Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, September 25, 2016

There's No Debate


Bill Moyers may have ended his excellent television show, but he is far from sitting quietly waiting for the end to come. He's been quite active in the political world, and we are all the richer for it.

Bill and his bud Michael Winship have a few things to say about our current system of Presidential "debates", which I think we all realize as a farce and just about the farthest thing from an actual "debate."

There’s No Debate


The candidates and the media have thoroughly corrupted the presidential debates. Our democracy deserves better. There's still time for a change.


Let’s call the whole thing off.

Not the election, although if we only had a magic reset button we could pretend this sorry spectacle never happened and start all over.

No, we mean the presidential debates — which, if the present format and moderators remain as they are, threaten an effect on democracy more like Leopold and Loeb than Lincoln and Douglas.

We had a humiliating sneak preview Sept. 7, when NBC’s celebrity interviewer Matt Lauer hosted a one-hour “Commander-in-Chief Forum” in which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke with Lauer from the same stage but in separate interviews. The event was supposed to be about defense and veterans issues, yet to everyone’s bewilderment (except the Trump camp, which must have been cheering out of camera range that Lauer was playing their song), Lauer seemed to think Clinton’s emails were worthy of more questions than, say, nuclear war, global warming or the fate of Syrian refugees.

Of course, that wasn’t a debate per se but neither are the sideshows that we call the official debates, even though the rules put in place by the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates are meant to insure a certain amount of fairness and decorum — unlike the trainwreck of “debates” during the primary season, which were run solely by the parties and media sponsors with no adult supervision.

But despite the efforts of the commission, the official presidential debates coming up also are dominated by the candidates and the media, and therein lurk both the problems and the reasons to scrap this fraudulent nonsense for something sane and serious.

A little history: From 1976, when President Gerald Ford faced off against Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate were administered by the League of Women Voters, which did an admirable job under trying circumstances. But then, as historian Jill Lepore writes in an excellent New Yorker article on the history of presidential debates, the Reagan White House wanted to wrest control from the League and give it to the networks. According to Lepore:

“During Senate hearings, Dorothy Ridings, the president of the League of Women Voters, warned against that move: ‘Broadcasters are profit-making corporations operating in an extremely competitive setting, in which ratings assume utmost importance.’ They would make a travesty of the debates, she predicted, not least because they’d agree to whatever terms the campaigns demanded. Also: ‘We firmly believe that those who report the news should not make the news.’”

Ridings’ prescience proved correct and then some. In 1988, the League pulled out of the Bush-Dukakis debates, declaring in a press release, “It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Walter Cronkite agreed. That same year, he wrote, “The debates are part of the unconscionable fraud that our political campaigns have become. Here is a means to present to the American people a rational exposition of the major issues that face the nation, and the alternate approaches to their solution. Yet the candidates participate only with the guarantee of a format that defies meaningful discourse. They should be charged with sabotaging the electoral process.”

But as Ridings said, it’s not just the candidates involved in this criminal hijacking of discourse. The giant media conglomerates — NBCUniversal (Comcast), Disney, CBS Corp., 21st Century Fox, Time Warner — have turned the campaign and the upcoming debates into profit centers that reap a huge return from political trivia and titillation. A game show, if you will — a farcical theater of make-believe rigged by the two parties and the networks to maintain their cartel of money and power.

“Debating,” Jill Lepore writes, “like voting, is a way for people to disagree without hitting one another or going to war: it’s the key to every institution that makes civic life possible, from courts to legislatures. Without debate, there can be no self-government.” But the media monoliths have taken the democratic purpose of a televised debate — to inform the public on the issues and the candidates’ positions on them — and reduced it to a mock duel between the journalists who serve as moderators — too often surrendering their allegedly inquiring minds — and candidates who know they can simply blow past the questions with lies that go unchallenged, evasions that fear no rebuke and demagoguery that fears no rebuttal.

Remember that it was CBS CEO Leslie Moonves who whooped about the cash to be made from the campaign, telling an investors conference in February, “The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us… Bring it on, Donald. Keep going. Donald’s place in this election is a good thing.” Oh, yes, good for Moonves’ annual bonus, but good for democracy? Don’t make us laugh. Elaine Quijano of CBS News will be moderating the vice presidential candidates’ debate on Oct. 4, with Moonves looking over her shoulder.

Remember, too, that both Lauer and Trump are NBCUniversal celebrities who have earned millions from and for the networks. (Vanity Fair magazine even reported that NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke had spoken hypothetically with Trump about continuingThe Apprentice from the White House.) Moderating the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 is NBC anchorman Lester Holt, a nice and competent fellow, but facing the same pressure as his fellow teammate Matt Lauer to not offend their once-and-possibly-future NBC star Donald Trump.

