Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Writing up Helpful Notes

Writing up a collection of notes for my friends of how to deal with the complete failure of the constitution and the collapse of our government.

I think I can do a very good job at convincing people to work within the system mostly if we can (a) change the constitution and (b) remove the scum from the judiciary.

Problem is, I dont think we can do either.

But dont worry, all it means is that about 100 million americans believe they live in a right wing dictatorship, and obviously our govenment could not care less what those Americans think.

Monday, July 30, 2018

When Did Amazon Become Insulting?

First it said you cant buy it because you are not Amazon Prime.  Then it said I could not buy it because this was reserved for carts of $25.00 or more.  Then it said that you had to type in your credit card number again because this is the first time you have ever shipped to an address.  It isnt. Then they said, hey look, you can save $6.00 on shipping if you sign up for something you dont want.

And of course there is no way you can contact a human, and it doesnt matter because big is beautiful and nothing will dislodge Amazon from destroying retail.

But what is extra weird about this little unhappy shopping experience is that I routinely, and I mean maybe twice a week, buy a kindle book and there is no problem.  None of this.  I think these people are weird and maybe just a little out of control.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Read What They Say


A few years ago, the various blogs and forums were filled with Russian trolls.  They were usually identifiable once you realized what was going on which is one of the reasons I knew about Russian state sponsored interference long before the news media or Congress figured it out.  (Footnote: I have no idea when the intelligence community (IC) figured it out.  I hope it was before people like me did, but who knows).

Today, however, although the Russians are making heavy use of social media, they are either using a lighter touch, or not quite as obvious as they were, except in a few extreme cases.

My first point is, the Russians dont have to do much.  We already have a lot of right wing nuts without their help, nuts that are made even nuttier by deliberately false news outlets like Fox.

My second point is, before you tell me I am overreacting or being paranoid, may I request that you read for yourself what these people say.  I have spent a very modest amount of time doing so and I can tell you that whatever planet they are on, it isnt the planet that anyone who reads this blog is likely to be on.

You really have to read this for yourself.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Our Future Civil War with the Right


Apparently it is commonly believed in right wing circles, or some of them, that a civil war is likely in this country as the "Left" attempts to destroy the Trump presidency.  I know this only because I keep seeing references to this meme when I check out various forums, blogs, news aggregators and because of opinions expressed on Facebook.

What they believe seems to be remarkably uniform given the random-ass nature of my exposure to them.  They all seem to believe that (a) the left is going to become irrational and violent, (b) the poor well meaning right wing is going to have to defend themselves and American values and (c) without doubt the right will crush the violent and irrational left in that war (in other words, the Left will all be shot or beaten to death).

Whether or not you or I believe them is probably not germane, we should certainly take them seriously. We all should know by now that the right wing has been corrupted by false news and bizarre beliefs and they could well act on their beliefs.

So it seems logical to me that we should all learn to use the standard weapons in order to defend ourselves. You know, handguns, rifles, rocket propelled grenades, mortars, radios, armored vehicles, basic small unit tactics in urban settings, stockpile weapons, that sort of thing.

But my friends tell me that this is old fashioned thinking and that none of this will be important in a future civil war, because, well, they are so old fashioned. My friends do agree that the Right is likely to become violent, and that civil war is possible, but that there is nothing to worry about.

I think my friends are too smart for their own good and are somewhat delusional.

In a future post I will describe some things I think we should be doing to prepare for this eventuality, which I think has a non-trivial probability of happening.

One Interpretation of Facebook's Loss of $150B in Two Hours

Facebook lost 150 Billion $US in two hours on Wall Street which, we are told, is the single largest loss of a company on Wall Street in history.  Whether or not that is true, it is natural to speculate what was going on in the minds of investors.  Obviously, they were responding in part to the loss of users, and other issues involving privacy which would result in lower revenues from advertising. But what does it really mean?

Well, one thought is that Wall Street had responded well in the past to Facebook's strategy of exploiting its users in the most crude and vulgar ways, working hand in hand with foreign powers to destroy democracy by emphasizing contradictions, spreading right wing propaganda, and assisting polarization.  When, unfortunately, Facebook was identified as a primary agent of Russian destabilization and had to start toning back its worst and most shallow exploitation in order to keep users and avoid regulation, Wall Street naturally and regretfully had to downgrade FB's value. It just wont be like the good old days, at least not for a while. Still Facebook will try to find more subtle ways to exploit the people who have, in the past, trusted them, so all is not lost and Facebook still retains tremendous value.

[Shel Kaplan reminds me that this apparent loss in value is actually just appearance, that FB's long term value has been monotonically increasing for years. So this apparent setback may be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot and a headline created by shallow analysis. So what else is new?]

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Trump Supporters and Civil War


The problem with Trump supporters is that they think that their lies are truth, and no amount of persuasion works because any fact or counterexample is dismissed as fake news. One of the many things I have problems with today is that no one I know or have read has a plan for convincing these people otherwise. IMHO all we can do is put them out of power and then repress them when they resort to violence (they would say the exact same thing about me, I think).

