Starting the New Year Badly and Well

By Thomas Neuburger (aka Gaius) Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

As we gear up for the full blast of the next new year, I want to offer a selection of items for your consideration. All are important, some are related, all show the kind of year we’re determined to have.

First, a bit of good news.

Correcting a Massive Injustice

This should have been done ages ago, and should have been promised by every pro-marijuana legalization presidential candidate in 2016.

Gov. Jay Inslee offers pardons for thousands with misdemeanor pot convictions

Under the plan, Washington state will pardon anyone who has an otherwise clean criminal record but with a sole conviction as an adult for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Gov. Jay Inslee will offer pardons to thousands of people with misdemeanor marijuana convictions, in an effort to help them move on from minor criminal records that can hinder housing and job prospects.

Under the plan, Inslee will pardon anyone who has an otherwise clean criminal record but with a sole conviction as an adult for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in Washington state. … “We shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal behavior in the state of Washington,” Inslee said[.]

Let me offer an analogy. Before the 1960s, the Catholic Church had declared that eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin, which, if unforgiven, would send you straight to hell. In 1966, the Church, in its infinite wisdom, reversed that stand, saying that eating meat on Friday would no longer by itself be cause for eternal damnation.

Imagine the scene in hell when that announcement takes place. What, one wonders, would go through the minds of those damned forever for committing this “sin” as they watched others do what they did with no consequences at all? If you were in hell for eating meat on Friday, what would you be thinking at that moment?

Now take yourself to an American prison, where millions languish for the “crime” of using recreational marijuana, as you watch these laws repealed in state after state. Imagine the cruelty of keeping these men and women in the hell that is America’s prison system.

Every pro-marijuana candidate in the U.S. must make it a corollary policy to release these people, with full pardons, immediately.

Hubristic Democrats Committing Suicide

In response to this: “Hours after Rep. Rashida Tlaib made headlines for being sworn in as one of the two first Muslim female members of Congress on Thursday (alongside Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar), she told a cheering crowd about her mission against Donald Trump: ‘Impeach the motherfucker.'”

Former Democratic leader (and ex-Congressman) Joe Crowley said this, as repeated and amplified by current NBC (and former pro-Clinton) reporter Andrea Mitchell:

This fire died as quickly soon after it was lit, but it burned brightly. The Bipartisan Washington Consensus has identified the new House members — Occasio-Cortez, Tlaib — as enemies, and leadership Democrats (and their media amplifiers) are leading the charge against them.

How is that good for the Democratic Party and their chances in 2020?

More Democrats Committing Suicide

Parsing the unparsable, Nancy Pelosi weighed in on Black Lives Matter:

“Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” are code for two very opposite movements. The first says, “Cops should stop murdering black people.” The second says, “Stop criticizing cops.” Pelosi either mindfully wants it both ways, or mindlessly doesn’t understand the difference.

I’ll bet black people though, who mainly vote Democratic, know the difference, and they may remember that difference in 2020.

By the way, “past grievances,” Ms. Pelosi?

Police change explanation — again — after killing black man they mistook for an active shooter

Alabama police have backtracked further from their claims about Emantic Bradford Jr., who was initially described as an active shooter after an officer killed him in a suburban Birmingham shopping mall on Thanksgiving evening.

In a regretful statement the next day, police said the actual gunman had apparently escaped the Riverchase Galleria — but still maintained that Bradford, 21, “was fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun” when an officer shot him in a corridor outside the JCPenney store.

In a third statement Monday, police raised doubts about whether Bradford even had his gun out when officers encountered him.

And so it goes.

Even More Dems Committing Suicide

The top priority for Democrats in the new Senate seems to be support for a bill, not to open the government, or do any of a dozen good things for this country, but to protect another country, Israel, from criticism by Americans:

U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in Midst of Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts

When each new Congress is gaveled into session, the chambers attach symbolic importance to the first piece of legislation to be considered. For that reason, it bears the lofty designation of H.R.1 in the House, and S.1 in the Senate.

