Category Archives: Politics

Gullibility Continues To Prevail

I’ve mentioned before that I’m limiting my media intake, especially television, because I just can’t handle the “all Trump all the time” format that every channel has adopted. And I quit the seething cesspool that is Facebook several years ago after trying it for just a few months. (Pro tip: If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.) So I don’t really know how much coverage this got last week, but I’m thinking it wasn’t given the importance it deserves.

Federal lawmakers on Wednesday released samples of 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential campaign. The ads conveyed the wide range of influence Russian-linked groups tried to enact on Americans – but one set of ads in particular hit close to home.

Last year, two Russian Facebook pages organized dueling rallies in front of the Islamic Da’wah Center of Houston, according to information released by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

Heart of Texas, a Russian-controlled Facebook group that promoted Texas secession, leaned into an image of the state as a land of guns and barbecue and amassed hundreds of thousands of followers. One of their ads on Facebook announced a noon rally on May 21, 2016 to “Stop Islamification of Texas.”

A separate Russian-sponsored group, United Muslims of America, advertised a “Save Islamic Knowledge” rally for the same place and time.

On that day, protesters organized by the two groups showed up on Travis Street in downtown Houston, a scene that appeared on its face to be a protest and a counterprotest. Interactions between the two groups eventually escalated into confrontation and verbal attacks.

It’s going to be a while yet before the various investigations reveal just how badly we got played. It’s bad enough that tens of millions of people bought into the carefully cultivated reality teevee image of a successful businessman, but Russian trolls were everywhere on the internet amplifying his divisive and hateful message. Their main objective was to create the chaos we are all living now, with a 70 year old toddler and his minions destroying our government. (As I write this, he is in Asia laying to rest the last remnants of the myth of Amurkin exceptionalism.)

The question I keep coming back around to is Why? Not why are Russian trolls fucking with dumbass Texans? Everybody does that because it’s so easy, and their are so many of them. No, the question is, why are their Russian trolls at all?

Vladimir Putin is a kleptocrat who, having stolen untold billions from the country he rules, is widely believed to be — secretly — the richest man in the world. It is difficult for me to imagine greed and selfishness on that scale, but at least I can understand it as his prime motivator.

What I can’t understand is why Putin is spending hundreds of millions of dollars stoking hatred and fucking around with democratic elections all over the world. If greed truly is his prime motivator, what does he personally gain from creating chaos and destabilizing democratic governments all over the world?

If these actions are not motivated by greed, then by what? My only other guesses are power and spite. And since, generally speaking, destabilization leads to de-consolidation of power, I am left to ponder upon spite. Could Putin’s hatred for Michelle’s husband be so strong that he’s willing to tear everything down for revenge? (In this country that would make him a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives.)

All I know for sure is that our reality teevee preznit openly admires Putin. That would be pretty fucking scary if he weren’t such a buffoon.

Does Unicorn Poop Land With A Splatter or a Plop?

It has been raining steadily in Oklahoma City since Monday. I know that because I rode the scoot over from Misery for a couple of weeks of salt miner refresher training, so all my off-the-clock time for the past two days has been spent cooped up in my hotel room. Oklahoma City is boring enough on its own.

Nothing much to do except surf the intertoobz. I even spent a little time on Twitter, which I still pretty much hate because I like to read — and think — in larger than bumper sticker sized bites. Anyway, the buzz there this morning is about our reality teevee preznit deleting some of his tweets.

And no, it’s not the ones from his idiotic slap-fight with the NFL over players kneeling for the national anthem to protest police mistreatment of black people. Instead, he has deleted all his tweets in support of Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange. Last week Trump held one of his hate festivals political rallies in support of Strange, and then yesterday “Big Luther” got his ass kicked in the Republican primary by frothing, evangelical asshole Roy Moore.

I saw some speculation that our reality teevee preznit might actually be dumb enough to believe his deleted tweets are gone from the intertoobz forever, but I doubt he even cares about that. Those tweets are gone from his timeline, and therefore gone from his mind. The pathological liar believes his own lies, right up until reality forces him to move on to the next lie, and the old lie is immediately forgotten.

