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson | History | Smithsonian

In his original draft of the Declaration, in soaring, damning, fiery prose, Jefferson denounced the slave trade as an “execrable commerce ...this assemblage of ...

The Real Thomas Jefferson - NYTimes.com
Nov 30, 2012 - Neither Mr. Meacham, who mostly ignores Jefferson's slave ownership, nor Mr. Wiencek, who sees him as a sort of fallen angel who comes to ...

Notice that Monticello.org takes the hagiographic pose: "consistent opponent of slavery his whole life." This is bullshit. You could argue reasonably that he opposed slavery on some principles, but it defies dictionary definitions to call him consistent about it. The man sold slaves to settle his debts, for criminey's sake.

This is TJ in 1814 on slavery:
Nor in the class of laborers do I mean to withhold from the comparison that portion whose color has condemned them, in certain parts of our Union, to a subjection to the will of others. Even these are better fed in these States, warmer clothed, and labor less than the journeymen or day-laborers of England. They have the comfort, too, of numerous families, in the midst of whom they live without want, or fear of it; a solace which few of the laborers of England possess. They are subject, it is true, to bodily coercion; but are not the hundreds of thousands of British soldiers and seamen subject to the same, without seeing, at the end of their career, when age and accident shall have rendered them unequal to labor, the certainty, which the other has, that he will never want?... But do not mistake me. I am not advocating slavery. I am not justifying the wrongs we have committed on a foreign people, by the example of another nation committing equal wrongs on their own subjects. On the contrary, there is nothing I would not sacrifice to a practicable plan of abolishing every vestige of this moral and political depravity."

Like so many of Jefferson quotes, this requires a bit of unpacking. He compares slaves' living conditions and clothing favorably to those of laborers and soldier of England. First off, this presents a pretty damn rosy view of real slave conditions. A few slaves were well fed & clothed, particularly those who worked in households. But the majority of slaves were off in tobacco, cotton, & sugar plantations, living in rags, dying from working conditions, and subject to family separation and personal humiliation beyond the touch of law in ways that even press-ganged redcoats and destitute coal miners were not.

This is one of slavery's oldest lies: at least they're treated better than factory workers. But bad as life was for the poor whites, there was at least hope for escaping circumstances and the comforts of family bonds. Jefferson wilfully glosses over the brutality happening literally in his own back yard.

Further, he says bluntly "do not mistake me. I am not advocating slavery." But in fact he did do exactly that. He wanted a plan to work toward ending slavery--usually in the form of paying off slaveholders (not the actual slaves, however). But he never himself offered a plan, much less offering any actual "sacrifice to a practicable plan." This is posery.

In 1816 he wrote this howler: http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/jefferson-on-slavery.php
It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expense of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions, which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.

TJ is anticipating a race war (this is 16 years after Haiti's blood soaked revolution against France, a democratic revolt that Jefferson helped France to suppress). What he's leading up to is arguing for forced colonization to Africa alongside a policy of inducing white settlers to fill the void of a denegrofied Dixieland. So much for Mr. Small Government. Of course any such social reengineering was unworkable and something Jefferson never bothered to work for.

He continues:
And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of colour in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immovable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species.

When other men of his age were able to see that circumstance of birth, not "natural symmetry" and hair texture, accounted for intellectual differences. Presumedly his own children by Sally Hemings were not of that "eternal monotany" and "immovable veil of black" that field slaves suffered from, but then they were no more than 1/8th black (Sally's mother was a mulatto and her father was Thomas Jefferson's father-in-law - I'll let you do the math on that point).

These race-centered conclusions tell us how much exposure Jefferson had to the thoughts & lives of field hands. His neurosis about black men lusting for white women finds a bizarre parallel in orangutans lusting for black women. This is the infancy of the psychosexual perversions revealing the worst mental distortions of racism. He's embracing unsubstantiated facts in order to justify his inhumane conclusions about racial differences. This is what Lord Acton meant about absolute power corrupting absolutely.

The Smithsonian article http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-dark-side-of-thomas-jefferson-35976004/ goes into more detail on how Jefferson pretty much stopped talking about ending slavery by the 1790s. His energies turned to opposing the Federalist Party of Washington and Hamilton, which politically anchored his fortunes to the slaveholding interest. Working on gradual abolition plans at this point, just as cotton was booming as the "new tobacco," would have been political suicide. Jefferson very carefully made his political bed and laid in it for the rest of his life.

The Monticello.org line about "consistent opponent of slavery his whole life" is baseless propaganda.

What's frustrating is belief that "do not always tell the truth" means "always lies with competence"

Just as "reserving some degree of skepticism of government explanations" doesn't mean everything the government says is part of a tapestry creating an orchestrated illusion of truth. The conspiracy theorists' consensus view of a supercompetent, indeed error-free, far-sighted elitist cabal planning out the Kennedy assassination, Oswald framing, and perfectly concealed multiple snipers in a crowded public square simply doesn't jibe with actual human experience.

