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December 12, 2020

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Charlie Pride RIP

It feels like we're losing the greats left and right.

Due to term limits restrictions, Faulconer is no longer mayor of San Diego and the genius top-two primary system coughed up two Democrats to duke it out in the final election, apparently won by the more 'conservative' Dem with all the sparkling endorsements (Feinstein, Newsome, Brown, Harris....an impressive list!).

It's good to see a rational Republican, but then...why is he a Republican? Oh, right, he vetoed a moderate minimum wage increase because it's all about the business community uber alles.

From what little I have gleaned, a lot of the local politics concerns land use and NIMBYism (In La Jolla, no less...I am shocked, shocked I tell you)....a terrible trait shared by the comfortable to well off in both parties.

This is not to say "both parties are the same" because that would lead to overgeneralization pegging me in the company not only with Vladimir Lenin, but also Glenn Greenwald, which would be a terrible manifestation of this lamentable tendency. :)

Newsome's dining at a fancy restaurant while publicly pushing COVID restrictions is deeply appalling, and his response to the pandemic has come under a good deal of fire.....but it is most likely better than just about any GOP governor you could name.

This is just another example of why, to me, just about any Democrat is better than any Republican in just about any and all circumstances.

Thanks for the open thread, I'm having trouble finding hooks to hang them on.

Having said that, I realize that you would like to keep that Republican brand alive, but when you have the House F**king Minority leader (and 126 more! FFS) sign on to that Trump bullshit, I think you are dealing with a lost cause. From the Grauniad
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/11/house-republicans-texas-election-lawsuit-supreme-court

Among the 126 lawmakers who signed on to the brief is a particularly puzzling group: 19 Republican members of Congress who represent districts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin.

Those members all appeared on the same ballot as the presidential candidates and all but one were elected under the same rules to which they are now objecting.

lj, no question that, for most (but not all) Republican members of the House, hypocracy is but one of their numerous shortcomings. Both as politicians and as human beings. And their "leaders" are the worst of all.

But my point was, once you get below that level, things are nowhere near as bad. And the further down you get, the more likely it is that you will find good people. Which means that the kind of major reformation which the GOP needs, while admittedly unlikely any time soon, does have some decent material available to work from.

Oh, right, he vetoed a moderate minimum wage increase because it's all about the business community uber alles.

I misread something. Which had me thinking he had pushed, rather than vetoed, that minimum wage increase. Apologies for that.

On the other hand, it was an increase over the California state minimum wage. That is, one set by the overwhelmingly Democratic state government. So it's hard to argue that it makes him all that reactionary. Otherwise, those liberals in the state government would have raised the minimum for all of us. He just isn't more liberal than the average Democrat in this deep blue state.

I'm sure that you are right that maybe in the entire USA there might be one hundred non-fascist Republicans who are interested in governance, But the Others--by which I mean other elected R and the R voters--will make sure their careers end

I feel like I need to reply with a Christmas joke, which I hope isn't too harsh, but it is the image that pops up for me and bear in mind, it's just teasing.

A kid wants a pony for Christmas, and is obnoxiously vocal about it, so the parents want to teach him a lesson, and they figure that if he confronts the actual reality of what it would be like to own a pony, the kid might readjust his notions. So it is Christmas day and the parents tell him that they are going to a farm down the road. So off they go and they get to the farm and before the parents can say anything, the kid sees a massively huge pile of horseshit, jumps out of the car and immediately starts burrowing into it. His parents say 'wait, what are you doing?' and the kid replies, 'if there is all this horseshit, there's got to be a pony in there somewhere!'

Leave off the _obnoxiously_, I was getting into the joke too much.

Rod Dreher is worried that Rod Dreher's schtick has been taken on the road going over the cliff, where his books don't sell quite as well on account of bonfires.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/what-i-saw-at-the-jericho-march/

He just wanted men and women to stick to their plumbing and those that don't to be canceled and discriminated against like ..... forever .... since plumbing was invented and priests took it upon themselves to keep all of the fun to themselves.

Now it's gotten out of hand, and he can't quite fathom how this has come about, not having read the news over the PAST 3O YEARS.

They want to kill EVERYONE who is not them. Whodathunkit?

I look forward to the good people, these conservatives further down to be found and to step up and take care of this problem, maybe first by moving out of conservative gerrymandered districts and voting differently and, if necessary, by showing up with the guns they normally use for doorstops, duck hunting, and imaginary and not yet attempted break-ins to their castles and pointing them at the armed conservative movement nutcases, of them, who now outnumber the normative crazy people, and yelling "STOP! or we'll shoot!"

Who did these conservative further down vote for that our government is now infested with insurrectionist vermin?

They have a few weeks at best to do this, give or take, having procrastinated since, I don't know, Rush Limbaugh left high school sports annnouncing.

After that, I suspect, it'll be back to generalizing about them for those us who have HAD IT.

Heck, all the so-called Left could muster in the way of revolutionaries-turned-professional politicians back in the dank, dark 1970s after the troubles was Tom Hayden, whose main contribution to insurrectionist mayhem once in office was bedding Jane Fonda and smoking a little hash in the Capitol cloakrooms while the rest of the Left went to work on Wall Street and became vegetarians, gurus, and self-help mavens.

Now we have flaming asshole arsonists running amok in my fucking government, which was supposed to move slowly, not swiftly backward down the drain and not at all, motherf*ckers.

No one taught me more than my conservative family members, friends, and conservative movement stalwarts about generalizing throughout my life.

All men are created equal. Treat everyone as an individual.

Except two thirds of the human race.

Yes, yes, progress has been afoot.