What gets me is the fact that he doesn’t have to pay a price for lying. Trump’s supporters will continue to believe he is a winner, just because he tells them he is. In the age of “alternative facts,” hard truths no longer exist. Much like an Oklahoma weather forecast, the words that come out of our preznit’s mouth are only good for a couple of days. Beyond that, things start to get a little fuzzy. Reality truly is malleable now.

The Past Is Not Past

I do a lot of my thinking when I’m working with my hands. I can lose myself in manual labor, let my mind drift away from my aching back and/or shoulders, and just cogitate on something for a while. It’s one of the reasons I find so much satisfaction working in my wood shop. It’s intellectually rewarding as well as constructive.  The downside is, having my head in the clouds while framing walls and hanging drywall for my basement rehab project has led to occasional fuckups, like cutting a board or piece of drywall incorrectly. (And subsequent periods of stomping around and cursing.)

Lately, my thoughts have been taking me back to the 1980s. I used to hang out at the VFW Post in the town where I grew up, over in Illinois. I started going there because my dad liked to go there. He liked to go there because a frosted mug of beer cost 50 cents, and that was ridiculously cheap, even in the ’80s. We both eventually made some good friends there.

The members were veterans from World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, but it was mostly the WW II guys that ran, and patronized, the place. They had the time, most were retired or semi-retired, and their children were long since grown. Some of them were there every day. I know because I saw them. Cheap beer and a close proximity to my home made it the perfect place for an out-of-work bricklayer/roofer/surveyor/concrete guy/future amateur philosopher and blogger with only ten bucks in his pocket to spend his days. I got to know some of those old soldiers pretty good — Charlie and Jim and Jack and Clay and Gene and the other Gene and Ray and a bunch more who I can’t remember their names.

Some of them told me stories about their war. Forty years after the fact, they would still get tears in their eyes talking about the atrocities they saw, the concentration camps, the crimes against humanity. I’ve been thinking about those stories ever since that “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last month. The one where a brave, young white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of peaceful protestors and killed a woman.

It took two days for public opinion to shame our shit stain of a preznit into gritting his dentures and saying “Nazis are bad.” And then, a couple of days later, he clarified those remarks by stating that there were some “very fine people” there… you know… marching with the Nazis.

I picture my old drinking buddies sitting in the cool, dark VFW Post, sipping draft Busch with a salt shaker handy, watching the television behind the bar, and seeing all those fresh-faced, young men marching with torches and shouting “Heil Hitler” and throwing Nazi salutes, in FUCKING VIRGINIA! IN THE USA! And I simply cannot imagine what their reaction would have been, the level of pain and anger it would have caused them.

Pretty sure I know which side of the barricades they would have been on, though.

Trumpeka Blues

My latest assignment with the Salt Handlers Inspection Team has me evaluating the salt mines in the greater Topeka, Kansas area. Despite the fact that Topeka is the capital of Kansas, it is not a very interesting place to kill a weekend. (I googled a few lists of things to do here and a bowling alley appeared on at least two of them.)

Luckily I rode the scoot over from Misery, so I’ve been contenting myself with exploring the surrounding countryside. I had planned to post a few photographs, but I ended up not taking any. In more than 300 miles of riding, I saw nothing but fields of corn and soybeans, and cow pastures. It’s pleasant riding, the roads are pretty good, with very light traffic, but I saw not one damned thing worthy of pulling over to take a photo.

The salt miners I have been working with are just about as interesting. I hate to sound elitist, but on several occasions in the past week, while making conversation during the long drives between salt mines, the word “dullard” has entered my mind.

But my sample size is small, and consists solely of salt miners. I’ve had very little interaction with the local civilian population. However, this morning, while I was eating breakfast before my ride, I did happen to overhear a lively conversation between two fans of our reality teevee preznit. It was a couple of late middle-aged white men (because, Kansas) discussing the “diabolical” plot by our previous preznit to destroy our country. These two gentlemen expressed concern that this plot might still not be entirely foiled, because Michelle’s husband had so divided our country that it might take strong measures from our cartoon-character-in-chief to set things right.

