Friday, June 24, 2016

Voting on Principle is Screwing Yourself

Britain has voted to leave the European Union, and, well, some people have regrets. That happens when your economy goes in the tank overnight, and you're looking at the prospect of losing the last vestiges of your once vast empire...
“I think there have been a lot of reluctant Brexiters around, people who voted leave thinking it wouldn’t happen but they’d be able to vent and to tell all their friends at dinner parties they’d done it,” said one Tory minister.
“He thought what all those reluctant Brexiters thought: it would be a vote for remain, he would be seen as having stood up for a principle.” 
Welp. Those  people who voted "on principle?" Well... this is what they're saying less than 24 hours after voting to leave:
(Of course, many of those people who voted to leave might not have even known what the E.U. was.)

It's not a great sign when mere hours after declaring victory, the leaders behind the Brexit movement are suddenly, well, backtracking on their promises:
 and looking horrifically depressed:

These were the WINNERS!!!!!!
Remember kids, voting on principle instead of voting for your best interests is a good way to screw yourself!

(Just something to keep in mind in case a big vote is coming up and you want to make some principled stand instead of doing what's best for your country.)

The Brexit Won't End The World; Will Trump?

I had a moment of panic tonight, when I read reports about the Brexit vote. I never imagined Britain would actually vote to leave. I was not prepared, despite the close polls.

I guess after that young MP got murdered by a wacko Britain First guy, I figured people wouldn't want to vote on the same side as a xenophobic domestic terrorist. But Britain was so afraid of being attacked by immigrants that they decided to attack themselves first.

Their currency is currently collapsing. No one knows whether you'll ever be able to buy tea and crumpets in Brussels anymore. Even Game of Thrones, GAME OF THRONES!!! will probably never film its scenes in Northern Ireland again (but where will Yara and Theon call home?).

What's worse, markets everywhere are crashing. That means your... Well,  everyone's, investments will drop considerably in value. You will be worth less tomorrow because of some racist British guy.

And the bottom could be really low. We're bound to see Northern Ireland and Scotland (and possibly other territories--like Gibraltar) make their own Brexits, leaving England behind. That would send markets tumbling further.

So yeah, I was flipping out. About to write an email to my investment advisor... SELL SELL SELL! But then I remembered something I read, a truism preached by Ben Graham and Warren Buffet. I can't be a slave to "Mr. Market." He can offer me $20 for my shares in a company one day and $5 the next. Yeah, the price someone will pay for my investments will drop... For now. But if the things I've invested in are solid, those pieces of companies and properties--they will still be solid no matter what Mr. Market offers. They won't disappear. New deals will be cut, commerce will resume. It may take a while, especially in this political climate. But we'll get most of the value back with time if people do what's in their best interest and don't do things that will sell their investments short.

But... Will people do what's in their best interest? Panic tends to make us do things that hurt ourselves. And make no mistake, the Brits will suffer for this, that's clear by the market's reaction.

There's a lot of panic in the United States right now too, obviously. People so scared of Mexicans and Muslims that they want to elect a mealy tomato (sorry, that's insulting to tomatoes) who vows to kick those immigrants out, keep them out, and hey, maybe send Muslim citizens to some sort of secret "summer camp."

The blog FiveThirtyEight, in trying to explain the Brexit and its impact on the EU, used the United States as a point of comparison:
Imagine that the states of the Northeastern U.S. — New York and New Jersey, plus New England — don’t like the outcome of November’s election (not that far-fetched!) and decide they would rather split off on their own. After all, the Northeast is culturally different from the rest of the U.S., it has the most prestigious universities and the dominant financial capital, and it pays far more in taxes than it gets back in benefits. Why should people there let leaders they didn’t vote for impose policies they dislike?
Now, this is really getting eerie and makes me wish I hadn't slacked off writing my novel. But in the story I envisioned, New Jersey and New York DO secede. The President (elected on a nationalist platform) announces a new policy of "Discernment," where Muslims are required to report to centers where they will undergo interrogation and investigation to establish their loyalty to the U.S. (You could see Trump proposing this!) New York and New Jersey immediately refuse to contribute their tax receipts to the federal government and declare they will not enforce or cooperate with the order. Troops are sent in to make sure they do, some shots get fired, and the states officially secede. The independent nation of New New Amsterdam is short lived, however, as federal troops arrest the Jersey governor (not Chris Christie, in my book) and New York gets in line under a Vichy-like regime puppet-mastered by Washington.

I honestly thought the plot was, perhaps, too complex and unrealistic. But now? Our country is panicking just as bad as the Brits, and its easy to see how some may be ready to break it all up too.

We've got to remember something. We haven't just invested in some invisible concept called America, that is worth $20 one day and $5 the next. We bought into something real. The same land our parents bought into, and those first generations of immigrants: from those who crossed a land bridge from Siberia to follow wild game, to those who crossed an ocean to flee famine, war, and hate. America is something real--houses built and businesses grown and yeah, even cars parked on the Moon. We bought into a land built by people who had seen enough of the misery people make for one another and wanted to lift their families up. That America is still here, despite what some will say, despite its flaws. America doesn't need to be "great again."  It is great. It always was. Now is not the time to panic. Now is not the time to sell.

Some people want us to. Because it benefits them when things fall apart. One of those opportunists cheered on the Brexit, knowing full well it would launch a recession. He's also cheered on other policies that will lower us in the eyes of the world, wither away our perceived value, make us forget how great we are with vague promises of how great we'll be.

Donald Trump wants to buy us for $5.

Don't sell low. That's how people lose everything.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The United States of Guns & Ammo

I was watching Rachel Maddow the other night, and she made at least one great point about gun control regulation.

