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March 30, 2017

Alternate strategy

Leftist: We should primary conservative Democrats like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp. I have secret proof that they are Russian agents.

Centrist: I'm all in!

By fnord12 | March 30, 2017, 6:09 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

What is the point of them?

Leftist: We should primary conservative Democrats like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp. They vote like Republicans.

Centrist: No, you can't do that. Don't you know how conservative West Virginia and North Dakota are?

Leftist: Bernie Sanders won those states in blowouts. He won West Virginia by 15 points. He won North Dakota by 39 points.

Centrist: Yeah, but that's just the primary. Progressive Democrats would never win in the general.

Leftist: I wanna see that proven out. I think a populist progressive can win in those states where mealy-mouthed centrism won't. Best case scenario, we'll get real progressives. Worst case scenario, they'll just be replaced by Republicans that will vote the same way they do.

Centrist: Those Democrats may not vote the way we want 100% of the time, but they're with us for the important votes.

Leftist: Manchin and Heitkamp will back Gorsuch

By fnord12 | March 30, 2017, 5:25 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Thanks Bernie

Speaking of pressuring our politicians, Jeff Stein has a nice article up about how pressure from their base has caused more Democrats than ever before to get behind Single Payer.

By fnord12 | March 30, 2017, 9:07 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Well, now we're killing people

Because it wasn't bad enough that our entire economy is based on slave labor from people in other countries, it now turns out that we're killing them, too.

I do take slight issue with blaming this on "consumer demand". Min and i try, but it's basically impossible to buy most things in an "ethically sourced" way. I mean, i'll accept that we should try harder. But this is a systematic problem that needs to be dealt with in a systematic way, and that mainly has to do with our trade deals and other government policies. Blaming consumers is like how Al Gore told us we could stop global warming by turning off the lights when we leave a room. There's only so much individuals can do. (To be clear, again, this is a minor point. It's good that the report came out and hopefully it will be used to pressure our politicians.)

By fnord12 | March 30, 2017, 9:01 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 27, 2017


The New York Times editorial board scolds congress for not authorizing the war on ISIS, which of course is already happening.

But as the American military is doing its job, Congress is refusing to do its duty. Nearly three years into the war against ISIS, lawmakers have ducked their constitutional responsibility for making war by not passing legislation authorizing the anti-ISIS fight. This is not merely a bureaucratic issue. While the president has the power to order troops into battle, the founders were adamant about ensuring that only Congress could commit the nation to protracted overseas military actions.

Shouldn't they be scolding (or worse) Presidents Obama and Trump for going forward with these wars without authorization from Congress? That's the way it's actually supposed to work. Congress isn't supposed to rubber stamp the president's actions after the fact; they're supposed to declare war in the first place. I even question the NYT's use of "protracted" in the above quote.

By fnord12 | March 27, 2017, 10:14 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

He's horrible no matter how you look at it

Our Senator Menendez refuses to bow out despite the corruption charges that he's facing. His defense is basically a Trump level conspiracy theory. He claims that the charges against him are vengeance from Barack Obama for the times that he spoke out against him. And the reasons he spoke out against Obama are nothing to be proud of, either. He attacked Obama from the right on the Iran deal and the normalization of relations with Cuba. I'm not saying he should be persecuted by the Justice department for that (if that was the case it would be an outrage) but it shouldn't exactly get Democrats rallying to defend him, either.

By fnord12 | March 27, 2017, 10:07 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 24, 2017

Considering (not) retiring?

Keep working, asshole.

Getting varicose veins and swollen feet while getting yelled at by shitty people trying to return half-used containers of spackle = adventure! And the secret to retiring!

By fnord12 | March 24, 2017, 9:35 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 22, 2017

You own nothing

This is insane (but increasingly common).

By fnord12 | March 22, 2017, 8:10 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 21, 2017

'Just When I Thought I Was Out' Horde

I am nearing the end of my Bones horde and i have enough miniatures for a lifetime, so i thought i was almost done painting. But then friend Wanyas gave me a bunch of miniatures from a game.

The game is based on Magic: The Gathering, which i'm not familiar with. But they'll work well in any fantasy setting. The set came with a few pre-painted miniatures (not shown) and a ton of unpainted ones. So now i once again have way too many minis to paint. Luckily friend Andy was willing to help. We managed to tackle about half the set.