I don’t know exactly what measures these men were referring to, but I recognized the implied violence behind their words, because I have heard this same argument so many times, in so many places, from so many white men, ever since a black man had the audacity to get himself elected preznit. It was an event that evoked such a rage in a portion of the populace that I honestly don’t know if they will ever get over it. A rage so intense that it blinds them to the incompetence of our reality teevee preznit. They can’t see it here in the heartland, but the rest of the world certainly can. From The Guardian:

The common factor in all these situations is Trump’s self-induced powerlessness and ignorance, his chronic lack of credibility and presidential authority and consequent perceptions of US and western weakness. And in the case of all three actual or potential adversaries – North Korea, Iran and Russia – these perceptions are highly dangerous. Precisely because US responses, actions and reactions can no longer be relied upon or predicted, by friends and enemies alike, the potential for calamitous miscalculation is growing. This uncertainty, like the chaos in the White House and the extraordinary disarray of the American body politic, stems from Trump’s glaring unfitness for the highest office. As is now becoming ever plainer, this threatens us all.

Ouch. That would leave a mark on anyone less clueless.

The Ugly Amurkin

I don’t want to become a one note Johnny, but damn! Our reality teevee preznit is making it hard for me to think or talk about anything else. He just completed his first trip abroad since taking office, so now he is truly an international laughing stock.

The first stop on his trip was Saudi Arabia, where he read (poorly) a speech in which he lectured Iran about human rights and funding terrorism. I know what you’re thinking. Is that the same Saudi Arabia that is owned and operated by a single family, where women are basically property, not allowed to drive a car or even be outdoors without a male escort? Is that the same Saudi Arabia that practices an extreme form of Islam called Wahabbism, holds public beheadings and funds Sunni extremists and terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL all over the world? Is that the same Saudi Arabia from whence Osama bin Laden and 19 of the 9/11 hijackers came? Why, yes. Yes it is.

But they signed a contract to purchase 100 billion dollars worth of products from our defense industry, and they pledged 100 million dollars to his daughter’s slush fund non-profit organization. So I guess that counts as a win, right? He did say, during his campaign, that we would get sick of all the winning. I think I’m there.

From there, the preznit moved on to Israel. I was traveling home from Wisconsin, so I may have missed it, but other than declaring he had just got back from the Middle East (?!?), it appears he didn’t step on his dick while there. Of course, I did hear that he was exhausted, so maybe he slept the whole time.

Then it was on to Brussels for more embarrassment at the NATO summit. In his speech there, the preznit refused to confirm U.S. support for Article 5 of the NATO agreement. (That is the part of the NATO agreement which assures support for any member which is attacked, basically the heart of what NATO is.) He did, however, find time to chide the several countries which are not yet meeting their commitment to spend two percent of their country’s GDP on defense. (He seems to think those countries somehow owe that money to the U.S. and is clearly oblivious to the fact that they have until 2024 to meet that spending commitment.)

So, to restate, our preznit lectured several countries about their failure to meet future commitments while refusing to meet our own current ones.

And then it was on to Taormina, Sicily, Italy for the G7 summit.  It appears the rest of the assembled world leaders had never seen The Apprentice, and therefore did not envision our preznit as the super smart and successful billionaire he played on his reality teevee program. Instead, they saw the ignorant buffoon he is in real life, describing his diplomacy as that of a “drunk tourist.”

The six other nations of the G7, along with 150 or so other smaller countries, reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. Our preznit did not.

The leaders of the six other G7 countries went for a stroll on the cobbled streets of the ancient city of Taormina. Our preznit followed in a golf cart.

Sigh.

And then it was home, where he declared his trip a great success. His admirers ate it up and labeled any evidence to the contrary as fake news. I know one supporter who says he “woke up a lot of the world’s leaders to the fact that there is a new sheriff in charge and he is making himself heard.” At least that one is partially true. The rest of the world has woken up. They have woken up to the fact that we elected a narcissistic, imbecilic flim-flam man as preznit. He is not respected at all, only feared, because he is so ignorant and unpredictable.