But this WILL be the last reactionary uprising attempting to stand athwart progress in this country, or goddamned else, if you want a country.

Well, the weekend is ruined stem to stern and here comes another pandemic Monday and another week of unbelievable threatening dumbassery from thugs and jagoffs.

At least the Black Panthers handed out food and manned the clinics between bouts of fighting the conservative movement for their gun rights.

It's all Hillary Clinton's fault, or Clarence Darrow's, or Little Richard's, or somebody's, but I want to GO BACK to her more traditional, conventional, bog standard blockheadedness, when things were calm by comparison and HER flu was actually THE flu, despite fucking liars saying the contrary.

I'm conservative that way.

But my point was, once you get below that level, things are nowhere near as bad.

You mean Republicans like Matt Shea?

Admittedly, the GOP caucus stripped him of his legislative prerogatives, but not a one of these "good Republicans" would sign up to support expelling him from the Legislature. These fine people also rummaged around in the sewer and found this guy in our also lamentable "top-two" primary system to run against our beloved dictator, Jay Inslee, and like Trump, he has refused to concede that he was essentially routed overwhelmingly.

You mean Republicans like Matt Shea?

I admit I haven't been tracking doings the state of Washington. But here, I see to my current Assembly member (Rebecca Bauer-Kahan). Who beat an incumbent moderate Republican in 2018 by running a campaign with a devotion to truth rivaling Donald Trump -- and I use that comparison deliberately, because it's accurate. But perhaps due to Trump, she won anyway.

I admit I haven't been tracking doings the state of Washington.

Understandable. Here's a piece on northern Idaho and what can happen when the whackadoodles take over and the "good people" are simply pushed out.

The breathtaking natural grandeur of the region is befouled by its current politics and its feces flinging conservatives. I remember when the state elected leaders like Frank Church...alas, no more.

Really fascinating article on Northern Idaho politics, bobbyp. Thank you.

Definitely shows what happens when your political model is based on being "against." If you've eliminated your traditional opposition, you have to find reasons to be against some of your own. And keep getting progressively crazier, in order to keep having people to be against.

It's actually what I was imagining when I suggested giving them a foreign destination to migrate to. Just because . . . why would anyone want these lunatics in any part of my country?

From the Count's link:

Though he was puffing a bit as he talked — as I said, he is not small — he came through in the clutch, blowing two shofars at once, impressively. Then he blew a special red, white, and blue shofar made especially for You Know Who. He referred to it as the “Trump Shofar.”

This sounds like either a scene form a Mel Brooks movie or a good reason for actual orthodox Jews to go Old Testament* on the guy (meaning parabolic movement of silicate aggregates in the high pebble or low cobble range).

*maybe full Torah would be more appropriate given that OT is decidely not a Jewish term.

go Old Testament* on the guy (meaning parabolic movement of silicate aggregates in the high pebble or low cobble range).

Giving new (more accurately, old) meaning to the phrase "must get stoned."

It's the 90% of awful racist fascist MAGAt Republicans that give the rest a bad name, it's true.

Having read most of the TAC piece, I find myself genuinely surprised by the depth of Dreher’s naïveté.

He’s a 50+ year old man who’s been toiling in the conservative vineyards for most of his adult life. This is the first time he’s seen the kinds of shenanigans he describes in the piece?

Apparently he needs to get out more.

Apparently he needs to get out more.

Yes. And he apparently is unaware that his unquestioning assumptions (which we must suppose he has been elaborating and transmitting for decades) about the evils of the "intersectional woke left" have contributed considerably to this phenomenon. It's interesting to see the kind of wellspring from which McKinney gets his worldview (I'd never read any Dreher before, I don't think), particularly when you are aware (as we here all should be from many previous conversations) that however much people like us decry, criticise or demur from some of the articles of faith of that so-called "intersectional woke left" it slides off the preconceptions of the McKinneys and Drehers of this world like water off the proverbial.

Dreher has a history of this. He totally bought into the need to go into Iraq and years later admitted he had been wrong. I’ve been reading his blog for several years. About one post in ten ( lately more like one in a hundred) can be reasonable.

During the Trump era he writes a book entitled “ Live not by Lies” which is about how we slide into totalitarianism when we don’t care about the truth. He is talking about transgender activism and anti racist people like Robin DiAngelo. The latter is not my favorite person, but this is the Trump era. We have a President beloved on the Right who lies like he breathes. Dreher graciously has allowed that sometimes the Right can be dishonest too. But his good pal Eric going full fascist seems to have surprised him.

Rod is sincere— I mean that— but he has a book to sell and left wingers aren’t going to buy it. That implies I think he is a grifter but really he is just someone who fixates fanatically on left wingers who go too far. He is ny interested in lies as he sees them told by the left and so he thinks most liars are leftists. He is like the drunk who looks for his car keys across the street under the lamppost because the light is better there.

Here is a typical Dreher view— he thinks white nationalism is a reaction to the SJW’s, as if white racism had mostly vanished and only came back because of campus radicals and corporate diversity training sessions.

Since I have never read much of anything by Mr. Dreher, I thought it time to look around....an interesting and more or less sympathetic view is found here.

The problems start, as all problems generally do, when we enter the public square.

Enjoy your Sunday.

I have gone past my free limit for the New Yorker.

Rod is the intellectual version ( and Eastern Orthodox) of the fundamentalist who thinks Western civilization is collapsing due to moral decadence. Lately it’s been the transgender community who will bring us all to ruin, though sometimes it is Kendi and DiAngelo. But it has to be somebody.

