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TheWraith's Journal
TheWraith's Journal
September 19, 2012

Well, I happened to drop back in here today.

Looks pretty much the same. Same trolls still trying to convince us that Democrats are evil, healthcare reform is the work of Satan, and that Obama is secretly worse than Bush. I'm guessing they must have very unsatisfying jobs. Still, I have to admit I don't miss the bullshit and the amount of time I used to spend here arguing with people who refused to have a discussion based on reality.

August 20, 2012

"Legitmate rape" ... This is where I have trouble.

Simply put, none of the gibberish that comes out of the Republicans surprises me anymore. Not really. It's easy to process it and put it in context when you realize that they're all insane. They live in a collective fantasy where they can redefine reality to be whatever they want, to justify whatever beliefs they have. Abortion? It's okay, rape never causes pregnancy. Xenophobia? It's only because all Muslims are terrorists. Homophobia? Gay people are child molesters and caused the Holocaust. It's the ultimate refinement of what Issac Asimov described as the belief that democracy means 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"

This, then, is where I have trouble. Because there's only one thing about this that I find shocking: The fact that anyone in their right mind could look at our political situation and think, "The problem here is DEMOCRATS!" Every time that I see somebody complaining that the Democrats haven't done X yet, or haven't gotten to pet issue Y the way someone would like, or worst of all repeating the old "oh, they're all the same" line, it makes me want to grab them and sit them down and show them a few hours of Fox News and right wing talk radio to remind them what the actual debate is in this country, and why it's so god-awfully important to elect Democrats to everything, ever. I don't care if the Democratic candidate is a liberal, or a moderate, or a goddamn tuna fish. There is nothing more important than keeping these sick fuckers away from power.

July 27, 2012

So I went on a date last Sunday...

A veterinary tech who lives in a nearby city, but was born and raised in Mississippi. While we were having coffee, I made a comment about my fairly rural hometown, to the effect that all the young people either leave town or get knocked up.

She told me about some of her experiences in vet school, going into the poorest parts of MS to visit farms for training, and especially the sorry state of the Mississippi river delta. There, the teenage pregnancy rate is just about the highest it is anywhere in the country, especially among the black population; pretty much any girl who is there and can't get out either is pregnant or will be. Another friend of mine summed it up very well once: that in a small town, "there's nothing to do but each other." Combined with no education, no knowledge of safe sex, and no options in life, it's not a very pretty picture.

I point this out because I worry that too often we get distracted by the personal level it comes to talking about birth control and abortion. "My body," "Our bodies," yes, but that's not really the big picture. The big picture and the real problem isn't the informed, educated people who know how to make choices in their lives, and the motivation to do what they have to. It's about making sure that the young girl who's the daughter of a fisherman in the poorest part of America knows that she has options besides getting pregnant at 16 and being the wife of a kid who enlists in the Army or goes to work as a petty laborer. It's about making sure that another generation isn't raised in enforced poverty to repeat the cycle for their own children. It's about giving the next generation a world they want to live in, one better than their parents had, rather than one that they're forced into.

July 3, 2012

Republican Congressional candidate: Healthcare is costly because "People now don't die from cancer"

Via DailyKos elections roundup.

The healthcare reforms Collins said he would push would be tort reform and open up competition in insurance by allowing policies across state lines.

Collins also argued that modern healthcare is expensive for a reason.

"People now don't die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things," Collins said. "The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we're living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators—they didn't exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It's what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases."

As Brown points out, prostate cancer kills almost 30,000 men a year (PDF) in the United States, while breast cancer kills nearly 40,000 women each year (PDF). I am absolutely dumbfounded, and I hope Hochul hammers Collins to pieces on this. I am troubled by one thing, though, which is that this quote originally appeared over a week ago, yet neither the Hochul campaign nor the DCCC seems to have picked up on it. Fortunately, there's still time to remedy that oversight.


Also on ThinkProgress.

July 2, 2012

To believe there's no real difference between the two parties, you must be either lying or clueless.

