Witless

Here’s an article from the New Yorker, “Why is Donald Trump Still So Horribly Witless About the World?”  Go read it.

As hard as it is for me to believe, there’s still that 27% hardcore lump of citizens who think the Current Embarrassment is actually being successful at his job.  To them, it’s a good thing that he’s like a coked-up bull in the china shop of the world stage.  “Heck yeah,” they shout, “USA! USA! Kick butt!”  Or words to that effect.

It does not seem important to them to take into account All The Things that make up international relations, not history, not protocol, not expertise.  They live in an imaginary world where the Middle East is all terrorists (except for Israel); China is a backwards Maoist dunghill; and the U.S. acts unilaterally no matter what the circumstances might be.  USA! USA!

They never see that, like their leader, their ignorance and bluster will not produce the results they were hoping for.  They’re just glad they finally have someone who will disregard all those effete intellectuals and Make America Great Again.

So let me present an analogy that I imagine many of them will find relatable.  Feel free to share it with your witless uncle.

You’re at work.  You like your job.  You like your company.  You’ve worked there for a long time, and you’ve gotten to know the ins and outs of the command chain, the production process, the purchasing process, the company’s competitors.  You know who to go to in order to get things done: Marcia for requisitions, Bill for project management, Laketha for personnel.  You know Rachel can’t be trusted to keep a secret and Austin’s a backstabber.

Then they hire a new boss. Let’s call him Ronald.  Ron.

Ron is pig-ignorant.  He’s never even been in the industry before, and it doesn’t look like he wants to learn about it.  He got hired because he can “shake things up.”  You know the type.

So Ron issues memos that don’t make sense and often conflict with company policy.  He makes everything personal.  He fires Marcia.  Bill quits.  He reorganizes your department in ways that are confounding.   He promotes Austin because Austin sucks up to him.  He does not ask for input, nor will he listen to anyone who offers it.  He’s degrading and abusive in meetings; Laketha has left in tears more than once.  He will not sign off on your vacation time.

Ron insults your partners and sets up meetings with your competitors.  He cancels longstanding contracts with suppliers.  He announces changes to the product line that have not been tested or approved, and if implemented will destroy the company’s bottom line.  He’s the epitome of both Dilbert‘s Pointy-Haired Boss and The Office‘s Michael Scott.

In other words, Ron walks into the job and ignores everything that’s important about the job and the company.  He dismisses it.  He shakes things up.

The Current Embarrassment is that guy.  He’s your nightmare boss Ron, only with nuclear codes and China and the U.S. economy at stake.

And that is why expert after expert has abandoned longstanding tradition and uses words like “witless, clueless, appalling ignorance, studious rejection of in-depth knowledge, unteachable, completely irredeemable” to describe him.  This is not some liberal plot to discredit the man. This is Marcia and Bill and Laketha (and you) trying to get the shareholders and the board to understand why the man has got to go.

One wonders

Do you think the Current Embarrassment thinks he is “transforming” the Office of the Presidency?  (I mean, he is, but not in the way he probably thinks he is.)

Or is he just fupping stupid?

Easy answer, healthcare edition

This morning I emailed my senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, to ask them an easy question:

I have read your statement on why you voted for the healthcare bills under consideration. Can you show me the scoring on those bills to back up your claims that they will give more people in this nation healthcare? Not “access” to healthcare: healthcare.

The easy answer is, of course, “no.”  They cannot.  No amount of massaging the data—which they don’t have in the first place—will show that the bills they have voted on will actually improve healthcare in this nation.

#ShowMeTheScoring

I’m not even adding this to the Easy Answers page any more.  What’s the point when they’re not going to answer in any legitimate way?

UPDATE: I’m not the only one catching on.

The Big Lie

Of all the idiotic lies the Current Occupant Embarrassment has told, the most dangerous is one of his first and biggest: that “3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast” in the election, costing him the popular vote.

