The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 29, 2017: Presidenting Is Hard

In an interview with Reuters, Donald J. Trump, the man who did not win by the largest electoral vote total for a Republican (even since Reagan), actually said, “This [being president] is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” This may be because Trump did not know that the entire White House staff would have to be replaced when he took office. He learned this when he sat down with President Obama after winning the election. Apparently no one on his campaign staff knew that either, including his future Chief of Staff and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

So I want to send a great big “FUCK YOU!” to every American who voted for this ignorant, egomaniacal, narcissistic, xenophobic, misogynistic, white nationalist, dictator-loving shit stain on the fabric of our society. Read a fucking book! Try to learn exactly what the government is responsible for doing and how it’s done. Learn about the three branches of government and how they interact with each other. Then try to understand why it is so important to put people in those positions who know what the fuck they’re doing! Try to understand why, no, you don’t want an “outsider” elected to the highest public office in the land for his first job as a public servant. Especially when he surrounds himself with similarly inexperienced people who want nothing but to destroy the liberal framework of our society. You idiot Trump supporters elected a man who is going to take away many of the government services upon which most of you depend. (Read that last sentence back to yourselves a few times. The sentence structure may look funny, but it’s what we call “grammatically correct.”) In other words, your lives are about to take a sharp turn for the worse. That’s the price you’re going to pay for your stupidity. Your only hope is to learn. Somehow.

This is a tweet by the Rogue POTUS Staff account, which is generally accepted to be real inside people tweeting about real inner workings in the White House, so there’s a good chance this is not entirely made up stuff. It will make you laugh, but it should unnerve you a little and make you want to get him out of there legally and as soon as possible. He certainly needs mental health treatment, so it’s a good thing Obamacare covers that.

This is our daily open thread. Fell free to leave a cathartic rant upon any subject you wish.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Donald Trump last weekend, was so despised by Vladimir Putin’s Russia that he was banned from entering the country in 2013. According to The New York Times, Russia banned Bharara and 17 other Americans in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over human rights violations. The Russian government reportedly targeted Bharara because of his prosecution of Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer. Bharara, who is known for investigating officials regardless of political party, also prosecuted three Russian nationals for acting as spies in 2015. “The arrest of Evgeny Buryakov and the charges against him and his co-defendants make clear that – more than two decades after the presumptive end of the Cold War – Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst under cover of secrecy,” Bharara said at the time. Bharara was fired by the Trump administration on Saturday after he refused to comply with a request to resign. It was not immediately clear if Bharara was involved in any current investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Surprisingly, Bharara had been personally asked to stay on by Trump last November. Not surprisingly, he had been investigating Fox News at the time of his dismissal. Without directly saying so, Bharara hinted that he may have been investigating Trump, too. Before firing Bharara, Trump tried to call him to thank him for his service, but Bharara refused to take the call without the permission of his superiors. It would have been a breach of protocol for the president to call a US Attorney directly, and it would have been extremely awkward if Bharara was, in fact, investigating Trump. That said, if he did open a formal investigation, his successor could choose to continue that investigation, but they would probably do so at their own peril. Just ask former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

This is an open thread. Have fun.

The Weekend Hole, Sat-Sun, January 14-15, 2017: Everything’s Alt-right (A Song Parody)

One of the greatest rock operas (and one of my personal favorites) is “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a story about a nice Jewish boy who went into his father’s business. (A Jewish friend from the development I grew up in used to tell me that joke.) This particular parody is based on the very popular song from that musical, “Everything’s Alright.” I feel bad because try as I might, I could not find any suitable video, or even audio clip, to post so you can follow along. But it MUST be from the original Broadway musical, and NOT the film which sucked hugely. If you use a clip from that, it won’t match the lyrics because they sing it wrong in the movie. You know how these parodies work. Can’t have that. So you’ll have to drag out your CD and play along. Then again you should know how the song goes, especially once you start going through the words. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think, and if you like it, please share it. Thank you very much. Oh, and, yes, the Trump lines are deliberate.

Everything’s Alt-right
Original words and music, “Everything’s Alright” by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1970
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2017

Kellyanne Conway
Try not to get frenzied, try not to log onto
Forums that upset you so don’t you know
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And we want you to tweet well tonight
Let the world turn around you tonight
And the lies will get by so retweet all about them tonight

Steve Bannon
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

Kellyanne Conway
Tweet and it shall soothe you calm you then annoy you
Stir up your poor hothead so then you’ll see
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And they’re cool; your appointments, sweet
More the liars in your stead and fleet
Post your lies post your lies
Then relax think of Nazis tonight

Steve Bannon
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

The Thinking People Who See Trump For The Fraud He Is
Donald your appointments brand you an extremist
Could we be paced for a war?
Why are your days wasted? You could have placed maybe
Three hundred better people or more
People who aren’t angry people who aren’t raving
Matter more than your tweets and hair

Kellyanne Conway
Try not to get frenzied try not to log onto
Forums that upset you so don’t you know
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And we want you to sleep well tonight
Let the world turn around you tonight
And the lies will get by so retweet all about them tonight

Steve Bannon
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

Donald Trump
Surely you’re not saying we have the resources
To save the poor from their lot?
There will be poor always pathetically struggling –
Look at the good things you’ve got!
Think! while you still have me
Move! while you still see me
You’ll be lost and you’ll be so sorry when I’m gone

Kellyanne Conway
Tweet and it shall soothe you calm you then annoy you
Stir up your poor hothead so then you’ll see
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And they’re cool; your appointments, sweet
More the liars in your stead and fleet
Post your lies post your lies
Then relax think of Nazis tonight
Post your lies post your lies
Then relax think of Nazis tonight

All
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

Everything’s Alt-right (Reprise)
Original words and music, “Everything’s Alright” by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1970
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2017

Kellyanne Conway
Try not to get frenzied try not to log onto
Forums that upset you so don’t you know
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online

Donald Trump
And I think I shall sleep well tonight
Let the world turn around me tonight

Kellyanne Conway
And the lies will get by so retweet all about them tonight

This is our daily open thread.

The Year End Hole December 31, 2016: A Year We’d Like To Pretend Didn’t Happen

The year 2016 will likely be remembered for the pain and grief of losing so many famous people, as well as the pain and grief of our country’s losing its collective shit and electing as President a man whose only qualifications for the job are the bare minimum spelled out in the Constitution: he was born here, he’s old enough, and he’s lived here along enough. It would have been nice if the Framers had the foresight to add a few more requirements to be president, such as knowing what the hell you’re talking about, being able to talk about it coherently, and understanding what the responsibilities and sacrifices of being a public servant are. I see none of those very desirable qualities in the man chosen by the Electoral College to be the 45th President of the United States. Nor do I see any of those very desirable qualities in the millions of people who voted for him.

I can believe a great many of them, but not a majority, were not so much voting for Donald Trump as they were voting against a version of Hillary Clinton that simply did not match the one who exists in the real world. They voted against a myth. Then there are the ones who voted for Donald Trump, but who also voted for a myth. They believed that he was a very successful businessman because he said he was one. They believed he was worth billions of dollars because he said he was. (The estimates of what his real estate holdings are worth come from him, and him alone. And they can go up or down depending on whether there are tax considerations at stake.) They believed he could do all the things he promised to do as president because he said he could do them, not because he actually had the legal or constitutional authority to do them. I could go on, but you get the idea. Neither Trump nor the people who voted for him understand the first thing about governing and being a public servant. And let’s not even talk about who Trump’s most vocal supporters were: Nazis and the KKK. And they got their reward with a senior advisor to the president whispering sweet bigotry in his ear.

I would certainly like a do-over on 2016. Bring back all the wonderful people we lost and throw out the ones we elected to run our country. I want to be hopeful about 2017. I want to think that it can’t be any worse, but then I thought 2016 couldn’t keep getting any worse and it did, day after day, right up to losing Princess Leia AND her mother on consecutive days. So it’s hard for me to believe things are going to get better just because our rocky little blue dot completed another revolution around a hot ball of gas that simultaneously gives us life and tries to take it away. But the alternative is too depressing to contemplate, so we pretty much have to hope it gets better. (Insert forced smile here.)