Sorry, but there's no other realistic way to put it. At a time in history when there's more distance between them than there has been in almost a century, and barely more than a decade after the "no difference" spiel gave us George W. Bush instead of Al Gore, it takes either idiocy or willful self-deception to pretend otherwise.

Let's go back and think about that one for a moment, shall we? Despite the heyday in 2000 of "they're all the same" thanks to Ralph Nader shilling for Bush, is anyone now really willing to claim that Al Gore--"An Inconvenient Truth" Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize Al Gore, the guy with a 6 page long Wikipedia article about his environmental activism--would have governed exactly the same as George W. Bush and Dick "Oil well" Cheney? The guys who passed an exemption for fracking into the Safe Drinking Water Act? The guys with a hardon for Iraq circa year 2000? The "Mushroom cloud over America" guys?

Can anyone say with a straight face that, well, they weren't the same THEN, but NOW--after a solid decade plus of increasing partisanship, division, and policy disagreements--NOW there's really no difference? Now we're right, even though before we were so completely and massively wrong that it helped derail the entire country, demolish the economy, and set the environment back maybe for decades?

To justify these claims, supporters are literally forced to make up conspiracy theories about Democrats' supposed secret plans to destroy Medicare, or to approve Keystone XL, or extend the war in Iraq, or to avoid repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. And as each one is proved in turn to be the completely fictional rantings of people strictly intent on bashing Democrats, they rapidly swing around to a new conspiracy theory and never, ever again acknowledge being massively and repeatedly wrong on every previous claim they've made.

And yet some people still have the brass to come here and push a dishonest narrative, built out of lies, half-truths, innuendos, and selective reasoning, and with no real-world reason or justification other than trying to repeat the debacle of 2000 and put another right-wing Republican into the White House.

June 17, 2012

There's a big anti-stop-and-frisk march in NYC today.

So take this thought for what it's worth. While they talk about how the "stop and frisk" policy has nabbed X number of illegal firearms, aside from being both racist and an unreasonable search, the actual rate at which weapons (including things like pocket knives, illegal in NYC) are found is about 1% of all stops.

So a 1% success rate. Now in contrast, per Gallup, 12% of Americans report having carried a firearm at least some of the time for self-defense. The same percentage (non-overlapping) report having carried a knife for self defense. Not counting those who carry a knife as an everyday tool rather than for defense.

Crunch those numbers, and you'll realize that "stop and frisk" would have a vastly better odds of finding a weapon if they grabbed people completely at random off the street rather than hassling young brown men.

June 6, 2012

A brief but very important word about election rigging.

It seems like you can't go five minutes here today without seeing someone proclaiming that the vote in Wisconsin is rigged in favor of Walker. Speaking as someone with actual real-world experience in election logistics, voter data, and ferreting out fraudulent election numbers, I felt I should clarify some things.

Rigging the vote tally of an election, and doing so in a way that can't be traced or exposed, is about a thousand times harder than most people here think. Between multiple counts, election observers, poll watchers, paper ballots, et al, it's very hard to actually just make up the results of an election if anyone is paying even the slightest attention. And if the situation is uncertain in the least, such as, say, not knowing roughly how many people are going to vote, it gets harder again by another order of magnitude.

Now as always, the most effective way of putting your thumb on the scales of an election is to make sure people don't vote in the first place. It's nearly impossible for the system to "forget" a ballot, but there's no ballot if the person doesn't cast one. Misinformation about when and where to vote, jamming get-out-the-vote operations, fraudulent robocalls, demoralizing base voters, these are the sorts of things that are the real tools to try and illicitly swing an election.

A case straight out of the real world: in 2008, I was busting my butt on a New York State Senate campaign against a very entrenched incumbent, with all of us hoping that the coming Obama surge would have coattails. Come election day, the district was blanketed with some very, very illegal robocalls--no ID on them, no claim of responsibility--encouraging people to get out and vote for Barack Obama... and insert the name of the Republican State Senator here. They were banking on confusing first time or low-information voters who were enthusiastic about Obama, but didn't know the local candidates that well. At least several districts in the area were hit the same way. I doubt it swayed any of our local elections, but in a tight race even a few hundred votes can make a difference.

