Caveat Emptor

the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.

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A few days ago it was announced that Hillary Clinton will attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States. Of the groups I belong to where this was posted, almost no one took the tack that I would think made sense in the kind of weather we are about to be facing. Most people lauded her for being big enough to go to the swearing in for the victor in the election she most wanted to win. I believe the complete opposite. I don’t think she should go. I don’t think anyone should go. Trump should have to pay attendees to show up. He should have to pay for the judge to swear him in. That is how we should hold him to account for all the bills he’s never paid, and for all the bills he’s going to make us pay.

We have reached that point in US politics. That precise political instant where it will profit us to understand what the words Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware really mean.  Donald J. Trump is a successful businessman as so many of his supporters insist. He is his own biggest booster. He talks about himself incessantly, Tweets pictures of himself constantly, congratulates himself publicly for things that he thinks he’s done whether he has actually done them or not.

But he is a businessman, that much is true.

There are many different kinds of businesses. One might easily argue that there are as many different kinds of business as there are people doing business; however the real estate developer is a special kind of business animal. They ain’t quite like any other form of business on the planet, these real estate developers. Their business is selling their delusions. Delusion is an essential part of the psyche of the real estate developer, and it helps if he is a charismatic delusional because his job requires him to infect the people he talks to with his delusion. He has to infect them with his delusion, or they won’t give him their money, their property, their effort.

Let’s say you want to repurpose a downtown Washington D.C. post office, just to pull a random location out of thin air. We’ll pretend we’re going to take this random location and turn it into a hotel. Not just any hotel, but the most fabulous hotel you’ve ever seen. I mean beautiful, you know? The first thing you need to do to start this project is actually not what you might think. No, the first thing you do, before anything else, is get money for the project. If you have money, then you can influence people to see things your way. You can say “you see my investors over here? They believe in me. They’ve promised me money, so this is going to happen one way or the other and I know you want to be part of this.”

The most important factor in real estate development is getting the money for the stake, for the start of the process. People don’t give you money for nothing, not even if you are trustworthy and you ask real nice. No, you only get money if you have collateral, something you can promise to the lender in exchange for their capital investment. Now, depending on who has the money and where the money came from, what your collateral can be is very flexible.

It is a dirty little secret in the real estate business, especially development and construction, that a large portion of real estate development is done for the purposes of laundering money. It isn’t merely happenstance that some of Donald J. Trump’s business partners are a little on the shady side. That is the kind of money that a big developer needs access to. Liquid capital, and lots of it. The people with dirty money know they are going to lose at least half of their money just making it clean anyway, so they really aren’t interested in tight accounting practices. They just want their share when the clean money starts coming back in.

In New York City back when Trump was laundering his father’s fortune and building Trump tower, you didn’t do business in real estate without being friends with several of these types of people, and Trump knew and dealt with them for as long as he was active in real estate there. What do I know precisely about his connections to organized crime? Nothing. I don’t know anything about his business and the sad part that fact is this, all of us should have demanded we know about his business before electing him to the highest office in the land.

I can tell you that the reason we never saw his tax returns is he doesn’t want anyone to know how much money came in, how much money went out, and who the money went to. How much money he currently has, and how much debt is stacked against it. Those are the things no one can know aside from his bookkeeper, and I guarantee you that person isn’t talking to anyone. The one thing bookkeepers are paid for is discretion and they know it.

When Savings & Loans were a thing, I worked for a few different real estate developers. I was the guy who had to make the developer’s delusions look real. I was the draftsman/graphic artist and eventually a staff architect in several different firms of architects. But back in the S&L days I was just a flunkie newb draftsman and what I did was what the developer told me to do. If he wanted letterhead for a new company, I made new letterhead. If he wanted art for a cover, I drew or found better artists to draw convincing art to sell his delusions, his dreams. My drawings were my stock in trade and my drawings were masterpieces of illusion, because very few of them were ever built. But damn they did look good when I was finished with them.

I have actually lost count of the number of different proposals I worked on back then. It was one every few months for several years. The number of sales pitches I’ve heard really aren’t important for this story. But the charisma? Oh, yeah. They all had it in spades. You’d believe any damn thing they told you while they were talking to you. It was only later that you would kick yourself for agreeing to do whatever stupid thing they asked you to do. But invariably the dream of getting paid would be too much and you’d do the thing on the off-chance that the crazy guy could sell it, and damned if they didn’t generally get something for their effort.

When I say they got something for their effort, I mean the real estate developer got something to show for our collective efforts. They usually made off like bandits. As a paid flunkie draftsman I punched a clock and I got paid, even paid time and a half for time over forty hours a week. You don’t work less than forty hours a week if you are drafting for someone who wants drawings ASAP.  So the pay wasn’t bad compared to the minimum wage I had been making previous to studying drafting. But what I made was chickenfeed next to what they banked, and you’ve never heard someone whine so hard about writing you a check until you’ve had a developer by the balls, him needing his next drawings, and you won’t give them up till the check is in your hand.

That is rule number one when dealing with a developer. You don’t do jack shit until at least half the money is in your hand. If you do work on contingency for a developer, you are working for free.  You are working for free because he never has to tell you whether he made money or not, which generally means not. Not money for you, anyway.

So let’s say you’ve been around the block a few times. You’re pretty savvy. You know your contracts and your in’s and out’s. You know to get money up front and to get signed contracts before doing any work and all that business school stuff they teach you or you learn from hard knocks along the way. None of that means a thing to a developer like Donald J. Trump.

Nope. That’s what shell corporations are for. The best (and when I say best, I mean wealthiest) architects in the business also use shell corporations. You create this legal fiction and you make it responsible for all the contracts you sign as a businessman. This is all completely legal and above board even though it is a fiction you are engaged in. You pay all your employees and rent and utilities on your place of business through that corporation; but don’t forget the important part of this equation. You also pay yourself a salary.

In fact, you can be paid a salary from all the corporations you own at the same time. All you have to do is justify the expense to the board, and if it is a shell corporation the board is probably you or someone you appoint to say yes to the things you want. So spend a half-hour a month, make a half-million dollars. No one will complain because no one will know except you and your bookkeepers.

I left the best part for last. When you pay yourself too well (and Donald J. Trump does this in spades) you just get to walk away from your contracts. The business you created and hopefully sold beforehand (that is the important part) will go bankrupt, sure. But that really isn’t your problem. You paid yourself a salary and that debt comes before paying contracts. Designers and craftsmen, engineers and architects; everyone who signed contracts and aren’t working for a wage, they get the scraps. You and the investors walk away smelling like roses with freshly laundered money in your pockets.

It is a neat financial trick, one that Donald J. Trump has repeated 6 times now. He has been sued more than 4,000 times. You don’t rack up that many bankruptcies or get sued that many times unless you are doing something bordering on illegal. Bordering on illegal is still legal though, and that is what counts.

Ruthlessness and business acumen only get you so far. You still fall prey to the same failures to predict the future that everyone else does. The crash of the gaming industry nearly did Trump Incorporated in. Even he didn’t understand just how big the financial bubble we were all sitting on was, and he was caught flat-footed just like everyone else as the Wall Street money dried up and Atlantic city’s gaming industry cratered. But hey, that is when the charisma that someone like the Donald has really comes in handy.

If you’re good at it (and Trump is very good at it. Just ask him, he’ll tell you) you can turn yourself into a TV star. He hawked himself onto every media outlet that would have him, spending so much time on radio that he became the butt of several jokes in the New York area radio business. But it paid off in the end, just like he knew it would deep in his delusional heart. The only reason he has any money today is because The Apprentice and its spin-offs have made money, and he made money just like everyone else who works in TV does, successful or not. If you are working you are making money in television. And if your show has ratings you make lots of money. Producers can make more money than anybody and they do less work if they know what they are doing. The Donald talked his way into a producer’s percentage, and he still gets paid to this day for producing the show that he no longer works on.

But down deep in his rotten heart, Donald J. Trump is still that delusional little kid that thought a million bucks gifted from his father was a pittance, and even that is a lie. The same guy who took dirty money from shady characters in NYC to finance his early projects. The same guy who believes every single lie he’s ever told just to make the next buck in a nearly endless line of billions of bucks. Believes those lies and every single conspiracy fantasy he’s asked to put stock in by people like Alex Jones and Breitbart news. He believes them but knows they are false. It doesn’t matter, because the charisma makes him the next buck, and the next buck is what really matters.

That is why we as citizens of the United States need to understand caveat emptor, and we need to understand it now. It would have been better if we had understood it before November 8th, but that deadline passed and we were #MAGA in a big enough percentage in the wrong places. He’s going to be sworn in as the leader of our country on January 20th, with a congress willing and able to do his bidding, if actions and trends are to be believed. He will have the keys to the White House soon, and we need to understand that this life-long con artist is about to pull off the biggest con of his life.

…and that he has no idea how to do the job we’ve given him.

