Jan 6, 2021

We're Witnessing an Act of Sedition--A Fitting End to the Criminal Trump Administration

Too many Republicans, the base and elected leaders, are attempting to overthrow our democracy. They have been attacking the legitimacy of our institutions--the glue that keeps the country together. At least the visible ones, those who lead this cult, have earned a badge of shame disgrace (they're shameless) for the rest of their lives. Those in Congress, they should be remembered as usurpers, and plotters of a legislative coup d'etat. Today there's a firewall to stop this, but it may not be there in the future. Imagine in the House was controlled by the Repubs. Conceivably both Congressional chambers can reject the legitimate results of an election!


What we saw this morning was to see a standing ovation for those objecting to the certification of the Electoral College results. Yeah, just like a banana republic, where the absurd, the anti-democratic assaults receive standing ovation by elected officials in the US Congress who have taken an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States!

Joe Biden will be the next president of the US, and Kamala Harris the next VP, but 160 Congressional Republicans are putting the country through a sh*t show, because they can. Remember, they place their cult above any allegiance to the constitution, and democracy. They want to overturn the legitimacy of the election. They don't believe Dems can win elections that's why they have been attacking the legitimacy of Dems since the Clinton years. The transformation of the Republican party began with the election of R. Reagan, with the religious right, the conspiracy advocates, the anti-science, anti education, anti-civil rights/democracy, people taking control of the party. It's been 40 years in the making. They created a monster they cannot control now.

How can you even engage someone in dialogue/debate when they are not rational, don't follow logic, and they have "facts" based on crazy conspiracy theories and a rabid belief the other party can't possible win elections or trusted in government? Well, you know the answer....

Yet, Trump and this election revealed some ugly truths about America, and about the weaknesses of our system. Both are endemic and won't be fixed soon. The first ugliness is embedded in our society. How could this happen that this caricature of a president, who until this moment is debasing our democracy and institutions, came to be given the light of day for far too long.

....

At this hour, 2pm EST, the US Capitol has been stormed by Trump protesters. We're witnessing another violent attack by the Trump cultists. He spoke earlier to them and egged them to take back their country, while many Republicans inside were attempting a legislative coup. This is insane, and disgusting, but entirely predictable since 2016.

 

 

Dec 16, 2020

We Have to Accept the Facts: The Republicans are Hostile to Reality, Reason, and the Foundational Ideals of American Democracy!

Lots has taken place in the last several months, most notably the election and seemingly the end of a national nightmare/embarrassment, though Trump and his minions are still attacking our institutions and our democracy. But, we did avoid greater damage by making him the biggest loser, and by exposing him for what he is--an immature, petulant, malignant, dangerous autocrat, and most indecent person.

Yet, we have a problem. Not only such a person was able to back into the presidency, but there are so many Americans who are so divorced from reality that think he's great, and that he's been cheated out of a second term! This is in the face of reason and evidence. But, this is the product of a long cultivation of the Republican party's base that has turned people into cultists. The party itself, since Ronald Reagan (1980s), has been hostile to science,the environment, education, and reason! There's no wonder why so many Americans openly wear their ignorance and prejudice as badges of honor!

A second attribute of the "GOP" is its disdain of democratic values--what the American experiment in government aspired to be: of, for, by the people! The main core, base and leadership, of the Republican party has turned into a fanatical cult, which holds that those who have opposite views are "un-American" traitors, and that the Democratic party is does not have legitimacy to hold power, even if voters actually prefer it. The Republicans have been challenging the legitimacy of every single Democratic president or presidential candidate starting with Bill Clinton

I hope that the Biden-Harris team realizes this, and that they fight fire with fire. They should not have to plead for acceptance; they must assert and exhibit it. I'm tired of hearing "we have to reach across the aisle"! I do want cooperation and exchange of ideas, where debate is based on reason and facts. But, how can you reason with people who have "alternative facts" and think you're not even legitimate to sit at the table with them? 

Here's a great NYT Op-Ed, Dec. 16th, 2020:

Reagan turned the GOP into a fanatical, religious, intollerant party. Newt Gingrich, Bush, and Trump completed it.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Republicans spent most of 2020 rejecting science in the face of a runaway pandemic; now they’re rejecting democracy in the face of a clear election loss.

What do these rejections have in common? In each case, one of America’s two major parties simply refused to accept facts it didn’t like.

I’m not sure it’s right to say Republicans “believe” that, say, wearing face masks is useless or that there was widespread voter fraud. Framing the issue as one of belief suggests that some kind of evidence might change party loyalists’ minds.

In reality, what Republicans say they believe flows from what they want to do, whether it’s ignore a deadly disease or stay in power despite the voters’ verdict.

In other words, the point isn’t that the G.O.P. believes untrue things. It is, rather, that the party has become hostile to the very idea that there’s an objective reality that might conflict with its political goals.

Notice, by the way, that I’m not including qualifiers, like saying “some” Republicans. We’re talking about most of the party here. The Texas lawsuit calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the election was both absurd and deeply un-American, but more than 60 percent of Republicans in the House signed a brief supporting it, and only a handful of elected Republicans denounced the suit.

At this point, you aren’t considered a proper Republican unless you hate facts.

But when and how did the G.O.P. get that way? If you think it started with Donald Trump and will end when he leaves the scene (if he ever does), you’re naïve.

Republicans have been heading in this direction for decades. I’m not sure whether we can pinpoint the moment when the party began its descent into malignant madness, but the trajectory that led to this moment probably became irreversible under Ronald Reagan.

Republicans have, of course, turned Reagan into an icon, portraying him as the savior of a desperate, declining nation. Mostly, however, this is just propaganda. You’d never know from the legend that economic growth under Reagan was only slightly faster than it had been under Jimmy Carter, and slower than it would be under Bill Clinton.

And rapidly rising income inequality meant that a disproportionate share of the benefits from economic growth went to a small elite, with only a bit trickling down to most of the population. Poverty, measured properly, was higher in 1989 than it had been a decade earlier.

Anyway, gross domestic product isn’t the same thing as well-being. Other measures suggest that we were already veering off course.

