Thursday, November 15, 2018


The Daily Irritant will be dark the rest of the month as we go deep undercover on an overseas assignment. It's all very hush-hush, need-to-know kinda stuff. I'd love to discuss it here, but I doubt any of you have the necessary security clearance. Anyway, we should be back in business the first week of December. Until then, here's a cute puppy.



Thursday, November 8, 2018

I Guess I was Wrong About the Elections

I guess I completely misunderstood what happened Tuesday night. Because this was in today's New York Times:

The Midterm Results Are a Warning to the Democrats

confused hanna barbera GIF by Warner Archive

Huh! That's weird. Here I thought they had re-taken the House and taken a few governorships that had been held by Republicans, but I must have misunderstood somehow.

Stop manning imaginary barricades, and start building real bridges to the other America.
Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist

Oh, right. We forgot to build bridges to the "other America." You know, the "real" America. I keep forgetting that after every election, whether we win lose or draw it is always our responsibility - nay, our moral imperative, to reach out to the racist rubes of the heartlands who despise us and try to find common ground with them. They, of course, are under no such obligation.

For months we’ve heard from sundry media apocalypticians that this year’s midterms were the last exit off the road to autocracy. On Tuesday, the American people delivered a less dramatic verdict about the significance of the occasion.
In a word: meh.

Ah! Now I get it. See, here I was thinking that the Democrats had managed to retake the House of Representatives despite the map being ridiculously gerrymandered to favor the GOP and that that would put them in a position to be a check on the President's power. But, see, I was wrong because. . . um. . . because "meh?"

Are you interested in seeing Donald Trump voted out of office in two years? I hope so — which is why you should think hard about that “meh.” This week’s elections were, at most, a very modest rebuke of a president reviled by many of his opponents, this columnist included, as an unprecedented danger to the health of liberal democracy at home and abroad. The American people don’t entirely agree

A very modest rebuke.
I mean, okay, we didn't vote to have him tarred and feathered. I guess that would have been a less modest rebuke. But I guess that we failed to win Senate seats in such easily winnable states as Texas, North Dakota and Indiana means we must have done something wrong.

Sarcastic The Simpsons GIF

The American people don’t entirely agree.
We might consider listening to them a bit more — and to ourselves somewhat less.

Okay, first of all, there is no "ourselves." You're not one of us. Do not group yourself in with us. You're a climate-denying Wall Street Journal opinion page alum who thinks that because he doesn't like Trump, we're supposed to hail you as some sort of #Resistance hero.

Secondly, No. No I don't think we should listen to the people who like Donald Trump. There are more of us than there are of them. We should outvote them and pay no attention to their bullshit opinions or feelings. The fact that they are okay with this pussy-grabbing two-bit Franco is reason enough to never engage with them. They have nothing of value to say.

Image result for torch marchers

Hmm, maybe we should hear them out?

The 28-seat swing that gave Democrats control of the House wasn’t even half the 63 seats Republicans won in 2010. Yet even that shellacking (to use Barack Obama’s word) did nothing to help Mitt Romney’s chances two years later. 

Yeah, because that's not how elections work. Winning a bunch of Congressional seats doesn't give you any points toward your Presidential vote total.

Also, Barack Obama was, hoiw shall I put this. . . a POPULAR president. People liked him. People still like him. Very few people liked Mitt Romney. Even fewer can stand the sight of Cheeto Mussolini. There is no parallel to be drawn between 2012 and 2020.

It also underscores that while “the Resistance” is good at generating lots of votes, it hasn’t figured out how to turn the votes into seats. 

Right. If only the "resistance" had the good sense to go into these states controlled by Republican ratfuckers and undo the gerrymandering that the GOP has perfected over the last few decades.

Liberals are free to bellyache all they want that they have repeatedly won the overall popular vote for the presidency and Congress while still losing elections, and that the system is therefore “rigged.”

Oh. right. because the system is totally not rigged. The Founding Fathers totally didn't set up the electoral college and the Senate specifically to thwart the will of the majority by ensuring that low-population rural (slaveholding) states would have outsized representation. Of course not. And the fact that two of our last three presidents were elected despite getting fewer votes is totally not an indictment of our so-called representative form of government. And the fact that both of these presidents were right-wing Republicans is probably just a coincidence.  And it's perfectly fine that states with smaller populations than the city of Los Angeles get the same number of Senators as California, New York or Texas. that obviously makes perfect sense. And the fact that Republican gerrymandering has led to a situation where one party gets a million more votes for Congressmen but the other party gets more Congressmen is clearly a sign of a healthy democracy, not of the system being "rigged" to favor one party over the other!

