Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Dirtiest Campaign in Modern Times
I am 73 years old, and have been aware of national politics for some 65 years. Never have I seen such a disgraceful, ugly, disgusting, and irresponsible campaign run by either major national party — in this case, the Republican Party. I don't know about the campaigns in all the states, but I am keenly aware of the race for the U.S. Senate seat from my state, New Jersey, and a House seat from my state as well.
+ In the Senate race, a slimy Republican newcomer named Bob Hugin (hyúe.gin) has run a number of reprehensible TV spots that accuse the Democratic incumbent, Bob Menendez, of crimes, on the basis of an indictment on financial wrongdoing in accepting favors from a FRIEND. What the commercials do not reveal is that Menendez was NOT CONVICTED of anything, and NOT EXPELLED FROM THE SENATE. Donald Trump complained, in connection with the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, about the cavalier disregard by his critics for the assumption of innocence under our legal system. But here a Trump ally dismisses the notion that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Menendez wasn't even convicted in the 'court of pubic opinion'!
+ When those revolting ads didn't seem to be doing the trick, Hugin took out ads some three weeks before the election accusing Menendez of having sex with underage girls in the Dominican Republic, trying to latch onto the #MeToo movement, which the Republican Party has NOT supported heretofore. These scurrilous ads seemed to have significant effect, and public-opinion polls showed Hugin pulling within 5% of long-term Senator Menendez.
+ Then Menendez's ads started to pound away on Hugin's lack of political experience, his making a multimillion-dollar fortune by gouging the sick, as an executive of a pharmaceutical company, and on Hugin's pledging fealty to the Trump Administration's Far-Right program of giving the super-rich huge tax breaks but only peanuts to the poor and middle class, at the cost of increasing the national debt by a trillion dollars in less than two years, and the polls crept back up to a 15% advantage to Menendez.
+ In the other extremely dirty campaign, Tom MacArthur, a Republican, accuses Andy Kim (an Oriental — and no, “Oriental” is not a dirty word, and is far more specific than “Asian”, which covers South Asians, Central Asians, and people of the Middle East) of associating with, and presumably backing the views of some (unnamed) Radical Islamist in urging a jihad against the United States. So we are to assume that this nonwhite challenger is a Moslem madman who wants to destroy the (dominantly Christian) United States. Nice, huh?
+ Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show has made much in the last ten days or so of Republican sliminess in trying to suppress voting by likely Democrats, thru active measures to refuse the right to vote in various contemptible ways. In Georgia, the man who is in charge of verifying voter credentials has purged something like a million and a half people from the rolls. This goes far beyond legitimate measures, such as removing people who have died or left the district. He has also shunted aside, possibly until after the election, applications for voter enrollment from 53,000 Georgians! This disgrace to the human race is himself running for Governor in the present election. You'd think he'd want to eliminate all appearance of conflict of interest by recusing himself from voter-validation duties until the election in which he is a candidate is over. But only an honorable person would do that, and the Republican Party is in very short supply of honorable people nowadays. I am so old that I can remember honorable Republicans, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller.
+ In Kansas, the county board of elections has removed the one voting precinct from Dodge City, a municipality of some 13,000 people, mostly Hispanics, to outside city limits in a location more than a mile from the nearest bus stop, even tho the typical precinct in Kansas has only 1,200 registered voters, and there are perfectly good locations for a polling place within city limits and public transit. The one polling place in Dodge City before it was moved outside city limits was in a county facility that has a number of other events scheduled around the same time — but not today. And there are SCHOOLS that could host a polling place.
+ Moreover, Republican-dominated state legislatures have GERRYMANDERED their states for the obvious, express purpose of maximizing Republican representation and minimizing Democratic representation. (Of course, Republicans would say “Democrat representation”, because Republicans refuse to use the proper, respectful term “Democratic” in such a locution. How would they like it if every non-Republican called Republicans “Repubs” or some other disrespectful term?)
