All things political. If you are reading this, you are doing something political. If you talk to someone about this later, you are doing something political. Basically anything that involves another person is probably going to be political as well as social. So yes. What I’m saying is that sex is political and dinner is political. So much for avoiding politics during dinner. Try to enjoy both activities anyway.
When Bundy declared his unwillingness to acknowledge the federal government, we should have went in there and took everything from him and his family and killed every single adult that took up arms against the United States government. If we had done that, we’d be in a different place right now.
I don’t know if it would have been a better or worse place, but with Bundy’s sovereign movement crushed into dust, his ranch auctioned to the highest bidder, his family dead or penniless and homeless, there would have been no Trump presidency. There would not be a world-wide retrenchment of White Nationalism.
Instead of doing that, the government paused before using force. Right or wrong, the 76 dead Branch Davidians caused the government to pause before doing what it should have done, and because of that we find ourselves where we are now.
The government is not required to be pacifist in order to be effective, it is only required to be just in its use of force. Justice now requires that White Nationalism be as determinedly destroyed as Black Nationalism and black rights, minority rights, have been destroyed since the creation of the United States. White Nationalism should have died with the Confederacy in 1865. It is long past time we killed the zombie that the Confederacy left behind.
One way to look at it is this – a small minority now has the ability to hijack public health policy by waging their own shadow campaign on social media. They are accountable to no one. They can force the expenditure of limited public health dollars just to minimize the effect of their own campaigns. This is also an asymmetric campaign, because it is much easier to spread fear than proper information. At the very least it is reasonable to filter out their harmful misinformation from private platforms. Panels of experts can be used to provide the filter, and fair processes can be made available for appeals. At the very least these options need to be explored.
This article was about Gardasil. The vaccination worked, but social conservatives hated it because it gave women permission to be promiscuous. Think about what that means. They wanted people to suffer and die from a preventable cancer rather than vaccinate them against the cause of that cancer on the grounds that sex outside of marriage is bad and should be discouraged. They used vaccine fear to wage a war against this vaccine, and this isn’t even the first time, nor was it the last.
That is the Conservative-Republican-Trumpist line now about the coronavirus vaccine:
Oh, we’re not anti-vax. We just don’t think vaccines work.
…Strangely, it is the same argument they offer about their obvious racism. What their resistance is about now is still religion. Their religion of conservatism. Their invented Republican Jesus, the one who loves capitalism and profit more than he does the poor and the sick. Their belief that government can’t do anything good in the world.
I’ve heard this pushback from dozens of sources now. They just object to this one vaccination, not the general idea that vaccinations work. Either the science is real, or it isn’t. Either we have stopped Small Pox, Polio, etcetera through vaccination, or the entire business is a sham. A con job. Pick one side people, because it can’t be both sides at the same time. The vaccine works. It works and you should get it.
This was originally posted as a quote on January 11, 202o, I have advanced and appended the quote with the current coronavirus crap.
The Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision made clear that the government could mandate vaccination, arguing that collective good sometimes outweighs individual rights. But the line between the two is blurry. More than two decades after Jacobson’s case, the Court used the same logic in another decision, one the historian Michael Willrich says is among the “scariest U.S. Supreme Court decisions of all time.”
The episode of The Experiment that is embedded above illustrates how easily we can be manipulated into thinking something that is good for us is bad, and it illustrates that the converse is also true. It is illegal to refuse vaccination when that vaccination is mandated by government, that is a basic public health criteria. This isn’t about you and your vaccine fears anymore than it is about me and mine. this is about keeping everyone in the population as healthy as we can, and the way to do that is to make sure that we achieve and maintain herd immunity through vaccination for easily communicable diseases.
This is why you should get your influenza vaccination as well as all the other vaccinations on the list of required vaccinations. Get them because you care about the people around you more than you care for yourself. If you can’t find it in yourself to do it for other people, do it so that you don’t get sick from an easily preventable disease. Wish for a vaccination for every communicable disease that you might casually be exposed to so that you don’t die from that disease, either (I see you hiding over there, Malaria) I do, and I hate needles more than anything else I encounter in day to day life.