In the newly controlled Democratic House, H.R.1 – meant to signal the new majority’s priorities – is an anti-corruption bill that combines election and campaign finance reform, strengthening of voting rights, and matching public funds for small-dollar candidates. …

But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered – S.1 – is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign-policy related measures, a main one of which is a provision, with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor, to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for AIPAC.

The bill, which punishes companies that take part in any boycott of Israel, could sweep up individuals as well, and is widely considered unconstitutional:

In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As the Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities which participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.

Punishment aimed at companies which choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net, because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity. That was the case with Texas elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi, who lost her job working with autistic and speech-impaired children in Austin because she refused to promise not to boycott goods produced in Israel and/or illegal Israeli settlements.

If it passes, it will be with Democrats’ — and Chuck Schumer’s — support:

With the seven Democratic co-sponsors, the bill would have the 60 votes it needs to overcome a filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. – who supported Sen. Cardin’s far more draconian bill of last year and is one of the Senate’s most reliable AIPAC loyalists – also plans to support the Rubio bill, rather than whip votes against it, sources working on the bill said. Schumer’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. [emphasis added]

Not the best look coming into the new year. Expect more stories like this.

Another Deadly Obesity Disease

This tale is indirectly about the food industry. Directly, it’s about a new disease — condition, actually — that affects obese American. It’s on the rise (as you’d expect), and it lurks undiagnosed. Usually, when it’s discovered, the only way to save the patient is with a liver transplant.

The $35 billion race to cure a silent killer that affects 30 million Americans

At the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, the liver transplant group is busy handling an onslaught of patients who have come from all over the country in hopes of a chance at life. For many, a liver transplant is their last hope, after being diagnosed with a deadly disease sweeping the nation at epic proportions. People crowd the unit and undergo scores of testing and evaluation in an effort to get on the hospital’s coveted transplant list. It’s a program with a 94 percent survival rate after liver transplant, one of the highest in the nation.

For many the culprit is a serious form of fatty liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, also known as NASH. An outgrowth of the obesity epidemic in the Western world and around the globe, it causes scarring and inflammation that can lead to liver cirrhosis, cardiac and lung complications, liver cancer and death. Yet few people know about it.

Across the United States, millions of people of all ages suffer from this silent killer that slowly morphs from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that now affects 89 million in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Analysis. The National Institutes of Health estimates as many as 30 million people, or 12 percent of U.S. adults, now have NASH.

Much of the rest of the article is about the money some company could make if they find a cure: “Industry experts estimate the global market for these new drugs is $35 billion,” but that kind of pathology is what you’d expect from CNBC. The pathology of NASH, the condition itself, is our point.

I said this is a story about food. Americans are obese because of their food, especially the modified food starch–loaded fast food eaten by the poor and middle class. In that sense, this is an economic story, just as the opioid crisis is an economic story. Expect more like these as well.

The New Year

This feels like a birth of sorts, the start of this new year — for myself, no longer authoring as “Gaius,” and for the world. I’m encouraged by the first story. Not so much the rest.

We’re coming into campaign season for 2020, the last presidential campaign, in my estimation, that can elect a candidate who can make a real difference in the trajectory of the nation, and indeed the species. Those alive today will see what comes as we read the start of the last chapter of the final book most of us will be characters in.

Welcome to the New Year, all. It could be a bumpy ride.

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  1. Will Shetterly

    Don’t put too much weight on Pelosi’s wording. I haven’t seen an update, but the polls a few years ago said most black people think “all lives matter” reflects their position.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Link? The actual Black people I know are well aware All Lives is code and hostile to their “position” (survival in a racist society that is becoming increasingly militarized).

  2. Carey

    NASH has as much to do with Monsanto’s Roundup™ and its so-to-say inert ingredients as it does with obesity. Liver (and kidney) disease is off the charts since Roundup’s introduction.

    1. susan the Other

      I was advised ages ago to always take vitamin C because it helped protect the liver against a wide variety of toxins – I still assume it might be valid advice, but I don’t know. Whenever I read these warnings I always react by taking some extra Emergen-C. Vitamin B can’t hurt either.