He wants to b thought of as a great public intellectual, but most of the time he only sees things through this narrow lens. What makes it more bizarre is that he really can be self reflective and self critical and when he is, he is good, But I have been fooled by him too much. He will write something good about how we can all be dishonest or he will write a piece about the racism in his hometown and you think that maybe this is a guy who can step outside his ideological bubble, which is a rare thing anywhere. But then it’s back to the regularly scheduled freak out about a drag queen story hour someplace and how “ soft totalitarianism” from the left is going to destroy our society and yes, right wingers can be dishonest too. He doesn’t like Trump. But because he finds certain aspects of leftism so threatening, he can’t admit to just how much dishonesty there is on the right.

.

FWIW, “soft totalitarianism” is an oxymoron. And I’ll believe in a totalitarian “woke left” when somebody is required by law to marry someone of the same gender.

I have no real problem with conservative religious people. I have a problem with people who can’t abide the existence of people who aren’t like them.

“ I wish I could add a new chapter about how we conservatives are allowing ourselves to be conquered by the same kind of unreality. We can’t look away from it, or fall back on whataboutism.”

From Rod’s piece. That part was bull and I think he knows it. He can’t possibly be as blind to the pathologies on the right as he sometimes pretends. If he ever drove a car and listened to something on AM radio in the past few decades he knew this.

The bit in that piece about the right being authoritarian vs the left being totalitarian brings back memories of Reagan era apologetics for supporting Salvadoran death squads. I remember seeing him say in a comment thread that slavery was authoritarian and not totalitarian.

Anyway, enough of Rod. That piece contained both Rod at his best and also bits of Rod being an idiot.

I have a problem with people who can’t abide the existence of people who aren’t like them.

Totally agree. But I would point out that you can find that on the left as well. Even short of anyone being "required by law to marry someone of the same gender."

For example, I've come across something on Andrew Sullivan's blog being irritated by others who are not traditional heterosexuals insisting that simple homosexuals, whether gay or lesbian, don't really exist. https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/where-have-all-the-lesbians-gone

Segue? Who needs a segue?

Any of you folks in the UK have any thoughts on the looming "no-deal Brexit"?

But I would point out that you can find that on the left as well.

Um, not.

You might, if you delved deep into the literature of the totally marginalized tiny Trotskyite or Maoist sects that actually do exist here...none of whom, I might add, are ever provided space on the New York Times editorial page...unlike, say, Tom Cotton, or yes, Andrew Sullivan.

Finding outliers on any part of the political spectrum is not difficult, the next step of identifying how much power or influence they wield is apparently much harder.

One thing that gets short shrift in discussions of the current Unpleasantness is the large number of eligible voters who can't be bothered. There is a long and proud tradition in these U.S. of treating politics and politicians with contempt: Menken, Twain, and Will Rogers are the go-to examples, but it's everywhere and when in popular culture if you look. Since the end of WW II Americans have had the luxury of ignoring politics, secure in the knowledge that whoever won, the road goes on forever and the party never ends. This was the perfect environment for the Worst, full of Passionate Intensity, to take over the process in the name of saving Real America, meaning themselves. So they did. They only way out of this widening gyre is for a majority of those bored not-voters to start caring, and hope that they want to live in the real world and not Real America.

One last thing about Rod—

A really good thing about him is that sometimes his comment section has the widest range of comments you can find anywhere and some are really good. I say this as someone who got banned— I was starting to lose my temper with Rod’s own crap and openly expressing contempt. The current thread is pretty good.

I qualified that a bit with a “ sometimes”, because there are also times when the comments are full of white nationalists and even one guy who called himself, unironically, a fascist. Rod is much quicker to ban people who get sarcastic with him than the creepy element. Still, it is educational to read the creeps, along with thoughtful people from different parts of the spectrum.

Any of you folks in the UK have any thoughts on the looming "no-deal Brexit"?

I can't even. Words cannot express my opinion of the incompetents, idiots and grifters who landed us in this, and continue to "lead" us.

If Rod Dreher didn't exist, he would have to be invented, just to provide comic material for alicublog. Particularly in the contents of his "almost as believable as letters to Penthouse" mailbag.

Megan "numbers are NOT my friends" McArdle also, too.

Is this the future of the Republicon Party? One can only hope.

Way to go amerika. USA, USA, USA.....

f*nck

They(sic) only way out of this widening gyre is for a majority of those bored not-voters to start caring, and hope that they want to live in the real world and not Real America.

Which is basically what Stacey Abrams has been doing in Georgia for the past six years or so. She has given us Proof of Concept. Now it's just up to the rest of us to implement it generally.

Is this the future of the Republicon Party?

In the immediate future, very likely. The question is, once their noses are rubbed in the fact that they can never placate Trump enough, what will guys who care about power and holding office do? They may not want to start a new party.** But Trump may leave them no choice.

Of course, without Trump's fanboys, can they win? Not without a radical revision of their ideology. (Way more than the post Romney loss postmortem envisioned.) Rock, meet hard place. But it's what you bought by not slapping Trump down early and often.

** And I shudder to think what a McConnell-ite party might be like.

Which is basically what Stacey Abrams has been doing in Georgia for the past six years or so.

There's a difference between "people who haven't voted because their voices haven't been heard" and "people who don't vote because they can't be bothered." Abrams' efforts in Georgia have been geared towards the former group, SFAIK, not the latter.

I don't know how you break through to the can't-be-bothered group. They include people well off enough that horrible policies don't affect them (and they can't be arsed to worry about anyone else) to people whose families have been poor and ignorant for multiple generations (who are barely capable of understanding basic civics). And of course, such people are nearly always white.

I've done a fair bit of precinct canvassing. There's nothing quite like being faced with someone who says they've never voted and don't intend to, who just shrugs when you ask why not. I have no idea how to even start a conversation with someone like that.

