About Wayne A. Schneider

I'm a Liberal, Libertarian, Atheist Humanist. I believe that though the world is a dangerous place, it can be made better if we stop dividing ourselves by how we're different from each other, and reach out to each other through what we have in common. And that is that we are all human beings on this planet. Please remember that.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 25, 2016: Texit Is No Brexit

Great Britain stunned the world when a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union resulted in the Leave forces winning. The EU’s reaction was to say, “Fine, then let’s get it over with as quickly as possible,” with the word “quickly” meaning “following a two-year negotiation”. This has spurred Danial Miller, of a group called the Texas Nationalist Movement, to push their own bid to secede from the Union, which they are cleverly (not really) dubbing “Texit.” Here’s the problem with it: It won’t mean anything. Unilateral attempts to secede from the Union are unconstitutional, according to a SCOTUS decision handed down in 1869. In it, the Court said a state cannot unilaterally secede. They must either achieve their goal through revolution (like the Civil War) or with the consent of Congress (which won’t ever happen.) I can think of several reasons why Texit is a bad idea, but that’s only because unlike the people in favor of this movement, I can think.

There are dozens of military bases in TX belonging to the federal government. Should Texans choose to secede through revolution, those bases would remain in “enemy hands.” And, no, a bunch of guys in pickup trucks are not going to storm the base and take it over. I know. I’ve seen one of those bases. I spent six weeks in one. They have aircraft that can beat anything the rebels might put up. As one State Republican Executive Committee member said during a discussion of secession (from a link later below), “I’m not sending my grandson out with a 12-gauge shotgun to take on the 82nd Airborne.” And the federal forces fighting back wouldn’t just come from Texas. We have military forces in every state surrounding Texas. The rebellion would be crushed in months, if not weeks. Everything in Texas might be bigger, but not necessarily the ability to think ahead.

Like many Conservative states (and, yes, a few Liberal ones, too), Texas gets more back from the federal government than it puts in. (Miller is totally wrong on this point.) If they secede, they’ll lose all those federal dollars, many of which go to paying the salaries of Texans. Do you really think the Department of Defense is going to hire someone from a foreign country, hostile to the US, to work in any of its other bases in the rest of the country? That’s billions of dollars taken out of circulation in the Texas economy. Less money around means less money being spent, which means businesses start failing and more and more people are out of work. And now they won’t get their earned Unemployment Benefits, despite paying into the system for years. Because they’re foreigners now. Given Conservative hostility to dependence on government, I don’t see the Neutered Republic of Texas (or whatever they’ll officially name themselves) setting up a welfare-type program to help its less fortunate citizens. That’s one of the many reasons they wanted to secede in the first place. Which, again, is ironic since they depend so much on the help of their fellow Americans.

Speaking of which, if they somehow successfully secede they’ll no longer be able to call themselves our fellow Americans. Because they’ll no longer be Americans. And if they’re anything like the Texans of 1861 I’d be fine with letting them ago. The first time Texas seceded it was over White Supremacy and the defense of the Institution of Slavery, points clearly spelled out in their Declaration of Secession. When their citizens voted on the ordinance to ratify their secession, it passed by a vote of 46,153 to 14,747. (76% to 24%) Today those percentages would likely be reversed, so even having a Texit vote would be a colossal waste of taxpaying Texans’ money.

Here is Miller explaining how Texit and Brexit are alike, but not exactly alike.

Besides being wrong about Texas being a a Giver state rather than the Taker state it actually is, Miller was confused about at least a couple of other things. In the beginning of this video, Miller talks about the Orlando Pulse massacre. But he was still pushing the idea that this mass shooting had any real connection to ISIS. Though this video was made about two days after the massacre, the only connection to ISIS was the shooter’s telling 911 that he was doing it for them, even though ISIS never told him to do anything. We now know the killer was known to frequent that same nightclub, and known to have had sex with men in the past. IMHO, it was done either out of self-loathing or because he had a failed relationship with another man. But ISIS had nothing to do with it, and would not have approved of a gay man fighting on their behalf. Later in the video, Miller invoked Sam Houston in his talk about whether or not the people should have a vote on independence. Houston opposed the convention to decide secession in 1861 and stayed silent throughout. And when they overwhelmingly voted yes, he told them they were not being reasonable. I’m sure he would say the same thing today. BTW, when Houston refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America, they replaced him as governor.

