Thursday, December 29, 2016
My latest newspaper column. It'll appear Saturday, but why wait?
Our democracy had a nice run, didn’t it? However, when one political party values truth, public education, press freedom, equal rights, economic fairness, and unencumbered elections while the other sees them as obstacles and it’s taken full control, survival is improbable.
We knew it was coming when Fox “news” appeared, calling itself “fair and balanced” while off-gassing disinformation and context-altered video. Simultaneously, right-wing attacks increased on so-called mainstream media; i.e., any that didn’t parrot the party line. There’s now a hardened core of voters who reject any evidence, no matter how solid, which refutes their preferred disbeliefs. To them, climate change is a hoax, Hillary is crooked and Donald isn’t, Putin is our pal, trickle down economics works. They deny Trump lies, or they’re okay with it; can’t tell the difference or don’t care. How many believe he won “one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history”? Amazingly (or not), fifty-two percent of Republicans think he also won the popular vote.
“The big lie” was beanbag. This is nuclear war on reality. If most politicians lie sometimes, in Trumpland it’s foundational, and it’ll continue until followers demand better. Forever, in other words.
Inculcated ignorance is America’s weapon of mass self-destruction: deliberate falsehoods repeated enough to enough credulous people to take hold, no matter how absurd. If you’ll believe Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizza joint, believe it enough to bust into the place locked and loaded, you’ll believe anything. And it’s not just that guy. It’s Trump’s choice for national security advisor and his ex-transition team son, who said of pizzagate, “Until proven false it’ll remain a story.” It’s Trump’s go-to source for the latest lunatic conspiracy, Alex Jones ; it’s his senior policy advisor, Steve Bannon, straight from the internet’s second most deranged website, right after Jones’.
Nor is this the fringe of today’s Republican Party. It’s their Speaker of the House, who claims Trump’s lies should be ignored, and their vice-president-elect, who considers them “refreshing.” Taking it to its ineluctable conclusion, a member of Trump’s staff recently said, “There’s no such thing as facts anymore.” Another announced that what’s important is not whether something is true, it’s whether enough people BELIEVE it’s true. Knowing full well the power of this proposition, they’re doing everything necessary to unbuild the wall between truth and fiction. As effective as it’s already been, it’ll be catastrophic when the disseminators have all the power. If you’re not worried, you’re assimilated.
So this is how it ends: when the people in charge see truth as inimical to their intentions, their leader producing lie upon lie amidst ominous threats of retribution against media and all who criticize, including Congressional Republicans. Some out of fear, as several Congressfolk have admitted, others out of gullibility, a critical mass of Americans is joining in or staying silent. Inducing silence by creating fear of reprisal has always preceded the march to tyranny. We’ve embarked on the road.
Not satisfied that his Goebbellian attacks on critical media will keep his flock adequately narcotized, after the CIA confirmed Russian hacking, Trump went after the intelligence community, too. Because if there remain any credible sources of information that runs contrary to his perpetual prevarication they must be swept away. Attention diverted, Trumpophiles are eager to be swept along. If truth is dispensable to one political party, it most certainly is not to democracy. History tells what follows. George Orwell, it turns out, was a documentarian.
If you believe, for a few examples, Trump’s conflicts of interest don’t matter, millions voted illegally, Sharia law can be imposed here, homosexuality is a choice, the press is our enemy, we can ignore climate change, there’s a war on Christmas, the CIA is wrong, Trump will “drain the swamp,” he has a secret ISIS plan, his Russia connections aren’t worrisome, “the president can’t lie if he doesn’t know the truth,” you’ve been cozened by a carefully constructed con. For the next four years, we’ll have a president more likely to be lying than truthful, while too many members of a once-respectable political party, hating “liberals” more than they love democracy, blind to the consequences, thinking (until it’s too late) they’re winners, won’t care.
[Image source]Happy New Year, though.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Trump will inherit Obama's economy, the one he, in turn, inherited from George Bush on its way to near collapse. Unlike Obama, Trump will start on the rise, gifted by Obama with the lowest unemployment in decades, the Dow more than three times what it was post-Bush, the GDP growing at a healthy rate...
And yet Trump made a campaign out of describing a terrible economy, massive job losses, and rising deficits. On day one he'll point out how great things look and take credit. In fact, he's started already, congratulating himself on the latest consumer confidence score.