His incompetence is showing more and more every day. On the world stage, he can’t just keep saying he is doing a great job and have people believe him like he did on his reality teevee program. The rest of the world can see he doesn’t have a clue what he is doing and is not interested in learning. But surely he is capable of feeling shame, right?

Right?

Intelligence Is A Constant, However Population Keeps Increasing…

I’ve noticed over the years that a good snapshot of my mental health at any given time can be found in my reading habits. Since I am always reading something, usually more than one thing, a casual observer would just see some goober staring at a tablet and assume I am watching cat videos or porn. But it is books that have always been my sanctuary. A relative measure of my overall happiness lies not in the quantity of reading material I consume, but the quality.

I’ve usually got some works of fiction or literature going, and when my life is relatively stress-free and relaxed, I like to read about science and history, philosophy and sociology, even politics and economics. But when my mind is troubled, I gravitate towards science fiction, so it is with some concern that lately I find myself diving into John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series. It’s good stuff, but I’ve already read it, so these are indeed perilous times.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our democracy is broken. Sure, it was damaged before, and for a long time our government has been mostly millionaires busily making the world a better place for millionaires, while the rest of us race to the bottom in our trickle-down economy. But our new reality teevee preznit has destroyed any sense of normalcy. His know-nothing theory of governance seems to be to just do or say whatever pops into his head at any given time and then brazen it out when someone points out that he once said or did just the opposite. It is like watching a clumsy ten-year old boy fall down and then, when his friends laugh at him, lamely pretend that he did it on purpose.

Yesterday the Pulitzer prizes for 2017 were announced. David A. Farenthold of The Washington Post won the National Reporting prize for a series of articles detailing how our new preznit boasted for years about giving millions of dollars to charity, when in reality he gave away almost none of his own money, and routinely diverted funds from his charitable foundation for personal use.

…the Trump Foundation’s largest-ever gift — $264,631 — was used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump’s Plaza Hotel.

Way to give back, Donnie. That’s just the kind of person he is, though. David Farenthold won a Pulitzer for chronicling what anyone who has been paying attention has known for decades. Long before there was an internet for him to scam people with his phony university or his phony vitamins or his phony charitable foundation, Donald Trump was the jackass who routinely stiffed the contractors who worked on his development projects and the banks that financed those projects.

Before he set out to destroy our government by running it like a business, he was the guy who filed for bankruptcy protection six times. Before he wasted 90 million dollars worth of missiles on an empty airfield in Syria in a show of leadership, he was the cretin who brought his wife and his mistress on the same skiing vacation, and bragged about it.

The only people who believe his constant stream of bullshit are the ones who long ago turned their right to think for themselves over to the Fox News Outrage Channel and the rest of the right-wing noise machine. The problem is, that still amounts to millions of people. Here is a brief, pretty much verbatim conversation I had with a co-worker a couple of weeks ago.

Him: [reading a story in the newspaper about our reality teevee preznit taking credit for a company deciding to expand and create a few hundred new jobs] “You know, a couple of hundred jobs here and a couple of hundred jobs there. Pretty soon that starts to add up. He’s putting some people back to work.”

Me: [pointing out a paragraph in the story that states in plain English that the expansion and new jobs were first announced two years ago] “It looks like this decision was made before he even started his campaign.”

Him: [nodding] “Yeah, he’s really starting to make a difference.”

This militant ignorance is what passes for modern conservatism. Half of our citizenry isn’t even paying attention, and half of the remaining half is willfully blind because their team of incompetent, racist greed heads is winning.

I think about a Voltaire quote from way back before the United States existed as a country: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” And I worry about what will happen when this administration inevitably goes off the rails. Who will they scapegoat?

Like I said, we are broken. We are an empire on the downward slope, perhaps irrevocably, and it feels like the only thing I can do about it is stock up on ammunition and sci-fi novels.