Well, I read the Dreher article, violating my rule about having nothing to do with anything involving Pat Buchanan.

I'm glad he is revolted by these shenanigans, though his repeated mouth-frothing at Critical Race Theory is more than a little over the top.

I think he is wrong to claim that the right's insanity is a new phenomenon; in fact I think that's plain blindness. He quotes approvingly a preist who wrote him saying,

I unfortunately think that too many American Christian fundamentalists now emphasize God’s Will over His Intellect, and these Jericho Marches are just the beginning of a bad current of philosophy beginning to enter American Christian life.

"Beginning to enter?"

I'd say the state of the Republican party is incredibly bad, AND that California is becoming a good example of what happens when the out-Party is insane--you don't have much check on the Democratic Party itself so we get things like: Dianne Feinstein hanging on essentially into the grave; Newsome ruling in a 'rules for thee but not for me' atmosphere; and big cities complaining about how Republicans who haven't ruled in decades are making their rents too high.

I'd say the state of the Republican party is incredibly bad, AND that California is becoming a good example of what happens when the out-Party is insane--you don't have much check on the Democratic Party itself

As a California resident, I can only say Amen.

Things aren't as bad as what's described in the article bobbyp linked to above on northern Idaho. But the same lack of a viable opposition party is a serious problem, if you care about responsible governance.

you don't have much check on the Democratic Party itself...

I'm not much up on CA politics, but given one-party dominance, why wouldn't there be a tendency for that party to factionalize, with the conflict between factions providing the sort of balance that an opposition party would?

so we get things like: Dianne Feinstein hanging on essentially into the grave

Strom Thurmond (cough, cough)

Newsome ruling in a 'rules for thee but not for me' atmosphere..

Oh, posh (read this somewhere :)). Stack this bit of poli-porn up against gerrymandering (WI, Penn, NC, etc.) and outright voter suppression (I can vote, but you? Not so much).

The rent it too high? The communists in California put a nail in the coffin of rent control, and granted Uber and Lyft their need to continue to take advantage of their workers.

But other than that, pure communism, eh? JFC.

But the same lack of a viable opposition party is a serious problem....

All else being equal, if the California GOP disbanded and disappeared tomorrow, I guarantee you there would soon be two competing political parties in the state.

if the California GOP disbanded and disappeared tomorrow, I guarantee you there would soon be two competing political parties in the state.

Quite possibly true. But unfortunately, it shows no signs of doing so. And until and unless they do, I can't see the Democratic party fissioning.

Although, given our open primaries, there wouldn't be that much need.** We already can see multiple Democratic candidates in the primaries. And two of them, often with rather different ideological profiles, can be in the general election.

** The only place party membership matters here is for Presidential primaries. Otherwise, it's simply ignored in the electoral process.

I can't see the Democratic party fissioning.

Henry Wallace in '48? The '68 and '72 disasters? The Sanders' insurgencies? The rupture is bubbling beneath the surface. Only a common foe unites them.

GOP moderates have nowhere to go. They are not going to "recapture" the GOP. They have lost their base. They will go where the money goes.

I opine that is the $64 question.

The canary in the coal mine?

Henry Wallace in '48? The '68 and '72 disasters? The Sanders' insurgencies? The rupture is bubbling beneath the surface. Only a common foe unites them.

So you're picturing the left splitting off? I had been thinking (self-centeredly, no doubt) of the moderates splitting off to pick up more of the moderates. But your idea does seem more likely.

The moderates would see the prospect of a split leaving the Trumpists in a position to win with a plurality, after splitting the non-Trumpist vote. Which would be a dis-incentive for them. But the left wing does seem, historically, less concerned about practical details like that.

Not exactly. Remember, the premise is there is no GOP. It's gone. As the only standing party, and due to the existing political structure, either a new one arises to take its place or the Dems split.

My hope is the GOP tears itself apart into irrelevance or gets ground into dust. I would prefer the latter, but could live with the former.

A polity where the big issues and political struggle are as between social democrats (i.e., New Dealers) and left moderates (i.e., deficit hawks, free traders, and their hangers on), and the racists, xenophobes, economic elites, and evangelicals are not cast out, but no longer have any meaningful sway in how we are governed.

Most likely this will not happen. Reactionaries, buttressed by corporate and financial power, will always be with us, and they will always find allies.

Hopefully, I am overgeneralizing :)

I have no idea how Sebastian and wj see Feinstein as a sign of rampant Democratic dominance. She's mostly a sign of the aging. propertied Limousine Liberals not having to have their feathers ruffled.

She's the candidate of the moneyed socially liberal non-progressive.

If CA were as liberal as people pretend, the property tax measure would have won and Feinstein would have been replaced a decade ago.

When I believed the polls in early November I was hoping for what bobbyp outlined— the Republican Party becomes irrelevant. The Democratic Party swells with moderate conservatives joining and then either the Democrats split or else the Democratic primaries become the real election. Even as things stand, what holds the Democrats together. is the lesser evil argument— whatever we think about each other, Republicans are worse.

But the polls were wrong and Republicans are still here, The demographic argument people make for the Democrats taking over is oversimplified, as shown by the nonexistent “ Latino” voting bloc.

I'm surprised, though, that no one has been talking much about the under-30 vote and how the Ds benefitted from that turnout.

https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/election-week-2020#young-voters-and-youth-of-color-powered-biden-victory

That seems much more significant to me than the conservative Latinos continued flirtation with the patriarchy.

But the polls were wrong and Republicans are still here, The demographic argument people make for the Democrats taking over is oversimplified, as shown by the nonexistent “ Latino” voting bloc.