  3. Acacia

    Not to sound too cynical, but is it such a terrible thing if the Dems self destruct? Rather than whinging about their blunders and missteps, wouldn’t it be in some ways preferable to highlight their corruption, and the need for a party that actually does represent working Americans (I.e. the millions abandoned by the Dems years ago, who are today hanging on by virtue of lesser-of-two-evilsism)? I see a lot of excitement around AOC but even if we are lucky and she doesn’t herself cave to the demands of the donor class, at the end of the day isn’t it fairly predictable that her initiatives will be sabotaged by the DNC leadership? Instead of cheering on these comprador bourgeois, why not go after the power structure that permits the Dems and GOP a stranglehold on electoral politics?

    1. Geo

      This is something I grapple with internally almost every time I plunge into the news.

      If we’d had the “Bernie Revolution” ten years ago and a whole crop of AOC’s currently in office I’d feel better about our odds. As it is now, is there time to wait for the Democratic Party to crumble and be reborn? Is it quicker, or even possible, to build up a third party?

      The hopeful side of me believes in the AOC idea that enough pressure will force the Dems to change and there is a chance to fix things. The pessimist feels the future is fubar and our best hope is to let the current system crumble while building a new alternative movement that can rise up from the rubble and deal with the fallout.

      “Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”
      – Abba Eban

      1. barefoot charley

        My best hope is that rotten parties, like rotten tomatoes, are ripe for schism. When enough democratic Democrats come into office, their leadership (who will never surrender their rice bowls) will be abandoned. Some less repugnant Republicans will join them, and because they’re already politicals they will know who to push how to enable their third party to function in most states, beginning with the most populous, ergo most Democratic, ones. I see utterly no hope for the Democratic party itself to become anything more than hopey-changey.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Some less repugnant Republicans will join them,

          The last one was Jim Jeffords. Pigs like Hagel and the Maine Senators showed their colors then.

    2. Ford Prefect

      Regardless of what you think of Trump, it is clear that he has been very effective at disenfranchising much of the Republican establishment. It is still unclear what will emerge from the wreckage, but it probably won’t be the Republican party of Reagan and Bush(s). I suspect that demographics alone will start to sideline the bigoted wing of the party in the next 10 years or so, but it is still unclear what will remain. One of the reasons this occurred is because the Republicans set up a Wild West primary structure for the presidential nomination that Trump was able to effectively use to demolish the establishment politicians in the 2016 primaries. Another reason is the Hastert rule, so that the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus were able to block Republican House majority leaders from advancing moderate legislation that could get bipartisan support.

      The Democrats still had a lot of establishment protecting rules in place in 2016, such as the superdelegates, that pretty much assured an establishment candidate would get the presidential nomination. Sanders never had a prayer because he had been an Independent and would not get the support of establishment Democratic superdelegates. That set up a smug over-confident Hillary Clinton against Trump. Those rules have been changed, so the 2020 Democratic primaries could be pretty wild with an outsider winning. In the House, Pelosi will not be able to count on any Republican votes ever being available except for the Problem Solver’s Caucus Republicans who may vote with her on some things. So she will effectively have a Hastert rule inside the Democratic Party just due to the extreme lack of bipartisanship possibilities. It will be interesting to see where that puts her considering she also has to negotiate with McConnell.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Agreed. Have they not simply shifted tactic to reflect circumstance (bend only as much as absolutely necessary and pure optics where ever possible) putting out a barrage of candidates to obscure and blunt the one(s) they fear most? While I agree that Russia-gate was/is delusional through and through; it has also become a smoke screen of sorts. Dems have not completely fallen asleep at the wheel. They are indeed dealing with the “progressive” wave, hopefully ineffectively, but definitely not without awareness and purpose.

        2. Ford Prefect

          The superdelegate rules are national Democratic party rules for the convention, not Pelosi’s house rules. The primary and convention rules were changed earlier this year.

