Friday, January 31, 2020

What the Republicans are Betting on

Alan Dershowitz, speaking as part of Trump's defense team, essentially said that the President can do whatever he wants so long as he believes it it is the interests of the country.  If he believes his own reelection is in those interests, then whatever he does, unless it is strictly speaking illegal, to get himself reelected is not an abuse of power.

He then went on to claim that a president cannot be charged with a crime due to DOJ policy.  So illegal things are not impeachable either.

In other words, what Trump has said, that article two of the constitution means he can do "whatever he wants" is correct, according to Dershowitz.  He is a king.

The GOP agrees.  Lamar Alexander said that he feels the case against Trump is proven to be true, but it does not matter.  It does not "rise to the level" of an impeachable offense.

We all know what he did.  He tried to subvert the election by using a foreign power.  He obstructed justice (the thing that got Nixon in trouble) . The GOP says this is all okay with them.

Aren't they concerned this will cost them in November?  Aren't they worried about backlash from their own constituents?   Aren't they fearful that they will lose the moderate middle?  They don't seem to be.

Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, these people are may things I don't like, but I don't think they are politically stupid.  They believe this will not hurt them.  They believe that we are divided racially, by gender, and by religious differences so much that we will never be able to stop them.  Add to this the placation of instant entertainment and food delivered from your smart phone app, and the GOP thinks the people will just say "ho hum" and binge the next Netflix Original.

They may be right.  They may have successfully gotten the evangelicals to focus on one issue (abortion), the extreme right to focus on another (guns) and the racists to focus on yet another (immigration by brown people) and that those of us who care about other things will simply give up and not bother.

Are they right?  Have we ceded our republic to personal pleasure, wedge issues, and gerrymandering?

Maybe.  I guess we're about to find out.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Science is Different

I've heard people say recently that the "intelligent design" theory should be taught alongside the theory of evolution, as they are both theories and should have equal representation in the schools.  Science, therefore, is really just another religion.

No, it isn't.  It is different in a very important way.

If you talk to a scientist about something he believes, some theory about the way things are, and suggest that he is wrong, the scientist will lean forward and ask you why you think what you do.  They will ask for details, challenge your evidence, and seek to understand your thought process.  If you can convince them that you are right and they are wrong, this is a great day for that scientist.  Being wrong is exactly what they want to happen.  The entire scientific method is designed to discover where our theories are incorrect or where there are things we simply didn't know at all.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it this way: "I love being wrong because that means, in that instant, I learned something new that day."  If you confirm that a scientist is right, that's fine, but they won't get excited.  You are telling them something they already know.  The entire purpose of science is to uncover new truth.

Religion, on the other hand, requires that it is always right.  A religious person already knows the nature of God, that he exists and what he wants from us.  They have texts they study because they believe the texts are absolutely correct.  Their own personal understanding of them might be lacking, and so they will engage in "Bible study" or something similar, but the thing they are studying is unassailably correct.  It must be.

If you tell a religious person that you believe something different than they do, they will assail your beliefs,  They will react with anger and feel insulted.  They will call you a name, like "infidel". They may, in fact, decide to kill you.  They may decide, because you believe differently than they do, that they are justified in blowing you up, or flying a jumbo jet into your building, or burning you alive.

Religion says it knows the truth already,

If Science knew everything already, then it would cease to be necessary and the entire scientific effort would stop. If course, we'll never know everything, and so science will go on as long as there are people with curiosity and intellect.

If a religion were to be shown to be wrong, it would die.  That's why religious people react to challenges the way they do.  Being wrong is dangerous and scary.  You are threatening something they've committed to, perhaps given money to, maybe raised their children to believe.  The cognitive dissonance they feel when you tell them they are wrong is intolerable to them.

They have to shut you up.  And so they will.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Concentration Camps

No, they are not "detention centers".  They are concentration camps.

Definition: a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area.

We are putting these people in these camps as punishment, to deter others from coming over the border.  We are separating them from each other, from their children.  We are feeding them poorly and putting them into inhumane conditions.  Some of them are dying.

Some are comparing the Trump regime to the Nazi regime, and of course many roll their eyes at this and say it's Godwin's Law, that everyone always plays that card when the argument gets nasty.  Not this time.