And remember that Anderson Cooper of Time-Warner’s CNN, the all-Trump-all-the-time network, and Martha Raddatz of Disney’s ABC News will anchor the second presidential debate (to her credit, Raddatz did a good job during the 2012 vice presidential debate) — and that the final, crucial close encounter between Trump and Clinton will be moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox, the very “news organization” that joined with Donald Trump to gleefully spread the Big Lie of Birtherism that served Trump so well with free publicity (and Fox so well with ratings) and that Trump now conveniently and hypocritically repents.

We wait breathlessly to see if during that debate Wallace inquires of Trump: “Did you really believe that lying about Barack Obama’s birth was good for the country?” And: “What is your source for saying Hillary Clinton started the rumor that Obama was not born in America?” And: “How do we know you won’t change your mind again and raise further doubts about whether the president is an American?” And — to pick up on a suggestion from The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who has been reporting on Trump’s charitable giving — or lack thereof: “Mr. Trump, will you now follow through on your promise to donate $5 million to charity once you were given proof that President Obama was born in the United States? What charity do you have in mind? One of your own, perhaps?”

Wallace has already admitted he is in no position to hold Trump accountable for the lies he tells in the “debate” — that “it’s not my job” to fact check either Trump or Clinton during the course of their appearance with him. That should be pleasing to Roger Ailes, who was fired as head of the Fox News empire for scandalous sexist behavior but who is now giving Trump debate tips. Wallace is on record saying how much he admired and loved Ailes, to whom he owes his stardom at Fox — “The best boss I’ve had in almost a half a century in journalism,” Wallace said.

Such conflicts of interest at the core of the debates reminds us of what Woody Allen said back in one of his earlier, funnier films — that the whole thing is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. And why are we so complacent about the hijacking of our political process — that it has descended to this level where the two parties and the media giants pick as the only surrogates of the American people the minions of an oligarchic media riddled with cronyism and conflicts of interest?

So yes, scrap the debates as they are and rebuild. Even with a few days left until the first one there’s time to call everyone together, announce that our democracy deserves better and change the rules.

John Donvan of ABC News, moderator of public broadcasting’s excellent Intelligence Squared US debates, has been making the media rounds urging that the debate format be changed to Oxford rules — to formally argue resolutions like “Resolved: The United States Should Withdraw from NATO,” in which the candidates would make brief opening and closing statements and in the time remaining question one another about the issue at hand, under strict time guidelines At Change.org, 60,000 have signed a petition urging this be done. You have to wonder what would happen if those 60,000 and more turned up outside the first debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26, exercising their constitutional right of assembly and demanding, not just urging, this better way.

Or why not put the League of Women Voters back in charge, with just the two candidates and a ruthless timekeeper on the stage insisting that they keep to stringent time limits and behave like human beings? If they don’t, on their heads be it. The timekeeper could even pull the plug early if things got out of hand.

Which brings us to the #1 Question: How can anyone keep Trump in bounds? He makes up the rules as he goes along. He is a pathological liar and overweening narcissist who, as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo reminds us in a chilling take on the man, has more than once hinted at the murder of Hillary Clinton. Says the astute Marshall:

“The salient fact about Trump isn’t his cruelty or penchant for aggression and violence. It’s his inability to control urges and drives most people gain control over very early in life. There are plenty of sadists and sociopaths in the world. They’re not remarkable. The scariest have a high degree of impulse control (iciness) which allows them to inflict pain on others when no one is looking or when they will pay no price for doing so. What is true with Trump is what every critic has been saying for a year: the most obvious and contrived provocation can goad this thin-skinned charlatan into a wild outburst. He’s a 70-year-old man with children and grandchildren and he has no self-control.”
Does anyone really believe a candidate so unstable can or will engage in serious debate? And if our first line of defense against his volcanic lies — journalists supposedly committed to truth — crumbles, how will we ever clean up the contamination?

Something’s got to give. We can’t go on like this. We can no longer leave the electoral process to the two parties or the media conglomerates with whom they’re in cahoots. The stakes are too high.

BILL MOYERS

MANAGING EDITOR

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & 
Company and BillMoyers.com.

