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, Monday, September 26, 2016: Look Who’s Talking About Trying To Get Away With Lying?

Well, the moment many of us have been waiting for to be over is nearly upon us. The first of the Election 2016 Presidential Debates between a well-qualified, well-experienced woman and an unqualified, inexperienced man-child will be held 9:00 PM EDT tonight at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY. (For those unfamiliar with New York, it’s out on what we call, “The Island.”) The format, as determined by the Commission on Presidential Debates, will call for lirpas in the first round. If both survive, battle continues with the Ahn’woon. The moderator for the first debate will be NBC News’ Anchor and Keith Olbermann-sound alike Lester Holt, who took over for the much ridiculed Brian Williams after the latter made claims about his first-hand experiences that could not be verified by other people who were actually there, some whom of also claimed Williams wasn’t. The final straw for Williams came when he boasted he was the first “on the scene” to interview Neil Armstrong as he set foot on the moon. Alert fact-checkers noted Williams was only ten years old at the time, and raised considerable doubt about the possibility the Williams family could afford to send Young Brian to astronaut school. The story was later deemed by the majority of fact-checkers as “Mostly False” and Williams was suspended for six months.

The media’s practically prepared to name Donald Trump the winner tonight if he doesn’t trip on the way out to the podium and mess his adult diapers. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, will be declared to be “hiding something” if she can’t answer questions based on false premises, or adequately (to the Republican side) explain why she hasn’t mitigated their outrage over Benghazi, when the facts and the evidence showed the Republicans did more to kill Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, than Secretary Clinton ever did. She asked Republicans for more funding for security specifically at Benghazi, among other places, and was turned down. There was never any order by her or anyone else to “stand down” and not send a rescue team. Every lie they’ve told about her has been debunked. But since people aren’t convinced by facts (it’s a problem we all have), it’s hard to convince these people that everything they want to do as a result of the Benghazi lies they believe is no longer justifiable. They’ll say to do it anyway because it’s what they want to do to her.

It should come as no surprise that the Trump Campaign is calling for moderators not to be allowed to fact-check the candidates. Newt Gingrich, a Terran-based life form with aspirations of invading and colonizing the Moon, actually defended this by tweeting

Gingrich has defended the theory that the way to a Republican voter’s heart was through the emotional door of his psyche, not the rational, fact-based, reasoning part of his brain.

Former CBS News Anchor Bob Schieffer, a personal friend of the Bush family and a former presidential debate moderator himself, had a suggestion. He said to let the candidates have the first crack at fact-checking in their responses, and if they don’t correct the record then the moderator should before moving on. And this infuriates Conservatives because they don’t believe important decisions should be based on a calm, rational review of the facts of the situation. They feel reaction to a crisis, especially an attack of some kind, should be swift (even if not all the facts are in), decisive (even if decided wrongly, because that honestly doesn’t matter to them), and over-powering (even if excessive). What matters, they’ll tell you, is that it felt like it was the right thing to do. Because that’s how they think you should govern, by doing what feels like the right thing to do, not by doing what actually is the right thing to do. You can expect Trump to Gish Gallop and spew one lie (or false premise, or extreme exaggeration of a technically true point) after another, inundating Clinton with so many false premises, straw man arguments, rambling fragmented sentences, innuendo and meaningless gobbledygook that a coherent yet accurate response will be impossible. And they’ll make a big deal out of the fact that she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, address the question asked of her even though the “question asked of her” was based on the fantasy worldview of someone so frightened by the truth that he’ll stop at nothing to prevent being exposed. Trump is a liar and a con-man, and his entire income structure is based on maintaining a completely false image as a shrewd businessman, unafraid to take on a political system he personally bragged about exploiting. And that’s why he wants no fact-checkers. He won’t be bringing any to the debate.

This is our daily open thread and may also possibly serve as our live-blogging of the debate itself. Come join us.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 17, 2016: Constitution Day and Colin Kaepernick

Two hundred thirty-nine years ago today, all but three members of the Continental Congress signed what would become one of the most important documents in human history. A document without which we would not be able to enjoy many of the freedoms we Americans enjoy today. I’m talking about, of course, Martin Luther’s “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” I’m kidding. It was the United States Constitution. Once ratified and the first Congress elected, a set of twelve amendments were passed and sent to the States for ratification. The second of these Amendments concerned the pay raises of Members of Congress. Though it failed to get ratified at first, it had no time limit built into it and it was eventually ratified in 1992. Congress got around this by giving themselves annual COLAs,but since those are also a form of pay raise, a sensible Supreme Court will strike down an annual pay raise. The first of the proposed amendments detailed a strange formula for determining the number of US Representatives which, if enacted, could have required there be as many as 5,000 Representatives, possibly more. It’s good that it was never ratified. The House smells badly enough as it is with only 435 members.