For example, in 1980 life expectancy in America was similar to that in other wealthy nations; but the Reagan years mark the beginning of the great mortality divergence of the United States from the rest of the advanced world. Today, Americans can, on average, expect to live almost four fewer years than their counterparts in comparable countries.

The main point, however, is that under Reagan, irrationality and hatred for facts began to take over the G.O.P.

There has always been a conspiracy-theorizing, science-hating, anti-democratic faction in America. Before Reagan, however, mainstream conservatives and the Republican establishment refused to make alliance with that faction, keeping it on the political fringe.

Reagan, by contrast, brought the crazies inside the tent.

Many people are, I think, aware that Reagan embraced a crank economic doctrine — belief in the magical power of tax cuts. I’m not sure how many remember that the Reagan administration was also remarkably hostile to science.

Reagan’s ability to act on this hostility was limited by Democratic control of the House and the fact that the Senate still contained a number of genuinely moderate Republicans. Still, Reagan and his officials spent years denying the threat from acid rain while insisting that evolution was just a theory and promoting the teaching of creationism in schools.

This rejection of science partly reflected deference to special interests that didn’t want science-based regulation. Even more important, however, was the influence of the religious right, which first became a major political force under Reagan, has become ever more central to the Republican coalition and is now a major driver of the party’s rejection of facts — and democracy.

For rejecting facts comes naturally to people who insist that they’re acting on behalf of God. So does refusing to accept election results that don’t go their way. After all, if liberals are servants of Satan trying to destroy America’s soul, they shouldn’t be allowed to exercise power even if they should happen to win more votes.

Sure enough, a few days ago the televangelist Pat Robertson — who first became politically influential under Reagan — pronounced the Texas lawsuit a “miracle,” an intervention by God that would keep Trump in office.

The point is that the G.O.P. rejection of facts that has been so conspicuous this year wasn’t an aberration. What we’re seeing is the culmination of a degradation that began a long time ago and is almost surely irreversible.

Aug 14, 2020

The Relation Between Radicals, Moderates, and Conservatives

 NYT columnist David Brooks explains, in this OpEd,  that the "radicals" don't bring change; it's the moderates that do.

What is it that makes a person "conservative"? I think it's personality, it's the go-to, default, setting for the individual. Brooks has been a conservative, and as he says in his piece, over the years he moved right on certain issues that are more emotional (family, country, etc), and moved left on issues that can be rationally analyzed, like social programs, justice, etc.   For the same reason I don't like religion, I don't like conservatives..... and, I came to this by thinking and learning. The more I did the more ..radical I became in opposing conservatism and religion. They're both go hand in hand, most of the time, and they both want to hold progress back. By progress I mean positive change, not destructive radicalism.

B
rooks says, " The people who come in their wake and actually make change are conservative radicals. They believe in many of the radicals’ goals, but know how to work within the democratic framework to achieve them."  He calls "radicals" those who aren't really radicals but are more vocal advocating for a sensible, more just society--which is already in place elsewhere. That's not ..radicalism, unless you compare it to a big mass in the US that is very conservative.  In this sense it's the ..perceived moderates (like Biden) or the "conservative radicals" as Brooks labels them, that facilitate change, because of the big mass who's afraid of "socialism".  But, yes, the envelope has to be pushed by the radicals in order for the moderates to have a chance of implementing reform.

Voting by itself is not enough. Activism and movements are necessary to stir up the status quo and usher new choices. These assaults on the status quo may be seen inconvenient or even threatening to many Americans, but they're important in accelerating change.

Aug 9, 2020

Biden's VP Choice Won't Change the Dynamics of the 2020 Election. Any Sensible Adult is Preferrable to the Dangerous, Incompetent, Most-Indecent Current President

 

Biden will announce his VP choice this week, after months of speculation and "advice", which advice is mostly what the "adviser" wants but not based on any evidence that such choice is a "must" or "will bring more votes to the ticket." There's no evidence to suggest that VPs bring any significant boost. They're part of the narrative about the main actor, and even that it's mostly discussed among the elites.

I'm mostly annoyed by those people who proclaim they won't vote for Biden because their preference (Sanders, Warren, or whomever else) didn't get the nomination. Above all, if they are not sufficiently motivated to vote to remove the most dangerous and unqualified president, then they're part of the problem, every problem they want to solve through politics. I question the judgment of such people, especially when they want to talk politics or analyze a situation.

If you're not motivated enough to vote this vile president out of office, along with his kakistocracy regime, then I don't care about your concerns. This is not normal times, and we shouldn't normalize Trump's behavior as another flavor of politics; he's so far out. And, to those who argued, in 2016, the DJT and HRC were more or less the same, you should refrain from making important political decisions. Also, if you don't vote to throw this spoiled child out, then you are NOT a progressive, for you're setting the country to continue sliding backward.
 
Now, I don't think there are many people who will not vote because of a VP choice, as they aren't that many who do vote for a ticket because someone is the VP-designee. I'm talking about significant numbers who can swing a national election, or even a state. I'm not saying it's impossible, but there isn't evidence that this has happened in the last 100 years.

For me, Biden's VP will be the next president, and therefore I want to see a competent person, who has political experience, preferably executive, someone who has won a serious election. My first choice would be Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, and, secondly, Kamala Harris.  But, the bottom line is that I'd vote for Biden, even if he was in a comma, and his VP choice was any sensible adult.

Aug 6, 2020

When Credulity, Uncritical Mind, and Perverted Love are Desirable Qualities

 

It's a sad day when Biden has to put out a statement re-affirming his faith (credulity, uncritical mind, ignorance on display), because some moron (DJT) made a gibberish statement that Biden has " no religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt guns, hurt God..."

So, in a village where so many people are infected with a virus of the mind, proclaiming blindness, ignorance, and love for someone whom you fear, is considered an obligatory statement and positive attribute for any politician who wants to lead.... tsk. We're still so backward and primitive.

Jun 4, 2020

If Only We Had a Clue that Trump Would be so Bad.... (just kidding). Fortunately, We Have a Choice What to Do

How much more do you need to see in order to reject Trump as unfit to hold public office, that he doesn't have the temperament, maturity, sense of duty, expertise, leadership qualities, and just about everything a president of the US should have? And, how much more do you need to see to realize how unkind, uncaring, obtuse, vindictive, megalomaniac, egotistical, and destructive Trump is?