And then, in the inevitable aftermath of the same tax policies that have never failed to increase deficits and tank the economy, what will he and his enablers say; whom will they blame?
Need we even ask?
But, hey, who ever said life is fair?
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Question: what does it say about our frail-brain, nasty, small-minded, petty, childish, emotionally bereft president-elect that he remains silent after his recent New York State campaign co-chair says despicable things about President Obama and Michelle Obama, yet responds immediately and petulantly when our president states the obvious: namely that were it not for that pesky post-FDR amendment, he'd have wiped the floor with Donald J. Trump had they engaged in electoral battle. (What President Obama actually said was milder and more cerebral than my characterization. What Trump tweeted was as described. His deep thoughts on the UN [same link] were stupider.)
What does it say? Nothing we didn't already know. Everything we need to know. Everything his voters should have known but if they did they didn't care.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
My latest newspaper column, heavily modified, for space, from a seasonal post back in my Surgeonsblog days.
It was exactly ten years ago today. On emergency backup, I was called in to see a man with an unusual injury. It was the middle of the night, and I wasn’t particularly pleased. Reading his chart before going into the room, I could hear the man referring, it seemed, to every nurse within shouting distance as a "ho'." So I must admit I was a little rude to him. Just lifted up his garish shirt and had a look (what was this guy, a pimp? He called me a "ho," too. Several times.)
Occupying the entire circumference of his enormous belly was a band of mottled skin, maybe five or six inches in width, oozing, and dirty.
Despite wearing gloves and boots and the most ridiculous pants I'd seen in a while, the man was hypothermic. Given the potential for rapidly progressing infection, the dead skin needed to go. I put in a page for Larry, the anesthesiologist, and called the OR.
"You're going to hate me for this," I told Larry. "He's huge, I'm going to have to reposition him two or three times during the case, and he has an enormous beard [anesthesia folk hate beards]. "Great," said Larry, as he hung up the phone.
By the time I next saw my patient, they'd removed his clothes and put them in a couple of bags. Boots, gloves, heavy coat with fur-crested sleeves (who wears that? Heard of PETA?); and now, in the warmth of the room the stuff smelled like a barn. Larry was much more mellow than I, probably getting a laugh over my obvious displeasure. He gave the man the usual once-over and piloted the gurney to the OR.
It took four of us to move him onto the OR table. He'd told us he was two-eighty, but he was three-fifty if he was an ounce.
I won't belabor the surgical details. Suffice it to say it was unpleasant. Rolling the man from side to side, to Larry's grumbling (he'd crossed over to my mood half way through), I cut away a belt of skin and subcutaneous crud which, had I been able to do it all in one piece, could have wrapped twice around a telephone pole. It had taken the poor nurse fifteen minutes to scrub clean the man's stomach: No running water where he lives? Everyone had his or her own reason to be repulsed by the whole thing. After I finished, having assured myself it looked like he'd wake up, I went to take a shower.
When I came back to the recovery room, the man was gone.
Kathy, the world's best recovery nurse, seemed uncharacteristically befuddled. "What happened?" I inquired (you might call it). "Where's my patient?" I was ticked: I hadn't yet decided whether to send him to the floor or the ICU. Who'd made that decision without me??
"He checked out," Kathy said.
"Checked out? What are you talking about?? He died??"
"No. I mean he checked out. Pulled out his IV, insisted I take off his bandages. Said he had important work to do that couldn't wait. He said he'd been so cold in the ER he couldn't even remember who he was, could barely talk."
"You gotta be kidding. There's no way he... How could you let him...”?
"I don't know. He just talked me into it, like I was a child. I just went blank, like he..."
"Oh, man! This is bad. He's gonna die out there..."
"I know you won't believe this, but he looked great. And the wound? It looked like it was healing already. Almost like it never happened."
"Jeez, Kathy! We gotta..."
"Sid?" Kathy asked as I tried to storm out the recovery room door.
"How about his story? About how he got the injury?"
"What story? I didn't even hear the story. What story?"
"Getting stuck in a chimney, being pulled out by some animals. They were trying to slay him, I think he said. Oh, and he left these for you," Kathy grinned, tentatively, as she handed me half a dozen wrapped boxes.
