Category Archives: Uncategorized

4/3/17 – The LuckSwing Channel Returns! New Episode of ‘Screens!’ #LegionFX #Marvel #TV

legion

‘Sceens!’ – where we talk about whatever the two of us happen to be watching.

It has been a long hiatus, but thank you all for your patience. We somehow let changing schedules, a dysfunctional laptop, and some other BS excuses spiral out of control. However, we are back and ready to give you all the new content you deserve. Lets all just blame the “Game of Thrones” withdrawal.

In this Episode Joey and Stephen talk about the full season of FX’s comic book series “Legion”, produced by “Fargo” (the series) creator Noah Hawley. Warning, there are spoilers. If you really hate spoilers feel free to watch “Legion” on FXNOW and then give this podcast a listen!

More to come this week on #Rick&Morty #MORERETURNS

Special Thank to Harry Pepe for sound mixing and editing.

“Your President”

During the first presidential debate, Donald Trump, a candidate for the office of the President of United States of America, referred multiple times to Barack Obama as “your president” when speaking to Hillary Clinton. The sentiment is not a new one nor one that has not been heard a number of times before. 1

Speaking anecdotally, a number of my near and less-near relatives will often and rather emphatically refer to Obama in ways that are equal parts in poor taste and emblematic of an attitude that has pervaded the republican party and perhaps the nation at large. This attitude has extended to a recent rash of would-be democratic voters withholding their vote from Hillary on the grounds that she is not “their” candidate, as if they can really stake any sort of ownership to any candidate, who are themselves people with ideas sure to diverge, at least in one or two ways, from the voting population at large.

In the latter instance, the condition afflicting former Bernie Sanders’ supporters 2 is something that has crippled the Democratic party’s attempt to swing back to normalcy, with a disenfranchised left emerging from the primaries rubbed raw by rhetoric characterized by dismissiveness if not vitriol—both sides determined to spike the ball in the end-zone as sure as victory was assured and contradictorily assuming everything would fall into place with the result decided.

Having buried the lede, the purpose of this post is not to harp or impose voting standards or criterion on anyone. 3

If there is one thing that has been made more clear by the nature of this past election cycle, it is the dangers of political rhetoric. These dangers are manifold. Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous on one level in the manner of a promise, or a threat – the first sort of danger comes through not in what he is saying but the promise that those words will birth actions that live up to the violence of the threat and its delivery. This danger is potential energy, and it is the kind that can be avoided. 4

The second kind of danger is the danger rhetoric subtly evokes in people, the ways in which lies can give way to genuine belief. This danger’s edge is almost too keen to feel at first, yet is in many ways as real as the former. While the one is the hypothetical danger of the concretely horrific, the latter is the inevitable danger of something that already fucking happened. The damage of Trump’s policies is a specter haunting us from November, but the real damage of his campaign’s rhetoric has already been felt.

Anecdotal claims catch a lot of flak, and deservedly so. Anecdotes can be used as shields against broader systemic issues that people would rather ignore. 5 These sorts of claims abound in any instances where groups are involved, and often use the experiences of individuals to prop up systems. That shit is a fallacy, and is terrible. I am going to use an anecdote here, but I think it is a bit different:

Dujie and I have been blogging off and on for a while, and we do not have a huge readership. His interest in politics is real, and he brings real knowledge to the table in his discussion of it. My opinions towards politics tend to latch themselves more to the atmosphere surrounding elections than the practicalities of their results. I live that atmosphere, but, like many, can only guess at policies’ results using the tools for research available to me (which I should use more, and more intelligently, as should everybody) and intuition (which I should use less).

The nature of this election has been good for readership. There is a lot of content out there, but there is also a healthy appetite for that content – urgency is high. When we publish something, more people have read it, and more people come commenting, and messaging. As, our leanings are pretty clear, there have been a number of Trump supporters who have come commenting, which we welcome despite our differences. Trump supporters are the people who are done the greatest disservice by his rhetoric. Trump’s primary appeal—and the structure from which his arguments begin—is similar to how marketers sell products. He begins by identifying an issue with you, a problem with yourself. He is not specific, but speaks broadly as one would when writing a horoscope or selling wrinkle cream or zinc supplements at whole foods. 6 Person becomes people. People becomes country. We are a nation of the afflicted, and he is our cure. 7

Donald Trump’s rhetoric presupposes inadequacies in human beings and paints the causes for those inadequacies on the faces of people who are different. When you see people with special needs, people who are old, poor, and too young to know any better, casting hate speech into the shitstorm that is social media, you can see the damage the past year has already done – damage that lives independently from policy. Politicians now will say anything to get elected, but freedom of speech is not only a right, it is a privilege, and if there is an appeal to this post that appeal is to exercise that privilege with the dignity it should be afforded. Donald Trump’s words have already made America a worse place and the hate speech he preaches (that for him, might be a fiction) has already become the reality for those he has targeted.