Texit is not a good idea, and just because a small percentage of Texans think it is does not justify pursuing it further. But it’s not a good idea because it has no power to it, and would mean nothing if Congress does not approve. I wish they would, but they won’t. Sure I think Texas is an embarrassment to the nation, but if they’re going to leave the union, let it be done peacefully and totally. We’ll take our military equipment and other federal property with us and blow up what we leave behind. We’ll erect a huge border wall around Texas (but not Mexico) to make sure their more radical citizens stay in their own country. And let’s make sure we never let them in the union again. To be fair, citizens of the United States residing in Texas now can remain citizens of the United States, but cannot have dual citizenship and continue to live in Texas. One or the other. We’ll give you time to find a place to live here, and you can go back to work in Texas if they permit Americans to do so. But if you decide to live in Texas, you’ll be treated as an expatriate, without the rights and protections of our Constitution. (If you’re lucky, the new Texas will grant you the same Constitutional rights. If you’re unlucky, they’ll also bring back Slavery.) Oh, and you’ll need a visa to enter the US. Welcome to America. We hope you enjoy your visit here. Check your weapons at the door.

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 18, 2016: Can Tiny Hands Handle The Presidency?

A Super PAC calling itself “Americans Against Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands” released this video asking if someone could be President with tiny hands.

The group originally wanted to call itself, “Trump Has Tiny Hands,” but were told by the FEC that they had to change it because the “committee does not appear to be an authorized committee of that candidate,’ and therefore cannot use his name in the PAC’s name. An understandable rule considering what people would do if they could. I know what I would do if I could. “Americans Against Donald Trump’s Bigotry, Racism, Misogyny, Homophobia, Xenophobia, Fraud, Mendacity, and General Sleaziness.” My first ad would feature, of course, kittens. I hope the group is able to get its ad spread around, and I encourage you to share this post to help that endeavor.

People like Donald Trump need to be ridiculed for the frauds they are. If you’re one who believes that Trump’s “success” as a businessman shows he can be a good president, I would say two things. 1) How? What is the connection between running a for-profit corporation whose only purpose for existence is to make you and some close associates wealthy, and governing a nation of hundreds of millions, with equal rights and differing opinions on how things should be done? And, 2) Donald Trump is not as good a businessman as he has lead you to believe. One of the many ways he’s been able to stay rich is by not paying his vendors and suing the people who say bad things about him.

If reporters say truthful things about Trump that make him look bad, he bans them from covering him, just like he did with several media outlets, including the Washington Post. In March 2016, The WaPo published an article asking what happened to the $6 million dollars Trump said he raised for veterans groups. Trump gave a list of 24 charities that would receive money. Some of the money was in the form of direct contributions by Trump’s friends. Some was supposed to come from one of Trump’s Foundations. And Trump himself pledged to donate $1 million of his own money. It was through social media that Trump was shamed into finally making that personal $1 million donation in May.

Donald Trump is not true to his word and cannot be believed in anything he says, or promises, or says he promises, or promises he says. He has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of how government works. He seems oblivious to the fact that there are two other co-equal branches of government that do have a say in how things are done in this country. One writes the laws Trump promises he’ll pass, if they choose to do so, and the other decides whether or not the law was broken and what the punishment for it will be. He does not understand that the president rarely does anything personally when it comes to all the negotiations done on behalf of our federal government. There are people already in our government who have been doing it for decades for that. He lies constantly about Syrian immigrants, claiming none of them are being vetted and are coming to our shores by the thousands. Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes nearly two years for any of them to get here. He calls for blatant violations of the Constitution from banning people because of the religious faith they practice (which ignores the fact that it was religious freedom that motivated many of our earliest settlers) to deciding which media outlets would have access to his administration to fulfill their free press rights.