The wealthy believe that they shouldn’t be governed by the same laws as the rest of us. The lives they lead are almost unbelievable to those of us who have never had more money than we could spend on a single purchase.  Trump is one of these people. He has always lived that lifestyle.

Trump has no intention of doing any of the things his predecessors in office have done in order to earn our trust while they are in office. He will not be selling off his businesses, he’s pretending his children will run them without consulting him. He will be in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution from the moment that he takes his oath of office because he will be paid by someone staying in one of his hotels, visitors from foreign governments, on the same day (probably within the same hour) that he swears his false oath.

His contempt for our system goes far beyond simple greed, his need for more money and more fame. He’s hired relatives to run parts of the administration in violation of nepotism laws. He’s named appointees for cabinet seats that have clear conflicts of interest. He’s named appointees who have declared their intention to destroy the department they will be in charge of, pretty much across the board. He’s been bought and paid for by billionaires across the country who are counting on him to deliver on the promises he’s made to roll back clean energy and approve expanded drilling and pipeline proposals.

Robert Reich asked Facebook What do you think? in the wake of Trump’s pick of former Gov. Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy. What do I think? I find it impossible to take anything about this election seriously; which is weird, because I was one of the people who took Trump seriously from the beginning and discounted his chances with the voting public because he was demonstrably unqualified for the office he was seeking. Everything that he has done since the election has demonstrated, again and again, just how unqualified he is financially, mentally, temperamentally.

He can’t be president.

…and still the media people act like he can be president and “aren’t you outraged about this?” I’m well beyond outraged now. The surreality of the approaching cataclysm, surrounded by the same old news organizations parroting the same old garbage news as if there would be a United States for us to live in if this dangerously deranged person were to be allowed to take and hold the office of the president for the next 4 years has me all but convinced I’m the only real person in a video game gone horribly wrong.

He can’t be president. If they make him president anyway the US won’t be here for long if we don’t remove him, and we may not survive his removal if we do. You may well say “that can’t happen” but I guarantee you the average inhabitant of the USSR never thought that they would be reliant upon the truncated government of Russia and the other severed states of the former Soviet Union, either. But they did all the same; and if you think that isn’t Vladimir Putin’s favored dream, the end of the USA, then you really don’t understand the mind of a former KGB agent turned dictator like Putin.

#TrumpStoleIt: A Facebook LIVE Event

#TrumpStoleIt: Watch the movie that predicted Trump would steal the election…And find out how he did it!2018 and 2020 are just around the corner. Help us protect our democracy, expose those who seek to undermine it, and ensure your vote counts. Join the movement, sign up here: TrumpStoleIt.orgOur FREE premiere screening of the updated cut of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Movie was followed by an online discussion, which you can view here: https://www.facebook.com/GregPalastInvestigates/videos/10154934599072128/#Trump #Crosscheck #ElectionFraud #VotingRights #TheResistance #BDMCB

Posted by Greg Palast on Thursday, January 19, 2017
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Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast busted Jeb Bush for stealing the 2000 election by purging Black voters from Florida’s electoral rolls. Now Palast is back to take a deep dive into the Republicans’ dark operation, Crosscheck WHICH STOLE a million minority votes by November—and the billionaires who BANKROLLED it.

#TrumpStoleIt Posted by Greg Palast
Caveat Emptor, Buyer Beware

Donald J. Trump is going to step up to take that oath in less than 24 hours now, and you as an American citizen need to understand that you are about to buy into something with no warranty and no guarantees, and you had best inspect each and every proposal put forward by these delusional people as if your life depended on it, because it very well might.

He will come into office with a House of Representatives packed with delusional people who think they can spend money and cut taxes at the same time (it worked for Bush. Temporarily) and there is only so much more of our debt that the Chinese will be willing to buy. Willing to buy from His Electoral Highness Donald J. Trump, that is. He has insulted the Chinese more times than I can count now. Apparently no one has told him that the Chinese have been the biggest buyer of American debt for several years now.

That debt load the country has been carrying? That is about to come due. Guess who will have to foot the bill for paying it? We will, the citizens of the United States. That bill and all the money Trump spends or puts in his pocket during his brief term in the White House. We have to pay that. Us, our children, or grand children and their grandchildren. But not Donald J. Trump and his family. No, they don’t pay taxes, because they are smart. So they won’t be paying the bills, at least not directly and not in a way they would notice. The currency will inflate and those of us with the least will go hungrier than we are now. We’ll lose property to foreign investors spending dollars we’ve convinced them to buy as debt. Federal lands will be privatized and sold. Federal programs will be privatized in the name of cost-cutting.

The latter will go as well as the private prisons did; private prisons that will once again be approved by the Justice Department under its new leadership. Public schools will disappear into voucher programs which won’t cover the cost of teaching poor children who won’t even be able to feed or clothe themselves properly because there won’t be jobs for their parents (automation being the reasons low wage, low skill jobs are disappearing. It isn’t outsourcing and immigrants #MAGA once again) and there won’t be welfare for them to rely on. There certainly won’t be any healthcare unless you are wealthy or lucky enough to qualify under the newly restrictive measures imposed on that program.

Don’t believe me? Remember that wall the #MAGA wanted Trump to build, the wall he said he’d make Mexico pay for? We’re going to pay for it. But trust Donald J. Trump when he says he’ll bill Mexico for the cost of the wall. The wall that there will already be tunnels under when it is built.

Illusions are important when you are trying to sell someone on your dream of pocketing that next dollar.

In reality, Trump’s administration is a rebuke to the very notion that the public interest diverges in any way from private ones. The Labor Department will be run by a man whose interest in the field is dominated by a mania for cheap labor; the Environmental Protection Agency will be run by a virtual pass-through for fossil-fuel interests. Trump’s government will make policy by and for the rich and well-connected. As Politico reports, “the extent to which donors are stocking Trump’s administration is unparalleled in modern presidential history.” As Kudlow makes clear, Trumpism regards the fear that government might favor capital over labor or some other public interest as inherently nonsensical.

New York Magazine ‘The Wealthy Would Never Steal’ — A Credo for Trump’s Party By Jonathan Chait
Waking Up With Sam Harris #54 – Trumping the World (with James Kirchick)

Since Obama’s election in 2008 it has become fashionable amongst the conservative elite to pretend that they never were in favor of anything government might do. Not in favor of anything a government headed by a black Democratic president might do, which equates to not in favor of government, embracing anarchism from behind. Too bashful to look anarchy in the face, but heading down the road to anarchism all the same.

Now they find themselves with the reigns of power, all of the reigns of power, unexpectedly in their hands. These people have clearly voted for what they believe is a strong leader. People who want that leader to ignore the constitutional limitations on the office of president. People who want desperately to pretend that their opponents are the bad guys. The brownshirts. The people who want to destroy America. The truly surprising thing about the current crop of conservative Republicans isn’t that they are ignorant; as in, they don’t know that fascism was a right-wing ideology. That strong central leadership is one of the defining attributes of dictatorship. No, the surprising thing is that they know what the truth is, but simply deny it because they want the opposite to be true.

Willful ignorance.

I’ve seen this type of willful ignorance applied to atheism, to evolution, to climate change. But I never thought I’d see the day when they denied their own political ideology, their worship of the strong leader as being anything other than what it truthfully is. This is newspeak/newthink on a really frightening scale. They have to know that they are being false, but they simply lock that knowledge away and blithely pretend that white is black and black is white. I don’t know of any way to deal with this level of insincerity (I first noted in conservative pundits like William Kristol and Pat Buchanan) no way to deal with this level of denial of reality short of eradication. Open warfare. I’d love to hear a way to get through to people who have voluntarily shut their brains off. Please let me know if I’m missing something here.

I mean, they can’t be reasoned with. They simply redefine everything to mean the opposite of what it is for their own convenience. They not only lie to everyone around them, they lie to themselves and believe the lies. This is why Donald Trump is their current leader. He is the king of liars, leading a host of liars.

After eight tedious years of one wild-assed glassy-eye conspiracy theory after another, after nearly a decade of endless birthers and a parade of truthers and more goddamned lame-ass Benghazi reboots than the Batman franchise, after robot alien reptiles in rubber human suits, after Obama is a Muslim, Obama is gay, Obama went to Mars (no really, there are people who believe the CIA teleported Obama to Mars as a teenager, twice, and those silly sons of bitches write me letters), Obama killed Antonin Scalia, Obama has 39 different Social Security numbers, Obama secretly worships Satan, Obama is going to invade Texas, Obama was adopted, Obama’s wife is a man, Obama’s kids were stolen from Africa (because Obama’s wife is a man), Obama is a commie, Obama is a Nazi, Obama refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Obama is a time traveling super-villain here to gayify white Christian babies with his Magic Negro Ray of Chocolate Mojo, and etcetera, and etcetera, and etcetera up to the part where conservatives are actually floating the idea Obama is conspiring with Hillary Clinton to kidnap kids for some world-spanning Soros-funded pedophile wholesaler operating out of a pizza joint in Washington D.C (which they’ve figured out from “clues” they “deciphered” by reading John Podesta’s emails which were stolen by Russians and fenced via an international criminal organization run by a guy who actually is wanted on sexual assault charges), after 8 years of that, let’s not resort to the same defective Creation-Science based reasoning here. Please.