He has found supporters with gaps in their lives, those with wounded pride, those who have lost loved ones, those who are despondent with their lots in life. He has taken their collective agony and loss and made it something universal to soften the blow – ‘the problem isn’t with you,’ he says, ‘it is with the country. The problem is you are being wronged, the tragedy and loss and hopelessness you feel isn’t your tragedy, its everybody’s, and that tragedy has a cause with the face of Barack Obama.’ He has used the vacuum left by sadness, hopelessness and fear and filled people’s souls with hate.

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Trump is currently running for the office of President of the United States. He also repeatedly denies that Barack Obama is his President. Let’s talk about the dangers of refusing ownership and the rhetorical fuckery at play when a presidential candidate consistently uses the term “your president” when describing the sitting president.

I have always been leery of people who take to the “respect the office” argument in these sorts of discussions as if those words brokered no discussion and were somehow an end-all, be-all to how one should speak of or consider the sitting president. I think looking to the protests being made in relation to the anthem-as-metaphor for national respect are a good analogy here. The office of the president is significant to citizens of the country, it being the unquestionably highest elected office in the nation, and the only one to carry with it symbolic significance equal to or exceeding its practical equivalence. If respect is indeed earned as the cultural idioms of our parents’ would suggest, it seems that the office of the president is, if anything, something imbued with meaning worthy of respect only in the hands of the right individual. This is likely what many people mean when they say “your president,” they are expressing that the values of the current president are not in keeping with their own and are disowning him as such.

Unfortunately, this attitude strays from a simple lack of respect for the man in presidential office by rhetorically constructing an alternate universe implying that Republican voters have been living in a state erected against their choosing, presided over by a dictator – an outsider – foisted to power on the backs of an unknowable other. This premise rests on the fiction that democracy can be uncompromising, and it supplies a notion of foreign-ness to the “other side” who becomes somehow less American for doing what they thought was best for the country’s welfare.

The birther myth is the bedrock to this dreamscape, offering an out-clause for a vocal minority who once cried “respect the office!” in indignation when criticism was lofted at George W. Bush’s decisions and policies. The “not MY president” rhetoric harmonizes beautifully with the birther myth, forming a symphony of bigotry filling the ears of a vocal white minority, discarded relics of our country’s worst years, with Donald Trump taking his place at the head of the orchestra. The ideas are not new ideas, but Trump’s shamelessness lends renewed boldness to organizations and people who have seen the world changing and felt the hatred that was their voice become shriller and lonelier as history 8 continues to leave them behind. In its best case, Trump’s candidacy is the death wail of a once-dangerous animal rendered toothless in its senescence; at worst, it is a rabid thing, infecting a younger generation and perpetuating itself into the future.

When you consider the birther myth and “not MY president” rhetoric side by side, “respect the office” gets complicated. The same people who once admonished others to respect the office of the president can now turn around and insinuate that the sitting president is a foreigner legally disqualified for the presidency. Taking this as truth 9 the “not my president” line moves from an expression of dissent 10 to something starkly literal, an assertion that the sitting president is a foreign dictator 11 in a country of which the utterer no longer considers themselves a part. I mean, if the President of the United States isn’t your President, how American can you really be?

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Word games aside, it is time to get in on that fearmongering game. Monday’s debate concluded with an interesting question, one that is emblematic of this election cycle at large:

One of you will not win this election,” said the moderator, Lester Holt. “Are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voters?”

Think about this. In a presidential election in the United States of America, a country which has held 44 presidential elections, a debate moderator trembles and asks the two individuals running for office, whether or not they will accept the outcomes as the will of the voters. This is the stage divisiveness has set for us. The Trump campaign and the arguments that birthed it are an agent sowing seeds of distrust and granting validation to the most paranoid and conspiratorial aspects of a population looking for someone to blame. In so doing, the reputation of the presidential office has already been dismissed as selective. In a world of “Your President” and “My President” the states cease being united, and that’s where we are today. It’s fucked.

The result of this attitude is a competitive, political divisiveness, that values winning and strength as virtues and not means to the betterment of the country as a whole. This attitude is too often carried to the extent that failure in the country is lauded by the opposition, if for no other reason than being an opportunity to hang points on an imaginary scoreboard with Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other. If the country is failing, it’s your fault too. If you are a citizen of the United States, Barack Obama is your sitting president. If you are running for the office of President of the United States, Barack Obama is your sitting president. If you are failing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice, you are working to directly undermine one of the 3 pillars of the US government, the government that people pay you to serve. Rooting for the president to fail doesn’t make you a patriot, it makes you an idiot. You fucking live here too.

Tahat Takes: Kaeperknickers in a twist and the milquetoast Seahawks

Full disclosure: up until a few weeks ago. I didn’t care for Colin Kaepernick. I hadn’t thought about him in a hot minute mostly. And at the height of his powers, I projected my dislike for the 49ers and Pleated-pants Jim “McHandshove” Harbaugh and thought Kapernick arrogant, overrated, and self-centered.

I was the guy who gleefully posted the differences between Kap and Dangeruss’ Instagram on your timeline.