Donald Trump is interested in one person, and one person only – Donald Trump. He cares more about himself than he does about everybody else on the planet combined. (And I honestly believe that is not an exaggeration.) He has the temperament of a spoiled rich child, which is no surprise given he was one, and none of the patience and fortitude of someone wanting to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. He has had corrupt business dealings with corrupt people, and he has abused the legal system with his constant lawsuits against people telling the truth about him. Hard as I try, I can’t think of any way in which Donald Trump would make a good president. Or even a competent one. He is precisely the kind of person our Founding Fathers feared might one day become president. And should he somehow, despite the God Conservative Christians claim exists, win the presidency, our nation will surely test Franklin’s admonition that we would have a Republic, if we could keep it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 13, 2016: This Day in History

When you get right down to it, many things in history happened on any given date on the calendar. But today I’m going to discuss just a few of the many important (and unimportant) things that happened on various June 13ths throughout history. Without further ado, on this date in:

1633: The charter for Maryland is given to Lord Cecil Baltimore after whom, of course, the city of Silver Springs, Maryland is named.

1731: Future First First Lady Martha Washington was born. She was a wealthy widow by the time she married George Washington.

1786: Winfield Scott, U.S. Army General famous for victories in the War of 1812 and the War with Mexico, was born. There are many who believe he is the “Scott” in the expression “Great Scott!

1831: James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish physicist, was born. His work proved that electrical, magnetic and optical phenomena were all united in a single universal force, Electromagnetism, and formulated electromagnetic theory. You’re reading this now because of him.

1865: William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and playwright, was born. He was famous for “The Second Coming” which featured the line, “The centre cannot hold.” This was a line often repeated by the army commander of the facility in Stephen King’s “The Stand” from which the virus that wiped out most humans on Earth escaped. This happened in the story on a June 13th. There’s a connection.

1892: Basil Rathbone, actor famous for playing Sherlock Holmes, was born. Rathbone was also famous for getting drunk at parties and walking around naked except for his pipe and deerstalker cap.

1953: Tim Allen was born. Famous to me for playing Jason Nesmith, who played Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart on the fictional TV series, Galaxy Quest, one of the best Star Trek parodies ever made.

1960: I was born. (This would be one of the unimportant things that happened on this date.)

1966: The Supreme Court of the United States enters the realm of police television drama writing when they hand down their famous Miranda v. Arizona decision reminding you that, when arrested, you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can be used as evidence against you, that you have a right to have an attorney present during questioning, that if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to you, and that, perhaps most importantly, if you want to wear white after Labor Day, it’s constitutionally permissible.

1967: President Lyndon Johnson nominated Solicitor-General Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court. Upon his retirement, he was replaced by the completely unqualified Justice Clarence “Who Put This Pube On My Coke?” Thomas, apparently on the sole basis that he was black, like Justice Marshall.

1968: Johnny Cash records his famous “At Folsom Prison” album live at Alcatraz.

1970: The Beatles’ “Let It Be” album goes to Number 1 on the charts and stays there for four weeks. It was their penultimate album recorded, but the last one released. It was also the basis for one of my album parodies, “Enemy“. I hope you enjoy it.

1983: After it crosses the orbit of Neptune, Pioneer 10, launched in 1972, becomes the first human-built space craft to leave the solar system. It has not yet been determined how many non-human-built space craft have made the journey previously. The first close-up pictures we had of Jupiter were taken by Pioneer 10, which proved to be a much more successful satellite than its predecessors Pioneer 8, Pioneer Vista, Pioneer XP, and the disastrous Pioneer 98. They’re still not sure why they built that one.

1986: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen (Michelle on Full House) were born. I would have to wait until I was 44 before even thinking about dating them.

