Posts Tagged ‘National Politics’

cheesypoof

Herr Drumpf is at it again.  He said yesterday he wants to punch Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and bona fide self-made billionaire (worth about 8x’s more than Trump), because Bloomberg had the nerve to criticize him at the DNC this week.  I mean, who would expect criticism during a Presidential election?  /snark

Seriously though, my five year old has more restraint both physically and verbally than this crusty old cheesy poof. I think this video nails the reason down as to why so many people do support him. He is a mostly unrestrained Id. Something very wrong probably happened to him as a child and his development is seriously arrested. Either he was very abused and his maturity is stuck at the age of trauma OR his parents were so lenient that he never suffered repercussions to his behavior and as a result he did not mature past a certain point. This kind of person doesn’t spring wholly formed into adulthood like this–this kind of sociopath is made. But either way, whether he is rebelling and reacting against some inner demon created by abuse or acting out because he has so little self-control, there is very little pause between his emotions, his thoughts and his actions. And that appeals to people who are afraid and frustrated. They WISH they could just let their crazy flag fly but they’re too scared–they’re scared because their parents taught them better and they know if they acted this way there would be serious consequences for them.

And since they can’t express themselves and this dried goop of semi-rancid orange marmalade can, they support him. He is their Id made manifest. Furthermore, they see his behavior as being honest and genuine. While it may be genuine, it isn’t honest. True honesty involves self-reflection and actually does incorporate filtering, and by filtering I mean expressing that honesty in a way that is constructive. People who spew truth without couching it in a way that people can hear, either through humor or through simple courtesy and humility, are being insulting, childish and basically assholes. Mature people recognize Herr Cheesy Poof (TM!) as the latter.

It comes down to this. I think we as liberals have to accept that voters, particularly American voters are not rational. Call me elitist if you want but the fact that hundreds of millions of people support this sad excuse for a human being is absolute proof of that irrationality. The Left’s failure to truly accept this is hurting us and it will continue to hurt us. People don’t vote rationally so we can’t appeal to their rationality alone. We MUST get better at appealing to their emotions and their deep seated needs along with presenting a rational, logic based case for our solutions and candidates. But for right now, we’re stuck with half the country hoping Herr Cheesy Poof, the Id from New York, will become the next leader of the most powerful country on Earth.

I don’t talk about my faith very much.  I tend to be privately spiritual, more so than the “go to church” and “let me witness to others” type of person.  But there are times when I am seriously worried and when the only thing left to do is to appeal to a higher power.  Now is one of those times.  God help us all.

UsefulIdiot

Herr Drumpf has declared China and Russia to be our friends because (the FBI says) they hacked the DNC’s emails (and modified some of them) in order to sow discord in the party’s convention.  While I’m irritated that a handful of emails were ugly they’re not game changers or smoking guns and the DNC has reacted appropriately to smooth things over.  I’m much more concerned with the fact that Putin is purposely interfering with our Presidential election, which is unprecedented in our country’s history to my knowledge.  What’s worse, it appears to be working because our Media, which can’t resist a controversy, is blowing the email story out of proportion and because Herr Drumpf, who relies on Russian oligarchs for money (the same oligarchs that put and help keep Putin in power), is saying that he would essentially abandon our NATO partners to Russia’s encroachment.   Either Herr Drumpf is actively working for Russian interests or he’s their Useful Idiot.  And you know we’re headed for some serious trouble when the best we can hope for is that a Presidential candidate is a Useful Idiot for an expansionist Russian dictator.

 

h/t Ashby at BobCesca.com

shaft This November the American people will once again select our next leader. It is now apparent that we will be choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We should choose a candidate that reflects the best qualities in ourselves and our great nation. We should expect that person to not only lead us but to inspire us.

Great leaders, on the other hand, appeal to our better angels, inspiring us to improve — intellectually, spiritually and, in many cases, physically. Great leaders serve as a touchstone for human potential. The really great ones are disciplined, curious, benevolent and merciful. And they motivate us by example to become more disciplined, curious, benevolent and merciful.

Donald Trump is exactly none of these things.