I was a PETTY AF sports fan.

I made him a character acting out a role in the theatre of the NFL.1

I was wrong. Colin Kaepernick is a full person containing multitudes and deserves all the respect I can afford—and that’s before he sat down during the national anthem and demonstrated that he has a curious, working mind engaged in one of the most challenging national issues of our time.

I’ve never bought an NFL jersey in my life, but if I do it’s gonna be Kaepernick’s2.

Some would delegitimize Kap’s efforts by saying he’s rich and doesn’t “have a plan.” But his wealth doesn’t make him less Black nor are protests required to “have a plan” to be on the right side of history.

There’s also a notion floating around that Kap is doing some sort of activism lite, and that he hasn’t achieved much of anything. But he has created space for a conversation in a league that isn’t interested in having this conversation despite the fact that it’s good for business.3 That’s a BFD.4

Enter the Seahawks.

Last week, Doug Baldwin spoke up, promising that the whole team would do some sort of demonstration of solidarity. I, for one, got hella excited. Unleashing ANGRY DOUG BALDWIN on Black Lives Matter and police reform on opening day is an activist’s wet dream.

Giving Baldwin and the Seahawks the benefit of the doubt, I think they meant to do a really meaningful thing—to show solidarity for a movement that prioritizes the lives of black people, that ending racism and oppressive systems require the collective work of many people. The team-wide act, also worked to address the criticism that Kaepernick’s protest was an attention grab by eliminating the individual-ness of it. But at some point, the reality of their demonstration has to take precedent. And in the space of social movements, rhetoric and symbolism are everything.

On its face, a show of unity is an honorable, valuable thing. Who’s against unity?

But the call of unity has long been used to soothe people out of frenzy, as a band-aid for an amputation. But history shows us that to correct injustice—especially systemic injustice, which is more lubricious to grasp—requires anger and unrest so as to manifest into social movement.

Baked into our civic code is the idea we don’t need everyone to agree to something to make it happen; we only need enough to make a majority. That’s how we make change in a democracy. Calls for unity–specifically in response to a movement calling for change–is, at best, a moving of the goal post and, at worst, a blatant effort to cut a movement’s knees from under it.5

I have no interest in unifying with members of the Klu Klux Klan, neo-nazis, or anyone who thinks my interracial marriage and our mixed race kids are abominations.6

Now there’s a case to be made that overhyped histrionics of unity aren’t entirely the Seahawks fault. The media hyped it, not just Doug Baldwin. It’s not purely the Seahawks fault that mine and so many other’s expectations were Ezekiel Elliot-high. But Baldwin and others on the team have been around and have enough media savvy to know the type of coverage and reaction that was coming.

I am also tremendously sympathetic to NFL players not interested in engaging in public forms of protest. For many, professional football represents their only path to social mobility. The NFL is highly regimented and historically conservative. Their earning potential isn’t guaranteed and every time they suit up, they’re risking their health AND their careers.

Protect that. No one should feel like they have to pit their livelihood against what’s right in the world. That makes the choice even riskier. But in the event you face that impossible decision, protect yourself and provide for your family.7

But there’s a real, insidiously inflicted damage made in the milquetoast #alllivesmatter half-measure that the Seahawks proposed. In what is surely an unintended consequence of expressing broad support, their actions validated the misdirected conversation surrounding Kaepernick and other player’s method of protest.

Jesse Williams, in what may be the most woke moment of 2016,8 said, “If you have a critique for the resistance—for our resistance—then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression.”

Applied here: y’all that are up in arms about Kaepernick sitting but don’t have a valid criticism of the systems of oppression that drove him to sit9 need to examine y’alls priorities.

Many woke people tried to keep the focus of their coverage of Kaepernick on the racial inequity of our policing that he was trying to point out, however, 99.9% percent of the coverage around Kaepernick centered on his methods of protest—an insidious way of delegitimizing his point in the first place.10

This is wrong. Full stop.

It’s no different than our presidential election coverage eschewing policy for the horse race. It’s just wrong.

Now none of this is the fault of the Seahawks and what I’m sure is a well-intentioned leadership group the face of which has become Doug Baldwin. And I hope against all hope that this was the start of something bigger—that Doug Baldwin’s efforts to connect with the Mayor of Seattle yield real, substantive discussions and outcomes.

But standing together and locking arms has forced even the most progressive people into a debate about the methodology and efficacy of protests when we should all be talking about the inherent racial inequity and injustice in policing as presently constructed.

Let me say that again: WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED. WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE INHERENT RACIAL INEQUITY AND INJUSTICE IN POLICING AS PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED.

All of which are American dreams! All of which are American dreams! All of which are American dreams!

 

 

 

6/22/16 – New Episode of ‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ #GameOfThrones #BattleoftheBastards #BattlesofIceandFire #MaritimeLaw

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‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ – your one-stop Luckswing destination for everything Game of Thrones.