1990: Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State James A. Baker III urges the Israelis to accept a US plan for peace talks. He gives out the number to the White House switch board (202-456-1414) and says, “When you’re serious about this, call us.” I’ve called that number before. It was usually to talk to the White House Communications Agency Duty Officer (WHCADO, or “whocka-do”) about a problem with one of several methods President Reagan had to talk to people on the ground while flying in Air Force One (which I used to watch being parked in its hangar outside my dorm window.)

1996: A new report on Nature proposed that guinea pigs are on a distant branch from rodents and deserve a class of their own. Having once worked on a street named Guinea Road, I can certainly understand the profound implications of this report, which came out 20 years ago, and of which I was completely unaware until I started researching this post. Still, it’s deeply moving.

2005: In the “Better Late Than Never, But Not Really”-Department, the US Senate apologizes for blocking anti-lynching legislation in the early 20th century, when mob violence against blacks was commonplace. They followed this up four years later by vowing to block any legislation put forth by the nation’s first black president, just in case anybody thought we were actually making progress on addressing this nation’s deep-seated racist history. And while I certainly feel lucky to have been born in this country, it’s things like its ongoing racism that make me hesitant to say I’m “proud.” Do people who say they are proud ever think about things like this? Since they continue to happen, I’d say not.

Anyway, enjoy your June 13ths, today and in the future. It’s not all that bad a day after all.

This is our daily open thread. I hope it’s a good one for you.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 6, 2016: Can American Democracy Actually Work?

I want to believe. I want to believe that democracy can work in America. But can it? Can it really?

Although it was originally posted more than two years ago on Alternet, Raw Story reprinted an article that makes me wonder. It seems humans will believe what they want to believe, facts be damned. People who thought there were WMDs in Iraq clung to that misperception even harder when shown an article correcting that story. People who thought President George W. Bush banned ALL stem cell research still believed that even when told only a partial ban was put in effect. (No new stem cell lines could be created for research, but research was allowed to continue using the 60+ lines then in existence. Which isn’t nearly enough.) These were examples making conservatives look bad, but political leaning has nothing to do with it. It’s true of all humans, regardless of political philosophies. Facts simply don’t matter. But Education does. If you’re taught the truth about things when you’re younger, you’re less likely to believe false things when you get older. Kids grow up believing what their parents teach them to believe, which is fine if the parents aren’t complete idiots. But if they are, by the time kids enter the public education system they’re already off to a bad start. It would help if schools were allowed to teach actual critical thinking skills, as people would learn how to verify new information and not just accept it because it confirms what they already believe. But as the study shows, that seems to be the essence of the problem. We do not seem to be wired to process information this way. At least, according to how the scientist interpreted the results. There was no measure beforehand of how well the participants could use critical thinking skills, and therefore may have had pre-conceived ideas (however false) but couldn’t process the new information in a way that would make them change their opinion. Hence, the tendency to cling harder to what they previously believed to be true.

Religion may also be responsible for much of this. And not just Christianity, but organized religion of any kind. Particularly in America, we have a lot of people who claim religion is important in their lives, but who don’t even know basic facts about their own religion as well as atheists and agnostics do. But the areas in America where religion is least important are also the areas where literacy rates tend to be higher. Religion requires no critical thinking, and discourages questioning what one is told to be the truth. And while there have been men (almost entirely) who were allowed to explore questions about faith, their answers were heavily censored and only allowed publication if approved by the religious leaders. In other words, not a lot of objectivity, and essentially just an addition to what people are being told to believe. The approved philosophical writings were used to justify why what you were being told is the truth, which is what the study seemed to indicate happens even with so-called smarter people. People still believe what they want to believe and use their reasoning to justify it afterwards. The problem is, there are way too many people in this country who believe provably false things like the Sun revolves around the Earth, and a large percentage who don’t know the Universe began with some kind of large explosion (as opposed to being brought into existence as is). Even more frightening is that more than half do not understand or believe in Evolution. How many times have you heard someone (often a religious conservative) say, “If we’re descended from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” (Evolution doesn’t say all monkeys turned into humans. Evolution says humans and monkeys share a common ancestor.) If you can’t start with the most basic of factually correct information, how can you possibly make a well-reasoned decision on which direction to take our country? If you think voting for someone who actually believes the Earth is less than 10,000 years old is going to solve our nation’s problems, then you’re one of the problems.