"Yeah, right. Keep 'em. The man is nuts. I gotta get home and get Danny's presents under the tree before he wakes up. Merry frickin' Christmas."
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Here's the final version of my column as it appears in the newspaper, somewhat modified from when I posted it here a few days ago.
Here’s an incomplete list of concerns regarding Russian interference with our electoral process:
RUSSIA INTERFERED WITH OUR ELECTORAL PROCESS!!
Also: the CIA has evidence their intent was to help elect Donald Trump and that Vladimir Putin was directly involved; in Russia, they’re cheering the result; we don’t know why they wanted Trump; Donald Trump and everyone around him wants you to believe the CIA is lying; Mitch McConnell and others in Congress knew about it before the election; Mitch threatened to call making it public an act of partisan politics (unlike their response to James Comey’s “leak”); after Mitch shut down release of the CIA’s findings until after the election, his wife was appointed to Trump’s cabinet; when the hacking was known, the RNC declined a request from the DNC jointly to condemn it; Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, does mega-deals with Putin; our president-elect has made comments suggesting his foreign policy ideas (if that’s what they are) are more aligned with Mr. Putin’s than with our own…
I could go on.
Humbly, I suggest Trump-supporting readers ask their inner selves to assess their reaction had the principals been Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid. (Go into your bathroom, close the door, cover the mirror, wrap your brainal zone with tinfoil. No one will know.) Yes, we have glasses of differing colors through which we view the news of the world around us, but this is unprecedented: an unfriendly foreign power, for reasons unknown, has messed with our democracy, arguably to an extent that affected the outcome of a presidential election. Can you tell yourself, and would yourself believe you if you did, that you’d simply “move on”? Does the pleasure of gloating over the election cloud your mind that much?
Other than his financial ties to Russia, and those of his family, his advisors past and present, and his pick for Secretary of State, we know little of Trump’s connections to or intentions regarding Putin. What we do know is that we can’t expect truth about it from the incoming administration. Bolton called the hacking a false flag. “It’s fake news,” says Sean Hannity, who makes a living creating it. Congressional Republicans have made it clear there’ll be no Benghazi- or email-level investigations.
Dismissing the CIA report, Donald Trump snorted these are the same people who said Saddam had WMD. Wrong! In fact, the CIA warned the evidence was suspect. It was de-facto president Cheney who ignored their signals and sandbagged Colin Powell. More disturbing, our president-elect just stated he doesn’t need intelligence briefings because he’s “like, a smart person.” Before you leave the bathroom, Trumpists, ask yourself how you’d have received such a statement from that tyrannical, arrogant, cocky guy still in the White House. Flush the toilet if you don’t want to hear your answer.
It is as simple as oil? Russia, a petro-state, has been hurting since the price of oil tanked (thanks, Obama!) Trump denies climate change and so do all his (highly inexperienced but super-rich) cabinet appointees. He’ll have us drilling everywhere. His choice for State is the foreign policy abecedarian CEO of Exxon-Mobil. When Russia invaded Crimea (which Trump said would never happen. After it happened.) Obama’s sanctions killed a $500 billion Arctic drilling deal between that oil company and Russia’s. Think it’ll be back on? Might Trump’s cabinet of generals agree to pressure OPEC to raise oil prices? Has PEOTUS been promised a cut?
Or maybe it’s just about Putin’s dream of weakening NATO.
Clearly, Vladimir Putin understands that Donald Trump is narcissistic, superficial, and greedy, uninterested in thinking past his own simplistic notions and incapable of internalizing new information (security briefings take concentration and effort); and that he craves adulation above all. He’s said of Putin, “If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him.” For a former KGB intelligence officer, in other words, Trump’s a manipulator’s dream: stroke his boundlessly needy ego, grease his palm, get whatever you want. Is Donald Trump the Manchurian Candidate who required no brainwashing, a pre-strung marionette?