Stonekettle Station, Resolutions

The problem with #MAGA, this indefinable need to take America back to a previous era, is that America was never the place they believe it was. The problem is also deeper than that. America has a near-terminal case of amnesia when it comes to its own history.

America became someplace else after WWII. Before WWI, before the crash in ’29; before all of that, the US was mostly farms and light industrial manufacturing focused on delivering products to Americans who needed them. There were no interstates, no giant airports, no Military Industrial Complex. There were just farms and farmers and a few scattered cities that corresponded to centers of government or industrial manufacturing.

After WWII we became aware of our power. More importantly, our leaders became aware of it and used it to throw our weight around the globe, influencing other nations to enter our circle of friends, the people who would get rich off of our prosperity with us. Today we consume most of the production that the world generates, while paying little to nothing for it aside from letters of credit. Demanding what we want at the point of a gun, as we have done since the 80’s, is getting old now. The rest of the world is beginning not to care what we whiney Americans want, and they aren’t going to keep buying our debt.

The system which worked following WWII has come to it’s functional end. It is time for a new system to be born, and I don’t think the world is ready to take on that herculean task. I don’t think we can afford to wait, either. This change since WWII, this focus on the Military Industrial Complex and it’s servants in Washington D.C. are why Philip K. Dick’s stories have played so well in the last few decades. There is a madness there in his stories, a madness that the man himself suffered from profoundly. That madness is echoed in the world around us, the disconnection between what is real and what we want to be real. It is almost as if we didn’t win WWII. It is almost as if we… lost?

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”

Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1951)

The future has not been written yet. There is still hope for the future. The errors of the past are revealed for us. Hindsight is always 20/20. If the Democrats had not let the Clintons control the party the way they did, if Hillary had allowed real competition at the top of the party and ticket, not forced an outsider to challenge her, if the people who want justice and equality from their system get up and join their local precinct meetings now, if the Democratic party itself embraces new technology to ramp up inclusion; then we’ll get candidates with a broad base of grassroots support rather than the crop of power brokers we currently have to pick through.

But that just deals with the open question of who to vote for in 2018 and 2020. That doesn’t get us through the next two years. Doesn’t get us through the harrowing times that await us on the other side of January 20th.

With The Art of War firmly in mind; Rather than meeting your enemy on their battlefield, pitch your tents where you want to fight. Make them fight on your battlefield, out in the open where greater numbers (and we have greater numbers than they do) will turn the tide of battle and we will be able to win handily.  That observation relies on the vast majority of Americans to take an interest in their own government. I’m not holding my breath on this occurring since Americans getting off their couches and doing anything proactive in the realm of politics would be an unprecedented act in the history of human governance.

Which is why I repeat the title of this post again, one last time.

Caveat Emptor; Buyer Beware

I have practiced this principle almost by rote for most of my adult life, having pretty much always been poor since leaving my hometown in Kansas. I can’t afford to be taken to the cleaners by shady dealers. I prefer to think of caveat emptor more as due diligence, ensuring that what is being promised is reality, making sure that what you are buying is actually what the seller claims it is. When money is tight and purchases are made on promises and shoe strings, you have to know that what you are buying is actually going to do the thing you want it to do.

I say all this, every single word of it that I’ve written on the subject of Donald J. Trump or his 3am rage tweeting alter-ego The Orange Hate-Monkey over this past year with the personal knowledge I have gained through experience. That we have elected a con-artist to the presidency.  That when you are forced to deal with a con-artist you keep your hands on your wallet and don’t agree to anything without seeing it first in writing; and even then, don’t let go of those purse-strings. Keep your legal representation on retainer and make a point of running every single thing the con-artist says to you past your counselor before responding in any fashion to him.

Above all, understand that you’ve already bought whatever it is he does while he has the office of the president in his control. If that knowledge keeps you up at night, then you are just beginning to glimpse the nightmares I’ve been having since November 8th.

I’ll see all of you at the polls in 2018. I hope.

The Justification for the Explanatory Pause

Code Switch is one of those podcasts that I make a point to listen to even when the titles make me cringe. This is one of those episodes that I cringed through while at the same time having some relevant old white guy points I really felt were worth addressing.

Code Switch – Hold Up! Time For An Explanatory Comma – December 14, 2016


The podcast hosts bring on Hari Kondabolu (whose podcast Politically Re-Active isn’t one I listen to) to talk about why he takes a break in the middle of a subject riff in order to explain the subject matter being discussed.

He refers to it as Hold Up, Wait a Minute which is amusing, the right move for a podcast that is humorous in nature. However the title of this podcast Explanatory Comma had me yelling explanatory pause at my headphones by the end of the episode.

In my opinion, the breaking point for when/when not to explain things is entirely subjective. If the audience member knows about the thing, they will think you are talking down to them. If the audience member doesn’t know, then they will be lost if you don’t explain it. I knew who Tupac was, so was not lost during the previous episode of Code Switch that dealt with him but didn’t explain who he was.

On the other hand Hari Kondabolu says Tribe Called Quest and stands on his outrage at having to explain that this was another music reference. I know it is a music reference now, because I went out and looked it up and realized that my ignorance on the subject is a product of not having any interest in Rap, Hip Hop, or any other form of music that wasn’t Rock or Classical or the Country music my mother made me listen to as a child.

All of us are products of our experiences. If our experiences don’t include your experiences, then any attempt to connect will be fruitless unless a common ground of conversation can be established. So you have to take time to explain to the audience so that you can bring them along with you if you want them to go where you are going by the end of your narrative. If you don’t do that, they get bored, stop reading/listening/watching and your attempt to communicate fails.

When you can’t see your audience, the curse of the A/V field, you have to attempt to gauge what your audience will understand without your providing an explanation. Which is largely what this entire episode of Code Switch is about.

But I didn’t start writing this entry to talk about why explanatory pauses are necessary.

What I wanted to address was making sure that you don’t take time to explain things that really shouldn’t have to be explained. All of us have our own lives, our own heuristics, our own foibles and our own prejudices. Most of us are smart enough not to air our dirty laundry or (as Hari Kondabolu quite pointedly says) force our white supremacy onto the rest of society.

There are exceptions, the entirety of the FOX news team springs immediately to mind, but generally we keep our thoughts to ourselves because, hey, everybody is busy and why burden a total stranger with the bullshit in your life? Right?

On the other end of the spectrum we have something like the TED talk below;

Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan – TEDWomen 2016 – A queer vision of love and marriage

Now, I’ve made a few attempts to line out what I think on the subject in the talk. Tiptoeing through Gender IssuesPartnership by Any Other NameHomophobia In Denial. Before you come to any snap judgements about what I’m about to say, I’d suggest that you take an explanatory pause and go look at what I’ve said before, so that what I’m about to say doesn’t strike you as callous or unfeeling.

When I look at that couple I do not see the complex characters they want us all to accept them as. What I see is a perfectly average couple who clearly love each other. If I’m passing them on the street, serving them food, or any of the dozens of jobs of the people they will encounter every day, none of those people will have the time or the desire to understand and accept these two as what they see themselves as. There comes a point where you have to rely on your gender presentation (clothing, hair style, scents, makeup, whatever) to communicate all the myriad things you think are important as a first impression. You cannot go back and make a second first impression, and an angry explanation about why your presentation should have been understood will be accepted just as well as the FOX news junkie who goes around insisting that Santa is white.

This TED talk is an example of the dreaded internet oversharing. The needy posts on various social platforms that start with “Let’s see who reads this” or “if you really are my friend”. The entire TED talk is an explanatory pause; and frankly, I’ve contested a few of the belabored points in the talk.  Contested them because, in the end, no one really should care that much about you unless they are having sex with you. You aren’t having sex with the entire internet and if you are you probably need therapy of a different kind.

A Queer Version of Love and Marriage goes over the line from explanatory pause into the realm of browbeating. If you are in an educational setting like a podcast or a TED talk, then you are going to get things explained to you that you probably already know. That is what the 30 second jump button is for (if your podcast app doesn’t have that, go get this one) if you don’t have the patience to hear something explained for the 97th time, skip ahead 30 seconds. But if you are getting a gallon of milk at three in the morning, don’t expect the cashier to know your preferred gender pronoun. Just pay the person behind the counter and say “thank you” and walk out. He’s got mopping to get back to and he really doesn’t care about your frustrations.

When I’m listening to a podcast about Code Switching I expect to have musical references, as well as many other references, explained to me. That is why it is called Code Switch. Because we are trying to Switch the Code; Race and Identity Remixed. Understand the other side. Broaden our understanding of the human animal. Can’t do that if we don’t understand the references. Hope I’m being crystal clear here.