Even though it's good to see more and more Republicans denounce him, but with a few exceptions--those conservatives or Republicans who opposed him when he was a candidate and after he won the GOP nomination (indeed, very few)--everyone who voted and became an apologists for him shares part of the blame for this awful situation we're in today as a country. These supporters and apologists did not want to see; they were willfully ignorant, because the signs, the facts were there well before the election.

Yes, we need all the votes and voices in opposition to Trump and his cohorts, but we have to examine why this childish malevolent actor became president of the US. It's a systemic problem, especially with the Republican party, which also gave us another worst president, GW Bush in recent years.  Trump's political trajectory was made possible by a party that supported the worst kind of populism, myths, vile leaders, and has an ideology fit for the Dark Ages.

I'd like to think that the majority of Republicans aren't racists, but if someone is a racist, his party is the Republican party. There is a reason why the tea parties appeared after the first black president was elected. There is a reason why many white voters left the Democratic party after Obama was elected. There is a reason why Trump's racist rhetoric has agitated and mobilized individuals and groups who are white supremacists, xenophobes, and bigots of all stripes.

So, we have some systemic problems in our society. From the way we elect the president (Electoral College, not the majority of the voters), to the racial and economic divisions within our country, to the way the law and its instruments of power operates.  Some myths die hard--like the American dream--even if there's proof that many are illusions, or mass delusions.

Understandably many Americans are stressed, and have various degrees of financial insecurity. Our democracy, and most of our institutions--the glue that keeps our society together--have been losing legitimacy. Our social safety net needs to be expanded and strengthened. Perhaps COVID19 exposed the holes and weaknesses of our system and there will demands (and actual policies) to improve on the quality of life for the average American. We were, still are pioneers in many ways, but we've fallen behind other western democracies in terms of quality of life.

Only ideal candidates need apply, or, how some people help bring bad outcomes

The output of a very disturbed mind
Meanwhile on the progressive side of the political spectrum, there are those who are exhibiting Trump-like petulance: my way or the ..highway. These persons fail to understand--as they did in 2016--progress in life doesn't exist in an ideal form.

There are many forces, actors, and ideas that oppose progress. There always have been. These forces also vote, hold public offices, and have financial interests. It's prudent that we realize this, be realistic about it.


We have to examine the practical, and how close it is to our values. Of course I realize that sometimes there are only awful choices. Yet, this is not the case this year, nor it was in 2016, in my opinion.  Remember, that the ideal shouldn't be the enemy of the practical. I will vote for Joe Biden because it'll be good for the country--far better than the alternative.

There are those, like some "Bernie or bust" people, who are contemplating sitting out this election or waste their votes, again, on a minor party. The fact is that the next president will either be a Dem or a Repub. Likewise, our representatives in the Congress (House and Senate) will be Dems or Repubs. No minor parties are represented in Congress; same for state legislatures. This is the system we have, at least for now.

He may not have been my first choice among those who ran, but Joe Biden will probably be one of the most progressive presidents we've ever had. The party and key constituents have moved to further to the left and will influence his policies. He will restore dignity in the presidency. He will be a leader working with other heads of state not praise dictators while trying to emulate them.

He will have competent people in his administration. Science and the scientific approach/methodology will be officially supported and advanced. There will be no crime family at the White House to use the country as an emolument platform. The Attorney General will not be the president's personal lawyer, and there will be progressive judges appointed. I could go on and on, but the point is, don't reject someone because he is not perfect, or he has not attained perfection like you... especially when the choice is between your non-ideal but far better candidate and four more years of Trump along with the withering of our republic/democracy.

Mar 16, 2020

It Shouldn't Have Taken COVID19 to Show Presidential Leadership it's about Life and Death Matters

Unless there's a divine plan with lots of death and suffering
Most Americans don't understand the meaning of labels like social democracy, but, surprise-surprise, they like "social" policies. Nowadays in this pandemic they are more ..socialistic! They want the government to protect them from something real that affects their lives. They're asking about health tests, treatment, sick pay leave, etc. 

When the people in charge are guided by incompetence, egoism, delusions, and pettiness, things get worse, people die. Trump may have been able to bullshit through many crisis but this is very real and he can't get out of it by lying or relying on his moronic base. It's not a Dem hoax when the whole world is taking this very seriously. 

Sure, it's political. It's political when we see an incompetent gov hurting us. It's political when the president's incompetence and malice are on full display because he was elected to that position. We all have to take stock in what the political process gave us. Those "damn emails" and strong dislike of HRC--the most qualified candidate--seemed more important than electing a kakistocracy regime--rule by the worst of the worst! And, please don't tell me, that this is a surprise! We all knew who Trump, his cohorts, and the Republican party were...

Jul 25, 2019

Time to Impeach DTrump--If Only Democrats in Congress Grew a Spine by Projecting Strength & Leadership

After much anticipation, Mueller testified in Congress, and unless you lived under a rock in the last year, he didn't say anything that we didn't already know. The impact of his testimony is yet to be determined, but this show was below mediocre in my opinion. The Dems need to find some new facts, like Trump's tax returns, and get Trump's lawyer and others who witnessed the obstruction of justice by Trump to testify.

As far as the impeachment goes, I admit I've been going back and forth, calculating the political angle. I'm now in the corner of: impeach the motherfucker!  Here's the rationale...
  
It'll suck the oxygen out of the room, but it's not like Congress is really using it to pass legislation with the House and Senate under different party control. They better start as soon as after the Summer recess. Trump and the Republicans will continue to say it's a "witch hunt" and basically the president is above the law. It won't matter. It doesn't matter whether Congress does much anyway. There's nothing the Dems could do to please Trump and the Repubs.

Most voters behave like tribal members, which means they vote their party no matter who's in charge. More so the Repubs. Dems stay home. The few centrists, who can decide a close election, may be persuaded by other impressions, like how the economy is performing. They don't understand how our political system is structured and the limitations of divided government. So, Pelosi is probably trying to appeal to them--pass legislation (well, the House passes it, the Senate rejects it), instead of impeaching the prez.