Season 6.09 “Battle of the Bastards” #BattlesofIceandFire

(00:52) Joey, Dujie, and Stephen attempt to recap this week’s episode! HOLY SHIT. Dany used some Rare Candies to level up. #dragonrage Grey Worm’s sweet moves, and Tyrion sweet words… The progeny get a chance to redeem their predecessors #DanyTyrion2016. Fur looks bad ass. Rickon, one word #SERPENTINE!! Cold Winds up North. Did Sansa fuck up? John is the luckiest man alive, #CreatorsOwnWords Medieval Warfare is crazy, but highly entertaining. BraveHeart Yara + Dany #QueensFTW Ending with fun theories for the final episode (book spoiler free).

(48:59) #RogueMaesterNation Joey and Stephen are huge nerds, still… This is all just fun and short speculation for the final episode and seasons to come.

Notes:

Happy Wednesday Everyone! #MARITIMELAW

Apologies we were extra silly this episode, and referenced the “Inside the Episode” way too much. We will always love you Dave and D.B.

Feel free to comment in with questions, or alternate theories. We would be happy to discuss the on the next episode!

Make sure to subscribe to us on I-Tunes!!

Send in your own episode #s.

6/14/16 – New Episode of ‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ #GameOfThrones #NoOne #DragonTales

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‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ – your one-stop Luckswing destination for everything Game of Thrones.

Season 6.08 “No One”

(00:52) Joey and Stephen attempt to recap this week’s episode! Arya is not dead to Joey’s minor disappointment. Kings landing is still meh, at least a sparrow died #melon, Tommen just ruined Clegane bowl, and Cersei is planning a #micdrop. Telling jokes with Tyrion, Greyworm, and Missandei…thank god Daeny is back. #slaveryisstillawful Varys where you going bra? Proposals for Dorne with fulfillment #milktoast. WATCH #WhaleRider!!! Is Varys a mermaid? #swish Brienne + Jaimie, Pod + Bronn = best part of this episode. Jaime is dyslexic. T_T #RIPBLACKFISH T_T #offscreen. Edumure, WATCH #OUTLANDER! Machismo fuckery…SOO MUCH FANSERVICE #TheHound kills again, #chickens. #BwithoutB is b. Arya escapes fucking TreadStone #JasonBourne. Arya Stark of Winterfell.

(59:50) #RogueMaesterNation Joey and Stephen are huge nerds. Varys is going to Faegon still, sadly no dick warts, #rolltide. Arya goes to the edge of the known world? Brienne and Pod heading to the brotherhood? #ladystoneheart it may have been too long… Daenerys Stormborn’s #DragonTales #DragonZord

Notes:

Happy Tuesday Everyone! #DragonTales

Happy Birthday to our Luckswing brother Dujie Thaht and our Luckswing #1 Fan Clare Sobetski

HBO’S Extra – Dance of Dragons – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJVVwWN2zNY

Whale Rider – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtZC5OOxoAQ

Feel free to comment in with questions, or alternate theories. We would be happy to discuss the on the next episode!

Make sure to subscribe to us on I-Tunes!!

Send in your own episode #s.

5/31/16 – New Episode of ‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ #GameOfThrones #BLOODOFMYBLOOD #BLOODRIDERS

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‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ – your one-stop Luckswing destination for everything Game of Thrones.

Season 6.06 “Blood of My Blood”

(00:52) Joey and Stephen do a post-dim sum recap of this weeks episode, book spoiler free! Arya, the worlds worst assassin, plays with in plays #avatarthelastairbender, and a simpler House of Black and White. #fuckthewildlings at Horn Hill, WTF ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT SWORD SAM? Dany gives the classic “CLEAR EYES FULL HEARTS CAN’T LOSE” in flawless Dothraki. #GoPanthers! FUCKING UNCLE BENJEN IS BACK FINALLY!! #NOELKTHOUGH Lastly RIVERLANDS RIVERLANDS, AND Margery’s long game. Efficiency has come, but plot-lines thought lost are coming back? #hope #ladystoneheart

(55:37) The adventures of Rogue Maesters continue (ignore banana joke…), looking into dem glass candles. Will the wall fall down? Is Aegon Targ coming? Arya much chiller book experiences in the House of Black and White. Will we see HIGHGARDEN EVER?? Oh. and the Blackfish.

Notes:

Happy Tuesday Everyone! Remember you are all Bloodriders.

The Riverlands as described by the Blackfish:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2JJ-KUZbOI

Bonus points to those who got the Heroes reference.

Feel free to comment in with questions, or alternate theories. We would be happy to discuss the on the next episode!

Make sure to subscribe to us on I-Tunes!!

Send in your own episode #s.

5/24/16 – New Episode of ‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ #GameOfThrones #HODOR #HOLDTHEDOOR

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‘Talk Sex w/ Podrick Payne’ – your one-stop Luckswing destination for everything Game of Thrones.