The NRA doesn't want a watch list used to prevent somebody from getting a gun. They say the government could just put anyone it damn well pleased on that watch list--terrorist or not--and deny that person a weapon.

So Maddow suggested--and I'm paraphrasing--"Ok, so how about the FBI receives an alert any time someone on the watch list buys a gun?" This wingnut who murdered 50 human beings bought his gun 12 days before the massacre. What if the FBI could have gotten a text (or a notification!) and checked-in sometime throughout those 12 days? Given this guy a second look?

Would a limited bill like that at least win over the Reasonable Republican(s)?

It seems we might find out soon. After one of the longest filibusters in U.S. history, it seems Republicans in Congress are at least willing to put such a measure to a vote.

Maybe that still comes too close to spooky scary Minority Report-esque precognition for an organization as paranoid as the NRA to consider.

You either "violate" the "2nd amendment," or the 4th amendment, against unwarranted searches. In any case, it's a sad new low we've sunk to as a people if the best we can do after even more unnecessary bloodshed is say, "We'd still give him the gun, but we'd watch him!"

My "Middle Ground For Gun Control?" article reads like a comedy sketch right now. My satirical short play feels like it could happen somewhere in America tomorrow. Strange how time changes things. My occasional co-blogger, Robbie Republican, seems to be busy advising Donald Trump.

Welcome to the United States of Guns & Ammo, bought and paid for by the NRA.

Is there reason to hope that one day, we'll be able to keep guns out of the hands of murderers? Evan Wolfson seems to believe. Since 1983, he was at the forefront of the movement urging the government to recognize same sex marriages. Through a systematic offensive that engaged in debate on all levels of American political discourse, the goals of the gay community were finally realized in last June's Supreme Court decision.

The same strategy can work for sensible gun control, says Wolfson. "You never say you can’t do it. You never say it can’t happen. You never the give the opposition the satisfaction of walking way from the fight. You always have to be creating space for the decision-makers to rise to fairness, and to not have an excuse for inaction."

One key difference between the fight for gay rights and the fight for wackos not to get guns... Americans weren't getting slaughtered in the meantime.

"We will continue the pressure, and we will mobilize," Wolfson says. "Meanwhile, there is a cumulative effect. And if it didn’t crest after Newtown, it will keep accumulating."

How many lives will it take?

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Hillary Beat Bernie I Guess. So Let's Get Along.

Welp, this will have a few Bernie supporters claiming the media's in the bag for Hillary.

I know it's math and Hillary will get the pledged delegates she needs to win tomorrow regardless of who wins the state, but the AP announcing Hillary's win the day before the California primaries has gotta seem like an insult... sorry, conspiracy... to Bernie supporters.

To Hillary's credit, her first statement was one of humility and reserve:

To Hillary's detriment, a fundraising email sent out by her staff contains images labeled with the words, "Secret Win."

That'll get some conspiracy theories smokin'.

Of course, the AP article isn't exactly something that helps Hillary. In fact, it very well could play into Bernie's hands-- Hillary supporters, thinking she's a sure thing, might do their hair or learn to play glockenspiel instead of voting in tomorrow's as-it-turns-out-not-really-crucial Primary elections. Bernie could, as a result, gain ground on Hillary or perhaps eke out a slightly larger margin of victory.

None of that will change the fact that Hillary will receive the pledged delegates she needs tomorrow (added to the superdelegates the AP says have committed to her) to reach the magic Primary-clinching number of 2,383 delegates. Bernie's campaign rightly points out that superdelegates can change their minds before the convention, and that 400 made up their mind before the Primary campaign even began. But that ignores the fact that those 400 who went all-in for Hillary at the very beginning are most likely among her biggest supporters, who will never change their minds. And unless you flip the vast majority of superdelegates (not just some), Bernie's still going to be behind.

So Bernie supporters, I feel you. I know this seems unfair as shit and rigged as hell. But if that's your reaction to today's headlines, it's good preparation for when the official nomination is declared, possibly Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, or on convention day. And that means it's a good time right now for all of us to consider what we do next. 

Hilldawgs gotta open their hearts and minds to the powerful needs and desires of a young, frustrated, progressive movement that deserves to be taken seriously. And Berniebroskies gotta reckon that Hillary is far more likely to represent their interests than a megalomaniac manchild who, at best, will nominate a wildly conservative supreme court justice who strips away our civil liberties, or at worst, will seriously endanger this country's safety.

Otherwise, no one is gonna be liking any of the headlines that come next...

Divided, we lose.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bloomberg Writer Says Bernie Will Turn Us Into Venezuela

Bernie's "socialism," it should be noted, is not the same as Venezuela's.

If you're a fan of socialism and Bernie Sanders, you're not going to like what Noah Smith has to say about the crisis in Venezuela and how it can happen here:
"When center-left thinkers like Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong tried to restrain the excesses of economists who were over-hyping Bernie Sanders’ economic policy program, many leftists accused them of "hippie-punching,” and claimed that their sensible approach would play into the hands of plutocrats.
But these criticisms are misplaced, and Venezuela shows why. The center-left is the essential bulwark against the kind of aggressive policy mistakes that have doomed dozens of socialist revolutions to dysfunction and collapse. The historically successful approach to economic reform is to “cross the river by feeling the stones” -- a phrase coined by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who undid much of the economic damage done by his predecessors. Gradual reform, not revolution, is a proven winner when it comes to improving the lives of society’s least fortunate."
Methinks even with a Sanders electoral victory, the chances of a socialist revolution happening in the U.S. are about zero, so we should be safe from becoming Venezuela, for now at least.

But I guess, here we're getting a peek into what Trump's line of attack against Bernie could be. Someone trademark the "Bernie Chavez" nickname now.

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