When Hitler started out he was not Hitler as we think of him now. He was a politician exploiting a political situation to gain power. Many thought he was silly, or stupid.  Over time, piece by piece, it turned into what it ultimately became.

We are on that path, make no mistake. The congress basically refusing to act, Trump's supporters digging in their heels (and starting to wear the same shirts and hats), the identified "other" in our midst (undocumented workers instead of jews) that's causing all our woes, and the beginnings of an international crisis to galvanize the most violent of his cadre.

Add the concentration camps to all of that. We're not in the "beginning" of this, we're well into it, and if we don't take action history tells us what to expect.

Take it seriously.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Checks and Balances are Gone

Mitch McConnell, current majority leader of the US Senate, has stated publicly that we will not bring any bills to the senate floor unless they have the support of the president.  This was a fairly stunning abdication of his responsibility as the leader of a major part of our government that is meant, among other things, to serve as a check and balance to the executive branch.  He has basically said he now does whatever the president wants.

The recent midterms put the democrats in charge of the House of Representatives.  Nancy Pelosi is Mitch McConnell's counterpart in that legislative body.  She has stated that she will not support a bill of impeachment unless she has bipartisan support, which would of course include the GOP-controlled Senate.

The Senate will not act unless the president agrees.  The House will not act unless the Senate agrees.  This essentially elevates the president to the level of a dictator.  A dictator who is stuffing the judiciary with judges sympathetic to him and his agenda.

How is it possible that our system has so completely collapsed?

Is it citizen's united, and the flood of money into politics?
It is the rise of balkanized journalism in the form of cable news?
Is it corrupt social media, and/or foreign governments manipulating us?
Is it the re-emergence of virulent racism as a reaction to the first black president?

Has this country run its course?  Are we seeing the final days of Rome?

Bernie Frustrates Me

...not because I think he is wrong, but because he seems to miss the obvious opportunities to communicate.

Case in point: it turns out his book did very well and now he's a "millionaire", seemingly causing him a problem since he is the guy who constantly rails against "millionaires and billionaires".

Isn't it completely obvious what his message should be?

"Yes, I have made a lot of money recently, and you know what? Now that I am a millionaire I still think millionaires should pay their fair share of taxes. If I didn't, you could rightly call me a hypocrite, but I do. And if I ever became a billionaire I'd still feel the same way. Making money is not the problem. Avoiding your social responsibilities is."

This has been the problem with him all along.  He calls himself a "democratic socialist" then does not adequately explain what that is.  He does not point out that the military, first responders,  interstate highway system, sewage processing, etc... are all socialist programs, and that the country has always been a mix of socialism and capitalism.  And because he does not do this, the right calls him a "communist" and writes him off.

Bernie, you are right.  You just need to learn how to communicate.  You have John Kerry disease, and you need a really good communications director to cure it.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Mueller Report

What a disaster.

The pundits on the left are furiously trying to couch this in terms of "we have not seen the report yet" and "the SDNY has not weighed in" and so forth.

None of this matters. 

It does not matter what the report says, it matters what Trump and his supporters will claim it says, and they will beat the "no collusion" drum constantly.  It will drown out every other piece of information.

It does not matter what the SDNY does, because that won't happen for at least two years, and by then Trump will have been re-elected (in which case he will be safe from prosecution) or not, in which case it won't really matter.

No, what matters is what the Democrats do in their primary process, and whether or not the Green party decides to mount another Quixotic campaign that splits the vote and, just like with Bush/Gore, hands the republicans another win.  If the democrats cannibalize themselves (again) and/or a third party peels off enough votes, then all the GOP has to do is bring out the base.

And the Mueller report gives them everything they need to do that.

A disaster.  Prepare for the second Trump administration.

Monday, January 14, 2019

TSA This Morning

Today I had to fly for work.  It is the 23rd day of the partial government shutdown, and I arrived at the airport not knowing what to expect.

I got here really, really early because I was afraid there would be lines due to lack of manpower.  This was not the case.  Not because the TSA people are being paid; they are not.  But they are here, in full force, and I experienced no delays or other issues because of that.

I thanked every one of them.  I told them they had my support, and one of them smiled and then said "I only wish the president supported us."

If only.