Friday, December 2, 2016

How advocacy groups work

My nephew sent me a link to this article a week ago.  Took me a week to read it and I don't pretend to understand much of it.  The following section did explain a great deal to me that I had always suspected but could never put into words as well as this.

Keystone XL was less central than abortion, but still “a top-tier election issue for the 2014 elections for the United States Senate, House of Representatives, governors in states and territories, and many state and local positions as well.”8 In case you missed the fuss, Keystone XL was a proposed oil pipeline. The environmental lobby, and the American left in general, devoted extraordinary efforts to preventing its construction. As far as I can tell, the possible environmental consequences were minor; there are many more important environmental policy questions which the movement has fought much less hard. Although notionally environmentalists’ concern was possible spills, everyone understood that Keystone was symbolically about global warming, and therefore really about global warming—even though everyone also understands that in practice it would have had almost no effect. Other policies affect carbon emissions far more, and might have been altered with far less effort. So why did the left choose to draw a line in the sand at Keystone XL?
In “The toxoplasma of rage,” Alexander suggests an explanation.9Advocacy groups deliberately choose bad examples because those generate the most controversy. The one they promote is obviously wrong, so the Tweedledum side objects loudly. However, the general principle is considered correct by everyone on the Tweedledee side, so they feel they have to defend it. Their specific arguments are perforce lousy—even if the principle is right—so Tweedledum senses blood in the water and closes in for the kill. But the underlying, broader issue seems critical, so Tweedledee will defend the unconvincing symbolic example to the death. The brutality of the ensuing battle generates huge publicity for the cause. (And also, to be cynical, donations to the advocacy organization, and advertising revenue for the media that cover it and fan the flames.)
If you want to signal how strongly you believe in taking victims seriously, you talk up the least credible case you can find. A rape that obviously happened? Shove it in people’s face and they’ll admit it’s an outrage, but they’re not going to talk about it much. There are a zillion outrages every day. A rape allegation will only spread if it’s dubious enough to split people in half along lines corresponding to identity politics. People start screaming at each other about how they’re misogynist or misandrist or whatever, and your Facebook feed gets hundreds of comments in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS about how my ingroup is being persecuted by your ingroup.10
A commenter on a post related to the Dakota Pipeline asked how he could become a professional protester, having done it voluntarily for years.  My response was this: You need to put yourself in a position where you can profit by your activism. Neil Young, Leonardo di Caprio, Jane Fonda, Elizabeth May and Niki Ashton come to mind. Or start your own NGO, find something highly divisive to be against that you are unlikely to have any real impact on, enlist the help of people like the above named and the money will start flowing in. You can even partner with other anti-everything NGOs to get name recognition. 

Of course, as a 'true believer' it went right over his head, so I am sure he will always be a useful tool of whatever NGO or other organization has figured out not only how the system works but how to work the system.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Incoherent Ramblings

Today I have nothing intelligent to say and will write several paragraphs to prove it.

My news feed is filled with stories of America's descent into the abyss, Russia's intrusion into the elections of European countries as France and now Italy seem poised to move to the right if not the far right, and Ukraine's refusal to deal with corruption at the highest levels. Fortunately there are also stories of kittens and puppies and lions and tigers and bears (oh my). And memes of atrocious puns.

My daughter and a friend are coming from London for Christmas so Tanya is cleaning the house from top to bottom.  Halloween being over, it was OK to remove the, uh, decorative cobwebs from the ceiling and corners.  Tanya and I both are not fond of spiders (see also Winston Smith and rats).  She was dusting away and I yelled "Паук! Паук!" (spider, spider).  She jumped and then told me "Идите в баню". (Get to the Sauna which is polite for Go to Hell).

Her niece Sveta and daughter-in-law Lina have been press ganged into helping.  I felt guilty about the amount of help those two girls have given us over the past couple of years but last fall we gave them a 14 day all inclusive package in Turkey.  A great many firsts for the girls.  Sometimes it is more fun watching the wonderment of others enjoying themselves than going ourselves. At the same time, Tanya's son Andrei and family were in Turkey for the first time and we got daily, sometimes hourly updates from both.

Ukraine has no flu vaccine this year so it is a real worry if kids get sick.  Dasha had just recovered when Masha got sick with a high fever.  She went to Baba Natasha's as sort of quarantine. She is getting better.  Yesterday about 9:00 am Tanya left for town to take Masha some pumpkin muffins and never came home.  She phoned me about 4:00 pm to let me know she would be home in 5 minutes. The car was filled with packages.  Lina had phoned and asked if she wanted to go shopping in Krivii Rih.  What a dumb question that was.  I had no idea where Tanya had been and she asked "Weren't you worried about me?" "No.  When you are on the loose it is other people I worry about".

