Monthly Archives: November 2016

Eye Of Newt

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about the possibility that Trump is purposefully distracting the media with outrageous tweets and playing up drama so he can assemble the Cabinet Of Darkest Evil and run away with the taxpayer’s money. I said I doubted he was that smart and I stick by that. For example, he’s hooked on Twitter like I’m hooked on Facebook. He’s locked in mortal combat with his detractors-even when they are 16 years old. He doesn’t like that he got caught with no evidence of the massive voter fraud that he alleged took place, so he asked people to prove that there wasn’t any.

Oh, brother. This is like people asking me to prove that God doesn’t exist after I ask for proof that he does. This is known in smart people circles as “trying to prove a negative”, which, as I understand it, is often not possible nor useful to a logical argument. I could make up just about anything, much like Mr. Trump-and demand proof that what I said is not true and you will not be able to do it if my claim is outrageous enough and beyond the realm of disprovability. Therefore: if you have no proof that God doesn’t exist, he must. It’s absurd on its face. If you have become an Internet ninja, you know that these logical fallacies are verboten, almost as bad as not knowing how to punctuate or use their/there/they’re correctly. Me, I’m still an apprentice ninja, because advanced formal logic involves word problems and math, neither of which I will ever be any good at. I can spot some of the easy ones, perhaps maybe someday I will be a better arguer.

Anyway, Newt Gingrich has come to his defense on Fox, and he is confident that Donald Trump is playing games with the media on purpose by pushing false or misleading information:

During an interview with Fox News, former House Speaker Gingrich said that Trump’s success on the show The Apprentice taught him how to play up the “tension” and “showmanship” surrounding his incoming presidency.

Gingrich explained that Trump diverts the media with “rabbits,” or unimportant stories to throw them off from pursuing real stories.

“[Trump] understands the value of tension. He understands the value of showmanship. And candidly, the news media is going to chase the rabbit. So it’s better off for him to give them a rabbit than for them to go find their own rabbit.”

I think from his perspective, that’s terrific. It gives everyone something to talk about.”

“He does not think of this as chaos. He thinks of this as creativity,” Gingrich added.

Try not to throw up or throw something after reading that.

Let me get this straight, Newt- what you are saying is: it’s OK for the president-elect to make up things, spread disinformation and dissemble…I mean, c’mon people, that’s just his style! It made great TV, so it’ll make a great presidency! What chaos?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. From being the most dangerous Speaker of the House in modern history to flacking for the most mentally challenged man ever to assume the presidency.

Newt, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to provide a little more proof that Donald Trump’s behavior is “creative”. In a twist of logic, it would be easier to prove that he isn’t. Just roll the tapes.

Burning Questions

1984: Joey Johnson, a communist rabble rouser, went to Texas to protest Reagan administration policies at the Republican National Convention. He and his comrades trashed their protest route, spray painting and vandalizing businesses. One of them pulled an American flag from its pole along the way. At the Dallas city hall, Joey lit that flag on fire.

Common sense would suggest that everyone in the group should’ve been arrested for their various antics. But that’s not how things work in America. Only Joey Johnson was arrested-because of what he did to that flag. You see, Texas had a law about destroying “venerated” symbols and representations. He was convicted, and received fines and remanded to a year in prison.

Yes, back then you could get majorly busted because you disrespected a piece of cloth. Johnson and his lawyers appealed the conviction, and after upholding and turnover by lower courts, his case went to the Supreme Court. They ruled in Johnson’s favor, citing first amendment concerns regarding his right to free speech. Even Antonin Scalia, who was never much for extending rights that offended his sense of originalism, concurred that flag burning is symbolic speech.

1989: Congress passes a new version of a flag protection statute. This did not survive a Supreme Court challenge.

1995-2006: Every session of Congress tried to pass a flag desecration amendment. Failure. It would have been the most bizarre use of the Constitution since Prohibition, the only time it was used to limit freedom and action.