I have little doubt that Stonekettle is right in the article embedded above. There is too much bullshit out there circulating for this to not be something that Russia is trying to seed throughout the United States in order to weaken us. That other shoe will drop eventually (if we can’t just take past actions as proof in and of itself) and then we’ll know for sure who is spreading the anti-vaccination bullshit this time around aside from the anti-vax idiots in our midst.
There should be a mandate to get the COVID vaccine just as there is for all the other vaccinations we undergo. The influenza vaccination should be mandated as well. What form that mandate takes is the only real question left to answer. Do we just pass a law making refusing a vaccination a crime again, or do we try to nudge people in the direction of doing the right thing without holding guns to their head to get them to do it? Americans can’t seem to get away from doing everything that they can at the point of a gun. Maybe we should try something different for once.
Rumor has it that the twice impeached disgraced former president Trump is planning on starting his own social network since his deplorable behavior got him kicked off every online platform he doesn’t own.
Anti-Trumpists are busy trying to imagine correct names for his new service. Names that are allusions to Trump’s treasured voter base, White Nationalists. Most of their attempts to name this proposed service are depressingly predictable.
The service will be called Trump, obviously. Everything the guy does has his name on it, usually in gold capital letters. The service will end up going the same way that all of Trump’s other businesses have gone. Just like Trump streaks and Trump vodka and Trump casinos this business will also fail. Calling the network Trump is all that needs to be done in order to correctly name the disservice it will attempt to perform before it goes out of business.
Let’s be honest here. Coding is hard work that people legitimately expect to be paid for. Trump doesn’t do hard work or pay for things you do for him, so the chances that he can keep contractors on the project long enough to even have it see the light of day is an iffy prospect. Never mind that his floating this particular turd of an idea in the news pool is probably about as real as any of the other bullshit he’s floated over the last fifty years.
…Which means he’ll probably deny even suggesting it a few days from now.
What is more important to be about change as a society; changed individuals or a changed social structure? The answer to that is very simple because, if you don’t start out with individuals who are determined to change a thing, you will never get a political consensus.
The conundrum of the problem we now face appears when the next election rolls around. No Trumpist can be allowed to regain power. Not in 2022, not in 2024, not ever. They will never surrender power again, so it would be senseless to ever let them have it again. Who is anti-democratic when that situation occurs? The people who know the other side won’t surrender power, or the people who know the other side doesn’t merit power, because they won’t draw blood to keep it?
In order to head off this impasse, it becomes imperative that we break the calcification off of every state we, the people, control. Here. Now. Today. What we need to head off the Trumpists at the national level is a viable third party, fourth party, fifth party, or maybe no parties at all. There is a fresh thought to contemplate. Here in the United States we only allow two parties to compete unless we want to self-destruct the entire system.
This fact was proven to me over the course of the years I spent working in the Libertarian Party. We could get on the ballot here in Texas and in most other states, but none of our candidates ever made it into office because they were hobbled by the system that requires members of the two major parties to win elections at anything above the local level. In the end, the knowledge that the candidate would be hobbled without party support at the national level, the active discrediting of candidates from outside the two party system that is present in any media coverage of election events meant that if the candidate didn’t have an R or a D in front of their name, they wouldn’t matter anyway.
It is also true that math itself defeats minor party candidates for high office. Game Theory has long established that plurality voting, winner takes all general elections between more than two candidates, yields the least favorable electoral outcomes. Game Theory essentially predicted that we would have the least favorite candidates in competition with each other at the end of the 2016 election. Does anyone doubt that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did not together represent the least favorite candidates in competition?
In Oklahoma you had to be a Republican or a Democrat to be on the ballot back when I was a libertarian. Oklahoma wasn’t the only state that so baldly proclaimed the primacy of the two major parties in the past, but they were the last holdout state that refused to concede that government endorsement of particular private parties establishes a monopoly on ideas which is a clear violation of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In 2020 Oklahoma was finally forced to admit that the Libertarian Party was a real party, twenty years after the LP had been on the ballot in the other 49 states pretty routinely. That is the pace at which political change has moved in the past in the United States, in all fifty states. That is the first thing we have to adjust, the pace of change.