Season 6.05 “The Door” T_T

(00:52) Joey and Stephen do a recap of this weeks episode, book spoiler free! LittleFinger’s plan always = Teferi’s puzzle box? Episode titles are important? HOLY CRAP TIME TRAVEL?! MANDERLYS!! Pissing contest on the Iron Islands, F**k R’hllor, WESTEROSI BARBARIANS, children vs men, playing tag…and more!!!

(1:00:44) Here is Rogue Maester land: TIME TRAVEL WTF CONTINUES, Jorah to Asshai? Victarion Greyjoy, COLDHANDS AND MORE!!!

Notes:

On-time two weeks in a row!! Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Apologies Stephen is recovering from bronchitis and there is coughing episode pause somewhere in the middle.

There are a lot of weird bits of useless trivia this episode…

Bonus points to those who get the Magic The Gathering reference.

Feel free to comment in with questions, or alternate theories. We would be happy to discuss the on the next episode!

Make sure to subscribe to us on I-Tunes!!

Send in your own episode #s.

Bing bing bong: The identity politics of Donald Trump supporters and the security of the free world

“Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interest and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.” – David Brooks, New York Times

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Donald Trump had a great week. Ted Cruz dropped out Tuesday night. Jon Kasich dropped out Wednesday morning. And a +184K romp in Indiana punctuated a 15-day, seven-state streak of winning majorities of the popular vote1 Within the span of 24 hours, Trump became the head of the Grand Old Party.

This is the natural point of a presidential cycle when new-found coalitions are forged, overtures of party unity are made, and a certain strain of politics that respects and desires to preserve the polity are called upon.

Naturally, it being 2016 and all, reactions were mixed. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus did everything he could to seem conciliatory, delaying the moment he sets himself on fire:


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems kerfuffled by the whole affair. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan still refuses to hump Trump.

And defacto Maester Aemon of the Republican Party, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is chugging 40s, hurling molotovs, and riding the wrecking ball from the Miley Cyrus music video while flipping off the whole world:

23 candidates. 1 and half years of campaigning. Hundreds of Best Westerns and Quality Inns. 10 months of conservative self-loathing. 8 months of fighting for the soul of the Democratic primary. Thousands of cans of Red Bull. 79 primaries and caucii. The table is set for the matchup we’ve been waiting for our whole lives: Trump v. Hillary Clinton.

<<>>

Now that we’ve completed the race for who gets to be in the race for president, who’s excited for more race stuff?

Donald Trump becoming the second most likely person in the world to be president is the type of shit that happens when you let evil in. As David Brooks of the New York Times writes, “Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years: the desire for outsiders; the bashing style of rhetoric that makes conversation impossible; the decline of coherent political parties; the declining importance of policy; the tendency to fight cultural battles and identity wars through political means.”

That broiling intransigence/machismo/xenophobia bubbling beneath the surface broke through in 2008 when America elected its first Black president during the toughest economic hardship of the modern era. White Americans—mostly blue collar conservatives in manufacturing and energy—felt economic pain in muscles they didn’t even know they had. The transgression of economic frustration into hateful rhetoric and bigotry is not a new idea. Politicians have been using it for centuries to win elections, however, a concurrently shrinking White citizenry contributed to the unprecedented levels of steaming vitriol hurled at President Barack Hussein Obama.2

Of course Obama being America’s first black president, it’s all unprecedented.

The Obama White House was seen as an immediate and direct threat to the way of life that had built the socioeconomic landscape and set of values we call America today. That’s because it was—and remains—a direct threat to the white-heterosexual-middle-class-nuclear family that has been the main body in that interminable national ideal of ours—the American Dream.

If Obama is the changing complexion of the American body politic, Trump is the bile we vomit as we overcome the infection of hate.

In 2010, with the help of major donors, ordinary people suddenly had a way to turn their very real frustration into action against the specter of the “hopey changey stuff”—the tea party movement. That rhetoric, agitation, and social movement gave way to a real political entity, the Freedom Caucus, hell bent on slowing the advance of the federal government, thereby feeding the dissatisfaction of the federal government and the man at the head of it.3

And as the Republican Party fed the Tea Party beast—accentuating Obama’s blackness, stripping him of his citizenship, making him other—it was inevitable that a vapid figure like Trump would emerge as its leader. If you actively characterize of the leader of the free world, then of course it’s conceivable to elect a caricature as the leader of your party. If you make people believe the president is a fool, then every fool begins to look like a candidate for president, and when it’s time to pick the next one, people won’t have to look all that hard.

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We are in the midst of a perpetual culture shift. The plurality promised in the melting pot of America is only becoming more apparent because melanin is involved. Before, it was Irish and Italian and Polish immigrants, and communities of color were more easily segregated. Now, the browning of America has become obvious. It’s even harder to ignore when the President is an example of it.

If Obama is the changing complexion of the American body politic, Trump is the bile we vomit as we overcome the infection of hate.

Does this mean America is racist? Yes. But being a racist is a losing proposition. We have a biracial president. And for the first time ever, White Americans will make up less than 70 percent of the American electorate. Soon, White Americans will make up less than 60 percent, and eventually, less than 50 percent. Something about the moral arc of the universe being long and bending towards justice.