I believe you win majorities in order to do something big. Squabbling with the Senate for who's responsible for the mess, is lost in the minds of the public. Obama wasted a great opportunity in his first 2 years when the Dems had control of whole Congress by being too soft and trying to appeal to the Repubs--which of course was an utter failure. He delegated to Congress his health care and immigration reforms. OK, the ACA gave millions needed health insurance but failed to deliver universal coverage and what Obama & the Dems had campaigned on. Immigration reform? Hahaaaa...argh.

The only reason for not proceeding with impeaching the orange buffoon is that Pelosi can't get 218 votes through the House. But this is because she's been wavering on the issue. The Repubs would have already started impeachment against a Dem prez. They did it to Clinton for what we think today to be a laughable reason. We now have Trump who has obstructed justice over 10 times, lied under oath, and other crimes and misdemeanors.  It's a moral obligation to impeach even if he won't be removed before 1/20/21 when the new prez will take over.


The Dems should show some spine. They're already too late in exposing Trump's tax returns. The country needs to know whether he has followed the law, and whether he may be subject to blackmail by foreign powers. Who's financing Trump's frauds and business failures?  Mueller gave Congress more than it needs to proceed and hold Trump accountable.

I understand that 34 Dems came from districts Trump won but I hardly think they won in 2018 because any Repubs voted for them. Maybe a few centrists, but it was Dem voter turnout that did it. Which brings us to the question about the best Dem strategy for 2020...   About 9% of Obama voters went for Trump, and another 7% didn't vote at all in 2016 because they didn't find HRC appealing enough.  Had Dems scored the same turnout in 2016 as they did in 2012, the election would have been different. 

The most sensible strategy to me will be strong Dem campaigns in PA, WI, and MI, and excite the base to come out and vote. Yes, it should be about Trump and how unqualified and dangerous and vile he is. Campaign on health care, and sensible immigration reform--strong borders, humanitarian, but also an efficient way for imms who have been here long enough to establish roots to apply for citizenship. You will never get the racists, xenophobes, conservatives, and uneducated to change their perceptions about walls, immigrant crimes, job stealing, etc.

In a different universe where citizens are well-informed and engaged, you may be able to have rational discussions, based on facts, evidence and reason. We are in a universe where there's no time to change people's minds about their important beliefs and perceptions during an election campaign. Therefore the game is to get your base out to vote! Simple, not easily done, but it will work.

Jun 27, 2019

The Dems Need to Do a Better Job.....[Some Observations After the First Debate in 2019]

The first Democratic debate with the first batch of 10 candidates took place last night; the second one is tonight. At this point everyone is forming impressions and weighing whether a candidate is presidential material. Electability is number one concern for most Dems right now. From my unscientific, and limited observation among friends and colleagues, people begin to lean toward a candidate based based on such impressions even if that candidate's policies, say on health care, aren't 100% of what someone might prefer. 

Also, those who didn't have a strong preference before, these preliminary leanings aren't strong, in the sense, that if a stronger candidate emerges people's preferences may change. I think this is the case with Biden's supporters right now--most have a soft commitment to his candidacy. I don't think Biden will be the nominee, but, again, this is way too early to say anything with strong conviction. I'd maybe wage $10 on it. 

As for the actual event in Miami last night...
They needed a professor on that stage last night.... They all spoke too much and too quickly for the students in the audience...  At this point, most people create impressions not knowledge... You, may have liked Warren, even though someone else had policies closer to your ideas, for example.

There needed to be that prof there who would, yes, say fewer words, but more slowly... and repeat themselves in clear statements.

I'd start with the importance of temperament, knowledge, and qualifications of a president. And, keep hammering at it.  Like, how one exercises the duties of the office, is more important than what they say in campaign mode. I'd say, all and any on this stage is way more appropriate prez than DJT.  Emphasize integrity, and responsibility.  
I'd include, something like, folks if you want to know the truth, the president in order to pass laws, raise money, and tax the wealthy, he/she needs both the House and Senate to go along. And that we have to defeat the intransigent Republicans who have been catering to extreme groups and policies. Imagine how much better most Americans, the world indeed, would have been if president Obama hadn't been subverted by McConnell and GOP Senators. I'd keep reminding people that they must vote and be actively engaged; and,why elections make a huge difference.
I'd remind them about the civil rights we all love, and that we brag about the greatness of our democracy, our freedom...  yet, we forget that many of those goodies came from Supreme Court rulings... and those judges came from presidential nominations with the senate's confirmation! Of course, I'd slip in there that the cons have been opposing such rights and freedoms!


As for the performance, Warren came out well, nobody attacked her, and she kept her lead over the others (more well-known).  The most impressive, given where he started, was DeBlassio, who reminded everyone that he has executive experience, he passed important programs Dems care about, and how progressive he truly is. If he keeps this up, he'll go far. He has the right mix too, a black wife and son. He and Kamala or Warren or Klobuchar would be a powerful ticket against Trump.

Jun 25, 2019

Pride, Luck, Dark Ages, Shame, Choices and Democracy

June is pride month, and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall--when the gay rights movement took off, pushing back against systematic discrimination, and establishing dozens of, what in essence were, new civil rights action organizations. 

It was also this month only four years ago, in 2015, that the Supreme Court recognized that marrying a person of your choice (among consenting adults) is a constitutional right! But, did you know this decision was by a 5-4 slim majority? 

  UPDATE:  This just came in: R. Muller will answer his subpoena and will testify in an open hearing on July 17th, 9am.  It's very important that the American public hear again, and directly, under careful questioning, what Muller meant by obstruction of justice and why he didn't charge the president when Muller found more than 10 instances of conspiracy to obstruct and actually obstructed justice....

Why do you think this is happening? It's because the Dems won control of the House in the last election. The Repubs would be advocating for Trump and act like the US Atty General Barr, as Trump lawyer(s).  

The Republican party has created a monster--an activist base that's extremely conservative and crazy. Take for example Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) who had called candidate Trump "crazy" totally unqualified for the highest office, but when Trump got elected and popular in SC, Graham changed his tune entirely. No matter what the reason is, this Republican party owns what Trump has done and will do until he's no longer president.

The conservatives have always been against progress, even if they have to trample over rights and decency, and human dignity.  This country has been held back because of the conservatives. This Republican party--an anachronism among modern western liberal-conservative parties--actually wants to take our country back to the dark ages.... 