The metaphor of the thumb on the scale is an accurate one; none of these things can stop a landslide, but under the right circumstances they can shift the balance. That's why the best counter isn't paranoia, it's vigilance.

June 5, 2012

Employment for those 55 and over is at a record high. Young people are hit hardest by the economy.

Unemployment among those age 55 and over is just 6.5 percent, compared to 8.2 percent among those 25 to 34, and almost 13 percent among 20 to 24 year olds. It was even more pronounced just a year ago, when unemployment was 6.7 percent for those 55 and over, but 9.3 percent for 25 to 34.


At it's peak, the unemployment rate for workers under 25 was 19.6 percent, the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment in 1947.

Meanwhile, employment for those 55 and over in absolute numbers is at a record high, having been climbing continuously for almost 20 years. There are more older workers, and they're far less likely to be unemployed.

The proportion of individuals who continue to work after age 55 reached a record high this year. Some 40.2 percent of Americans age 55 and older participated in the labor force in 2010, a number than has increased steadily since 1993 when just 29.4 percent of older Americans worked, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis of Census Bureau data.


And a college degree is no protection; the unemployment rate for new college graduates isn't significantly different from the national average, meaning an older worker with an average education is more likely to be gainfully employed than a brand new college graduate with advanced training.
May 3, 2012

Obama approval among liberal Dems, week ending April 29: 88%.

Among Democrats as a whole, 83%. Independents, 45%. Republicans, 13%. Approval among whites is 38%, among non-whites it's 73%. Approval is pretty much even between men (46) and women (50). Approval among those 18 to 29 is 60%, compared to 46-47 among those 30 to 64. Geographically, it's pretty much even, varying only from 47% approval in the west and south to 50% in the east.

Bear in mind this is the WEEKLY numbers, which have Obama's approval/disapproval at 48/46, not the DAILY numbers which have him at 51/43. So things have improved since this snapshot was taken. I'm sure the anniversary of Bin Laden getting his ticket punched probably didn't hurt.


May 2, 2012

A reminder for Mitt Romney: President Carter DID give that order.

And doing so effectively cost him his presidency.

Officially it was known as Operation Eagle Claw, although today most Americans would probably recognize it by the name Desert One. In an effort to rescue the 52 American hostages taken prisoner at the US Embassy in Tehran, US Army troops from the Delta Force special operations unit were dispatched to Iran along with transport aircraft and helicopters. The plan: spec-ops teams would strike the US embassy at night, rescue the hostages, and get them to a nearby soccer stadium where helicopters could land, taking both the hostages and the strike team to a captured airfield south of the city, and from there to freedom.

The operation was a complete failure. During the initial infiltration by eight helicopters, a sandstorm forced one to crash, another to turn back, and a third made it to the staging area badly damaged, leaving only five of the six copters that were considered a minimum to go forward. The commanders on site requested an abort, and Carter approved it; during the evacuation of the staging area, one of the helicopters crashed into a C-130 transport plane, destroying both aircraft, killing eight troops, and forcing the other helicopters to be abandoned on site. The event became an international embarrassment for the United States, and ended up being pivotal to Carter's landslide defeat in the election six months later.

Operation Eagle Claw is a perfect example of why "giving that order" is not nearly as simple as Mitt Romney would have you believe. Military special operations have no second chances, and very little margin for error. Something as simple as a storm, mechanical failure, or a pilot making a minor error during a tricky nighttime exercise can result in disaster. Being able to give such an order hinges on being able to know that you are gambling with your entire presidency, and the lives of the men on the ground, and still having the nerve to make a decision based on what is the best course of action, rather than the safest. If Eagle Claw had been successful, it's likely that Carter's surge in popularity and perception could have ended the "Reagan Revolution" before it began. President Obama had the option of safely striking from the air, and maybe never knowing whether they really did get their target, or the dangerous, necessary route of a ground incursion, knowing that it could mean dozens of deaths, diplomatic strife, and his presidency being recorded as a catastrophe. He did it anyway.

Somehow, Mr. Romney, I don't think you have the conviction to make that call.

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