The remaining ten amendments, numbers Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 5, 2016: Happy Labor Day

This year will mark 134 years since the first Labor Day parade was held. In New York City, on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Station. It was no paid holiday, but they did it to honor their fellow workers and to air some grievances with employers. Though more states held these parades over the coming years, it wasn’t until 1894 that Congress established Labor Day as a federal holiday. Unfortunately, it took blood being spilled to get them to do this. Continue reading

The Cheat Goes On – A Song Parody

Today’s open thread is going to be a song parody suggested to me by Alert Reader houseofroberts. (Thanks, house.) It’s a parody of Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On,” and it’s about (insert favorite insult here) Donald J. Trump.

The Cheat Goes On
Original words and music, “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny Bono, 1967
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2016

The cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Commodore was once the rage, uh-oh
Boastfully he turned a page, uh-oh
The branding crap’s the current thing, uh-oh
Tinyhander is their newborn king, uh-oh

And the cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Democracy more’s the super sport, uh-oh
Listen, girls still make their marks, uh-oh
And troops will keep on marching off to war
Electorally they keep a dismal score

The cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Koch boys sit in chairs and moan and piss
Trump keeps chasing blacks to get a kiss
The lies keep a-coming faster all the time
Some folks cry, “Hey, Donny, did you do a crime?”

And the cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

And the cheat goes on, and the cheat goes on
And the cheat goes on, and the cheat goes on

That’s it for our show. You’ve been a great audience. Don’t forget to tip the veal and try the waitresses. Talk about what you wish.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 22, 2016: It Started Long Before Reagan

Ask Liberals when the decline of the middle class started, when the rapid rise in income inequality began, and most (including me) would point to the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981, but we would be wrong. No, the true birth of the rise of the Corporation was 45 years ago this week when a memorandum was presented to the US Chamber of Congress at the request of the Chairman of the Chamber’s Education Committee, Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr., advising how to fight a problem that didn’t exist. The author of that memo was his Richmond friend and neighbor, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., who just a few months after submitting this memo was nominated to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States by then-President Richard M. Nixon.

At this point I want to make an important distinction not unfamiliar to readers of my past writings: When talking about Washington politics, especially in the past century, it’s important to look at ideology rather than political party. The Republican Party was not always Conservative and the Democratic Party was not always Liberal. Today, and ever since the rise of the falsely-named TEA Party movement (they were severely undertaxed, not overtaxed, which is why our national debt is so high), the Republican Party on the national level has no Liberals in it. But prior to 1965 the party used to welcome Liberals and even ran on platforms that you would swear today were done by Liberal Democrats. In fact, two of the greatest Republican Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower, were more Liberal than Conservative. Given their well-documented tendency to exhibit bigotry and racism, does anyone really believe a TEA Party Republican would have issued the Emancipation Proclamation? And given their well-documented disdain for anything even remotely close to Socialism, do you think a TEA Party Republican today would have built the Interstate Highway System? Hell, even Eisenhower defended Social Security and said the people who wanted to cut it were stupid. Do you think either of those men could get elected to office as a Republican today? That’s why it’s important to distinguish between the party and the ideology, and the primary source of the problem I talk about below is Conservatism, not the Republican Party. The Democratic Party has Conservatives within it today and they are a problem, too, though maybe not as insane and irrational as Conservatives in the Republican Party. What’s wrong with the Powell Memo has nothing to do with the Republican Party and everything to do with Conservatism, and the people who espouse it. Lewis Powell was undeniably a Conservative, but Lewis Powell was also a Democrat. The Conservative mind has a way of looking at things that would make someone less susceptible to fear scratch his heads and wonder how they tie their shoes without worrying about cutting off circulation to their toes. (Here are a number of ways Liberal and Conservative minds differ.) The part of the brain that tells you you’re in danger is larger in Conservatives, making them see danger where a Liberal might not. So Conservatives are more prone to basing their choices on fear.

Below is the text of the Powell Memo (as taken from Greenpeace’s website), interspersed with my own commentary. You can see another reprint of the memo with different commentary, and a little more background here. A look back on the memo around its 40th anniversary can be found here.