I edited the first sentence in the second to last paragraph to be more clear as to where the line between explaining and over-explaining is, or where it is for me. Your Mileage May Vary, as the saying goes. Damned indefinite pronouns, the bugaboo of all attempts at clear writing.

Earlier on I changed the last paragraph to link the FAQ for Code Switch so that anyone who disagrees with what is being said can just go to the FAQ and educate themselves.

The most amusing thing about writing this piece, about my initial response to pushback against White Supremacy being attached to everything white people do, to the explanatory pause being denigrated as a distraction from the actual storytelling, is that the overwhelming number of negative attacks have come from White Knights who feel obliged to jump in and defend minorities from aggression. As if Old White Guy points are always going to be aggressive. Or White Supremacist. As if minorities aren’t capable of defending themselves in a battle of words and ideas.

May I always resist the urge to come to the defense of someone whom I consider to be my equal and does not appear to be losing a battle of words. All Social Justice Warriors should be compelled to adhere to that oath.


Gene Demby‘s sole response on Twitter was two characters.

NO

Those two characters, and then he promptly blocked me on Twitter. I think the blocking was a bit overboard, but fans can be a bit oppressive. I practice prophylactic blocking of MAGA trolls on all venues myself, so I will take the fact that it is Twitter and what would I do in his shoes? and go with that.

I puzzled on the meaning of those two characters. Puzzled on them off and on for months. I puzzled on them until the next time they needed to explain something on the show and they said it’s time for an explanatory comma. After about the third repetition of the phrase, I realized that the NO meant that I had completely missed the point the show hosts were driving at. They were introducing a new segment to the show, and this was to be its cringe-inducing title. I also missed the point that I was not in the segment of the audience that the phrase was directed at. It was the people resenting having things explained to them that they already knew. A cute way of attempting to disarm them, I guess.

I’ve tried clever titles for posts in the past. It rarely works out the way you intend, but I wish them luck all the same.


I’m still listening to Code Switch. Currently I’m looking forward to the last installment of the look back at the influence of President Obama (part 1, part 2, part 3 WBEZ’s Making Obama was also worth the listen) I have an opinion piece on that subject which I title Obama Best President Since Eisenhower. No, I am not subtle. Not in the least.

The last episode put a bug in my ear about the miscommunication of what Code Switch means to black people and why it might mean something different to white folks. I talk in code to old white people; old being my age and older (yes, there are older white people than I am) I will occasionally put on a filter for children that aren’t mine as well. I have found that being dead honest with the children of strangers can be more troublesome than being dead honest with old white folks.

However Code Switching takes on a whole new meaning when you take things like this into account.

The Green Book, or to give it its full title, “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” was first published in 1936. It was a revolutionary publication which listed restaurants, bars and service stations which would serve African-Americans.

Traveling during the Jim Crow era was difficult for African Americans. In the South, “black code” laws targeted them for loitering. In many towns, black travelers risked death if they stayed past sundown.

Travelers came up with their own ways to avoid violence and humiliation. One was called ‘The Green Book’ created by Harlem postal worker Victor Hugo Green. It was an invaluable tool to help black people plan a safe route across the country.

Alvin Hall’s BBC program ‘The Green Book’ documents this little-known aspect of racial segregation.

When you might be lynched or shot for simply driving into the wrong town, knowing what the code is takes on a whole new meaning. I know this. I knew this. But knowing isn’t being. While I know that I don’t speak freely (to not speak in code) around parents, children, people who aren’t into SF or video games or recreational drug use (legal. All my drugs are legal now. Have been for at least 25 years. I have the prescriptions to prove it) the downsides of slipping out of code for people like me are radically less life-ending than for people who face the possibility of death at the hands of people who hate them just for existing. Which is why a Code Switch takes on much more weight for minorities than for people like me.

My apologies for approaching the subject with less gravity than it probably deserved. I still see the refusal to explain as a missed opportunity to connect; but truthfully there is little use in telling me about one more artist whose rap I probably won’t be interested in either. The explanation for how I lost my music (and with it the appreciation for pretty much all music) is a story I haven’t tried to write down yet.

Another time, perhaps. 

The End of An Era: Fidel Castro is no More

Robert Reich

“At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him. For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba. Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”Barack Obama

Once again proving why Barack Obama is the Best President Since Eisenhower and why that other guy will never be more than an Orange Hate-Monkey. What mystified me at the time was why Republicans set themselves on the course of reversing the actions of the president. Reversing the warming of relations with Cuba, as if we needed more enemies in the world. Completely blew my mind, the derangement behind even trying to reverse the course President Obama had established following Fidel Castro’s relinquishment of power and subsequent death.  What a weird, weird world we live in. 

The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP

I’ve arrived at that certain point in time; November 8th, 2016. I’ve been stalling the inevitable. I have now listened to all the podcasts that were queued up from prior to that date. I even went back through the archives of Hidden Brain in hopes of delaying this confrontation with reality, and I say in hopes of delaying this confrontation with reality, and I say even because I’ve heard most of them as part of the science queue from the NPR feeds. I listened to them again even though I really didn’t need to.

Call it denial, call it whatever you like, I haven’t been able to listen to a newscast for the last two weeks. I still can’t listen, watch or read while pundits attempt to normalize what has just happened. Every podcast for the last year and a half that has included any attempt to break down the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s (OHM) flung shit, the sounds that normal people consider words with meanings, have been and will continue to be culled from my news stream. I have no time to waste on attempts to rationalize what is 80% bullshit, scientifically determined.

Now that the OHM looks to be destined for the White House, these sickeningly obsequious pundits are still trying to make sense of the patterns that emerge from words that he has said, blithely ignoring the adage that covers this particular waste of time.

That adage would be GIGO or Garbage In, Garbage Out.

The electoral college still hasn’t spoken, won’t speak until after December 19th. If they elect him he then becomes President-Elect. He won’t be President until January 20th of 2017. Until then everything that a pundit might think about what will happen is just another attempt at creating a fantasy narrative, much like your average fantasy football player talking about their team as if it existed anywhere outside of their own heads.

Life must go on, but the way forward may not include much in the way of news content for me. I will not be wasting my time normalizing the behaviors of proto-fascists. Any article which includes phrases like Trump says will be beneath notice from the perspective of actual value for time spent, simply adding to the amount of garbage in that has to be sorted for relevant life-sustaining facts coming out. Arguments to the contrary directed at me will simply be met with OHM quotations which might or might not be relevant to the argument presented.

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Donald Trump

I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?

Donald Trump

They’re allowed to cut off heads and they’re allowed to chop off heads, and we can’t waterboard.

Donald Trump

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on

I love the poorly educated.

Donald Trump

Who knows if these quotes will be relevant? I certainly don’t. No one can know, not even the OHM himself. He lost sight of what the truth was long, long ago, back in the days before his dad gave him the stake to start his business with.

The old anonymous quote (which I’ve used more than once recently) on the current problems with our country goes like this; “American fascism will arrive carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag” and it has. They aren’t fascists yet. Not yet. Speech is free, after all. You can say the things fascists say and still not be one. Talk is cheap. If they follow through on the OHM’s promises… When they seat their dictator with the express purpose of allowing him to do what he promised, they will no longer be proto-fascists but fascists in fact. [They are now defacto fascists, just FYI.]

The one thing that can be said about the structure of a Trump administration is that we have a good idea of who the people that will ultimately be named as co-defendants at the war crimes trials will be. These are still the same paltry few facts that we knew two weeks ago when I wrote this piece.

The OHM announced this week that he has selected Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, which means that gutting public schools nationally to line corporate schooling pockets will also occur along with misbegotten attempts to stimulate 18th century power production in the form of coal, denial of climate change and its effects, etc. It is worth noting that Devos’ husband Dick DeVos is the son of the Amway founder; consequently she and he are well versed in the nature of what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel, favored among pyramid scheme operators, conmen and hucksters across America. Favored by them because it clothes them in the robes of religiosity every time they cheat someone else out of a buck. God willed it to be that way.

There has been almost nothing that qualifies as news on the subject of the outcome of the election that is worth reporting beyond those few facts and the fact that Hillary Clinton has now racked up a whopping 2 million vote lead in the election held on November 8th (Electoral College Explained. Again.) Every other word out of the news organizations mouths on this subject for the last two weeks has been nothing but meaningless hot air.

The Republican Party itself though has come closer and closer to embracing its historical predecessor the NSDAP. Even long-time holdout Mitt Romney has decided he likes the idea of representing the United States under a President Trump. Never Trump? Apparently Mitt Romney misspoke as well. Another example of just how much corrupting influence there is in governmental authority. As if we needed a refresher on that truism.

These politicians aligning themselves with Trump, expressing willingness to work with Trump cannot understand some very basic facts relating to the OHM’s bid for the presidency, and those facts will come back to bite them in the end.