MICHAEL WINSHIP

SENIOR WRITER

Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior 
writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, and 
a former senior writing fellow at the policy and 
advocacy group Demos. Follow him on Twitter 





Saturday, September 24, 2016

debating Trump

Good luck on the first "debate" with Donald Trump on Monday, Hillary. You're going to need it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Toyota ShareLunker

A shout out to Toyota for 31 years of funding the Toyota ShareLunker program. I wonder if I will ever join that elite group of anglers?


How to Enter a Lunker

If your fish meets the requirements listed below, call (903) 681-0550.
  1. The program is limited to largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more.
  2. Entries are accepted October 1 through April 30.
  3. The fish must be legally caught in Texas waters.
  4. Fish must be weighed on certified or legal-for-trade scales. Click here for assistance in finding scales, or visit our list of ShareLunker Weigh and Holding Stations. Certified scales are scales that have been certified as accurate by the Texas Department of Agriculture, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) or a commercial scales calibration company.
  5. Call TPWD as soon as possible with your name, where the fish is located, a telephone number where you can be reached and when and where you caught the fish. Be sure to include your area code when leaving a message on the pager. A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department representative will respond within 12 hours.
  6. TPWD staff will be solely responsible for accepting a fish into the program based on the expectation that the fish will be able to survive and spawn. Fish held at Weigh and Holding Stations are not officially entered into the ShareLunker program until accepted by a TPWD representative.
  7. The angler must sign a release absolving all sponsors, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees of any liability resulting from the loss or death of the fish.

Benefits of Participation

The ShareLunker will be returned to the angler for live release, or the angler may donate it permanently to the program. Either way, the angler receives a fiberglass replica of the catch made by Lake Fork Taxidermy, ShareLunker clothing, and recognition at an annual awards banquet held at TFFC. In addition, the Texas resident catching the largest entry of the season is awarded a lifetime fishing license.


Visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife website for more.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

don't talk to cops

Flashback to 2008 and a talk by James Duane, a former defense attorney and professor at Regent Law School, who tells us you should NEVER agree to be interviewed by the police. 

"I want a lawyer" over and over until they shut up and you get a lawyer. I'm not sure how relevant this is in today's climate of police seemingly shooting first and asking questions later, but it's good advice to anyone who comes in contact with the police, without bullets.

I'm pretty sure it's ok though, to say "Good Morning" or something innocuous like that if you happen to see a policeman somewhere. Just no interviews!


and here's the piece I saw on Facebook lately that prompted this: a piece on Vice titled "A Law Professor Explains Why You Should Never Talk to Police."




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

the fuck is wrong with you?

I've been wondering if this was going to happen: if journalists and others would get so fed up with Trump and his no-nothing supporters that they would just start going OFF on the guy and his minions. 

It's starting. I expect to see a whole lot more like this in the near-future. Not that it will change anyone's mind....

Drew Magary wants a word with anyone who's about to be on the wrong side of history.

by Drew Magary of GQ 
Earlier this week, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold uncovered yet another Donald Trump scam job, in which he used over $250,000 in charitable donations to help pay off his legal bills. And, because this is Trump, that sordid (and almost certainly illegal) bit of money laundering is just ONE despicable detail of the story. There are many more, including Trump’s club trying to welch on a $1 million hole-in-one payout (out of all of Trump’s bad qualities, his steadfast refusal to pay people what he owes them, while bragging about it, is the most enraging), along with the old bit about Trump blithely ignoring local ordinances so he could put a big, dipshit flagpole up at the Mar-A-Lago club, with his lawyers stating—with a straight face—that a smaller flag “would fail to appropriately express the magnitude of Donald J. Trump’s . . . patriotism” (NOTE: Until recently, Trump didn’t know what the stripes on the flag symbolized).
None of this is surprising, of course. Trump is a liar and a crook, and he commits abominable acts at such a frenetic pace that they get lost in the fury surrounding whatever horrible thing he does next. Keith Olbermann needed over 17 minutes on this site just to list a fraction of the atrocities Trump has staged during election season, and he’s gonna need 17 more minutes to cover what happens between now and Election Day. Remember when Trump said he would get rid of food regulations? That was Thursday.
Regardless, in the end, people are still gonna vote for this man. Maybe not enough to get him elected, but still: it’ll be in the tens of millions. (Note to the people causing the polls to fluctuate: What the fuck is wrong with you? I gotta meet the five percent of people who saw Hillary come down with pneumonia and were like, “Forget her, gimme the dictator with dryer lint hair.”) Nothing that Trump says, no damning piece of Trump reportage, and certainly no opinion piece like this one will stop his voters from pulling the lever. Nor will anything stop Trump from being the officious, braindead goon that he is. He will never answer for his crimes, and there’s a frighteningly large portion of the electorate that will always love him for that.