For a better and more humorous take on 2016, check out Dave Barry’s Year in Review. He always makes me laugh though he has yet to make my drink come out my nose. And whatever your plans this weekend, please enjoy a safe, happy holiday, and may you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

UPDATE: And just to show us 2016 wasn’t through making our lives miserable, another popular actor, William Christopher, has died. Christopher was best known for playing Father Mulcahy on both M*A*S*H and AfterM*A*S*H.

Thanks for all the jocularity, Mr. Christopher.

This is our weekend open thread, as I probably won’t post something else on Sunday. Feel free to discuss any topic you wish. Consider signing up to post your own weekly column at The Zoo. Several days available. Happy New Year.

The Weekend Hole, Sat-Sun, Nov 19-20, 2016: The Fulsome Five

So far Donald Trump has announced the selection of people to fill five major positions in his administration who all deny climate change is real and exacerbated by human activity. They also happen to be examples of the worst kinds of choices one could have in charge of the things over which they shall be in charge. This doesn’t surprise me. Trump chose Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus to be his Chief of Staff, and Reince is helping Trump pick people who, in typical modern Republican fashion, are wholly unsuited for the positions they will hold. If you’ll recall how the last Republican administration did things like put a lobbyist for the mining industry in charge of the Interior Department, the ones who give out permits to companies wanting to mine on federal property, you’ll get the feeling they’re doing it all over again. And it’s important to note that in addition to all the other flaws each of these people has (bigotry, racism, white supremacy), they’re all climate change deniers. Reince would like to see an end to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. Their reasons are not in the least bit scientific (they totally reject what 97% of climate scientists say on the subject and defer to the few who are on the payrolls of companies who don’t want the use of fossil fuels, the key human activity making the problem worse, to end), but are economic instead. In short, they whine and complain that if we stop burning fossil fuels, the giant corporations that extract and refine fossil fuels for a living will be out of a job. To which I say, “So?” We’re talking about companies responsible for producing a product whose use will eventually bring about the death of us all. And we’re supposed to be upset that they’ll be out of business?

Steve Bannon, chosen to be Trump’s Chief Strategist (with the not-so-hidden side job of being Chief White Nationalist, which pleased the KKK and Neo-Nazis) and lured away from his former job of running Breitbart News website (the site so horrible they named it after Andrew Breitbart, who actually named it after himself) has said that climate change is a hoax created by activists, scientists, and renewable energy executives. (He really loves conspiracy theories.) He believes there should be unfettered access to fossil fuels as opposed to the more intelligent strategy of ending our use of such destroyers. Bannon believes President Obama’s focus on climate change is a threat to national security. The Pentagon disagrees. They consider climate change to be the biggest threat to national security. But Bannon is of the ilk (I love using that word; it’s so onomatopoeic) that believes the greatest threat to national security is, of course, “radical Islamic terrorism,” usually just shortened to “Islam.” That’s because people like that are more afraid of their own imaginations than they are of factual reality. They refuse to accept the fact that by using the very words they decry Obama for not using, they’re playing into the hands of the very people they claim are the greatest threat to us. That’s too complicated for their fear-filled minds to absorb. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency who was forced out for being a bad manager, will be Trump’s National Security Adviser. While he hasn’t said a whole lot about climate change, he has belittled it as a threat to national security, he being of the Bannon ilk when it comes to terrorism.

Mike Pompeo is a bought and paid-for Koch Brothers stooge. And now he’s going to head the Central Intelligence Agency (a/k/a NAMBLA), the people largely responsible for spreading terrorism via drone strikes famous for taking out large portions of wedding parties. And Little Jeff Sessions is being tapped to be the Attorney General. In addition to having demonstrated a complete and utter lack of understanding of the science behind climate change, Sessions is a well known racist. He thought the Ku Klux Klan was alright, until he learned they smoked pot. Not the attitude I want in my Attorney General.

There you have it. As fulsome a five as you’ll ever find, at least until the next five names come out of the Trump Transition Team. Everyone of them worthy of disapproval. There’s a word for that. Oh, yeah. Deplorable.

This is our weekend open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you wish.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 10th, 2016: Still Carrying Holy Water

In case I haven’t written enough about Evangelical “Christian” website, The Christian Post, here’s another one.

I wanted to see what their reaction was to the Trump “pussy” scandal. Would this be the final straw? Of course not.

Trump 2005 Sex Talk Video Scandal: Evangelical, Republican Leaders Divided on Supporting GOP Presidential Nominee

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
October 9, 2016|9:39 am
Varied responses from evangelical and Republican leaders are pouring in after a 2005 video surfaced showing Donald Trump bragging about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Some have withdrawn their support, others continue to back the GOP presidential nominee to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president.

“As a husband and father of three daughters, I find this behavior deeply offensive and degrading,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, referring to the leaked video carrying Trump’s 2005 remarks while talking with Billy Bush, then host of “Access Hollywood.”

In the conversation with Bush, the real estate magnate discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman. “I did try and [expletive] her. She was married,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” he adds. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The video was published by The Washington Post on Friday.

Trump, who will participate in the second presidential debate with his Democratic rival Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday, has said, “I was wrong, and I apologize.”

Perkins went on to say his support for Trump “was never based upon shared values rather it was built upon shared concerns,” including the Supreme Court, America’s security, and religious freedom. He said, “… We are left with a choice of voting for the one who will do the least damage to our freedoms.”

It’s not an ideal situation, Perkins added, but “I refuse to find sanctuary on the sidelines and allow the country and culture to deteriorate even further by continuing the policies of the last eight years.”

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of Trump’s religious advisory board, also said he’s still with the Republican nominee.

“As a Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches, to quote a verse from the New Testament, that we’re to treat older women as our mothers and younger women as sisters in all purity,” Reed told NPR in an interview on Saturday, adding that Trump has apologized. “I think given the stakes in this election and those and other critical issues, I just don’t think an audiotape of an 11-year-old private conversation with an entertainment talk show host on a tour bus, for which the candidate has apologized profusely, is likely to rank high on the hierarchy of concerns of those faith-based voters.”

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer also said he continues to support the Trump-Pence ticket.

“The 10-year old tape of a private conversation in which Donald Trump uses grossly inappropriate language does not change the reality of the choice facing this country,” the chairman of the Campaign for Working Families said in a statement. “Hillary Clinton is committed to enacting policies that will erode religious liberty, promote abortion, make our country less safe, and leave our borders unprotected. She wants higher taxes and bigger government. She will continue the disastrous economic policies that are destroying America’s working class and middle class families. She is mired in corruption and has put U.S. secrets at risk.”

Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, responded to the video, saying, “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump. … I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.”

Pence abstained from a campaign event scheduled for Saturday in Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Politico reported.

The Washington Post’s National Political Reporter, Philip Rucker, said Gov. Pence is “inconsolable” since the leaked video surfaced. “A source close to Trump camp told me Pence and his team are ‘absolutely apoplectic,’ ‘melting down’ and ‘inconsolable,'” Rucker tweeted.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus condemned Trump’s remarks. “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” he said in a statement.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

“We must have a conservative in the White House to restore accountability, opportunity and security. For the sake of our Constitution and the rule of law, we must defeat Hillary Clinton,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Today I ask Donald Trump to step aside and for the RNC to replace him with Gov. Mike Pence.”

Trump has categorically said he won’t quit.

Arizona Republican John McCain said he can no longer back Trump. “I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference,” McCain told Politico. “But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz also announced withdrawal of his endorsement of Trump. “I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine,” he told Fox 13 News.

Former GOP candidate for president Jeb Bush said no apology will do. “As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” he wrote on Twitter. Similarly, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, “Make no mistake the comments were wrong and offensive. They are indefensible.”

However, while apologizing, Trump said, “This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. … I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

Trump’s wife, Melania, pleaded with voters in a gracious response to her husband’s 2005 remarks, which she acknowledged were “unacceptable and offensive to me.”

“This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader,” she said in a statement. “I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”

The following piece of crap is the Trump “apology” which apparently cleans and disinfects Trump in those rabidly delusional minds:

“Here is my statement.
I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.
Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.
Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.”