The beast that Trump has shackled himself to requires human sacrifice to be satiated. There are no two ways about this.

The notion that eleven million people can be deported from the United States, as the Orange Hate-Monkey stated when he launched his campaign, is pure delusion. No matter how many racists and sociopaths work the numbers in pretense that this is an exercise divorced of prejudice or bias, the fact is that Hitler wanted to deport the Jews prior to having to institute the final solution, and he only had to get rid of six million people. All the hand-waving in the world will not change what it is they want to do when they actually embark on the road to doing it. He and they are the American fascists we have been warned about, and that isn’t even touching on the promise to exclude Muslims from the country.  The corollary with the holocaust is even firmer there, and so is pointless to belabor.


If his supporters intend to force the OHM to comply with the sales pitch he made to gain office, to rid the US of the immigrant menace, the Muslim menace, then there will be concentration camps full of brown people all across the US. That is how you isolate and dispose of 11 million people. It is a herculean task and requires harsh measures and steadfast resolve to carry out. What is never mentioned in any of these discussions is what the rest of the world will do while we publicly dispose of 11 million people. War with the rest of the world? It is what we deserve for allowing the OHM to take office. He is quite literally an American Hitler.

Let me guess. You don’t see it? I’ll spell it all out for you.

The NSDAP embraced the grassroots distrust of the other in their German midst as the way to victory. It was/is common for Jews to be viewed as other in Germany and across Europe and into parts of the US. This same language, this same course, is being used by the OHM, his appointees, his supporters, etc.  They don’t even pretend that Jews aren’t on the hit list with the Hispanics and Muslims. Fear of the other in our midst is what drives most of the OHM’s supporters, and they aren’t going to be satisfied with half-measures. There will be round-ups. There will be mass incarceration. There will be blood.  If the OHM allows any of these things to occur, he will be remembered as the president that brought fascism to America.

In other words, Trump and Putin are two of a kind: xenophobic, bigoted demagogues with dual histories of corruption, aggression, and celebration of white supremacy repackaged as patriotic nationalism. Their radical American and Russian followers, now linked by the internet, share similar goals and are part of a larger revival of white-supremacist movements happening across the West.

Quartz; Donald Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin

More troublingly, he has harnessed the power of the evangelical christian right.  DeVos was just his latest pick to illustrate this.  Before that it was Governor Pence, one of the most militant enforcers of christian dogma to come along in quite some time. This was also the way to power for the NSDAP and their leader. Famously, the belt buckles of German soldiers bore the slogan Gott Mit Uns (God With Us) just one of the more outward signs of the use that religion was put to in support of Nazi designs on power. Also like Hitler, the OHM has little use for religion himself. It is a means to an end and nothing more.

There are some serious shadings of The Handmaid’s Tale in the OHM’s rhetoric, but that really isn’t anything new in conservative circles. If misogynists and their ilk, the dedicated anti-abortion lobby, were vulnerable to comparisons to Nazism they would have modified their talking points ages ago. Fascists and authoritarians throughout history have taken an unhealthy interest in securing increased reproduction for the right kind of people. This is hardly a feature of Nazism alone, but it is worth mentioning that banning abortion was just another thing that the GOP and the NSDAP have in common.

These are just the most visible parts of the equation. 

Looking more deeply into the plans of the OHM, I would have you note that he refused to divulge his taxes or any of his financials. He refuses to divest himself of his businesses. We have no way of knowing who and what he owes to whom, or where his personal interests lie. What will make him a buck.  What will keep him in the good graces of the criminals who counted on him to launder money for them (the real purpose of most real estate development) he has steadfastly refused to budge on this issue even though it will put him in violation of the constitution,

During a discussion on CNN this morning, former White House lawyer Richard Painter made the case that if it appears that Trump will be in violation of the emolument clause of the Constitution, then the Electoral College must decide to not vote for him next month.

After he and fellow guest Jan Baran agreed that there isn’t an actual law that prevents Trump from being involved in his businesses while in the White House but that it does present numerous ethical issues, Painter said that he informed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway of concerns around the emolument clause.

Former Bush Counsel: Electoral College Can’t Vote For Trump

This is most likely what Trump had in mind if he were so unlikely as to be successful in his bid for the White House. A real estate developer is only interested in how much money he can make in a particular deal, and let’s be clear about this point. Him making money has absolutely nothing to do with protecting America, or making it great again. His personal aggrandizement has netted him a lot of gold-plated furnishings in his long business life; but it has served to destroy many other businesses and many other people along the way. His standard of practice is theft of service. He doesn’t know how to pay for any of the things he takes. There is where the problem lies.

He will lie, cheat and steal from the American people on a level that we haven’t seen since the days of Boss Tweed. This is the kind of business he has always conducted and I have seen no inclination on his part (much less ability) to change his patterns. He will break the tie between Warren G. Harding and George W. Bush for worst president in the history of the US, easily being the most hated President in the history of the US even before taking office. In my estimation he stands an equal chance of also being the last president of the United States, if we allow him to take office.

“The President of the United States has the power to affect how our tax dollars are spent, who the federal government does business with, and the integrity of America’s standing in a global economy,” said Clark. “Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people. The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, and not the President’s financial interests.”

Previous American presidents including Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all used some form of blind trust or placed their assets in an investment vehicle over which they had no control.

Press Release for H.R. 6340

I have faint hope, still, that the Electoral College will refuse to elect Donald J. Trump to the Presidency.  That they will refuse to endorse the OHM and at least kick the can to the House of Representatives, make them embrace their own destruction directly.

If the Republicans had any credibility left last summer they would have refused to nominate Trump. They didn’t, they embraced him. They claimed he did not represent the party, then embraced him anyway. They had their lackey in the FBI interfere in the election by submitting a false letter to congress less than a week before the election, which the OHM then paraded about, pretending that the GOP was finally going to get the butcher of #Benghazi. Lock her up! his mindless supporters chanted. Too late we learned that it was just another fake story, one among hundreds that the Republicans and their nominee’s Russian friends had flooded the internet with.

The Republicans appear to think “any way to power is acceptable” making them well and truly the inheritors of the NSDAP. They will most likely be remembered that way, if there is anyone left to remember after the dust settles.


October 26, 2017 addendum. Obviously Trump holds the office of president. Wishful thinking about alternatives has long gone out the window. Today I got a few notifications in the inbox that brought this article back to mind. One of them was this article headline Who Knew Trump Would Be a Weak President? from an article over at the New Republic. While I didn’t know he’d be weak, the moment he didn’t orchestrate the creation of Mexican concentration camps for the disposal of his purported eleven million illegal people, I was happy to discover he was a weak president. Being deemed and proven weak beats that alternative by several miles.

Nazi Dog Whistle, Stonekettle Station

The OHM wants so badly for us to let him be Hitler. He begs for that kind of power constantly. Daily if not hourly. He derides the free press, excoriates people who protest against him, etcetera, as I’ve mentioned in more recent articles. But this article isn’t about the OHM. This is about the enabler in this codependency tragedy. This article was and is about the party of Lincoln, the party of Eisenhower, and now the party of Trump. The Republican party.

Today I also get a notification that Steve Bannon is hell-bent to turn the GOP, the Republican party, into the de facto party of Trump, an organ that will rubber stamp anything that the OHM whimsically decides to do next. Javier Zarracina over at VOX penned an article titled The Republican purge has only just begun. Robert Reich poses his usual question at the end of the status he linked the article to. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Steve Bannon is the leader of the White Nationalist movement that backed Trump, and was recently ejected from the White House by more sensible members of the Trump administration for his openly racist and xenophobic proposals. That guy, the guy who was too crazy to be kept near the easily confused President Trump, now wants to turn the GOP into the German NSDAP in principle if not in fact.

…conversations with conservative activists, GOP operatives, and people close to Bannon and the White House suggest that the Breitbart executive chair is engaged in a bold, ambitious project that has a relatively clear vision. He doesn’t just want to destroy the old Republican establishment — he wants to build a new one.

To do that, he hopes to unite many factions of the right who have gripes against GOP leadership into a broad coalition. That would include immigration hardliners who fear “amnesty” deals. But it would also include social conservatives and anti-spending activists who feel their priorities are too often ignored or compromised away.

Overall, he wants Republican senators to care far less about what the Chamber of Commerce thinks, and far more about what Breitbart readers think.

The Republican purge has only just begun

There are a lot of people who read Breitbart. A lot. A scary amount of Americans believe the bullshit shoveled there and at FOX news without question. But is that a group large enough to win general elections? That really is the question here, not whether I like what Steve Bannon does to a party that I’ve never had any use for in the first place.

I think that if he wants to turn the GOP into an even less likeable version of the Libertarian inspired Tea Party (Now with More White Nationalism!™) so that the GOP loses seats in districts they gerrymandered to be unwinnable by any other group aside from mainstream GOP representatives, I’m cool with that. He can have the soiled corpse of the GOP to enact whatever disgusting acts he wants on it. Let the fate of the GOP be a lesson to any other group that thinks that power for its own sake is something you can pursue without risking your very soul. From Lincoln to the OHM in 150 years. That’s how fast a party founded on ending an injustice can turn into a party that promotes injustice. A cautionary tale for anyone who cares to tell it or read it.