I hate when self-righteous people--usually generally uniformed or misinformed (and misguided) by inane religious dogma--want to impose their morality on the rest of us. 

Recently another woman came out to accuse the self-admitted perp of sexual assault; over 15 women have done so already. But the malignant, self-absorbed, man-child denies any of this, on the basis, get this, that those women aren't pretty enough for him! What??!!  Only a maladjusted, immature miscreant would respond like this.  But, as I've been saying all along, Trump's actions make sense if you see him as a spoiled mid-teens brat who never grew up. This is how bully and an imbecile would call others, "losers", and other diminutive nicknames.  Tsk...

Politics, elections, voting, public opinion and mobilization, all matter. But, often the important issues aren't really debated or even mentioned during campaigns. For example, in the 2016 election, the balance on the supreme court and its effect was not discussed. GOP senate leader, McConnell disgracefully denied president Obama a nomination to the supreme court. Guess what? No political penalty for such a gross violation of our institutional traditions and ethics.

On Wednesday night, 6/26, the first Democratic debate for the presidential nomination will take place, and tomorrow the second one. They couldn't fit 20 candidates on stage, so they split them up. I'm for democracy, but there can't be any serious conversation with that many people. Also, not all these candidates can be serious contenders, so I'd like to hear more from the serious ones. On the other hand, this is a problem with an uniformed public, and I think this is why Biden, Sanders, and Warren get the higher numbers--name recognition.

Anyway, summer is in full swing. Enjoy it, and enjoy life because it goes by very quickly.

Peace. 
 

Jun 18, 2019

Pleasure in Taking Advantage of People Who Trusted Him.... [Can You Guess Who?]

In a recent Fox poll, only 5% of white Americans with no college degree agree that Trump's economic policies benefit them. It'd be shocking to associate this with voting behavior, but we already knew that many Americans consistently vote against their economic interests, especially the ones who can least afford it.

So, it has to be something else of value these people think they're getting from Trump and the Republican party. Perceived value is something subjective, and I won't pretend to argue that having healthcare, or better wages, or a cleaner environment should be preferable to you than building a border wall or establishing a theocracy in the US. For example, many Russians have opted for a rebuilding of an empire like the old Soviet Union instead of building democracy, and a strong social safety net.

But, what I find appalling is the fact that a con man, a bullshit artist, keeps taking advantage of those who trust him, and that he's applying his trade on a much larger scale since the Republican party has enabled him to get the presidency and constantly eroding our institutions.


Paul Krugman has written another gem regarding this.

Here's an excerpt. [if you're a NYT subscriber, you can find the whole article, here]

"In 2016, on the campaign trail, Trump sounded as if he might be a European-style populist, blending racism with support for social programs that benefit white people. He even promised to raise taxes on the rich, himself included.
Since taking office, however, he has relentlessly favored the wealthy over members of the working class, whatever their skin color. His only major legislative success, the 2017 tax cut, was a huge break for corporations and business owners; the handful of crumbs thrown at ordinary families was so small that most people believe they got nothing at all.
At the same time, he keeps trying to destroy key provisions of Obamacare — protection for pre-existing conditions, premium subsidies and the expansion of Medicaid — even though these provisions are highly popular and have been of enormous benefit to states like Kentucky and West Virginia that favored him by huge margins.
As if to symbolize who he’s really working for, on Wednesday Trump will give a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Art Laffer, best known for insisting that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves. This is a classic zombie idea, one that has been repeatedly killed by evidence, but keeps shambling along, eating our brains, basically because it’s in plutocrats’ interest to keep the idea in circulation.
And here’s the thing: White working-class voters seem to have noticed that Trump isn’t working for them. A new Fox News poll finds that only 5 percent of whites without a college degree believe that Trump’s economic policies benefit “people like me,” compared with 45 percent who believe that the benefits go to “people with more money.”

Trump may believe that he can make up for his pro-plutocrat tax and health policies with tariffs, his one significant deviation from G.O.P. orthodoxy. But despite Trump’s insistence that foreigners will pay the tariffs, an overwhelming majority of noncollege whites believe that they will end up paying more for the things they buy.

Oh, and remember Trump’s promises to bring back coal? His own Energy Department projects that coal production next year will be 17 percent lower than in 2017. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that there will necessarily be large-scale defections on the part of Trump’s beloved “poorly educated.” On the other hand, health care — where his betrayal of past promises was especially obvious — seems to have played a big role in Democrats’ midterm victory. And he is certainly more vulnerable than he would be if he engaged in even a smidgen of actual populism. Why won’t he?

Part of the answer may be personal: Trump’s whole career shows him to be the kind of man who, if anything, takes pleasure in taking advantage of people who trusted him.
Beyond that, however, for all the talk about how “it’s Trump’s party now,” he still needs the support of the G.O.P.’s big-money interests. For now, the party establishment is happy to provide cover for the administration’s corruption, closeness to Putin, and all that.
But that could change. If Trump ever did anything that might hurt the rich or help the poor, many Republicans might suddenly discover that self-dealing and accepting help from hostile foreign powers are actually bad.

Whatever the reasons, the simple fact is that Trump isn’t a populist, unless we redefine populism as nothing but a synonym for racism. At least some in the white working class seem to have realized that he’s not on their side. And Democrats would be foolish not to make the most of this opening."

May 30, 2019

How the Least Politically Informed Can Have a Huge Impact

Are we appealing to the least informed among us? It appears so. In a close election, like the one in 2016, a 2.5% can have a huge impact. This country has a 2-party system, like it or not, when only the two major parties have a chance of winning. You may not want to vote strategically, I get it. But, I can't do that. If I vote for one candidate or party that has no chance of winning, I'm in effect helping the other. Often this is totally unacceptable, because of start differences between the two viable options.

In a system of winner-take-all, when you vote for a third party you have to be aware that your candidate/party will get nothing if they have low public support... 

I think it's a disservice to our polity for anyone to argue, vote me for because all the others are the same! Even if you're a dumb Republican, you knew there were meaningful differences among the contenders in the party's primaries. 
Similarly, do the Jill Stein (Green Party) voters really believed that HRC's environmental policies would've been the same as what we've seen from DJT?..