Tanya plants her garden until she gets tired and then plants the rest to pumpkins to fill in space.  Every year we have wheelbarrows of pumpkins most of which get chucked out by spring. Not this year. Tanya got a recipe for pumpkin muffins and has been churning them out by the dozens.  There is always a bowl full on the table.  I ate the last one for breakfast and there are more in the oven as I write. Our black cat, Vovo, even likes them and stole a couple from the dish one night.

My thermostat is going in my old age.  At night when I go to bed, I am thoroughly chilled and it takes me forever to warm up.  Then I warm up and suddenly am too hot so I roll the blanket to the centre of the bed and sleep the rest of the night with just the sheet.  The other night I was frantically throwing off the blanket and Tanya mumbles, out of a sound sleep, "Menopause?"

Runkeeper makes walking more enjoyable because it has statistics and charts and stuff like that. So I walk two or three days then give my knees and hips a break for a day and continue on. The dogs are quite happy with this arrangement. I vary my routes so they have new places to sniff periodically.

Dasha, at three and a half, does what Dasha wants.  She was talking to Baba Tanya on Skype the other day and her mother wanted her to eat something. "I don't want to eat". Baba Tanya told her she needed to eat because her mother had made food for her.  "I SAID I don't want to eat". "But you must eat so you will be strong and healthy". "I'm not talking to you anymore" and she walked away.  Little wretch. Masha was quietly obstinate at that age.  Dasha is just obstinate.

A Legend-Dairy Pun

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to my Friends in the USA

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.  I suspect as extended families gather around the table, many families will be as divided as during and after the Civil War. Of which the events of this past month are merely an extension.  I do hope that they don't end up like one of the verses in this song which tells of family divides in the Emerald Isle.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Things I love, that make me happy


  1. Couples who have loved (or endured) each other for 60, 70, 80 years.
  2. People who can write that the 127,344th reason they love their spouse is that they brought home sushi . . . and a dead squirrel.
  3. Couples and friends who tease each other, gently, of course.
  4. Devastatingly witty put downs, especially when aimed at me (so no feelings are hurt) and especially when they come from my children.
  5. Baby goats.
  6. Babies laughing and small children shrieking with delight as they play.
  7. Wild animal families showing love for each other.
  8. Wild animals playing, especially the young.
  9. Animals of different species showing a bond of affection for each other.
  10. Bad jokes, dad jokes, terrible puns, inappropriate jokes.
  11. Reading to learn and to understand.
  12. Flowers, whether growing wild by the road, in Tanya's garden or in Butchart Gardens.
  13. Cows and calves in good grass.
  14. The smell of new mown hay and well made silage.
  15. Wild geese in giant Vee's in spring and fall.
  16. Meadowlarks (I miss Meadowlarks.)
  17. Coffee
  18. Woodworking
  19. Seeing parts of the world that others do not normally seek out
  20. Pictures of beautiful landscapes.



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Outsmarted and outgunned, the Dems strike out

If there ever was a day to write a Blues song beginning with "Woke up this morning. . ." today was the day. Every Liberal-Progressive pundit, professional and amateur, including myself, called the American election very wrong. On Monday, I asked a friend in DC if the Republican Party would reinvent itself or just continue to double down. I am still spitting out feathers and beaks today after that gaffe.

It has always seemed like the Republicans were going from disaster to disaster but with 20/20 hindsight, it was the Democrats who were barely hanging on while the Republicans set them up for complete destruction.  This election was about Religion (Hillary is Satan) and Race (Trump rally chant: We hate Muslims. We hate Blacks.  Time to take our country back).  Nixon's Southern Strategy  and Falwell's Moral Majority came to maturity and bore fruit.

Nixon was an old-time politician, followed a few years later by Reagan with HW as the power behind the throne.  Clinton gave the Republicans practice in being totally uncooperative and wasting government money on politically biased investigations.  Then came W with Cheney as the brains and power of the Presidency.

The Democrats' turn brought Obama to the plate.  In the lead up to the 2008 election, the Republicans began serious HRC bashing with the SCOTUS Citizens United decision in 2010 opening the floodgates to corporate cash in time for the mid-term elections.  The remake of the liberal Warren Court into a conservative Roberts Court was paying off.

The GOP ran McCain against Obama, a fair match until they added Sarah Palin as running mate.  This introduced to the American public the idea that any idiot could seek the highest office in the land and as Obama commented you could draw a straight line from Palin to Trump.

