When is 37 Like 45?


When 37 is Nixon and 45 is Trump.

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Also, both men were/are dicks.

Nixon was, in many ways, an amazing president. He opened up trade relations with China, started up the EPA, and…well, ok, that’s about for what I can really think of.

Mostly he was just a terrible president and a terrible human being. First off, he deliberately extended the Vietnam war to make himself look better. Treason if there ever was. Second, the whole Watergate thing, with everything that tied into that. Also things like massive levels of abuse of power, including targeting those on his rather infamous “enemies list”.

And notably, especially for our discussion today, he lied. He lied constantly. He lied about stupid shit. He lied like other men breathe. He lied while breathing. He was just an absolutely terrible man with almost no redeeming features who should have never been allowed near the levers of power.

And yet…I’d much rather have him office than Trump. Nixon would lie like a cheap rug, yet I get the impression that, at least in part, he did have our country’s best interests at heart. He was in it for the ego, sure, as are almost all politicians, but at the end of the day, he clearly had at least some desire to better our country. He at least had a basic understanding of domestic policy, and a decent understanding of foreign policy.

Compare this with Trump. Trump lied about the size of his inauguration crowd, and about the ratings for said event, he lied about the media covering up terrorist attacks, he lied about the Muslim ban, saying he never wanted such a thing, he lied about millions of illegal votes being cast against Hillary. He lies, lies, lies, pretty much every time he opens that ugly orange face of his, and you know what’s even worse? I’ll tell you.

Nixon made up for his lies, to a point, with competency. Trump hasn’t. Also, Jesus fuck me Christ, we’re less than a month into this administration, and look at what an unmitigated shit-show it’s already become! Trump and team are a global embarrassment, and and all the pointless, stupid, ego-stroking lies are a part of this.

Really, he’s just a horrible person, and the sooner our current long, national nightmare is over, the better.

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How Not to Fix a Problem


PROBLEM: Certain people in the “Muslim world” believe that non-Muslims, mostly those in Europe and the United States, are at war with Islam. They respond to this with terror attacks.

SOLUTION: Not what Trump has done.

Our Dear Leader has signed an executive order that bars all people from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States for 30 days and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days.

So that’s fantastic. It’s a bad, stupid idea, and one that’s already causing chaos. It’s also a lot more useless than you’d expect. Why? Notice who isn’t on that list. Can you see it? Take a guess. If you still can’t figure it out, do you remember what country most of the 9/11 hijackers came from?

Saudi Arabia.

Also not on the list, Russia. The idiots who attacked the Boston Marathon came from there.

Surprisingly, I don’t see Afghanistan or Pakistan on there, either, despite the fact that both of those countries have a great deal of problems with terrorism.

Notably the countries that are on the list are all ones where (this is going to be an awkwardly-worded sentence), no one from them living in the USA has engaged in any terrorist attacks here since 1975.

Further, I can only assume people who believe that terrorists are flooding into our country disguised as refugees are really, really ignorant. Can you imagine spending two or three years in a refugee camp, going through all the rather time-consuming vetting, and then finally getting over to wreak havoc on in the west? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just get yourself a passport, and a visa, and an airline ticket? Visitors from all over the world arrive in this country every day. If you want to come over and be a terrorists, that’s the way to do it.

But of course, this has nothing to do with actual reality. It has to do with Trump’s stupid, paranoid version of reality, in which the United States is a weak and vulnerable nation, subject to all sorts of abuses from everyone in the world. He’s basically a fucktard, and if you think this is a good idea, you are, too.

The Times Ahead


We’re a handful of days into 2017 now, and in less than three weeks, Donald Trump will be our president. I’d like to recommend at this point that we in Generation X stop trying to revive things that were popular in the 1980s.

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And please, let’s stage an intervention before Shia LeBeouf tries to act again.

Not all of us are pleased at Trump coming into office. His rise to power has invited comments from people like me, comparing him with Mussolini, and others, who have somewhat less historical perspective, comparing him with Hitler.

People are scared of the future, and scared of what Trump might do. So I thought I’d take some time to dash some sanity into all of this and hopefully calm us all down a bit so that we can focus on what matters.

War

Yes, Trump will almost certainly get us into a war. It won’t be with Russia (more about them later), and will probably be in the Middle East. Unlike W, I don’t expect Trump will even give lip service to the idea that we’re not at war with Islam. Quite the contrary; I expect he’ll embrace the concept.