Before the next election we must take apart and reassemble the election systems in 47 states. This is the first major imperative. Only California, Louisiana, and Washington conduct jungle (blanket) primaries, and jungle primaries are how to decouple party and plurality from the results in the general election; and we have to decouple both of those things from the general election results if we want to make democratic inclusion the goal of our election process. This has to be the goal because it can’t continue to be the race to the bottom that has dominated our politics since 1980.
We have functionally hit bottom now. When the power goes off in your house and stays off for three days, and the leaders of your state aren’t even slightly embarrassed by this event occurring, don’t even think to apologize for the deaths that occurred because of their negligence, your modern government has just moved back a thousand years in history. Without electricity there is no modern civilization. Without electricity there is nothing but the means of survival left to calculate, and that doesn’t take much ability in math to achieve.
So we have hit bottom, democratically, republic-ly. If we continue the two party monopoly, the duopoly, the Trumpists will reclaim the government in less than a decade and create a hereditary dictatorship to take the place of the democracy we’ve enjoyed since we were all born. The Republicans are openly adopting the methods of the White Nationalists who dominated politics in all the years leading up to the election of Richard Nixon. When Nixon invited the Southern Democrats into the Republican party, he set the party on the course it has been on ever since. Republicans win by excluding the votes of minorities and undesirables. They do this by wielding law enforcement as a club, to turn potential voters into undesirable felons who can be excluded at the ballot box. They do this by stacking and packing, gerrymandering districts so as to render their opposition effectless.
This was done to the Democratic party in Texas more than a decade ago, and we have yet to emerge as a viable state-wide party since that time because of the gerrymandering and the division that it forces on political entities that should naturally be united. Austin is effectively without a national voice because Austin doesn’t have a set of representatives that speak for it. That is what Greg Abbott’s Republicans think of opposition to their unquestioned rule in Texas.
Presidential dictatorship has been the trend for decades, and it became obvious in the Bush vs. Clinton battles that seemed preordained from the perspective that the media took in 2016. It had to be Bush vs. Clinton in the eyes of the media because those were the two family names that were most important to politics, the two names that everyone knew. The Trumpists have now confirmed that this is where they think US politics is headed, as they continue to back their loser president even as his crimes go public, and his transparent coup attempt is revealed to be exactly what it seemed to be at the time. They think coups are fine as long as they are the ones that have power afterwards. This is a complete abandonment of everything our country has meant to ourselves and to the world at large since the founding of the United States.
Party is not family, and party shouldn’t even equate to cheering on your local sports team. Party will always be ideological, which is why party seems to be turning into religion for some people. Trumpists are overwhelmingly evangelical and salute their leader as a god-king. At CPAC this weekend, they had a golden calf made in the likeness of Donald Trump to worship right in the conference hall. These people seem incapable of understanding hypocrisy, irony, or tradition. They can’t be allowed to win an election ever again, and that means we have to break the country out of the binders that the duopoly put it in over the course of the last one hundred and twenty years, and we have to do it in less than a decade for it to be effective.
Jungle (blanket) primaries is where we have to start. Some form of the California model should be adopted in the 46 states who have yet to embrace this approach to winnowing the field of candidates, and any new states that we create over the next decade need to also embrace this approach. The top two vote getters will have, by definition, some form of a majority behind their candidacies.
Jungle primaries will break the stranglehold of there being two parties and only two parties represented in the system and the worst of those two parties coming out on top. Expanding jungle primaries will continue the process of opening the door to new ideas being able to be incorporated directly into the systems we govern with without requiring the leadership in a particular party to endorse those ideas.
What I am interested in is seeing the government act on the best ideas; and the only way to get the best ideas to rise to the top of the structure and get acted upon is to engage the wisdom of the crowd. Notice that I say best ideas and not correct ideas? Correct is subjective. Best is, or can be, objectively defined. This should not be a right/left issue or a conservative/liberal issue. This is an issue of good governance and only a fool or an authoritarian would want to make sure that the country continues to have bad governance through the enactment of bad ideas. This is why the jungle/blanket primary is the first thing we need to see established, nationally. It will take away the power that enables Trump because his ideas are demonstrably very bad and very unpopular.
Let us not abandon representative democracy and one person one vote. Not after all these decades of work that we have put into this cause. Let us continue the work that the framers phrased as creating a more perfect union.