          Pelosi is a ruthless and wily House majority leader and is working to balance her internal house caucus workings. I think she is better at that (for good and bad) than the past few GOP House majority leaders and is effectively on par with McConnell and Harry Reid for parliamentary machinations. Until Gingrich, parliamentary negotiations often included the other side within the House but that has effectively vanished over the past 25 years, so you live or die within or your own caucus.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        I personally like this construct, posted by a copain (merci beaucoup!) in these pages…

        Rather than collectivizing wage-earners, [debt] atomizes the population into what Marx famously described as ‘a sack of potatoes’. But ‘potatoes’ don’t make for fascism; they make for Bonapartism—rallying as individuals to a charismatic leader, rather than forming a coherent paramilitary bloc.

        … So to wit, most political parties in the world are, or become, personality cults or dynastic machines. Ideological movements are the historical exception and are subject to Caesarism over time.

        Generalizing here, but the national GOP base appears more susceptible to ‘charisma’ than the national Dems, Kennedys and Clintons notwithstanding. At a local level of course, there’s little difference (Daleys, Cuomos, etc.)

        But my vague sense is that Repubs rally around their leaders by default; otoh Dems savour the tragic arc of rise-hubris-fall and redemption (at least for their guy).


  4. Geo

    Thanks for posting this. Reminds me I need to read Down With Tyranny more often. Great site that fell off my radar a while back for some unknown reason.

    The times are interesting and most I know are feeling this bumpy ride already. 10 years ago during the primary campaign was using the analogy in discussions about the candidates that “for decades we’ve been making gradual right turns and ran off the road. Now we’re heading toward a cliff and you want to elect a candidate that only wants to drive straight or make a gentle left turn. I want a candidate who will make a sharp left turn so we avoid the cliff and can drive back toward the road.”

    My fear, as this piece states, is that we may have too much velocity to avoid the cliff at this point.

    Too many who would normally be allies are convinced we got here because of Trump when he is merely applying a bit more gas to the petal. And too many others are afraid of a sudden turn left because it’ll cause systemic whiplash or threaten to overturn the vehicle.

    Sorry for the long and labored metaphor. And the pessimism. The new year feels less hopeful each year. Maybe it’s me getting old and jaded? Maybe I need to go out and smell some flowers?

    The 60’s had Vietnam, Kent State, assassinations, military coups… but it also had people in the streets, Civil Rights victories, cultural upheaval in the direction of progress and liberation.

    We have endless wars, failed states, a rise of hard right fascist movements globally, and impending ecological peril while the cultural upheaval is coming from a backlash of the old guard – white grievance, moneyed interests, anti-intellectualism.

    Just feels like we’re accelerating toward that cliff. No wonder so many want to leave the country, bail out. But, like the question from yesterday: where to? How? What can one person or even a small group do?

    That man can destroy life is just as miraculous a feat as that he can create it, for life is the miracle, the inexplicable. In the act of destruction, man sets himself above life; he transcends himself as a creature. Thus, the ultimate choice for a man, inasmuch as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or to destroy, to love or to hate.

    -Erich Fromm

  5. Unna

    Pardons for pot convictions. Good move, but why limit the pardon only to those with “otherwise clean criminal record” and what does that mean to include, exclude anyway? Was that some “political” thing added in to make it sound good to more voters?

    And I say this as a person who thinks smoking “pot” is NOT a good thing. But I do believe that its use is so wide spread that criminalizing possession for personal use is a destructive social policy for many reasons.

    I wonder why the push to legalize now and involve the government (eg. Canada) in selling it, thus legitimizing it? And why do our societies employ-exhibit so many intoxicating consumables and behaviors that are self destructive and/or addictive including abuse of food along with the other usual addictions? Hey, I’m sort of a traditionalist in some ways.

    Looking on the bright side: so what’s going to be bad this year? Pretty much everything that happens politically.

    1. Geo

      As someone who has a few lil’ harmful addictions of my own my personal defense has always been: “Each day there are ups and downs and I never know what will come next but the one thing I can count on, the one reliable thing I have is that every morning when I wake, and every night before I slumber, my addiction will be there with me.”

      It’s a stupid defense, I know. But in a world where many of us deal with abuses beyond our control, self abuse is the one we can find comfort in knowing it’s of our own making. And, it does bring its own pleasure. Plus, I’m not saving for retirement anyway so….