This is the reason I believe we are headed towards a civil war of sorts, or at least a great deal of violence if "civil war" is too grand a term for you.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Russians and the Republicans


It has been a puzzle for some time why the Republicans seem so anxious to protect Trump from the Russian investigation. Wh y is Ryan so intent on having Nunes destroy the House investigation even though the DOJ and FBI asked him to remove Nunes? The argument of this editorial is that they were not protecting Trump per se, they were protecting themselves. I think I get it now. I think the editorial is correct (although it may not be the only story). The Republicans may have f*cked themselves splendidly.

When did they know that the NRA money they received had been given to them by various black sources from the Russians? Yes, the Russians financed the campaigns of our right wing, corrupt, democracy hating, russian loving, Republicans representatives. All of them traitors.

When did they know their money came from sources prohibited by law and from an adversary of the USA, one on various prohibited lists? Just how deep does the Republican corruption go?

Call me cynical? No, I have not been anywhere near cynical enough.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Attempt to summarize the current situation

Let me try and put this in my own words. In the most successful intelligence operation(s) in history, russian fsb and gru (a) compromise and own a potential potus, (b) execute influence operations to bring their candidate to power by manipulating social media and our political process, and thus (c) put into power a minority clique whose policies enhance gross income inequality, destroy unions, put two right wing thugs on the supreme court, and destroy the western alliance, (d) but do this in a way that their candidate is revealed as a traitor and must be impeached, thus causing a constitutional crisis and a probable christian nutty boy as president.

Did I get that right?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Did Things Just Change


The 12 Mueller indictments were announced today.  Did our little national tragedy just change direction?

Although it might have, my initial impression is that it did not.  Why not?  The right wing clique which controls congress and is about to destroy the judiciary could not care less about treason.

They only pretend to care about things like national defense, the deficit, the environment, the principle of regulation vs legislation, etc.  Republicans are proven to be pure devotees of Machiavelli, they say what they must to get power and achieve their goals which have nothing to do with acting in our nation's interest. This has been proven over and over again, that at this point if you dont know it is because you are either not paying attention, dont want to know, or because you are lying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

That Secret Californian Medical Database

It was fun to go to Urgent Care in Santa Barbara and get a prescription for my ADD/ADHD medication.  This was very unusual and very convenient relative to going to the Emergency Room.  It would not have worked in Escondido, by the way.  

Apparently the new rules are that any prescribing doctor now has to check the database before giving a prescription.  What is entertaining about this is that the patient is not permitted to see his medical records that are in this database.

And you thought you lived in a fair and just society?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Violence Next?

One rarely gets to see a coutnry come apart in real time.

Its too bad the election was rigged by the Russians, its too bad the Republicans are traitors, and it is too bad the Democrats are limp.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

What I Want From the Democrats

I want my party to say 'Impeach this son of a bitch now", I want someone to say "that election was not legal", I want someone who will call out our Quisling democrats for what they are, I want someone who will say "that fascist is going to be in LA on this date, why doesnt someone go out and make his quiche a little bit less digestible".

In basketball terms, I am looking for a "full court press" here.

The Fraud of the Originalilst


By now it should be clear to everyone but the most innocent American that Republicans are just interested in power and anything out of their mouth is just a lie designed to excuse their desire to destroy democracy.   Even so, it is valuable to look at their lies one by one and expose them as such.

One of the most odd is the idea that they want justices, especially Supreme Court Justices, to be "originalists", as in, "true to the original intent of the people who wrote the Constitution".  There is something very funny about this, in a sense they may not be lying.

Recall, the original Constitution did not permit women or Black Americans, whether slaves or not, to vote.  So, do you really want an "originalist" Supreme Court Justice?  Well, they do, and in this they may, for once, be telling the truth.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The meaning of the 2000 Coup d'Etat


I am trying to create a summary of what I think I know about the constitutional crisis we are experiencing in America and, to a lesser degree, what we do about it.  Its a tough subject and I tend to repeat myself.  There were several events that in my opinion foreshadowed the disaster we are now in, and this post describes one of them.

I realize that this could sound like I am being a know - it - all here, but bear with me.  You may not have grown up in the South and that there were certain elements in this affair that were very obvious to any Southerner (whatever position or side they may have taken) but may not be obvious to anyone else.

In November 2000, I protested the right wing, supreme court coup d'etat in Washington.  This is one of the four times in my life (so far) that I bothered to get out on the street and protest something.  It feels pretty silly when you are doing it, unlikely to have an impact, but still worth doing, I guess. It feels good to be doing something and its nice to get out of the house.

I realized just recently that the issues then were not as clear to my peers as they were to me and that there was some misunderstanding which I hope this post will clear up.  The thesis will be that the real issues at stake were only nominally about W. Bush vs. Gore, but issues much more important and tragic. It affects the legitimacy of the American government itself.  This is going to take a while, we are going to have to start from first principles.