And so I’d just like to say to that portion of the electorate: Fuck you. No, seriously. Go fuck yourselves. I’m not gonna waste any more time trying to convince you that you’re about to do something you’ll regret forever. I’m not gonna show you old clips of Trump saying rotten things. I’m not gonna try to ANNIHILATE Trump by showing you records of his hypocrisy and greed. I’m not gonna link to a John Oliver clip and be like, “THIS. So much this.” Nothing’s gonna take down Trump at this point, so I’m not gonna bother. No no, this post is for ME. I am preaching to the sad little choir in my soul here.

Because while Trump is a miserable bastard, YOU are the people who have handed him the bullhorn. YOU are the people willing to embarrass this nation and put it on the brink of economic ruin all because you wanna throw an electoral hissy fit. YOU are the people who want to revolutionize the way America does business by voting for its worst businessman, a disgusting neon pig who only makes money when he causes problems for other people instead of solving them. YOU are the thin-skinned yokels who clutch your bandoliers whenever someone hurls the mildest of slurs at you (“deplorables”), while cheering Trump on as he leaves a bonfire of truly hateful invective everywhere he goes. YOU are the people willing to overlook the fact that Trump is an unqualified, ignorant sociopath because DURRRR HILLARY IS BAD TOO DURRRR.
You know what? No, she’s not. She’s fine. I lived through one Clinton, and I can live through another. My reasons for hating Trump are better than your reasons for hating Hillary. Show me all the arguments against her you like. You guys don’t give a shit about facts and research when it comes to Trump, so I’m not gonna give a shit about whatever clumsy meme you cook up to explain why she did Benghazi. Nope. Sorry. Fuck your arguments, and fuck you. Trump has shown no respect for anyone, so I don’t see why you deserve any either. Whatever mildly frustrating centrist liberal bureaucracy that Hillary presides over will be fine compared to the spray tan mushroom cloud that would arise all because YOU thought Trump was such a brave, un-PC dickhead to everyone within shouting distance.
Trump is human waste. He is the worst of America stuffed into a nacho cheese casing, and he is emblematic of the kind of arrogant, flag-waving, trashy, racist moron that the rest of us have to DRAG kicking and screaming into the 21st century: Cliven Bundy, Sean Hannity, Kim Davis, and on and on and on. Trump voters are the people who have spent the past decade or so voting insipid obstructionists into office, sending death threats to anyone who even mentions the idea of gun control, demanding 100% tax cuts on millions of dollars they can only daydream about making, and getting suckered in by any Oil Party candidate waving a NO GAYS flag. Fuck them. These are needy hillbilly loons who are just as starved for attention as Trump himself. And voting for Trump is their way of emulating him, of saying FUCK YOU to everyone else as a mission statement, with no regard for the fallout.
The old saw is that people get the politicians they deserve, and I’ll be crestfallen if Trump wins and proves this to be true once more. If you vote for him, you’re not making America great again. You are killing it. You are telling the world that America isn’t worth it. You are telling the world that all of our big talk about freedom and unity and ideals is just a load of shit, and that you would prefer a smoldering dystopia where freedom is just a flimsy cover for evildoing, led by a man who believes that strength is measured only in killing people. You are handing the most important job on Earth to Napoleon from Animal Farm. And you are revealing your breathtaking ignorance to everyone except for yourself. I can’t believe you can’t see this. I want you to see this. I wanna shine a big fucking light in your face and scream at you that Trump isn’t even qualified to be human, much less President. How are you gonna change the system if you elect some corrupt idiot who has no clue how to DO IT, huh? Can’t you see this? Haven’t you heard this asshole talk? THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?
But I already know that’s a futile effort. So fuck you, and fuck the GOP leaders who are too chickenshit to stand up to you. I’m not gonna wish deportation or imprisonment or some kind of fantastical hyperbolic death upon you. I’m not gonna ask for a wall to be built on the Mason-Dixon line. No no, I think you people deserve the EXACT same fate as Trump himself, and that is to lose, badly. That’s what should happen to you. You and your hamburger puppet leader deserve to live the rest of your days arm-in-arm in disgrace, branded as losers for eternity. Because that’s what you are.
Drew Magary is a GQ correspondent and author, most recently of "The Hike."

Original.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

evil Bible verses

It's always worthwhile to point out the bullshit that permeates the Bible. Jaclyn Glenn does a pretty good job of it while being visited by Lord Satan.

The Daily Puppy

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