So it’s settled. Now, it has been pointed out to me that just because something is settled case law doesn’t mean that good jurisprudence has been applied. We can look at things like Dred Scott or Plessy and know this to be true. But it seems like there is no judicial or political will great enough to stop someone from burning the flag. Personally, I agree with the courts-it’s just a flag and if you are not proud of it, you don’t have to respect it. That is your right in what is ostensibly the freest country in the world. A lack of patriotism is not a crime. Now of course that offends certain sensibilities because the first thing some like to cite when getting enraged about disrespect for the flag is that so many soldiers died fighting under the colors for “freedom”. I’m a veteran who wore the flag on my shoulder and I think that argument is garbage-it should be fairly clear to anyone with an acquaintance with the nearly unbroken string of wars we have participated in that we are rarely, if ever in it for freedom’s sake. Start by asking the Indians and work your way up to Iraqis to find out how we do freedom. I asked the Iraqis. They were fucking pissed, because in removing Saddam Hussein, we scorched that country with ruthless destruction and the whole country fell apart as a result. You will remember that primary targets were infrastructure in our “shock and awe” campaign, and I still don’t think they can keep the lights on all day in Baghdad. We know well now what Iraq was really all about-selling off the country’s resources to the oil companies and enriching friends of Dick Cheney.

Anyway:

November 29, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump tweets that flag burners should lose their citizenship and go to jail.

What the everloving fuck? Where did that come from? Is this occurrence an impending epidemic that requires a statement from the guy’s who’s going to run the planet? Did someone torch a flag in public lately?  Trump must’ve seen this story on Fox. I mean, I know Trump’s a born again fascist and he’s really enamored of the colored cloth as you can see here:

Donald Trump

Yeah, I can’t believe he’s gonna be president either. I’m revulsed and shocked by this bizarre hypernationalistic display, not to mention how it showcases the president elect’s  mental juvenility by hugging a fucking inanimate object. And  the bitch of all this is that it’s not the flag he cares about, it’s why the students burned it-because of his win of the presidency. And like a whiny ass titty baby, his thin skin couldn’t take the affront.

In the wake of the tweet, the media has gone in a few directions with interpreting it. One popular reaction is to stop paying attention to Trump’s online behavior because it is a red herring deployed to get us not thinking about what he’s really up to with his controversial staff and cabinet picks and his conflicts of interest that show that Trump is out for nothing but to enrich himself. I don’t think this theory holds much water-there is ample journalism available to watch Orange Caligula lose his head on social media and point out that his advisers are maniacs, lackeys, and deregulation freaks as well. Highlighting both paints a more complete picture of this fucking nutbar. Another strain of thought is that he is working on undermining the media by bypassing it, and this makes it very difficult for journalists to fight against that because you’ve got a self reinforcing rightwing news system(of which Fox is a large part of) that will report anything this idiot says. And when straight journalism tries to undo the lies and misinformation and just plain lunacy, he can say that the media is biased. Believing Trump’s tweets are a great way to have shit for brains and never have any real information, but some people, namely 1/2 the country like it. But the point is that it becomes harder for journalists to do the persuading that needs doing because Trump’s conditioning people to not listen. Ominous, eh? However, I don’t think Trump is smart enough to know that he’s declawing the press by lying and making up things that they will find false and therefore show their bias. He’s as much a victim of the phenomenon of instant communication as we all are, where any unexpurgated brain rot can be shared with hundreds of thousands of people.

As for me, I think it just makes him look like the ill-informed, oversensitive caveman he is and we should broadcast his dribblings far and wide in the hopes that the Electoral College will save us.

Hah! I’m kidding, the electors are morons appointed by the parties. Good fucking luck with that. Good fucking luck to us all, we’re gonna need it. I picked a terrible time to stop drinking.

burning-american-flag250.jpg

UPDATE: Mitch McConnell says that Donald Trump can eat his unwiped asshole if he tries to bring the flag burning issue before Congress. Mitch Fucking McConnell, who busied himself subverting the Constitution nearly all of this year by withholding advice and consent from President Obama on the Court vacancy, is on the correct side of this issue. And his disinterest in Donald Trump’s brain droppings remains even as he prepares to make McConnell’s wife part of the Cabinet. I look forward to these two weasels fighting each other in the future.

Respecting Our Elders

My family, with the exception of me, is highly religious. They believe that a 1900 year-old book contains the truth about all of reality. They spend their time at church listening to someone rant about a verse’s meaning for 1/2 an hour, and the Bible is the only book they read. They do not question the material, and deflect when you find contradictions and excuse God for his horrible behavior towards the people he ostensibly loves.