This is the story of a political party that is right now this very moment, OPENLY rushing to pass election reform legislation in nearly every state they control, making it difficult or impossible for people of color to vote, to be actively part of this Republic.
there were many factors that went into creating the energy disaster with which Texans are now dealing. But at least in one respect, the problems in Texas are a product of an approach to the energy business that Lone Star State companies like Enron pursued at the end of the 20th century.
Ken Lay was George Bush’s best friend, back when George Bush was governor of Texas. That was what Ken Lay would tell you, if he was still alive today. The story is more slanted now that Ken Lay has been convicted of felony crimes and his flagship business, Enron, went bankrupt and took $40 billion dollars and the fortunes of thousands with it. Also, Ken Lay is conveniently dead of natural causes, so it is easy to blame him for all of the greed that was behind the drive to deregulate the energy sector in the United States.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (book) (movie)
It is because of Ken Lay’s friendship with Governor and then President Bush that the Texas and California electrical grids ended up being the mess that they are today. It’s just taken longer for Texas’ grid to fall apart than it did California’s, which has been on the ropes since Enron arranged for it to start suffering rolling blackouts back at the turn of the century.
I watched/read The Smartest Guys in the Room when the movie/book came out back in 2005. The story itself was just another nail in the coffin of my belief in market solutions, the death of my libertarian delusions. Every time that the fraudsters finally convince someone in authority to deregulate, it doesn’t take long to prove that government regulation had been there for a very good reason after all. Enron bought energy companies and then created energy markets for their power to be sold on. That was what those regulations stood in the way of, huge profits on Wall Street.
One of the last acts of desperation in the failing business that Enron became after its meteoric rise on the stock market was to turn off power generation in California’s electrical market in order to drive up the price of electricity and put money in the pockets of Enron executives and traders. Enron created rolling blackouts on purpose in order to profit from the suffering of California citizens. One of the last acts of desperation of the Texas Public Utility Commision during the recent winter storm was to set the price of electricity high enough on the Texas market to inspire power generators to turn on their excess capacity and flood the Texas power grid in their time of need. It’s just too bad that there wasn’t any capacity to be had because the power generators hadn’t bothered to insure against freezing by weatherizing their supply systems. Just too bad that electric energy generators and their investors were more interested in profiting off of the suffering of Texas citizens than they were in spending money weatherizing against winter storms that they hoped would never show up, but still manage to show up about every ten years anyway.
Shares of Macquarie rose 3.4% in Sydney on Monday after the company raised its profit outlook. They are now down 2.8% over the past 12 months.
One customer told the Dallas Morning News that his electric bill for five days stood at $5,000, the amount he would normally pay for several years of power. Another told the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate that he had been charged more than $16,000 for February.
It is also too bad that Texas’ hostility to federal regulation caused it to seek an isolated grid through ERCOT, which meant that most of Texas went without power when it’s isolated grid went down and no one could send it power to keep it afloat. Unless you were lucky and lived around El Paso, which (along with Amarillo and the panhandle) are not under ERCOT and consequently only saw minor interruptions in service.
This is what happens when you make the essentials for survival into profit-driven commodities; commodities that no one can understand how to profit from unless they are scarce enough to drive demand over available supply. When there is more demand than there is supply of the essentials some people won’t survive. The death toll across Texas due to the winter storm and resulting power outages is still unknown but is likely to be well over 100 people, and a bank in Australia made 200 million off of those deaths.
Texas is misnamed. Texas (tejas) supposedly means friend or ally. Nothing could be further from the truth than seeing Texas as your friend or ally. That is the ploy of the confidence man, the demand to trust him even though he seems to be oilier than all get out. The Texas mascot should be the irresponsible teen who wants to shirk all the day long because he can. It should be the grasshopper that whiles the summer away instead of storing food for the winter. Like the grasshopper and the irresponsible teen, Texas is always unprepared for adversity because of these infantile behavior patterns. Texas is a great place to be young and healthy, because there are no worries about tomorrow here, and no requirement to save anything for that day of need. Texas is a horrible place to be old or sick in because there is no place to go when you reach your hour of need. No allowance for the slackers that we pretend to be fond of, but throw out in the cold the minute that things get tough.