Yes, GOP overperformance downticket was an unhappy outcome.

As for the Latino vote - I said to a friend who still lives in South Florida, "The old anti-Castro Cubans are dying off, but unfortunately they're being replaced by the new anti-Chavez Venezuelans" as the voters who can be frightened by the "Democrats=Socialism!"booga booga. Meanwhile, the Latinx vote fleeing from RW tyranny are the ones who can't get into this country, since they tend to be poor and without political advantages.

I'm not going to say that being the Party of No won't "work" for the GOP, since that's basically all they've been for the last 30-ish years. But I do kind of wonder how well that will continue to work when it's saying "No!" not only to Democratic policy proposals, but to any kind of policy at all.

GOP politicians' sole reason for existing is to cosset and flatter the aggressively ignorant for the purpose of fleecing their benighted voters in order to line their own pockets. How sustainable is that, outside of the Evangelical churches? (And how long will the Evangels put up with a rival organization horning in on their grift?)

I have no idea how Sebastian and wj see Feinstein as a sign of rampant Democratic dominance.

I'm trying to remember if I've ever even mentioned Feinstein. After all these years, I suppose I must have. Just have no memory of doing so.

I think what you meant was Feinstein is not a sign of serious liberal dominance. I can see how you and bobbyp would not regard her as a liberal at all. And for California, she's definitely on the conservative (i.e. moderate) end of the Democratic party. Although in large parts of the country she would be considered a liberal. (And not just by the lunatics who think Obama is a socialist.)

As for rampant Democratic party dominance in California, I'd say the years-long veto-proof majorities in both houses of the state legislature pretty much establish that beyond argument.

RIP John le Carre.

That's a tough one to take.

I'm trying to remember if I've ever even mentioned Feinstein.

Could be, wj. She is no flamethrower, that's for sure. However, I do recall quite distinctly a trip you made to the fainting couch about one B. Boxer.

Overwhelming Dem majorities are essential for just about anything to get done in Sacramento. Isn't Prop 13 still in force requiring a 2/3 majority to pass tax legislation? You know Prop 13, right? The one that Jerry Brown (OMG, that 'effing hippie?) did an about face on and supported?*

Thus for decades, the GOP minority was able to block just about anything. Minority rule is now in their bones.

*currently reading Rick Perlstein's history of the Carter admin and the conservative movement embodied by Reagan - what a trip down memory lane. I had forgotten how much I had forgot.

I do recall quite distinctly a trip you made to the fainting couch about one B. Boxer.

I can believe that. But it seems to me Boxer was substantially more liberal than Feinstein. Am I wrong?

Isn't Prop 13 still in force requiring a 2/3 majority to pass tax legislation? You know Prop 13, right?

Yeah, I know Prop 13. It was a piece of damn foolishness when it was passed.** And it's gotten even worse in its impact over time. (The good news, such as it is, is that it only applies to property taxes, not all taxes.) But our education system, mostly paid for by local property taxes, has been deteriorating ever since. Since costs rise with inflation, but those taxes can't.

** On a fear campaign about retired folks losing their homes due to rising property taxes. Due, in turn, to the massive inflation in the early 1970s running up the value of their houses. Of course, it applies to commercial property, too. Just because.

Any of you folks in the UK have any thoughts on the looming "no-deal Brexit"?

There won't be, at least in the long run. Brexit is an illusion - the UK wouldn't be able to sustain it for more than a few months at most and even if it happens, they will keep talking to the EU until a solution is found. Most of this is just bluster, even BoJo, who is not the brightest, gets this.

I am currently undecided if it's better to have a no-deal crash out as a kind of shock therapy or if the costs to society would be too high - the UK in general is in a terrible shape thanks to 10 years of Tory rule (or shall we go back to Thatcher? the class system? the Empire? but I wouldn't want to bore anyone...).

Someone called it ‘Suez for slow learners’ lol

https://twitter.com/Andrew_Adonis/status/1338396260173279238?s=20

Democratic politicians' sole reason for existing is to cosset and flatter the aggressively, often well educated, ignorant for the purpose of fleecing their benighted voters in order to line their own pockets.

Fixed that.

currently reading Rick Perlstein's history of the Carter admin and the conservative movement embodied by Reagan - what a trip down memory lane. I had forgotten how much I had forgot.

I've recently started on that, too.

There are not a few parallels between Reagan and Trump which crop up in there.

Because we all need an occasional smile for our day.

https://jalopnik.com/an-unexpected-joy-in-these-dark-times-is-tracking-scotl-1845860620

Another time burner—drivers cab view from Norwegian passenger trains.

"Xmas winter train! Drivers cab view from the Bergen Line and Flåm Railway in NORWAY. Rated as two of the most scenic and breathtaking railways in the world."
CABVIEW: Xmas winter train

Hilarious, wj!

Very cool, CharlesWT. Thank you.

I miss the Hen Cam. Although they still play old recordings, so you can still get your chicken fix if you need it.

Open thread, huh? Today the Supreme Court announced a decision in the Texas v. New Mexico Pecos River case. Perhaps I'll live long enough to see them decide the Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado Rio Grande case, which is much more interesting.

That Pecos River case looks to be Texas agreeing to a process. And then, when the result was not to their liking, claiming the process was somehow invalid. How very Trumpian. (And, like Trump's claims, the Supreme Court unanimously told them they had no valid reason to complain.)

Has anyone's state said anything about how the actual vaccinations are going to be handled? The state calls you? You call some provider that has vaccine? Make an appointment? Stand in line with social distancing until they run out? (Had visions this morning of standing outside in the single-digit temperature.)