In a non-Foxolimjonesified world, all Americans would be demanding answers. As it is, half the country, primed to look away, does.[Image source]
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
I'm gonna start pre-publishing my newspaper columns here, because it drives me crazy that by the time they make it to a Saturday, much of it is old news and/or my thoughts (because they're not so brilliant as to never occur to anyone else) sound like I've copied them from elsewhere. So here's what'll probably show up in the paper on Saturday, possibly tweaked a little:
Here’s a necessarily incomplete list of serious concerns regarding Russian interference with our electoral process: Holy crap, Russia interfered with our electoral process; the CIA has evidence their intent was to help elect Donald Trump; we don’t know why they wanted Trump; Donald Trump and everyone around him wants you to believe the CIA is lying; Mitch McConnell and others in Congress knew about it before the election; Mitch threatened to call any attempt to make it public an act of partisan politics (unlike their response to James Comey’s “leak”); after Mitch shut down news of the CIA’s findings until after the election, his wife got an appointment to Trump’s cabinet; Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, does deals with Vladimir Putin; our president-elect has made several comments suggesting his foreign policy ideas (if that’s what they are) are more aligned with Mr. Putin’s aims than with our own…
I could go on.
Humbly, I suggest Trump-supporting readers ask their inner selves to assess their reaction had the above names been Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid, and if “R” were “D.” (You could go into your bathroom, close the door, cover the mirror, and wrap your brainal zone with tinfoil.) Yes, we all have glasses of differing colors through which we view the news and the world around us. But this is unprecedented. An unfriendly foreign power has messed with our democracy, arguably to an extent that affected the outcome of a presidential election, and we don’t know why. Can you tell yourself, and would yourself believe you if you did, that you’d be silent about it? That you wouldn’t be glued to Fox “news,” screaming? Can you justify silence now? How?
Other than his financial ties to Russia, and those of his family, his advisors past and present, and his pick for Secretary of State, we know little of Trump’s connections to or intentions regarding Putin. What we do know is that we can’t expect truth about it from the incoming administration. Bolton called the hacking a false flag. "It's fake news," says Sean Hannity, who makes a living off it. Nor will Congressional Republican hypocrites ever allow a Benghazi-level special investigation.
Dismissing the CIA report, Donald Trump snorted these are the same people who said Saddam had WMD. Wrong! In fact, the CIA warned that the evidence, especially the claims by “Curveball,” which became the signal justification for the invasion, was suspect. It was de-facto president Cheney who stovepiped the intel and sandbagged Colin Powell. More disturbing, our president-elect just stated he doesn’t need intelligence briefings because he’s “like, a smart person.” Stay in your bathroom long enough, Trumpists, to ask yourself how you’d have received such a statement from that tyrannical, arrogant, cocky guy still in the White House. Flush the toilet if you don’t want to hear your answer.
Could it be as simple as oil? Russia, a petro-state, has been hurting since the price of oil tanked (thanks, Obama!) Trump denies climate change and so do all his cabinet appointees. He wants to drill everywhere. His choice for State is the foreign policy abecedarian CEO of Exxon-Mobil. When Russia invaded Crimea (which Trump said would never happen. After it happened) Obama’s sanctions killed a $500 billion Arctic drilling deal between that oil company and Russia’s. Think it’ll be back on? Might Trump’s cadre of hawkish generals agree to pressure OPEC so Exxon and Russia control oil prices? Has PEOTUS been promised a cut? Or is it about Putin's dream of weakening NATO?
Vladimir Putin understands that Donald Trump is narcissistic, inattentive, and greedy, unable to think past his own simplistic notions and incapable of internalizing new information; and that he craves adulation above all. He’s said of Putin, “If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him.” For a former KGB intelligence officer, in other words, Trump’s a pushover. Stroke his boundlessly needy ego, grease his palm, get whatever you want. Trump is the Manchurian Candidate who required no brainwashing, a pre-strung marionette.
In a non-Foxolimjonesified world, all Americans would be outraged, demanding answers. As it is, half the country, primed to look away, does.[Image source]
Monday, December 12, 2016
Original intent: the buzzwords for Republicans when it comes to appointing federal judges. We must adhere to the Constitution as it was intended, and as explained, at the time, by our founding dads. As explained, for one, in The Federalist Papers.