The true beneficiary of Texas largesse is the corporate raider, the false priest, the con artist. Texas is made for thieves. Personal and corporate greed are rewarded here, rewarded more highly than any human virtue. Just look at Ken Lay. He understood what Texas was for. He rode that pony hard and put it up wet counting on not being there when the tax man came for his cut. He died a millionaire, of the diseases of old age he could have avoided if he had straightened up and flown right. Why bother? No one gets out of this life alive.
The Enron legacy is ERCOT and every other Texas boondoggle ever hatched. Every scheme that amounted to nothing more than stealing from public coffers and crafting a golden parachute for yourself. If we had those billions that Enron stole from us, that the deregulation scheme stole from us, we wouldn’t need to go without water or power, the average Austinite wouldn’t have to be out there hand-delivering necessities to people on the verge of death during a pandemic. This lunacy has to stop. The question is, will we pay attention long enough to make it stop?
By the time October of last year rolled around I had already stopped commenting on immigration stories anymore. It was just too painful, too hard to follow and pretend that any of this shit was normal, should be considered normal. I have long considered myself the brother of my hispanic friends. My father’s service station in our hometown in the middle of the great plains was staffed with hispanics, men with brown skin and Spanish surnames. Their children were my friends. They occupied the same social status that I had in school. Not athletic and not masculine in the traditional sense, I was never going to be first class when it came to social standing. I was always a misfit; and as a misfit, I tended to group with the minorities who were generally outcast everywhere I went.
Watching hispanics tormented as the other among us is something that makes me physically ill. I can’t do it, tolerate the inhumanity of tormentors, and I don’t understand people who can, much less the people committing the inhumanities that I’ve been forced to witness these last four years.
The Wife’s foster mother is a Tejano. She married a police officer in the small Texas town where they lived, and she considers herself a part of his social standing as a white law enforcement official in their small town. Being from a small Texas town it is almost a given that the two of them supported Donald Trump when he declared himself for office. The Wife and I tried to talk sense into both of them the few times we’ve visited with them over the last four years, but that effort was fruitless. The signed color photo with the bulbous orange face and fake hair hangs in a location of pride in their living room.
She supported Donald Trump even after she had to avoid detention and deportation from the country, when it was discovered that her birth certificate came from a hospital where it was known that birth certificates were forged. There was no doubt she was born in the country because her parents were not immigrants. They were Tejanos.
Her parents and their parents before them had simply lived in a Spanish speaking area of the state that had never acknowledged the United States absorbing their Mexican state after it was severed from the mother country, and that area had remained a backwater that eventually dried up and blew away because of its disconnection from the current reality in Texas, like a lot of places have done in different states over the years, as fortunes changed and trade changed and people changed or didn’t change.
But then Donald Trump and his White Nationalist agenda came along, and suddenly a person with brown skin who never had a reason to worry about being deported because she had never been out of the country had to face that reality even when she didn’t think of herself as Tejano anymore. She was a Texan and an American and why are you treating me like I was ever a Mexican? That was the reality that Stephen Miller created through the vehicle of Donald Trump and his accidental presidency.
…and that has been the United States that we have lived in for the last four years under Donald Trump’s almost dictatorship. The Wife’s foster mother supports the former president to this day as far as I know, and the immigration nightmare continues.
Through putting children in cages, pointing fingers at Barack Obama for putting children in cages (he didn’t. But he didn’t do enough, either) Letting these poor people languish and die from lack of care along the border. The lies about the border figured largely in the 2018 recapturing of the House of Representatives by the Democrats. Trump had gone too far and it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention that he was lying his ass off about immigrants. Then COVID happened and everything went to shit:
COVID spelled doom for Donald Trump. Anyone who follows politics should have understood this fact, but apparently a lot of people didn’t, including a lot of his supporters. Joe Biden won because he wasn’t Donald Trump and the United States wanted Joe Biden back in the White House, like it was when everything was better than it has been for the last four years.