In California, the plan is to start out with health care workers and "residents of skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar long-term care settings for older or medically vulnerable individuals." The former will presumably be handled on a workplace-by-workplace basis. And the latter will be vaccinated at the facility where they are, again on a place by place basis.

Followed by "essential workers": farm laborers, police officers, child care staff and teachers. I'm guessing they will be done on a workplace-by-workplace basis as well. Then "at-risk populations" -- no clue how that will be approached.

The state has been broken down into 6 regions, each of which will organize their own distribution for those locations.

By the time vaccinations are available to any of the rest of us, there will have been plenty of time to work out the details of where and how. I'm guessing that it will be late enough that you won't have to worry about standing in line in the cold.

All I've seen for Maine, which tracks wj's account, more or less (my bold):

When can I get the shot?

The timing of future vaccine deliveries is not yet known, but the general public is not expected to have access to vaccinations in Maine until spring or summer, according to Maine’s plan.

Phase 1 is expected to begin this week and includes front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Phase 2 would distribute the vaccine to people with underlying health conditions, school staff, correctional facilities, and seniors, although the plan did not specify an age range.

Phase 3 would include further broadening to more populations, such as young adults, children and people who work in higher-risk industries or essential jobs who weren’t previously offered the vaccine.

Phase 4 means the vaccine would be available to all Maine residents.

As to seniors, I'm content to let people with a more pressing need to get out and about go before me, so I'll be curious to see how that gets handled.

Massachusetts. Looks like:


  1. medical caregivers and first responders
  2. people with multiple co-morbidities
  3. essential workers
  4. over 65's
  5. single co-morbidities
  6. all y'all

With all y'all kicking in around April.

Personally I'm not in a rush. I'm working from home, will probably continue to do so even after lockdown ends, and have not been especially bothered by lockdown. Lucky, lucky, lucky me. So I don't mind waiting for any wrinkles to be ironed out.

If I can get out and about and maybe travel and see some live music by summer 2021 I'll be more than pleased. I recognize that I'm living in first-world-problem nirvana, am grateful for it, and I'm happy to do whatever will get folks who don't have the same luxury as safe as they can be, as quickly as they can be.

A really great job by pharma researchers in getting what looks like plausible vaccines to market in less than a year. We owe them our thanks.

Stay safe everyone.

Since it is an open thread, and following the death of John Le Carre, I just want to say that if by chance any of you have never seen the TV series adaptation of Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley, I strongly recommend that you find it and watch it.

It is the best thing I ever saw on TV (although admittedly I have never watched the Sopranos, or the Wire), and Guiness's Smiley is absolutely astonishing. It looks like a bit of a period piece now (the cars etc - it was made in the 70s), but there are about 6 episodes, and when it was first shown each episode was repeated once in the middle of the week before the next one aired, and I (and everyone I knew) watched both transmissions. I have also watched it every time it has been repeated. I must have seen the whole thing 6 or 7 times. I do believe that any of you who follow this recommendation will be glad you did so.

I'm reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy now.

Haven't seen the TV version, but will look for it. Period piece cars are not a problem for me, they are one of my favorite things about about watching older shows or shows set in earlier times. :)

I do believe that any of you who follow this recommendation will be glad you did so.

Seconded, and thanks. I own a DVD set of the series, but don't have a DVD player anymore.
But maybe it's on Youtube? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq61jstTApk

It is on YouTube. As is Smiley's People, nearly as good.

Also Netflix, though not streaming.

Re-watched both a couple of months ago.

Really well done. Alec Guinness's advice to young actors that doing "as little as possible" is the key in front of the camera is displayed as a master class in acting in these productions.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/12/john-le-carre-england-politics/617379/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/13/books/john-le-carre-dead.html

You might also want to take a look at the 2012 feature film adaption by Thomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In"):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker_Tailor_Soldier_Spy_(film)

It's much less cozy than the book or the BBC series but I loved it (my wife fell asleep, though ...) and it stars:

Gary Oldman
Kathy Burke
Benedict Cumberbatch
Colin Firth
Tom Hardy
Ciarán Hinds
John Hurt
Toby Jones

Regarding the Brexit deal, this is worth a read:

Britain will do a Brexit deal on Europe’s terms - A power asymmetry puts the UK at a disadvantage in the negotiations

https://www.ft.com/content/955dc9c9-d5a8-4fd5-a66b-ef28c9f70e2c

in case you can't get around the paywall:

https://twitter.com/stefanauer_hku/status/1338740746677964800?s=20

I must say I would never call the Beeb TTSS cosy. I would characterise it more as bleak and claustrophobic, in a particularly English way, but please anyone don't let that put you off! There are still occasional moments in it that raise the hairs on the back of your neck, and with subsequent watchings I am still unable to say quite how Guinness wordlessly achieves them (no spoilers until russell has seen it!).

As for Smiley's People, IMO despite many incidental pleasures, and an important sense of closure, I don't think it ever ascends to the same heights. But chacun a son gout, etc.

One item that stood out for me when re-watching "Tinker ....." and its sequel, was technology, or rather the lack thereof.

More than once, Circus agents, collars up, had to sneaky-pete down the street from a safe house and use a payphone to make highly classified calls.

Like lovers, agents signal assignations by concealing clues and notes in trees in parks, for example.

And no Bondian/Austin Powers high-tech fireworks.

Smiley's cars didn't spew out slippery oil from the rear to foil tails. And none of the female characters sported breasts that doubled as assault weapons.