Which brings us to the Electoral College, created for the expressed purpose of preventing Donald Trump from becoming President of the United States. As I noted in a previous post:
... the Electoral College was designed to prevent the election of an authoritarian but superficial, conspiracy-promoting demagogue like Donald Trump. Citizens would, the framers agreed, elect a handful of people specifically tasked with choosing a president. Those sober men, removed from “tumult and disorder,” “heats and ferments” would name “a man ... in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”...In these times, there's no doubt that, were electors to do their job according to original intent, two things would happen: first, Trump would be rejected, and, second, those people currently condemning the handful of stupid riots that occurred after the election would be rioting riots unlike any riots we've seen rioted. So I have mixed feelings, and fears.
On the other hand, what's the point of the electoral college, if not to act in the way it was intended? Certainly, it's come to be understood entirely differently from back in the day; but if it's only purpose today is to make it possible for the winner of the popular vote to lose the election, how is it fulfilling its designated role? Seems to me, either we switch to popular vote and eliminate the electoral college entirely, or we return to the Hamiltonian concept, wherein the "general election" is about states selecting people specifically tasked with choosing a president, and not in any way about "the people" voting directly. That, Americans, was the original intent.
If ever there were a situation like that envisioned by Alexander Hamilton, we're in it. If Donald Trump's specific and obvious deficiencies for the job weren't enough, we have evidence that his election was facilitated (to an unknown extent, admittedly) by a hostile foreign power, with which he has known and unknown entanglements; and he's larding his administration with people who stand to benefit greatly (and already have) from cozying to that foreign power.
Could the Republic hold if electors behaved like electors and dumped Trump and the deplorables he's bringing in? If this isn't the time to find out, what is? As CPP said in one of his longest and most serious dissertations, we've been told we had to move on when Nixon committed treason and other crimes, when Reagan committed treason and other crimes, when Cheney/Bush committed treason and war crimes (although we did pause long enough to impeach Clinton for lying about a blow-job). Is there a point at which in "moving on" we leave too much behind?
* The post title is a reference to "The Senior Song" from my alma mater.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Dr. Ben Carson is a winning choice for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. For one thing, it’s at least three or four weeks since he admitted he’s unqualified to run any federal agency, which is more than enough time to learn the ins and outs of housing things and urban stuff. It’s not brain surgery. Like Ben, I went through surgical training. During that period I spent time on the neurosurgery service and although I didn’t remove many brain tumors, I did live across the street from the hospital for a while, in what many would consider housing. Plus, it was super urban.
I know for a fact that Dr. Carson has also lived in houses. His current home, the one with a signed photograph of him with Jesus (some say it’s a painting, but I totally prefer to believe I’m right), has a grand staircase and colonnades, which are exactly the touches inner city housing currently lacks and so desperately needs. Talk about pride of rentership!
And it’s not just pride that Dr. Ben will create. People are saying he’ll build grain-storage pyramids in our most depressed urban centers. The beauty of this is they’ll employ lots of people during construction, which, in Egypt at least, took many years per item and maybe a hundred thousand laborers, not all of whom, it’s thought, were actual slaves. Costs, so I read online, will be totally recovered and then some, because once they’re finished we won’t need to give poor people food stamps.
If there are expensive overruns (which is unlikely because Dr. Carson’s boss knows a lot about construction and what to do in the event of bankruptcy) tax cuts on multimillionaires in Trump’s cabinet and across the land will make up the revenue shortfall. From history we know this about tax cuts, which, coincidentally, is how we know about pyramids, too. That, and the Bible; Dr. Ben’s interpretation of it, anyway. If a former brain surgeon can’t convert cubits into inches or whatever, no one can, am I right?
I haven’t discovered what’s in the Bible regarding urban development; for sure not the Fair Housing Act, anyway, which Dr. C. doesn’t like. He found the purpose for pyramids there, though, and he’ll do the same for quarterage.
Speaking of the Bible, I’m pretty excited about Betsy DeVos, who’ll be the new Secretary of Education, if Republicans have anything to do with it, which they do. It’s a definite sign of something that pyramids come into play with her, too, seeing as how her husband’s billions come from owning Amway, which works just like one; and although it’s trickle-up and not Republican trickle-down, a trickle is a trickle.
