Saturday, August 05, 2017

Racist Robots on the Loose!

The Face of the GOP

The GOP is acting quite logically, and is reacting to their fundamental disadvantage in the national electorate.

In order to maximize their chances in future national elections, here are some logical actions they are pursuing.

Voter Suppression
This has been going on for a while now.  Already many states have been making voters jump through hoops to be able to vote.  These regulations have clearly been aimed at the poor, elderly, and people of color.
Now, Trump has created his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Led by the notorious Kris Koback, this is a further push to slash voter rolls, and humor Trump about his fantasy that he would have won the Popular Vote over Hillary Clinton, were it not for all the illegal immigrants who voted for her.  It's worth 8 minutes of your life, if you haven't seen this already, to check out Samantha Bee's take on Kris Koback:



Immigration changes

Trump is pushing the new Raise Act, and Terminator Stephen Miller was sent into the briefing room to push it.  Quite simply, another way to resist the browning of America, is to limit who gets to enter the country. Limit the amount of non-English speaking people immigrating into this country, along with stopping the ability of families to be reunited in the US, and you have another way to forestall the changes in America.

Essentially, all I'm saying is that what we're seeing is logical, but that doesn't make it right.  Cancer is logical too, but needs to be resisted.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Illegal Tweet

Here is what Trump tweeted:
"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump said in a series of tweets. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
Besides the shock of how cruel Trump is, and is probably just laying out more distractions to keep our attentions away from Russiagate, et. al., it occurrs to me it's also probably just illegal. What if his tweet went something like this:
"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow African American individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump said in a series of tweets. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that African Americans in the military would entail."
It would not be difficult to say that perhaps it costs more to treat sickle cell anemia in the African American population. It has been estimated that the medical costs of transgender are not really that significant. Just because Trump is the Commander in Chief, that doesn't give him the right to break the law. We would not stand for him banning black Americans, why should we help him in throwing our transgender brothers and sisters under the bus?

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Death of Empathy

The End of Reason, and Health Insurance

It's always dangerous to think one has an important idea, since we are all so capable of self-delusion.  But I'm going to try to communicate what should be a simple idea, but seems to have so little oxygen in the post-factual era of Trumpland.

Here's the deal: The very idea of insurance has been corrupted.  We have been played so deeply to buy into this American ideal of self-reliance, that we lose sight of caring about those less fortunate, less healthy, less wealthy than we are.  The whole idea of the 'skinny policies' Ted Cruz wants insurance companies to be able to offer, is crazy.  Even the health insurance companies, no angels, agree it's unworkable.

For all its shortcomings, The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) tried to at least define what a real insurance policy is, and tried to get rid of 'junk policies.'  Because of this, right-wingers constantly accuse Obama of lying, for saying "You can keep your doctor."  The implication was simply that "You can keep your doctor, if your health insurance is not a junk policy."  By mandating that all policies have certain minimum standards of coverage, and that all must have insurance, and the rich will help subsidize those that can't afford it,  we have made great strides in lowering the number of uninsured.  But, this is such an evil thing?

So, let me try and finish off my basic point.  We have been fooled into thinking insurance is just healthy people paying too much money for insurance, and those 'other people,' those freeloading sick people, are benefitting from the rest of us.  But insurance is much simpler than that.  We are the sick people, we are the genetically disadvantaged, we are the ones with preexisting conditions. We may be healthy now, but someday we will be those people 'cashing in' on the insurance we paid into earlier when we were healthy.

See? What I've just said is pretty obvious.  So obvious, it shouldn't need to be said.  But, in this 1984 world we've entered, logic is unavailable.

"Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person's frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another's position."

It shouldn't be so hard to see, but in a logic-free world, we've been bamboozled into not caring about "another person's frame of reference," and have nothing to hold on to, save our own solipsism. We are pawns in a game of divide and conquer. Please wake up. We need each other. We need to help each other.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Accidental President

What the hell happened anyway!
A day or two after the election, we were still in shock, driving home on Alemany, near the farmers market.  There was a guy on the median with a cardboard sign asking for money.  Now, I'm one of those people that doesn't give money to panhandlers, I'm not even sure why, and I actually kind of admire people who do, but that's not what we're here to talk about.  We're here to talk about the election.  So, then this guy started yelling at me, telling me I'd give $5 to the panhandler across the street, who was working the traffic in the other direction.  I said no, I wouldn't give him any money either.  He then said yes I would, because the other panhandler was white, and they guy I was talking to was black.  Mind you, this is all happening in just a few seconds, while waiting for the traffic light.  As I started to realize what what going on here, the shock was setting in.  I argued with the guy that it didn't make any difference to me, but he wasn't having any of it.  Now maybe I'm making too much of this; it could just be that this was this guy's shtick to get some more money.  I have no idea.  But what I felt like at that moment was that the horrible election results were tearing us apart.  Here in liberal San Francisco, we were coming apart, not together.

