Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Forgotten Topic of the 2016 Elections. Or How Echidne Almost Got Gaslighted.

We hardly discuss one of the most interesting aspects of the  2016 US presidential elections:  That the long picture gallery of all American presidents remained hundred-percent male.  Neither do we discuss why so many of us, both women and men, failed to see anything wrong with that, even while some others celebrated  the Trump victory by open pussy-grabbing or its verbal equivalents.

Imagine some other demographic groups, more than half of all citizens, calmly accepting (1) that none of its members has ever governed the country, and is very unlikely to do so in the near future!  It's not possible, my friends, except when it comes to women.

But when it comes to women, the majority of Americans,  equal representation is not an important goal.  Rather, it's outdated identity politics, at best only of symbolic worth.  The strength of that message  is mind-boggling, unprecedented and unpresidented.

How did it come about?

I argue that it is the result of gaslighting, a term which the American linguistic left adopted from psychological literature, and then adapted to political speech, often to silence someone.  Gaslighting is

manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent to is sow seeds of doubt in the subject, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.

My friends, we have been gaslighted, through denial, misdirection, contradiction, lying and more.  It is particularly easy to gaslight those who are prone to self-inspection, to careful scrutiny of their own ideas and to careful attention to how others criticize them.  Indeed, I have eagerly abetted my own gaslighting!

It took Mark Lilla's New York Times article "The End of Identity Liberalism," on the horrors that is identity politics inside the Democratic Party to drop the scales from my eyes. He wrote:

Recently I performed a little experiment during a sabbatical in France: For a full year I read only European publications, not American ones. My thought was to try seeing the world as European readers did. But it was far more instructive to return home and realize how the lens of identity has transformed American reporting in recent years. How often, for example, the laziest story in American journalism — about the “first X to do Y” — is told and retold.
Notice the gaslighting in the sentence I have bolded:  The story of, say, the first female president, ever, would be a lazy story.  If we pick from the terms of the quote which defines gaslighting, this would be misdirection.  Yet nobody would have stated that the story of, say,  the first black president in South Africa would have been a lazy story.  

Later, in an uplifting appeal, Lilla wrote about the values we all can share:

We need a post-identity liberalism, and it should draw from the past successes of pre-identity liberalism. Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another.

That might qualify as a lie, using the list of terms which define gaslighting,  because pre-identity liberalism was identity liberalism of the type where Lilla's own group had all the power, and because most issues do not affect the vast majority of Americans in exactly the same way.

Take Trump's infrastructure improvement promises (which he might renege on, as is his wont):  Those jobs are not going to go to all American adults, in their population proportions, but overwhelmingly to men, because construction industries are almost completely male (2).

My heartfelt thanks to Mark Lilla.  He opened my eyes and then I directed them to all the other material which almost got me gaslighted into believing that it doesn't really matter if women hold political power on the highest levels.  The rest of this post addresses some of them.

Monday, December 26, 2016

After Christmas Reading

This is pretty good, on advice to future historians who wish to understand the reasons Donald Trump broke the world.  If he succeeds in that endeavor.

This is hilarious, and nothing to do with politics.  It's also fake news, but who wouldn't like to know how cats clear houses of ghosts?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

I Wish You A Wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah Or Kwanzaa

Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Glorious Kwanzaa!
Superb Solstice (in hindsight)!

Was that so hard?  The War Against Christmas conspiracy theorists think so, even though that war is an invention of the Fox News (the Robber Baron television company which teaches the masses what to believe).

The problem in wishing ruling conservatives a Merry Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Solstice is that far too many of them can't hear us because they are stuck in the late nineteenth century, or yearn to go there, to the beautiful era when the robber barons ruled, women didn't have the vote, minorities knew their place and poor children starved to death or died of easily preventable diseases in the urban ghettos.

When America Was Great, in the way our Dear Leader-Elect wishes to make it great, except for that nuclear upgrade.

But that was a wonderful era if you happened to be a robber baron.  I once read a book about the Newport summers of the super-rich of that era.  Dinner parties sometimes had sand spread on the table, between the dishes, and the sand hid pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.  Each dinner guest was provided with a small sterling silver spade, to dig in the sand.  Any treasures that guest found she or he could take home.  And also the spade.

Doesn't that sound like the Trump administration, but only to the friends and family of our Dear Leader-Elect?

But I digress.  I wish you a peaceful and hopeful holiday season, the company of your loved ones, time in nature and with pets, time to rest and recuperate, so that you are ready and fit for the coming battles.  I hope you join me in the necessary resistance and in speaking truth to power.

My love and appreciation to you all.

The song in the video is a Christmas song and a religious one, but its message is more general:  I don't desire power or gold but the heavenly light and peace on earth.

Trump Likes Putin's Criticisms of Hillary Clinton

This is hilarious, tell me all the observers on distant planets who are resting their transportation parts while imbibing their equivalent of beer and pop corn.  Because it's always fun to watch another planet fall apart:

So our Dear Leader-Elect decided to tweet on international politics, by commenting on the utterances of his Best Friend Forever (BFF), one Vladimir Putin:

Oh, that's just Trump being Trump, some might mutter, especially the ones who came here by Googling "snake sex." But replace Trump with any past or present US politician, and notice what the reaction would have been.  People would have gone haywire.

And that is the calm, collected and rational reaction:  To go haywire.

Here is our Dear President-Elect, praising a foreign ruler for bashing another American politician!  And doing it in public.  And using only the first name for that American politician (she is a chick, after all, and neither Trump nor Putin care for chicks or their rights).

But much more importantly, the contents of the tweet are a bare-faced lie when it comes to Hillary Clinton.  Her behavior after the election is so dignified that for it to be any more dignified she would have had to be lifted to heaven as a saint.

So what are the deep, deep political chess moves in this exchange?

Putin wants to hamstrung NATO, of course, he wants destabilize the EU and the USA, for all sorts of reasons, some fair (to protect Russia), some extremely unfair (to possibly re-annex Ukraine and the Baltic states, in the first round of expansion politics), and he sees Trump as his Useful Idiot in all that.

The closer, tactical, move Putin is arranging here is to get the internal American opposition to Trump labeled as us just being sore losers, to hint at lost dignity!  As if Trump isn't quickly using up all dignity this country ever had?  (I bet Putin is secretly laughing over the escapades of one Donald Trump.)

Trump also has his international politics!  They vary day by day, naturally, because of his volatility.  One day it's all about re-launching the nuclear arms race, then the next day it is about appeasing Vladimir by finding something they can both agree on:  Girls have cooties and are of value only because of their vaginas.  The manly autocrats holding hands across vast distances.

The norms and decency violations are flabbergasting:  Internal politics shared with a foreign power?  Check.  Badmouthing an ex-rival who has given zero cause for such badmouthing?  Check.  Not letting the elections be in the past?  Check (remember the victory laps).  Acting like a petulant child who didn't get that second dish of ice-cream?  Check.  Making the US into a laughing stock all over the world?  Check.

Now Trump's own motivations for doing all he is doing are fairly obvious.  He is a narcissist, so anything negative said about him (and there's a lot) makes him want to lash back, and he doesn't care what weapons he uses for that, because he knows nothing about how politicians are supposed to act and cares even less.  It's All About Trump.

And he currently likes Vladimir so Vladimir can do nothing wrong.  Still, narcissistic persons switch such assessments overnight, so the first time Vladimir scolds Donald he will be cast overboard.  Then the nuclear race can continue.

Added later:  Yet another norm Trump has violated is the old-and-boring idea that the president of the United States speaks for the country in foreign affairs, not for himself or only about himself, that international politics are not about whom the president would like to have a beer with and whether they like the president's bouffant hairdo.

I guess I no longer need to have the courtesy of writing "himself or herself" in this particular context...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Trump's Knowledge Of Labor Market Discrimination: Nonexistent

While writing my previous post about Trump transitioning team turning their nasty little eyes at those State Department programs which just might make the lives of poor women and girls in other countries better, I also spotted this wonderfully erudite comment by our Dear Leader-Elect:

 On equal pay for women, Trump implied there was no need for promoting it. “You’re going to make the same if you do as good of a job,” he said.
His solution to labor market discrimination is to decide that it doesn't exist.*

Now that would be a failing answer at a college level test, but not to worry, because our Dear Leader-Elect is not in college.

But I do predict that us wimminz are not going to be any kind of priority for the Trump administration, except in the sense of getting scored on our fuckability.

It would be interesting, if excruciating, to learn what those women had in mind who voted for Trump.


* For same basics about this topic Trump assumes away, see this post.

And the Demolition Derby Administration Focuses on Wimminz' Issues (No, Donald, Not Tits And Butts)

This is probably scary:

The Trump transition team instructed the State Department to turn over all information Wednesday about “gender-related staffing, programming, and funding,” setting off alarm bells among those who fear that the new administration is going to purge programs that promote women’s equality along with the people who work on them.

I guess it could be the reverse:  Trump might wish to work to promote women's equality all over the globe?  Well, a goddess can always dream.

What are these gender-related issues in the State Department?

Advocating for women and girls abroad was a major focus of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Clinton raised the priority of women’s and gender issues at the State Department, for example, by making the Office of Global Women’s Issues part of her personal staff. That office spearheaded several programs to promote and protect women in oppressive countries, such as the Women, Peace and Security initiative, which was based on the argument that increased security for women can contribute to overall peace and security, and vice versa.
The U.S. government’s attention to the plight of women and girls abroad continued after Clinton left office. The House voted unanimously to pass the Women, Peace and Security Act just last month, which was meant to make the State Department’s initiative permanent.
In March, Kerry announced a national strategy to promote the protection of adolescent girls around the world from things such as forced marriage, genital cutting, sexual violence and denial of access to education.
“We are here, all of us, every single one of us, because we believe … that equitable treatment of women and girls is and always must be a core tenet of America’s global leadership,” he said.

Why on earth would grab-the-pussies-Trump or forced-birth-Pence be opposed to fighting against forced marriage, genital cutting, sexual violence and denial of access to the education?  Perhaps I shall be pleasantly surprised and the programs described above will be continued?

On the other hand, the Trump administration may think that each country should be allowed to oppress women as the rulers of those countries wish.  Or forced-birth Pence may be trying to sniff out any baby-killing initiatives. 

Trump's transitioning team is not making these lists for the purpose of Christmas gifting, nope.  What are they for, then?

Most likely for the demolition of those programs, and as the linked article states, that will hurt a lot of women and girl around the world.

Added later:  The New York Times offers yet another guess for why Trump's team wants this list:

Some officials said they feared that the incoming Trump administration was trying to determine what programs were focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, though the memo did not refer to them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

In The Republican Health Care Plan Parents Are To Be The Diagnosticians!

Because if they have to weigh the out-of-pocket costs of taking a sick child to the ER against the potential an ER visit might have, well, they might delay that visit and save us all loads of money:

A Republican congressman outlined the way he would like to see the health care system operate if Obamacare is repealed, as GOP lawmakers are promising. It is a brave new world in which parents would wait and think about it before bringing in their sick or injured kids for costly treatments.
The example Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) gave in an interview with was from his own experience when he waited until the morning after to take his youngest son to the doctor with an injured arm, because he did not want to waste money on an expensive emergency room visit. The arm, it turned out, was broken.
"We weren't sure what was going on. It was in the evening, so I splinted it up and we wrapped it up, and the decision was, okay, do we go to the ER? We thought it was a sprain, but weren't sure," Huizenga said, adding that he and his wife "took every precaution and decided to go in the next morning."
"When it [comes to] those type of things, do you keep your child home from school and take him the next morning to the doctor because of a cold or a flu, versus take him into the emergency room? If you don't have a cost difference, you'll make different decisions," he said.

Isn't that just precious?

Let me respond by giving you my own experience about something where Rep. Huizenga probably would have recommended waiting:

One Sunday, when my sister was still a baby, she began crying and would not stop.  She was also feverish, but her fever wasn't terribly high.  My parents thought that she might have caught a cold and took terms carrying her to soothe her.

But her crying would not stop, so very late that night my father took her to the ER.  She was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, and the doctors told my parents that had they waited until Monday to see the family doctor, my sister would have died.  Even as things were, she almost didn't make it.

Now Rep. Huizenga would have recommended that my parents wait, because ER care is expensive?  That they are good enough diagnosticians to know when a fever is caused by, say, teething and when it is a sign of something very serious?

The basic problem in his recommendations is this: 

When we consume health care we don't always know what treatments, exactly, we might require.  That's why physician visits are called consultations:  It's not only the treatment we wish to buy, but also the diagnosis. 

When out-of-pocket health care costs are raised, poorer families are going to delay the seeking of care for financial reasons.  And some people will die because of that choice to make us all into medical diagnosticians.

This doesn't mean that unnecessary care shouldn't be curtailed, to save money overall*.  What it does mean is that it's not the initial consultation we wish to curtail, because that's where we learn if care is necessary or unnecessary.


*There are many ways of doing that, including urgent care centers as an alternative to emergency rooms during weekends, weekend 24/7 phone services which attempt to tell the caller if an ER visit is necessary and so on.  But to argue that bigger monetary costs is the answer totally ignores the basic aspect of medical care: It is a form of consumption where we learn what we should consume.

Monday, December 19, 2016

On Trump's Private Body Guards

Politico tells us that Our Dear Leader-Elect is using a private security force, and -- in a breach with presidential tradition -- plans to continue keeping at least some of it after he is in office.

Apropos of nothing, another Dear Leader also used a private security force:

The antecedent of Himmler's "Black Corps," or SS, is to be found in Hitler's private bodyguard, formed before the 1923 Putsch from a small clique of desperados known as the Assault Squad. The Assault Squad's few men, demobilized NCOs, freebooters, laborers, and adventurers, shared utter loyalty to the person of Hitler, whom they had sworn to protect at all costs.
So I went there!  I'm not arguing that Trump is like Hitler, but that there are excellent reasons for the presidential tradition of handing over all protection to the Secret Service.  We shouldn't allow Trump to break from those traditions or from general democratic rules the president is expected to follow.

Paul Krugman Is Angry At The Loss Of Democratic Rules. Echidne Concurs.

Paul Krugman is still full of righteous anger:

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.
Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.
On the first point: Roman politics involved fierce competition among ambitious men. But for centuries that competition was constrained by some seemingly unbreakable rules. Here’s what Adrian Goldsworthy’s “In the Name of Rome” says: “However important it was for an individual to win fame and add to his and his family’s reputation, this should always be subordinated to the good of the Republic … no disappointed Roman politician sought the aid of a foreign power.”

America used to be like that, with prominent senators declaring that we must stop “partisan politics at the water’s edge.” But now we have a president-elect who openly asked Russia to help smear his opponent, and all indications are that the bulk of his party was and is just fine with that. (A new poll shows that Republican approval of Vladimir Putin has surged even though — or, more likely, precisely because — it has become clear that Russian intervention played an important role in the U.S. election.) Winning domestic political struggles is all that matters, the good of the republic be damned.

Bolds are mine.

Think of a different example:  Baseball or soccer or football or basketball teams which are full of the competitive spirit, but however assertive or aggressive the players get, they still accept the decisions of the umpires or referees, they still follow the rules of the game.

Now think of the same game, but change only one thing:  Take baseball.  Suppose that a team threatens to kill an umpire's family if he makes a decision they don't like.  What are the consequences of that?

The team will get punished, you say.  But what if the team is somehow in power?  What if the team can decide to ignore common courtesy, established traditions and the rules of the game?  What then?

Would an umpire stick his neck out under those circumstances, or his children's necks?

The collapse of democratic institutions and rules, as is happening in North Carolina, is a serious political crisis.  It's as if one baseball team has decided to simply ignore all rules about strikes and balls, and it's as if that baseball team chooses victory over those rules in every single game.  The fans simply cheer, not caring about the rules, because victory is all, being able to thumb one's nose at the opposing team is all.

 I've been told by Trump aficionados that the Democrats are simply bad losers, that the elections are over and they won.  But what if they won because they disregarded the rules of the game, and those rules, my friends, are the rules of democracy?

I am very troubled by the idea of "president Trump" because I don't think he has the skills, personality or knowledge to govern this country.  But in a deeper way I am more troubled with the widespread disrespect of those rules which democracies and republics are based on.  Once it's acceptable to kill the umpire, anything will be legal in baseball.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Private Echidne Stuff: On Baking, Computers And Snow

1.  I made two pear frangipane tarts as a private challenge against the doom-and-gloom of the times, because:

--  there is nothing less necessary than a pear frangipane tart and that is exactly what we need if we are going to soldier on,

--  I have never made them before (love new things!), and the not knowing and uncertainty are good teachers in this time (they turned out well)

 --  they test sinfully luxuriant and perfect, tiny mouth orgasms, and that is what is denied from us, the Internal Enemies of the Reich (those who don't support Trump)

Each is intended to feed fifteen people.  I have almost finished one in less than two days, and with each mouthful I think of all those who would not want me to be happy, whose own joy is based on my humiliation and despair.  And then I want to share my tarts with them, to make them sunny and kind, too.

2.  A perfect storm of the usual kind of computer crap hit me.  I spent almost seven hours yesterday trying to fix the problems on my own, then another two hours with a "technician" who tried the solutions I had already found and managed to fix nothing but add two more problems before abruptly breaking off the connection.

Finally, at one in the morning, I got hold of a technician who was a goddess.  She was competent, smart and simply fixed all my problems slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am (and yes, I know that is about something else, but brevity can be what lifts one's heart up when it comes to computers).  Sadly, I bet she is paid chicken feed.

I was struck again by the way all the big computing sites hide from us, their customers.  Just try to find an actual address to write to about your bill, just try to find an actual answer to your problem without sacrificing the next ten years to the search.

Many sites instruct you to go to their discussion forum, an imaginary almost-empty room, with banana peels and empty beer bottles and dirt on the floor, chairs overturned, a few geeks deep in their computers, and nobody from the firm present.  The questions at those forums (fori?) are about whether dogs really have four legs, whether computers need to be turned on and so on.

The free sites, such as Blogger, are obviously the worst, because we users are not the customers of the site.  Nope, we are the content!  And the content cannot have a voice.  But even the paying sites try their utmost to not speak to any of their customers.  It's hilarious, given that old saw about customers always being right.

The concept of ownership has changed with Internet.  You can buy a service or a product and think that you own what you paid for, but in fact you do not, and "improvements" can be entered every few days to your email system or to your blogging system or to anything else, and you have no say in those changes, but must simply learn a totally different dashboard all over again.

3.  Snow.  It's coming down (tuisku, a snow storm with snow coming down sideways).  Finnish has many more words for different types of snow than English, either snow coming down, snow on the ground or snow on ice or water or mud.  That's because many more words are needed about life experiences which are frequent and which matter.  In the olden days one would wax the skis differently for "nuoska" and for "hangenkanto*," and although "loska" and "sohjo" are both words for "slush," sohjo has only snow and water in it while loska may also have mud.  Your feet are more likely to get wet with sohjo than loska, so knowing which it is outside determines which boots you will don.

This is not proof for any version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, but surely more specific terms affect how we see events?

The site I link to mentions that despite this embarrassment of riches when it comes to naming snow, Finnish has no word that matches "to snow."  The equivalent is "it rains snow."


* The link doesn't get "hanki" the way I learned it.  Yes, the word can be a general word for snow, but it tends to be used for the kind of snow which has a hard top crust, possibly hard enough so that you can walk on it as if it was a ballroom floor.  Which is nice after months of wading through soft snow, though it's also associated with very cold weather.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What To Read Today: Democrats Don't Have To Fight Like Used Soggy Tissues

This is a good take on something I have written about for years.

Imagine a political debate on American television:  The number of conservative participants almost always exceeds the number of Democratic participants, the number of extreme right-wing participants vastly exceeds the number of extreme left-wing participants, and that role is given to some neo-liberal politician.

In the debate itself, fire spouts out of the conservative mouths, while the progressive or liberal participants look at their feet and mumble something inaudible.

Or imagine a political quarrel where one side uses anything to win, including fraud, corruption, threats and utter disregard for democratic principles or rules, while the other side consults a book on etiquette and then decides to have a parallel fight with its own base.

Or imagine a president (Barack Obama) who wants to be bipartisan so very hard that he is willing to let the Republicans win, because the only "bipartisanship" Republicans acknowledge is their complete victory.  And yes, that president has been accused by the very same Republicans for not reaching a hand across the aisle to a sufficient degree, even though they themselves reach hands across the aisle only to throttle someone.

And have you ever wondered why the ghastliest acts, the most disgusting comments and the sneakiest plots are perfectly fine, in the eyes of the media, but only when they come from the Republicans?  I hope that I'm correct when I spot a slight change in this, but for years all Democrats have been held to different and higher standards of behavior.  It's as if you had two children, one can kick, punch and yell at the other child who, in contrast, is expected to only whisper and never hit back.  Except that the well-behaved child has for some odd reason decided to act that way, even if it means that the other child has taken almost every toy and hidden or broken them all.

Indeed, I agree with the writers.  We need Democrats with spine, Democrats who know that politics today is not a polite tea party with cucumber sandwiches but a Republican heist of the country.

You might wonder if Democrats-with-spines would necessitate the creation of a parallel political Mafia organization.  But the assumption of only two options (be decent or be like Republican corrupt and crooked politicians) is false.  There are many other alternatives, but the ones I prefer include speaking up and  active resistance.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The "Pizzagate." Or Down The Rabbit Hole of Fake News.

1.  We have fallen through the rabbit hole, my sweet and erudite readers.  That makes Lewis Carroll a useful guide on our trip.  His poem about the walrus and the carpenter who took a nice walk on the beach and then invited lots of tiny oysters to keep them company is a useful guide to the world of the Pizzagate:

O Oysters, come and walk with us!'
      The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
      Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
      To give a hand to each.'

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
      But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
      And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
      To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
      All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
      Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
      They hadn't any feet.

You can imagine what happened later.  It involved bread, butter and oysters:

It seems a shame,' the Walrus said,
      To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
      And made them trot so quick!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
      The butter's spread too thick!'

I weep for you,' the Walrus said:
      I deeply sympathize.'
With sobs and tears he sorted out
      Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
      Before his streaming eyes.

O Oysters,' said the Carpenter,
      You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
      But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
      They'd eaten every one."

So.  In the tale I shall tell you you should see yourselves as the oysters (I hope as the old and experienced ones) and the Walrus and the Carpenter as the manufacturers of false news, of conspiracy theories and of made-up lies created and disseminated for political purposes, such as the tarring and feathering of one Hillary Clinton with the rumors that she traffics in pedophilia, even kills children.

2.  There.  And now the so-called Pizzagate:

The time has come,' the Walrus said,
      To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
      And whether pigs have wings.'
 And whether a vast pedophile ring is run from a family-style pizzeria in Washington, DC, by important Democratic politicians close to Hillary Clinton, including his campaign manager John Podesta.

Many different walruses and carpenters spread the online theory that one family-oriented pizzeria (with ping pong tables in the back room), the Comet Ping Pong, is  a center for a pedophilia ring of powerful Democratic politicians. But at least one site keeping the rumors going is a white supremacist one, and Trump's Best Friend Forever, Alex Jones, the fabricator of a vast number of conspiracy theories, has also played a decisive role in the story.

The basic facts are these:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

And in Business News

The Exxon Mobil Company has acquired the United States of America in a merger.  The acquisition will be of global value as a lobbying and marketing tool.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Russian Connection

First, suitable music (not safe for work viewing, contains depictions of sexual violence)

Second, the news about possible Russian influence in the 2016 US elections.  The Washington Post article which broke the news said this:

In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals.
And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”
The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.
According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.
McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. After the election, Trump chose McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his nominee for transportation secretary.

Emphasis is mine.   Compare the bolded sentences with what Comey, the FBI director, did only a few days before the elections.  Partisan politics is acceptable if it benefits Republicans, but unacceptable if it benefits Democrats.  That quote makes it utterly plain and clear to everyone, should some still be in doubt after decades of the same arguments.

But there is another difference between Comey's "revelation" about the Clinton emails which turned out a nothing-burger and the revelations about a foreign power meddling in the US election process.*   I leave that difference for you to ponder.

Third, the commercial interests of the Trump dynasty may influence Trump's foreign policies.  He is considering Rex Tillerson,  the head of Exxon Mobil for the Secretary of State.  Tillerson has close ties to Vladimir Putin, and, of course, extremely close ties to crony capitalism on the global level:

Tillerson, 64, was a driving force behind ExxonMobil's partnership with Russian oil giant Rosneft and drilling projects in the Arctic, Black Sea and Siberia. In 2014, Putin awarded the ExxonMobil CEO the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors Russia grants to foreign citizens.

Finally, and as an aside, note this bit in the Washington Post article:

The Trump transition team dismissed the findings in a short statement issued Friday evening. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again,’ ” the statement read.

Bolds are mine.  The bolded sentence didn't elicit any kind of clarification in that article, so it's worth noting that it is not true.


* The US has meddled in the elections of other countries, of course, but two wrongs do not make a right.  Besides, that meddling is an explicit Putin policy, aimed at destabilizing Western democracies and at weakening NATO,  part of larger campaign, much of it aimed at Western European countries.

It is also of some concern that the RNC emails might have been also hacked, though only the DNC emails were brought to sunlight.  This wouldn't mean that the RNC emails had nothing of public interest in them, or to those who might still hold them.  On the other hand, if only the DNC emails were hacked, the question is why only those.

My Pseudo-Psychological Take on Trump

Trump wants to be the silverback gorilla.  He wants to dominate, to be the top male gorilla whose butt all other male gorillas kiss and who has the whole harem of female gorillas. 

Everything else is commentary, even his narcissism, because that, too, is based on his need to dominate, to always be number one (or number zero, as it comes earlier!).

That is why he makes rude faces at China, and that is why he publicly yells at every comedy skit that makes fun of him.

And that is why he likes Putin.  Trump's idea of foreign policy is for every country to be run by their own silverback gorilla, as a dictator.  Then the dictators can nuke it out with each other.

Democracy doesn't enter those calculations, public debate doesn't enter those calculations, the US Constitution doesn't matter much.

The die-hard Trump base knows what Trump wants, and they want it, too.  They want a stern daddy gorilla to go and beat up all those other gorillas they don't like.  It is utterly immaterial what it might cost the Trump-supporters themselves in lost Social Security or Medicare or earnings.

When Trump told them that he was going to lock Hillary Clinton up, they cheered.  When he now tells them that locking her up was just a campaign joke, they cheer. 

Why the non-stop cheering?  Because Trump stays on top in both examples!  Whatever he says goes, and that is what the base loves.

If you accept my pseudo-psychological interpretation, you can also see why Trump treats minorities and women they way he does.  Minority men are not seen as members of his gorilla tribe.  They are a threat.  And women are resources over which silverback gorillas fight.  Their value is based on their fuckability.

The rabid base is mostly comfortable with that, because it's the only interpretation that makes sense to them within that dominance framework.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Andy Puzder for the Secretary of Labor: Up Is Down And Down Is Up

Andy Puzder is a masterly pick for Trump's Secretary of Labor, given that the real objective is to wreck the Department of Labor.

If you can't find an extant slave owner for the job,  picking a crony capitalist whose interests are to keep labor as cheap as possible is a fantastic move

Puzder owns fast food restaurants, well known for their excellent wages and benefits and career prospects.  He is opposed to any substantial increases in the minimum wage (it would hurt his wallet).  He also cares so much about his workers that he has opposed rules which would make more workers eligible for overtime pay.  You see, if workers are paid more, then Puzder will hire fewer of them.  In 2012, Puzder's own salary and other compensation amounted to $4.485 million.  But did he demand overtime pay?  You bet your ass he did not.

Puzder, the newest member of the demolition derby administration, is also going to be the guardian of women's rights in the labor market!  I can't stop laughing.

Here's how much he loves us women:

Consider the infamous Carl’s Jr. ads. You may remember them—the spots featured scantily-clad celebrities like Kate Upton and Paris Hilton eating the company’s burgers in graphic closeup. The ads, which have been repeatedly compared to porn, inspired boycotts and criticism.
Puzder’s response? “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers,” said the CEO in a 2011 press release. “We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys.”
So.  Puzder wants to use ads to teach young boys the proper objectification of women.

But then Donald J. Trump broke that thin veneer of pretense we had going for a few decades, the idea that out-and-out sexists just might suffer some negative consequences.  Now pretty much anything goes in the grab-your-burger-and-pussy administration.

Also, there is this:  Puzder joins the growing group of men in the Trump administration who have been accused of assaulting women.  Perhaps the accusations are baseless?  Who knows for sure, but I'm still agog at the lack of screening the Trump transitioning team demonstrates.

On the other hand, Trump himself sets an example of how women are going to be properly judged in the new Trump Reich:  Hotness matters and that's it.  A bit like curries on a menu.

Oh, and one more question:  How is this administration shaping up to help those angry white working class voters in the Rust Belt who voted for Change?  I guess change they are getting.

Morning in Trump's America: Victory Laps, Protest Bans and A Reading List

Welcome to the Trump reality.  Our Dear Leader-Elect is running victory laps!  That is an unprecedented development in the land of the brave and the free (sic), but it is the truth, nevertheless.  Trump loved the adulation of his campaign rallies so much that he's just going to continue them.

And because he loves adulation and detests criticism, this is happening:

Plans for several large protests in Washington, D.C. the weeks before, during, and after the inauguration will have to be canceled or moved out of historically important parts of the city. The Presidential Inauguration Committee which Donald Trump now controls, has effectively arranged to ban protests and large gatherings in key and historically important demonstration areas in the nation's capital.
In a reportedly unprecedented move, the Presidential Inauguration Committee, via the National Park Service, last year, before Trump was the nominee, filed for and received permits shutting down areas like the National Mall, which is the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech and the culmination of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Also closed off will be surrounding areas of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial.

All that applies to the Women's March, planned for the day after inauguration.
Dictators do not care for demonstrations, and I'm beginning to fear that Trump aspires to dictatorship.

Should that turn out to be the case*, here are some useful things to read:

Why scientists worry about Trump

We are back to the world where making trains run on time is all that matters

Masha Gessen's advice:  How to fight a dictatorship

A 20-point guide to defending democracy

Deep thoughts about the meaning of this election

In which everything mattered

* I am not saying that it will be the case.  But it's extremely important to resist every move aimed at destroying democracy, even if the future turns out to be just the more familiar crony corrupt capitalism administration where friends of Trump loot the government coffers and the one percent gets "tax relief" which is taken away from the frail elderly.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Right-Wing Formula For Motherhood in The Trump Era

This juxtaposition of two news items about women in the US is worth highlighting:  First, Ohio passes a very strict abortion bill:

Donald Trump's election, and a presumption that he'll appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, spurred Ohio Republicans to pass what would effectively be the nation's strictest time-based abortion law, a legislator said.
Ohio lawmakers on Tuesday passed a controversial "Heartbeat Bill" that would ban abortions in that state from the moment the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected -- which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy.
How many women know that they are pregnant at that six weeks point?

Never mind.  Ohio is just following the usual forced-birth playbook of the Republicans.

But what makes the story interesting is the reference to Donald J. Trump, our Dear Leader-Elect,  and the fact that  Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, told us the proper place of mothers:  It's not in the White House:

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that mothers should not accept high-powered career opportunities—a standard that does not apply to fathers, in Conway’s opinion.
Put those two Trump-initiated snippets together, and what do you get?

The extreme right-wing plan for women:  Women's fertility is for the society (and its ultra-fanatic religious people) to control, not for women themselves,  but once children are born any difficulties that might cause are none of the business of the extreme right-wing.  They wash their hands!  No, more than that:  They tell us that the mothers of small children should not try to get powerful paid jobs.

Or any type of jobs, really, because the conservatives also oppose subsidized childcare, parental leaves and any other arrangement which would help parents of small children to both work for money and to parent.

Mothers are expected to care for children and absorb all the costs of doing so, including lower lifetime earnings, lower retirement benefits and a smaller likelihood of getting promotions or, indeed, that entry into those high-powered career opportunities Ms. Conway believes should go to fathers.

But the right-wing plan is even direr for the poorer mothers who work in low-paying jobs without proper access to daycare, without paid parental leave and possibly surrounded by people who share Ms. Conway's views about the proper place for mothers: Doing grunt work for pocket money or out of the labor force altogether.

I'm not sure if this post makes the point I want to make:  The right-wing in this country wants to socialize decisions about conception, about pregnancy and even about giving birth, but once a child is born, everything should be privatized:  Almost all responsibility is saddled on the shoulders of the mothers, while the wider conservative society, in general, refuses to budge one inch from its traditional gendered expectations about the role of mothers.*

* It's worth noting that the white supremacists, some of whom are firm Trump supporters, also wish to see white women's roles roughly limited to childbearing and child-rearing, while someone else decides how many children they are to produce for the Vaterland.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

And The the Demolition Derby Administration Approaches Maturity

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be managed by a climate change denier,  Scott Pruitt:

Pruitt has been a vocal critic of what he called the EPA's " activist agenda" and has said he does not believe climate changed is caused by man-made carbon emissions, saying the debate over climate change is "far from settled."


Pruitt, among the nation’s most vehement critics of the EPA and Obama administration climate and environmental policies, has forcefully opposed federal mandates for power plant pollution controls and cutting carbon emissions to curb Americans’ impact on the climate.

Fasten your seat-belts and don your gas masks.  The ride ahead will be bumpy.  And possibly short...

I always find the use of "belief" in these contexts fascinating, just as I find the idea that the debate might be "far from settled."  I guess you could argue that there are still people who believe that earth is a flat pancake with maple syrup on it, so in that sense no debate is ever entirely settled.

Anyway, the point is that Pruitt will destroy the EPA.  That's his task in the demolition derby administration, where all the departments the conservatives don't like are assigned to those who wish to wreck them.

I'm sure that those who voted for Trump because of economic frustration will love Pruitt.  He's going to get rid of all those pesky environmental regulations which hamper business (but might also keep us breathing).  What's annoying is that the death of this earth won't affect only those of us who voted for Trump.

Here's another fun aspect of the demolition derby administration:  Remember how Trump ranted against the Washington elites?  Remember how he promised to drain the swamp?

Good times those were, good times.  But now the people Trump has actually picked are mostly from the elites and denizens of that swamp they are supposed to drain.  Almost all of his picks are extremely wealthy.  Now, before language became perverted that meant they belonged to the elite.  And it still refers to those who are going to be out of touch with the white working class people of the Rust Belt.

Gender and the 2016 Elections. Part II: Did Sexism Affect The Results?

1.  Why did Donald J. Trump win the Electoral College in the 2016 presidential elections?  Fierce battles have been waged, ferocious wars have been launched, all over the "real" reason why Trump triumphed (heh).

Was it white supremacy that motivated his base?  Was it pure racism?  Fear of the Mexicans invading?  Was it the economic despair among those white working class members who dwell without hope but with great bitterness in the Rust Belt ghost towns?

Or was it desire for change with a capital C, from the Tea Party Republican fringe to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party?  A fairer income redistribution?  An end to the dwindling of the American middle class?

Why the need to choose just one reason, I wonder.  The Trump voters (all voters, really) might well have over sixty million different stories, each with its own package of complicated, often poorly reasoned and poorly understood explanations.

Some may have voted their economic anxiety, some their racial resentment or xenophobia,  some may have voted for tax cuts, some for the end of all "baby-killing" and so on.  This isn't anything new.  As I have shown in my previous post, many Republican voters just decided to come back home to Daddy, even though Daddy this year is a pussy-grabbing racist narcissistic member of the international financial elite who cannot leave the slightest insult unanswered.

The intellectual games  to tease out the "main" reason for Trump-love are fun, but they are ultimately not very productive, because the real reasons why we vote for a certain candidate are all braided together.  They can even influence each other, and some of them are most likely subconscious and thus invisible, even to the voter herself or himself.

Take the economic resentment explanation:   How voters view the overall economic situation depends on the administration in power and other political events.  Here's an example, a few days after the elections:

After Trump won last week's election, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now have a much more optimistic view of the U.S. economy's outlook than they did before the election. Just 16% of Republicans said the economy was getting better in the week before the election, while 81% said it was getting worse. Since the election, 49% say it is getting better and 44% worse.
Conversely, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents' confidence in the economy plummeted after the election. Before the election, 61% of Democrats said the economy was getting better and 35% worse. Now, Democrats are evenly divided, with 46% saying it is getting better and 47% saying it is getting worse.

My point is not that economic woes wouldn't have mattered in the 2016 elections, but that the voters' feelings about the state of the economy can be colored by those same voters' general feelings about the administration in power.  For some, even the race and/or gender of the sitting president affects that economic evaluation. (1)

This intertwined aspect of one's reasons for voting in a certain way complicates the answers to the question I posed in the title of this post:  Did sexism affect the results?

It is further complicated by the fact that very few voters are going to answer political surveys by saying that their vote for Trump was motivated by their hatred of all those bitches and sluts and manipulative whores and the desire to keep them from power, even if that is the true reason.  Rather, they will give some other, more acceptable reasons for their vote, and the same applies to those who vote their racism or anti-Semitism or other types of bigotry.

2.  Given all that, what was the role of sexism in the 2016 presidential election?

Surely it had some role to play, because despite the way Hillary Clinton was seen as the insider, as the elitist,  as the pursuer of the same-old-same-old Obama policies or neoliberal policies, as the most powerful political agent of the last thirty years, the fact remains that she has girl cooties.

And our inherited traditions warn us about those cooties.  The Bible tells us that the man is the head of the household and that women should be silent in the congregation.  The Quran tells us that men are placed above women in the divine hierarchy,  Confucianism expects obedience from women, and even Buddha taught that wives should be obedient to their husbands.  And Aristotle viewed men as more expert in leading than women.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Gender And the 2016 Elections. Part I: How Did Women And Men Say They Voted?

This is the first of three posts, a mini-series on sex differences in voting behavior, on the possible impact of sexism or misogyny as one of the motivating forces for some/many voters and, finally, my own views on how Hillary Clinton's run was framed in much of the media.

I'm beginning with the CNN exit poll data.*

Here is the table which shows how men and women in various ethnic and racial groups said they voted in the 2016 presidential elections:

And here is the corresponding exit polls table from the 2012 elections:

What would first strike you about those two tables?  Do you notice how similar the two sets of exit poll results are?  How it is the whites who constitute the vast majority of the Republican Party?  How it is the blacks who overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party?

How in every racial and ethnic category men are more likely to vote for the Republican candidate than women?**

And, of course, how close the various numbers are to each other.

There are differences, too.  Hillary Clinton got a lower percentage of votes than Barack Obama in every single sex-race-ethnicity category except that for white women, and third party candidates got more votes in 2016 than in 2012.

All that is a useful reminder, something to keep in mind while the media chews and chews and will not swallow the topic of angry white working class people in the swing states***:  The overall picture suggests that Americans voted fairly closely the same way in 2016 and in 2012, though Barack Obama was better liked than Hillary Clinton.

And that is the shock, of course, because whatever nasty things one might say about Mitt Romney, he is not a carnival barker like Donald J. Trump, who has already broken many of his campaign promises.  Neither was Mitt Romney famous for pussy-grabbing or for calling Mexicans rapists or for wanting to erect a wall against the Mexican border. ****

For what it is worth, here is the table on how much grabbing women by their pussies bothered voters in 2016:

I don't want to exaggerate the similarity of the 2012 and 2016 exit poll results.  As I already noted, Clinton was less popular than Obama, and third party candidates played a larger role in 2016.  The tables on voting by gender and marital status also show differences.

Here's the 2016 table:

And here's the 2012 table:

Note the very large drop among unmarried men from the Democratic column and also the fairly large increase in the number of married women in that same column.  The overall effect in 2016 exit polls is to leave the married men as the only group which shows a strong preference for Trump.

What caused these changes, assuming that the exit poll figures are a good measure of actual votes?

Your guesses are as good as mine, though it's interesting that the unmarried men's loss in the Democratic column didn't benefit only Trump but also third-party candidates.


*  All the 2016 tables in this post are from this source, all the 2012 tables from this source.

Exit poll data should be treated with some caution, because it might not create a representative sample of all votes cast, for various reasons.  Note, also, that these polls are for the whole country, not just for the swing states.

** The same pattern can be found in this table which looks at party-membership and gender in voting (2016):

*** I get the focus on the swing states, but they are the swing states because of the overall patterns of voting in the country, so those overall patterns matter, too.

****  My impression is that those Trump utterances didn't matter very much, but I may be mistaken.  For example, that Latinos and Latinas in the two sets of exit polls stated that they voted for Trump roughly at the same percentages as they voted for Romney might not mean that they weren't bothered by Trump's nasty comments about Mexicans.  The alternative explanation is that they were troubled by that hostility, but that their demographic groups are becoming more conservative over time and thus more likely to vote for the Republican candidate.  From that angle Trump may have lost some of their votes.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

What Trump Is Giving To His Angry Working-Class Voters This Christmas

Several beautifully wrapped up huge packages, some of which I peeked at in an earlier post.  But Trump is the gift that keeps on giving.

Here is Steven Mnuchin (hold your nose and sneeze to get that said), a Wall Street insider, who is Trump's pick for the Treasury Secretary:

Mnuchin is a Wall Street veteran who spent nearly 20 years at Goldman Sachs before starting his own hedge fund, Dune Capital. He leapt into the banking industry when he led a group of investors in the purchase of lender, IndyMac, during the financial crisis. That bank was eventually bought by CIT.
His financial industry experience has heartened Wall Street insiders, but left some Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups crying foul. Mnuchin "made himself enormously wealthy by cashing in on the country's financial collapse," Take on Wall Street, a progressive group calling for Wall Street reform, said in a statement.
Mnuchin is planning to relax those awful regulations which keep the financial industry from happily gambling the world into another Great Recession!

You know gallows humor?  Well, that's what makes me giggle right now, because Trump repeatedly preached about crooked Hillary and her Wall Street connections in his rallies, and then there is this, from the, posted before the elections, I presume:

Hillary Clinton talks a big game on lending a helping hand to regular Americans, but her revenue stream suggests that she’s actually holding her hands out to big banks on Wall Street. Over the years, the Democratic nominee has accepted $3 million in paid speeches and $17 million in campaign contributions. Collectively, it is estimated that the Clintons have pulled in around $69 million in political contributions from Wall Street.
But the Clinton corruption didn’t stop at wads of Wall Street cash and big bank-friendly policy. Individuals from Wall Street and Big Tech were also rewarded with positions in Bill Clinton’s White House. The Clinton cartel has been auctioning influence in Washington for decades, and the starting bid has only increased over the years.

Bolds are mine.


PS This Fortune article points out that Mnuchin will be the 77th white man to run the Treasury.  Here is the list of the previous guys.  Fun stuff.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Demolition Derby Administration Keeps Shaping Up: Tom Price To Wreck Health Care.

Tom Price has been selected to get rid of Obamacare.  Getting rid of Obamacare will be a great victory for this angry Trump-voter:

“I went from the guy who smoked $50 cigars in his hot tub, to the guy who was doing everything he could just to stay afloat,” Chris said. Taxes alone on his new home were $20,000 a year. The lien against it was more than $1 million. He sold everything he could – his Lionel train collection, his vintage guitar collection, his restored cars.
His lawyers said he should declare bankruptcy, but he felt it was “like wearing a scarlet letter” and refused. Trying to save the house became his first priority, so he let other things lapse, and when his family health insurance reached $3,900 a month in 2012, from the $900 it had been three years earlier, “I had to do something I swore I would never do,” he says, and he dropped his coverage.
He put his children on New York state’s low-income program, a “handout” that “I used as a safety net — some people don’t, but I actually did.” He and his wife, in turn, refused to apply for Medicaid and just “sucked it up. And if we had to see a doctor, we paid cash.” And when he didn’t have the cash? Ultrasound to break up his kidney stones would have cost $8,000, he said, “so I pissed blood for weeks instead.”
Same when he broke his arm and ankle in a motorcycle accident. “I splinted and wrapped it and had a friend who is a vet X-ray it,” he said. “I took it easy, and it healed. I got through it with no government help.”
Eventually, he did become insured again — under an Obamacare policy.

Emphasis is mine.  But the whole story is an interesting one, from the rage at losing the gilded paradise to the rage at having to depend on "government handouts."   And do read the whole thing for his use of the term "cunt" in social media.

Well, now those who voted for Trump for other reasons can relax, because Obamacare indeed will be repealed and millions of Americans, once again, can try to figure out ways to save enough for their health care expenses.  A week in intensive care?  Set aside several hundred thousands, in case you might ever need that care, because the Trump alternative focuses on just that:  the old-time Health Savings Accounts.

Tom Price is a gift that keeps on giving, not only for the working poor of all races and ethnic groups, but also for women in general.  He is strictly opposed to abortion, he fought against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act and he opposed the mandatory coverage of birth control in the ACA for religious reasons.  He is also opposed to same-sex marriage.

A Good Ole Boy, in short.  And just the kind of man we might expect if Trump was all lies about how he is an outsider who will drain the Washington swamp.

Watching this administration develop would be great fun (the popcorn and beer kind of fun) if we were sitting in comfortable chairs on some other planet, far far away.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Chess Genius Or A Two-Year-Old Prone To Temper Tantrums?

Which best describes our Dear Leader-Elect?  You decide!  And you don't have to base that decision on any facts or observations, because our new era is one of emotions!

I know that sounds surprising, given that it's women who are prone to hysteria (as is widely known in the manosphere and white supremacist websites*).  Luckily we narrowly missed that frightening bullet of being ruled by the petticoats!  But nevertheless, this is the era of Emotions As Information.

This makes writing political satire an immensely tricky exercise.  While reading obituaries (sad to hear about the passing of Ron Glass), I noted an odd new feeling in me, one that I have never associated with obituaries, and that was envy.  At least those who have moved on cannot be harmed by the coming Trump Reich.


Onwards and upwards.  The Green Party recount efforts made Trump answer, in his typical two-year-old-who-wasn't-allowed-to-eat-his-toys manner, that Hillary Clinton's massive lead in popular votes was caused by millions of people voting illegally.

That there is no evidence of that doesn't matter at all.   Our Dear Leader-Elect has spoken.

Oh, but there IS evidence, you might mutter, if you live in that alternative reality where we lefties are all sock-puppets of George Soros (George, where is my check?), because the Pew Center published a study about errors in the voter registration lists.  You need to read that study to find out that it is not about illegal voting but about the state of the voter registration lists which often include deceased people or wrong addresses for people who have moved and so on.

But that study is the one the conservatives cite to support Trump's tweet (we have a president-elect who tweets everything that comes into his head so enemies can read it!) about all those illegal votes:

So was that tweet the masterly move of a chess champion who can predict the million moves his opponent might make in the future as a response to any one of his moves? Some Republicans believe so:

But the RNC member ― who like most in the RNC was not originally a fan of the New York City businessman ― said he has come to see that Trump is a master of reading the national landscape and manipulating it to his own ends.
“It’s clear to me, at this moment, that he understands the public, the media, and the left better than I ever imagined,” he said, adding that “the left’s” push for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were designed to weaken Trump. “He is concerned that weeks will drag on with discussions about the legitimacy of his presidency. ... So once again he changes the discussion.”

Or was it just the reflexive response by someone who cannot stand the idea of losing in anything at all, someone who will lash out at every perceived insult?

I guess he could be both a chess genius and a two-year-old lying on the floor, screaming with a red face and kicking his heels against the carpet, if we define the former as someone who knows his reality show audience, someone who understands that now you can go as low as you wish and those who criticize the pussy-grabber-in-chief are just sore losers.

Somehow I prefer sore losers to a sore winner who is anything but presidential.


For instance:

Spencer readily admits that women make up a small portion of the alt-right, but he has also said that most women secretly crave alt-right boyfriends because they want "alpha genes" and "alpha sperm." He also believes women are unsuited to some roles in government: "Women should never be allowed to make foreign policy," he tweeted during the first presidential debate. "It's not that they're 'weak.' To the contrary, their vindictiveness knows no bounds."

Vindictive bitches!  Compare that to how calmly Donald Trump takes insults.


Gamergate and the broader anti-feminist crusade known as the men's rights movement have percolated throughout the alt-right. Yiannopoulos often denounces feminists and Black Lives Matter in the same breath. Cernovich, who made a name for himself as a Gamergate instigator, is a staunch defender of white-male identity politics: Political correctness prevents discussion of obvious truths, in his view, whether it's the innate "neuroticism" of women or the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Some Friday Fun

Amazon sells a Make America Great Again (MAGA) Christmas ornament.  The comments reviewers have left on the site are a fun read.  So are the questions and answers section.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Most Worrisome Headline in the 2016 US Politics

Is this:

Clinton's popular vote lead surpasses 2 million

Trump's administration will be a minority government, with no mandate.  Yet his picks show an extremist taint, a desire to pull the country even further to the wobbly right edge of political thinking.  That's fascinating.  And worrisome.




The Demolition Derby Administration

It's fun, on this Thanksgiving Day, to think about the kind of administration Donald Trump plans to give us as a present for at least the next four years.

A few examples:

1.  The administration's Chief Strategist is the Breitbart News Chief Executive Stephen Bannon, who once called the Breitbart site "the platform of the Alt Right":

We're the platform for the alt-right," Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July. Though disavowed by every other major conservative news outlet, the alt-right has been Bannon's target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. Under Bannon's leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an "eclectic mix of renegades," accusing President Barack Obama of importing "more hating Muslims," and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of "political correctness."
 The Alt Right is polite-speak for racists, misogynists and white supremacists.
Their representative is now the chief strategist of this country.  And sure, perhaps Bannon doesn't really believe in white supremacy, but he certainly exploited its dog whistles in designing Trump's presidential campaign.

2.  The man Trump picked to oversee the transition at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Myron Ebell.  He doesn't believe that climate change is real.  He has no qualifications relevant for that job, and:

In an interview with Business Insider in August, Ebell repeatedly referred to climate scientists as "global warming alarmists" and suggested that climate research is in fact an arm of a coordinated political movement.
"I think that the global warming movement has three parts," he said. "One is to exaggerate the rate of warming, one is to exaggerate the potential impacts of warming and how soon they may occur, and the third is to underestimate wildly the costs of reducing our emissions by the magical amount that they have picked."

3.  Trump's choice for the head of the Department of Education is a billionaire who wants to gut public education:

Betsy DeVos is hardly a household name, but the Michigan billionaire and conservative activist has quietly helped change the education landscape in many states, spending millions of dollars in a successful push to expand voucher programs that give families taxpayer dollars to pay for private and religious schools.

What fun we will have if DeVos succeeds in that and taxpayer-funded madrasas sprout up all over the United States!  I very much doubt deVos thinks of any other religion than Christianity when she promotes religious education.

Anyway, public education is at risk.  There are good theoretical reasons why markets don't do very well in education, and there are extremely important reasons for worrying about the rise of sectarian religious education.

4.  Trump's Attorney General will be Jeff Sessions.  He is going to lead the agency in charge of protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans:

This is not the first time Sessions has earned a presidential nomination as an administrator of justice. In 1986, President Reagan tapped him to serve as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, but at the time the Senate found him too racist for the post, and he became the second nominee in 50 years to be denied an appointment.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions was pressed on accusations that he had called a black prosecutor “boy” and a white civil rights attorney “a disgrace to his race.” He was called out on his comment that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was OK until I found out they smoked pot” and that the NAACP and ACLU were “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.”

Sessions has also been opposed to

the Violence Against Women Act, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the expansion of anti-hate legislation to include sexual orientation.
He fought the removal of the Confederate flag from public buildings, immigration reform, and criminal justice reform.

The White Supremacists love Sessions as the Attorney General!  They love him.

The rumor mill has also listed the fracking mogul Harold Hamm as one of the forerunners for the Secretary of Energy, which would be terrible news for alternative energy.  Though Hamm is not the only possible pick, all the picks look like energy insiders to me.  You know, the side which wants oil to remain the only feasible alternative.

And so it goes.  The basic principle Trump uses is demolition derby for the departments he hates*, which would be those departments not catering for the interests of the one percenters or the religionists.  The departments he loves get something different, of course, and that would be those departments which are needed to protect the one percenters:  the department of War (or whatever euphemism you wish to give it) and those arms of the law which must embrace nothing but the property rights of the one percent.


* Or picking a wolf to mind the sheep, if you wish.  All Americans are invited to the feasts of the Trump administration, but some of us will be the main course, the appetizer or the dessert, while others should dress appropriately (white hoods?) to sit down and enjoy the meal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Today's Our Dear Leader-Elect News

1.  Greetings from the Alternative Reality (Alt Right) where white supremacist-misogynists regard Trump's victory as theirs.  The Washington Post tells us about the thoughts of one Richard Spencer, a wannabe Nazi, who gave a speech to his white supremacist followers:

For years, Spencer and his followers worked in obscure corners of the Internet to promote pride in white identity and the creation of an “ethno-state” that would banish minorities. Then came the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, whose attacks on undocumented immigrants, Muslims and political correctness deeply resonated with them. They crusaded for him on Twitter and celebrated his improbable victory as a seminal moment for their cause.

They exulted again when Trump announced that his chief White House strategist would be former Breitbart News chairman Stephen K. Bannon, who once called his site “the platform for the alt-right.”

You can imagine what Spencer's utopia would look like, because you may have read about one attempt at it in your history books:  The forced removal of all other races from the White Homeland, the means of that removal not spelled out clearly.  But Spencer is also very clear on what the role of white women would be in that utopia:

Spencer, of course, would expel Muslims from his ethno-state. And most women, he said as he was being driven from the hotel to his next appointment, would return to their traditional role of bearing children.
As I've written before, the White Bigots' dreams are very similar to the dreams of ISIS, with the proper adjustments to who it is who is allowed to exist in their dystopias.  Women, always, are to be viewed as breeding stock.

I haven't heard our Dear Leader-Elect say much anything about these wonderful people and their proposals about the rest of us.  Until he disowns them I'm assuming that he agrees with their platform.

2.  Our Dear Leader-Elect has now met some representatives of the media.  In that he has shown a mature and statesman-like attitude:

Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The Post.
“It was like a f−−−ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.
“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said, ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.
“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing-down,” the source added.
A second source confirmed the fireworks.
“The meeting took place in a big boardroom and there were about 30 or 40 people, including the big news anchors from all the networks,” the other source said.
“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room, calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the source said.

So.  The freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democracy, right?  If the US media can be bullied into reporting only adulatory snippets about our Dear Leader-Elect, we are going to be in deep s**t. 

But at least Mr. Trump is following in the footsteps of another Great Leader, Idi Amin:

3.  Our Dear Leader-Elect wants Britain to appoint the British version of a white supremacist leader as Britain's ambassador to Washington, DC.  That would be Nigel Farage who also believes that working mothers are worth less than working men because they have children, the same Nigel Farage who interpreted Trump's pussy-grabbing stories as something all guys do and also as alpha-male boasting.

But those are extremely minor aspects of Mr. Farage's platform.

As to this whole little debacle:

It is unprecedented for an incoming US president to ask a world leader to appoint an opposing party leader as ambassador, and the statement puts May in a difficult position.


Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to Washington, said he was baffled by the tweet. “UK ambassador in DC exists to defend UK interests in US, not US interests in UK,” he tweeted. “Can’t have foreign presidents deciding who our [ambassador] should be.”

Political rules and customs as well as laws are for Little People, not for our Dear Leader.

The new Alternative Reality is shaping up quite nicely.