As I said before, Education can help, especially when started at an early age. As soon as children learn there are natural explanations for the way the Universe works (even if we don’t fully understand them yet), and that it’s not all attributable to an impossible Being with severely psychotic tendencies who kills at a whim, there is hope for Democracy in this country. And a better life for all, too. Studies have shown that elsewhere in the world, the highest standards of living tend to be found in the least religious countries, and the poorest in the most religious. America seems to be the exception. We have both a higher-than-average standard of living and yet are among the more religious countries in the world. But that will change if more Americans grow up believing nonsense before they are taught to think for themselves. Otherwise we just end up with another generation that doesn’t have enough sense to realize someone like Donald Trump is too ignorant and unqualified to run this country. And because he loves the poorly-educated, he’ll create more because they love him so much. And the Great Experiment known as America will have finally failed.

Please don’t let anyone you know vote for Donald Trump. You’ll just be voting for the end of America.

This is our daily open thread. feel free to discuss whatever you wish. Just don’t vote for Donald Trump.

The Watering hole, Monday, May 30, 2016: Will America Elect Yet Another Overtly Racist President?

America is far from perfect. We have achieved many great things in our history, but it has been despite our flaws, not because of them. And among the worst of our flaws is this country’s history of racism and white supremacy. Yes, not just the racism but the white supremacy, too. We on the Left post many words decrying white supremacists, but we rarely admit our country has elected many white supremacists POTUS, and they weren’t all Conservatives and/or Republicans and at least a few were Progressives and/or Democrats. As a Liberal, that bothers me. I want what’s best for everyone, and the color of one’s skin does not determine whether one is a human being or not. But there are many people, white people in particular, who feel this is not so; they feel that one’s skin color DOES determine how human one is. And sadly, these people often get elected to public office, where they are able to put their racist viewpoints into law. A President Donald J. Trump would be such a racist president.

It’s bad enough that Trump lies, and lies, and lies, and lies, and lies, and lies, and, just for good measure, engages in promoting conspiracy theories. (This is not to mention the xenophobia, misogyny, birtherism and bullying tactics.) But Donald Trump’s overt racism is probably one of the least admirable things about him. And yet, it’s precisely the reason he is so admired among many of his supporters. White supremacist organizations of all kinds have been openly endorsing Trump, while he has renounced or even denounced so few of them. He had to lie (there’s no other word for it) and say he didn’t know much about David Duke, after the former KKK Grand Wizard publicly endorsed him, despite the fact that several years ago Trump publicly commented on David Duke and his association with the Klan. So why hem and haw over publicly rejecting his endorsement? Trump knew Duke was connected to the Klan. Is that not enough to say he doesn’t want Duke’s support? Why say he has to know more about him before commenting? And if Trump doesn’t want the support of white supremacists, why does he so often retweet their tweets? (He can’t claim he didn’t know when their screen name has “white genocide” in it.)