  6. Unna

    As to people in Hell not getting pardoned for eating meat on Friday. My understanding is that the prohibition on eating fish was a Church commandment for Catholics to do penance through abstinence from eating meat on Friday because Jesus was condemnd by TPTB on a Friday. And, importantly, his death was to redeem us because of the sins we committed. Thus, not eating meat was penance for our sins.

    Therefore, the mortal sin a catholic committed by eating meat was the sin of disobedience to a commandment of the church to do penance, and not, substantively, the physical act of eating meat on a particular day of the week. So no more law, no more sin. So unless the Church wants to go about pardoning the sin of disobedience back to the beginning of time, those folks are probably out of luck.

    This, at least, is my understanding of it, but hopefully, someone better versed in such things than myself can enlighten us further on this topic.

    1. mraymondtorres

      Reformation calling. Just to say that the internal illogic of the Institutional Catholic Church’s demanding penance for sins from which Jesus’ death freed us in supposed observance of his sacrifice is a precise example of the breathtakingly twisted and hubristic thought and practice that reigns in the ICC even today.

      Luckily, God does not bend to the ICC’s will. In His infinite grace all are forgiven. Hell is a metaphor. One brought most vividly to life by the ICC itself and as empty a chamber as the ICC’s heart.

    2. Ignacio

      You are rigth. During Lent, about 40 days before Easter you are supposed to be already thinking of the coming Easter event. Thus, every friday, when you don’t eat meat, supposedly a luxury in the past, it serves as a symbolic reminder for the incoming Easter events every year. I wouldn’t say it was abstinence because you could eat anything else but meat. The main point, as you say, is to remember he died to redeem us from our sins. To my knowledge this tradition has changed and now you should dedicate part of these fridays to charity or prayers. So the guys in hell should see that newcomers are guys that did not pray or donate for charity these days instead of the usual meat eaters. The disobedience and the sin is still there… although I don’t know if the new obligations are enforced as strictly as the older.

      I am not a catholic but my parents were and I was educated on catholic traditions (mostly forgotten now, should I add).

      1. a different chris

        I was given to understand that the meat thing was a cynical (ok, maybe “well-meaning”) way to ensure the sale of a lot of fish.

        From what I’ve seen of the Catholic Church, this explanation makes the most sense by far.

    3. John Wright

      George Carlin did a piece in which he said “How’d you like to go to hell on a meat rap?”


      I attended some Catholic elementary and high school.

      I do remember a class discussion in Catholic high school religion class after which the Christian Brother teaching the class stated “you’re all a bunch of heathens”.

      So skepticism about the church and its teachings was definitely there in my Catholic high school.

      1. Unna

        The Meat Rap! But G. Carlin had it right: How would you like to do eternity for a beef jerky? Carlin strikes me as a very serious guy.

        The concept of eternal damnation is a fascinating one. A god who punishes you with infinite pain for a period of infinite time. Now in my opinion, Carlin’s asking that question, along with the rest of that piece, is tremendously subversive because what he’s really doing is questioning the very status of the Abrahamic/Christian god as a god of justice and mercy. But Carlin deftly gets away with it because, cleverly, he does his subversive questioning under the guise of humorously poking fun at the Institution of the Catholic Church, which is easy to do and, for most people, is very non provocative (Carlin gets laughs from a large audience and the corporate censors, unaware, still permit us to watch him on YouTube).

        Going back to Carlin’s question, How would you like to do eternity for a beef jerky? But what would have happened if he went further and asked, What would Jesus do? Isn’t Jesus also the Abrahamic/christian god via the doctrine of the Holy Trinity? And then the question ceases to be funny and Carlin gets no laughs. Better confine humour to the Institutional Catholic Church and make your point that way.

        New Years Resolution: a pantheon of kinder gentler gods and maybe a kinder gentler world to live in.

  7. Ignacio

    Much of the rest of the article is about the money some company could make if they find a cure: “Industry experts estimate the global market for these new drugs is $35 billion,” but that kind of pathology is what you’d expect from CNBC. The pathology of NASH, the condition itself, is our point.