Only one of the amygdala-based lifeforms (whose very life depends on having enough fear to drive their ecological and biological systems) could believe that fraud of such incredible scope could go unnoticed.  Only someone who must believe that the Truth IS Somewhere Out There could hear quotes like these:

“Throughout the campaign and even after it,” Trump said, “people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities, which they saw. In some cases, having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states.”

Kris Kobach, who never met a Democratic vote he didn’t want to suppress, “We will probably never know the answer to that question.”

Anthony Scaramucci: “My guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to that. I think what we have found sometimes is that the president says stuff, some of you guys in the media think it’s not true. It turns out it’s closer to the truth than people think.”

…and think, “Wow, look at that overwhelming evidence!”[1]

So why should all of us care about this?  The man is gripped by his own egomania and will continue to burrow into his own delusion, which is eyebrow-raising enough when it’s your crazy friend—but this is a person who lives in the White House and can drag the rest of us into his fantasies if we don’t keep our wits about us.

For an excellent take on this, see E. J. Dionne’s editorial at the Washington Post.

Bottom line: the current administration wants to make it harder for you to vote, especially if you are apt to vote against them.  It is easier for them to do this than you think, and even you—yes you—can be caught up in their machinations.

It has already begun.

—————

[1] There is no evidence. See here.

What are we to do?

So, at 4:44 a.m. this morning,[1] here’s what the President of the United States tweeted:

Besides the Captain Queeg obsession with Clinton’s emails, the thorniest issue here for me is that he misspelled Counsel.  I am reminded of John Stewart’s comment about people wanting to vote for Bush43 because he seemed like a “regular guy,” i.e., not a pointy-headed intellectual: “Not only do I want an elite president, I want someone who’s embarrassingly superior to me.”

We have a long way to go.

(Open note to the White House: I know you don’t do “history,” but get someone to read you the results of all previous investigations into those emails.)

—————

[1] I don’t know why this embedded tweet says 7:44 a.m.  The original said 4:44; if you click through, it still does.

Through the Looking-glass

My internet server has a spam filter on it and catches about 100 spam emails a day.  It’s very good—I’m actually quite surprised when I get a spam message in my inbox these days.

However, it will also occasionally snag emails from people or companies that I want to hear from, and so when I get the email saying that it has messages for me to review, I click and go look.  Mostly I just scan the subject lines; it takes less than a minute to do, and then I click Reject All As Spam and I’m done.

Every now and then, though, my curiosity gets the better of me: what are all these emails that warn me of Hillary Clinton’s devastating plans to oust our current embarrassment and take over the White House?  Since I can check the contents of the email without actually leaving the spam filter, I opened one up the other day and found this:

This was followed by blocks of text that were literally jumbled together by a bot from online sources.

I did not explore past this content; in my experience, these things are setups for sites trying to sell you miracle cures or prepper supplies.

As always, my fascination is with the target audience, the 27% who are going to be clueless rage-bunnies no matter what.  I found it fascinating that in our new reality it’s taken as a statement of fact even by the rage-bunnies that Russia intervened directly in our election—but the rage-bunnies direct their anger at the woman who lost the election eight months ago.

And I love the links to “unsubscribe.”  This is where the cluelessness of the rage-bunnies is delicious: how many of them click on those links and give the spammers their information?

Bless they hearts.

More thoughts on the 25th

I don’t know why this keeps bubbling up in my head—wish fulfillment, perhaps.  But whatever the authors of the 25th Amendment thought they were doing, they weren’t solving our problem.

To be honest, there is no way they could have anticipated this problem: an unstable, childish, corrupt, vindictive know-nothing in the White House.  They wrote the Amendment in case the President had a stroke (Wilson) or was shot (Reagan) or was otherwise incapacitated.  They assumed the President to be an honorable man who, after a period of recuperation, would be welcomed back to his office by a sympathetic nation.

As if.