The Religious Right, supposedly being used by Republicans to gain votes was also busy using the Republican Party to position itself into power.  Republicans were also busy down-ballot getting control of as many states as possible which is what political parties do but in America state governments have has the added advantage of controlling voting in each state, including constituency boundaries, polling stations, ballots etc.

Republican wannabee presidential candidates got wilder and wilder into Right Wing Religion culminating with the unelectable Romney in 2012.  And the Religious Right kept pushing regressive laws at the state level, restricting abortion access, insisting on inserting religion (theirs only) into schools, etc.  Some of these laws were passed and some were then overturned by SCOTUS. They kept things stirred up and in front of the public.

In 2012 I said to one of my blog readers (in a private email I think) that the Republicans wanted Obama in for 8 years so they could obstruct everything he wanted to do and make America so bad people would vote for a Religious Right President in 2016 and that 2020 would likely be the last free election in America.  I had some of the details wrong.

In 2013, the Robert's Court watered down the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Immediately Red States began passing voter ID laws supposedly aimed at preventing voter fraud.  Voter Fraud being defined as Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, poor and students who might vote Democrat.  You know, people who should never have been given the vote in the first place.

Throw in Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, Isis, Muslims, Syrian Immigrants, Fox News, Breitbart and Alex Jones and you have a rather flammable mix. The GOP got smart this time.  the religious nutbars when down swinging in the primaries, leaving a man who is the antithesis of Christianity but who can stir the darkest most hateful tendencies in his followers.  He will Make America Great (White) Again. And by selling HRC as the Anti-Crist, Trump attracted teh religious crowd without getting religious.

The Religious Right hide their man behind Trump as VP.  Mike Pence will be Trump's HW and Cheney.  In fact Trump has already said he will leave the details of being POTUS to Pence.  This is a Dominionist's wet dream.  Republican's control the presidency, the house, the senate and the supreme court and the Religious Right is positioned to control them.

Every regressive, oppressive law the Religious Right ever dreamed of will now be passed and every inconvenient SCOTUS decision overturned.  Republican Jesus will have his theocracy. Voter suppression will reach depths not seen since Jim Crow. Republican control of the states will only increase and in 2020 and going forward Republicans will win every federal election because they control the voting.

2016 will be the last free and fair (such as it was) election in America in my lifetime and possibly in that of my children. America will resemble Russia even more than it does now.

Just call me one of Job's Comforters.

I'm so sorry, Sweetheart.  Just don't watch anymore.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Voting Day in America

Most of the world, including me, does not get to vote today in an election that affects all of us.  If Hillary can win, in spite of the Republicans best efforts to rig the vote, it says a great deal about where Americans are really at in their politics.  I can only imagine how it would be if all voters were registered automatically, felons could vote, polling booths were placed for the convenience of all voters and there were no electronic voting machines.

All the best, America, today and in the days ahead.  Please don't forget Ukraine.




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wherein I visit the Dentist

I am, as the saying goes, too pooped to whoop.  Besides the Cubs won, for which I am glad, not that I had anything vested in the outcome other than my habitual cheering for the underdogs.  Next year, I hope they both meet again and Cleveland takes it in 7.

I have been walking 5 km per day.  Average pace between 12 and 13 minutes per km. Tuesday was cold, wet, windy and miserable.  I averaged under 11:30.  Yesterday was cold, wet, windy, miserable and snowing.  I averaged under 11:15.  Today I did NOT want to walk but guilted myself as it was sunny and warm (well, OK, it was +8C).  I could hardly manage a good waddle and timed out at over 13 minutes per km.

My wind is getting better and I no longer have to stop to rest but at the end of an hour, I am beat. To finish my day, I had a dental appointment at 5:00 pm. I had not been to this dentist before.  The two other times, I went to a guy who drilled and filled in under 30 minutes but this time I wanted a thorough check up.

Tanya found a young guy, maybe 25-27 years, from Donetsk, one of the 'internally displaced', at the Medical Centre,  Profimed, where she and I doctor. His training is much more than just drill and fill and his equipment is better than my dentist in Regina had 10 years ago. Plus his dental assistant was a drop-dead gorgeous blonde.  Young enough to be my granddaughter of course but still takes one's mind off the pain.

Come to think of it all the assistants in Profimed are attractive blondes but I digress.

Cleaned and polished, took X-rays and in general knocked about until he located all my problem teeth.  One bad one.  I do not know the Russian word for Root Canal and am terrified to ask but my next visit on Wednesday is for 90 minutes and then I have two more after that.

Maybe tomorrow I can write the blog I have been mentally working on for two weeks.