Some nice generic undead:

Every campaign can use some tentacled horrors:

And ogres (or whatever; they were supposed to be more undead):

These guys are supposed to be vampires:

Some of the miniatures were made in translucent colored plastic, which is cool, and i deliberately painted sparingly to preserve the translucent effect. These guys are supposed to be illusionary duplicates of one of the pre-painted figures. But they can also be used as generic ghosts:

Some more ectoplasmic monsters:

And now the ones Andy painted. Some awesome Rhino men:

And some mostly-faceless swamp creatures:

By fnord12 | March 21, 2017, 12:26 PM | D&D| Link

Recap 77

Living In The Past

Yes, this is a potato with an axe.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2017, 12:00 PM | D&D| Link

March 18, 2017

Speaking of provocative

Matt Bruenig:

If you favor Obamacare over single-payer or dismiss single-payer as relatively unimportant, then you are a moral monster at least on par with the AHCA [Ryancare] proponents you condemn.

By fnord12 | March 18, 2017, 2:16 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Two-tiered socialism

This op-ed in Forbes is clearly designed to be as provocative as possible and will definitely rile people up and probably win over nobody. But i agree with the general sentiment.

Like most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is "earned" and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand.

By fnord12 | March 18, 2017, 1:03 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 17, 2017

Your work here is done


Soon after Charla McComic's son lost his job, his health-insurance premium dropped from $567 per month to just $88, a "blessing from God" that she believes was made possible by President Trump.

"I think it was just because of the tax credit," said McComic, 52, a former first-grade teacher who traveled to Trump's Wednesday night rally in Nashville from Lexington, Tenn., with her daughter, mother, aunt and cousin.

The price change was actually thanks to a subsidy made possible by former president Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, which is still in place, not by the tax credits proposed by Republicans as part of the health-care bill still being considered by Congress.

Ok, make fun of the lady all you want. But realize that this is the problem with super-complicated schemes like Obamacare compared to universal programs. And hey, maybe we can use this to convince Trump that his work is already done. See Trump, you already solved the problem. Nice work. (Unless you want to listen to your friend and implement Medicaid for all.)

By fnord12 | March 17, 2017, 11:43 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 16, 2017

Meet in whose middle?

Reacting to the Vox article i linked to below, Ryan Cooper outlines Obama's bad history of seeking a middle ground with Republicans at the expense of his own party's agenda and common sense.

Relatedly, Democrats are apparently fretting that the Bernie Sanders wing will apply "purity tests" to candidates in the South through groups like Our Revolution (the article reads like an open letter pleading with them). And you're goddamn right we will. For one thing, Democrats like Joe Manchin have proven that there's really no benefit in having a guy with a D next to his name if he's going to vote and make statements like a Republican all the time. So we might as well go for someone better. More importantly, we just watched a townhall with Bernie Sanders connecting with a room full of Trump voters. Bernie proves that it is possible to find common ground with Republican - voters anyway, not politicians - and you can do it without being "moderate" as centrist Dems define it (Bernie can't gut a deer, but he's the most popular politician). Whereas Obama was trying to get Republicans to agree to tax cuts in return for cutting Social Security and Medicare, Sanders had a room full of Trump voters cheering the idea of universal health care.

By fnord12 | March 16, 2017, 11:06 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Plus/Minus 500 Million Years


Research published this week in PLoS Biology suggests this collection of ancient, newly analyzed fossils--unearthed a few years back--are in all likelihood red algae. If that proves true, it would imply that complex, multicellular life evolved a lot earlier than previously thought--and that the evolutionary family tree of life on Earth might need a major pruning.

Earth's first traces of life probably showed up around 3.5 billion years ago, a billion years or so after our planet formed. Just when these simple, single-celled organisms--classified as "prokaryotes" due to their lack of a nucleus--evolved into multicellular, nucleated forms called "eukaryotes" is a matter of debate. Alga, a eukaryote, is thought to be one of the oldest forms of complex life. And given that previous fossil finds had dated red algae back just 1.2 billion years, the new discovery could reset the evolutionary time line by nearly half a billion years.

I just like saying "eukaryote".