It now falls to the Democrats to craft a message that will win hearts and minds and deliver the United States from the evil that would be American Fascism under a Trump government designed from the beginning to destroy everything that has been constructed in this country over the last two hundred years. Yes, the future really is that grim.

The Orange Hate-Monkey

There is a definite sense of the surreal in my reality this week. I was behind in most of the podcasts I listen to because I was trying to follow the news right up to election day. I have blissfully ignored most of the news since Tuesday, November 8th 2016, with a few glaring exceptions that I will get to shortly. I have been wading into the swamp of audio that has flooded my feed in the last two weeks, putting off listening to episodes of Waking Up, as one example. I’m saving those for when I have the capacity to concentrate on serious philosophical subjects again. I’m tossing out the dross that is no longer relevant now that reality has shifted post-election. Don’t really need to keep abreast of the latest tech, so no TWiT.tv for awhile. The science podcasts are my bedrock, though; which is why the last episode of Inquiring Minds has deepened the surreality I’ve been experiencing since Tuesday.

INQUIRING MINDS – 154 Changing Political Minds – November 4, 2016

(the eyeless, open-headed logo for the show is creeping me out as it stares at me now)

Listening to the people who attempt to defend their affinity for the Orange Hate-Monkey in the podcast isn’t helping. Oh poor, misunderstood me whining by rural whites strikes me as just this side of pathetic. As if urban blacks don’t have problems, haven’t had worse problems for the better part of two hundred years. The fact that the researchers on this podcast are so divorced from the truth of the matter, that the reality-disconnected people they have been interviewing actually turned out to be the ones who had the last laugh, that they got their American Psycho candidate on a collision course with the White House, in the face of the researcher’s own blithe belief that Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in for the presidency, isn’t helping with the surreality of this moment in time.

When I coined the phrase Orange Hate-Monkey, I wasn’t just being mean or childish. Repeating Chris HayesBirther-in-Chief label is something I do mean and childishly. Like the label for his profession, Real Estate Developer, which is just another form of epithet for an architectural design professional like myself, the moniker Orange Hate-Monkey is an attempt to describe the particular type of reality disconnect I perceive when this dangerously psychotic man speaks.

The man (and I use that term loosely. I assume he has working male parts because he has children he claims as his own. He isn’t a man in any other fashion that I can determine) does love to talk, and other people seem to find his blather endlessly amusing for reasons which I cannot fathom. No matter how many times I yelled at my television screen “why are you asking this liar questions when you know he will just lie to you?” in the last year, no one ever seemed to stop and ask if this person they were talking too was really all there, mentally.

All I ever heard in his voice was deception and hatred. All real estate developers have a looser than average grip on reality. It is a hazard of the job, sizing up the real estate you can afford and then putting lipstick on that pig so that you can get the best price. Sincerity sells, so they learn to believe their own bullshit more fervently than anyone else around them, more fervently than used car salesmen, even though they know it is all bullshit. As a real estate developer, these delusions are an asset to be utilized.

You sell the delusion. The delusion is all you sell, as a real estate developer. The sales receipts go in your own pocket, the development bills go to the corporation you create as a front. When the time comes you walk away with the cash, leaving the corporation on the rocks to soak up the costs your delusions incurred. This is the business model of the real estate developer in question, the Orange Hate-Monkey. Theft of service, his standard of practice. He is still in the same business.

Politics is almost pure delusion, stories we tell ourselves and each other to further a social agenda. Every single one of us creates a narrative in our heads that is mostly false, except to us. That we are more important than we are. That our opinions matter. That our votes count. That we know what is real and what isn’t. That what we think is real is real, as if our thinking it makes it real. That our leaders think of us when they do their jobs. That our leaders value us beyond the vote we cast, the duties we can perform. None of this is true, except to us individually. Internally. As a part of our narrative.

The notion that eleven million people can be deported from the United States, as the Orange Hate-Monkey stated when he launched his campaign, is pure delusion. No matter how many racists and sociopaths work the numbers in pretense that this is an exercise divorced of prejudice or bias, the fact is that Hitler wanted to deport the Jews prior to having to institute the final solution, and he only had to get rid of six million people. All the hand-waving in the world will not change what it is they want to do when they actually embark on the road to doing it. He and they are the American fascists we have been warned about, and that isn’t even touching on the promise to exclude Muslims from the country.  The corollary with the holocaust is even firmer there, and so is pointless to belabor.

The great wall he wants to build, can’t be built. This is also a delusion. Engineers have weighed in on this. It would alter climate (explain that one away, please) and render several bird species extinct, even if it could be built. Mexico won’t pay for the wall that can’t be built, either.  Insisting otherwise is just that much more evidence of mental instability, not a firmness of resolution.

Then we get to the real subject of his mental instability, aside from the beliefs about the place of Obama’s birth. That would be his blatant denial of science.

Science is almost the opposite of politics. Science is one of the very few things which we can say for certain is real. Science is quite likely our only link to objective reality; and that only briefly, in glimpses. Science can determine when someone is lying or not. Science can determine when the globe is warming, and what those warming effects might be. Science can say that evolution is a fact, even though I’ll lose half of America’s attention asserting this fact as fact.

I add that last point consciously, just as I crafted the phrase Orange Hate-Monkey consciously. It’s all well and good to talk about being able to establish facts, it is another thing to start telling people they might need to get an electric car, or that they are related to their dogs and cats far more closely than most religious people are comfortable accepting. But those are facts all the same, and denying those facts sets you on the trail to madness, to insanity.

Like the moniker Orange Hate-Monkey, I crafted the phrase Conspiracy Fantasist for a reason. I have consciously rejected grand conspiracy theories and derided them as fantasies ever since I started noticing the woo, the craziness, which is rampant in health discussions. Almost without trying I can summon a dozen arguments I’ve heard concerning Big Pharma and GMO’s and I could spend all day and all night for the rest of my life arguing fruitlessly with science deniers on these subjects, but that isn’t why I bring this subject up. I bring it up because once you start questioning science as a basis for determining the likelihood of truth, all logic goes out the window and anything can be real. Everyone has a conspiracy fantasy that they hold dear including yours truly, but if you don’t know that what you are harboring is a fantasy you leave yourself open to manipulation by people who do that for a living.

A real estate developer is one of those kinds of people. A real estate developer that appears to believe every single conspiracy fantasy that comes along, believes it right down to his soul, will use those fantasies to sell you on what they want you to buy and they will drink that kool aid right along with you, because they believe just as strongly as you do.

Therein lies the problem.

As much as I am ignoring the news this week, I can’t help but notice certain facts that rise to the surface. The Birther-in-Chief is floating cabinet appointments and Supreme Court nominees and the disconnect with reality that is present in these selections begins to be painfully obvious. Ben Carson for Health and Human Services? Yeah, the guy who is in the back pocket of an MLM (read that as Pyramid Scheme) he’s got his own problems with perceiving reality. A fracking billionaire for Department of Energy. An oil man for Secretary of the Interior. Bridgegate Chris Christie as the Attorney General. That will be pretty hard to pull off after he is disbarred. Serial philanderer Giuliani is even less attractive. Flynn for Defense. A climate denier for the EPA.

Big Bang Theory card, pre-election

As you go down this list, this basket of deplorables, you begin to notice that all of those names, all of them, are vociferous supporters of the Orange Hate-Monkey’s conspiracy fantasies. Nearly all of them are climate deniers, birthers and other types of fringe-thinking lunatics. The dangerous disconnection with reality that he already displays will not get any better with any of the names he offers up as his advisors.

Our problems just get worse.

There is no requirement that the president be of sound mind, even if we wanted to advance the Birther-in-Chief’s soundness of mind as a basis for disqualification. Here is the passage from the Constitution,

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

The oath of office doesn’t mention it,

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Big Bang Theory card, post-election

Although any attempt to imprison a person without due process, as he has threatened to do on the campaign trail several times, would be an impeachable offense. Consequently anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton should go to jail can just sit down and shut up now, unless they want him impeached. Go ahead and goad him, I will not stop you.

Our last hope to keep this dangerously deranged person, this person who is only going to get more deranged in office, is the electoral college, and I see little hope in that. As Robert Reich noted recently, Hillary Clinton only needs forty-two electors to change their vote to her, and we avoid the cost, pain and violence that will be required to pull the Orange Hate-Monkey out of our government by the short-hairs. As much as I will be right there with Senator Sanders when the Stormtrumpers show up for minorities and Muslims, it would be so much simpler if the electors just did their jobs and made sure the person who won the popular ballot is named as the president-elect. That the person they name isn’t under federal indictment. That the person isn’t currently awaiting trial. That the person isn’t actually dangerously psychotic, mentally deranged and a sexual pervert to boot.

