Watch It Fall (Texas this week)


Billy Strings

Well, it’s not so easy now
Though it never was back then
We still can’t seem to work this out
But you can still pretend
And these tattered walls and burning bridges
Quickly start to fall
How long until there’s nothing left at all?

I’ve been to California, man
I’ve seen them city lights
Been stranded in the desert
Scorching days and freezing nights
And I’ll never understand
Why people try to walk so tall
How long until there’s nothing left at all?

Don’t you love what you got used to?
When we used to feel so free
Won’t you wait a while in silence, love
Watch it fall with me

Well, the old men said the great Big Apple’s
Rotten to the core
With Wall Street skimming from the till
While no one minds the store
And how could someone get so low
In a building so damn tall?
How long until there’s nothing left at all?
While chunks the size of Delaware
Are falling off the poles
Our heads are buried in the sand
Our leaders dug the hole
Like junkies hooked on fossil fuel
Headin’ for withdrawal
How long until there’s nothing left at all?

Don’t you love what you got used to?
When we used to feel so free
Come and wait a while in silence, love
And watch it fall with me
Now the answers in our heads
To the questions that were asked
It boils up from underground
And leads us to the past
To a place that’s long forgotten
When we had enough for all
How long until there’s nothing left at all?

Don’t you love what you got used to?
When we try to make our stand
The hourglass is growing empty now
Just to leave a pile of sand (watch it fall)

A Painful Day

Impeachment Day 1

This has been a painful day for me. First of all, watching that video and reliving Jan 6 was hard. It was bad enough that day watching from here; I can only imagine how it must feel to have been there. It was very painful to watch Trump’s lawyers make incredibly preposterous arguments – when they delivered an argument at all.

More painful, though, is that a year ago his entire party supported what he was and did, after having already destroyed so much of our government and rule of law. Painful that half a million people died in the last year with a government doing nothing, even encouraging actions that made it so much worse.

They tried to destroy the rule of law, and with that vote today they mock it.

Don’t Nuke The Filibuster – Reform It

Dems should reform the filibuster to make it into what the public thinks it already is.

Currently there is a Senate rule that effectively means legislation is not allowed to pass unless it gets 60 votes. This is called the filibuster rule. It has allowed Republicans to obstruct everything that government can do to make people’s lives better for more than a decade.

But if you ask “regular” people what a filibuster is (I don’t mean people on Twitter or who obsessively follow the news, I mean regular, busy people) they will almost universally answer that a filibuster means senators talking all day and all night. They have no idea that there is a rule that effectively requires 60 votes for anything to pass.

The 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” led to public belief that a filibuster involves a senator talking until he or she can’t stand up anymore when they believe something being done is just wrong. They would go on as long as they could. This dramatic act gets news, and alerts the public to pay attention. It gives supporters time to rally their forces. Then the public can contact their senators and let them know if they should go ahead or stop.

Reform The Filibuster

In stead if “nuking” the filibuster Democrats should ask for filibuster reform. Get rid of the ridiculous rule that allows every bill to be blocked if it can’t get 60 votes. Return to a rule that allows a senator to talk and talk and give the public time to rally. Bring back this system that protects the minority, but in a way that makes it a rare, dramatic event. It is the rarity of the event that gives it its value.

It is not a “nuclear option” to change the rules to what the public thinks the rules already are.

Republicans Will Escalate Until They Face Consequences

Republicans will escalate until they face consequences.

Ford pardoned Nixon, Reagan picked up where Nixon left off. W Bush did the same. Trump … well what can we say?

Trump still has not once faced consequences for anything he has done. Neither have Republicans. Republicans in Congress and criminal administrations do what they do and get huge payoff jobs when they leave government.

Rinse and Repeat

Republicans will escalate until they face consequences.

We can repeat this after each worse-then-the-last Republican atrocity. Until they face consequences they will escalate.

Or until they get their beloved, fascist, Handmaid’s Tale state.

Dems Getting Things Back To Normal

Looks like Biden and Dem leadership are ready to get things back to normal.

Back to normal means back to refusing to hold Republicans accountable and face consequences thereby encouraging even more bad behavior, asking permission from Republicans before trying anything that might make people’s lives better, imposing ridiculous means-testing restrictions on anything that might benefit people, refusing to use the power voters gave them because it might have “bad optics” or “make Republicans retaliate,” being intimidated into doing nothing, and imposing austerity that breeds fascism, and refusing to tell voters about any good things they actually do.

It’s surprising anyone votes for Dems.

On “Speaking Fees,” Biden and Yellen

In the 90s there was a scandal about “buckraking,” where journalists were reporting positively about certain moneyed interests while raking in huge “speaking fees” from them. (A good example was 1996’s Money Talks by Howard Kurtz, Part 1, Part 2.)

While Congress has since banned honoraria for its members, the market for reporters and pundits who speak to business audiences has never been hotter. Some big-name media people routinely receive $15,000, $30,000, even $50,000 for a single speech. And the bulk of that money comes from corporations and lobbying organizations with more than a passing interest in the issues the journalists write about and yak about for a living.