In The Time Of Trumpanzees I Was A Monkey

We are into our second week of life in Amurka with a reality teevee preznit, and surprising absolutely no one, our new government has turned out to be a shit-show. Our new preznit has zero knowledge of how to run a government, and zero interest in learning. Like the campaign before it, his administration will be based on bombast and spite.

And it will be largely fact free. Our new preznit has powers that are truly Orwellian. He has rendered objective reality malleable. Truth is meaningless if enough people are willing to believe the “alternative facts” and dismiss empirical evidence as fake news. Sadly, there are a lot of believers. If there are as many as he thinks there are, this country is in deep shit, because when all that matters is belief, there is no difference between government and a cult.

But I’m an optimist at heart. I’ve got my own beliefs I guess. I believe sooner rather than later, most Amurkins will see this man for the petulant 70-year-old child that he is. Vastly unqualified, unfit for the office, and so insecure that he is still whining about an election that he won and claiming his dick inauguration crowd was bigger than Michelle’s husband’s was.

The people who elected this man might be gullible enough to believe his bullshit about bringing all the good-paying manufacturing jobs back while they continue to spend most of their disposable income buying cheap Chinese crap from Wal-Mart, but they can’t ignore a government as off-the-rails as this one. They aren’t insane. I’m pretty sure…

Hillz Making History

Back in February, I made a rather bold prediction

…here’s how I see this election going down. Hillz will carry about 45 states in giving reality teevee guy an epic beat-down, and on her coat-tails the Democrats will re-take control of the Senate. Then, upon taking office, she will nominate Michelle’s husband for the empty Supreme Court seat the Republicans refused to fill. All around the country, Republican heads will pop like teenager’s zits. It will be glorious to behold.

Well, I may have been a little overzealous back then, nevertheless I did my part to make my prediction happen today. The obligatory:

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I’m still very confident that we are going to elect our first woman preznit today. And I think the Democrats have a pretty good shot at taking the Senate. But despite the fact that one of our political parties nominated a raging buffoon, the race is still going to be close. Hillz is not going to win 45 states. She is probably not going to win Misery, and she almost certainly won’t win the county I live in. Too many assholes like the owner of this truck I spotted in the parking lot of the Home Depot last week.

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Without ever laying eyes on the owner, I can guarantee you that truck belongs to an overweight, angry, late middle-aged white guy. (Yes, I realize I am describing myself, but I look this way ironically.)

Anecdotal evidence that the people of Misery will seize the moment and put us on the right side of history: (1) Voter turnout at my polling place is the highest I have personally ever witnessed. (2) I saw a real old-timer, probably in his late 80s. After filling out his ballot, he rolled by me in his wheelchair on his way to the ballot box, and I noticed he had filled in the bubble next to Clinton/Kaine. It made me smile and left me holding onto a sliver of hope.

Flaming Out, Melting Down

Hee hee. Today, Michelle’s husband told the the reality teevee asshole to quit his whining about a rigged election. If this were pro wrassling, that would be a forearm smash coming off the top rope. Followed by tagging Hilz in to finish him off in the debate tomorrow. I can’t bear to watch, but I bet it will be epic.

What desperate accusations and proclamations will reality teevee asshole make next? I’m pretty sure he has bottomed out vote-wise, but he’s going to keep throwing red meat to his followers right up until — and probably even after — Hilz hands him his ass on November 8th.

Speaking of his followers, I went looking around the intertoobz for a quote I had always heard attributed to Mark Twain:

It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.

Well it turns out Mark Twain never said that. Carl Sagan said it better anyway:

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

I really believe this inability/unwillingness to admit what a horrible human being they’ve attached themselves to is at the heart of all the Trumpkin’s anger. Deep down inside, they know. It’s got to be humiliating.

Refreshing? Not So Much

This is a real thing. Apparently the reality teevee asshole’s campaign is giving it away here in Misery. One of my son’s friends stopped by the estate with a six-pack.

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I had a sip. It tasted like narcissism with a hint of loser flop-sweat. It left me unsatisfied and inexplicably full of rage. I wanted to grab a Mexican Muslim by the pussy and throw them over a wall.