Anyhow, I’m hearing she learned a lot about public education by observing it from the private schools she and her kids attended. You can see a lot from up there. What she saw is how little the Bible is taught down here in public schools, so she’s spent lots of her soap money trying to fix that, which doesn’t require education expertise or experience which is okay with me.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad more tax money will go to religious education and less to public schools. Reason why, I finished my public school education a long time ago, and so did everyone else in my family so we’re good. Except maybe the grandkids, but by the time they’re ready the main skills they’ll need are hunting, gathering, and self-defense. For now, though, since America finally realized it’s about gut feelings and not all that factual silliness, religious education of the kind Mrs. DeVos prefers, where no one brainwashes kids with evolution, climate change, or distractions like critical thinking, is exactly what we need. The more kids we produce who can figure out, just for one example, what the pyramids were for like Dr. Ben Solomon Carson did, the better off we’ll be.
I think the president-elect is off to a great start. He understands that when you don’t know your job, being rich makes up for a lot. Dr. Ben is only worth ten million or so, but Betty and Donald and the rest are billionaires. If they can’t fix poverty, who can?[Image source]
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Will this be the new "lie of the year"? One Republicans will denounce like they did when President Obama said "you can keep your doctor"? Because they're not hypocrites, that's one thing they aren't. (Emphasis mine, below.)
Washington – House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday he envisions an extended transition from Obamacare that ensures “no one is worse off” after Congress votes to repeal the program.
Ryan said there will be an early repeal vote next year, but after that, “clearly there will be a transition and a bridge so that no one is left out in the cold, so that no one is worse off. The purpose here is to bring relief to people who are suffering from Obamacare so that they can get something better.”...Or will they say it wasn't a lie because when he said it he thought it was true?
I'm gonna say no, no, and yes.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Monday, December 5, 2016
For all of you doubters and people unwilling to give Trump et al a chance. I happen to know for a fact that Dr. Ben Carson once lived in a house. Still does, matter of fact. So just chill.
Besides, a lot of time has passed since he admitted he has no business running a federal agency.
Saturday, December 3, 2016
In med school some classmates and I went trick-or-treating to homes of professors. After inviting us in, one insisted we hear a recording of him telling a joke. With sound effects! Shortened and cleaned up, it went like this: Shipwreck. Captain, pretty young wife, handsome young sailor paddle to uninhabited island. Captain orders rotating watch in nearby tree. Young man goes first. Says, “One o’clock and all’s well,” looks down and says, “Stop making love down there.” Repetitively: “Two o’clock…” etc. Captain is puzzled, but when he takes his turn he says, “Six o’clock and all’s well… By golly, it does look like they’re making love down there.”
Donald Trump and his henchfolk kept saying, “Stop rigging the election down there,” and now others are saying, by golly, it does look like it was rigged. Nice one, Donald. I mean, if a person knew the election was going to be swung in his favor, how useful would it be to get the other side to think it was an illusion?
We know Russia was messing with our election and did so with the knowledge of the Trump campaign. Russia’s online propaganda influence on our political discourse is ongoing and growing. James Comey might have provided advance information to team Trump. So is it beyond imaging that the Donald and his merry band of deplorables knew the fix was in, maybe had a hand in it? Might that explain Trump’s repetitive warnings of rigging, as an attempt to inoculate himself against Democrats looking into malfeasance?
Well, sure, demands for recounts can be seen as nothing more than sour grapes or, as Donald Trump, who has the best words, described it, “Sad.” But there’s no historical precedent for the winner of electoral votes losing the popular vote by such a yuge margin. Moreover, some experts concluded there’s statistical suggestion of tampering. Indeed, even before the audit, four precincts across Wisconsin “discovered” they’d tallied more votes for Trump than the total number of people who voted. An error, they said. Same mistake in each precinct. Well, these things happen.
Recounts detect certain kinds of errors. Can they, without analyzing each machine, uncover hacking of voting software? Given their other meddling and the steady stream of revelations of coziness with the Trump campaign, is it inconceivable that Russian hackers accomplished what many have claimed, since the advent of digital voting equipment, is relatively easy? Beyond speculation, what about known rigging in plain sight, via minority-voter suppression laws produced in Red states since the Supreme Court neutered the Voting Rights Act. How much did they tilt the election? Possibly by millions of votes. More than one way to make America great, right?
So there’ll be a watered-down recount. I doubt it’ll turn up much, or that anything will change if it does. It sure would be entertaining, though. There’s not enough popcorn in all of Iowa. Nor antacids in my medicine cabinet.