The Blame Game
So it seems like everyone has a theory about what happened.  I think it's way too simplistic.  There's a phrase "The straw that broke the camel's back."  The problem I have with that is it's so unscientific.  When the camel's back breaks, it's from the combined effect of ALL the straws, not any one straw.  In fact, considering the fact that Hillary Clinton won at least 2.9 million more votes than Trump, I'd say the cliché that's most appropriate would be "knocked me over with a feather" instead.  The margin was so thin. It's actually more akin to one of those chaos theory clichés about butterflies and tornadoes.  In short, a strange assortment of factors, and blind luck have put one of the most dangerous candidates into the most powerful office in the world.  Donald Trump, Accidental President!

In no particular order, here are a few of the 'feathers' that knocked us over:

Racism/Sexism
This is more like an undercurrent than an actual event.  Trump gave people the permission to let their Ugly American freak flag fly.  Enough white women stayed in their abusive relationships with the GOP to provide the margin.  But wait, don't stop there.  Muslim-bashing has its benefits too, not to mention the initial scapegoats: Mexicans.  I wrote about The Bradley Effect 8 years ago, and I think the polling was just off enough due to people not admitting they were for Trump.  The polling led to a certain amount of overconfidence.  I mean, there's no way someone as ridiculous as Trump could be elected President, right?

The FBI
Unbelievable.  Caving in to rogue agents inside the FBI and other GOP agents, FBI Director Comey released a non-statement 11 days before the election, in defiance of long-standing policy, as well as laws that forbid members of the government from messing with elections that close to the date, that maybe, just maybe, there might be some new emails to look at.  Many think this might be the biggest factor, but it's hard to say.

The Media
Yes, we can certainly count #FoxNews as a factor, but that's not news.  They always take the most hair-brained side, if it's against the Dems.  But the other media sites, even including #MSNBC (I watch too much) were suckered into giving Trump billion$ in free press.  Any time he happened to give one of his free-association word salad stump speeches, the networks ate it up, like it was real news.  Trump even started bragging about all the free press he was getting, even while vilifying the media at every rally.  Click on this graph of news coverage (so you can see the detail) , from digby's blog:

The media was mesmerized by the whole reality TV show that was Donald Trump.  Before anyone could spend enough time to really dig into the most recent gaffe/scandal/outrage, Trump would hit us with another gaffe/scandal/outrage.  This had the effect of constantly distracting the media from anything deep, with the latest superficial outrage.  Even now, after the election, Trump misdirects by talking about burning American flags, to keep us from focusing on the cabal at Trump Tower.

The Russians
In the time I have been working on this blog, more and more has come out about the Russians trying to hack the election.   This is potentially the most shocking story, but hard to prove the exact amount of effects.  What seems clear is that Putin wanted to help Trump, and hurt Clinton.  The Intelligence community tried to tell us this earlier.   On Oct. 7, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The USIC is made up of 16 agencies, in addition to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  But, October 7th was the same date of the release of the infamous Hollywood Access tapes.  What do you think American TV viewers would rather focus on?  Russian cyberhacking, or Trump admitting to sexual assault, in graphic, crude language?   The short attention span wins again.  

Fake News
Something that has increasingly come to light since the election was the effect of fake news.  Most of the fake news stories (and by fake, we mean the entire story is fake!) were aimed at Trump supporters.  This was mainly because they were more gullible, not necessarily that the people creating the fakes cared about Trump.  Many of the videos came from a small town in Macedonia.  Mixed in with this random fakery were fake news stories promulgated by the Russians to sew more discord.

Voter Suppression
This is probably one of the biggest reasons, but is not getting the press most of the other reasons get.   There has been news about the states' efforts to restrict voting rights since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act a few years ago.  What is less reported is the use of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, where a database of voting names is shared between states.  You say your name is James Brown?  Well, it looks like James Brown already voted in Virginia!  We're going to throw your name out so you can't vote at all.  This system threw massive amounts of minority voters off the rolls, even though that kind of voter fraud has been shown again and again to be almost non-existent.  We're talking large enough numbers to change the outcome of states like Wisconsin, for example.