The authors used a technique called synchrotron-based x-ray tomographic microscopy to construct a three-dimensional model of the fossils, and to identify internal cellular structures that the organisms probably used for energy production. Radioactive dating was used to confirm the fossils' age. "The new fossils provide tangible evidence that advanced multicellularity, at least in plants, appeared much earlier than previously thought," says Stefan Bengtson, senior author of the new paper and professor emeritus of paleozoology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. "They suggest that the timing of early eukaryotes may have to be drastically revised."

Without the presence of DNA--which does not hang around in samples so staggeringly old--it is impossible to confirm the new fossils are bygone red algae. Bengtson admits as much. But he also believes the fossils' structures bear a strong resemblance to that of red alga.

Paul Strother, a Boston College biologist who studies the evolution of algae and plants, and who was not involved in the new research, is not sold. "If these are real...they still do not show any sort of cell differentiation. All the cells are basically the same, and these forms do not represent complex multicellularity," he says.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire biology chair, Wilson Taylor, who was also uninvolved in the work, points out that even if the new samples are really algae, the search for the origins of complex life still has a long way to go. "If a red alga really had evolved by this time...this implies a prior period of eukaryotic evolution of some length," he says. "How long before the 1.6-billion-year horizon eukaryotes arose, based on that early occurrence, is anyone's guess." Taylor explains that eukaryotes--which comprise virtually all nonmicroscopic life on Earth--likely arose when one prokaryote engulfed another and found some symbiotic benefit that kept the relationship going. But how long it took this vital communion to take hold in the evolutionary process is unknown.

Goddamned prokaryotes eating their friends and neighbors. Jerks.

By min | March 16, 2017, 9:19 AM | Science| Link

March 15, 2017

The Horrible People Show

Fnord12 and i recently started watching Billions. It was of interest to us because it's created by the 2 guys who wrote Ocean's Thirteen and the author of Too Big to Fail.

Turns out, the show is basically full of characters who are just awful, awful people. But while that's true, they're not one dimensional caricatures. The douchebag hedge fund guy actually loves his wife and has a real sense of loyalty to friends. The douchebag U.S. Attorney has good intentions when it comes to making rich guys serve time and not just get off with a fine, and despite a tendency to manipulate everybody around him, has a healthy relationship with his wife. It even portrays BDSM in a healthy way (i'm looking at you, Fifty Shades).

So the characters are multi-dimensional. The dialogue is quick and complex. And with Andrew Ross Sorkin's input, i'm assuming it's at least accurate in the portrayal of the investment business even if the plot is soap opera-esque.

We're enjoying it, but i gotta tell you, i can't understand half of what the hedge fund characters are saying. At one point, we had to pause the show and get Wall Street by Doug Henwood to try to understand what illegal shenanigans were going on. Even after reading Henwood's definition and example, i still wasn't quite sure what the hell was happening.

Despite this, it's pretty obvious that these people live in a world completely removed from the rest of us. Everything hinges on the result of a gamble on a gamble on a gamble. Transactions are in millions of dollars. But some of the time they're gambling with a pension fund! It's one thing if they're playing roulette with some rich guy's money, but to gamble with someone's pension and all because they can offer you the chance that they might win big? Yeah, but what happens if you lose big? No big deal to someone with millions of dollars of disposable income. Totally different story to a 70yr old retiree who's counting on that $2000/month check to pay for housing and food.

Now, while i'm enjoying the show and it does pass the Bechdel test and there are a few minorities with actual speaking roles, i am a little peeved that although the one character is based on New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, they cast a white guy. Were they afraid the audience couldn't empathize with a non-white main character? Was there a dearth of Indian actors to fulfill the role?

By min | March 15, 2017, 8:17 AM | TeeVee| Link

March 13, 2017

Oh, Obama

Vox on his post-presidency plans:

Critics to his left and right say this theory is riddled with contradictions. They note that it has left Obama largely silent as Trump hacks away at his signature achievements, while simultaneously working behind the scenes to thwart a branch of activists in his own party.

What may be even more perplexing, critics say, is that Obama is still chasing the mirage of a nonpartisan solution to America's political crisis, after eight years of failing to find it in the White House.

The bolded passage in the first paragraph refers to his strong-arming for Perez against Ellison as the DNC head.