Now I don’t think we’re going to end up in a nuclear war (though this is more plausible than it has been in a while, but still very unlikely). Trump has been quite cavalier in his attitude toward nuclear weapons, but the use of one requires the agreement of the Secretary of Defense, who likely would say, “Oh, hell naw!”

SCOTUS

The Supreme Court is going to have a conservative to replace Scalia, since the Republicans did an excellent job of stealing that nomination from Obama. So we know that we’re likely to have the status quo which, let me remind you, gave us gay marriage and Obamacare.

The real question here is what happens if Ginsberg or one of the other more liberal justices either steps aside or dies? Then we end up with a balance tipped toward the conservatives for a while. How long? Who can say? Much then depends on what happens in 2020. But either way, I don’t expect much to change in the court.

Russia

Trump loves Putin. I expect him to raise exactly zero fingers to stop anything that Putin tries to do, short of invading Western Europe. Not Eastern Europe. Not Central Europe. Not the Baltics. Western Europe only.

Now I don’t think that they’re going to actually invade Eastern Europe, Central Europe or the Baltics. But I do expect them to continue to undermine democracy whenever possible, and that includes undermining it in our country. Congress may take some steps to really investigate what happened during the 2016 election (and kudos to Republicans who are backing this idea), but clearly Trump has no interest in looking into it.

That Muslim registry/Banning Muslim immigrants

Not gonna happen. The courts won’t allow it, and there isn’t really any desire for it in the broad electorate. If these things didn’t happen after 9/11, they sure won’t happen now. All bets could be off if there were another major terrorist attack like that one, but even then, I don’t think we’ll see this.

American workers

Yeah, American workers are fucked, and there’s no doubt about that. The incoming Secretary of Labor isn’t in favor of the minimum wage existing, much less raising it, and isn’t wild about overtime, either. Look to the states to save our collective asses here, though with many states, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Beyond that, no, Trump won’t be bringing jobs back from overseas, he won’t be convincing companies to forgo profit in exchange for keeping jobs here, and coal jobs aren’t going to return, either. In fact, we’re statistically likely to end up in a recession in the next couple of years, so that’s something fun to look toward.

Civil rights

We’re gonna lose some ground. Minorities, mostly blacks, will continue to be blocked at the polls, and I expect that trans* people are going to suffer quite a bit more than otherwise.

But gay marriage is here to stay. Most Americans favor it, the Supreme Court doesn’t like reversing itself only a short time after a ruling, and there isn’t any Constitutional amendment that’s on the horizon against it.

Illegal Immigration

It’s been going down for a while, and is likely to continue to become less of a problem as time goes on. There won’t be a repeat of Operation Wetback, and we’re certainly not going to end up with a wall on the southern border. There may be some strategic expansion of the fence that currently exists, but that’s about it.

Medical coverage

The vast majority of the ACA/Obamacare is here to stay. There isn’t going to be much political motivation to allow companies to deny people coverage for pre-existing conditions, restore the annual limits on coverage, or allow them to kick people who are sick off their insurance plans. People do hate having to pay for insurance, and hate it being mandatory, and really hate it being expensive, but they love everything else with the ACA, and you don’t those other things without making insurance mandatory.

I honestly don’t know how the Republicans are going to square the circle on this one. It’s one thing to stand constantly in opposition to health care reform, but it’s a whole other thing to face a room full of voters and try to explain to them why you took away their medical coverage. But they own the problem now, so that’ll be fun to watch.

State level

I expect things at the state level will continue to red up a bit. Republicans already wield a huge amount of power in many state houses and governorships, and I expect that will probably continue, barring the party having some major setback. This will happen for two reasons: Democrats are very lazy when it comes to local elections, and Republicans have done a great job in many states with gerrymandering districts to keep themselves in power.

However, I do expect that much progressive legislation can still happen at the state level. Marijuana legalization, minimum wage increases, mandatory sick days, and the like are all things that have happened at the state level and not the federal. They’ve even happened in red states. And gay marriage started out at the state level, too, so there’s plenty of hope for here.