Image result for simpsons sarcastic gif

But that’s the system in which everyone’s playing — and one they had no trouble winning in until just a few years ago. To complain about it makes them sound like whiners in a manner reminiscent of Trump in 2016, when he thought he was going to lose. It’s also a reminder that, in politics, intensity is not strategy. You have to be able to convert.
The Resistance didn’t convert.

Right. I mean, other than taking control of one of the two chambers of Congress, the only two parts of the federal government that were available to be won. Other than that, no converting. Well, that and flipping statehouses in Colorado, Maine and New York.
Oh, and Minnesota and New Hampshire.
 And Connecticut.
But other than that, they completely failed to convert. They converted nothing except re-taking the House and those seven state legislatures.

Oh, and the governorship of Illinois.
And Wisconsin.
And Michigan.
And Kansas (KANSAS!) and Maine and Nevada and New Mexico.
Other than that, they just weren't able to convert!

I don't know how I didn't realize that yesterday!

sarcastic funny face GIF

It didn’t convert when it nominated left-wing candidates in right-leaning states like Florida and Georgia.

Yes. Absolutely. I mean, assuming that you have no real concept of the meaning of the term "left-wing."

I mean, last time, Georgia Democrats nominated the moderate centrist daughter of  a long-time Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, and she came within 8 percentage points of winning. This year, they nominated "left-wing" progressive Stacey Abrams, and how much did she get creamed by? I forget. let me Google that real quickly. . .

Oh yeah, What a blunder!

If only she had been a bit less "Left-wing" she surely could have won as an African American female Democrat in a Confederate state that hasn't elected a Democrat to the governorship since 1999. And in which her opponent also served as secretary of state overseeing the election process. Clearly it was her "left-wingedness" that was the culprit here!

Simpsons Sarcastic GIF - Simpsons Sarcastic Sarcasm GIFs

It didn’t convert when it grew more concerned with the question of how much Trump did not pay in taxes than with the question of how much you pay in taxes.

Yes. Exactly. Everywhere you went, you heard Democrats talking about Trump's tax payments or lack thereof. Oh, the television was just full of political ads wherein Democrats complained about Trump not paying enough taxes. That totally happened in real life.

Also, tax "relief" should totally be a winning issue for Democrats. People who vote based on their perception that their taxes are too high can easily be convinced to vote democrat. I mean, it's not as if they thought that Barack Obama had actually raised their taxes when he hadn't. Right?

Image result for taxed enough

It didn’t convert when Chuck Schumer chose to make Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court the decisive political test of the year. 

Yeah. What a huge mistake to oppose the nomination of a drunken sexual predator to the nation's highest court. What were they thinking? People love drunken sexual predators!

Although. . .

By championing Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump and the Senate GOP have successfully accelerated a female exodus to the Democratic Party on the cusp of the first national elections of the #MeToo era. The latest Fox News poll, released on Sunday, says that burgeoning opposition to Kavanaugh is being driven by suburban women, who believe Christine Blasey Ford over Kavanaugh by a margin of 17 percentage points. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll says that opposition to Kavanaugh is notably driven by women over the age of 50. 

 It didn’t convert when it turned his initial confirmation hearing into a circus. It didn’t convert when media liberals repeatedly violated ordinary journalistic standards by reporting the uncorroborated accusations against Kavanaugh that followed Christine Blasey Ford’s.

A circus. Yes, that's what it was. A circus. Democrats objected to confirming the drunken sexual predator without at least hearing testimony from one of his accusers. Send in the clowns! And those reporters! Reporting things! Don't get me started on the reporters reporting uncorroborated accusations against Kavannaugh! Why, they breathlessly repeated all manner of claims about him murdering Seth Rich and Murdering Vince Foster, and Telling the Marine Corps to let Americans get killed in Benghazi and molesting children in a pizzeria! Oh, those darn liberals always repeating these unfounded accusations!

It doesn’t take a lot to get the average voter to tell you what he doesn’t like about Donald Trump: the nastiness, the divisiveness, the lying, the tweeting, the chaos, the epic boastfulness matched by bottomless self-pity. . .
Then again, what does the average voter think about the people who pompously style themselves “the Resistance”? 

Yes, if any of the hashtag resistance army had actually been on the ballot, that would certainly have been an issue! Good point!