But the most instructive argument in this thread is the uncaptioned photograph of Colin Powell making the case for WMDs in Iraq. To some people in this thread, this is confirmation that the government lies to us about important things in order to get its way and suck our tax dollars into the military-industrial complex.

Only, the context of that photograph more clearly shows that large scale conspiracies do not work. Within months of the invasion of Iraq, the whole web of lies, fabrications, manipulations, and distortions used in the conspiracy to drag America into a war with the wrong country came unraveled. A conspiracy on that high a level of government, where competing ideologies, career goals, personal ambitions, personality clashes, and emotion-laden revenge fantasies all clash in the jumble of cover-ups and marketing switcharoos, simply can not be kept in secret. Hundreds of actors would have had to be involved in the murder of Kennedy and framing of Oswald for most conspiracy theories to pan out (with the possible exception of the mafia-related conspiracies--but even then the target should've been Bobby, not Jack Kennedy). Someone would have talked; some ego would have been driven to a deathbed braggadocio. Secrets that big do not remain secret.

Now something wacky was going on in Dallas (and New Orleans) in the run up to Kennedy's murder. I don't swallow the Warren Commission report. But a concerted effort by a villainous clique, each member in turn commanding dozens of loyal, lip-locked minions, none of whom ever spilled the beans, just doesn't make a damn bit of sense.

Let us judge a man by his works

June Cleaver: Ward, wouldn't that be downright sneaky?
Ward Cleaver: Sure, it would. It's the only way we can survive as parents.

Obama Democrat

Beaver Cleaver: If I tell you you'll be mad at me.
Ward Cleaver: That's ridiculous. Now, come on, tell me.
Beaver Cleaver: I losted my money.
Ward Cleaver: Again! Oh, Beaver! Your mother and I have been very patient with you, but this habit of losing money has got to stop.
Beaver Cleaver: I told you you'd be mad at me.

Rockefeller Republican

Ward Cleaver: When you're young, there are some thing you have to learn. How to catch a baseball. And good table manners don't come too easily. But when you're a boy, losing things is one of the few lessons you don't have to learn. And that's our story tonight on "Leave it to Beaver."

Johnson Democrat (cause all the other Democrats have to learn the hard way you can't bargain with Republicans)

Wally Cleaver: Hey, Beaver, Archie really went home, huh?
Beaver Cleaver: Sure, I told him, and he went. You know, it's a lot easier talking to dogs than it is to cats.
Ward Cleaver: Cats are very smart, though, Beaver. It's just that when you call someone Bootsy-Wootsy, he's inclined to be a little difficult.

Cheney Republican (cause unlike his boss, Dick Cheney never gave anyone an affectionately humiliating nickname)

Ward Cleaver: You know, Wally, when I went to high school, we used to have to wear a collar and tie to school everyday.

Reagan Republican (cute story, but factually inaccurate)

Wally Cleaver: Hey, Dad, what's community property?
Ward Cleaver: Well, community property means that your mother owns half of everything I earn or own.
Wally Cleaver: What a gyp! No wonder women get married!

Truman Democrat (big on sharing the wealth, but a little lax on policing ethnic slurs)

June Cleaver: Ward Cleaver, you have no romantic instinct at all!
Ward Cleaver: Dear, I'm a married man!

Kennedy Democrat

June Cleaver: It certainly was a change. Yesterday, freckles was the biggest thing in his whole life.
Ward Cleaver: Yeah, well, that's one of the advantages of being a kid - the biggest problem in your life seldom lasts more than twenty-four hours.

William Henry Harrison Whig


Conclusion: Dude was all over the map. Probably had multiple writers putting words in his mouth, being himself an empty vessel for other people's economic aspirations. In other words, Ford Republican.

Whoa. I just fact-corrected someone on DU and, instead of digging in deeper, they agreed with me.

I'm a little taken back. I expect more hysterics and rhetorical theatrics from an internet discussion board.

Usually when I point out someone's inaccurate hyperbole, the response is to double down on their factlessness ("Well, I watch a LOT of PBS and I've seen incontrovertible evidence of alien influence on our Bill of Rights in dozens of documentaries--documentaries, might I add, with British-sounding narrators!") or they to try to justify their wild arguments with spurious lines of logic ("Oh really? And do you know just how many people have died of lung cancer since 1960? Far more than Hitler killed in the Holocaust, buddy-boy! And so, objectively speaking, second hand smoking is far worse than Naziism and Stalinism combined.").

Instead, however, one logical DUer today defied all my predispositions and simply conceded the point when confronted with facts. Frankly, I don't know what to do with this moment.

Perhaps I'll cry.
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