I personally don't find any front runner to be progressive enough. But, I couldn't possibly not have voted for HRC on the grounds she and Donnie were the same! I never liked the Clintons, but had she been elected, responsible and competent people would be in charge--you know, persons who accept science. Most probably she'd be raising her own taxes to pay for something, and the Supreme Court would have had 2 liberal judges instead of 2 cons. Yeah, that supreme court that gave us civil rights, same sex marriage, and protected Roe, etc. Most reasonable people expected exactly what we're getting in terms of policy, government officials, leadership , economics, etc, from the buffoon in the White House. It was so obvious before the election.
 
Appropriately here's lots of discussion about "wasted votes", but attention should be given to the least informed voters---the self described "independents" 


First, there are very few truly independents, because most consistently would vote only for one party. There some other "independents" who know almost nothing about politics and can't tell the difference in policies between the Ds and Rs. But, these people are also too apathetic to vote. So, the truly independents are about 7%, that vote either D or R. But of those only 1/3 voted in 2018! That's 2.3%. In a presidential year election, usually the numbers go up as more voters participate, but still...

In my opinion, and not only, what wins close elections is turnout. So, doing a better job getting you're base out to vote is better than anything else. Obviously, it doesn't have to be 'either or'. But, had the Dems had a slightly greater turnout in those three states in 2016, the outcome would have been the opposite.

Here's the Pew Research findings:Six Facts About Political Independents


 _______

Another instance of the man-child in the White House. The Wall Street Journal broke the story that the White House wanted our navy ship USS John McCain out of sight during Drumpf's visit to Japan! CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 has the story, here. I haven't checked lately, but I'd imagine hundreds of Republicans in Congress are speaking out and condemning Trump... right?...

Apr 19, 2019

The Muller Report Confirmed: Trump Crime Family Colluded, Obstructed Justice, Betrayed the Country!

One thing is abundantly clear: Trump and his people are criminals, unethical, and unpatriotic/treasonous. After the FBI director and the Attorney General were fired by Trump, his current AG decided to act as his personal lawyer and not as the top law enforcement official in the country. Oh, and the so-called "fake news" outlets got their reporting confirmed by Muller!

The Muller Report, redacted as it may be, clearly shows what we already knew--how Trump and his people have been acting all along. The unredacted details contradict Trump and the AG.  Here's an editorial by conservative columnist J. Rubin, Right Turn -- one of the few Republicans who see this for what it is.

Only the willfully ignorant or morons can't get themselves to acknowledge that the Trump crime family colluded and conspired with the Russians, that they were eagerly willing to use illegally-obtained information and Russian lies to win an election, while they were talking to a foreign power about lifting sanctions, and hoping to profit by doing business in Moscow. The Trump family is still making money and taking payments from foreign interests.

Obstruction of justice? He did it in the open by firing Comey, Sessions, not cooperating with Muller, attacking the legitimacy of the investigation, and instructing others to lie to the FBI and Muller.

The FBI (yes, their job is to investigate) was looking into the Trump campaign for a good reason, because of persons who had been colluding with Russians and other foreign powers. Five of his closest associates already have or are going to jail. When president Trump was told not to give security clearance to his son-in law because Jared was compromised, DJT did regardless. Same with convicted felon Flynn, who was made National Security Advisor with access to the most secret classified information.

Thankfully, Ivanka declined to be the head of the the ..World Bank. Her father wanted to appoint her there, because.. "she's good with numbers"!!!   But, he has appointed dozens of incompetent and unqualified people for jobs in important positions. Trump himself is not qualified to be president.  Yes, I'd still disagree about Republican policies if they were put forth by president McCain or president Romney, or as they were by president Bush. But, the big difference is that those people were qualified to be president of the US. 

"Lock him up"  What more damning evidence do you need?
Others have been convicted on lesser crimes, but as long as he's got the Republicans to shield him, he gets a pass, for now.
So, now what's next? There will be many spinoffs. Those who say the American public is fed up from this and wants to move on are playing a partisan game. Don't listen to them. Keep describing him as crook #1. I'm not suggesting the Dems should focus on this only--they should offer their alternative policies. But, clearly Trump rode the train to the White House by harping on the.. crooked Hillary's emails. [Wouldn't you love it today if that was his scandal instead of all the other crimes and misdemeanors he's been involved in?]

Elections are not won because one side plays nice. The voters themselves aren't the rational jurors who render a careful decision. They're the cultivars of a long process of politicization and cultural indoctrination. There are a few factors that determine close elections, and one very important one--if not the most important one--is turnout. 

What causes voters to show up or stay home? Excitement and commitment, and how do you get those?.....

Feb 28, 2019

Capo's Consigliere: Crime Boss Directed the Operations.... (and, let me tell you where the bodies are burried)

Finally, Congress--well, the House, 'cause the Republican Senate was checking executive power only when Obama was president--is looking into Trump's crimes. I don't know what more someone needs to finally accept the reality that Trump cares only about himself and committing fraud-crimes has been his only skill. 


You don't have to believe M. Cohen's testimony to Congress. Don't take his word for it. But, check the evidence and sources to more evidence he provides. I think he had no incentive to lie in his latest testimony; he's already a convicted felon. But, he, and many others, in Trump's inner circle has been saying the same story about Trump and his crooked family. Further, several of those persons have been indicted, plead guilty, and sentenced for various crimes. It's only a matter of time, the crime boss goes down too.

Ah, those damn emails of crooked Hillary.... Wouldn't you take that scandal over what we're witnessing under Trump?

Obviously, the Repubs would attack the credibility of Cohen, but offered no rebuttal to the evidence or arguments he made. They acted like mafia boss lawyers defending their client. Cohen provided insights and ways for Congress to find those "buried bodies." 

It's more than apparent that Trump has cheated, lied, colluded, defrauded, betrayed all sorts of people and the country. Some cognitively-challenged persons can't go past their biases. Trump could indeed shoot someone in the middle of Manhattan and some people would blame the victims for walking in front of his bullets.  Others are indeed deplorables --those who don't care about Trump's crimes.  Of course, they would've started a revolution if Obama had committed a fraction of Trump's crimes. Ah, yeah, those were the good ol' days of a presidential tenure free of scandals...except those "damn emails" that the FBI and Congress investigated ad nauseam .