    Admirable how CNBC looks at a problem, obesity and its associated diseases, and transforms it in a business opportunity, isn´t it? Although I am not catholic, let me write Jesuschrist!, Jesuschrist! Jesuschrist!
    This must be a good example of what you call “famously free press”, free of shame indeed.

  8. animalogic

    “We’re coming into campaign season for 2020, the last presidential campaign, in my estimation, that can elect a candidate who can make a real difference in the trajectory of the nation, and indeed the species.”
    Species” – I hope his estimate is way off…unfortunately, I suspect it probably isn’t ….

  9. Pat

    A lifelong Democrat I was uncomfortable with Bill Clinton enough to spend time checking out Ross Perot. Later I reflexively defended him from what I considered to be a partisan political attack, even though I was not happy with much of what his administration was doing. This is just to say that my unease with the Democratic Party started long before I began to believe that it was part of the problem not the solution. The point where I started considering it might be a systemic problem, the aftermath of the 2006 election and the ineffectual Democratic House under Pelosi. But it was still passing not having recognized the “bipartisan” thing was not a misguided view of compromise but smoke and mirrors masking the real goals of Democratic leaders.

    Lambert has talked about how our current situation has caused many top Democrats and the party leadership to reveal how empty the positions and policies are. I think another round of a Pelosi led House will find more and more people recognizing how feigned the helplessness is. And for anyone who wants the public to get that Democrats are not the answer, Leader Schumer is a gift. Some will miss how bipartisan this latest bow to AIPAC is, but there was no missing how spineless his agreements to sign off on judges were, and I fully expect there to be more and more unforced errors. They are making sure there are more Bernies, more AOCs in politics. I am also optimistic enough to hope that we discover voices who step into the void left by Erica Garner, RIP. Clearly pointing out the BS and doing it with humor and grace but indignation when necessary.

    It all may be too late to stop the rush to the cliff, but considering it is more than we have seen in ten years or more it is a better shot than we have had for awhile.

    1. Adam Eran

      Read Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal: Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? to cure any uncritical allegiance to the Democrats. They’ve been in the forefront of most bad political trends since the time of Richard Nixon.

  10. cocomaan

    I am getting a “strong 2004 Feeling” (which feels like blocky cell phones and old Jay Z songs) from the 2019 Democrat party.

    That is, they ran John Kerry against George W Bush, trashing Bush the Younger for being a moron who couldn’t give coherent speeches, a fascist who was against all that was good, and so on.

    Democrats seemed to be of the opinion that it didn’t matter who ran for president on the D side of the ballot because what really mattered was getting GWB out of office. GWB was a moron. He didn’t know what he was doing. Kerry, although a really boring and stale and uninteresting and uninspiring and awful terrible candidate, was okay because he wasn’t GWB and he was picked by the D insiders and don’t you want to get GWB out of office?

    Democrats ran on healthcare and jawbs.

    It did not work out well for them.

    2004 was my first presidential election where I was eligible to vote and I held my nose for Kerry. I never voted Democrat again after that because I was so disgusted. A pretty lame swift boat group brought a real challenge to Kerry and sunk him.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Well said, but it’s always worthwhile to note the strong possibility (if not likelihood) that Democrats were perfectly happy to have Junior following orders once again which was why they put Mr. Sand Man as his opponent in the first place.

    2. Lobsterman

      The Dems didn’t run on healthcare and jobs in 2004.

      They didn’t run on anything at all. After they shot Dean down, there was no stated reason why a Democrat should be President or anything else, other than a vague unease toward Dubya’s tax policies.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They didn’t run on anything at all.

        Err…who could forget “reporting for duty”?

        Kerry promised he would have done a much better job of invading Iraq.

      2. Jeff N

        IIRC, they ran on “we would not have invaded Iraq. but we will do a better job at the ongoing occupation.”

  11. Brooklin Bridge

    Here’s a sad farewell to Gaius and a warm hello to Thomas. Your article captures the moment well – particularly that last paragraph.