Continue reading

Stop Blaming “Congress”

The American media likes to report that “Congress” isn’t getting anything done.

For example, for the last several months the media has been reporting that “Congress” hasn’t been passing a relief bill. That doesn’t give voters any information they can use. It just tells the public “Congress” is failing them, etc. But it doesn’t tell them WHO to hold accountable and so people turn against government in general. And against democracy.

Let The Public Know WHO

It was Republicans who blocked the bills. Voters need that information for democracy to work and hold the right people accountable so the country can get better. Don’t blame “Congress,” let the pubic know WHO to hold accountable so democracy can work.

My drumbeat on this has been going on for a while.

Older Democrats Learned The Wrong Lessons From Nixon and Reagan

In today’s news, Biden promises not to use the power he has to make people’s lives better, and boost the economy.

“…it’s arguable that the president may have the executive power to forgive up to $50,000 in student debt,” Biden said. “Well, I think that’s pretty questionable. I’m unsure of that. I’d be unlikely to do that.”

Biden does, in fact, have that power. He’s saying he will not use it.

My observation from watching this crap for so long is that there is a generation of Democratic politicians who learned terrible, wrong lessons from Nixon/McGovern and then Reagan and the rise of the “conservative” propaganda machine. They got beat up so bad and still don’t really understand what happened to them and are still cowering from doing anything that might provoke another beating.

Back then the Democratic party had been riding on the FDR (plus Medicare & Great Society) wave of Dem goodwill for so long that they let the structures and understandings that support political action atrophy. So along came a billionaire-and-corporate-funded conservative movement machine that understood marketing, and how to neutralize opposition, etc, and just wiped the floor with them.

Please don’t hit me again!

What those Dems unfortunately learned was not to do anything that could let them be accused of being “communists” or “soft on crime” or “taxing and spending” or “weak on defense” etc. (They also learned never to put on a protective helmet and ride in a tank.) They learned not to do or say anything that might trigger another beating. They especially learned not to ever propose doing things that help the public & is good for society because it will be portrayed as helping minorities.

They firmly believe that anything any Democrat does to help working people, the general public and society in general will be “portrayed” in a bad way that elects more Republicans, and they see it as their mission to stop any Dem from doing so. Lest they receive another beating. They always have to get the abuser’s permission to do anything. (They call that bipartisanship.)

Biden, Pelosi, Feinstein and so many others are representative of what I’m talking about.

Protectionism, Trade and Democracy

This post originated at Imagine Democracy

“Protectionism” literally means we, as a nation, protect our national interests. It is one more word that has been twisted to make people think it’s a bad thing, like “entitlement” (the things we are entitled to as citizens in a democracy) or “welfare” (people in a democracy making each others’ lives better.)

“Trade” is about competitive advantages. It used to mean one region can grow bananas and another can grow corn, and by trading they each end up with both bananas and corn in their kitchens. (Good.) Today, though, it means authoritarian governments have the “competitive advantage” of allowing slavery and pollution so their factories can make things for less. So (the executives of) big corporations move production there, then squeeze the remaining workforce here with threats to move their jobs as well if they won’t lower their standard of living. (Bad.) All the gains of that “trade” are passed to a few already-wealthy owners and managers of that means of production. They use some of the gains to influence our laws to allow them to do this.

A democracy obviously would consider its people’s standard of living an interest worth “protecting” and would never allow businesses to influence lawmaking.

Trade can be done a different way but that requires democratic governance. Economists (used to) tell us that society gained from trade because making the economy more “efficient” by moving production to lower-cost regions frees up resources, providing increased investment and general prosperity; better infrastructure, higher pay and more free time for everyone in the society. And the production moved to the lower pay area means jobs and investment there, so they also move up that same ladder to increased investment and prosperity. That assumption depended on viewing society as liberal democracies capable of making and enforcing rules that would pass these gains on to everyone.

The failure of our country to maintain itself as a democracy has resulted in the allowance of trade with savers and polluters, resulting in the extreme inequality we see. Thereby enabling further squeezing of workers and environment here. It also incentivises authoritarian governments to allow slavery and pollution.

The solution to this, and so many other problems, is, of course, to remove the influence of money from our political system.

Take What Happened Very, Very Seriously

This post originally appeared at Imagine Democracy.

People don’t want to say that Republicans attempted a “coup” but they certainly attempted to overturn the clear results of a democratic election. They tried to end our democracy, right in front of our eyes.

The election was almost “close enough to overturn.”

The Democrat received (the counting is not finished) over 6 million more votes but it was “close.” This is because our 18th-century electoral college system, designed to keep the “slave states” happy, does not belong in the 21st century.

If Republicans had blocked a few more people who couldn’t get birth certificates, etc. from voting…

If Republicans had been able to close a few more polling places…

If they had taken away a few more ballot drop-boxes…

If Republican had scared just a few more people…

If Republicans had told just a few more lies…

If the USPS had delayed a few more ballots…

If just a bit fewer Democrats had voted…

they very well might have gotten away with it.

Take what happened very, very seriously. Because they tried. Right in front of our eyes.

And if we don’t take steps to do something about this, next time they will do … just that bit more.