The whole Trump family, going back to his father, has been a mafia-type operation. They've cheated on taxes; set up a fraudulent foundation, a fraudulent"university", scammed contractors and buyers, profited from bankruptcies, colluded with a foreign power against the US, made deals with foreign interests while running for president, then as president promising to lift sanctions against Russia, and since have been profiting by selling influence, and taking bribes!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was brilliant in her 5' questioning of Cohen. She put on the record other people who have knowledge about Trump's illegal dealings, which is how Cohen can corroborate his statements. She, twice, made a point that if the Committee was to verify Cohen's statements, Congress needs access to Trump's tax records, which, against tradition of presidential candidates, have not been made available to the public, because Trump has been lying about being under audit..... In itself a stupid excuse since an IRS audit doesn't prohibit anyone from releasing their taxes.  Cohen said that Trump was not under IRS audit, and he might be if he released his taxes, that would show the fraud he's been committing, plus his sources of income!

I can't wait for Muller's report. He may not issue conclusions and leave it up to Congress (and the states) to do so, as well any further legal actions. But, Muller's report will add to the momentum of exposing one of the worst frauds in our history, which may be the biggest considering that a crime family made it to the White House!

I wholly recommend Rachael Maddow's podcast, Bagman. It's about the Nixon-Agnew saga. The similarities between those crime figures and Trump are striking! So much for the party of ..values!  


Update, 3/1/19: It's worth noting what resurfaced in the news today. Trump overruled our intelligent agencies to give Jared Kushner top security clearance! Trump's own chief of staff at the time, John Kelly, wrote an internal memo saying how disgusted he was about this matter. Nepotism is the least trespass here. It's an issue of national security and how the Trump crime family is all about their own interests damn the country!

Feb 19, 2019

Sanders to Run for Prez in 2020

A socialist from Vermont
I am a Bernie fan. I think he has almost single-handedly moved the Democratic party to the left and made certain topics part of the mainstream, like higher taxes for the rich, pro-environment, universal health care, etc. Of course the conservatives and the advocates of the "donor class" don't like this kind of socialistic talk, but there are now majorities in America that support, well, socialism!

The word socialism may have a negative connotation but mostly with older Americans who experienced the Cold War and communist/socialist dictatorships in the second half of the 20th century. But the world and our country have changed. 

Younger people are more socially-minded. They do want to tax the super rich. They do want social services. They do care about the environment. They do want regulations in the marketplace, consumer protections, etc.

When the Cons point to Venezuela as a bad example of.. socialism, the reply should be, an authoritarian regime can be socialist, or fascist/Nazi (national socialism), or communist, or, capitalist.

Most people are already aware of Canada and ..Denmark and the rest of the Scandinavian countries who practice democratic socialism. These countries have some very desirable & enviable outcomes. They beat us in happiness, quality of life, health care, education, longevity, leisure, etc, so they must be doing something right.

We should be pointing out that all western type countries are liberal-social-democracies. Liberal, because they promote individual freedoms, social because of social safety net (i.e., Social Security), and democratic, because of free expression, etc. The basics are the same, the recipes vary. But, if we want better outcomes, it's time we try what other countries have done to surpass the US in many critical outcomes.

Bernie will be a good addition to the Dem class of presidential candidates, because he'll raise important issues and force the other candidates to respond. Primary voters of both parties are more to the left and right than the general population, so any serious candidate may have to steer to the more extreme wings of their party. However, I think Trump will be the nominee of the Repubs, unless he's indicted and resigns--which is a probability. I don't think he'll be impeached, nor would I advise the Dems to start such process unless they could secure the 67 votes in the Senate required for removal of a president.

On the other hand, the Democratic candidates will veer to the left during the primaries for sure, though I believe the eventual nominee will be the one mostly considered as the stronger candidate to defeat Trump. Who will be the one to cater to the left but also present themselves as one who could get the independent votes, plus excite people to actually get out and vote? Turnout is always the key to success. HRC could have won if more than 70,000 Dem voters in three states had done that. And, yes, Dems had millions more votes--their turnout was lower than four years earlier!

Perhaps, you noticed that I am not expecting Sanders to be the nominee. He is the most progressive, like Senator E. Warren, but I don't think the Dems will take a chance selecting the most progressive candidate, since the base and most independents find the current buffoon in the White House totally unacceptable, they'll opt for a safer choice. I don't think Warren will fare well in the contest. Sanders might, but not her; it just a hunch... they'll be appealing to same group of voters. 

There are two reasons for both of them not being the nominee. One, the Dems want someone who can beat DJT, so they'll go with the safer choice, and two, the age of Bernie (79 on election day), and Warren (71). Oh, Biden too (78). The presidency is very demanding, if, unlike Trump, the CEO of the USA actually works. 

I also think the Dems would like the next Dem prez to be a two-termer, so all three--Sanders, Warren, Biden--have a great disadvantage. It's not impossible but if you're pushing 90...

The Democratic parties have rules that are mostly proportional representation at the convention. It's much easier for someone with even 25% consistent support, in a field of dozens, to win the nomination in a winner-take-all system, like many Republican parties have. This system made it easier for Trump to win, whereas the PR% system allowed Obama to win in 2008. Hillary Clinton won all the big states but didn't win all their delegates.

We have an interesting system of selecting and electing presidents in the US. Until the 1970s and 1980s, the two major political parties decided their nominees mostly within a closed system of party bosses with the general public excluded. After the disaster of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, the Democrats opened up the primaries to regular voters. By the 1980s, the Republicans followed too. This democratic (small "d") development weakened the political parties further--their power had been declining since the 1960s with the emergence of media politics (TV). It also made the process messier and more expensive.  

Each state, plus DC and US territories, have their own parties with their own rules of voting for committed delegates to the national party convention. Most use simple straight voting (also called a primary). Some used a more complicated and time-consuming process, known as a caucus. The national party committees--the DNC and the RNC--control the conventions and decide on the role of the super-delegates, who are party stalwarts, and are not committed to any particular candidate (at least in theory). The Dems reduced their numbers and impact on selecting the nominee.