    I can’t help but think back to the article Gaius wrote several years ago about how it would take something like Miami going underwater to wake people up to the reality of GW. And, given 2017 -2018, with Harvey and Maria and Florence and Michael, to name a few, your prediction has proven correct much the way a rhyme captures a situation; so close as to be recognizable, but then reality always comes up with it’s very own signature.

    And your’ first article as Thomas (for NC at least) does much the same with the inescapable reality of deadly undercurrents sucking away at much needed good news.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Your article captures the moment -> our precarious moment well – particularly that last paragraph.

  12. Thomas Neuburger

    My warmest thanks, Brooklin. Always love your commentary! You were the first to spot that I always look into the middle distance, with occasional success. Thanks!


  13. Susan the Other

    Nice to meet you Thomas. About those full pardons for people doing time for pot. It’s like saying “Oh, never mind all that.” Full pardons should compensate those convicted by making up for what they have lost because of this disgusting mistake. Money, a place to live, a car, a job, foodstamps, full medical and dental and a promise to keep paying all their expenses until they are back on their feet. And even then nobody can give them back the happiness they have lost. I don’t see how the justice system can pardon them without obligating the system itself to fix their own horrible mistake.

  14. Oregoncharles

    ““Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” are code for two very opposite movements. The first says, “Cops should stop murdering black people.” The second says, “Stop criticizing cops.” Pelosi either mindfully wants it both ways, or mindlessly doesn’t understand the difference.”

    I don’t believe I’ve ever defended Pelosi before, but I’m going to here. If anything, she’s trying to detoxify a poisonous meme: the cops’ hijacking of “all lives matter.” That was a very clever choice of slogan, because it’s true on its face. The police use of it is actually dishonest: they really mean that their lives matter, and civilians’ lives don’t. They’re also sneaking in the false claim that they’re just protecting themselves – mostly untrue.

    I think it would have been better strategy for BLM to have adopted that version in the first place, if only so the police couldn’t. I understand why they adopted the version they did, but I think it was unfortunate.

    Pelosi’s point here is precisely that “all lives” MEANS black lives, as it must. At worst, tossing it off so briefly may have been tone-deaf, but it’s nonetheless true and politically important. Credit where it’s due.

  15. Oregoncharles

    And on a more supportive note: yes, S.B. 1 is a bizarre travesty. Oregon’s own slimy Ron Wyden is among the Dem co-sponsors. He’s actually putting the interests of a foreign country ahead of his own constituents’ rights, a severe betrayal that calls his loyalty into question – not that he’s the only one. Incidentally, the Oregon legislature turned down an anti-BDS bill; my wife was among the campaigners to gained that victory. So Wyden is betraying and insulting a large portion of his constituents. I just hope they remember it the next time he runs.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps a primary challenger may emerge and help Oregon primary DemVoters remember.

  16. Big Tap

    I’m very concerned about the backlash that may manifest itself if SB1 becomes law. This law would be a dream come true for the KKK and David Duke types. They can say “see the Jews really do control America” and point to this law. It is a bad idea that will have unintended consequences. The BDS movement will increase support. Is Congress this oblivious to the blowback their actions may cause or don’t they care?

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    Unless we can destroy the Clinton-Obama wing of the DemParty and get a SanderSocial Democrat DemParty nominee, we will be given a Clintobama-type nominee who will get Trump re-elected, probably by a Nixon-in-72 landslide.

    Perhaps we should hunt for leverage points and pain points other than the Presidency in 2020?

  18. Adam Eran

    NC Commentariat alert: As calls for amnesty for those incarcerated because of marijuana grow, inmates will be released. We’re likely to see plenty of stories like “Recent prison release leads to a surge in crime”…with some horrific example from the “ambulance news.”

    But we won’t see many stories about the way families are no longer damaged by having one of their members imprisoned. Were kids be traumatized because a parent was incarcerated? Did the loss of income lead to homelessness?… etc. That is news beyond headlines.

    Don’t buy it.

  19. ewmayer

    Re. fatty liver disease, I can see a professional oligarchy-splainer like Steven Pinker (thanks to the NCer who poasted that link a few days ago) spinning it like so: “Even if you can’t afford to *buy* foie gras, you can still afford to *be* foie gras – what a great country!”

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