On at least one political front, Obama has stayed deeply engaged: He worked the phones to help tip the race for chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) had sewn up the endorsements of dozens of state Democratic Party chairs in his campaign against Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Ellison had won most of the congressional endorsements, including those of the party's senior leadership. He had the strong support of Bernie Sanders and his progressive fans.

Obama helped Perez overcome all that...

Observers have been mystified by the Obama White House's decision to spark a Democratic Party civil war over the DNC chair race so soon after its clobbering in November...

Obama aides say the intervention was related to the former president's reluctance to openly criticize Trump. By helping ensure a close ally like Perez is running the DNC, they said, Obama felt like he was liberating himself from having to personally respond to Trump over the next several years.

Obama, in other words, was trying to extricate himself from the partisan fray -- but by taking action in the DNC race that risked antagonizing his own party's base.

It's not clear it worked.

"Going out of his way to find a challenger to Keith Ellison, who was the consensus candidate and a hero of the progressive grassroots, was selfish and counterproductive," says Adam Green, co-founder of the left-wing organization the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

By fnord12 | March 13, 2017, 4:34 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 12, 2017

Never thought to blame cats, though

I've had this conversation with players many times.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2017, 3:30 PM | Comics & D&D| Link

March 10, 2017

Your own lying ears

What you think you sound like while you're jamming:

When you listen to the recording the next day:

By fnord12 | March 10, 2017, 1:17 PM | Music & My stupid life| Link

Russia is not a plan

Shaun King has an article asking if the Democratic party understands that they are less popular than Trump right now and if they have any plans to do anything about it.

The other question is, "What exactly is the strategy of the Democratic Party to take back the government from conservatives across the country?"

That one always gets the most laughs. Nobody has any idea. Not once has somebody stood up and said, "Hey, I know the strategy." Hell, I don't know it. I don't think one exists. Whatever the strategy was this past election, it didn't work either. And again, I don't just mean in the presidential election. Democrats lost all over the place in national, state, and local elections.

Rolling Stone has the answer, but you're not going to like it:

One senior House Democrat, who asked for anonymity to discuss party strategy, told me that pushing for a full accounting on Trump and Russia is the best way to turn Trump into an albatross around the necks of congressional Republicans to the point that party leaders like McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan might abandon him.

That's great. Never mind the fact that Democrats are secretly aware that the Russian stuff is overhyped. Never mind that the Obama-voting factory workers in Michigan that didn't turn out for Clinton do not give a shit about Russia. Never mind that getting McConnell and Ryan to abandon Trump would not get the Dems one step closer to taking back Congress or statehouses. The Russia thing ensures that you don't have to make any changes in policy direction, so it's a great strategy.

By fnord12 | March 10, 2017, 10:28 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 9, 2017

It was always obvious to us

It apparently took Donald Trump to get people to realize that the Starship Trooper movie is a satire, and good.

By fnord12 | March 9, 2017, 10:53 PM | Liberal Outrage & Movies| Link

Democratic Elites Could Derail the Revolution

Yes, the Tea Party brought down many Republicans, but in truth it was a way of rebranding the same old Republican party without the stink of George W Bush attached. Conservative activists back then looked out over an economic disaster brought on by libertarian idealism - by a generation that worshiped bank deregulation - and insisted that what we needed was more deregulation, that we needed to go full-on free market. That's the achievement of the Tea Party.

There is a possibility that the resistance to Trump will turn out the same way - that it will become a vehicle for our Enron Democrats to avoid accountability. "I don't think people want a new direction," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in December. Now is not the moment for infighting, others have insisted, but for unity and togetherness. Unity behind the existing leadership, that is. Changing the personnel in the C-Suites will only weaken us, they will say; hell, we can't even afford to see our leaders criticized.


Lesson No 2 from the Tea Party movement has to do with good old money-making opportunism. Back in the day, Tea Party events were always accompanied by a sort of traveling trade show, where the countless entrepreneurs associated with the movement sought to get rich off one another.

Harbingers of this approach are already visible. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has written a nonspecific but distinctly anti-Trump manifesto. Budweiser is running commercials perceived to be critical of Trumpism, as is Coca-Cola. Starbucks has made its antipathy clear. A bunch of tech companies have declared their undying hostility to Trump's immigration policies. Before long, no doubt, Nike or Reebok will be encouraging you to make a stand against fascism with a specially branded line of resistance sneakers.