Anyway, it's going to be very interesting. I see it as the beginning of the end of a very bad choice the country made in 2016.

======
The Faux News network for a long while now is harping about the "coup d'etat" against Trump.... There was no coup. I wonder what the cons would say if Obama had a similar relationship with the Chinese leader, against the advice of his own security agencies, that he was being bribed by foreign countries & persons while running and after being elected president, when dozens of his top people in his campaign and in his close circle were indicted, under investigation, or plead guilty...   When his campaign colluded with the Russians...

Yes, it's reasonable to begin to discuss the possibility of removing a president who may be a foreign agent...

Today we found out that Trump wanted to give nuclear secrets to the Saudis against NSA advice!

Dec 18, 2018

'Tis the Season....

Ti's the season to be..... (insert your own word here). For me, it's been a decent year, better than the previous two. Politically, we got a needed boost, and some hope for the needed additional checks & balances with the Democrats winning the House so convincingly.

Good news from New Jersey. Progressives defeated the NJ Democrats who wanted to gerrymander the hell out of their state, like Republicans so blatantly have done in many states. Perhaps we can now have a national law that prohibits this practice. But, don't hold your breath since the Republicans have to result to such methods and election fraud to win elections and cheat the people of their choices.

Health care is in the minds of many people, and it was a big topic in the past November election. Yes, there are lots of costs of providing care, but shouldn't this be a hallmark of an advanced society? It's about human lives. Suffering matters; we should promote life and happiness.  The recent judge's decision that ACA ("Obamacare") is unconstitutional may be a very bad thing for the GOP. But, what's new about the Republicans promoting policies that hurt people, directly, and often irreparably.

For most Trumpistas, logic and facts don't apply. They're cognitive challenged, and, as someone said on the topic of religion, it's very hard to move someone from a position by using logic when they didn't arrive at their position using logic.

I've asked the following question to a couple of Trump supporters: At which point would you say, 'lock him up' ?  His business have been fraudulent; he was selling and buying influence while running for president of the US; his election was aided by foreign agents/powers, including a brake-in ala Watergate; his top people (remember? "I will choose the best of the best"..) have been indicted, convicted or are under investigation; his transition team and his inauguration committee, his campaign, the emolument clause, the lies, the dishonesty, the attack on our institutions, the..., the....

He needs to be shamed out of office... He will be rebuked by the system and by the voters, and he'll go down in history as the worst, most corrupt, most incompetent president in the history of the U... of the world!



Happy solstice!

Nov 7, 2018

Midterms 2018--There Will be Checks and Balances

There was a blue wave, not a tsunami, but Dems, again, won the majority of American votes, this time by 9% points--which they had to to overcome the barriers to voting put up by the Republican machine.

Just watched Trump's press conference. Nothing new. Idiotic, nonsensical statements, very limited vocabulary, same stupid drivel, unhinged, egotistical megalomaniac ignoramus as usual. This is not just about the wrong policies and the wrong direction Trump and his party are inflicting on our country, but it's also about the kind of vile person he is and how unqualified. No serious company would hire this moron or have him speak for them. What an embarrassment. 

There was a big effort to register new voters and get out the vote by the Dems and progressives. It worked up to a point. It was probably a very high turnout for a midterm election, but still most Americans didn't vote! It's pathetic. And, it's also pathetic that we have to beg, entice, almost trick or treat people to vote. It should be a civic duty, a patriotic duty to vote. And, not just vote, but be informed about the important issues.

If you vote is counted, then it matters even if your political choice didn't prevail. We measure public opinion and commitment through voting. It matters because voter participation influences how we're being governed. Of course, elections have huge consequences, especially in a sharply divided country whereas the two parties represent vastly different policies--policies that directly affect the lives of our people, and not only.

 It's disheartening to see so much support for Trump--OK, the majority of Americans disapprove of him, but still there are too many who do like him. The change will take time and lots of effort. I think most people are misinformed about the issues; many are just very ignorant and/or don't have the ability to understand that they don't know enough and they don't know how to evaluate evidence.... 



This is not a snobbish comment. It's the Dunning-Krugger effect in play.  It takes a skill to understand what constitutes a fact and what a reliable source is, and how to arrive at a rational conclusion.  That's why it's very difficult, next to impossible, to have a conversation with anyone who doesn't understand this. In the absence of common facts, no rational conversation can take place!

At any rate, I'm looking forward to the next 2 years....
 

Oct 12, 2018

(Un)happy Columbus Day


They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned....They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features....They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane....They would make fine servants....With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. … They are so naïve and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed it would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone … As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island I found, I took some natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”
               
~~Christopher Columbus, Captain’s Log, October 12, 1492

Sep 8, 2018

Anonymous: Com'on, You Already Knew Trump is a Dangerous, Impetuous Child

It's painful to have to deal with someone who, by all indications, should have been dismissed long time ago. It's not just an adverse reaction to his policies, but the fact he's incompetently dangerous to be in a position of power. The Don, unfortunately, will be damaging the institutions and interests of the US, and of our sanity for a while longer. My senses are tired and I shudder every time I think of Trump and his actions.

We already know that hard-core Trump supporters are impervious to reality. Even a simple task--comparing two photos from Obama's and Trump's inaugurations--is beyond their ability to see the obvious.  Likewise, when they hear so many voices--many of whom are life-long Republicans--state the obvious about Trump and his chaotic style, such talk is dismissed as "fake news." There are several reasons for Trumpistas to believe in alternative facts. One is the Danning-Kruger effect, that is, people are too incompetent (or morons) to realize the extend of their mistakes and ignorance.

Anyway, the recent anonymous OpEd in the NYT about the resistance against Trump's childish behavior didn't reveal anything new, other some more details that support the view he is so far out that even his own people are trying to curtail his destructive and dangerous impulses.

Very few Republicans, especially the ones who are in power, have dared to openly criticize the "dear leader." Hopefully this will change after the midterm elections if there's a blue wave that sweeps Republicans out of many offices.

But let's not forget that he's also giving the conservatives a lot of what they want: deregulation, tax breaks to the rich, and the Supreme Court. Perhaps that's why the Republican leadership has been relatively quiet and acquiescent to Trump's trespasses.