Instead, we have a reality TV star, and the 25th Amendment gives us no guidance on What Happens Next.  I mean, think about it: Pence and the Cabinet write their letter to both houses of Congress and Pence assumes the title of Acting President.  But do we really think the current embarrassment is going to vacate the White House?  We do not.

Again, the authors of the 25th weren’t thinking about actually removing the President.  We have the impeachment process for that.  They were just codifying what everyone assumed to be an orderly transition of power in case of incapacitation.  So if we go the 25th route, we can expect to be treated—if that’s the word I’m looking for—to another three years of reality TV.  Do we perp march the embarrassment out of the Oval Office?  Do we pay to set up a parallel White House (and no, not at a Trump hotel)?  We’ll have competing press conferences.  Torrents of tweets.  Republican congresscritters would never come out of the elevators.

And what, oh what will Fox News do?

All in all, a complete circus.

And yet we’ll be rid of him.

Gaming the 25th Amendment

There has been much talk of the 25th Amendment recently: short of actual impeachment, it seems to many to be the easiest way to rid ourselves of the national embarrassment.  I myself think it’s a solution that the national embarrassment will embrace, and here’s why.

First, the pertinent document, Section 4 of Amendment 25:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

tl;dr: Mike Pence pulls together a majority vote in the Cabinet that the current occupant is unfit, and they write a letter to both houses of Congress saying so.  Poof! Mike Pence is Acting President.

Here’s the interesting part: Pence does not become actual President.  The actual President is merely sidelined, where he can tweet that uhuh he is too fit for the rest of his days.  Technically he can write a letter to both houses of Congress that he’s feeling much better, and then they vote on it.  I figure the Senate’s good for two-thirds of those votes; the House is where the balance lies, and I don’t trust them not to reinstall the man.

But let’s assume that they see their duty to this nation clear and vote that he’s still nutso.  This should make him very happy, because now he’s got tons of enemies to insult and bluster and blame.  He can keep writing those letters for the next 42 months, and Congress can keep voting him out, and he makes the cable shows explode and he’s good.

And we’re rid of him.

Not even an answer

A few weeks ago I faxed my representatives in the Congress (using the very good https://resistbot.io/ to do so) about the Current Occupant’s praise of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “handling of the drug problem,” i.e., murdering drug users and drug dealers.  The question was very simple: Do you agree with the Current Occupant?

Here is U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson’s response, via email:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. I appreciate your thoughts and the opportunity to respond.

As a member of the United States Senate, I am pleased to see constituents, such as you, taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns about the federal government and its policies. Your letter will be helpful to me as the Senate considers legislation dealing with the issues facing our great nation.

Thank you again for contacting me, and I hope you will not hesitate to call on me in the future if I can be of assistance to you.

I will address my comments to Senator Isakson:

Senator, you may not remember it, but you and I worked together a couple of times on the State STAR Student program, and we encountered each other once or twice through your chairmanship of the State Board of Education and my involvement with GHP.  You always struck me as intelligent and balanced.

But this unwillingness to speak out against the unconsidered comments and actions of the incompetent, venal, egomaniacal, and vindictive man you have in the White House is both craven and disappointing.  Is this how you want to be remembered, as an enabler of the disaster that the Executive Branch reveals itself to be every day?  Do you really want it said that you were willing to allow the worst excesses of this White House as long as your party’s social/economic agenda could be crammed through Congress, often flouting your own rules to do so?  Is this who you thought you were going to be when you ran for office?

Shame on you.

A real simple question

::sigh::

My question today to my senators:

Do you agree with the U.S. President that the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”?

Duterte, of course, has been attempting to solve his nation’s drug problem by killing all the drug sellers and drug users.

I wonder what form email I’ll get in reply?

And Trump supporters, I really really need to hear you justify this.  I want to hear how much you will abase yourself to avoid criticizing your leader.  I want to hear you agree that murdering people is a good thing.

And while we’re on a roll here, I need to hear you agree with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s support of Saudi repression of political dissent:

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?