I’d settle for it being Hillary Clinton, but I think you get the point. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2,000,000 votes. She is the third Democratic candidate to do this and not win the election in the last twenty years. City residents, people who tend to be more liberal, are clearly at a disadvantage electorally. What is needed is a change in state laws, something like this. Maryland is the latest state to say #TrumpNotMyPresident 11 other states have also passed this. Let’s see if we can get all 49 to pass it. It is either that, or we liberals will have to occupy all the state houses until they do. State houses which are all inside large cities. Where the liberals are.

In any case, I’ll see you on the other side of December 19th, at least when it comes to the subject of someone officially becoming the President-Elect, which the Real Estate Developer is not and hopefully will never be. Maybe the world will look brighter then.

Carry On, Whether You Feel Calm or Not

This talk from Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times is exactly what we need to stay focused on, those of us capable of rational thought today. Carry on Post-Brexit, whether calm or not easily applies to the US today and for the next few months after the disastrous returns from the 2016 general election. In the spirit of carrying-on I decided to go through Robert Reich’s points published on his wall this morning point by point, just to get a feel for what I think we have in store for us. We’ll see if my post-election predictions are as off as my predictions of the election of our first female president were.

Waking up this morning in an altered universe, trying to avoid despair, as I’m sure many of you are.

What to do, now? Let me offer a few suggestions.

The first temptation will be recrimination – against the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and all the other establishment figures who prevented Bernie from getting the nomination. That’s understandable, but recrimination won’t get us where we need to be.

Bernie would have lost. Every other Democratic candidate presented would have lost (maybe not Julian Castro, but he didn’t want to compete with Hillary for the job either) because this is the same kind of malcontents who upset the Brexit vote. They want things broken, and their change agent will be expected to break things. They voted for him with the expectation of breaking things, that is why he is the President-elect, not for anything he promised to do, but the damage he is expected to cause. With cynics like that at the helm, be prepared for ugliness to occur.

As a practical matter, our first priority must be to defend civil rights and civil liberties. Trump has unleashed the furies, and the furies will now feel unbridled. Be conscious and beware. We must protect those who need protecting. Trump isn’t yet president. We still have a court system, at the least.

This is probably one of the few points that is actually doable, because we don’t have to rely on our opponents to get it done. We just have to fund the ACLU and other defense organizations with enough funds to pull this off. The one thing that the break-everything’s who won the 2016 elections cannot control is the actions of the sane half of the United States. If we keep our heads and stay focused on the important goals. Goals like that one.

Our second priority must be to hold on to as much of the progress already made as possible. Use political jujitsu to turn the Republican’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act into something closer to Medicare for All, which it should have been all along – based on the most popular program in the federal government. Hold on to the progress on the environment we’ve already achieved, and fight off attempts to link a carbon tax to a huge corporate tax cut. Use this populist moment to raise taxes on corporations and the rich rather than cut them.

There is a steep slope ahead for anything we do on this front (see the previous note about breaking things) the ACA is gone. It ain’t coming back. Anyone who had insurance? You will lose your insurance. The subservient congress he has been handed will tacitly do whatever he asks, and his plans are to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, disabled and non-citizen workers. Look to see a reversal of the private prisons decision and an expansion of prisoner work programs. Militias will probably start rounding up what they term “Illegals” which we will have to counter with the ACLU and other rights programs. Budget cuts for everything that isn’t the military are likely. The military will be expanded over the objections of the generals, who will probably be replaced.

Worse, Obama (whom I love) will hand the Birther-in-Chief a blueprint for how to screw all of this up in his attempts to hand off the baton in this relay race he thinks he is running, unless he suddenly gains an understanding that not all of us want the same things.

Which is why the taxes on the wealthy will be lowered, as will the corporate tax rates (which is a far more complex issue than I can outline here. Suffice it to say lower corporate tax rates are not necessarily a bad thing) the memory of Ronaldus Maximus will be served, even if the actual policies of Ronald Reagan are not.

A carbon tax has no chance now. The Birther-in-Chief thinks climate change is a hoax. So repeat this mantra till it sinks in Americans are dumber than most of us thought, the dumber than dirt kinda dumb. They voted for the conspiracy fantasist who will be sworn in next January, they are definitely not smarter than he is.

Those of us blessed to live in progressive states must use this opportunity to move the agenda forward at the state level — to show what can be done on the minimum wage, paid family leave, single-payer health insurance, tuition-free public college, and election reforms.

I see a mass exodus to the blue areas of the map in the near future, as if that isn’t already happening. This will further exacerbate the problems in the red areas,  areas which already do not have enough population to do the jobs they need doing, to maintain the industries they are demanding come back to the U.S. This is only going to make the in-fighting between the cities and the rural areas (blue and red, respectively) uglier, not better. How that will shape up is anyone’s guess. It might be possible to use the tax base of the cities to address problems of the rural areas that feed it, but that will take some pretty creative thinking on the parts of city managers across the country. City managers who are already underfunded and understaffed. Not holding my breath on that one.

Our fifth priority should be to organize with an eye to the 2018 midterms and the 2020 election. I know many of you are exhausted, and the mere thought of more politics almost sickens you. But we have no choice.

I’m trying to remain hopeful that there will be a recognizable US in 2018 at this point. I really don’t see how we get there. If we do, we better be sure that we are positioned to take back congress and the senate. That means the 2018’s start next week. Find your local precinct office, invite your neighbors, take over the party machine. Do it now so that we don’t have to think about it in two years, we’ll just be doing what we planned all along.

Finally, we must take over the Democratic Party, or begin a third party, in order to bridge the gap between the white working class and people of color – thereby creating a coalition that can not only win elections, but take on the moneyed interests and reverse the inequalities that have driven us to this point.

Third parties are a really bad joke. The delusion that another party will fix the problems of the party system which excludes them from the system they want to fix, is the same kind of insanity that has gotten us here (doing things the same way expecting different results) The system does not allow for them. If we are inordinately successful, a speed of change not seen in the history of the world, we might be able to see the system modified to allow for minority party voices. That means ending gerrymandering, reforming campaign finance and altering the voting system itself with some form of ranked voting. All of this will likely require amending the Constitution to be successful, and there are several active groups out there attempting this now. Go join one of them. Until they are successful, taking over the local party machines (both Democrat and Republican) is the only method we have for fixing this system which has delivered us here.

There’s much more to talk about. But I wanted to start somewhere, and to give you a sense of possibility. Please do not fall into cynicism. That’s a self-fulfilling prophesy

What do you think?

I love Robert Reich’s posts for that last sentence. Sometimes it is maddening, but the professor in him makes him ask his students, his audience, to engage the problem directly.

Cynicism is what put the Birther-in-Chief where he is supposed to be in January. Cynicism drove his candidacy and cynics elected him to break the system. If we want to do better than the people who elected this real estate developer to the highest office in the land, cynicism is the first thing we have to evict from our minds.

The least productive congress, the least popular congress in history returning to office at 96% rate. That is the definition of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’ve noticed this behavior in Texas for decades now, and I am at a loss to explain it outside of just calling it insanity. For twenty years and longer Texas has doubled down on electing the most conservative candidate they can find; and when that idiot turns out to be, well, an idiot, they elect the next idiot who claims to be even more conservative. So it has gone again and again and again and they never seem to figure out that if you want to see different results, you have to change the parameters, the criteria, whatever it is you think you want from your government, from the people you elect to government.

Until then, until we do that, we will be that crazy dude in the alleyway that keeps walking into the wall over and over again. The guy who smells like alcohol and urine, looks like he slept in his clothes for a month, and wants to bum $20 bucks off of you to buy gas for his car. The world isn’t going to follow us while we blunder into walls repeatedly like a crazy person. They will stop buying our debt, create their own default market currency and move on without us. I don’t even want to think about what happens then.

Don’t be Texas, America. Learn from our bad example. 

Email and Crime

Let’s all talk about a real crime conducted by email for a change.

For 18 months, Republican strategists, political pundits, reporters and Americans who follow them have been pursuing Hillary Clinton’s personal email habits, and no evidence of a crime has been found. But now they at least have the skills and interest to focus on a much larger and deeper email conspiracy, one involving war, lies, a private server run by the Republican Party and contempt of Congress citations—all of it still unsolved and unpunished.

For those of you who think this is a smokescreen, that what I am (and others are) suggesting is that Hillary Clinton be let off on a technicality, let me set you straight.

Hillary Clinton surrendered her emails that weren’t her private correspondence. I know that the idea that politicians don’t have something to hide (especially female politicians. Female politicians who seem overly fond of privacy) just strikes the average cynic as implausible, but there it is. She complied with the request from legitimate authority and has suffered no end of pain over it. People are convinced there is a crime there somewhere. There just has to be, after eight inquests and millions of dollars spent. Surely there is something?