Averting a Great Depression. 14M new jobs over a 74-month streak of job growth. Healthcare for 15M more Americans. Repositioning America as global leaders on energy. Strengthening the force of diplomacy through focused relationship-building. A federal government equipped for the digital age. Government and policy victories aside, this video illustrates the most important part of the Obama presidency—his impact on an American psyche undergoing a violent demographic shift.

Demographically, he’s literally the perfect man for the perfect time.

America is squarely in the midst of a cultural identity change. Identity politics are violent acts, constantly breaking lines and redrawing them.

  Welcome to the world of identity politics my white friends. This stuff is hard, but good news: America is browner and more educated than we ever have been, so I like our chances.

The heterosexual nuclear white middle class family 4 has long been the symbol upon which we hang our aspirations of socioeconomic opportunity. As either a destination or a step on the way to becoming a self-made Rockeffeler, Morgan, or Carnegie, it has come to be the most powerful political evocation.

The power of that symbol persists, but it’s waning. And we are seeing the very last throes of it.

For the first time ever, white voters make up less than 70% of the electorate. Romney won 59 percent of the white vote and still got whacked 332-206 in the Electoral College. For comparison, Reagan won a similar 60 percent of the white vote in 1980 and went on to claim the one of the largest Electoral College victories in history.

If Trump should barely win the white vote at 59%, he will win no states. If he meets the eternal conservative threshold that is Ronald Reagan and hits the 60% mark of all white voters, Trump wins the 16 whitest states in the union5 for a total of 88 electors, coming up short by 182.The only way Trump hits the magic 270, is if he wins an unimaginable 75% of white voters. If he somehow managed to do that, suddenly 36 states are on the table along with their 295 electors, and this country ceases to be the country my parents thought they’d moved their family across the world for.6

Trump and the exclusionary politics he forebears have to find a path to the presidency despite a shrinking white voter share. On top of that, the coalition he has managed to cobble together is an over-performing bunch.

In the Republican primaries, Trump has 11M supporters. If you bore out Hispanic favorable/unfavorable across the whole demographic population, for comparison though, you’d find 44M Hispanics opposed. That’s the type of sentence that leads you to post something so stupid as:7

This is the face of a Republican Party who has realized they’ve been cow-towing to a shrinking demographic in the basest way possible, that white people will never again, alone, deliver them the White House, that exclusion and self-preservation doesn’t work.

Donald Trump won’t be the next President of the United States. Trump may be the first presidential candidate to lose all 50 states. We will have to continue to have the long, difficult discussion about who we are and where we’re headed. Welcome to the world of identity politics my white friends. This stuff is hard, but good news: America is browner and more educated than we ever have been, so I like our chances.

I still believe in a politics of optimism and inclusion—the kind a younger, more naïve Junior Senator from Illinois promised, begged for us to hope for, and leaves for us to carry forward.

There can be no other way.

 

Billionaires dodging taxes in order to buy erections

Credit: Iceland Magazine
Credit: Iceland Magazine

Is anyone actually going to care about the Panama papers?

Unless you have been squirreled beneath the web equivalent of a rock for the past week, you likely know at least tangentially of “the Panama papers” – papers leaked from a law firm in Panama connecting major corporations and wealthy individuals to prominent offshore banks used as tax evasion hotspots. The individuals implicated in the papers themselves include celebrities, major world leaders and international businessmen.

Using billions of dollars in evaded taxes, these individuals enjoy jet setting throughout the world, snorting Cialis off of each other’s dicks and lamenting the loss of old-timey values on facebook.

To make a comparison that might resonate with our primarily US-residing readership:

These are the sorts of people who, in America, give millions of dollars to campaigns in order to avoid giving millions in taxes to the Government which hypothetically pay for the streets they drive on, the schools their neighbors’ kids attend, social security for a generation who can’t afford homes until they’re 50, etc. Whether or not they can be officially convicted of the crime they are all committing against their respective communities, they should still be thought of as fake-tanned Ebeneezer Scrooges who actively avoid assisting the communities they now see themselves as above.

All of the individuals implicated have vehemently denied that they have broken any laws. This is likely sort-of-true, as the exploitation of loopholes is pretty much a classic rich/powerful person thing to do. That being said, they are guilty of evading the shit out of their taxes and have likely caused pretty severe damage to the communities of which they are a part as a result.

But did anyone actually break any laws?

Yes. While holding money in an offshore company is generally not illegal, 1 if it is done to facilitate tax evasion, a crime is being committed. If a lawyer appraises a situation and feels compelled to say something to the effect of “technically they did everything legally *cough* to commit tax evasion *cough*” than a loophole needs to be closed, some money needs to be collected, and some motherfuckers have to go to jail.

When a billionaire evades his taxes, he is stealing money from you. According to the laws of whatever country in which he does business, that isn’t his money. It is his Government’s money. It is the financial means by which the infrastructure and day to day lives of the citizens of the world function. Are billionaires privately funding the construction of highways out of the goodness of their hearts?