Continue reading

Sunday Roast: With Friends Like These…

Obviously presidential candidates can’t appear on every TV show to defend their own idiotic comments, so they have surrogates to do that for them. International con-artist and flamboyant jack-o’-lantern Donald J. Trump (who also happens to be the GOP Presidential nominee) has several of these surrogates going around the various TV shows trying to explain what Trump really meant when he said some of the things he said, even when he denied saying them. And we know he said them because we saw video of him saying them. He would say them, the media would report that he said them, there would be proper outrage over the things he said (or supposedly said, or supposedly did), and the surrogates would be out in the next few days telling us the media has distorted the whole situation and it’s not what everybody says it is. I can only think of one time when they were actually right about that. The crying baby. The New York Daily News, Rolling Stone Magazine, The New York Times, Salon, Wired, Baltimore Sun, and even Fox News all reported that Trump had ordered a crying baby removed from one of his rallies. Trump and his spokesjacks (spokespeople for the jack-o’-lantern) said the media was distorting what actually happened and for once they were right. Trump did say all the words you heard in the quotes, but what most of the media didn’t point out was that the woman was already packing up and leaving when Trump insultingly told her “Actually I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here.” That was just Trump being a dick. The mother herself, Devan Ebert, said through a Facebook post that she wasn’t kicked out of the rally at all, that she was leaving anyway so her baby wouldn’t disrupt the rally, and that she still supports Trump. Okay, so Trump was right about that one. But it was one of the only ones. Trump has said many, many other even more horrible things and when he has, his campaign sent people out to talk to the media. And considering the way they have chosen to defend him, maybe he should rethink using them in the future.

Former Reagan Administration official Jeffrey Lord is a perfect example of the kind of friend Trump doesn’t need if he really wants to win this election, and there’s ample reason to believe he doesn’t. (For example, he picked Jeffrey Lord to be one of his spokesjacks early on. Lord was on CNN recently after Trump claimed, multiple times, that President Obama “founded ISIS.” Trump tried to say later that he was just being sarcastic, “but not really.” It took retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling to straighten Lord out on the facts and history of ISIS. But if you think this was one of Trump’s harmless diversions from reality, think again. Hassan Nazrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has been using Trump’s comments to say that “there are admissions by US officials that they created ISIS.” He doesn’t understand that Trump is not a “U.S. official” and never will be.

Katrina Campins is a successful real estate agent and a participant on Season 1 of The Apprentice. She was sent to CNN to debate Trump’s economic policies with that network’s own economics analyst, Ali Velshi. Suffice to say Trump needs to pick better economic spokesjacks. Campins was unable to come up with a premise that made any sense, which made Velshi’s head spin. Trump’s economic policy includes, as you might have guessed, more tax cuts, as if that’s going to solve anything. It won’t. Tax cuts do nothing but hurt poorer people and help rich people get even richer. Trickle Down Economics (Supply Side Economics) has been proven to be a disastrous way to govern.

BTW, all these stupid things that Trump has been saying are not his fault at all, according to Kimberly Guilfoyle. She says that they’re President Obama’s and Sec Hillary Clinton’s fault. “It’s like the most unholy partnership of all time between the Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton, constantly making comments trying to bait Trump into saying something that will sidetrack him.” Of course they are. These people need to get it through their clearly addled minds that Trump doesn’t need any baiting to say stupid things. “Proceed, Mr. Trump.”

Kellyanne Conway, not one to shy away from making a false equivalence, tried to counter Trump’s famous “Second Amendment” remarks with the attendance of a certain person at one of Clinton’s rallies.

Where would you feel more safe? Would you feel more safe in at a rally where the speaker who is running for president says you have a right to protect yourself under your Second Amendment constitutional rights? Or would you feel more safe at a rally where the man who perpetrated the worst mass murder since 9/11 in America’s history was standing right behind the candidate?

First of all, nobody but you can make you “feel safe.” It’s not the president’s job to do that, either. Because this is a free country and you are allowed to go where you want and do what you want as long as you don’t break any laws. But if you decide you do want to break some laws, like shooting people, you’ll probably be able to do it. Instead of a police state where people need the government’s permission to do things, we have a system of justice based on deterrence. It’s assumed you don’t want to go to jail, so the threat of losing your freedom is usually enough to keep 99% of people from breaking the law. But some people don’t care about that because they expect to die doing the crime they’re doing, and that’s how you get people like Omar Mateen shooting up the Pulse nightclub. Which brings me to the second point: “the man who perpetrated the worst mass murder since 9/11 in America’s history” is dead. He wasn’t sitting behind Clinton at that rally. It was his father, Seddique Mateen, and he has every legal reason to be there (despite what you’ll hear some RWers say.)