Bob Cesca

I think Hillary will make a fine President but even setting my personal feelings aside, it would seem that the two candidates are nowhere near alike. Any rational person should be able to see that there is a HUGE, or as Trump would say YUGE, difference between the two candidates. Hillary is a policy wonk, a politician and someone with very specific ideas on what she would like to do as President. Trump is nothing but sound and fury tapping into blue-collar working class discontent. He has no workable ideas, no coherency and no maturity. He’s an opportunistic con artist who has been grifting the American people for quite some time as a celebrity.  In the end, you may not like Hillary Clinton but she’s the only grown up in the race. Still I find Trump’s popularity irksome.  Why exactly is Herr Drumpf1, aka Fuck Face Von Clownstick2, aka Il Douche, aka Donald Trump so popular with tens of millions of Americans?

1) Americans equate wealth with moral superiority. It’s a major failing on our part because in reality the majority of wealthy people a) inherited it so they simply won the birth lottery, b) they got lucky to be in the right place at the right time or knew the right people at the right time, or c) they shafted people left and right to make money. None of these types of wealthy people deserve our respect or our vote. The final and smallest group of wealthy people are those who worked their asses off and deserve every hard-earned penny. And that one fact still doesn’t make them a decent person. Trump is NOT in this last, small category and clearly he is not a decent person.

2) We forgive celebrities things we would never tolerate in our own personal lives. Because we secretly want to be as famous and wealthy as those celebrities. We want to be able to tell others exactly what we think of them like Trump does. They support him because they want to be him, with all his property, influence, freedom and string of model spouses who are essentially interchangeable Barbie Dolls.

bully 3) There is always a certain percentage of every group that hangs out around the bully. You know who I’m talking about, the hangers-on who root for the bully, the sycophants who pat the bully on the back and tell him what he wants to hear. Let’s just call them the Bully Entourage. Why would someone want to be in that group? Because they’re hoping they will be protected by his power. That the bullying will be directed outward at the others, people who they don’t like. They want Trump to bully the people they are blaming for all of the country’s problems because they don’t have the balls to stand up and do it themselves. It goes back to that idea that “He speaks for me, says what I want to say.”
And there is strength in numbers–in a mob with a bully to lead them, they feel powerful. And they are. The only problem with this kind of thinking is that the Bully doesn’t always just focus on “the others” — Bullies and mobs can be terribly fickle. Once the Bully has cowed “the Others” they often turn on those who are close to them because a Bully has to continue to bully to feed that deep empty hole in the center of their being. Look at the things that Trump has said about people who were once his friends. Look at the movies.  How well does the Bully treat his supposed friends? He treats them like servants. But let’s deal with reality instead. Let’s look at history. How many people supported Hitler who were then executed? Or Stalin? Or Mao or Pol Pot?  The list goes on and on and on.  They always end up eating their own eventually.

Ultimately I don’t know what created Trump the narcissist. Was it overindulging parents? Who cares. I only care about the fact that this man could potentially end up in the Oval Office and millions of people actually think he is qualified. If Americans truly want a President who thinks and speaks like us, then they must think that any average American can be President (although one could argue that Trump’s behavior indicates he is below the average). Are Americans so arrogant as to think that the average American is qualified to be President?

Every modern President has aged faster and dramatically while in the office before our very eyes, even the ones who took more vacations than any other President before or since3 , and there is a reason for it. It is one of the hardest jobs on the Planet.  In reality, they are NEVER on vacation.  The work hours about 14-16 on a typical, non-crisis filled day.  The stress and the responsibility are harrowing. We don’t need someone with the mindset of the average American in the White House.  The average American is cracking under the burdens of a 40 hour work week and a family. Americans work harder than most other people on the planet. And that still doesn’t compare to how much the President has to work. How the heck could he or she deal with the behemoth that our country has become.  Not only do we not need the average American, we also don’t need a bully.  We wield very big sticks and we need someone who knows when to use it and when not to. We need someone who won’t provoke our unstable enemies, of which there is no shortage. Do you want a hair-trigger man-baby wielding those big sticks and making childish comments about the size of an enemy’s penis?  

We need someone who knows what the hell they are doing because our country and potentially even the entire world will be affected by what the next President does. It is arrogant and dangerous to think that Trump is up to the task.   “Pride goeth before the fall” has never rang so true.