Instead, intense ratiocination inside Smiley's skull communicated to the camera by the slightest flickers of facial expressions, like barely-formed clouds passing over the sun and hardly, noticeably casting a darkening, fleeting shadow on the proceedings.

Notice when Smiley wordlessly removes his eyeglasses to clean the lenses and casts his owlish, weary, but razor-sharp perspicacious eye beams outwardly and inwardly.

Guinness thought of that little tic, but maybe it was in the book as well.

All of the characters conceal their many-layered agendas and betrayals, spy-wise, business-wise and personal (Smiley is most inept in that later sphere), and each, particularly and most acutely Smiley, is on to the others as they move inexorably to the revelation of the "Spy" identity and the machinations of the mysterious bigger game, the Soviet counterpart, Karla.

Bleak and claustrophobic, absolutely, but the pacing of the hardly-moving action gives the illusion of real, slowly unfolding time, not just several hours of TV drama but months and years of workaday sleuthing which builds excruciating dramatic tension.

That Smiley, a one-man NSA, might have been Robert Mueller to get to the rancid bottom of our current, monstrous bout of seditious and malignant home-grown conservative movement treachery.

The Circus, indeed.

...the revelation of the "Spy" identity and the machinations of the mysterious bigger game, the Soviet counterpart, Karla.

I'm not familiar with the work, so I can't be at all sure, but this at least smells like a spoiler. Or is it something the audience knows more or less the whole time, and only the characters have to figure it out?

One item that stood out for me when re-watching "Tinker ....." and its sequel, was technology, or rather the lack thereof.

I've been toying with a short story where the investigator routinely uses his smartphone to do all the things investigators need: make phone calls, take notes, flashlight, still camera, video camera, auto-recognize sounds and objects, look up when it last rained...

I wonder how much spy tradecraft is being updated. An encrypted RFID device hidden under the park bench that only responds when pinged with the proper message as a dead drop?

Or is it something the audience knows more or less the whole time, and only the characters have to figure it out?

Yes. Not a spoiler.

Yes, Karla is a named presence throughout and from the getgo, like Athena in the Iliad, Lucifer in Paradise Lost, Darth Vader in Star Wars, or the neighbor peeking over the fence in Home Improvement.

I could have said Russia, or KGB, and given up as much.

It's not like I'm being waterboarded here, in which case I'd confess all, most of which wouldn't be reliable, like pretty much everything that comes out of my mouth WITHOUT the goosing of torture.

GftNC:

I guess what I mean by 'cozy' is a certain nostalgia which colours Smiley and his world in the book and TV series.

Tinker, Tailor is on my Top 10 list of novels. I can't remember whether I first read it before or after seeing Alec Guiness in the BBC adaptation, but I have not been able to picture George Smiley as anyone else for decades. That may be why I found the recent movie version quite off-putting.

I have read all the Le Carre stories in which Smiley figures even tangentially, and loved them all. That includes the two short novels in which Smiley first appeared: Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality. The latter was made into a 1991 TV movie with Denholm Eliot as Smiley. I watched it on YouTube last night, after stumbling onto it as I was looking for a video version of The Honourable Schoolboy. I could swear I have, sometime, somewhere, seen a movie version of Schoolboy, which is something of a sequel to Tinker, Tailor and something of a prelude to Smiley's People. But maybe my memory is playing tricks; maybe, as I read the book, I was picturing George and Toby and Peter and Jerry Westerby so vividly in my head (based on the BBC cast) that it felt like seeing a movie.

In any case, I am reminded now of how it occurred to me to observe a few long years ago that "He, Trump can't be a Russian mole because the first rule of being a Russian mole is to not act like a fucking Russian mole". All I know about Russian moles I learned from John Le Carre.

--TP

the first rule of being a Russian mole is to not act like a fucking Russian mole

I was watching some cop show last night (back episode of NCIS LA, I think). They're trying to tail a bad guy, but their car is a Porsche. One character says: "This would work better in something nondescript." To which the response is: "If it was nondescript, they'd immediately spot it as an undercover cop car. To avoid notice, you have to be a little flashy!"

Tony P: You are a man of excellent taste, as any of us could have predicted (although I must admit that I do not tend to read books about spies, and in fact have read very little Le Carre except his recent memoir).

novakant: Well, Le Carre is, famously, something of a moralist, so I suppose you might say that "nostalgia" (but not cosiness) is appropriate for a time when the warriors of the secret world may have had a sense, even if a compromised, self-aware sense like Smiley, of good and evil and their partial, compromised place within that framework. And Le Carre maintained that on the whole that had been the case in his days in MI6, and apparently he was horrified by e.g. the Iraq war and the justifications for torture which were thrown about by e.g. the Dubya administration.

Good news for Democrats, if not for the reason you'd first think.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/15/mcconnell-sets-up-clash-with-trump-over-whos-charge-gop/

McConnell (finally!) acknowledges Biden's victory. Considering how vindictive and generally petulant Trump is, it's easy seeing him deciding to take revenge for McConnell's "betrayal" by urging his followers to boycott the Georgia run-off. This time, I could positively cheer Trump acting like a spoiled 3-year-old.

I can't remember whether I first read it before or after seeing Alec Guiness in the BBC adaptation, but I have not been able to picture George Smiley as anyone else for decades.

Definitely the latter for me: I just happened to start watching the series way back when it first aired because my POSSLQ at the time (remember that terminology?) was friends with people who loved LeCarre and were eager to see the series. So we had weekly dinner dates to see the whole thing. I was completed bowled over and started reading All The Books afterwards! (And was in hog heaven when Smiley's People aired.)

And, yes: Guinness is Smiley for me. I think the only cast change I would keep is Tom Hardy, and that's mostly Tom Hardy is so excellent and luscious. Always worth watching. (Except for Bane; my god, what a waste of an actor.)