Over the last year of COVID the immigration problem has just gotten worse. Now we have people trying to escape from disease as well as trying to escape from terrorism and poverty in their home countries. We have a different president but largely the same government, and everyone expects miracles right now. They expect miracles even when Texas has torpedoed Joe Biden’s lukewarm migration agenda that simply reverts to the Obama White House status quo of four years ago:
Texas thinks that’s going too far. We Texans apparently like being able to rough up anyone we don’t think belongs here and then send them back across the Mexican border whether they even immigrated from there or not. We push people back across the border and then say “What? His legs were fine when we dropped him off:”
So let me get this straight, CPB. You are saying they broke their own legs after you dropped them off across the border? Are you sure that is the story you want to stick with? What, exactly, are you trying to say?
This is the atmosphere that heralds the return of the god-king Donald Trump and his head White Nationalist Stephen Miller to the evangelical tent circus that Donald Trump has been fleecing suckers with since 2016:
When Beau says that Biden isn’t going to propose anything remotely close to being up to his standards, I’m right there with him. There isn’t any way that what I think justice for these people will look like legislatively will ever be proposed or make it through congress because congress doesn’t understand what its job is. That is the first point that needs addressing.
I don’t understand why the representatives who stood up and said “Biden didn’t win fairly” were even seated in Congress. Their credentials should have been rejected and their states should have been sanctioned until they managed to send representatives that were willing to work within the system as it has been created. If the 117th legislature had done this, policed their own bodies as they have the right to do, then the policies that Biden wants to pursue would be achievable because the states that don’t want to be part of the process would have no voice in the process.
Saying that immigrants can’t come here is an unenforceable position unless the people who want to keep the immigrants out are willing to kill them themselves; and if they do kill them then we have some nice murder charges that will fit them perfectly. Please step over here now, sir. The immigration issue is just the most visible of the festering sores on the body politic. Unless we get a Congress that is willing to do the work that needs to be done, there will not be an end to the sickness that is killing our country.
What would justice look like? Green cards for everyone with a clean background that wants to work. Let’s start there. Citizenship for every person who works here and doesn’t have citizenship anywhere else. If you work here, pay taxes here, have children here, you are an American. It is time we accepted this fact.
But justice goes deeper than just being humane to our immigrants. We need to acknowledge that poor people have the right to continue to live, not just the immigrants but every single American. We can’t very well expect Americans to care about immigrants when their country demonstrably doesn’t care about them, either. Those festering sores will kill our country sooner than the immigration problem will, and will sabotage any attempt to reform the immigration system if they aren’t dealt with at the same time.
Here is a baseline position to start from when it comes to immigration. How about we not let the White Nationalists that run Texas today set the terminology for the people they want to put in concentration camps or kick out of the country? The unaccompanied children who are the majority of immigrants who are showing up at the border; or if they aren’t the majority they are the ones that are causing the most trouble. Those are not migrants. They are refugees. They are asylum seekers. They are not drug smugglers or disease carriers or any one of the dozens of demonizing labels that are thrown out by the hateful governor of our state. They are children who have no one to turn to, and they are looking for family in the United States:
…even that hotbed of socialist dogma, NPR, can’t seem to stop parroting the hateful labels applied by people who want these children treated as criminals. Not migrants. Refugees. Asylum seekers. Children. The solution to the problem at the Southern border is going to take some actual thinking, some actual investment, and some actual work to enact. Work that the Republican leadership in Texas will not do correctly if it is left to them. They will fuck it up and the problem will get worse.
The crisis at the Southern border has been all over the news this week (March 22-26) There is just one or two problems inside the narrative that the Trumpists want to overwrite the actual problem at the border with. There is no crisis at the border at the same time as there has been a crisis at the border for as long as we have tried to stop migrants from moving back and forth across the United States / Mexican border. It is a crisis that we created, like so many of the crisis that we have artificially created:
The annual migration trend is completely within the bounds of prediction to anyone who is paying attention to the seasonal migration across the border. The only part of the increase that isn’t predicted is the increase in unaccompanied minors at the border, a challenge that was going to be presented to any president that succeeded Donald Trump. There is nothing that an administration that has only been in office for three months could have done to address the influx of children. Nothing.