+ Maddow has shown a chart of calculations for how much more Democrats would have to poll in the popular vote to get more than the 23 Members necessary to take over the House: on the order of 18% above the Republican vote (and thus 68% of the total vote, assuming two candidates per district), not the 50% + 1 that should be all that's necessary to win a race in a real democracy.
+ In short, the Republican Party — or should we say “Republican Conspiracy”, “Mob”, or “Mafia”? — is acting with all its might to CHEAT its way into continued control of Congress.
+ Turnout Should Not Be the Determinant. Everything in American elections turns on turnout. That is not democracy. We consistently poll less than half of all voters every election. The expected turnout in this hotly contested election is 41%. That's disgraceful, and we should DO something about it, not just lament it. That thing we should do is institute MANDATORY VOTING, whereby everyone is required to vote or pay a hefty fine, unless a should-be voter has a legitimate reason for not voting, for instance, being housebound by accident or ill health such that s/he can't even get to the post office to mail in an absentee ballot. Various genuine democracies have mandatory voting, and it works fine.
+ Extravagant Language. In decrying the ugliness of today's political rhetoric, some observers have said silly things such as that we have “never been more divided”. Apparently Donald Trump is not the only person who doesn't know history. “Never been more divided”? Haven't these people heard of a little thing called “the Civil War”, which killed over half a million Americans on both sides? It was in all the papers, and even in by far most history textbooks, altho some Southern liars call it “the War Between the States”. No, it was NOT a war between states but between two federations, the Union and the Confederacy. New Jersey didn't pick a fight with Texas (tho I suspect that at the time, New Jersey had far more people than did Texas). So yes, the surviving Union has indeed been more divided, FAR more divided. But our divisions today are nonetheless alarming. One way we have become more divided is in the most-unwise initiation of early voting and absentee ballots for no good reason. An election used to be a civic event, a celebration of our shared democracy and responsibility. It could be festive, and used to be an actual holiday for which employers would have to give their employees time off, with pay, perhaps even the entire day off. No longer. With early voting and absentee ballots, the voting period and time needed to count ballots can take weeks. In the case of idiotic California, just counting mail-in ballots and certifying the results can take WEEKS beyond the official voting day. That is insane.
+ No One to Root For. The hard choice that voters too often must make is between “the lesser of two evils”, and that is indeed the choice we must make today. I have serious problems with my knees and balance that make walking difficult and dangerous, but I am going to try my best to get to my polling place, on crutches, to vote against Bob Hugin. My Congressman is in no danger of being ousted in this solidly Democratic district in the Blue State of New Jersey's largest city (Newark). So if it weren't for voting AGAINST Hugin, I could stay home and out of the RAIN that will occupy much of the day. (If it rains all day, I can't chance a crutch slipping on wet pavement.) So I'll test how well I can manage to walk to the polls, and if I am confident I can walk to and from my precinct without falling, I will do my civic duty. At least if I do get there, I won't have to wait more than a few minutes, because New Jersey, the third state to ratify the Constitution, has long experience in running elections, so has it down to a science. This is not one of those places where there are insanely long waiting times. One woman in some other state had to wait SIX HOURS in EARLY voting, not even on Election Day. New Jersey and other truly little-D democratic states are responsible, and know that the very most important governmental responsibility, short of defense during an actual military invasion, is to consult the people as to who should staff a government that is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
The War on Men Shifts into High Gear
The “Me Too” loons demonstrating against Judge Kavanaugh have started to chant “We believe [the] survivors”. “Survivors”!? The accusations against the judge do NOT include attempted MURDER, only trivial sexual 'offenses'. “Survivors” plainly suggests violent, murderous assault. This extravagant language must be CRUSHED. When public discussion degenerates into insane overstatement, society must clamp down and DEMAND civility. How? One way is for media commentators to condemn such outrages. Another would be for media to refuse to cover such disgraceful excesses. Another would be for civic leaders, educators, public-service organizations, school boards, teachers' unions, and other elements of civil society to demand an END to this abuse of men and point out the hypocrisy of these loons in demanding respect for women when they are hurling vitriolic disrespect at men!