Then again, what does the average voter think about the people who pompously style themselves “the Resistance”? I don’t just mean the antifa thugs and restaurant hecklers and the Farrakhan Fan Club wing of the women’s movement, though that’s a part of it.

Are you referring to the Luis Farrakhan who endorses Donald Trump? Is that the Farrakhan who has a "fan club" within the women's movement? I mean, if you say he does, I'm sure he does, I'm sure you're not being a spurious, disingenuous shit-weasel or anything.
Although, I gotta say, I think most normal people enjoy seeing Nazis get punched, so maybe the atifa "thugs" aren't such a huge problem?

Nazi Punch GIF - Nazi Punch Inauguration GIFs

Yup! Still funny!

I mean the rest of the Trump despisers, the people who detest not only the man but also contemn his voters (and constantly let them know it); the ones who heard the words “basket of deplorables” and said to themselves: Bingo. They measure their moral worth not through an effort at understanding but by the intensity of their disdain. They are — so they think — always right, yet often surprised by events.

Yeah. Why can't you jerks be more respectful of Trump's supporters? They certainly respect your right to your own views. It's not like they would ever call you "deplorable." Sure, they might call you "libtard" or "cuck" or "soy-boy." But never deplorable!

Oh, and if you're a woman they might call you a b*tch or a c*nt. Or if you're Jewish, they might call you "oven-ready" but never "deplorable!"

Remember, as a left-of-center person it is YOUR responsibility to reach out to the other side with friendship and respect no matter how much they despise you. It is never ever their responsibility to try and understand you or find common ground with you. Even though there is no olive branch that you can ever offer these people that they won't slap out of your hand and accuse you of trying to hit them with, always remember that it is YOUR job to understand where THEY are coming from and not the other way around.


I was a charter member of this camp

[ Ron Howard voice: "He was not a charter member of this camp." ]

Intellectual honesty ought to compel us to admit that we achieved precisely the opposite of what we intended. Trumpism is more entrenched today than ever. The result of the midterms means, if nothing else, that the president survived his first major political test more than adequately. And unless Democrats change, he should be seen as the odds-on favorite to win in 2020.

So, in conclusion: Democrats winning is bad for the Democrats. Having nearly every candidate that Trump endorsed lose is a sign of Trump's electoral state. War is peace, freedom is slavery. And if you, like I did, thought that the Democrats had done pretty well in these midterms, well you obviously don't understand politics.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Election Takeaways

Well, the Dems took back the House. I should feel happier. Mostly I feel a sense of relief, but There are a few things stuck in my craw.

First, I am just so upset about the Georgia governor's race. I mean, there's still technically an outside chance of a run-off, but basically Stacey Adams has lost. And it would be heart-breaking enough had she lost fair and square, but to lose banana-republic style to an opponent who engaged in the most blatant voter-suppression since the Jim Crow era is just devastating.
Kemp cheated. We know he cheated. He knows he cheated. Everyone knows he cheated and no one is going to do anything about it. And it wasn't subtle. Having voting machines stop working because someone "forgot" that electric machines need power cords, then taking nearly 2 hours to get the cords and bring them to the precinct is fucking shameless. Purging thousands of likely Democratic voters from the rolls has become pretty standard operating procedure for Republicans, but it's still shocking that they get away with it time and again. Having too few voting machines in majority-black precincts is also not surprising, but still infuriating. And with all this chicanery against her, for Abrams to be within a hair's breadth of winning anyway. . . it's just hard to take.

Secondly, although Democrats had some significant wins, some of the more loathsome Republicans remain employed by the taxpayers.

Somehow, the voters saw fit to re-up with vermin like Steve King,

Marsha Blackburn

Image result for crazy gun lady

and Ted Cruz

Steer Manure

On the other hand, some truly vile people lost their races.

Like Kansas' Kris Kohbach.

Maine's Paul LePage

and Kentucky's Kim Davis.


Oh, and Scott Walker has been cancelled.


Criminals had a pretty good day at the polls as the Republicans re-elected Greg Gianforte, Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, whie the Democrats decided to give Bob Menendez another term.

judge judy facepalm GIF by Agent M Loves Gifs

Oh, and the Colorado baker who refused to bake a gay wedding cake? He now has a gay governor.


Women had good showing. The first two Native American women elected to Congress won last night, Deb Haaland  and Sharice Davids 

And there are for the first time ever, two Muslim women in Congress, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib,

None animated GIF

And one other high note. Most of the candidates endorsed by Cheeto Mussolinin lost. Not all, not enough, but most. And that's a positive.