When politicians in the US talk about remedying the national deficit, they propose that we cut Medicare, privatize social security and eliminate social programs. The same thing happens abroad. When the President of Ukraine can justify evading his own taxes during wartime while demanding the citizens of his country pay their share (and then some), something is probably wrong.

The speculated amount of tax dollars avoided just by those implicated in the Panama papers is around 200 billion dollars annually. As an example of how this can really hurt – this article about Uganda exposes the Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd Company as having defrauded the Ugandan government for a cool $404 million dollars by changing its official corporate home to the tiny island of Mauritius, an island nation with a population just exceeding 1 million people famous for its exhaustingly long Wikipedia page.

So what can we do about this? The answer: nothing. These are the people who run the world and the rules do not apply to them.

Who wants to be a billionaire?

I hastily googled the top 3 people who have stolen from the international community recently. Please feel compelled to find these fine folks on social media and bombard them with garbage. Apparently China and Russia have already censored social media to avoid this, can’t hurt to try though. I have assembled some fun facts about all of them for your reading pleasure.

Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson

Credit: Jason Franson / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Credit: Jason Franson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Likes:

  • Ice
  • Land
  • Defrauding the citizens of a country famously named for being too climactically inhospitable for Vikings
  • Of Monsters and Men

Dislikes:

  • Diet sour cream
  • Lukewarm bagel bites
  • The top button on dress shirts
  • Paying taxes
  • Female orgasms

Sigmundur, the since-resigned Prime Minister of Iceland is famous for being a huge piece of shit with a neck reminiscent of Vernon Dursley and probably severe impotence. He and his wife were indirect creditors of three failed banks responsible for the Icelandic stock market dropping 90% in 3 days. They managed to remain in prominent positions within Iceland for 6 years following the financial crisis since they were not directly affiliated with the wrongdoing that collapsed the economy. People picketed the shit out of him and he is now resigning.

Ukrainian Prime Minister, Petro Poroshenko

Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES BY MASHABLE TEAM
Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Likes:

  • Stealing millions of tax dollars from his country during a time of war
  • Chocolate
  • The antagonists in Rocky and Bullwinkle

Dislikes:

  • Eyebrows
  • X-men origins
  • The top button on dress shirts
  • Paying taxes
  • Female orgasms

According to the LA times, Poroshenko has since denied breaking the law. He is quoted as saying, “I believe I might be the first top office official in Ukraine who treats declaring of assets, paying taxes and conflict of interest issues profoundly and seriously.” It should also be noted that Poroshenko is a huge piece of shit who has a profound and serious misunderstanding of what the words in this and the prior sentence actually mean.

The corpsebride, Ian Cameron

Credit: Reuters
Credit: Reuters

Likes:

  • The furtherance of the British Aristocracy via sophisticated tax evasion
  • Telling his son to tell everyone in British Parliament the opposite
  • “The Cameron family’s ancestral home in Aberdeenshire”
  • Winking

Dislikes:

  • Paying taxes
  • Blinking
  • Being alive

I was going to write some nasty shit here about Ian Cameron but he is dead so it doesn’t really matter. Probably wouldn’t hurt to investigate his son though.

 

Nice caucus, (Bernie) Bro: Lessons from the biggest, brownest caucus in the contiguous US

This past weekend, Bernie Sanders picked up 55 delegates with three victories in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state caucuses. The big wins round out a nice 5-0 run of small states that have seen the Sanders Camp finally put up the big numbers that they they’d previously been beaten by on Super Duper Tuesday.

This is good news for Sanders and his supporters. Keep an eye on the scoreboard though, as Hillary Clinton still has a 263 delegate lead: 1,243-980.

Coming out of this weekend, there are two pieces of national political conventional wisdom, as they relate to caucuses, that haven’t dominated the national narrative but are still worth re-examining: First, that Washington1 is white and rural but it also has Seattle so it’s white more than rural. Secondly, higher voter turnout has long favored progressives/liberals, but then why does Sanders keep crushing caucuses—a voting apparatus that, riddled with barriers, stifles turnout?

A plurality of diversity

All jokes aside, Washington state’s caucus is actually the biggest caucus in America as determined by state population2 and delegates available.3 Of all the 12 cauci,4 it also happens to be the second most diverse, next to Hawaii. In fact all three of this past weekend’s cauci were the most diverse of the cycle thus far.

The national press tends to brush Washington5 with the same Titanium White broad brush stroke.6 Washington gets a bad rap for being very white.7 It is. But so is America. Relative to the rest of the Union though, Washington is among the most diverse. Wallethub put out the a list 2015’s Most Diverse Cities in America, and 3 of the top 10 hail from the Evergreen State.8. And several websites that track this stuff and put out top 10 most diverse states9 have Washington as mainstays on their lists.

