FREEDUMB!

So this popped up on the Facetubes recently:

Honey, please.

This entire attitude that taxation is theft and regulation is totalitarian is bizarre. The tough guy stance that this meme represents is a pose held by people who nevertheless continue to drink their uncontaminated water and eat their safe food.  Yes, Flint, MI, still has unsafe water, but that rather proves the point, doesn’t it? Regulations are necessary for an actual society.

My response to this silliness is to take a page from these people’s playbook — who for some reason are rabid jingoists too (and no, I don’t know how that works) — and say, “Hey, if you don’t like it here…” I hear that life in Somalia is free from all kinds of government interference.

By the way, the DavidAvocadoWolfe at the bottom — he has his own category on Snopes. I can imagine why he thinks government regulation is oppressive.

 

Wrapped in a flag

As Sinclair Lewis did not say, “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

I was strolling down the street to fetch a pizza yesterday, and for some reason this struck me:

I thought to myself, “Why is the Baptist church flying an American flag?”

Let me be clear: I was raised in that bathwater, so I know that the flag/patriotism/jingoism has long been an item of worship there.

And since I was raised in that bathwater, I also know that the origins of the Baptist faith, indeed of Christianity in this country, would teach that the church owes no allegiance to the government. Their authority does not derive from the government, nor should they seek the imprimatur of any earthly power.

But they do.  Especially since the 1970s/80s, Christianists in this country have been increasingly strident about how they and the U.S. government are one — or should be. They want laws that protect them — and only them — or that push their “morality” onto the rest of the population.

And now, with the Current Embarrassment, they find themselves in an appalling bind, tied to a man whose lack of morality is entire and whom they must continue to endorse and wink at if they want to continue to cling to power.  For that is what this is all about: they fly an American flag because they see no distinction between themselves and the government.  They want the power to dictate their rules to the rest of us.  They reject the notion that they are only one part of a diverse nation: they are America, the real America.

Then they express bafflement when the rest of us describe them as bigots and racists, cruel in ways that would appall any truly devout person of any faith, exclusive and prohibitory, unkind, ungenerous, and fascist.

If you’re a church-goer, before you object that your congregation is not like that, that your gang is Christ-like, I ask you: do you fly the American flag? Is it, like the Baptist example above, above the “Christian flag”? Why is that? Yes, it’s the official flag code that the U.S. flag flies on top, but what have you to do with the official flag code? “Render unto Caesar…”? I’m not sure that Christ meant your allegiance.

Think about that the next time you Pledge.

Governing — how does it work?

Here’s an article about the GOP infighting over bringing immigration bills to the floor for a vote.  Go read it.

Apparently, it’s just short of open rebellion for representatives to petition for discharge, i.e., override the leadership’s agenda, which apparently in this case is to let the bills die in committee so that the Republicans won’t have to be seen voting to be incredibly cruel to humans — which would please their base but outrage the average voter, here in the year of our lord Midterms.  Indeed, why bring it to a vote when the current administration is doing a bang-up job being incredibly cruel to humans all on its own?

Here’s the quote that makes me shake my head with disgust:

“It would be an approach that would rely on mostly Democratic votes and some Republicans to pass their bill,” Scalise said, “and that’s not the way to solve this problem.”

Let’s be clear about what Rep. Scalise is saying here: we shouldn’t be trying to pass legislation — or even vote on it — using votes from both parties. We shouldn’t try to pass laws using a majority of votes from the entire House of Representatives. Laws cannot be passed with the votes of the people representing all the citizens of the United States. “That’s not the way to solve this problem.”

There are other versions of this gobbledygook all the way up and down the article: “the importance of keeping control of the legislative vehicle and solving the problem on our terms where we focus on solutions, not politics” (because passing the bills is not a solution?); “I think it’s better to use the legislative process” (which apparently does not necessarily include bringing bills to the floor for a vote); “I don’t believe in discharge petitions” (from Steve King, who probably has done a lot to keep any of the bills from being voted on).

It’s all well and good to decry our system as broken and to point fingers at both sides, but at the moment there’s only one party in charge of both chambers of Congress, and this is their attitude towards governing: if we can’t get a bill passed with just our votes, then it’s not going to pass.  They even have a name for it, the Hastert Rule, and if you think “both sides do it,” click on that link and have someone read the first sentence for you.

Naked, obscene lust for power.  That’s my name for it. Your mileage may vary.