So...
These are just a few of the reasons, none of which have anything to do with the issues, or what's important to the American middle class.  I'd really like to have your comments on this.  Vote for your most important factor, or mention some obvious ones I missed.  In the meantime, God help us all for the next 4 years!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

To Trump or Not to Trump?

What is Reality?
I can't really figure this one out.  It looks like Trump has stumbled into some kind of fascist wet dream.  He loves playing the Mussolini strong man role, even if he has no idea on how to run the country if it is indeed handed to him.  Many people are taking it quite seriously,  He shows up to 'rallies' where he overbooks the capacity of the venue and gives the illusion of huge demand.  Protesters try and disrupt him, but does it have any effect?

Questions:
So, what I want to know is:
  1. Does Trump really want the job of President?  Perhaps it's just a big joke, and after he destroys the GOP, he goes back to being Trump.
  2. Are the protesters real?  Sometimes I wonder if they're just role players, pumping up Trump's ego.
  3. Should protestors disrupt Trump events?  Are they playing into Trump's hands?  How does it really help?
  4. Is this truly the American Fascist Apocalypse?  If so, it's hard to fault anyone for trying to disrupt his march to power.  Should the German people have tried harder to stop Hitler in the beginning?
Seriously folks.  What the hell is going on? 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Grateful Dead 7/5/15


Set 1
China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider
Estimated Prophet 
Built to Last 
Samson and Delilah
Mountains of the Moon 
Throwing Stones 

Set 2
Truckin'
>Cassidy
Althea
Terrapin Station 
>Drums>Beam>Space
>Unbroken Chain 
Days Between 
>Not Fade Away
(everyone but the drummers leave. Crowd chants)
(Crowd continues chant)

Donor Rap
Encore
Touch of Grey

Encore 2
Attics of My Life (a capella, except Bob acoustic, some drums, piano, organ)

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Grateful Dead 7/4/15

Set 1 (5:35)
Shakedown Street 
Liberty 
Standing on the Moon
Me and My Uncle 
Tennessee Jed
Cumberland Blues 
Little Red Rooster 
Friend of the Devil 
>Deal
6:58
Set 2 8:00
Bird Song
Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion 
Lost Sailor>Saint of Circumstance
West LA Fadeaway 
Foolish Heart
>Drums>Space
>Stella Blue
One More Saturday Night 
9:44
Donor Rap
Encore: 
U.S. Blues
(fireworks)

Friday, July 03, 2015

Grateful Dead 7/3/15

Set 1
Box of Rain
Jack Straw
Bertha
Passenger
The Wheel>
Crazy Fingers 
The Music Never Stopped  

Set 2
Mason's Children
Scarlet Begonias 
>Fire on the Mountain
>Drums>Space 
>New Potato Caboose 
Playing in the Band 
>Weather Report Suite Pt 2
>Help on the Way>Slipknot>Franklin's Tower

Donor Rap
Encore:
Ripple (Bob on acoustic)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Grateful Dead 6.28.15

Set 1 6:23
Feel Like a Stranger 
New New Minglewood Blues
Brown Eyed Women 
Loose Lucy
Loser
Row Jimmy
Alabama Getaway
Black Peter
Hell in a Bucket (ends 7:52)

Set 2 (starts 8:53)
Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodeloo
>jam>Wharf Rat
>jam>short beam space >Eyes of the World
>He's Gone 
Drumz (guest percussionist)
>I Need a Miracle 
>Death Don't Have No Mercy 
Sugar Magnolia>Sunshine Daydream 
(Ends 10:35)
Donor rap
Moment of silence
Encore:
Brokedown Palace

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grateful Dead 6.27.15

Set 1
7:33 start
Jam>Truckin'
Uncle John's Band 
Alligator>Cumberland Blues 
Born Cross-Eyed
Cream Puff War 
Viola Lee Blues>Lovelight tease>end of set 8:39
Set 2 9:40
Cryptically Envelopment>Dark Star tease/fireworks>Dark Star
>St Stephen>The Eleven (William Tell)
>Turn On Your Love Light 
>Drumz>space>What's Become of the Baby?
>The Other One 
>Morning Dew

Organ donor rap

Encore 11:54
Casey Jones

Photo by David Fung