It makes me sad when I think about how lost they are, and feel terrible that their life was so incomplete that they needed an invisible friend to take this ride.

I should make my point before I lose track. What I am trying to say is that just because something is old and many people believe in it, it does not make it helpful for the situations we find ourselves in today.

I’m about to pivot to the US Constitution-as another example of a document whose outsized influence on the present makes people think stupid things and have reverence for it even though it is dangerous and horrible in some parts. Oh, sure, we amended it and took out the really awful stuff and put good stuff in its place, but some of the things remaining I believe are antidemocratic, and the bitch of it is that our founders purposely angled to make it that way because they were rich elitists.

Let’s switch lenses and focus deeper, on one thing. I’ve been arguing my ass off on Facebook (yes, I know how dumb that makes me) with friends and acquaintances about the use of the electoral college. It has, for the second time in this century, elected for president the person who came in second place in the popular vote. This has got a few of us wondering if this is really a good idea anymore. Mostly it’s libtards like me who are complaining because it is we who have been the victim of electoral math. I have been told that I would complain no matter what system is in place when my candidate loses. That’s a bullshit assumption and I don’t think there’s a liberal out there who would go pining for the electoral college if a Republican won the popular vote. We would say fair and square, after we finish addressing the voter suppression that comes in many forms– all designed to let less people vote.

There is much information about the nature of our use of the college going around, most of it false. It is alleged that it was supposed to prevent “mob rule”. Now I don’t think the founders ever said anything about “mobs”, having pored through the Federalist Papers several times and looked at an online resource or two. Mostly what they were worried about was “factionalism”, where one interested group could override the interests of another. The electoral college was not a solution to this, and neither was the rest of the fledgling government. When we created winner-take-all democracy, it could not be helped that we had created two distinct “mobs” because of this. We have a zero-sum game going in our country-and the contestants are bitterly opposed to each other.

So you see, someone has to win. Our country decides on either the liberal faction or the conservative faction. It sucks for the loser, and is often dangerous to the loser in this college scheme. Interestingly, a smaller mideast “faction”, the Rust Belt, heard some shit from Donald Trump that they liked, and switched their party votes based on his promises. And now the whole country has to bear the costs of that switch. The founders failed. Factionalism rules the day despite their best efforts, and democracy is not served.

The next excuse for the continued existence of the college is that small states need it to balance out the influence of larger population states. This consideration is also absent in the founders’ decision making and is made up. However, it is true, the college does do this, albeit ineffectively. Even the tiniest state gets 3 electoral votes, one for each of their federal representatives. Folks, the Midwest and the tiny New England states never swayed a vote. They all vote as a bloc and candidates are still free to ignore them because they are still sparsely populated and therefore not good spots to harvest votes, and they always vote the same way. It’s the swing states that make the difference, and I’ll have a few words about that in a bit. Anyway, once again, we have an undemocratic machination at work here, where someone in North Dakota can enjoy an outsized vote influence over a New Yorker simply because he is not surrounded by many people.

People are really smarting over the stunning loss that Hillary Clinton was handed two weeks ago. It continues to upset them as her popular vote totals continue to eclipse Donald Trump’s by a larger and larger amount. And the more intelligent ones have ferreted out Alexander Hamilton’s reason for favoring the electoral college: if we elected an abomination, the electors were presumed to have more knowledge than the citizens who voted and would not cast their ballots for a terrible choice. Yet another antidemocratic maneuver by the founders. This maneuver of electors is not in use anymore, as it is strongly discouraged that an elector become “faithless” and not vote the way his state did. I dunno. I don’t like the idea that strange “electors” are presumed to have a better conscience than the people. It might shift the election my way, but I’m not willing to open this Pandora’s box. I would much rather see the electoral college die.