What will of course disappear in the thrilling waves of corporate resistance to come, I expect, is that many American companies have a lot to answer for themselves. One possible reason so many corporate types are against immigration reform, for example, is because of corporate America's epidemic of H-1B visa abuse. It's not freedom they care for, really, it's profit squeezed out of desperate human beings.


The last lesson to take from modern conservatism is the most important: the Tea Party succeeded by pretending to be a hard-times protest movement.

The insight here is that liberals don't need to mimic the Tea Party in order to head off this powerful impulse; they merely need to be what they used to be - what they are supposed to be.

I doubt that many of our leading Democrats will be able even to do that, however. For decades now, Democrats and Blair-style "Third Way" leaders have praised one another for leaving all that workerist stuff behind, for embracing globalization and the knowledge economy and the enlightened professional class and affluent Republican voters in the suburbs. This has been going on for so long that the problem today is not only that they don't want to recapture that part of their identity but that they don't even know it exists.

The current Dems need to go if any real change is going to happen. They need to be primaried and replaced because they refuse to see how they have completely failed the people they claim to represent and are somehow still deluded enough to think that we will vote for them. How'd that plan work for you in November? Yeah, why don't you be patronizing and scolding some more to younger voters while you're at it? That's definitely a good long term strategy.

What is most pathetic about all the thinking I've described here is that it instinctively yearns for a movement of national unity, in which all the tasteful people from every high-status corner of society get together and put this braying New York bigot back in his place.

It was exactly the same dream that powered the Hillary campaign: all the respected people are together, and that's what matters. All the foreign policy gurus, all the Silicon Valley CEOs, all the Wall Street guys, all the highly regarded policy wonks. Rs and Ds alike, holding hands and singing from the same hymnal.

A popular front it ain't. This is the same Washington dream of a great consensus of the well-graduated that has animated every stage of loser liberalism's decline. What is stupid about it is that it unconsciously fulfills Donald Trump's vision of a rigged establishment game. But what truly is awful about it is that it wants to crush the very real possibility that the Democratic party might become relevant again.


By min | March 9, 2017, 7:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Jobs not marriage

The title of this is The conservative theory of marriage just got blown apart which just makes it extra sad that the main policy example is Bill Clinton's Welfare Reform.

By fnord12 | March 9, 2017, 6:38 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

American Healthcare

I offer two write-ups from The Week regarding the Republican's healthcare replacement bill. The first is has details worth knowing about Medicaid regardless of what happens with this bill, and it also goes into why the bill isn't likely to pass. The second begins with a "it's funny because it's true but please kill me" sample conversation between an American and a Canadian about healthcare. The second article doesn't make the case for its main point as well as i think it should (i.e., it's true that the Republican plan won't actually reform our healthcare system but i don't think they'll care or that that's the fact that would keep it from passing). But it's still worth a read.

Also something from Matt Bruenig, who takes the normal dismissal of what Nordic countries were able to do with their social programs and says the opposite is true: Small populations make it harder to do what Nordic countries do. I like when people say, "Well, they're a homogeneous culture!". I don't even want to know what they think that means.

By fnord12 | March 9, 2017, 1:45 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Feeling disrespected

I cleaned the house on International Women's Strike Day. How come no one interviewed me?

By fnord12 | March 9, 2017, 8:54 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 8, 2017

We're all shovel ready now

Omaha goes back to gravel roads.

By fnord12 | March 8, 2017, 10:06 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 1, 2017


Matt Stoller has another good look at the state of the Democratic party's philosophy via, in part, Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal.

By fnord12 | March 1, 2017, 5:21 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Oatmeal puns

Ok, how are we doing?

Oatrageous. That's great. Next?

Berry intense. Ok, very good. Next?

Cinnsational. Ok, sure, i'll take it. Next?

Oh, i get it. The only way to win is to not play the game. Ok, i'll mark you down as a conscientious objector. And finally...

No, that's... that's not a pun. You just repeated what's on the box and then said the first word again. That's terrible. You did a terrible job, and you ruined this whole ad.

By fnord12 | March 1, 2017, 1:44 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

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