Try this at home

Okay, Trump supporters, I need you to do this one little experiment.  No, you don’t have to give up your belief that you’re Making America Great Again; you can peddle that little tricycle all you like.  Just do this one thing.

Yesterday, the president*, speaking to reporters, railed against Robert Mueller’s investigative team, saying:

“So you have all these investigators; they’re Democrats. In all fairness, Bob Mueller worked for Obama for eight years.”

Is this true?

No.

Robert Mueller, for example, is a registered Republican. He was appointed by George W. Bush in 2001 to serve the 10-year term as head of the FBI; Barack Obama asked him to stay on, and he retired two years later in 2013.[1]

So there’s the one little thing I want you to do.  Trump lied. He is telling you something that is not even close to true and is easily checked out.

What does that information mean to you?

No need to answer.  Just file that away and remember this one simple little lie that Donald J. Trump told to you.[2]

UPDATE: (in case the above example is too slippery for you)

“As everybody is aware…”

—  —  —  —  —

[1] Math is hard: he worked for Obama for a little over four years.

[2] You could also consider the attitude so embedded in Trump’s lie that I almost missed it: the idea that because Muller “worked for Obama for eight years” he is obviously personally loyal to Obama and therefore Trump’s enemy. It does not occur to Trump that although men and women like Mueller may serve throughout the Executive branch at the pleasure of the President, they do not actually work for the President. They work for the United States and its citizens.

Trump does not understand this concept in any way.

But I only asked you to do one little thing, so we’re good here.

WWJD?

Our nation’s relationship with immigrants has always been complicated and mostly mean.  Sure, we put up the Statue of Liberty and inscribed a lovely, welcoming poem, but let us not forget that the statue was a gift from France and the installation of the poem was funded by impressionable children. The realpolitik is a lot nastier.

I’m not going to get into the weeds on the topic here, but I do want to note one thing. Whenever Dreamers/DACA are up for discussion, or some immigrant is seized and deported despite living here peaceably for 30 years and owning a well-loved business, the amygdala-based lifeforms who survive on daily doses of fear and panic will screech, “BUT THEY WERE HERE ILLEGALLY! THEY BROKE THE LAW!!!

So for these people, I have a new bumper sticker:

Think about this.

It was just announced that Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician nominated by the president* to head the Veterans Administration, has withdrawn.

And very well might he have done so: charged with creating a hostile, toxic work environment; overprescribing drugs (including Ambien and Percocet); being drunk on the job to the extent that he wrecked a government car and was alleged to have been so much under the influence while on trips abroad that concerns were raised that he’d be unable to assist the President (Obama in this case) if any emergency were to arise. The man sounds a right mess.

Here’s my thought: if you or I knew that we had these… peccadilloes, shall we say?… in our lives, would you or I accept a high profile and probably contentious nomination? If you knew that there was even the possibility of  headlines like the ones that we’ve seen swirling around Rear Admiral Jackson, would you put your name out there for nomination?  Common sense says that you would not.  You already have a good job, and especially if you’re a putz like Jackson, you’d want to hold on to that good thing.

So why did he? If he has a problem with alcohol — and let’s irresponsibly speculate that someone who hands out Ambien on Air Force One might have other issues as well — then perhaps his judgment is not unclouded.

But I think there’s something a little more insidious at work here.  He accepted the nomination because in Trumplandia none of these things are impediments. He expected clear sailing.  He expected to be shielded, or at worst, given a pass.

Because this is our country now.

Another lame pro-murder meme

This meme popped up on a friend’s timeline:

This doesn’t even make sense.

I know the pro-murder crowd thinks that the gun is just an innocent bystander in a mass shooting, just some kind of incidental ornament, and that “blaming” the gun is as ridiculous as “blaming” the car for the DUI. However, no one is blaming the gun. That framing device is sheer equivocation.

No, my position on DUI is not to find out what car is involved and to ban it.  My position on DUI is to take the drunk driver’s keys away from him.

We will now let the pro-murder crowd work that one out.

A lesson unlearned

It seems that Hasbro has decided to come out with a “Cheaters” edition of Monopoly. Their rationale is that since people are incorrigible cheaters at the classic board game anyway, they might as well play along, encouraging “players to cheat by such methods as moving another player’s token, skipping spaces, or stealing extra money from the bank when they pass Go.”

“Those who successfully pull off the cheats are rewarded with cash and property,” Hasbro sweetly concludes.

Well.