For the system of justice to work in this country, we have to believe that,  generally speaking, the judiciary is not deliberately partisan to one party or another.  If that is not the case, it becomes more and more difficult to accept an adverse decision.  Since of course the judiciary is a mixed bag, some partisan, some not, one way of implementing a more fair system is to (a) use a jury of peers, (b) restrict a judge to implementing a decision based on the letter of the law and prior decisions.  That is useful up to a point.

But as we go higher up the chain into the appeals system, the justices must be permitted the ability to look at the law from a higher level and here the spirit of the law and the implications of a decision become more and more relevant.  Finally, when we get to the Supreme Court, they are the final decision about what is constitutional and what is not. They can not pretend, for example, that they are unaware of the history of voting rights in this country in the post Civil War period. They can and do override Congress and the POTUS. With great power comes great responsibility. Decisions of a Supreme Court become the law of the land, one must believe that they are always acting in the nation's interest, especially with controversial issues and controversial decisions. Failure to do so reduces the legitimacy of the whole judicial system, but worse, cripples one of the three arms of the American system of representative government.

But when the Supreme Court awarded the Presidency to W. Bush in 2000, it was clear that they were acting in a partisan fashion, to put the right wing candidate in power.  Whether you believe that or not, the fact is that many Americans at the time believed it, and presumably many Americans believe it today.  Was there an alternative?  Yes, the Supreme Court could have let the process continue, and all the votes could have been counted.  But it gets worse.

The problem was that while Al Gore clearly won the popular vote, the electoral vote was going to be decided by Florida, and Florida had election irregularities.  Those had to be worked out, and they were being worked out.  But it gets worse.

The irregularities came from the use of different voting machines in different parts of the State of Florida, with those in poorer districts getting machines that were more prone to counting error, the so called "hanging chad" problem.  But what you might not realize is that poverty in the South (and many parts of this country) is correlated to race.  Poorer districts may have inferior schools, poorer districts usually have a higher percentage of black citizens.

Therefore, when the Supreme Court terminated the counting it was really saying, we do not want to count the votes of Black Americans because you see, in case this was not obvious, the "hanging chads" were in Black districts and therefore represented Black votes, at least to a large degree.

And that is what they said.  They said, we are going to for partisan reasons, install a right wing President against the will of the people, and deliberately and in a racist fashion, not count the votes of Black Americans.

At that moment, the court could no longer be counted on to act in the nation's interest.  To many of us, it had clearly shown that it was a tool of partisan, right wing, and racist forces in this country.

Trust me when I tell you, no one who grew up in the southern states would have missed this message.  They might have needed to be reminded why some districts had their chads hanging and some did not, but once they realized this, well, the conclusion was obvious.

What astonished and disturbed me, is that the leaders I trusted to represent me were not willing to challenge this decision, and were not willing to say what was obvious.  That the judiciary could no longer be trusted to do their job.  That the constitution had failed.

In my opinion, when history looks at the current constitutional crisis, however it works out, this Supreme Court decision will be recognized as an important event, signaling what was to follow two decades later.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Steve Speer Channels Baphomet


Baphomet was the demon the inquisition accused the Knights Templar of worshipping.

In this image, we see my friend Steve Speer, NY based artist, prepare for his performance channelling Baphomet.

Another image, and the Wikipedia page, below


Monday, July 2, 2018

The Disconnect Part 1

I am often told that we must talk to Trump supporters or we will never blah blah blah.  If they have not figured out by now what a disaster he is then nothing you or anyone says will change their mind. I have read literally hundreds of articles and editorials by Trump supporters and perhaps thousands of their comments back when I read the comments to articles in the WaPo among others and I can tell you that I know what I am talking about.

These people fall into several different categories (no, they are not all the same).  Some are racists, some are stupid, etc.  But some, more than a few, have something else going on.  I am going to call it "the disconnect" as in the disconnection from reality.

Here are two examples I stumbled on in one day, probably through Real Clear Politics, the right wing news aggregator.  I submit them to you here as evidence.

The first disconnect from reality was an essay pointing out with total certainty that those who are worried about Global Warming have been wrong about everything, and those who are skeptics have been totally vindicated.  What I find fascinating about this statement and this article is that the person who wrote it is clearly and unambiguously out of their mind.  There are many things we do not know about global warming, and there are many questions and issues going forward about what we can do and what we should do.  But there is one thing that is not in doubt: global warming is happening and mankind (people, humanity, whatever) is the primary cause.  You simply can not be an adult and doubt this any more unless there is something wrong with you.  Sorry if you disagree.  I don’t think it could possibly be debated any longer.

The second disconnect is an article whose title asks “Is Trump the Most Fun President Ever?”  Whoever wrote this right wing crap thinks betraying their country, violating the law, destroying the judiciary, and racism is fun. 

My point here is not that Trump supporters are all racists, or assholes or whatever.  My point is, there is something wrong with them.  I dont mean this in a nice way.