NOTES:

1. Thank you John Oliver
2. Thank you Jon Stewart
3. G.W. Bush actually

I’ve posted this on Twitter and other sites but for you non-Tweeters out there:

from http://www.gocomics.com/bloom-county

The U.S. Senate has once again decided it’s A-OK to let terrorists buy guns legally in the U.S.  Yes, you read that right.    You can be on the FBI’s Terror watchlist and buy a gun in the U.S.  You can also be batshit crazy and/or have a history of harrassing and attacking women’s health clinics.  Or you can be anybody, like a man with a history of domestic violence, and just show up to a gun show–no background check required!

There have been 351 Mass Shootings in the first 334 days of 2015.  Note that doesn’t include individual shootings–just “mass” shootings.   And all we’re getting from our leaders is “thoughts and prayers”.  I’m not saying don’t pray.  That’s your right to do so.  It probably makes you feel better, but it doesn’t actually DO anything to address the gun violence in this country.  A true Christian demonstrates faith through deeds.  Words are not enough (Christ specifically said it wasn’t enough to simply profess faith but one must engage in good works).

So while everyone is running scared of Muslims right now, please note that white extremists (domestic terrorists, our fellow citizens) have killed twice as many Americans as Jihadists since 9/11.  Twice as many.  But the right will demonize Muslims because “fear of the Other” is such great motivator for voting.  But it’s not the Mooslims you need to fear…it’s the white guy sitting next to you.  And for those of you who want to argue this, you can’t.    FBI stats don’t lie.  It is true for every type of violent crime–rape (twice as likely), assault, robbery, murder (4.6 times as likely), gange violence (53.3%) etc, etc.  If you’re white, the odds of your attacker being white is significantly higher than being attacked by someone of a different color and/or religion.  But white folks don’t see that because our white dominated media focuses so much on crime by other races against whites.  It makes sense that Americans don’t think this is the case.  It’s totally screwed up but that’s the reality.

So America will continue to believe and fear that brown and black people and particularly those with a different religion are the real problem.   The innocent will continue to die and the grand experiment of our democracy will go out with a whimper drowned out by the cacophony of prayers by disingenuous and detached politicians and the rat-a-tat-tat of automatic machine guns.

There’s nothing I hate more than hypocrisy. Unfortunately, I see it every single day in our news media. Who controls the majority of our news media is primarily to blame and the number of people who control it has been shrinking for decades. In 1983 there were 50 companies who controlled the majority of our news and information and now there are only 6. And when such consolidation happens, it means fewer individuals shape the news and that news will inevitably be shaped by their individual opinions, journalism be damned. Let me give you the perfect example.

Yesterday, I heard that Robert Redford had a new movie out called “Truth” about Rathergate. Some background–You may recall that Rathergate refers to the scandal that ended the long illustrious career of newsman Dan Rather. Two months before the 2004 Presidential election, “60 Minutes” aired a Rather segment critical of President Bush’s service record in the Air National Guard in the early 1970’s based on a set of memos called the “Killian Documents”. The memos turned out to be forgeries and Rather retired, quite unwillingly, a year later. The award-winning producer who broke the Abu Ghraib prison tortures, Mary Mapes, was fired and never worked in the field again. Mary Mapes did write a book, however, and the film is based on that book.

Interested in the movie I viewed the trailer online and saw that the New York Daily News had a review so I read that too. It panned the movie and used it as a platform to excoriate Mapes and Rather, as if the destruction of their careers had not been enough punishment. I would like to think that such a scolding comes from a wellspring of journalistic integrity and a desire to protect the profession. After a little more=e digging, I decided, unfortunately, that’s probably not what is going on here.

The author of the piece is Don Kaplan, TV editor for the NY Daily News, for whom I struggled to find any bio information. However, what I did find is that the paper is owned and run by billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman, a long time supporter of the Democratic party, who also happens to be a big supporter of Israel and Jewish causes. He has been accused by John Mearsheimer, Harvard political science professor, as being part and parcel of the “Israeli Lobby” in the U.S. Zuckerman’s response in the conservative paper, the New York Sun, to that accusation was as follows:

I would just say this: The allegations of this disproportionate influence of the Jewish community remind me of the 92-year-old man sued in a paternity suit. He said he was so proud; he pleaded guilty.