Many of Trump’s fans like him because, as they tell it, “He says what I’m thinking.” If that’s true of you, then you’re not thinking good thoughts. In fact, you’re talking like someone who wants to take us back to the 1940s and 1950s, when white men were generally (if often wrongly) perceived to be the most admired people in the country. (Are you Pat Buchanan, by any chance?) And you have a problem for which you should seek treatment. Trump appeals to people like you because he uses “Othering”, where all your problems are blamed on people who aren’t like you. In other words, people who are non-white, non-Christian, and non-American. Others. Others who can be scapegoated. It’s the very ugly secret behind Trump’s success to win the nomination of the party that, let’s be truthful here, appeals as hard as it can to low-information, low-effort-thinking, less-educated, and less-intelligent voters. People who have opinions not based on reality. Of course, as part of their juvenile “I know you are but what am I?”-style of debating, they accuse us of not being based in reality, because the way we see the world doesn’t match the way they see the world. I’m not just talking about the difference between the way Liberals and Conservatives see the world, I’m talking about people who believe so many things that are provably false. And they base their voting choice on who they think could best solve the problems of the world as they see them, meaning both their problems and the world. These people are either not very intelligent, or very afraid of something that isn’t going to happen to them. Do conservative voters in the Midwest states really believe ISIS is going to come to America and bring death and Sharia Law to them? Just because they’re taking over a country thousands of miles away from here, that doesn’t have the same history as our country, that doesn’t have the same religious makeup as ours, that wasn’t enjoying the same freedoms as ours, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen here. I mean, c’mon! I thought you folks loved our military. Have you no faith in their ability to defend us from whatever it is you imagine is going to happen to us? (And you are imagining it. It isn’t going to happen.) And whatever it is you fear is going to happen, do you really think an overtly racist president is the best choice to be commanding your military? Say what you will about Hillary Clinton (and many of you Trump supporters have been doing just that, even though much of it isn’t true, meaning grounded in the real reality), she doesn’t see our oversized military as the go-to solution where tact and diplomacy would work better. And neither does Bernie Sanders. And neither should you.

I really, really hope our country is better than to elect a crass, petulant, childish racist as our president. We deserve the consequences if we do.

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 23, 2016: Why Do Donald Trump’s Positions Appeal To You When He Clearly Has None?

We on the Left often talk about low information voters more than they do on the Right, but that’s only because the Right depends on them so much to stay in power. Without the low information voter and the low effort thinkers, Republicans would never have been able to grab onto and retain the political power they currently enjoy and abuse, not only on the national level, but at the state level, too. An informed voter would never vote for a Republican unless that voter was a greedy, rich, selfish bastard who couldn’t care less about helping his or her fellow human beings who are in trouble (often due to Republican policies.) And face it. If you aren’t greedy, rich, or selfish, you really have no reason to vote for a member of a party that openly admits to doing things that help the super rich far more than they help you or anyone else you personally know. I mean, seriously, do rich people need more tax cuts? We are talking about taxing income beyond a ridiculously high point at which they’ll literally be bringing in (not necessarily earning) more money than they can possibly use in their life times or their grandchildren’s, so why do Republicans insist on lying and acting like taxing more of that income will take away all incentive to make money? That’s pure selfishness talking, not sound public policy. And if it’s sound public policy you want out of your public servants, then why on Earth would you vote for Donald J. Trump? What possible argument could you have?

It can’t be because of Trump’s positions on any of the major issues. In addition to the fact that Trump often speaks in incoherent phrases, he has often been unable to state a position and stick to it. Whether it’s on taxing the rich, paying down the national debt, a woman’s right to exercise her constitutional right to an abortion, the minimum wage, money in politics, defeating ISIS, following international laws, immigration, H-1B visas, border control, the Syrian refugee crisis, banning Muslims, being so popular with white supremacists, the KKK and David Duke, the multi-national Iran nuclear deal, or even healthcare in the US, Trump has often stated, then reversed, then modified whatever position he had, sometimes within hours. He expressed three separate and conflicting opinions on abortion in less than an hour and a half. And some of his current positions are in conflict with longstanding planks in the Republican Platform. Here’s the thing: Whichever position Trump had that attracted you to him is almost certainly changed by now, possibly to be the opposite. And if his current position is appealing to you, just wait until he gets criticized on it and it will change again. “Everything’s negotiable” to Trump, even the interest paid on treasury bonds, which is ridiculous, of course. But Trump’s typical low-information, low-effort-thinking supporter doesn’t know that, nor does he know that the people who hold the highest amount of our national debt are you and your fellow American citizens, not the Chinese, as Trump often infers but never states outright (as far as I know.)