Despite Washington’s diversity, the Clinton campaign’s lock on Black voters was not tested at our caucus.10 Certainly, Washington’s less than four percent Black population is less than a third of the national average—12.6%.11 For context, states like Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi have Black populations represented at 10 times our rate—31.4%, 32.4%, and 37.3%, respectively. Clinton has done tremendously well in these states, crushing Sanders with the Black electorate to the tune of 60, sometimes 70 points.

Clinton’s success with Black voters has, in turn, fueled a narrative that Bernie Sanders’ supporters are—and more insidiously, must be—hella white. They’re not. We’re not. I’m not.

Perhaps that’s why we saw this week the rise of #BernieMadeMeWhite. A trending Twitter meme that, for the first time in this election gave voice,12 to the exclusion felt by non-White, non-Black, non-Hispanic voters. Do I imagine we’ll get another moment? No.

Let’s not forget, my socially progressive friends and industry peers13 that write, cover and read political stuff, that when we talk about diversity, it is not so black and white.

Washington state results

So how did all these brown people that we’ve established actually do live in Washington actually vote? I couldn’t tell you. No one conducted exit polling during this weekend’s cauci.14 At the state level, caucus-goers voted overwhelmingly in favor for Birdie Sanders, 72.7% casting a vote his way.

Since we don’t have exit polling from which to fabricate relevant narratives, I’ve correlated county-by-county Democratic caucus with 2008 and 2012 election results and 2010 US Census data so that we can paint each county by slightly-smaller-but-probably-still-too-broad brushstrokes.

First of all, some throat-clearing: Sanders swept all 39 counties. The most populous county—King, court of liberal stronghold and our hometown Seattle—handed Sanders the third least ideal victory at 67.3%. Garfield and Asotin Counties were the only other counties to show less approval of Sanders with 60% and 67.2%, respectively.15 The ham-handed impact of King County—which holds nearly 10,000 delegates, four times the next largest county—should not be understated.

Of the nine most conservative counties,16 seven were above the state average.

Of the nine most Hispanic counties,17 seven voted for Bernie at above the state average. Chelan and Walla Walla were the only counties to fall below the 72.7% threshold, but nearly all have been reliably Republican in previous cycles.18

Of the four most Asian counties,19 half voted above 72.7%

All of Washington’s eight most millennial counties20 voted above the state average for Sanders.

In these demographic slices, we see old ground covered. King County, the seat of the Democratic Party, comes through in a big way for Clinton. Young people in Washington love Sanders.

The force of strength shown by reliably conservative counties is unique though. There is a strange slice of conservative voters that—by virtue of his anti-establishment campaign and unwavering commitment to equitable domestic economic policy—support Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. Many are from Eastern Washington. A strange cycle in deed.

Arriving to a conclusion about what this data says about race and the Sanders campaign in Washington State is near impossible without visibility into the demographics of caucus turnout by county. The fundamental question remains: Was the racial makeup of each caucus reflective of its county?

Probably not.

Caucus problems

Caucuses suppress turnout, disproportionally affecting poor and brown voters who otherwise work on Saturdays and can’t take at least half a day off to stand in a school gym to debate the merits of Clinton’s environmental policy. Caucuses require an investment of human organization and resources. There’s confusion about whether or not voters have to be in person to cast a ballot, which is the exact opposite of an all-mail ballot system that the electorate just got used to in a state like Washington.

Conventional campaign wisdom says higher turnout portends positive outcomes for the most liberal candidates. So why does Bernie do so well in caucus states? 3 reasons:

  • Caucuses rely on enthusiasm, a characteristic Sanders’ supporters have in spades. Washington is a state that favors activism and has a strong history and culture of governing by the ballot.
  • Caucus states are smaller. Washington is the second most populous state Sanders has won. The only two caucus states the Clinton camp really cared about were Iowa and Nevada, both strategic to the campaign narrative, not the math.
  • Caucus states aren’t very diverse. With the exception of this past week’s cauci, we’re talking about states like Utah, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and Minnesota that rank somewhere in the pure undriven snow category of whiteness with over 90% white people. More pointedly, caucus states have very small black populations

For more real insight on Sanders caucus victories, check out FiveThirtyEight’s take on it.

Where do we go from here?

The establishment media v. the will of the people has been an undercard narrative for much of the campaign. In the last week, we’ve seen it emerge and become a real force. As Sanders’ victories get under-reported,21 it riles up his base on social media even more.22 Let’s be clear, Sanders has never had a greater chance at a primary victory than he does today, but time—and in many ways, the electoral structure of the Democratic primary—is certainly not on his side.

From a communications point of view, the worst thing that could happen right now is that the press overhype Sanders ability to come back and snatch up the nomination. It would invite complacency at a time where Sanders needs the utmost zeal from his supporters in states like New York and California. 23

Immediately up next, is Wisconsin though, which puts its 86 delegates up for grabs on Tuesday. Sanders has pulled ahead of Clinton in recent polling, but remains within the margin of error. A big win is needed to eat into the delegate deficit, but in a slow primary month, any victory will keep the momentum—and more importantly, the momentum story—strong for a solid two weeks before New York, New York.