The only people who could have addressed this problem are the Republican Senators who are currently, ridiculously, pretending to tour the border areas out of concern for the children that their president would have shamelessly sold to US families at a profit. They failed to do the job that existed for them then because their way to fix the problem was to let Trump do whatever horrible thing he wanted to do next in order to make us look more ruthless than the criminal gangs destroying Central American countries. Go back to Cancun, Ted. You can put on your creepy speedo and cruise the resort pool looking for children to abuse. Leave the suffering people at the border alone. They’ve already suffered enough.
Listen to this episode of Vox Conversations to get a real feel for the problem we are facing:
That Aarti Shahani feels betrayed by his father and the United States now is completely understandable. I would feel the same way were I to be walking in his shoes. El Paso relies on the metro area across the border just as certainly as those communities rely on El Paso. The way to solve the border problem is to let those people who live on the border tell us what they want done to make them feel more secure. It won’t be better, taller walls, that much is certain.
Nations that do not change, stagnate and die. Those that welcome new life and embrace new ideas, thrive.
It’s 1804. Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton but he’s still the vice president, runs out of town. Back, 1805, he’s in the chamber. He’s still dispensing advice in the Senate. And Burr says, you’re a great deliberative body but a really great chamber has a very clean rulebook and yours is a mess. And he singles out that previous question motion. They get rid of it in 1806, not because they wanted to create filibusters, right, not because they saw the great deliberative body of the Senate and they needed a right way to protect the rights of minorities. That rule was gone because Aaron Burr told them to get rid of it and it hadn’t been used yet.
The Senate isn’t a democratic body. It is a body created to ensure that states had a voice in the federal government. That is its reason for existing and that is why it is made up the way that it is. But that doesn’t mean that the rules that govern the Senate should be broken in such a way that it can’t get business done because the minority wants to roll around on the floor like a temperamental child that doesn’t get what it wants (Yes, Ted Cruz. I’m imagining you with chocolate smeared on your face and wearing an OshKosh jumper rolling on the Senate floor right now, destroying my fond memories of Green Eggs and Ham. Petulant. Small. Child. Ted Cruz) The Senate simply needs to restore the motion to call the previous question that still exists in the House rules and in the basic parliamentary rules that govern most legislative bodies (Robert’s Rules of Order) Striking that rule in the Senate is what has lead to the impasse of the filibuster.
It is amusing to me that the rule was originally struck because it was thought that Senators were too civilized to need to end debate with a vote since no Senator had ever refused to stop talking when it was clear that he was not convincing anyone. Had the original Senators known the future, known that John C. Calhoun would use the filibuster in defense of slavery to bring the United States to the brink of Civil War, that Mitch McConnell and his Republicans would use it to stop the Senate from being able to get anything done, they would have left the ability to call the previous question in place. If we could talk to them today they would probably marvel at our inability to simply set the filibuster aside as a bad idea that has long outlived its usefulness. They had just voted themselves as no longer subject to the King of England a few decades earlier. Don’t like the rules? Change the rules.
This was originally published as a quote from the episode of On the Media that tops the article, near the date when the episode released. Since this is a problem that we are still talking about four years later, I have moved it forward to today and added more of my thoughts on the subject, like I had originally intended to do when I set the quote aside to be published later, and then published even later after my thoughts evaporated.
…I think I got the most volume and some of the most varied feedback I’ve ever gotten for any post I’d ever written before. It ran the gamut from “this is easy to do and Facebook can’t seem to do it, so they must not care” or “Facebook is in bed with X group, their behavior demonstrates this.” to “Any attempt to moderate speech violates my freedom of speech.” When I queued up this episode, one of the first things that the guest says on mic is that she figured that the Facebook Supreme Court was just a way to get Facebook out of the crosshairs for making the decisions that need to be made, content-wise:
…and by the end of the episode I was where Jad was “we have to ban Facebook, don’t we?” But then I thought some more about the varied responses to the tests that were put forward to illustrate just how hard it is to make judgements about what is or isn’t acceptable on social media, and I started to realize that what Facebook will ultimately achieve, if it succeeds, is some form of internet protocol for allowing the greatest amount of speech possible without misleading the populace or allowing for the targeting of segments of the population. I wish them luck with their supreme court experiment. Hope it all works out.
Tangentially, there were two more episodes later in my podcast feed that dealt with the same conundrum. Speech, the freedom and limitations of: