Friday, December 30, 2016

No Filming on House Floor

So House Republican leadership is going to forbid candid photos and films from the House floor.  Since Democrats protested, the Republicans have slapped on a fine.

I find this distressing.

I don’t know if a court would hold this unconstitutional or not.  They often refuse to rule on “political issues,” like internal government of another branch of government.

There are some legitimate reasons not to want candid photos.  There are embarrassing shots of wardrobe malfunctions, for instance, that are not kind to post, but which might be posted, merely to cause embarrassment.

Also, there is a place for off the record negotiations, though I think that this is likely best done in a Representative’s private office.  It is difficult to have effective negotiations, where you think on your feet, if you think everything will be recorded.  It is distressing how a person changing their mind [singular they] is so commonly regarded as “flip-flopping,” when, in fact, changing one’s mind is often a sign of a healthy open mind and willingness to listen. 

Some people react negatively to others thinking flexibly on their feet and making hypothetical arguments as they consider options and opinions.  I think those who react negatively in this way are survivors of dysfunctional families where questioning and speaking other than to say “Yes, Sir” were punished.  Those people tend to inflict their fear of expression on others, unfortunately.

I can see where politicians want to be able to think and talk without their preliminary remarks being publicized, until they reach a firm conclusion.

However, I am distressed that Republicans respond to protest by adding fines.  This is reflective of just the sort of free speech rejecting attitude that has distressed me coming from DT.  Free speech needs to flourish.  Protest needs to flourish.  That’s part of our democracy.  This type of chilling attitude is reflective of totalitarianism.

However, given that we now have extremely wealth people being placed in high office, I find the need to for candid recording to have a new urgency.  The possibility of corruption is much higher with this degree of money flying around.  If a Representative sees a crime in progress on the floor of the House, he or she needs to be able to document it.  If a Representative sees bullying, that also needs to be documented.

This fear of information is a hallmark of totalitarianism — just what Democrats most fear from Republicans.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Comments on spurious ethics allegations against Clinton

Hillary ethics list

I haven’t found a complete response to this and I’m not able to check everything, but I do have thoughts about it.

It's harder for very ethical people, like Hillary, to respond to spurious allegations of corruption, because she doesn't understand them.  They seem beneath contempt to her.  Unfortunately, because they seemed beneath contempt, she did not respond adequately. 

Republicans have shown incredible willingness to believe unsubstantiated gossip on fake news websites, thinking them all the more believable the more they are repeated. People see corruption more when they are corrupt themselves. 

My belief is that: every time DT opened his mouth to accuse her of something, it was something he was guilty of himself -- total projection. 

Hillary is a person who has devoted her entire life to helping others.  She is not corrupt -- even though people who themselves are prone to deceit and corruption manage to distort everything she does to make it look corrupt. 

The idea that she is responsible for her husband's sexual behavior because she believed and trusted him is ludicrous.  The idea that she was responsible for Vince Foster's death is ludicrous.  If she took some things from the White House, erroneously believing that she was entitled to them, she returned them. 

The idea that she, as a secretary of state, would notice a “(c)” at the bottom of an e-mail is also ludicrous. When you’re sending e-mails to a busy top executive, you put an executive summary on the top and you mark the e-mail classified at the top.  You don’t expect a busy executive to read through to the bottom

If you think there’s an imminent attack on an embassy, you write that at the top.  You don’t expect a secretary of state to read pages and pages of reports and draw a conclusion from that that an attack is imminent.

People who are themselves not very intelligent also never understand that very intelligent people are often absent-minded and miss things.  This idea that intelligent people would never make mistakes or never miss things is dysfunctional.  This kind of perfectionism, when inflicted on children, makes them grow up to be unable to do anything, because they are so paralyzed with fear.

The way I see DT is pure corruption and flimflam.  Studies of his statements during the campaign showed them to be 4% true.

I believe urban people, being more sophisticated, see DT for what he is, while rural people are more vulnerable to unsubstantiated gossip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fantasy theses a la Martin Luther

I’m fantasizing that I’m the recognized leader of a movement for the blue states to secede from the union due to what’s going on with the latest Presidential election.  In this fantasy a number of states have already voted to secede.  We have composed a bullet list of demands that the Republicans would have to agree to in order for the blue states not to secede.  I am composing what I think this list should say.

1. The President, Vice President, Cabinet secretaries and under-secretaries must reveal their tax returns and put their assets in blind trust in order to serve
2. There must be no federal legislation restricting freedom of the press
3. No highly placed official, e.g. anyone on the list in point 1, shall be allowed to institute a personal or public lawsuit against any individual for criticizing the government or government officials, either in their public or private capacity.  Any such existing lawsuits must be dropped.
4. Plurality take all elections must be eliminated and replaced either with a runoff system, as they have in France, or a ranked voting system, such as they have recently adopted in Maine.
5. The electoral college must be eliminated and the president must be elected by direct election.
6. No scientist may be penalized for having pursued a course of research, merely because the Republicans don’t like the research results.
7. The second amendment must be changed to clarify that states can have gun control laws
8. The EPA must not be eliminated; and most especially lead must not be allowed in gasoline.
9. Social Security shall not be changed to a voucher system
10. Medicare benefits shall not be cut
11. Any Obama federal court nominees who have been pending for 6 months and not voted on shall be considered approved.
12. Some variant of Obamacare must be preserved, so that general access to health insurance is also preserved — which is not to say there couldn’t be some changes, but not wholesale evisceration
13. Pennsylvania and Michigan must be recounted.  Broken seals on voting machines must be thoroughly explained.