No. No there isn’t. I know this breaks your heart but if you want to satisfy your intense interest in other peoples private correspondence, why don’t you go look through George W. Bush’s email records? Why? Because you can’t. Because they destroyed that information rather than turn it over when it was requested by legitimate authority.

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails. “It’s about as amazing a double standard as you can get,” says Eric Boehlert, who works with the pro-Clinton group Media Matters. “If you look at the Bush emails, he was a sitting president, and 95 percent of his chief advisers’ emails were on a private email system set up by the RNC. Imagine if for the last year and a half we had been talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails set up on a private DNC server?

Eventually, the Bush White House admitted it had lost 22 million emails, not 5 million. Then, in December 2009—well into Barack Obama’s administration—the White House said it found 22 million emails, dated between 2003 and 2005, that it claimed had been mislabeled. That cache was given to the National Archives, and it and other plaintiffs agreed, on December 14, 2009, to settle their lawsuit. But the emails have not yet been made available to the public.

Newsweek

That, just FYI, is a crime.


Editor’s Note – September 25, 2017: The Orange Hate-Monkey‘s son-in-law was reported to be using a private email server to conduct official White House business in today’s New York Times,

As a candidate, Mr. Trump aggressively attacked Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, for her use of private email while she was secretary of state. Some of Mr. Trump’s allies outside the White House are urging him to press for a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton, even though an F.B.I. investigation into her handling of classified information has been closed. At Mr. Trump’s rallies, his supporters still break into cheers of “lock her up!”

So we can add this hypocrisy to the list of Administration officials past and now present, who have also not been indicted for using a private email server to conduct government business. Will the Republicans now be chanting Lock Him Up? Don’t hold your breath.

Insult Added to Injury

From the October 24th New York Times story;

After 21 years in the military, three deployments, and a roadside bomb blast that left him bleeding and unconscious, Christopher Van Meter got a letter from the Pentagon saying he improperly received enlistment bonuses and now owed the government $46,000. 

“I was having to choose between buying diapers and food for my children and paying this debt,” said Mr. Van Meter, 42, a former Army captain who now teaches high school near Modesto, Calif. “I spent years of my life deployed, missed out on birthdays and deaths in the family, got blown up. It’s hard to hear after that that they say I haven’t fulfilled my contract.” 

Mr. Van Meter is one of nearly 10,000 National Guard troops in California who have been ordered to repay re-enlistment bonuses and other incentives doled out during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after an audit in 2011 uncovered widespread fraud, mismanagement and overpayment by the Guard in the state.

I had heard of this story before I read it on StonekettleStation, but I don’t think I’d given it that much thought. Not nearly as much thought as Jim Wright did. That is understandable, I don’t have any skin in the game. Maybe I should have; but the truth is I don’t, and the truth hurts.

Perhaps, they say, they’ll, maybe, address the issue during their lame duck session AFTER the election, or perhaps not — I suppose it depends on who wins and whatever bullshit reason they come up with for continuing NOT to do their goddamned jobs this time.

And while this goes on, 10,000 (and more) soldiers who served this country, who put their very lives on the line, who were enticed into a war started by a lie with yet more lies, pay the price as they always do.

Here’s what needs to happen: The President and State Governors, the executives one and all, must immediately issue executive orders halting the collection of such debts — not waive the debt, the executive can’t do that, only Congress can change the law. But the executives CAN chose not to enforce the law exactly as they accuse the President of doing and EXACTLY as they threaten to do if Obama comes for their guns and marriage via legislation.

This is an election year, and this is the way that the House of Representatives thinks they can treat our veterans? When WE THE PEOPLE are about to go vote for every one of their jobs? After they’ve let every scumbag on Wall Street go? After they’ve failed to prosecute ANYONE from the Bush administration for the many (MANY) transgressions that his administration is guilty of? This is the kind of thing they think we’ll just let go without noticing?

I think we can address this situation directly.

Dear Representative Williams. (Find your representative here) Do you job. Alter the law so that these collection efforts cease and the criminals who ran this con are brought to justice. Do your job or we will replace you with someone who will do your job.

Dear Governor Greg Abbott, please act now to stop any debt collection in our state until the federal congress can be compelled to do their job. Please, Governor Abbott, do your job.

Dear President Obama, when Congress and my Governor fail to do their jobs (and they will) please do your job. Stop this debt collection now.


This came across my desktop today;

The Obama administration has ordered the Pentagon to immediately cease demanding the repayment of enlistment bonuses from some 10,000 National Guardsmen who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service argued that the soldiers were not qualified to receive the money or that accounting errors had resulted in improper payments, despite many of them having served multiple tours.

However, this isn’t over.  Not by a long shot.  The only way that these debts are vacated is if congress acts to change the language in the law so that the debts can be forgiven.  That means Congress still has to act.  So ask your congressman when you see him on the campaign trail will you protect our veterans, or are you like all those others in Washington D.C.? Do you only remember that you represent us when you need our votes? It is not likely, but it is possible we can sort the wheat from the Chaffetz and get only the best people re-elected to represent us.

On Hawks vs. Pacifists

How do you explain away Hillary Clinton’s assumed hawkishness?

Like this.

Everyone voted to invade Iraq. I remember, I was active in politics that year. I mentioned this fact in the article Libertarian hostility for Hillary Clinton. Either you were with Bush II or you were against him.  Painting a target on your back is not how you get things done in a political sphere.  It is how you get eliminated.  She was a savvy operator then, and she is one now.  A survivor.  Someone who gets shit done. Someone who will make a good leader.

Obama let France take out Muammar Gaddafi like they wanted to do, and I don’t shed tears for dead dictators. They get what is coming to them. The same fate is waiting for Assad in Syria.  You don’t destroy your country the way he has done over the last five years and walk away from that. Justice is waiting for him when this conflict ends.

If Hillary Clinton was a war hawk, she wouldn’t have worked to get a deal with Iran. Pacifists dismiss this fact because it destroys their narrative. However, all of these are the president’s policies; Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton. The President calls the shots, not the Secretary of State. That I happen to agree with them is beside the point. Those policies are his policies, not hers.

Let me frame the question of who Hillary Clinton really is with her own history.  Her history as related in this piece contrasting her past with the past of the Orange Hate-Monkey;

Consider, for a moment, two people. One, as a young woman at the beginning of a promising legal career, went door to door searching for ways to guarantee an education to the countless disabled and disadvantaged children who had fallen through the cracks. The other, as a young millionaire, exacted revenge on his recently deceased brother’s family by cutting off the medical insurance desperately needed by his nephew’s newborn son, who at eighteen months of age was suffering from violent seizures brought on by a rare neurological disorder.

Now let’s talk about the future.

Daesh has to be destroyed. Daesh in all it’s forms, all across the world. no amount of wishing will make them go away. It is going to take killing. Also, we have an uppity Russian dictator who needs to be treated with a firm, sure hand. Those tiny hands the Orange Hate-Monkey has will not do the trick. It’s going to take someone who knows the ins and outs of diplomacy.  Someone who has been on the scene for the last thirty years or so would be good.

“Suppose They Gave a War and No One Came”

Charlotte E. Keyes, Carl Sandburg

Much as I don’t like it, and I don’t, war must be met with war. Violence can
frequently only be countered with violence. I’ve protested every war that has occurred while I was breathing, but we need someone who can credibly hold the keys to the largest military machine in the world and be trusted not to blink. We need someone who is going to be able to do the job in front of her. That someone is Hillary Clinton. If we’re lucky.

Ideologues should stick to theorizing and stay out of real politics. They just screw up the real world for the rest of us.  There is no panacea that will fix the world.  War isn’t the answer.  Peace isn’t the answer. Walking the path before us is going to take hard decisions.  It requires someone who isn’t constrained by an ideology that keeps them from doing what they have to do. Whether that thing is taking the fight to a credible threat, or walking away from an unwinnable conflict. It takes someone willing to occupy the middle space. Like most things in life, it requires compromise.

Why Would a Liberal Vote for Gary Johnson?

This is actually a very good question, one that echos why I don’t identify as libertarian anymore, and why I don’t support most of the candidates that the LP fields. The LP is GOP lite these days. Or if you believe him (which you’re a fool if you do) Donald Trump, whose website is a laundry-list of libertarian wish-fulfillment. Just don’t listen to the words coming out of the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s mouth. If you do you’ll notice a jarring disconnect between what he says and what his website says.

Here is the Mother Jones Article the title comes from.  Here is the list as a quote;

  • He supports TPP.
  • He supports fracking.
  • He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
  • He thinks Citizens United is great.
  • He doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
  • He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
  • He opposes net neutrality.
  • He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he’s open to privatization.
  • He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
  • He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
  • He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
  • He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • He opposes any government action to address climate change.
  • He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
  • He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
  • He wants to remove the Fed’s mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
  • He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
  • He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

It is an excellent reference list of things that the average liberal disagrees with the Libertarians about. I could add more things that I quibble about, but we can start with this list and work from there.