Meanwhile, I’m certain we all agree: let’s stop calling Trump’s victory “the will of the people,” or a “mandate.” Because, despite Trump’s latest spectacular lie, “the people” chose Hillary Clinton by over two-and-a-half million non-suppressed votes. (Note to Donald: if you claim millions voted illegally AND call the recount “nonsense,” you should also say “oops.” And when you sue to stop the recounts, the rest of us say "hmmm...")
While awaiting the outcome, here’s a thought experiment: Imagine the official Republican reaction if a Democratic president-elect had holdings around the world and had already pressured Argentina and Turkey to make self-enriching deals? What if she’d summoned media people before a golden throne, berated their coverage of her, made implicit threats, and demanded an end to unflattering photos? Would they rage about unambiguous attacks on the First Amendment as they had about imaginary attacks on the Second? Would they call a popular vote win/electoral vote loss “the will of the people” if it were their candidate? Would they “get over it”? Ever?
Finally, predict Foxolimjonsian responses if her family-business-managing daughter sat in on the president-elect’s conversations with foreign leaders; or if she’d selected the wealthiest administration in history, including Wall Street billionaires and lobbyists, after promising to “drain the swamp.”
I know: tough assignment. Take your time. And your answers must fit on a bumper sticker.[Image source]
Friday, December 2, 2016
This confirms everything I've been saying (and, of course, not just me!) about the power of Foxification. The creation of idiotic, credulous, absolutely impenetrable cluelessness. It wins elections for today's Republican party, and is exactly the result they've been seeking with their wide-ranging propaganda network and cynical use of social media.
More than that: it shows that there really is no solution. People prefer to be deceived, will never recognize they're being deceived, and, because it's so important to their electoral success, the party now in charge has no reason to see it change. The idea of an informed electorate is anathema to them and they know it. It explains, among other things, their continual attacks on public education, which will only get worse with Trump's pick for SecEd.
Efforts at enlightening people like that lady, including this tiny blog at the corner of nowhere and who-cares, and my puny newspaper column read buy tens, are, undeniably, futile.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
I missed this remarkable little gem, a window through which we've already looked, into the mind of our president-elect:
A longtime ally of President-elect says the campaign joining recount efforts increases the chances that Clinton will face criminal prosecution.
“I think Hillary increases her chances of prosecution by acting this way,” Roger Stone said Monday on Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.” ...Not long ago the egregious Kellyanne Conway informed us how "magnanimous" der Donald was being in not unleashing the Justice Department on Hillary, making the same implication of what happens if you make dear leader führerious. Let that be a warning, subtle as a sledgehammer.
Forget, for the moment, that in theory the Justice Department is supposed to act independently and not at the behest of the president; that siccing them on a person who offends the president's delicate sensibilities is not how it works. Just consider that Donald J. Trump and his closest cohorts are perfectly fine with America having a president that seeks vengeance on those who don't toe the line he's drawn in the muck.
If anyone reading this is among those who hoped the gravity of the office will cause Trump and his surroundees to moderate their autocratic views, this ought to disavow them of that obvious misconception, which happens to have been obvious well before the election. But, sure, let's "give him a chance."
Any remaining true conservatives should be as appalled as the rest of us. And if they managed to twist their morals and squeeze them out like water in a wet rag, and voted for him, they should be feeling shame beyond words.
Except, well, of course not.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
If ever a photo demanded an endless string of captions, here it is.
"He has my balls in his hand and he's squeezing really hard."
"He's my bitch now." "Yes. Yes, I am."
"This is what revenge looks like." "My stomach hurts."
Monday, November 28, 2016
It's not just me who's noticed: the fake news digesters are, in general, Trumpic. Says a guy making twenty to thirty grand a month in ads on his fake news sites:
... When did you notice that fake news does best with Trump supporters?
Well, this isn't just a Trump-supporter problem. This is a right-wing issue. Sarah Palin's famous blasting of the lamestream media is kind of record and testament to the rise of these kinds of people. The post-fact era is what I would refer to it as. This isn't something that started with Trump. This is something that's been in the works for a while. His whole campaign was this thing of discrediting mainstream media sources, which is one of those dog whistles to his supporters.