I’m still working on this list

Monday, December 19, 2016

Analysis of Trump

A friend of mine wrote this, but didn't want to post it publicly for fear of later personal and personal repercussions. He authorized me to copy it and post it unattributed.

It's not a hyperbole when people say the idea of American democracy is in jeopardy, but even a quick look into our history will show that we've never actually been a democracy and it's always been something we've been working towards.

Voter suppression, Russian hacking, one-sided document leaks, fake news, disproportionate representation, gerrymandered districts, obstructionism, and now this unconscionable bullshit that's happening in North Carolina -- these things are all an outrage, but this country has never actually been an ideal, shining democracy.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was only signed 51 years ago, and  voting rights at that time were violently resisted by state governments. The presidential primary system that we know today, where people vote for the candidate of each party, only began forming in 1972 and it's still not complete; before that, candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms that probably saw much shadier shit than we saw in the DNC email leak.

A lot of us were hoping for the best on election day and we got very much the worst, but we can't pretend that our electoral process is all of a sudden some messed-up thing we have to fix. It's arguably just as bad now as it's ever been.

This being said, if you are not outraged right now, I'm willing to say you don't care about democracy. The candidate who received almost 3 million more votes is not the president; the party that received more overall votes for congress does not control congress; and the party that will now control the government has made it clear that they're going to push for the most hard-line version of their agenda despite much of it being deeply unpopular even among their own moderate constituents. This is an outrage. We do not live in a democracy and anyone who tries to convince you that we do is lying to you.

If Trump has his way, the next four years will be ruled by a small minority of extremely rich, old, white men (and a couple of wives of extremely rich, old, white men) with demonstrably close personal financial ties to the very things they will be given executive authority over. This does not bode well for our country but it's ultimately not too different from the way things have been since the founding of our nation.

Those of us who believe in a free, democratic society will need to be vigilant these next few months. It is a mess and it's an ugly one.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Trump Won't Hold a Press Conference

Quoted from FB

"Wondering why Trump won't hold a press conference? In the last two days alone, Newsweek published a damning article about Trump's conflicts, Democrats demanded that DeVos pay $5.3 million in fines for her PAC, the GSA has said Trump must sell DC hotel or be in breech of contract, Michael Flynn deleted fake news tweets about Clinton, Tillerson's Russian Order of Friendship Award was edited out of his Wikipedia entry, and 54 electors have signed a letter demanding an intelligence briefing before they vote, and Preibus has threatened to alter press access to the White House. I wouldn't want to answer press questions either."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Response to an encounter

She was speaking at a Friends' Meeting. I didn't at first register that she was a POC, because she was fairly light skinned. She almost could have passed, but then she said she was a POC, so I knew.

She was raising money for a trip she was taking, so I gave her $20, but then we started talking. I was still reeling from the election. I wrongly assumed that she would agree with my support for Hillary, but she didn't. She didn't like liberal, white women. She thought a more open racist, like Trump might actually be easier to deal with than a sneaky racist, which she perceived liberal white women to be.

She started talking about having some Native American as well as black ancestry. She started angrily saying that we live on stolen land and should give it back. Everything I said seemed to annoy her. Eventually, she called me arrogant.

Then I said maybe she should give back the $20. She did, with an obscenity.

I didn't say more, but afterwards I had many thoughts of things I might tell her. I figured I would write them down.

First, I thought of prominent people with Native American ancestry, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Jackson. Then I thought that God is gradually giving the country back to Native Americans, one child at a time.

Second, I wondered whether this individual truly wanted to live in a Stone Age lifestyle the way the Native Peoples did prior to European invasion. My guess is no, that she wants the infrastructure and technology we have now without the white people, which doesn't necessarily seem all that equitable.

Third, I thought about how I'd love to find a cute, well behaved Native American guy and share my home with him.

And then I thought about how her face looked more white than black or red, and how odd it is that we think of people like her as not being white; or think of President Obama as black, when he's half white. Why shouldn't he be regarded as as much of a white man as a black man?

Also, some Native American tribe recently amnestied us, at least as immigrants.

And then I thought of my father. He came to this country as a penniless immigrant and died upper middle class. He was white. I recognize that he had advantages because he was white, but, his story demonstrates that the reason that so many Native Americans live in poverty is not that white people took their property in the 19th century, but other factors.

Another thing I thought about was statute of limitations, a concept that limits recovery for damage to a certain period of time after the alleged wrong. But the statute can be tolled in some cases where the complainant has been under coercion and disabled from litigating.

Still, it certainly is true that the land was stolen from Native Americans and white people are all immigrants. And, no, I'm not donating all of my property to Native American causes.  There isn't really any moral justification.  That's just how it is.