Okay, this might possibly have squeaked by as a technical “apology” had Trumped ended with “I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.” Instead, he launched into a string of lies, i.e., “I’ve been humbled…” is a flat-out impossibility; followed by throwing his own feces at the Clintons in a kneejerk projection reaction.

Regardless…these Evangelical “Christians”, some are still fine and dandy with Donald Trump because he would appoint a new Supreme Court Justice who will abolish abortion entirely and make “Christianity” the law of the land. Well, more or less, but definitely the abortion part, because that’s the one and only thing that these ‘men of the cloth’ really, really hate. They’ll tolerate Trump’s lies, Trump’s now-proven lack of charity, Trump’s lack of love for his neighbor – well, not HIS neighbor, but other people’s neighbors – um, where was I? These religious zealots are blind to Trump’s ignorance of his own or any other ‘faith’, Trump’s cheating his employees, Trump’s violent rhetoric, Trump’s failure to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”, Trump’s attitude towards all women, Trump’s adultery, Trump’s coveting his neighbor’s wife, and Trump’s putting the false god of greed before the Evangelical Whatever-they-are’s “god”? Trump’s own recorded words admit to sexual abuse, along with what some bibles say is one of the big sins, ‘coveting his neighbor’s wife’; but still, these assholier-than-thou [thank you, Z] turn a blind eye to the utter depravity that is Donald Trump. All, ALL, just to stop abortion.

Anyone who calls him- or herself a “Christian”, yet supports Donald Trump, is morally bankrupt, has no soul, and has no claim on “family values” or “freedom” or “patriotism.” From this agnostic, you can all go fuck yourselves.

This is our daily Open Thread. Enjoy yourlves.

Sunday Roast: Trump Trouble & Debate Live-Blogging

The truly funny part about this video is that it was posted in July.  Randy Rainbow just had a feeling, I guess…but I don’t need to know the details.

Soooo, in a continuation of the Great Emasculation, Hillary Clinton and Donald “Tic Tac” Trump will appear at a town hall style forum in St Louis, MO (6 pm, PT), wherein inexplicably undecided voters will ask questions of the candidates.

Hillary will attempt to behave in a statesman-like manner, while barely containing her giggles and snorts in regard to the state of her opponent’s campaign; and Donald will flop and flail around like a potty-mouthed steelhead landed next to the fish ladder — you almost made it, little guy! — and will probably say something that will cause me to choke on my popcorn within the first 15 minutes.

Join us, whether you’re just hanging out in the comments section, or doing hard-hitting live commentary on the 2016 presidential race (somebody should, I guess), or just pointing and laughing your ass off like the rest of us.

EDIT:  Here’s one of the places you can watch the aforementioned clusterfuck:

This is our daily open thread — Drinking game = Death

LIVE-BLOGGING: First 2016 Presidential Debate — Clinton vs Trump

Okay, this thing starts at 6:00 PT (9:00 ET), and it’s only 90 minutes long — or the longest 90 minutes in the history of the universe — we’ll know by 7:30.

Feel free to live-blog, twitter, weep in despair, laugh hysterically, make catty comments about wardrobe and hair (either candidate), but no drinking games, I beg you.   Because you will die…quickly.

Let the Great Emasculation begin…

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.

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.

Sunday Leftovers: Mocking Trump

I found one of these videos posted in the Raw Story comments by “sam202.”  All the words are Trump’s own, but a genius named Peter Serafinowicz dubbed him to sound all catty and Liberace-like.

I think the dubbed voice is more appropriate for the gossipy content of Trump’s speeches anyway.

This is our totally late — so late we’re down to leftovers — open thread.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 23, 2016: Ego

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ego:

Noun:

1.      A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

1.1    Psychoanalysis The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity

1.2    Philosophy (In metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

Synonyms: self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-conceit, self-image, self-confidence;

Now, let’s take a brief look at Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ego:

1. Trump’s self-esteem? Off the charts–his self-descriptions include being “the greatest” this, the “best” that, the “most” whatever. Anyone who claims otherwise is just “wrong” or “stupid”, or has some imaginary personal beef against Trump, because in no way will Donald Trump admit to any ignorance, mistake, lie, or out-and-out wrongdoing. Which leads to…

1.1 Trump’s ego cannot “mediate” between the conscious and unconscious. Reality testing?! Trump’s conscious and unconscious create their own reality, and it’s a reality that he seems to feel no need to test. His “reality” is part-and-parcel of his personal identity, and it is impenetrable by truth, facts, and even Trump’s own previous words or deeds.

1.2 While Trump may be “conscious” in the literal sense of the word, he is not a “thinking” subject.

With his penchant for superlatives, Trump might possibly think that he has a “superego“, but the OED’s definition of superego leads me to believe that Trump’s ego vanquished his superego a long time ago:

Noun:
Psychoanalysis The part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers

“Self-critical”?  Rarely and barely.  Hell, Trump told evangelicals that he didn’t feel the need to go to confession, since he doesn’t think that anything he does is wrong.  And I learned things like manners, respect and intellectual curiosity from my parents and teachers, apparently unlike Trump.

Trump has a dysfunctional relationship with the truth. According to Politifact, only 8.4% of Trump’s statements have been factual.  Their review of Trump’s statements shows that a whopping 70% of Trump’s statements are rated “Mostly False”, “False”, or “Pants on Fire.” Here’s one of the “Pants on Fire” stories:

“The day after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump said his vanquished Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, had never denied that his father was in a 1963 photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, who went on to assassinate President John F. Kennedy that November.

Trump said: “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

[The idea that ‘the National Enquirer should be very respected’ should rate a “Pants on Fire” of its own.]

Politifact gave Trump the “2015 Lie of The Year” award to The Donald.  An excerpt:

“…a little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

[Ah, and that explains “Trump University.”]

Next, here’s a glib, almost superficial, and often sickeningly fawning article from the Washington Post, by AP “reporter” Nancy Benar, titled “For Trump, it’s about America’s ego — and his own.” Some key excerpts:

“Almost every deal I have ever done has been at least partly for my ego,” the billionaire declared in a 1995 New York Times piece titled, “What My Ego Wants, My Ego Gets.”

“The same assets that excite me in the chase often, once they are acquired, leave me bored,” he told an interviewer in 1990, as his boom years were sliding toward bust. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.”

Trump,[sic] stresses his Ivy League education and revels in juvenile jabs, labeling his adversaries “stupid,” ‘’dumb” and “bad.”

“I know words,” he declared at a December campaign rally where he criticized the Obama administration. “I have the best words. But there’s no better word than stupid, right?”

Wrong, Mr. Trump. As a Presidential candidate, now nominee, some of the “best words” that you should memorize the meanings for are:  honesty, integrity, class, civility, respect, humility and responsibility. I know that these terms and ideas are foreign to you, but you should familiarize yourself with them – there might be a quiz between now and November.

This is our daily Open Thread–feel free to talk about this or any other topic.

TWH 6/22/16 RNC Sues Trump for Hijacking its Base

morning after camel

What, me worry?

With less than four weeks to the Republican National Convention and more and more establishment Republicans jumping ship, the RNC took the unusual step of suing its presumed nominee – – for hijacking the Republican base. The Republican Party invested hundreds of millions of dollars cultivating a base of voters whom it could rely upon in election after election, ever since they embraced the “Dixiecrats” in the 60s. Hate radio and the Christian Coalition groomed this potent block of voters. Gerrymandering insured this small but reliable base would elect establishment Republicans at every level of government. Then Trump came along and, like the pie-eyed piper, swept them away from the establishment candidates. The ones like Ted Cruz, whose evangelical Christian values were primed to put him into the Whitehouse.

Indeed, in the days before the RNC filed its lawsuit, those in the Cruz camp were trying to muster enough votes to change the rules – – to allow delegates to break from Trump if voting for him violates their moral or religious beliefs. However, such a move would be sure to pit “family values” Christians against misogynist, racist, xenophobic Christians, further fracturing the Republican base.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court Northern District of Ohio that includes Cleveland, Ohio in its jurisdictional boundaries, seeks a writ of mandate, or, in the alternative, a restraining order that would strip Trump of all of his elected delegates. Should it succeed, the Republican Convention would be wide open. The Republican Party could even nominate someone who never participated in the primaries.

When asked about the lawsuit, Trump seemed to be taken off-guard.

“They’re suing me?” he asked. “The Republican Party is suing the most winningest candidate ever? Well, I can tell you this. I’m gonna sue them! I’m gonna sue them like they’ve never been sued before. I’m gonna sue them so hard and so fast they’ll be begging to drop their lawsuit. And then I’m gonna sue them for suing me. I know lawsuits, and believe me, this is gonna be one doozy of a lawsuit. And I’m gonna win. Because that’s what I do. I win. I’m gonna sue and I’m gonna win. And it’s gonna be a big win. A huge win. This win will make all other wins seem like losses in comparison, it’s gonna be that big of a win. And I’m gonna make the Republican Party pay for this win, it’s gonna be that big.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin was seen packing up her Constitution and Flag-wrapped RV and heading for Cleveland.

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, 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.

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 4, 2016: How Both Sides Get Political Debate Wrong

Political discourse in this country has sunk to a depth I feared we would one day reach, and it shows no signs of rising again anytime soon. We no longer talk about issues starting from a common point of view. Liberals and Conservatives don’t agree on what role our government should have, so any discussion about what it should do is really pointless if we don’t know from where the other guy is starting. According to George Lakoff, where Liberals would see the nation through the Nurturing Parent model, Conservatives would tend to see it as the Strict Father. When you screw up, should the government find an appropriate punishment for your wrongdoing and sit you down and explain why what you did was wrong, with discussions on how to be a better person afterwards, with the goal of making you want to choose to be a better person, or should it just spank you in the ass, lock you in your room without supper, and let you out after so much time has passed saying, “Next time’ll be worse”? Who should be deciding what our government does? People who believe in doing what’s best for all of us, or people who think only certain people should get preferential treatment? We all agree in equality for all, we just don’t necessarily agree on how important that is, or to exactly what “equality for all” refers. We agree in Justice and Fairness, but we don’t agree on how important those morals should be. If we say everybody should participate in discussing Society’s problems, shouldn’t we make sure everybody agrees on exactly what the problems are that we are discussing? Are you talking about the two faces staring at each other? Or are you talking about the candlestick in between them? Both of you see a problem. but what is the problem you both see? There are many differences in the way the brains of Liberals and Conservatives process information. To find a common solution, we must first have common ground. I’m not really sure how that’s possible, but I do know our discussions aren’t getting us anywhere because it’s clear we don’t see the world and the problems within in the same way.

 

angry trumpbernies birdieAccording to one study, people right-of-center politically spend more time looking at unpleasant images, and people left-of-center politically spend more time looking at pleasant images.

“We report evidence that individual-level variation in people’s physiological and attentional responses to aversive and appetitive stimuli are correlated with broad political orientations. Specifically, we find that greater orientation to aversive stimuli tends to be associated with right-of-centre and greater orientation to appetitive (pleasing) stimuli with left-of-centre political inclinations.”

Conservatives would rather see an angry, war mongering President Trump (see left), where Liberals would prefer a peace-loving, animal friendly President Sanders (see right). It makes me wonder if Conservatives want to see all those images of what our Military Industrial Complex is doing in the Middle East, and that’s why they elect Republicans who talk about more and more bombing ISIS into oblivion, as if ISIS lives in the Middle East alone and that such bombing would not harm any civilian populations. I know we Liberals don’t enjoy seeing such images, but maybe the Conservatives do. Another study has concluded that people who react strongly to disgusting images, such as a picture of someone eating worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative. Or maybe images of war do not bother them enough to want the wars stopped because to Conservatives, images of children being blown up is not as disgusting as it is to us Liberals. There are other key differences that Science has taught us, and understanding them can help us work toward a better solution to the problems of our Society. And, yes, I will freely admit that I omitted the word “together” in there. As you’ll soon see, I’m not entirely sure Conservatives can help us determine what’s in the best interests of all of us.

For one thing, in very general terms, both sides don’t put the same effort into solving the problem. Now, before this continues, let me say that when I speak of these groups in very general terms, unless otherwise specified I’m talking about your average Liberal and average Conservative Citizens. We’re the ones who are supposed to (somehow, it’s never spelled out how) hash out our differences and come to a consensus on how to solve our problems. The question that should be asked of anyone participating is, “How much time are you willing to spend trying to solve the problem?” Reliance on quick, efficient, and “low effort” thought processes yields conservative ideologies, while effortful and deliberate reasoning yields liberal ideologies. (Scott Eidelman, PhD, Christian S. Crandall, PhD, Jeffrey A. Goodman, PhD, and John C. Blanchar, “Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism,” Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2012)

“…[P]olitical conservatism is promoted when people rely on low-effort thinking. When effortful, deliberate responding is disrupted or disengaged, thought processes become quick and efficient; these conditions promote conservative ideology… low-effort thought might promote political conservatism because its concepts are easier to process, and processing fluency increases attitude endorsement….Four studies support our assertion that low-effort thinking promotes political conservatism… Our findings suggest that conservative ways of thinking are basic, normal, and perhaps natural.”

When confronted with a problem, the Conservative reaction is to look for a quick solution, preferably one that has worked in the past. Liberals tend to be more open to trying things that haven’t been tried before. When faced with a conflict, Liberals are more likely than Conservatives to alter their habitual response when cues indicate it is necessary. (David M. Amodio, PhD, John T. Jost, PhD, Sarah L. Master, PhD, and Cindy M. Yee, PhD, “Neurocognitive Correlates of Liberalism and Conservatism,” Nature Neuroscience, Sep. 9, 2007)

“[We] found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern…Our results are consistent with the view that political orientation, in part, reflects individual differences in the functioning of a general mechanism related to cognitive control and self-regulation. Stronger conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with less neurocognitive sensitivity to response conflicts. At the behavioral level, conservatives were also more likely to make errors of commission. Although a liberal orientation was associated with better performance on the response-inhibition task examined here, conservatives would presumably perform better on tasks in which a more fixed response style is optimal.”

Liberals are more open-minded and creative whereas conservatives are more orderly and better organized. (Dana R. Carney, PhD, John T. Jost, PhD, Samuel D. Gosling, PhD, and Jeff Potter, “The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives: Personality Profiles, Interaction Styles, and the Things They Leave Behind,” International Society of Political Psychology, Oct. 23, 2008)

“We obtained consistent and converging evidence that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are robust, replicable, and behaviorally significant, especially with respect to social (vs. economic) dimensions of ideology. In general, liberals are more open-minded, creative, curious, and novelty seeking, whereas conservatives are more orderly, conventional, and better organized… A special advantage of our final two studies is that they show personality differences between liberals and conservatives not only on self-report trait measures but also on unobtrusive, nonverbal measures of interaction style and behavioral residue.”

Even if we agree on what the problems are, we have the issue of how best to resolve those problems? Conservatives learn better from negative stimuli than from positive stimuli and are more risk avoidant than liberals. (Natalie J. Shook, PhD, and Russell H. Fazio, PhD, “Political Ideology, Exploration of Novel Stimuli, and Attitude Formation,” Experimental Social Psychology, Apr. 3, 2009)

“In this study, the relations among political ideology, exploratory behavior, and the formation of attitudes toward novel stimuli were explored. Participants played a computer game that required learning whether these stimuli produced positive or negative outcomes. Learning was dependent on participants’ decisions to sample novel stimuli… Political ideology correlated with exploration during the game, with conservatives sampling fewer targets than liberals. Moreover, more conservative individuals exhibited a stronger learning asymmetry, such that they learned negative stimuli better than positive… Relative to liberals, politically conservative individuals pursued a more avoidant strategy to the game…The reluctance to explore that characterizes more politically conservative individuals may protect them from experiencing negative situations, for they are likely to restrict approach to known positives.”

So we have people trying to find new, innovative ways to resolve the problems we continue to have, which is why it’s still necessary to have these discussions, and people who would rather avoid making the problem worse by doing something different (even though what’s being done now continues to not work.) We Liberals want to move toward a better situation for everyone, even if only incrementally, while Conservatives don’t want to upset the status quo. Conservatism is focused on preventing negative outcomes, while liberalism is focused on advancing positive outcomes. (Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, PhD, “To Provide or Protect: Motivational Bases of Political Liberalism and Conservatism,” Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, Aug. 2009)

“Political liberalism and conservatism differ in provide versus protect orientations, specifically providing for group members’ welfare (political Left) and protecting the group from harm (political Right). These reflect the fundamental psychological distinction between approach and avoidance motivation. Conservatism is avoidance based; it is focused on preventing negative outcomes (e.g., societal losses) and seeks to regulate society via inhibition (restraints) in the interests of social order. Liberalism is approach based; it is focused on advancing positive outcomes (e.g., societal gains) and seeks to regulate society via activation (interventions) in the interests of social justice.”

Life is hard. The World is a dangerous place but, unlike Conservatives, I believe it can be made better. It will never be completely safe. Ironically, this is more because of people who are Conservative (with all the aggression that often comes with that) than it is from Liberals (who would rather everybody just get along.) But if things are going to get better, we have to approach things from a new way of thinking. And this is where trying to include everyone in solving society’s problems runs into a problem. We all want Security above all else. Security brings stability, and stability brings comfort. We just want to know what the rules are from day to day. We know that Change is inevitable, and we want to minimize the effects of that change as much as possible. But in order to do that, we have to have a better understanding of what it is we face. Liberals have more tolerance to uncertainty (bigger anterior cingulate cortex), and conservatives have more sensitivity to fear (bigger right amygdala)Ryota Kanai, PhD, Tom Feilden, Colin Firth, and Geraint Rees, PhD,

“In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI [magnetic resonance imaging]. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala…[O]ur findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty. The amygdala has many functions, including fear processing. Individuals with a larger amygdala are more sensitive to fear, which, taken together with our findings, might suggest the testable hypothesis that individuals with larger amagdala are more inclined to integrate conservative views into their belief systems… our finding of an association between anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] may be linked with tolerance to uncertainty. One of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex is to monitor uncertainty and conflicts. Thus it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views.”

We often speak of the amygdala being the “fear center” of the brain, as the place where all our fears begin. This is somewhat misleading, and can lead to further confusion. First, it’s important to know that scientists and researchers do not yet have a complete understanding of how the amygdala works, but they’ve been getting better answers with recent research. To put it simply, the amygdala analyzes everything your senses pick up and looks for signs of something that caused you harm the last time you encountered it. It then sends a signal to your prefrontal cortex where the actual analysis takes place. So, if out of the corner of your eye, your brain thinks it sees something like looks like the snake that’s been biting and killing your caveman friends lately, your amygdala will send a signal to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) that says, “SNAKE!” It’s up to your PFC to put what it thinks your brain sees in context. Maybe it’s a real snake, or maybe it’s just a dead poisonous snake that Thag thought would be hilarious to put on your rock seat. That Thag is such an asshole. Wait ’til he finds the dead poisonous spider in his bed later. Well, he’ll think it’s dead. But in today’s America (and in other places, too), a Conservative who hears the word “Muslim” immediately associates that with “bad things” and sends the signal to the PFC, where a Liberal would say “Muslim what?” before sending any alarms. A Muslim author? A Muslim comedian? A Muslim surgeon? I’m not hearing anything to get alarmed by yet. There are many authors, comedians, and surgeons who are quite good at what they do. Some of them also happen to be Muslim. That doesn’t automatically make them a danger. Liberals and Conservatives would essentially disagree on what the dangers we face are. How are we ever going to agree on how to confront them, and how best to expend the resources we have? I don’t know. And I’m beginning to wonder if it is even possible.

Daily open thread. Do your thing.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 21, 2016: How The Right Gets The Left Wrong

John Hinderaker and Jeffrey Lord, two men who can best be remembered from me mentioning their names at the start of this blog post without the word ‘miscreant’ attached to either of them, are at it again. And by “it” I mean “spreading falsehoods about Liberals”. I was going to use the word “lying,” but then somebody would say it’s not really lying because they honestly believe it’s true. Fine. It isn’t true, it’s false, so I said they were spreading falsehoods. Whether they knew they were falsehoods or not is irrelevant, because they still spread them. But if it makes you feel any better, I think they knew they were falsehoods when they spread them like manure. I say that because I don’t think they’re entirely stupid, and you would have to be entirely stupid to believe the things they said about Liberals and MoveOn.Org recently. [Full disclosure: I am a member of MoveOn.Org. I had my picture used in a commercial they ran several years ago. I wish I could find it.] So I think they know they were spreading foul-smelling crap when they sprinkled it throughout their columns. Because they know their fans just eat that shit up, on account of that’s much easier than having to actually think about it. And Conservatives do not like to put a lot of effort into their thinking, which explains their Conservatism. (Science has been able to document many ways in which Conservative and Liberal minds differ. Read more about them here. Truth be told: the science does not support the idea of Conservatism being a bastion of curious, inquisitive, intellectual discovery. Or even one of just trying to learn the basic truth about things.)

A little over a week ago in Dayton, OH, a man named Tommy DiMassimo attempted to get up on the stage where Donald Trump was speaking but was stopped by the Secret Service. This, and this alone, is probably the only indisputable fact one can glean from Hinderaker’s column. By his third sentence (first if you don’t think the incident itself could accurately be described as “scary”), Hinderaker was already spreading the lies. “His intent was unclear, but there was every reason to assume he intended to injure or kill Trump.” Really, Hinderaker? “Every reason” to believe that? Look, I know you Conservatives are accustomed to seeing danger everywhere, but the only explanation for why you think he meant Trump harm is Projection. You assume he meant Trump harm because in your mind, if you ever rushed a stage, it would be to injure or kill someone. So that must be the reason this guy did it. Hinderaker offers no other explanation for why DiMassimo did what he did, only his personally limited imagination.

Framing is everything in today’s political discourse. With attention spans being so short – SQUIRREL! Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. Attention spans are short and time is limited, so the Conservatives want you to spend as little time thinking as possible and just react. And the best way for them to do that is to lay the groundwork for what they’re about to say and force you to accept it, process it, and reply to it within the framework they’ve presented it. From this point on, Hinderaker wants you to view the entire incident as a violent attack. If you reject that framing, nothing else he says or, by extension, what Lord says later, will make any sense. Not only is Hinderaker projecting in this column, he’s shining a bright burning light on his own cognitive dissonance. He has already admitted he has no idea why DiMassimo tried to get up on stage, but that doesn’t mean to him he can’t he know exactly why he did it. DiMassimo boarded the stage for an unclear purpose that must have involved injuring or killing Trump. Lacking the intellectual capacity or imagination to come up with any other reason for DiMassimo’s actions, Hinderaker goes for the violence motive, another trait of Conservatism. (If it were me, and I was able to get to Trump, I would have mussed up his hair in front of everybody, so that he would have had to look ridiculous putting it back together.) So now he hopes that in your mind, we’re talking about a violent person. This is important because he’s about to launch into a rambling, anti-intellectual, anti-tax, anti-union, anti-regulation, and anti-LBGTQ diatribe transferring every lie he can think of about DiMassimo onto every Liberal in America. I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but it’s plain to me that Hinderaker has insecurity issues so severe he has to lash out at anyone he perceives as differing from the image he has in his mind of what it means to be a man. And given his propensity for projection, it’s not hard to imagine why. And as bad as Hinderaker’s column was at reflecting reality, Jeffrey Lord took it to an even lower level.

Lord opens with a link to MoveOn.Org‘s site. Despite everything he’s about to make up about them, the first thing you notice on theri website is a request for donations. “Join our nonviolent campaign standing up for love and democracy, and against Trump’s bigotry and incitement, by making a contribution today.” Then Lord immediately calls us “the new Ku Klux Klan. The newest leftist incarnation of that old leftist formula that combines racism with violence to push the progressive agenda.” I have noticed more and more Conservatives using the term “leftist” in their comments, probably because it’s reminiscent of the term “Communist.” I’m guessing this was Frank Luntz’s idea, but who knows? (Luntz is the “pollster born in Hell” to whom I referred in my song parody “Republicans Lie“.) This is another falsehood, of course. Communism involves a level of Authoritarianism many Liberals reject (but which many Conservatives find appealing, oddly enough.) Lord’s lies continue. “The American Left has a horrendous history of flat out racism and bigotry, liberally salted with violence. From the 19th and early 20th century Klan,…”

I’m stopping him right there. Lord has done what I’ve seen many Conservatives do when I’m hanging out on the Twitter: He presumes that because the KKK was founded by Democrats, that it was founded by Liberals. Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot look at someone’s political affiliation alone, without context or reference to a year, and know what that person’s political leanings were. A Republican of 150 years ago was likely to be a Liberal just as a Democrat of that time was likely to be a Conservative. The KKK was founded by Conservatives who happened to be members of the Democratic Party. They were white supremacists and they were ugly human beings and their actions were in absolutely no way defensible. They were violent, reprehensible troglodytes, and they are nothing like we Liberals in MoveOn. I have never heard of a single MoveOn event where someone was targeted by the organization for violence. Yet that was the entire purpose of the KKK getting together – to direct violence against someone. And whether they think it matters or not, it is a fact that Trump has the support of many of the major groups today who believe in that for which the KKK stands. Even State Senator David Duke (R-LA) supports Trump. David Duke would never join an organization like MoveOn. I cannot conceive of how anyone with an IQ in the three-digit range would equate MoveOn with the KKK, so I have to believe Lord does not have one.

Based on nothing but Hinderaker’s character assassination of DiMassimo, Lord then declares that he is “absolutely typical of the American Left.” He also points out that DiMassimo’s a Bernie Sanders supporter, but if he’s “typical” of the American Left and he supports Sanders, why is Hillary Clinton ahead in the delegate count? But I digress. Lord goes on to give a distorted history which paints all liberal activists as violent (because of the few violent actions of a few extremist liberal groups) before circling back to the Klan as being liberal. Then he tries to paint us as the racist ones by completely mischaracterizing and distorting an article he quoted. When students at the University of Illinois Chicago decided to organize a protest against the appearance of Donald Trump, MoveOn “chipped in money to get signs and a banner printed and blasted out an email to members in the Chicago area encouraging them to join the protest.” The protest was promoted on Facebook and about 1.5 million people saw it. Out of that number, about 1% pledged to show up. The end result of the protesters’ efforts was the last-minute cancellation of the event, out of a misplaced fear for the candidate’s safety. But that’s not the way Lord chose to frame it. “Got all that? MoveOn.org, in the finest traditions of the Klan, organized a mass shutdown that was specifically directed to people because of their race.” If that’s what you got then you didn’t read the same story I did. MoveOn did not organize that protest as the story he quoted clearly said. His proof that this was “directed to people because of their race” is the sentence “Hundreds of young, largely black and brown people poured in from across the city, taking over whole sections of the arena and bracing for trouble.” Note the logical fallacy he employs: Just because hundreds of people of color showed up to protest the event, the call for the protest must have been directed only at people of color. Then there’s the idea that when the KKK organized something directed at people because of their race, it was done for the exact same reason, and with the exact same level of support of those people, as when MoveOn organized an event specifically directed at people of color, even though they did no such thing. MoveOn didn’t organize the event, and they didn’t direct their efforts to people of color. And if MoveOn ever WERE to direct their organizing at people of color, it wouldn’t be for the purpose of killing and lynching them, or setting fire to their homes. But that is how people like Jeffrey Lord and John Hinderaker see us. Because it’s what THEY would do.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the KKK, Hinderaker, Lord, Trump, or anybody else like them.

Sunday Roast: What the…what??

via RawStory

At a rally in Florida, the GOP front-runner, Donald “Drumpf” Trump, encouraged people to raise their right hands with a promise to  vote for him in the upcoming primary.  Yes, the photo above is real, and people didn’t have a problem, or didn’t understand the horrible historical significance, of a large crowd raising their hands in such a way.

Yeah, I know, Godwin’s Law and all that, but COME ON.  Doesn’t the photo of the Drumpf rally make you all squirmy inside — and not in a good way?

Is Drumpf just trolling these ignorant people, so he can have a laugh later on with the wife and kids?  Or is Drumpf actually that friggin’ stupid?  And do I really want to know either way…?

Here’s what Drumpf said, while wagging his stubby little finger, after he got all the rubes to do their clueless Nazi imitations:

“Don’t forget you all raised your hand,” Trump said at the conclusion of the pledge. “You swore. Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”

He’s finished talking to people at a fourth grade level — now he’s down to speaking on a pre-school level — which seems appropriate since toddlers, much like Drumpf, tend to “say what they think,” too.

I weep for this country…

This is our daily open thread — Sorry, not sorry.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 23, 2016: If You Hate Freedom And Liberty, You’ll Love Donald J. Trump

Liberal Libertarianism was something unknown to me when I took my first test at Political Compass. I was familiar enough with the well-known ideologies of Liberal and Conservative, enough to know I’m Liberal while my father’s Conservative. But I wasn’t aware of the “perpendicular” ideologies of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism, the former being how free you think we should individually be versus how much control over your life you believe your rulers should have (and note that I did not mention the word “government” there.) The Liberal/Conservative scale would be an economic one, while the Libertarian/Authoritarians scale would be a social one. Go there. Take the test. If you never have before, you’ll learn something about yourself and how you compare to some famous historical figures.

I just did and I scored -8.5 on the Economic Left/Right scale (very Liberal) and -8.46 on the Social Libertarian/Authoritarian scale (very Libertarian). Like Gandhi’s views only more so. (But not his courage. Or wisdom. Or sheer animal magnetism.) So naturally I would not be in favor of a very Authoritarian person taking control of the Executive Branch of our government, the ones charged with enforcing the Law. And a Conservative capitalist, to make matters worse, choosing who will rule over the Economy. Nor would a lot of people. Or should you’d think. Or so you’d hope. People with an Authoritarian bent are very scary. They’ll do whatever the person in charge says to do provided they believe the person in charge will accept responsibility for what happens. (Of course, it may not occur to them that the person in charge was lying about accepting responsibility.) In Stanley Milgram’s famous first experiment into trying to answer why WWII German soldiers were so willing to obey orders to murder defenseless people, he found that 26 out of 40 men were willing to administer lethal doses of electricity to a complete stranger just because an experimental socialist told them to. Humans seem to have a natural disposition toward having someone be in authority provided that person was willing to be responsible. We don’t like someone to be in charge who randomly picks people to die every day, and imposes a death penalty on anyone who complains about it. But we like someone who is willing to face the consequences of his actions, assuming the law provides for significant consequences for those actions that do more harm than good. Unfortunately, too many of us may like Donald J. Trump as such an authority figure. Trump is very appealing to the sort of person who gives in to his Authoritarian side. And he’s also appealing to a large group dubbed decades ago by sociologist Don­ald War­ren as Middle Americans Radicals (MARS), who have a lot in common with, but can be distinct from, Tea Party People. This is not good. John W. Dean can explain a little bit about why here and here.

He checks off every box on the list of authoritarian traits. As I have explained on other occasions these personalities are typically male; they are dominating; they oppose equality; they are desirous of personal power; they are amoral, intimidating and bullying, faintly hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, and dishonest; they will cheat to win; they are highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, and/or homophobic), mean-spirited, militant, and nationalistic; they tell others what they want to hear, take advantage of “suckers,” and specialize in creating false images to sell themselves. They may or may not be religious, but usually they are both political and economic conservatives and/or Republicans.

You might ask, “Who on Earth would want to be put someone like that in charge of our government?” And the answer would surprise you.

“[A]uthoritarian followers are both men and women, who tend to be highly conventional, always and easily submissive to authority, while willing to work aggressively on behalf of such an authority. They tend to be very religious, with moderate to little education, trusting of untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (e.g., with respect to gay marriage); they are typically mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical of their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive; they also demand loyalty and return it, have little self-awareness, and are typically politically and economically conservative Republicans.”

Americans. That’s who. So it’s a good thing our Constitutional form of balanced power government prohibits the kind of tyrannical dictatorship Trump’s opponents fear he’ll bring, and Obama’s enemies claims he has. (FTR, Tyrant Obama’s opponents, if he truly was the tyrant you claim he is, I wouldn’t have been listening to you bitch about him these past seven years, because you would have been taken off the face of the planet. You almost make me wish he was half the tyrant you claim he is. Almost.) A Trump Presidency (as I’m sure he refers to it himself) would be a disaster, and not just because of the type of person he is, but because of the kinds of ideas he outs forward.

A wall? Seriously? And would you believe people lap that shit up? Trump loves Construction. I’ve heard him say it in interviews years ago. He loves to build things. So, naturally, he’d say he wants to build a wall on our southern border. And then has the balls to say he’ll make the country on the other side pay for it. And people believe him! Authoritarians, who may or may not also be racists, white supremacists, and bigots in general, are loving it! Never mind that such a wall would never keep people out. You’d be amazed how far people will go to tunnel across a border. And never mind that no foreign government would be stupid enough to agree to such an arrangement without the threat of military force behind it. Do we want yet another war with Mexico? I don’t.

Then there’s the ban on Muslims entering the country, all because about .005% of the world’s population of Muslims has abandoned their religious beliefs to exert power over a region of the world thousands of miles away. As much as I hate to see anyone brutally rule over another, it’s not our problem as a nation. And it would be even less of a problem if we would stop living with the false belief that we need access to fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. We don’t. And the people who would lose a lot of money should this nation pull its giant head out of its overweight ass and switch to renewable sources of energy (such as Charles and David Koch, to name just two such miscreants) are not the kind of people about whom I could give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys. And neither should you.

So, if you truly hate freedom and liberty, if you think we really should have a tyrant in charge, if you honestly believe we all need to have the heavy hand of government crush our spirits daily, then go ahead and vote for Donald J. Trump. I promise you I’ll fight you every step of the way. And I won’t be alone.

This is our daily open thread. Being the Liberal Libertarian that I am, I’ll simply remind you you’re free to discuss any topic you want.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January1, 2016: I’m Briseadh na Faire, and I’m running for President, Part VII

I’m Briseadh na Faire, and I’m running for President. Here are a few of my positions on issues important to the American People today. Between now and November 2016, I will post additional policy and platform statements.

Today’s topic du jour: State of the Union – yeah, right.

I know, I know. By the time you read this, Obama will have given his last State of the Union Address as President of the United States, blah, blah, blah. He will have put a positive spin on all things Obama, all things black, all things from Kenya. And Fox “News” will have unleashed a barrage showing exactly how incompetent and impotent the Reign of Obama has been, replete with quotes from every Republican candidate from Palin to Trump. (FYI, Palin has never, I repeat never stopped running for President of these here United States.)

The penultimate question is, and always will be: “are you better off now than you were before Obama became President?”

The only possible answer is a resounding “NO!!!”

Before Obama became President, we had hope. Hope for change. Hope for a future better than that of our parents. Now, as we approach the end of his eight-year reign as our supreme leader, we are that much older, that much wiser.

We’re still at war in the middle east – only the name of our enemy has changed from Saddam and Al Qaeda and the Taliban to ISIS or ISIL and Al Qaeda and the Taliban. We’re fighting in Syria now, and Iran is still an open question. Iraq? Forget it. It’s a lost cause. As is Afghanistan. Maybe the oil pipeline is safe, but for sure their heroin production is hitting all-time highs (no pun intended).

Ok, so how about here at home? You feel the boost in the economy from the bazillions in bailout money given to the same banksters that robbed us? Neither did I. Nor anyone else making less than, say, a million a year.

Let’s face it, the only thing we got from eight years of Obama was ObamaCare. Republicans can’t repeal it. The Supreme Court didn’t overturn it. We’re stuck with it. It’s a massive gift to the insurance industry, which wrote much of it. But is it Universal Health Care? No. Medicare for all? No. Just another way for insurance companies to skim their profits off of our health care dollars without improving our health care at all. I know, Republicans created this Boogey Monster of “Government Death Panels” and all. But the reality is that private health insurance companies do that every day, every time they deny a claim, deny a treatment recommended by your doctor, to maximize their profits.

Don’t get me wrong. Obama has done some good.  He refused to prosecute Bush and company for war crimes and crimes against humanity. God knows he had enough evidence in the public record to convict at least some of the previous administration. But by not prosecuting his predecessors he let the whole world know that the United States of America will act with impunity when it comes to invading countries under false pretexts for the sole purpose of changing their government; that we will torture people with impunity; that we will kidnap people, and hold them in prison forever, without charges, without due process, because we are, above all things, a Nation of Laws, a Nation of Freedom, a Nation of Liberty. Which is why, of course, terrorists hate us.

So, come 2016, vote Briseadh na Faire for President. I’m the only candidate for President who knows what’s best for America; the only candidate who acknowledges up front that I will break each and every one of my campaign promises, and, when I do, you won’t be disappointed!

I’m Briseadh na Faire, and I approve this message.

[BriseadhNaFaireforPresidentisnotaffiliatedwithanyPolitcalActionCommitteenorhas receivedtheendorcementofTPZoonoranyotherindividualbusinessnonprofitorganizationorgod.]

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 26, 2015: A Man, A Turtle, and Fear of Muslims

Bret Colvin and his turtle - photo Miles Bryan of Wyoming Public Radio

Bret Colvin and his turtle – photo Miles Bryan of Wyoming Public Radio

Bret Colvin is prejudiced. We all are, to a certain extent, and it’s partly a survival mechanism. If you don’t learn to recognize potential dangers by doing some internal “profiling” in your mind, you could get killed. And it works, so long as your prejudices have some rational basis. Bret Colvin’s do not. Bret is afraid of Muslims he has never met. This is a stupid kind of fear to have because virtually any Muslim he’s likely to meet will pose no more danger to him than any non-Muslim would. I’d even say it’s highly likely that anyone he meets who does pose a danger to him will do so for reasons that have nothing to do with Islam. He’s in Wyoming, FFS. There aren’t a lot of Muslims to fear there in the first place. In fact, the mosque that got him so worried he started a Facebook page called “Stop Islam in Gillette” is only the third mosque in the entire state of Wyoming. And it was started so that members of one particular family would have a place to freely exercise their First Amendment right to practice the religion of their choice. They hope to save enough money to build a new mosque (this one is a regular house, converted for their purposes) to which they would welcome Muslims from other areas. It’s the American dream from before there was an America built on consumerism (in violation of the Ten Commandments.) In response to Bret’s FB page, another FB page was started called Save Islam in Gillette.

Since then, Bret has changed the name of his FB page to “Stop Forced Syrian Immigration to Gillette.” (Maybe the little chat he had with one of the mosque’s founders convinced him to refocus his hate and ignorance.) His concern now is, “Well, I don’t want Jihadis in my neighborhood.” Is that a rational fear? Of course not! Why not? Well, for one thing, Wyoming is the only one of our 50 states that does not have a refugee resettlement program. Which means that when the federal government eventually finishes its extensive background checks and interviews with refugee applicants some 18-24 months from now, they won’t get settled in Wyoming. I’m guessing Bret is totally unaware of the procedure for Syrian immigrants to apply for refugee status and resettlement in the US. The fact that Bret is a YUGE Donald Trump supporter makes me certain he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to immigrants, refugees, and terrorism in general. He’s not the only one with that problem.

According to a NYT survey, a lot of people have a misguided fear of terrorism. Which brings me to a second point on which I’d like to rant – public opinion polling. I am thoroughly convinced (okay, maybe there’s a teeny, tiny chance my mind can be changed in this, but I’d be surprised if the right evidence and facts could be shown me to convince me I’m wrong) that public opinion polling in America is pure bullshit, and there are several reasons for this. It’s not the mathematics themselves, just their application to poll results. Statistical analysis is fine when you’re analyzing actual facts or events that have actually happened. For example, by analyzing the time of day at which people actually had heart attacks, you can come up with the day of the week and time of day at which you’re most likely to have a heart attack. (I believe this was done once and the answer was Monday mornings.) And that’s fine and it’s valid and it makes sense because it’s based on actual facts. But if a bunch of inaccurate days and times were thrown into the results, would the final number really have any meaning? Could you point to this analysis and be confident with the result if you knew a bunch of lies and misinformation were factored into the final number? Opinions are not facts. And worse still, opinions based on lies and misinformation are less than worthless. And that’s what public opinion polls are often based on – lies and misinformation.