When we were coming up with headlines it's always kind of about the red meat. Trump really got into the red meat. He knew who his base was. He knew how to feed them a constant diet of this red meat.
We've tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You'll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out...Sure, it's fun, if that's the word, to confirm the obvious, that gullibility and credulity are disproportionately traits of today's right wing. More than that, though, it's scary. Because their leaders know it, have used it, will continue to use it, have no incentive to stop, and now they're fully in charge. The dumbing-down is sure to continue, with no end in sight.
It feels like a death spiral.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
A pizza joint owner in D.C. is suffering horrendous consequences after a fake story appeared online accusing his shop of harboring a child-abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton. Trumpics found it believable, evidently.
I can’t count the emails I’ve received, ridiculous claims about Barack Obama, easily debunked and dismissed. I can’t count the number of times I’ve replied with links to facts, to which the response has been silence until the next preposterous assertion arrives.
My suggestion to these repeat offenders: If the message comes to you with the phrase “Snopes confirms,” check before believing. Same with “If you do nothing else today, forward this...” If it supports your darkest beliefs about the other side, take a moment before buying in. Forwarding it makes you look silly, I tell them. In their minds, clearly, it doesn’t.
Credulity. It’s becoming our democracy’s biggest vulnerability, and the one most easily exploited. After decades of propagandizing and prevarications, it’s clear vast numbers of people have consumed the canards, and they’re way beyond ducking out. Although the phenomenon seems mostly limited to rightists, I get stuff forwarded to me from the like-minded, too, if much less often: usually it’s that quote that has Trump saying if he ran for president, he’d do it as a Republican because they believe anything. Obviously false: he’s never shown that degree of insight.
Seriously, though: it’s no longer a potential problem, it’s real. There are people (and bots), official and otherwise, spreading intentional falsehoods throughout “social” media, and thence to the mainstream. It works. Producers of fake news are claiming success influencing electoral outcomes. Fox “news” and rightwing radio have been peddling it for years.
Immediately after the election, when Hillary Clinton’s growing popular vote win (now surpassing two million) was undeniable, Trumpophiles began spreading the word he’d also won that vote. It’s still out there. Then came the “news” that protestors were being paid. Trump just denied ever saying he’d support a registry of Muslims. (He did, a year ago. It’s on tape. Look it up.) Now he’s falsely claiming he kept open a Ford plant that wasn’t closing. How long before he takes credit for the recent economic uptick?
Desire for confirmation of what we prefer to believe has replaced curiosity and skepticism. Heard enough times, falsehoods infiltrate the brain like amyloid, making truth irrelevant. This is dangerous, even for those who, for now, don’t care. Sooner or later, truth is important for everyone. Example: climate change. (“Where’s the evidence,” a recent letter asked! Everywhere.)
“Post-truth” is Oxford’s Dictionary’s word of the year. “I’m hearing…” Donald Trump says. “I never said that,” he declares. By direct measure, he’s lied more than any candidate, ever. How can you be “post” truth if you were never “intra”?
Good decisions require accurate information. If for every fact there are innumerable deliberate fabrications, what are citizens to do? There may be multiple possible solutions to problems, but facts are unitary. Our founders disagreed over inventing a government, but they didn’t argue about what was real. We’ve descended so far from that, there may be no way back. Donald Trump just hauled in media leaders to berate their coverage of him. Will they be brave enough to keep at it?
Crucial to separating fact from fiction is the desire to do it. (Trump’s brilliance was recognizing how thoroughly Foxolimjonesification has extinguished it, and he’s still employing the insight.) Next is accepting the possibility you could be misinformed. Finally, having decided to try, is the wherewithal to make the distinction. There’s little evidence of it among those celebrating Trump’s electoral vote victory. Once upon a time presidents were held to a higher standard, and news agencies were more interested in providing education than attracting eyeballs, when citizens wished to be informed, and were willing to do the work to achieve it. Now that they’ve won, how about Trumpists begin demanding honesty? They’ll discover the lies soon enough (secret ISIS plan, the wall, climate, Social Security, prosecuting Hillary…), but why wait?
“Post-truth” wins elections. Clearly people need investigatory skills they no longer have. Now that they’re in charge, will Republicans, who call public education “brainwashing,” encourage schools to teach them?[Image source]
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