It can’t be because of his “honesty” (about which he often brags). Trumps says a lot of things on the campaign trail that simply aren’t true, or even close to true. Sadly for our nation, studies have been showing that, regardless of your political ideology, the truth doesn’t seem to matter. It would appear, to many Conservatives especially, that what you feel to be the truth is what is the truth (to you, anyway). This could explain why Trump tells lies to appeal to Conservatives emotionally, even though the lies aren’t in the least bit grounded in Reality. It feels right to Conservatives, so there must be something wrong with the evidence. It’s a shame, but not a surprise really, the Republican Party has been so antithetical to funding public education. Despite the fact that the truth may not matter, it’s still important that people learn how to think critically about a subject, regardless of whether it’s politics or religion, instead of just accepting what they’re told as true. But critical thinking requires effort, and your average Joe Sixpack conservative has neither the desire nor the ability to put a lot of thought into things. So when they do put that small amount of effort toward a position on something, they often end up choosing the Conservative point of view, even when it provably isn’t the best choice, or even the one that will move them toward their ultimate goals, whatever they are. Donald Trump may at one time in his life said something you also believed. He once said he believed in a woman’s right to choose to undergo an abortion. Now, because he panders to a bunch of low-effort thinkers, he says abortion should be criminalized (despite its being a Constitutional right) and that the doctor should go to jail for performing one, not the woman because she is also a victim. That kind of “thinking” requires you to believe the woman was not choosing to undergo an abortion and that it was done against her will. Kidnapping is already a felony so why would any new laws be needed? If taking away someone’s Constitutional rights can be done by making it illegal to ever exercise those rights, then we should be able to solve our national gun problem by making it illegal to exercise your right to own guns. But that’s not how it’s supposed to work, so these Republican efforts to ban abortion by criminalizing the performance of one cannot possibly withstand Constitutional muster. And neither will Trump’s efforts to bring back waterboarding and other methods of torture (“even worse”). Nor will barring people entry to this country because of the religion they practice. Nor will deporting people born on American soil. Trump has held many different positions on many different topics, so which position on which topic makes you believe Trump would make a good President? Or an effective one? Or even a competent one? Because by the time Election Day comes around, it’s entirely possible that Trump will no longer hold that viewpoint you thought made him better than the rest. So why would you vote for him?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to make fun of Donald Trump, or discuss anything else you wish.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 14, 2016: The Man Who Would Be Last

Last night’s closing segment of “Real Time” had Bill Maher addressing the accusation that Donald Trump’s popularity is the fault of Liberals. Like so many things Conservatives say, this is the exact opposite of the Truth. But as we all know, in political debate in America, facts don’t matter. They don’t. Regardless of political leanings, when people are confronted with facts that contradict something they believe, they will simply refuse to accept that they are wrong. Most of what Conservatives believe to be true is not, while a substantially lower percentage of what Liberals believe is false. Studies have shown that even Liberals normally willing to be persuaded by new evidence will still cling to about ten percent of their belief system against evidence to the contrary. By comparison, Conservatives are persuaded by almost nothing that contradicts their beliefs, even personal experience. To Conservatives, facts are just somebody’s opinion about Reality. What matters is what you believe to be true. Even when it isn’t. Here’s how Bill Maher responded:

One small but important clarification about something Maher said, the Boston Tea Party (the historical event after which the modern political Tea Party takes its name) was a revolt against a tax cut. King George cut taxes on British tea going to the colonies, thus making them cheaper to sell and harder for the colonists to compete. It was not, as many in the Tea Party movement believe, a tax increase being protested. But Maher is correct that these people have had their taxes lowered since Obama took office. And the problem isn’t that we’re taxed too much, it’s that we’re taxed too little, especially the wealthiest Americans. Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society, and a necessity if we want our government to do the things we actually want it to do. Conservative Republicans often complain about our national debt being too high, but it’s their own fault and something else for which they refuse to accept responsibility. They believed something demonstrably untrue, cut taxes because of it, but continued to increase spending while lying about its effect on the national debt. They constantly claimed that tax cuts for the rich would pay for themselves by bringing in more revenue. It was a position that defied logic and the facts, but they went ahead and kept saying, not only that it was true, but that it was good for America. Then they turned around and tried to say that money spent on social welfare programs and national infrastructure was unjustifiable when our national debt was so high. Yes, they actually tried to make that argument. They still do. No amount of spending on our military is too high to them, but try to find a couple of billion dollars to make poorer people’s lives better and it’s, “Sorry. No can do. There’s a war on.” Except that war is not being financed by a single penny of tax revenue, it’s being funded by deficit spending, the thing Conservative Republicans claim they hate so much. There’s a lot of hypocrisy and flat out denial of the truth when it comes to right wing thinking, so it should surprise no one that Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s nominee to be POTUS. He’s completely unfit to hold public office, has no grasp of factual reality, and is completely clueless about the nature and purpose of being a public servant.

Donald Trump is incapable of being a public servant because Donald Trump serves one person, and one person only – Donald Trump. His policies are based on either pure fantasy or rampant racism and bigotry. He has no understanding about how diplomacy works, nor why it’s a good thing. He seems to think the POTUS personally negotiates trade deals and treaties with other countries, and that he can do better than all previous presidents have done. The man is not simply a narcissist. Anyone who thinks he or she is capable of being POTUS has to have a big ego to begin with or else they would become overwhelmed by the responsibilities. It’s true of President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, Senator McCain, Governor Romney, Humanoid Dick “the Bruce” Cheney, and everyone else who has thrown his or her hat in the ring. But Trump’s narcissism is in a category of its own. He talks as if he’s never failed at anything in his life when Ivana and Marla could tell you otherwise. So can the several bankruptcies he’s filed for businesses that could not be called “successes.” And the lawsuit he’s facing for his sham of a school that made promises he had no intention of keeping. Yet he’s so thin-skinned that he constantly threatens to sue anyone who tells the truth about him. He even said he wants to limit the freedom of the press and make it easier to sue them for defamation when they say things about him he doesn’t like (such as truthful things, and things that really happened.) His campaign rhetoric has been so atrocious and despicable, that many white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK groups have publicly endorsed him for POTUS. Even David Duke thinks he’d be a good choice for Trump’s running mate.

Apparently Mr. Duke hasn’t thought this out very far at all. I mean, is there any reason why Duke couldn’t be taken out first, then Trump, to prevent exactly what Duke threatened? A David Duke presidency? No, it would be much, much worse than any of that if Trump were to become POTUS. It would mean the end of America. It would mean an end to the greatest experiment in governance in the history of Civilization. Thanks to the Republican lack of support and outright disdain for Education dating back to the Reagan Administration, most Americans are unaware of just how unique this country is. For starters, in just about every other country on the planet, there is an official religion and it’s usually whatever religion the head of the country practices. The USA under our Constitution was the first country to say that would never happen here, and that people would be free to follow any religion they wished free of government interference. Christian Conservatives very much want to change that and make some unspecified version of Christianity our nation’s “official religion.” A President Trump would also bring an end to the rest of the First Amendment, too. Journalists would not be free to publish articles critical of Trump, and people would not be free to peaceably assemble to demonstrate against his inhumane, ill-conceived, and illegal policies. And do you really think the rest of the world will stand behind President Trump when he starts a war with China? No, if Donald Trump were to somehow win the election this November (and I can’t imagine how that could happen without massive Republican cheating and voter suppression of likely Democratic voters), he would be the last person to hold that office. This great country would cease to exist, and something truly evil would take its place. And someone like Ted Cruz and his dad could be in charge of it.

Daily. Open. Thread.