Summary

Trump can and will fuck up an awful lot. He knows nothing about governing, and like most Republican politicians since Reagan, he’s against the federal government (though less so than many others). He’s refusing to really disentangle himself from his business interests, has displayed shameful ignorance about government, and extreme distrust of our various intelligence agencies. He’s going to be an awful president, and will almost certainly be out by 2021, if not sooner.

He’s not Hitler. He’s not Mussolini. Don’t give him that kind of power. He’s going to be restrained by our Constitution and our courts, and even if he manages to fill every judicial nomination with conservatives, it’d still be years before they could accomplish much, and by that time, he’ll be out of office.

I mentioned Reagan a couple of paragraphs ago, and he’s a useful comparison. Reagan was a very ignorant man on many levels, who didn’t seem to care too much about actually governing and was more concerned with simply looking like, and acting like, the president, while other people did stuff in his name. I think Trump will be more of the same, except less politically savvy, which is saying something, and significantly less effectively.

And in 2018, remember to vote. And in 2020, remember to vote. And vote in 2017 and 2019, too. Vote in every election, because liberals and moderates failing to do so is why we’re going to have Donald Trump as our president. Voters caused the problem, and voters are the solution.

Our Last, Best Chance? No.


The Electoral College is meeting in a few days to rubber-stamp the election and make it official: Donald Trump will be our next president.

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Such tiny hands.

Nevertheless there remains a core group of people who really, really don’t want this, myself included. Some of that core group, myself not included, are appealing to the electors to vote for someone else. Anyone else, really, but ideally for Hillary.

This is, to put it mildly, a terrible idea. Can you just imagine? Suppose that we wake up on the 20th to find that on the 19th, the electors, to protect democracy and our nation, put in Hillary instead of Trump. Just think of the great hue and cry we’d get from the Trump voters who would say, not without some inaccuracy, that the election was stolen from them. Never mind that Hillary won significantly more votes than Trump; all they’d care about is that the Electoral College stole away the election.

I can’t picture a worse way for Hillary to begin her time in office. A nation already deeply-divided, with so many people hating Hillary because she’s, well, Hillary, and then compound that with electoral shenanigans. Add to this a Republican controlled House and Senate, and you have a recipe for four years of deeply unpleasant politics.

Now maybe you think this is worth it, and perhaps it is. From what Trump has done so far, I have no faith at all that he’s going to be a decent president. And an argument can be made that the Electoral College exists to stop runaway democracy. Indeed one could argue that due to how extremely unqualified Trump is, just maybe they should put a stop to him. But the only way to do that and make it work would be with a third party candidate, and that’s just not likely.

So, no, fellow liberals. We need to just suck it up and spend the next four years fighting the worst excesses of the Trump regime. At least it’ll give the No DAPL people something to do.

Why I Don’t Carrier About This


Trump and his surrogates are crowing over the roughly one thousand American jobs saved by striking  deal with Carrier to keep said jobs from being moved to Mexico. Hooray, well done, etc, etc.

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The problem is that this deal was struck by making the same terrible exchanges state and local governments often make to keep jobs; they agreed to various incentives and subsidies to keep them from leaving.

This is not, in of itself, terrible, but it isn’t really great, either. I’m not big on the idea of bribing companies to stay here in the USA. It strikes me as a Faustian bargain at best.

Here’s what’s going to probably happen: Carrier will stay in the USA for about two or three years, and then they’ll leave anyhow, possibly because Mexico offers them a better deal. That’s how these things work.

This is why Trump won’t succeed with his plan to bring back millions of American jobs from overseas. The economics don’t allow for it, and greater levels of automation have eliminated the need for many of those jobs.

So don’t give him, or Pence, too much credit on this. I don’t think it’s going to end well, and it certainly hasn’t started all that well.

Tumpocalypse – A Game of Blame


Some people dismiss playing “the blame game”. I’m all in favor of it. If we don’t pin down what went wrong and who was behind it, how can we possibly move forward?

There certainly is plenty of blame to go around in the wake of the 2016 election. Let’s start looking at our leading candidates, shall we?

The Republicans

Certainly these folk deserve a heap of blame for the current situation. Not only are they the ones who got Trump positioned to be our next president, but they soured large portions of America on the only person who could stop him.

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HINT: It wasn’t one of these guys.