While I won’t speak about Professor Mearsheimer’s accusation as to whether Zuckerman and the Israeli Lobby have an outsized influence on US foreign policy (although I do have an opinion), I think it is fair to say that Zuckerman has a bias towards Israel when it comes to foreign policy. At this point you’re asking, what does this have to do with Rathergate and a journalistic scolding disguised as a movie review? Well I’m getting there, be patient.

In the lead up to the Iraq War one of the biggest and loudest cheerleaders supporting the Bush Administration’s desire to invade was Mortirmer Zuckerman. While the UN was saying we needed more time to investigate whether Saddam actually had WMD, Zuckerman took a very public stance saying that we didn’t need a smoking gun and assured everyone that Hussein was “clearly lying” about having abandoned WMDs. According to Robert Wright of The New York Times , Zuckerman’s writing during the build up to the invasion was “melodramatic, borderline-hysterical” about the imminent threat that Saddam posed to the U.S.

What did Zuckerman and many others base their opinions on, the opinions that shaped the national debate and led us into a disastrous war? Their world-altering opinions were based on information coming out of the White House that was in turn being trumpeted by papers like the NY Daily News and the New York Times, and at the Times specifically by Judith Miller. Indeed, while Judy Miller cooled her heels in jail for Contempt of Court she had visits from her rich and powerful friends in the Israeli Lobby including Mr. Zuckerman. I’m not making an accusation based entirely on association, there is plenty of evidence that Zuckerman’s published opinions were the same as Miller’s and that he knew the same people she used as sources and that they have both attended public and television events to discuss their shared opinions over the years.

Now we get to the meat of matter.  Why was Miller in jail and why is it important to my reasoning here? She was incarcerated for refusing to be questioned by a federal prosecutor regarding her sources during the grand jury investigation into the outing of CIA officer, Valerie Plame. We learned later that her source was actually “Scooter” Libby, Assistant to President George W. Bush. We also know that many of her sources were people who had some history with the administration or were actively in the administration per her own admission in a recent book and in recent interviews.  This demonstrates the types of sources she used in her reporting before the Iraq War that was so instrumental in convincing the people that we were justified in our invasion.

Judith Miller’s defense, which has been repeated by Zuckerman in his continuing justification for the Iraq War, was that they’d successfully relied on those sources before in regards to other stories and felt they were accurate. Miller was part of the NY Times team that won the Pulitizer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for it’s 2001 coverage of global terrorism before and after the 9/11 attacks. She says she used many of the same sources. Relying on a set of experts, who were essentially Administration lackeys and subject matter experts who had worked for and owed their standing to said Administration, for explanatory reporting the birth and growth of Al Qaeda when that group had openly taken responsibility for 9/11 is NOT the same as relying on that same set of people to develop a casus belli

Furthermore, relying on those experts when the information about Al Qaeda could be found elsewhere and easily cross-checked is NOT the same as the run up to the Iraq war when the ONLY intelligence we had was being filtered and massaged by the Administration, essentially a single source. In the debate in the U.K. over whether to join us in Iraq much was made about the fact that the information came from a single source, but not here in the good ‘ol USA.  To our everlasting regret, the media did not cross-check the information–and this includes Zuckerman.

And there WERE other sources to be tapped. What about Joe Wilson and the trip to Niger? Judith didn’t investigate the President’s claim that Saddam tried to buy uranium in Africa or she would have discovered Joe Wilson. What about Richard Clarke? He has said that from the day Bush entered the White House Clarke was warning Condolezza Rice about Al Qaeda but she and the President were already fixated on Saddam. Rice and Bush said that Al Qaeda was just a distraction from Saddam. The CIA repeatedly told them not to ignore Al Qaeda and that Saddam was the real distraction. In fact, they were so certain of the impending 9/11 attacks and so NOT worried about Saddam that they did a couple of telling things. First they asked Joe Wilson, a non-agent, a non-CIA employee and a diplomat, to go to Niger and investigate whether Saddam had bought enriched uranium there. If they felt it was a serious lead, they would have sent a team. Sure enough, the rumor was just that and Wilson reported that fact to the CIA at the time and later as an opinion piece in the NY Times in 2003.  That didn’t stop President Bush from claiming that Saddam tried to purchase uranium in Africa. The second thing they did occurred on July 9, 2001. The CIA’s Counter-terrorism Center staffers were told in a meeting by a senior official that they should resign so that when the Al Qaeda attack occurred they couldn’t be blamed.  Ironically, the Administration did just that. So, it was abundantly clear to the CIA that Al Qaeda was the imminent threat and Saddam was not.