Even Dr. Ben Carson took time away from his busy schedule of public napping to defend Trump after the Republican nominee started disparaging the whole election process. Despite the fact that Democrats have won Pennsylvania the last few election cycles, and despite the fact that Clinton is leading Trump there by a significant margin, Trump told his audience that if he loses PA (and he will), it could only be because of cheating by the Democrats. These is a dangerous thing to say, and an especially irresponsible one because there’s no proof that the Democrats plan to cheat. There is, however, proof that the Republicans tried to cheat by passing their own version of a Voter ID bill (all of which are designed to prevent groups of likely Democratic voters from voting.) Carson started his rebuttal by referencing “voting irregularities” in the 2012 election in Philadelphia. The irregularities to which he refers are the fact that Romney got 0 votes in 59 voting districts in Philadelphia. To anyone who has paid attention to voting patterns in Philadelphia since the FDR administration, this came as no surprise, as Snopes points out. The districts are in areas with a heavy black population, and there are only about 300-500 people in each district. And while there are a handful of registered republicans in those districts according to voter registration records, attempts to locate them were mostly fruitless. Besides, the same thing happened to McCain in 2008 when he got 0 votes in 57 districts. Carson tried to justify Voter ID laws by claiming it’s the only way to prevent voter fraud. This is another favorite tactic of the right, to distort the meanings of words. They like to claim that every election irregularity is “voter fraud.” Voter fraud happens when someone tries to cast a vote posing as someone they aren’t, and it’s not in the least bit a serious problem no matter how many times the right says it is. So the Voter ID laws they like to pass, which by design disproportionately harm black people, college students from another state, and senior citizens, are passed to fix a problem that simply does not exist. Out of a billion votes cast, do you know how many cases of in-person voter fraud there have been? Thirty-one. That is hardly justification to make people travel many miles to get a specific form of ID just to cast a vote, when they had no problem voting before. Many times these laws don’t allow for college IDs to be used (even though they have pictures on them and can be used for every other state requirement of identification), but do allow for hunting licenses to be used (which often DON’T have a photo of the person on them, and are more likely to be obtained by conservatives rather than liberals. I base that on the fact that liberals tend to be more sympathetic to animals than conservatives, who aren’t sympathetic to anyone but conservatives.) But in the end, Carson wouldn’t come out and say that Trump was right, which means he wasn’t helping Trump, either.

Which brings us to perhaps the worst spokesjack a candidate could have, Katrina Pierson. In case you don’t recognize her by name, she’s the one who likes to show up on TV wearing a necklace made of bullets. Pierson was among those trying to defend Trump’s remarks about Obama being the founder of ISIS. When asked if Trump was being sarcastic, she tried to answer, “Yes and no.” She then tried to say that while it was true that Obama “didn’t fill out the paperwork to create ISIS” (note to readers, neither did ISIS because there is no form you fill out to create an organization of assholes hell-bent on murder), that he and Clinton did create the policies that led to the formation of ISIS (which is also not true as that would have been the Bush Administration’s policies; their policies led to the creation of al Qaeda in Iraq, which was the precursor of ISIL, also known as ISIS in some areas.) On another CNN program Pierson tried to re-write history by saying, “Remember, we weren’t even in Afghanistan by this time. Barack Obama went into Afghanistan, creating another problem.” Does it even need to be pointed out that Bush took us into Afghanistan before he illegally took us into Iraq? In addition to wanting to know how someone like this could possibly be helpful to Trump, I would also like to know why CNN keep having her on at all? Virtually nothing she says can be connected to Reality in any way.

Finally, lest you think I’m just picking and choosing a few incidents going all the way back to a year ago when Trump famously launched his campaign by saying Mexico was sending us rapists, I’m not. All of these stories are from within just the past few days. Trump used to brag that he only hired the best people to work for him. Either he hasn’t actually met them, or he was just lying again.

This is our daily open thread. Eat up.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 1, 2016: Cute Baby Animal Overload

The conventions are over, and rather than dwell on the hate and negativity of the Republican Convention, or the hate and negativity of the Republican response to the Democratic Convention, let’s just enjoy some cute baby animal pics, courtesy of the Twitter account @CuteBabyAnimals. Enjoy, and discuss anything you want afterwards. This is our daily open thread.

Okay, and one I couldn’t resist…

Hope that put a good start to your week.