I actually disliked the movie intensely, because it of necessity compressed many plotlines, which removed most if not all of the atmosphere, worldbuilding, and nuance.

Positively **loathed** what the film did to Peter Guillam (a spun-from-whole-cloth subplot not in the novel at all) for no reason I could think of but to "show" how secretive Smiley's counterintel operation had to be.

And, yeah, that whole last bit with what happens to Bill Haydon.

So many changes for the sake of movie plot that felt to me like serious violations.

In a return to the original topic and theme
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/15/democrats-can-win-over-sane-republicans-there-are-some/

Note, she's focused on voters, not politicians, when she points out that there are some sane Republicans. Which she mostly characterizes as the 40% of Republican voters (that is, folks who, unlike me, actually voted for Trump) who say that in the month since the election, Biden's behavior has mostly been right, and Trump's wrong.

Recognizing, finally and belatedly, that He, Trump is a crybaby with fascist tendencies is a very low bar for sanity.

Actually sane Republicans would be disgusted with Mitch McConnell for humoring the MAGAts as long as he did. How many Republicans like that are there?

--TP

Which she mostly characterizes as the 40% of Republican voters (that is, folks who, unlike me, actually voted for Trump) who say that in the month since the election, Biden's behavior has mostly been right, and Trump's wrong.

Why don't they just become Democrats?

russell - Because they aren't Democrats. They don't agree with our policies, our priorities, or our values. Even the "sane" ones.

I'm appreciate of the Never Trumpers; I do believe they helped defeat Trump. But they voted to keep the Senate in GOP hands, and voted for the GOP candidates in the House.

They are NOT Democrats and frankly, I don't want them in my Party telling me we really don't need to focus on things like systemic racism and escalating environmental destruction. I don't want them telling me, even in a well-meaning way, that enabling vulture capitalism must always have the highest priority.

If they want to be conservatives, if they want to show that conservatism is about something other than privilege-protection,they can form a new Party and show us. I don't want them making the Democratic Party "GOP-Lite."

Because they aren't Democrats. They don't agree with our policies, our priorities, or our values. Even the "sane" ones.

I would note that, a) there may be other reasons. And b) the same could be said of a fair number of long-time Democrats. Including, I suspect, the man we just elected to get rid of Trump -- depending, of course, on where along the liberal spectrum you personally fall.

My question is how many decades will it be before we have a 21st-century government administration instead of a 20th-century one? Biden is population his administration with Obama retreads with an average age of over 60. Looks like it may be Obama 2.0.

Although, given the up and coming young Turks in the Democratic Party, perhaps that's for the best.

My question is how many decades will it be before we have a 21st-century government administration instead of a 20th-century one?

Just to start with the obvious, you have to wait another 5 years before those who were born in the 21st century are even eligible to be in the House. Another 10 years for the US Senate. And another 15 years for the Presidency. And that's assuming they run and win the first year that they are eligible . . . which would be unusual, to say the least.

Realistically, no matter what the government job or whether it has an age minimum, you aren't going to have people with the experience for the top jobs until they are at least in their 40s. So another 20 years.

Sure, lots of people in their early 20s think they know all the answers and could do a far better job. They thought that when I was that age, and they do today. But unless you are getting appointed by someone with a distain for expertise like Trump, it's going to be a while.

And b) the same could be said of a fair number of long-time Democrats. Including, I suspect, the man we just elected to get rid of Trump -- depending, of course, on where along the liberal spectrum you personally fall.

The progressives I know would never say that Biden is not a Democrat, or even that Clinton was not a Democrat. They would just argue that the Democratic party is a MOR organization that is far too weak on actual change.

Those progressives are, for the most part, split between the pragmatists who are committed to working within the party to drag it towards change and the idealists who ignore the party in favor of direct activism.

Well, and the useless purity bingo types who mostly post critical Jacobin articles and get riled up and steered off into ineffectual noise by Russian trolls.

My question is how many decades will it be before we have a 21st-century government administration instead of a 20th-century one?

Three, using the House Democratic leadership as a gauge. By the end of this Congress all of the top leadership will be 80+. 70-year-olds running committees. A whole bunch of 50s and 60s who have been waiting 20 years for their turn, and are not about to give it up. AOC and company are 40 years out, 30 years for the best of them.

Unless the youngsters come out in droves and primary the oldsters on the basis of age. Me, I'm a mid-Boomer (1953). Chances are excellent that no 1947-1960 inclusive Boomers are going to be President. Congressional leadership, at least on the Dem side, is also likely to skip us. I was born in 1953 and we have been singularly unsuccessful in getting the folks almost ten years younger, or ten years older, regardless of sharing a label, to make painful decisions.

My cohort's time is past. We didn't get a shot. Give me someone younger and good to vote for.

If they want to be conservatives, if they want to show that conservatism is about something other than privilege-protection,they can form a new Party and show us.

That works. Also, take their party back and kick the nutjobs out.

In any case, as it stands, I don't see that the folks under discussion are well served by being (R)'s. Just thought I'd extend the invitation.

Not my circus, as they say, although we all end up having to live with it.

Russell, getting down to plain basics, asks:

"Why don't they just become Democrats?"

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/12/15/2002219/-Steve-Schmidt-Literally-Joins-the-Democratic-Party

He's "neo" everything, but so was Colonel Stauffenberg.

There's upside to this, but then Stauffenberg wanted to keep conquered territory for post-Nazi Germany, so keep an eye on him.

Maybe Tom Cruise can play him in the movie, because the original ain't that good-looking.


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