I was never a huge fan of the game as a child.  It seemed to me that there was something inherently unfair about the game, where one person ended up with all the money and everyone else ended up broke. You may imagine how vindicated I felt when I learned that the game was originally meant to be a lesson in unrestrained capitalism, a warning about what happens when you let the rich eat you instead of the right and proper vice versa.

So, Hasbro, “Those who successfully pull off the cheats are rewarded with cash and property”?

You don’t fupping say.

You, free press, listen up.

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  There are two reasons for this.  First, most of my creativity posts have been happening over at Lichtenbergianism.com, and I see no reason to double-post.

Second, I have had to face the fact that if I were to rant liberally here, I would soon be reduced to a soggy lump of foaming, impotent fury. The Current Administration is simply a fire hose of corruption, venality, meanness, and double-talk, and no one can keep up. I do not intend to try, at least bloggingwise-speaking.

However, I have just about had it with the aggressive lying that seems to gush forth from anyone allied with the Current Administration whenever they are asked a question by the members of our free press.  The strategy that makes me scream and throw things the most is the ‘pivot,’ wherein the reporter asks a solid question which the liar doesn’t want to answer, and they will pivot to another topic entirely.  Allow me to demonstrate.

Suppose you were a parent, and you wanted to know if your child had taken out the trash.

—  —  —  —  —

YOU:  Bobby, have you taken out the trash?

BOBBY: The fact that you ask that question means you haven’t taken the time to ascertain the facts of the matter here.

 —  —  —  —  —

YOU:  Bobby, have you taken out the trash?

BOBBY: I think the more important question is whether Jill has done her chores at all.  Has she cleaned her room?

 —  —  —  —  —

YOU:  Bobby, have you taken out the trash?

BOBBY: If you were being honest, you’d recognize that I’d already put away my clothes and taken the dog for a walk.

 —  —  —  —  —

Unbelievable. No parent would tolerate such a response to a direct question.  And yet our press is trapped, especially in live media, unable to press their point and get a direct answer.

For our comrades in print, however, I do have a suggestion.  At the moment, you report their non-answer, catapulting their lies straight into the record.  Don’t.  Stop reporting their words.  You asked a question — report on their answer, not with their answer.

In other words, if they don’t answer the question, report that they didn’t answer the question.  Do not report what they said.  Frame your report so that the reader has an idea of what you were trying to get the bottom of, and then report that the liar failed to answer.

Here are some examples:

With two bags of trash standing by the kitchen door, Bobby was asked whether he had done his chore of taking the trash out.  He evaded answering the question directly.

One of Bobby’s chores is to take out the trash.  When asked whether he had done so, he attempted to shift attention to his sister Jill and her chores.

When asked whether he had fulfilled his chore of taking out the trash, Bobby left the question unanswered, instead enumerating other chores he said he had accomplished.

See?  At no point do you repeat Bobby’s misleading words.  You report on his answer and whether he answered the question at all.

Guys in broadcast media, I got nothing at this point other than a mute button or to cut the interview short after the liar attempts to obfuscate the issue and to tell the audience that since the liar had not answered the question, there was no point in continuing.

Honestly.

There’s a small kerfuffle going on over in the Twitterverse over the New York Times interview with the Current Embarrassment. Maggie Haberman took exception to the rest of Twitter taking exception to the reporters’ abject stenography of the man’s usual incoherent ramblings, and her ratio[1] is about what you would expect.

Have a look:

Etc.

The tl;dr is that we expect the New York Times to dig a little deeper, to confront this fraud with questions that make it clear that he’s a fraud, and not to let him run amok through the truth.  There are those who say that it’s obvious that he’s a fraud just from the transcript, but that is not the case.  If it were, the NYT and the Washington Post wouldn’t keep running similarly uninformative stories about his die-hard voters who still think he’s saving us all from the hellscape of the Obama administration.

Here would be my point if I were to jump into the fracas: at no point in the last six years and especially in the last two has Donald J. Trump even once shown a grasp of legislative or policy matters. Not. Even. Once.  Revealing this to us in an interview once again without any kind of followup question is really really pointless.  You think you’re making it obvious that he’s an idiot, but we already know that.  His followers refuse to know that.  Why keep doing it?

But tweeters who are more likely to be noticed by the NYT than I are already making that point.  I’ll stick to #Lichtenbergianism and my Precepts.

—  —  —  —  —

[1] The ‘ratio’ is kind of new intertubes-speak for the ratio between your retweets and your comments.  When your comments — which usually indicate disagreement — start outweighing your retweets, you know you’ve stepped in it.