Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'rant'

The Message He Sends

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Feb 20, 2017 @ 4:00 pm PDT

I’ve been sitting around this afternoon wondering what I might post. I didn’t have enough random news chum, and I wrote up the show from yesterday. Then I saw a headline and a rant welled up that touches on a number of things from this weekend. The headline?

Vandals target historic Jewish cemetery in University City

University City, MO, is a suburb of St. Louis. It is actually where my mother grew up; we have relatives buried in a different Jewish cemetery in the city. This is on a day when we’ve yet another round of threatened (at least, we hope they are only threats) bombings of Jewish Community Centers around the country.

Presidents are supposed to lead; to represent American values. One value is the right to practice your religion. This, after all, is why homophobic Christian bakers insist they can’t bake a cake for a homosexual, right? Trump wants to defend that right. This, after all, is why Christian-owned Hobby Lobby wants to deny insurance coverage for contraceptives, even for workers whose religion permits them to use contraception? Trump wants to defend that right.

So where is Trump on this issue? Where is he insisting that antisemitism is un-American?

Anyone?

He gets questions at a press conference asking for a statement on increased antisemitism in America, and he responds that he has Jews in his family — how can he be antisemitic? Remember the days of “But I have a black friend?”

Further, he wants to ban people from entering this country — excuse me, be suspicious of them — just because of their religion, Muslim. But he wants to permit extra Christians to come in from those countries. His Secretary of Education wants Federal Tax Dollars — my Federal Tax Dollars — to flow to Christian religious schools and out of the public school system.

We all know you set an example and send messages by what you say. President Trump has demonstrated that aptly, by trusting opinion pieces on Fox News over fact from government agencies, by claiming that science is an opinion, and that independent journalism is un-American. We know these messages are bullshit, but they have been said over and over and over and have become a conspiracy theory. We all know that Conspiracy Theories can’t be disproved, and a large segment of the country now believes the conspiracy and will not be convinced otherwise. (And why should they: we’ve lost the ability to teach critical thinking)

But you also set an example by what you don’t say, and what you do without saying it? President Trump, by not condemning attacks on individuals and institutions based on religion, is condoning it. President Trump, by instituting a Muslim ban — excuse me, extreme Muslim vetting — is condoning religious discrimination. He is letting fear rule the country, just as fear kept Jews from safety during World War II, just as fear put Japanese in internment camps at the same time. By not saying anything, he is demonstrating the worst of America.

Further, those in rural areas are eating it up. Remember, much of rural America is heavily Christian. They may never have met a Jew or Muslim in person, and their only knowledge is from TV shows, movies, and the news. Jews tend to live in larger cities, because of the nature of Jewish worship and practice. Muslims are often the same — in areas with sufficient population to support a mosque. How likely is that in a city under 25,000. So these people believe what they are told: if TV says they are bad, then they must be bad. Ask yourself: how does our media portray minority religions? Now think about what we must do to battle that impression, and why it is even more important for our President to stand up and be Presidential, to say: This is not America. America respects all religions: all religions are welcome here, and no religion, including “no religion”, is favored by the Government.

Mr. Trump: Again, you are failing to lead. If you can’t do the job, resign and let someone who can do it.

[ETA: Finally, on 2/21, he condemned the threats against the JCCs and antisemitism.]

P.S.: Presidents are also supposed to work to support all states and all the people in the country, even those that may oppose him. That’s part of the job; no President is universally loved (not even Reagan). So what has Mr. Trump done to California? He cut the allocated funding for Caltrain to electrify. This makes it more expensive to run the trains, increases operating costs, retains older equipment decreasing ridership, and keeps us tied to polluting fuel. All because he doesn’t like a state. Watch out, other urban areas. You might be next (while he lines his personal pockets every time he goes down to Mar-a-Lago).

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Trump and Apocalyptic Visions

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Feb 09, 2017 @ 11:19 am PDT

userpic=trumpWhen the state of Israel was formed, many Orthodox Jews were anti-Zionist. The reason was simple, in their logic: “the Torah forbids us to end the exile and establish a state and army until the Holy One, blessed He, in His Glory and Essence will redeem us. This is forbidden even if the state is conducted according to the law of the Torah because arising from the exile itself is forbidden, and we are required to remain under the rule of the nations of the world”. In other words: It was G-d’s responsibility to establish the state, not the actions of men.

I mention this because of an interesting article that came across my RSS feeds today exploring the Islamic view of Donald Trump, and how the Koran foretold his arrival. The d’var koran, if I can use a mixed term, describes how the Muslim scripture foretold someone who seems to fit the description of Trump, and notes:

“The individual described in the Quran did not meet a good end. The result of his cheap, mean-spirited ways was that God destroyed his garden overnight, and when he and his workers came to it in the morning they lamented: “nay we have been deprived of everything.” The only silver lining the Quran offers is that they, after witnessing the result of their evils, realized the error of their ways, reproached one another, turned to God and repented of their past injustices.”

Now, I’m not an Islamic scholar. I do not know if this is a conventional interpretation, or a fundamentalist interpretation. All I note is that it is an interesting interpretation, and one that might be used as an excuse for many things, from an Islamic ban to…

But apocalyptic interpretations of scripture are not limited to Muslims. Many devout Christians appear to support Mr. Trump precisely for the chaos he is bringing. You see, they view him as the anti-Christ:

Trump does fit several of the criteria attached to popular perceptions of the Antichrist. Many earnest sources of apocalyptic speculation, including the best-selling Left Behind series by the late Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, imagine the Antichrist as a truly modern figure. Although the wildly popular 17-book series, which was published between 1995 and 2007 and has sold over 65 million copies, is fictional, the vision embraced by LaHaye and Jenkins portrays the coming apocalypse as an event where non-believers are forced to reckon with the damage wrought by the Antichrist. Here, the Antichrist is a worldly, charismatic man, often of Eastern European and Jewish heritage, who embraces modern technology and institutions for his own sinister ends. This interpretation, which is common among a large subset of American Evangelicals, believes the Antichrist’s reign — a period known as the “tribulation” — will follow the rapture of true followers of Christ.

It’s easy to extrapolate this to Trump. He’s vainglorious, charismatic (at least in the eyes of some Americans), and obsessed with wealth. Kushner Companies, a real estate company jointly owned by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is headquartered at 666 5th Ave. Trump, while not Eastern European himself, has a proclivity for Eastern European women and promises better relations with Russia, a country that figures prominently in 20th and 21st century apocalyptic tales. And while Trump says that his favorite book is the Bible, he did once note that he’s “not sure” as to whether he’s asked God for forgiveness of his sins.

In particular, Steve Bannon, Trump’s closest advisor, has such apocalyptic visions:

In Bannon’s view, we are in the midst of an existential war, and everything is a part of that conflict. Treaties must be torn up, enemies named, culture changed. Global conflagration, should it occur, would only prove the theory correct. For Bannon, the Fourth Turning has arrived. The Grey Champion, a messianic strongman figure, may have already emerged. The apocalypse is now.

[…]

War is coming, Bannon has warned. In fact, it’s already here.

“You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China,” he said during a 2016 radio appearance. “They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian West is on the retreat.”

To confront this threat, Bannon argued, the Judeo-Christian West must fight back, lest it lose as it did when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453. He called Islam a “religion of submission” in 2016 — a refutation of President George W. Bush’s post-9/11 description of Islam as a religion of peace. In 2007, Bannon wrote a draft movie treatment for a documentary depicting a “fifth column” of Muslim community groups, the media, Jewish organizations and government agencies working to overthrow the government and impose Islamic law.

And you wonder where Trump gets his ideas.

I have seen discussions on Facebook where the hope has been expressed for the rapture to occur, and for the true believer to be swept up to Heaven to live with Jesus. As for the rest of us: non-believers and liberals and such, well, it is the pits of Hell. And if not Hell, then Detroit or Cleveland.

Now, I’m not going to criticize anyone for their beliefs. This is America, and you are free to believe whatever you wish. Further, the government is not supposed to establish or favor any particular religion, so as to permit you to believe whatever you wish. More importantly, to permit me to believe whatever I wish. [Translation: This is not a Christian Nation; even though almost a third of Americans think you need to be Christian to be truly American. Sigh.]

However, your right to your beliefs stops when it impacts someone else. I take offense at people who deliberately elect someone unqualified, and with a dangerous narcissistic streak, just to hasten the Rapture and the Apocalypse. Here I side with the Orthodox: it is not your place to bring it about. If a Rapture and Apocalypse is going to happen, it is up to G-d to bring it about, not you or me. You are not G-d, and you are certainly not my G-d. If there is a G-d.

Note that there is a distinction between belief in G-d and faith. Although I sometimes question the existance of G-d, I certainly do have faith. In particular, I have faith that the American People and our Nation will survive the bumpy ride we’re in for with Trump. Resistance to his unilateral executive orders is growing, his unqualified nominees are not making it through the Senate, and the Democratic Congress has decided to resist Trump the same way the Republican Congress resisted Obama. Further, a number of Patriotic Republicans such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are standing up for American Values and saying: Trump’s behavior is not who we are.

Both the Muslim and the Christian interpretations of scripture above assume that all is ordained, with the implication that we don’t have the ability to stop it. But we are given the choice in Deuteronomy 30:19: “This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live;” We are given the choice — we can choose. We must and should choose the good, the blessing, the life, and not the evil.

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Finding the Experts

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Feb 09, 2017 @ 11:00 am PDT

Some people play games as a palette cleanser between tasks; I look at the news. In this NPR article about Trump meeting with Airline Executives, the following exchange was quoted:

Trump said his private pilot, “a real expert” and a “smart guy,” has told him that the government has been buying the wrong type of equipment in its years-long effort to upgrade the current control system. He said U.S. airports “used to be the best, now they’re at the bottom of the rung.”

Sigh. Reminds me of an anecdote. Many years ago, there was an on-going interaction between Dr. Dixie Baker (my boss at the time), who had long been working in what then was called computer security (now “cybersecurity”) and Cliff Stoll, who had just published his book “The Cuckoo’s Egg”. Cliff kept insisting he was a security expert, when those of us in the field knew he was a newcomer, a poser, someone who had lucked into a situation to solve. Cliff asked Dixie what it would take to be a security expert — after all, he had published X papers. (I forget the value of X). Dixie’s response: “X+1”.

Trump’s opinion on how to modernize the Air Traffic Control situation is based on his private pilot, a “real expert” and a “smart guy”. Having been through the AAS years and all the issues with FAA modernization: This isn’t going to end well.

Again, from the article:

“You’re going to be so happy with Trump,” the president said.

Oh, where is Stan Freberg when we need him.

Maybe this is the harbinger of the apocalypse. Oh, wait, that’s the next post.

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I Only Ask This: Be Consistent

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Feb 08, 2017 @ 11:15 am PDT

As I read the news this morning, one incident of many from this administration sticks in my craw: the Republican leadership in the Senate voting to censure (silence) Sen. Eliz. Warren because she had the temerity to read a letter from the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Mrs. Coretta Scott King. In the letter, King writes that Sessions’s ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting-fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.” The letter originally was written to the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Sessions’s 1986 nomination to be a federal judge. The letter was never entered into the congressional record by then-Judiciary Committee Chair Strom Thurmond.

Why was she censured? Senate Rule XIX, which states “2. No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”

There’s a slight problem here: the senator in question is a nominee to lead an executive department! Think about this for a minute: That rule would prohibit any negative information about a sitting senator nominated to any position that required confirmation, which makes absolutely no sense at all. In fact, that’s why the rule is seldom invoked. The rule came about in February 1902 when a feud was escalating between the two Democratic senators from South Carolina. Benjamin Tillman, the senior senator and something of a political boss in the state, had grown angry that John McLaurin, his protege, was allowing Senate Republicans to court him on some issues, including the annexation of the Philippines. Furious that McLaurin was colluding with the other side of the aisle, Tillman used a Feb. 22, 1902, speech on the Senate floor to harangue the younger senator. Gesturing toward McLaurin’s empty chair, Tillman accused his counterpart of treachery and corruption, saying he had succumbed to “improper influences,” according to a Senate history of the dispute. When McLaurin caught wind of Tillman’s remarks, he rushed into the chamber and shouted that Tillman was telling a “willful, malicious and deliberate lie.” A fistfight erupted. This led to the rule.

The intent was not to stifle debate about the qualifications and demeanor of a candidate to head an executive department.

Further, another Democratic senator was able to read from the same letter (albeit some different portions) later in the debate. Without being censured.

Now, imagine if President Obama had nominated the Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, or even (were he still alive) Senator Edward Kennedy to head the Justice Department. What would the Republicans have done or said? What comments would they have made on the Senate floor about these men?

This is why I call bullshit on the Republican Party. I call inconsistency. I call putting party above the people.  I even call, for some, sheer racism.

When Obama was President, every nominee was thoroughly investigated. Every nominee had to be clear of conflicts of interest. Every nominee had to be qualified. As for the President, every misstep was investigated. Even every non-misstep was investigated.

So why isn’t the same Congress holding President Trump to the same standard? I can think of only two reasons:

  1. He’s Republican. After all, if he’s from the same party — if he’s a Republican — we don’t need to investigate him or his nominees because Republican’s never violate the law or cheat or …* . Never mind of course, that 50 years of investigation of Democratic Presidents, from Johnson on, have only found a stain on a dress, whereas investigations into Republican Presidents have found little things like Watergate and Iran-Contra. No, Republican’s never abuse the office of President. [*: IOIDBAR: It’s OK if done by a Republican]
  2. He’s White. I don’t like saying this, but there is the belief that many Republicans didn’t trust Obama because he was black. If you eliminate the Republican Pass above, it is the only explanation that remains.

Both reasons are wrong. The role of Congress is to scrutinize and reign in the power of the President. The Republican Congress did that consistently with Obama. There is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t be doing the same with Trump. If they don’t, they should be removed from office for not doing their job.

When you look at an action of Congress, ask if they would have behaved the same way if President Obama had done the action or if it was a nominee of President Obama. If not, it is IOIDBAR or worse.

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Tied to the Railroad Tracks

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Feb 06, 2017 @ 12:27 pm PDT

I have a friend who sees every action by President Trump or his advisors as an immediate slide of the country into autocracy and dictatorship. We’re being tied to the railroad tracks, the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, and no one will or can save us. The problem with that fear, however, is that it isn’t true.

First, the image of the damsel tied to the railroad tracks may be how we feel, but it wasn’t an actual silent film trope. It was a myth. As that article notes, “As a method of murder, this seems so melodramatic and old-timey that it must have originated back in the days of the silent film. But that scene rarely ever occurred, and probably not in the way you think it did.” To me, however, what stands out is a subsequent note:

“It’s really a tricky subject because people have this incredibly specific trope in mind (villain in top hat and mustache, screaming female victim, said villain tying or chaining said victim to tracks),” says Fritzi Kramer, creator of the silent film blog, Movies Silently. “But then when they are told that it was not actually common in silent film, they quickly grab for something, anything to prove that it happened.”

This is what is happening with many of us since the inauguration. We see or hear something outrageous the administration has done, it reinforces our belief that Trump is a Facist or wannabee dictator, and we “quickly grab for something, anything to prove that it happened.” Just as the far right did with Obama, we see rampaging Facism in everything: The President, through his executive orders, wants to be the Supreme Dictator. We must recognize that reaction is fear talking; fear of someone of a strongly different political ideology and approach taking power, and fear that our system of government will crumble in the face of the Powerful President.

The Political SpectrumThe reality? Those voices are on the fringe, and not representative of the truth.

The reality? Resistance is working.

Through our marching and boycotts, through our putting real pens to real paper and writing letters, through our calls, and through our passion, we are slowing this administration. They have had to rethink many plans. As the aforelinked Vox article notes:

Trump is getting things done, but all presidents do that. Look at what he’s not getting done. A Republican-controlled Congress bowed to public outrage over an attempt to water down an ethics office. Trump dramatically downscaled his own executive order barring entry to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries. He’s having unprecedented difficulty getting his Cabinet nominees confirmed, even though the Senate’s rules have changed to make confirmations easier than ever. Conservatives in Congress have put their big plans to privatize Medicare and public lands on hold. And the drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act is running into very big trouble.

None of this is based on the discipline and self-restraint on the part of the White House. It’s thanks to bold acts of resistance. The result is lives have been saved, many more lives have been demonstrably improved, and the proven template for future success has been created.

The courts are listening, and standing up for the Constitution. Businesses are listening, and indicating the impact of the actions the White House has taken or will be trying to take. Congress is listening and there is increased resistance.

It is having an effect. The New York Times is reporting that this is causing the administration to change how they are doing things: [Note: You’ll be seeing more NY Times articles, as I subscribed to support journalistic opposition to the administration, and publishing the truth.]

But one thing has become apparent to both his allies and his opponents: When it comes to governing, speed does not always guarantee success.

The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and an approval rating lower than that of any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said.

[…]

Chris Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and an old friend of the president’s, said: “I think, in his mind, the success of this is going to be the poll numbers. If they continue to be weak or go lower, then somebody’s going to have to bear some responsibility for that.”

“I personally think that they’re missing the big picture here,” Mr. Ruddy said of Mr. Trump’s staff. “Now he’s so caught up, the administration is so caught up in turmoil, perceived chaos, that the Democrats smell blood, the protesters, the media smell blood.”

One former staff member likened the aggressive approach of the first two weeks to D-Day, but said the president’s team had stormed the beaches without any plan for a longer war.

Those who know Trump well are spreading the word of how the impact if affecting Trump. Howard Stern, who is a close friend of Trump, is saying that Trump will hate being president and the role will be detrimental to his mental health:

“He just wanted a couple more bucks out of NBC, and that is why Donald is calling for voter fraud investigations. He’s pissed he won. He still wants Hillary Clinton to win. He’s so f—ing pissed, he’s hoping that he can find some voter fraud and hand it over to Hillary.”

Of course, that won’t happen. Hillary will not be in the White House. But as Donald becomes unhinged, as he attempts more and more unconstitutional actions, as he continues to go around Congress (which is pissing off Republican leadership), the talk of possible Impeachment will increase. People will investigate the in-capacitation provisions of the 25th Amendment. Congress will strengthen their resolve.

Our job: Keep it up. We need to keep making the point to the Republican electorate that Trump has sold them a bill of goods: he’s not giving them what they promised, and is weakening America. More importantly, we need to make clear to the Republicans in Congress that their jobs are in jeopardy if they support him. Right now, Congress is not resisting because they don’t fear the general election; they fear the primary challenges. We must make clear they will be challenged — by other Republicans — if they don’t stand up for Republican principles and just roll-over to Trump.

We also need to keep pushing for consistency in Congressional action: if you would have resisted Obama on it, you must resist Trump. Insist on ethical appointments, ethical behavior, and no conflicts of interest. Fully investigate all nominees. Investigate bungled military operations and appearances of malfeasance. To do that when Obama was President and then not to do it for Trump says one of two things: (1) either you investigated Obama solely because he was a Democrat, which is putting party above the country, or (2) you investigated Obama solely because he was Black, which is racist. I have yet to have a Republican give me a good reason that Trump should be treated any differently.

For us Democrats: resist however you can. March. Write. Call. Boycott. Lower those ratings. Challenge those orders. Mr. Trump must come to realize that there is a power that is superior to that of the President — the Constitution, and the People will stand for the Constitution.

 

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Nightmares and Reality

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Feb 02, 2017 @ 11:18 am PDT

Yesterday, I was awoken by a nightmare. I had dreamed that President Trump had pissed of some country or another, and they had retaliated by wiping Fairbanks AK off the map. I was listening to the news reports on the radio, and the horror woke me up screaming. I had to go and check on the net to make sure it was, indeed, a dream.

We’ve reached the point where the news is giving me nightmares.

What is even more scary is that reality is more frightening than the nightmares, and that we have created it. Reading the headlines this morning, this is what I see:

This is not a Liberal vs. Conservative issue. This is a President who does not understand the Constitution he has sworn to uphold, who is attempting to govern by fiat, who is letting his narcissism and hatreds come out, who is working for personal gain. This is a Congress that has abrogated their duty to provide checks and balances. This is the result of the slippery slope that started with the intense partisanship that arose with the election of Bill Clinton, and continued through the subsequent presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. We are being torn apart.

Yes, I know this sounds like the Republicans sounded during Obama’s turn. That has me even more scared. I had hoped that, despite my fears for Trump, his narcissism would lead him to want to be the best President ever. Instead, it has led him to the lowest approval rating of any President, and we are only two weeks in.

And yet, I know I am lucky. I’m white, Judeo-Christian, and of normative sexual orientation. I work in a field that is a priority for the government. I live in California, which will stand up to Trump. There’s a good chance that I personally would be OK. But this isn’t just about me: it is a concern for the country and all of those would would not be OK.

I don’t know what we can do, other than hope for impeachment and removal, and that the replacement (Pence) understands the Constitution better. But that takes time, and so much damage can be done. This is something the founder’s didn’t anticipate; we need a constitutional amendment permitting a recall and a redo of the election (but even that takes time).

I really wish I could wake up and discover this was all a dream.

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A Week? It Seems Like a Year

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jan 25, 2017 @ 11:34 am PDT

userpic=trumpIt has now been a week since President Trump took the oath of office. What a week it has been! Threats and actions against journalists, scientists, immigrants, citizens, … you name it. As I read the news this morning before work, thoughts are swirling around my mind. I have to get them out. Excuse the length of this. And yes, that’s what Trump said (rimshot).

Topics:

  • Finding Focus
  • We Had Our Chance, and We Blew It
  • Not a Question of “If?”, But “When?”

Finding Focus

As I look at Trump’s actions all week, there are so many to get upset about. Attacks on a woman’s right to choose. Provoking a trade war with Mexico. Attacking immigrants. Attacking science. Where to begin? What should we fight?

I think is it useful to focus instead on the question of: From which actions will we eventually recover, and which actions will have long-term implications? For example, limiting immigration will not have long term impacts on our country. It will hurt the immigrants (which is a terrible thing), but our country will eventually recover and the pendulum will swing back. Similarly, although we’re up in arms about the attacks on a woman’s right to choose, it really won’t impact the number of abortions. Women will be hurt, unsafe abortions will be procured, but the pendulum will swing back. Attacks on LGBTQs are similar. Many many many friends will be hurt, but our country won’t be irreparably damaged. There are so many things this President has done — in just one week — that if we attempt to fight them all we will dissipate our energies to a meaningless level. (I’ll note this is similar to the fight against his Cabinet appointees: we have only so many silver bullets. We may need to let some bad candidates get through — Carson — to save our bullets for some even worse and more destructive ones — deVoss)

On the other hand, there are significant attacks that could be non-recoverable. For example, the attacks on science in general and the science of climate change in particular. What hasn’t gotten through Trump’s thick skull (and for a man with such thin skin, he has a remarkably thick skull) is that it doesn’t make a difference who caused climate change. What makes a difference is what we do about climate change, and our doing anything we can makes a difference in the long run. If we have it wrong on the cause, then we are no worse off and we’ve created new jobs in new energy fields. If we have it right, we potentially stave off significant natural disasters. But ignoring it could be deadly.

Similarly, attacks on the free press and the truth go to the fundamentals of this Nation. The ability to say what you want, the ability to petition to Government for redress of grievances, the ability for journalists to investigate and report the truth are fundamental. The belief of the public in fact-based journalism. The trust of the people in the government. These are fundamental. Trump has attacked these to the point where his followers no longer trust reporters, and no longer trust that government works in their interest. These are dangerous, long term, threats, potentially damaging to the heart of our Republic.

Then, of course, are our international relationships. These relationships go far beyond just trade, but the businessman sees only dollars and cents. There are issues of National sovereignty, of survival, or war and attacks. It is not a good thing to hurt long standing allies and partners, and to make them believe we do not stand by what we have said in the past. This could hurt us big time when things go south.

We Had Our Chance, and We Blew It

No, I’m not talking about the election itself. I’m talking about the Electoral College.

Our nation was built on checks and balances, but I don’t think the founders anticipated the level of primaries and voting we have today. They expected that reasoned (white) men would be choosing reasoned (white) candidates, not the huddled masses. They also expected the Electoral College to be that last voice of reason — if a rogue candidate arose, they were the change to exert reason and stop it. This is what our Electoral College should have done. I’m not saying they should have chosen Hillary — that ship has sailed. But opting to choose an interim Republican candidate, or even turning to Congress, would have been better than what we’ve got.

This election has shown some fundamental flaws in our election process, just as the early election showed fundamental flaws in how we selected President and Vice President. There needs to be the ability to recall a candidate upon the petition of a super-majority of the state legislatures, and there needs to be a provision for a special National election to replace the President. We should be pushing our representatives to introduce such a Constitutional amendment. Note that this must be independent of any effort to abolish the Electoral College or render it moot.

Not a Question of “If?”, But “When?”

Over this week, I’ve been reading the news (a dangerous thing these days). In particular, I’ve been reading about the actions of the Trump administration, and wondering how long it will be before Congress gets fed up with him and kicks him to the curb. Clearly, it won’t be immediate — the Republican leadership is too enamored of their party being back in power for them to give it up or admit their failure. It won’t be because of many of the Democratic concerns: climate change is really only an issue that drives significant votes in the cities (which are already Democratic), similarly, abortion and LGBTQ issues only drive vote along the current urban / rural divides and will be insufficient to shift the political climate.

Rather, I think the dissolution and pushback will come from one of the following places:

  • The Deficit. Trump’s desire to build “the wall” and Mexico’s refusal to pay for it will result in a significant increase in the Federal Deficit. This will annoy the budget conservatives in the GOP, who will start to push back on any Trump proposal that isn’t actually paid for. If the elected budget hawks don’t do it, then those who elected them will.
  • The Uninsured. Unless Trump carefully crafts the replacement for the ACA, those who lose coverage will take it out on him. The problem is that the people that supported him don’t want Obamacare, but it is more the “Obama” they don’t want vs. the “care”. They want lower insurance rates, ideally subsidized, with coverage in the face of pre-existing conditions, affordable deductables, affordable prescriptions, and the lot. If that was easily achievable, it would have been done — and Trump is going to find that out. These folks will fight back and vote in 2018.
  • Narcissism. Let’s face it: we have elected a pathological narcissist — so much so that he is doing anything to justify his belief that he won with a majority. This will trip him up in the end, especially as he discovers that his theories are not borne out after investigation, and that his powers are much more limited than he thought.

Resistance has already started: there are already numerous unofficial / rogue Twitter feeds to broadcast facts to get around orders for agencies to maintain social media silence. We have other government refusing to play along with Trump’s beliefs and ideas. As time passes, the courts are going to start to weigh in and rule his orders unconstitutional (I already believe that directing deportation with only the accusation of a crime may be borderline unconstitutional, but I’ve got to check the words guaranteeing a right to a trial).

Resistance is effective, but resistance alone is insufficient. Nor is pointing out the Executive Orders are unconstitutional — President’s issue unconstitutional orders all the time without impeachment. The courts just rule them invalid.

There are two things that must happen in order for Trump to be removed from office:

  1. The Republicans in Congress must get sufficiently fed up to want to investigate him. A week in, he’s advancing their agenda forcefully, and so they are sticking with him. That’s a win in their books. What will change their mind? Not online petitions. Not calls from Democrats. Not calls to their office from non-constituants. What will change their mind is having the people who voted for them indicate that they won’t do so in the future, and seeing their fundraising dry up. To do this, the point needs to be driven home to the Republican voters and donors that the positions that Trump takes are contrary to Republican values of lowering the deficit, paying down the debt, being fiscally responsible, ensuring the safety of America, and negotiating from a position of respect. Republican candidates need to be found willing to challenge the Trump-Toadies, and these candidate need to be supported. Faced with siding with Trump or staying in office, investigations will be opened.
  2. Trump must be resisted, and resisted in a way that will provoke him to do something clearly illegal or treasonous. At the present time, Congress has indicated that it doesn’t care about things that would have been problematic for a Clinton or Obama: use of a private electronic device to conduct government business, significant conflicts of interest for personal gain from government actions. There will need proof of foreign powers influencing Trump in a way that he goes against Republican goals, or significant mischief in the White House (including movement of US funds for his personal use). Not being experiences with the rules for a US government official, he is very likely to run afoul of those regulations.

I think both of these things will eventually happen — it’s not a question of “if”, but “when”. We just need to keep nudging. In particular, we must present evidence to Republicans that their Congressional leadership no longer represents core Republican values, and that they restore the Republican party to those values, and reject and replace Trump, if they are to stay in office at the mid-Term and subsequent elections. Parallel to that, the Democratic Party must continue to resist peacefully but forcefully, speaking truth to power, in numbers too great to ignore. That will get under Trump’s skin the most, and will provoke the high crimes and misdemeanors necessary to convince Congress to impeach Trump and remove him from office. What might be such a crime? Consider directing the US military to attack the American people on American soil. That is a direct violation of law. If Trump gets fed up enough…. and believes he is powerful enough….

Additionally, getting under Trump’s skin could increase the evidence that he is mentally unbalanced and unstable, and there the constitution can work in our favor. The Constitution very clearly allows for the removal of a disabled president; Article II establishes this possibility, and the 25th Amendment further clarifies the process. Here is the wording of Sec. 4 of the 25th Amendment:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

There, friends, is the ultimate way out.

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I’m Fed Up With The Lot of You

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jan 16, 2017 @ 6:46 pm PDT

userpic=trumpThis is my political post of the day. It is brought to you by the fellow who responded to a post on Rep. John Lewis by saying “Those who refuse to accept reality are welcome to leave.” The bad mood is brought to you by having to do a whole house repipe on top of a reroofing on top of having to replace a double wall stove on top of having to replace the struts on my wife’s car and all other such similar expenses.

To the Conservatives:

  • I am sick and tired of being called a libtard.
  • I am sick and tired of watching you count down until Trump’s inauguration.
  • I am sick and tired of you calling our legitimately elected President names.
  • I am sick and tired of you wanting to take health care away from people that really really need it just because you hate anything Obama has done.
  • I am sick and tired of you wanting to shove your religion down my throat and enforce it on everyone else because you believe you are the arbiter of whether we go to heaven. Related to that, I’m tired of you believing in Christ so much you feel you need to hasten Armageddon.
  • I am sick and tired of telling people to shut up simply because you don’t like what they are saying.
  • I am sick and tired of you spreading false news just because it appeals to your biases. You can check your sources. Further, Snopes is a legitimate fact checker who cites their basis, so check their facts if you don’t believe them.
  • I am sick and tired of you discounting our journalists. They may not be perfect, but they are the best we have.
  • I am sick and tired of you wishing all liberals would die, or that all people from a particular minority group would be locked away.

To the Liberals:

  • His name is Trump. Not Drumpf. Not “He who will not be named”. Not any of these silly names you make up. Didn’t Harry Potter teach you anything? You use the name of your opponent; not naming him gives him more power.
  • He is President. If you claim to believe and support our constitution, you have to accept that. However misguided, the Electoral College voted for him. So don’t call him illegitimate or any other such nonsense. We have to accept that he is President.
  • He is doing enough stupid things that you don’t need to go around spreading fake news. All of these stories of “oh that’s gotta hurt” and other fake news. Don’t spread them. Don’t be like the Conservatives were during the Obama administration. Here’s a simple test: Would you have wanted a story like that spread about Obama? If not: Don’t share.
  • Act like an adult. Pure and simple. If you are behaving as childish as the other side did during Obama’s presidency, you’re only perpetuating the partisanship. You’re better than that.
  • Protest like an adult. Do you want to go out and peacefully protest? Go for it. Do you want to write letters and petition Congress? I’m all for that. Call your congresscritters. Write letters. Protest and exercise your right to free (adult) speech while you have it.
  • Insist that Congress behave towards President Trump as they did for President Obama. Just because the President is from the same party doesn’t mean he gets a “Get Out of Jail” card for himself or his nominees. Investigate, investigate, investigate (but only for legitimate crimes). Insist on ethics disclosures and no conflicts of interest. Insist on the absence of influence from foreign powers.
  • Remember that President Trump has a very thin skin. When pressed by legitimate free speech and criticism, he will do something impulsive and stupid — impulsive and stupid enough to get Congress to investigate, and potentially impeach and remove him from office. President Obama was able to deal with the pressure from the haters. If Alec Baldwin can rile Trump, just imagine how he will deal with 4 years of pressure. This is why you must behave like adults. Childish taunts can be ignored, and responded to childishly. Adult legitimate criticism creates investigations.

 

 

 

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