+ Uncountable decent Americans who may have had doubts about Kavanaugh's suitability for the Supreme Court have decided that it is very important that he IS confirmed, to rout the forces of slander and hatemongering against men. The slanderers may end up achieving the exact opposite of what they intended, to humiliate and frustrate the aspirations of a highly qualified judge with whose judicial philosophy they disagree.
+ If Judge Kavanaugh is NOT confirmed, and the slanderers win, men may have to ratchet up the discord and fight back and make this truly a war, not an unanswered, unending barrage of attacks upon men. Men may have to declare actual, military war against their enemies, and take no prisoners. Now, can we take bets on which gender would win a military war between men and women?
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Judge Kavanaugh Slandered Anonymously
While Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is testifying under oath in his confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate, an anonymous, unsworn woman is accusing him of trivial sexual molestation IN HIGH SCHOOL in the 1980s! The “Me Too” lynch mob has hastened to believe every syllable this anonymous sniper issues, because, as everyone knows, no woman has ever LIED about ANYTHING. No, every phoneme uttered, every alphabetic character written by every woman on Earth is beyond contention true.
+ The opposite is actually the case. A great many women lie incessantly, and are very good at it. This is part of a survival strategy when women were protecting themselves from punishment (violent, financial, or emotional) by more powerful men for wrongful things the women had done, so it was important that their lies be believed.
+ In view of many women's penchant for making up stories and their ability to lie persuasively, why are media wasting so much as one sentence in covering this non-story?
+ The details in one press article I found online show the accusation to be frivolous in the extreme. There was no anatomical penetration nor even skin-to-skin genital contact; and the two high-school BOYS were drunk and laughing all thru the encounter. The girl — yes, boys and girl, not men and woman — did not report the 'assault' to anyone, not to the police, not to a prosecutor, not to ANYONE, but we are supposed to believe her fairytale. What victim of sexual assault does not report it to legal authorities, or even the parents of the kids who hosted the party?
+ At end, however, it doesn't matter. It's all 'ancient history', of a meaningless incident. Two high-school boys played sexual games with a high-school girl. Are we now, perhaps 35 years later, supposed to criminalize harmless sexplay by teenagers? The three people were all in their teens, because kids in prosperous suburbs generally graduate from high school by age 18, or even younger.
+ The more serious accusation is that Kavanaugh and the other boy were DRUNK, because the minimum drinking age in the mid-1980's was 21 in Maryland. Should we institute prosecutions of these drunk boys 30-some years later? Fortunately, we have statutes of limitations, which are laws designed to protect people from errors in trials due to deterioration of evidence or memory.
+ Kavanaugh is 53 years old. Even if a part or parts of the charges leveled against him were true, WHO CARES? A teenage boy wanted to play sex games with a girl. Assemble the firing squad! The teen years are a time of sexual exploration and experimentation. It's time for this country to lighten up! And grow up.
+ There has never in our history been so libertine an era as now, when obscenity is everywhere, from lewd remarks in Stephen Colbert's monolog to TV commercials for K-Y sexual lubricant, to telephone sexchat lines, to online porn sites with hundreds of thousands of explicit fotos and videos. It is more than a little silly for us to be bitching and moaning about an alleged sexual encounter among teenagers in the 1980s.
Friday, September 14, 2018
National newscasts have really overdone coverage of Hurricane Florence. They all hyped the strength of the storm, practically rooting for it to achieve Category 5 status — tho many people kept using the needless short form “Cat”; why? Are their jobs so tiring that three more syllables would cause them to fall to the ground exhausted? Long before the storm made landfall, it had dropped to a Category 1 storm, but the media kept trying to worry us about its devastating effects, tho it had already fallen to mere nuisance rather than deadly danger.