For example, suppose I’m an idiot who believes leprechauns, pixies, unicorns and elves are all real and plotting together to take over the Earth from humans any day now through violent acts of terrorism, but I keep that to myself. You come along and ask me a survey question asking me what I thought the likelihood of a terrorist attack on the United States is. Of course I’d tell them it’s high or very high, but do you think my opinion has any merit and should be considered as part of this survey response? Do you think the President should consider my opinion when developing our counter-terrorism strategy? Should he factor this in and order the Dept of Defense to stock up on poison darts to kill the elves? Of course not, because there’s no reality-based reason for my fear. Now replace “leprechauns, pixies, unicorns and elves” with “typical Muslims.” Is my opinion any better? Is there any reality-based reason to believe typical Muslims are plotting to take over the Earth through violent acts of terrorism? Of course not. But the guy asking me the survey question doesn’t know on what I base my answers, so why should it be lumped in with all the reality-based answers and factored into the poll results?

Donald Trump is polling well among Republican voters, but should we really assume he’ll win the general election (or even the nomination of his party, whichever that is this year)? Are we really going to operate on the premise that the people saying they support Trump are basing their views on facts and reality? He is saying things that appeal to people who do not put a lot of effort into their thinking. Do you want a nation’s foreign policy to be based on the opinions of people whose views of Muslims is no more accurate than that of someone who says they believe leprechauns, pixies, unicorns and elves are all real and plotting together to take over the Earth from humans any day now through violent acts of terrorism? I have a surprise for them. My brother’s ex-wife married a Muslim who helped raise my nephews, and I never once feared that he might secretly be a terrorist waiting to do terrorist things. Not once. Not even for a nanosecond. Abraham is a good man and I am even grateful for his being a part of raising my nephews. The men in my family have a little problem with alcoholism and my brother was not immune to this. (Neither am I, which is why I gave up drinking decades ago.) So when Abraham instituted a rule that there would be no alcohol in his house, I was glad because it meant my nephews would be less likely to turn into full blown drunks. But it also meant that they would have a good role model in their stepfather because, like 99.9% of all Muslims, he’s a man who practices Peace. But the people telling the pollster they fear a terrorist attack probably wouldn’t know that.

Here’s something else about polls: You can never be sure how the person answering is interpreting the question. For example, what do they consider “terrorist attack” to mean? Is it a bombing or mass shooting committed by radicalized Muslims only? Could it also be a lone, crazed Christian who thinks the vast majority of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions? Could it also be someone who thinks the federal government killed those people in the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX, and then went too far with a ban on assault weapons? Could it be a white male who wants to start a race war by executing nine people in a church just because they were black? You don’t know. The person answering is free to apply his own definitions of the words used in the question so, in essence, you’re really not getting answers to the same question from different people. There’s too much room for lies and misinformation to enter into the process and, therefore, you are no longer applying statistical analysis to empirical facts. You are applying them to worthless answers, answers that may not have any connection to Reality. Can you still conclude that there are Americans who fear we might be subject to an act of terrorism? Of course you can, for two reasons. One, you don’t need a survey to learn there are people who are afraid of terrorism. And two, given how broadly one can define “terrorist,” it’s obvious we’re going to be subject to another terrorist attack. But it doesn’t mean we have to seal our borders, build a giant wall along one of them, and stop all Syrian refugees fleeing war in their home country. We can’t let fear dominate our decision-making. Because that’s what the terrorists want us to do.

Note: There is no evidence that Bret Colvin’s turtle has expressed fears about Muslims in Gillette, which makes the turtle a better man than Bret.

Late though it is, this is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about irrational fears, untrustworthy poll results, lazy bloggers, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole: 12/9/15: Trump Calls for Ban on Tanning Salons

One thing is certain: When Trump finds a message that resonates with the people, he runs with it as long as possible. And when his air time surged following call to ban all Muslims from the United States, he decided to double-down, calling for a ban on all tanning salons.

“Brown people are the scourge of the earth.” Trump said at a recent rally. “All of our problems can be directly traced to brown-skinned people. Everybody knows this. You wanna see your future terrorists? Go to any tanning salon. Any one of them. There’s only one reason to go to a tanning salon and that’s to get brown skin. So you wanna stop terrorism? The solution is simple: ban tanning salons.”

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, August 31, 2015: Chris Christie vs. Technology

In order for Governor Chris Christie’s plan to round up people who overstay their visas to work, he would have to invent time travel technology. And even though it’s impossible to know if time travel really has been invented if you’re not the one using it (if history has changed, so have all your memories), looking at his poll numbers it would appear he hasn’t yet. After all, if you started out doing poorly in your effort to become President, and you had the ability to travel back in time, wouldn’t you go back in time and change things so that you had the humongous lead in Republican polls and not some billionaire with an oversize ego and even worse ideas than yours? Actually I shouldn’t say Trump’s ideas are worse since he hasn’t explained how any of them could work except to say “Management.” But I digress. Anyway, without time travel, Christie’s plan to call in FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith to help teach the government how to track people who have overstayed their visas can’t work. At least, not if your plan involves finding any of the estimated eleven million people who are here illegally. Well, listen to him try to explain his plan this past Saturday. [Video via Think Progress.]

Christie’s campaign spokesperson (or “spox” as they’ve come to be called these days) is none other than FedEx CEO Fred Smith’s daughter, Samantha. It’s possible that’s a coincidence, and not at all related to Christie mentioning FedEx as part of his plan. It’s also possible that Ebola-infected monkeys will come flying out of Christie’s butt and nest in Donald Trump’s hair. One can dream, but one should probably seek professional counseling or be more diligent about taking one’s meds. But I digress. Christie said that “at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane.” But they can’t actually tell you where that package is “at any moment”. In order to do that, each package would have to have something like an RFID tag, which transmits a low-level signal that can be tracked by satellite, and FedEx doesn’t do that for every package they deliver. What they can tell you is where the package was when the bar code label on it was last scanned. And they don’t get scanned all the time. FedEx drivers pick up and deliver hundreds and hundreds of packages each day, so scanning every single package at every stop would be impractical. You can find out when your package got put on the plane, but until it lands and the label is scanned again, all you can find out is that it is in transit. So it is not true that FedEx can tell you where a package is “at any moment.” Christie tried to explain to Chris Wallace that of course he knows people aren’t packages. [Video via Raw Story]

But to use this technology that can find the people who overstayed their visas, you would have to find the people who overstayed their visas and give them some kind of bar code that can be scanned, or a visa with an RFID chip in it. Then you would have to install scanners all over America that can detect these bar codes and RFID tags, and keep their current locations handy so that the microsecond their visas expire, you’ll know exactly where to go pick them up. Assuming that in addition to buying and using all this technology, you also came up with the money to have them picked up, housed while being processed, and transported to a waiting government official in Mexico. Whose taxes are you going to raise to pay for all that? I suggest Donald Trump’s, for starters. Followed by all those millionaires and billionaires who got ginormous tax cuts back in the Reagan days, heralding the beginning of the destruction of the Middle Class in America. The calls for balancing the budget (a completely unnecessary and self-defeating goal) were nothing more than the legalized transfer of wealth to the top 1%, and most of that to the top 0.1%. We were told that the rich people would use their tax cuts to create jobs and the wealth would trickle down to the rest of us. Yes, they actually told us that. And it was complete bullshit and they knew it. Because rich people do not create jobs. Consumer demand creates jobs. A need for a product or service develops, and someone starts up a business to meet the demand for that need. And it isn’t always a rich person doing it. How many times have you heard of the guy who had nothing and started a multi-million dollar business? What rich people often do is give that guy several hundred million for his business and take it over themselves. But no matter how big that business gets, it isn’t the owner that created the jobs, it’s the consumer demand of the Middle Class that created the vast majority of those jobs. Without that demand, there would be no reason for that business owner, either the guy starting out who hasn’t yet made his first million, or that guy with the hilarious Trumpadour hairstyle, to hire people in the first place. But I digress.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Chris Christie, Donald Trump, roadkill you may have personally worn on your head, or anything else you wish to discuss.