Why didn’t Judith Miller check with any of those other sources? If she could get high level sources in the Administration wanting to go into Iraq, why could she not find people that thought we shouldn’t because there were plenty of those both inside and outside of the Administraton? She had Scooter Libby as a source and he was involved in the outing and/or cover-up of Valerie Plame, wife of Joe Wilson. The CIA and Wilson was practically doing a jig under her nose. Why wouldn’t you try to get both sides of the story because we were talking about going to war–it was too important to get wrong. War is costly and convincing us to go to war based on lies is ethically abhorrent.

And later when the Administration waved around articles by the likes of Zuckerman, Miller, Robert Novak and others  saying ‘see here’s proof, Saddam is an imminent threat’ why didn’t she publicly say something like ‘wait a minute, it doesn’t work like that’. That’s like me reporting as an anonymous source to my local paper that the moon is made out of cheese. They in turn report ‘our sources say the moon is made out of cheese’, and then I take that paper as proof to my friends and family and say, ‘see I told you the moon was made out of cheese’. It was her’s and their obligation as journalists and as citizens of a country about to go to war to get the opposing side of the story and failing that, to stand up and say something when they used their articles as “proof”.

Another defense that Miller, Zuckerman, and others use to excuse their shoddy journalism (and in my opinion, spectacular failure in their civic duty) was to say “but Saddam wanted to hurt us and would have if he was given the opportunity”. That’s some specious bullpucky there. If intention and desire were the criteria by which we establish a case for war we would have to bomb half the world. And while we are still hearing all kinds of excuses and non-apologies from the likes of Miller and Zuckerman (who can forget Miller’s smirking interview with Jon Stewart), what happened in Rathergate?  Rather admitted he made a mistake in judgment and apologized and Mapes, while she didn’t apologize did admit she made mistakes.

So what was the result of the shoddy and agenda-filled reporting in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq? The Iraq War resulted in over 36,000 dead and wounded U.S. soldiers, killed and wounded over 100,000 Iraqi civilians (some claims are as high 600,000) and displaced 5 million more, and we spent $1.7 trillion of the national treasure. What were the consequences of Dan Rather’s story? Dan Rather’s very distinguished and respected career in journalism ended far too soon and Mary Mapes had her professional livelihood destroyed. It had no effect whatsoever on the election. Let me be clear here…I’m not advocating for Redford’s movie, nor justifying what Rather and Mapes did. In both cases they made huge journalistic mistakes, that could have affected (and in one case did affect) the course of our nation.

The point is that Zuckerman and his paper have some kind of nerve to spank Dan Rather and Mary Mapes for not doing their due diligence and failing to verify their sources, when he and many other powerful, influential people printed stories while failing to do the same thing. Moreover, it just goes to show you that as the number of people who control the news and journalism in this country continues to shrink, this kind of hypocrisy will not only continue, it will get worse and will lead this nation into more disastrous decisions.

 

Sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Duty-Press-President-Privilege/dp/0312354118
http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/robert-redford-truth-article-1.2381935
http://www.amazon.com/Israel-Lobby-U-S-Foreign-Policy/dp/0374531501
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/16/AR2005091601646.html
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451669399/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1451669399&linkCode=as2&tag=bobcescom-20&linkId=2KWKQW7BOE7ZO7Z5
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/what-i-didn-t-find-in-africa.html?pagewanted=all
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/leadup-iraq-war-timeline
http://icasualties.org/iraq/
http://www.conflictandhealth.com/content/2/1/1
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/14/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314
http://www.nysun.com/national/kalb-upbraids-harvard-dean-over-israel/29470/
http://www.nysun.com/national/kalb-upbraids-harvard-dean-over-israel/29470/

America has a problem.

We need an intervention