+ Moreover, only a small percentage of the Nation's area and population are likely to be adversely affected by the storm. It was expected to be some 700 miles from the major population centers of the Northeast, and as much as 2,000 miles from the West Coast. So why all the alarums and excursions in national media about a trivial storm?
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
Trump Does Not Know History
Donald Trump is fond of saying things like “the most important [this] (or [that]) ever (or “in history”). But Donald Trump knows NOTHING about history, not American history, not world history
+ Does anyone believe that Trump knows why Iran is so proud of its place in the world and so protective of its dignity? Of course not. Does Trump know anything about the origins of the Russian Empire vis-a-vis (the) Ukraine, and the Empire's successor, the Soviet Union? Does Trump understand why Russia feels victimized by the West when the Gorbachev era stripped away large chunks of the Empire from Holy Mother Russia?
+ Did Trump ever hear of New Spain or Gran Colombia? The Empire of Brazil? Tainos? Caribs? Oneidas? Crees? Does he have any idea what the Iroquois Confederacy, the Five Nations, the Six Nations were, and where, and when? Is he familiar with the terms “First Nations”, and “Inuit”? Does Trump know how to pronounce “Rohingya”? Does he know what “Persia” is or was? How about “Siam”? “Shogun”? Chinese Republic? Does he know the earlier names of Myanmar, Guyana, and Belize? Does Trump know what Mesopotamia is or was? Can he name the two rivers that defined Mesopotamia?
+ The United States is involved in a war against people who want to restore the Caliphate. Does Trump know what the Caliphate is or was? Can Trump find Gaza on a map? The West Bank? Does he know the difference between Gaza and Giza?
+ A President doesn't have to know everything about everything, but certainly needs to recruit people who do know each of the subject-matter and geographic areas that the U.S. Government must deal with, and, regarding which, must make wise choices.
+ Trump has the arrogance of ignorance. He looks at Iran and thinks of it only in terms of its present geographic size and population (if he has any idea whatsoever of Iran's population). That is not how Iranians regard Iran. They know their history and are indignant at being treated shabbily.
+ I would love to see Celebrity Jeopardy!: m Presidential Edition, involving Trump and his two immediate predecessors, Obama and Clinton. THAT would be entertaining.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
òm.a.róe.sa or òe.ma.róe.sa?
Why can't this country agree on ANYTHING? There is ONE person in public life with the bizarre name, perhaps unique on this planet, “Omarosa”. One word of all the hundreds of thousands of ordinary words plus names in the English language, and we can't agree on how to say it!
+ How the f* stupid has this country become that we can't agree on even the pronunciation of ONE name? I'm not demanding that we agree on an evaluation of that woman's character or trustworthiness, only that we agree on how to pronounce her f* name!
+ I tried a Google Search on how SHE pronounces her name, but came up empty. Why? No: why on EARTH not?
+ Is this now a Nation of mental defectives, retards? Why can't we get one simple answer to one simple question? Why is EVERYTHING ridiculously complicated now? — every damned thing!? How can we even ASPIRE to find areas of agreement on issues of ideology, or even fact, in public-policy matters, if we can't agree on even how to pronounce ONE DAMNED WORD? +\
UPDATE, September 3rd: I searched again and found a CSPAN interview in which Omarosa herself pronounces her name, as òe.ma.róe.sa, and defines it as a Yoruba (Nigerian) word meaning "belovèd child". She adds that her father gave her that name. So now we know. And now that we DO know, can we all stop saying òm.a.róe.sa, with a short-O at the beginning? Thank you.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Stop Talking about Charlottesville!
Why on EARTH are news media talking about an event a YEAR AGO? That's not news. We all heard that CRAP a year ago. We don't EVER need to hear it again. Media, get a life! Deal with the NEWS, not old stories of no relevance to today. We really don't need to hear the same stories over and over again.