@MissMayn has the breakdown:

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The suspense is killing me!

It's election night and the suspense is killing me. And I assume it isn't doing any of you any favors either. So, to help pass the time until we find out if there's going to be a check on President Cartman or not, here are some highlights from last weekend's Chomp and Stomp - The world's biggest - and best - bluegrass festival and chili cookoff.

Let's start with a nice little combo called Control Burn [sic] with a song that I believe is called "Setlist Blues."

here are the Plate Scrapers from Maryland

My phone's battery died halfway through this Beatles cover, but the half song I got was pretty good.

Here is Slim Chance & the Convicts with and without Jeff Mosier sitting in on electric banjo:

And this is Jeff Mosier with the Jeff Mosier Band:

This is a young lady from Nashville who goes by the name Aubryn. Her songs weren't my cup of tea, but she's very talented, and hopefully at least some of you will like her.

And we finish off with Atlanta bluegrass stalwarts Smokey's Farmland Band

Monday, November 5, 2018

Please vote Tuesday 11/6

If you have not already done so,
     Please vote tomorrow.
          Please please please vote tomorrow.

Please. Please vote.

Pleeeeeeeease vote.


Anyone see this headline?

Why did I have to see this headline on Twitter? Posted from BoingBoing?
Why was this not on the front page of my morning paper?
Economists reverse claims that $15 Seattle minimum wage hurt workers, admit it was largely beneficial
Youknowwhy Guess GIF - Youknowwhy Guess KenanThompson GIFs

Yes. I do. Of course.

Earlier this year, a group of business school researchers from the University of Washington and NYU, as well as Amazon, published an influential paper . . .

Wait. Why does Amazon get to publish academic papers?

You Know Why Scold GIF - YouKnowWhy YouKnow Scold GIFs

Yeah, okay.

Earlier this year, a group of business school researchers from the University of Washington and NYU, as well as Amazon, published an influential paper claiming that the rising Seattle minimum wage had decreased take-home pay for workers by 6% due to cuts to work hours -- the paper was trumpeted by right-wing ideologues as examples of how "liberal policies" hurt the workers they are meant to help.

Yes, because "liberal policies" force employers to be cheap shitty bastards who will do anything to avoid paying their employees one dime more than the absolute minimum they can get away with. Oh, wait! That happens in every city, not just Seattle! It's almost as if those right wing pundits just make shit up and no one calls them on it!

But a new paper by the same authors (Sci-Hub mirror) shows that the rising minimum wage generated major increases for the workers who had the most hours, whose hours were only cut a little, but still came out ahead thanks to the wage increase;

Well, I expect that any minute now we will see the news networks flooded with right-wing commentators explaining how they got this so wrong.

The Office Michael Scott GIF - TheOffice MichaelScott Laugh GIFs

Okay, Okay, but surely the news programs will now have to have left-leaning economists on since they were right all along, right?

The Office Stanley Hudson GIF - TheOffice StanleyHudson LeslieDavidBaker GIFs

Okay, but the numbers don't lie. The charts, the graphs. . .

Seattle remains the West Coast leader
for employment growth,
fueling multifamily market strength

September 25, 2018

I mean, they can't just ignore the undeniable facts, right?

The Office Laugh GIF - TheOffice Laugh Giggle GIFs

The Office Dead Inside GIF - TheOffice DeadInside Emotionless GIFs

Friday, November 2, 2018

Flashback Friday -- Jonathan Richman

It's getting too hard to make dumbass jokes about current events anyomre these days. But we can still appreciate good music.

So this Flashback Friday we present the great Jonathan Richman,

It's hard to explain the brilliance of Jonathon Richman. His lyrics don't feel like song lyrics, they have a sort of prosaic, conversational feel to them, but with a sneaky wittiness, if that makes sense. Sometimes they feel like they're meandering off the rails and then, out of nowhere comes a clever rhyme and things are back on track.

Some of his songs might make you laugh.

Some might bring a tear to your eye.

Sure, he writes regular love songs.

But he can also write a great song about everyday, ordinary things. Like missing his favorite corner store.

Or his admiration for Harpo Marx's musical ability

Or his love of hot nights.

Or his favorite painters

Or dancing

Or anything, really.

I don't have any stories about Jonathon Richman. I saw him once in an old union hall in Eugene, OR and I think in San Francisco at the Paradise Lounge. Great shows. I hear he's going to tour again. Catch him if you can!