So what does the electoral college do today? Well, it’s all about where you live that determines your influence on the election, thanks to it. About twelve states get to determine the President because of their party makeup. My Democratic vote in Georgia doesn’t count for shit because this state is overloaded with Republicans. But if I were in Ohio, where the party split hovers around 55-45, either way I voted, I would have a major effect on the outcome of the election. That’s just as fucked up as diluting urban votes. There’s only one sane solution, one that James Madison favored-let the people decide, not the states. I am fed up with the worship of this fractured federalism that idolizes the idea of a “state”. No state is special. People are, and I’m tired of jackasses braying on about how this is a republic and not a democracy. People actually say this as if it were a good thing. It’s both anyway. I can’t square conservative insistence on the primacy of individualism with their contempt of people, of democracy. I also can’t understand how they can despise elitism yet not blink when our fucking founding document is loaded with things to stop ordinary people from deciding their future in a fair manner.

Finally, let’s remember that the college is not the only obstacle to a better democracy that our forebears put up. We’ve come a long way. The status quo, as you can see, is bullshit.

Speechless

I have been so, so wrong about Donald Trump, for almost a year now. We all were. Nobody can believe what the fuck happened on the 8th. Rural whites came out in force; educated women withheld their votes, and minority turnout was depressed. In spite of the three times Hillary Clinton embarrassed him intellectually and experientially, people shrugged and still voted for Caligula.

With that said, Hillary Clinton still got more votes than Donald Trump. But we don’t work that way. We have some goofy setup designed by landed gentry who wanted more landowners with slaves to join the union, so they contrived a system that represented them properly, a system which has about zero use today.

That system’s usefulness, if there ever was any use to it, has ended. It’s as dumb as saying whoever wins the most states wins. States are artificial constructs that in no way resemble perfection. People lionize state power; I couldn’t tell you why because states do at least just as bad a job at taking care of its citizens as the federal government supposedly does. In fact, states are more repressive. For example, the federal government wants to protect women’s health. If left alone, some of our states would take those benefits, or what are more correctly called rights, away. Your marriage could be declared null and void by a handful of terrible state representatives. Your right to Medicaid so you can afford your healthcare was and is being strangled by “states”, even when it would cost nothing to take the federal dollars.

States blow. They do the wrong thing constantly. If we really want to be united, we really need a vigorous federal government to do the right thing. Well, if I think about it, we’d have to elect people who will do the right thing. And twice in this century, a majority of people voted for people who do the right thing. Yeah. I’m biased as fuck. I believe left-wing politics do right for people, while right-wing politics do right for profit. Fuck the electoral college with its thumb-on-the-scale algorithm.

I titled this “Speechless”. My timestamps say that’s what I’ve been for over a week. I’m watching the wheels go round, as John Lennon said, and I just had to let it go for a while. Besides, every gripe I have has already been addressed countless times, and that makes choosing topics difficult. I’m having trouble with angles. But I shouldn’t worry too much-anyone who’s watching the press right now can see that they are clutching at straws for things to write about. No one knows what is going on with the President-elect. That is either because nothing much is happening, or Trump is shutting the media down, leaving it to conjecture and guessing as to what’s going on. It could be both.

One thing is probably true: Donald Trump will either kill us with his utter ineptness or his vindictive base meanness. We all lived through the Bush years; we saw how inept he was and how he let ruthless men run his government that started half cocked wars and allowed clandestine operators to brutalize our “enemies”, and trashed our economy by cutting taxes during a flurry of increased spending. So indeed, it is important to watch who he delegates power to. But right now he’s working on transition. Which is BORING. That’s perhaps another reason I’m keeping my powder dry. The cronies he hires today to transition will not be the same as the cronies that have the permanent jobs so maybe we should all breathe a little and wait. Yes, having Steve Bannon on as special counsel shows poor judgment by Trump and is no doubt a harbinger for the emergence of more questionable choices for his inner circle and choices for court appointments. I think Trump should answer some questions about his hire.

I started out saying how wrong I was about Donald Trump. I made a bad call because I didn’t realize that white people have been waiting to “take their country back” since January 20, 2009. Donald Trump said the right things at the right time and he beat a rival who outpunched him at every turn. But I’ll make another prediction. I think Republicans are going to try and pass their nasty agenda. They will fail because Democrats will not let it happen. They can then blame liberals for gridlock and that is how they will retain control of the government in the next national elections. And folks, we could lose it all in 2018. 25  Democratic Senate seats will be put to the test. That’s when the real shit will go down.

Things aren’t looking good. But let’s take it as it comes, and save our strength while Trump fumbles around for stooges to run his retarded government.

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