At every opportunity, the Republican party failed to stand up to, and mount a decent resistance against, Donald Trump. They laughed at him and ignored him as he hijacked the party and turned it from a once-great political institution into a white nationalist mess of an organization.

The party stood back and allowed this, and even enabled it, toward the end. Oh, there was the “Never Trump” movement, which wasn’t nothing, but their efforts amounted to that. To make matters worse, when presented with a campaign of racism, xenophobia, sexism, and all the other deplorable moments that Trump engaged in, the party elite would, from time-to-time, decry what he said, and then stand by his side in support. This is not, perhaps, the best way to show disagreement.

Then there’s the other side of things: the Hillary hate machine. The Republicans have, since 1992, built an actual, honest-to-goodness, money-making industry based on hating Hillary Clinton.

In doing so they took the only person who did stand a chance of stopping Trump and painted her as the Great Satan; a force of evil that must be opposed at all turns, even if doing so involved elevating Donald Trump to the White House. Because of this, if nothing else, I shall never again have respect for the Republican party, and I gladly apportion blame onto them.

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Trumpocalypse – Winning Bigly


It seems like an easy question to answer. How did Donald Trump win the election? And the answer, on the face of it, seems easy also. He pandered to the racists, the sexists, the xenophobes. The anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, crowd who want to roll things back to their perception of the 1950s. The 1920s, really, if they can manage it.

And no doubt, Trump did indeed appeal to those groups. But despite what most on the left want to think, not everyone who voted for him fits so neatly into those categories.

What Trump really did was to appeal to a broad base of Americans-largely white, largely rural, largely poor-who feel neglected by the Democrats and the Republicans both. From the Republicans they got pandering, followed by promises of a bright future. This always fails to happen, because Republican policies are exactly the opposite of what many of these people need.

Democrats, though, tend to ignore these people, and when they pay attention to them, it’s only to mock them. Ever made fun of a certain subset of American by posting a Facebook meme like the following?

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If so, you’re part of the problem. This may come as a surprise, but people don’t like to be mocked or condescended to. Everything you say could be absolutely, 100% correct, but if you’re making fun of the way someone talks, or their interest in NASCAR, or the fact that they love their sister in a way best described as Lannisterian, then you’re part of the problem. Even I do these things; in fact, I did it just now, by assuming that everyone in white, poor, rural America talks like a Hollywood stereotype, loves NASCAR, and fucks their sister. Every time we on the left made one of these kinds of jokes, it was a small nail in the coffin.

Trump managed to present the image, accurately or not, of someone who was willing to listen to these people and who had a real desire to make their lives better. I doubt that he actually listened or has any real plans to make their lives better; steel manufacturing isn’t coming back and coal is dead for economic reasons more than environmental ones. But he did a good job of seeming like he listened. And that’s a good part of why he carried white people in rural counties at a 2:1 margin against Hillary.

People in impoverished rural America are desperate, and feel like no one is looking out for them. When someone comes in with an outsider’s siren song and promises them the moon, is it any wonder they listened and voted?

This doesn’t explain all of Trump’s success, of course. He somehow managed to carry the vote among college-educated white women in places like Florida (and let’s not make any Florida jokes here, either. That also doesn’t help). I’ll admit that one stuns me. but if they’re older, retired women, it makes more sense. And we can’t ignore the fact that, yes, there are people out there who voted for him out of racist, sexist, xenophobic beliefs. But this does explain why Trump won in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina. These are places with large rural populations that have been left behind in the economic recovery, and have felt for decades like they’re being screwed.

People care about God, guns, and…other things…that begin with G, I suppose. But they really care about the economy, and more to the point, they care about whether or not they fed their family yesterday, can feed them today, and can expect to feed them tomorrow. Promising that you’ll strengthen relations with our allies and let trans* people use the bathroom they need to doesn’t resonate well on an empty stomach.

So if these people don’t have their basic needs met, is it any wonder they turn to someone who can promise them all that? It might not be true, but the experiences that too many have had with the Democrats and Republicans both have convinced them that those two don’t have the answers. Can you really blame them for turning to Trump?

You and I know that the plight of poor Americans is at least marginally better under Democrats than Republicans, but try telling that to an Appalachian family on their third generation of food stamps. They want out of that lifestyle, and don’t see anyone providing them the out. So maybe Trump, they think. Maybe Trump.

Next time: The Game of Blame