Trump and the Hookers

Let’s assume the current rumors about Trump and the hookers is false (which it probably is).

Can I still revel in the schadenfreude of the whole thing — that a man who spent the last eight years pushing lies about Obama not being born in America now has to deal with his own fake news stories? That people are believing this even though we currently don’t have any proof of it at all?tad-quote

And, just in case they are true, allow me to say this:

Remember when I blogged “Look, the issue isn’t the word ‘pussy’ it’s the word ‘grab.'”?

In this case, the issue isn’t the words “golden showers” — it’s the word “hooker.”

Seriously, the words “President of the United States of America” and “hooker” should never appear in the same sentence.

(By the way, “Trump and the Hookers” is a good name for a band.)

How to answer Republicans concerning the sit-in

As I write this, the House Democrats are staging a sit-in to protest the GOP’s unwillingness to deal with the problem of guns in America. As usual, people are taking sides based on their party affiliation. Here is how to respond to those who are attacking the Democrats, based on the most common things I’ve read online:
sit in“This is just a publicity stunt!”  Yes, of course it is. All politics is. Sit-ins back in the 60s were publicity stunts. Marches and protests are publicity stunts. The goal of a publicity stunt is to get people talking about the issue. Since we are doing that now, it is clearly a successful publicity stunt.

“The Democrats want to curtail your civil rights because the no-fly list has no due process guarantees!” Oh, now you care about due process? The no-fly list, which was developed under Republican leadership, is one of the GOP’s proudest achievements in their war on terror. Apparently, the Democratic goal of preventing people on this list from getting guns easily has turned the GOP into civil rights advocates. Either that or they’re just a bunch of flaming hypocrites.

“When the Democrats were in charge, they also prevented bills from being voted on!” Yep, that’s politics. Maybe you guys should have staged a sit-in too. The difference here is this: The vast majority of Americans support background checks and other laws to prevent criminals, terrorists and the insane from getting guns easily. I’m talking like 90% of Americans. This is about more than just politics — this is about a group of politicians who are in the pocket of the NRA preventing the American people from getting what they want.

“The laws the Democrats want are bad because (fill in the blank).” That’s an interesting argument. Let’s debate it in a reasonable manner. Oh, right — the GOP isn’t even allowing us to discuss it. How is democracy served by that? Isn’t that their job — to debate bills and discuss important issues, especially issues that the vast majority of Americans want discussed?

Did I forget anything?

What “Make America Great Again” really means

Whenever I hear conservative politicians say things like “Make America great again” I have to wonder. The economy is booming. Unemployment is at its lowest rate in ten years. The deficit has been reduced by 2/3rds. The stock market is at its highest ever and gas prices are at their lowest in years.  Foreign policy-wise, ISIS leaders have been killed, Qadaffi was removed, bin Laden is dead, and we have less troops overseas than we did eight years ago.trump

These are all things that, if a Republican were in office, conservatives would be citing to say how wonderful their President is.

So what do they mean when they say “Make America great again”?

It’s clear that they’re not talking about the standard of living, foreign policy, or the economy. What they want is to go back to the old ways. You know — an America where

  • Minorities know their place and aren’t all uppity and saying “Black lives matter”
  • Gays hide in the closet and don’t demand rights
  • Transgender people are treated like they have mental problems and are shunned from society
  • Women let men decide their personal health issues, especially concerning abortion
  • Non-Christians let Christians force their religious views into the laws
  • Immigrants are kept out so that we can keep a white majority
  • No one questions the rich and powerful or demands that they pay their fair share
  • Health care and other needed necessities are only available to those who can afford it

That’s the America they want back — where rich, white, Christian men run things and everyone else sucks it up.

It’s a definition of “great” that only applies to a small minority of Americans who have managed to convince the simple-minded and gullible that America is not about equality, opportunity, and freedom but instead about allowing those in power to force their views onto the rest of us.

 

 

 

What Libertarians don’t understand

There’s lots of things our government does that I disagree with. So I try to elect people who will pass laws that I agree with. Sometimes I lose and a bunch of laws are passed I don’t like.

I don’t claim then that those laws are “forced” against me and that my rights are being violated.all-cats-are-libertarians-mary-fanning

And that’s the reason why many of us just can’t debate some libertarians, because they have this double standard: If they like the law personally, it’s fine but if they don’t like it, they are being forced to obey it and that’s just evil!

I don’t think laws I don’t like are evil. They were passed through our democratic process and I can try to get that changed. I don’t always get my way. That’s what democracy is all about. Sometimes your side loses.

If libertarians said, “Well, we lost, but we’ll try to win next time” then we can discuss the merits of libertarian philosophy. But instead we often get “You people who won are taking away my right to not obey the laws I don’t feel like obeying!”

Well, suck it up. We all have laws we don’t like that we have to obey. That’s what being in a democratic society is all about.

The main problem I have with libertarian philosophy is that they see programs where we ask everyone to pitch in a little to help everyone a lot as “theft” and then complain that they are “forced at gunpoint” to pay taxes to support this stuff.

That’s where they lose me. Every society in the history of this planet has asked its members to support it in some way. Even the most basic society made you pick berries for the good of the tribe.

We can disagree on how much we should do — that’s a legitimate debate. We can discuss how to make taxation fairer.

But when libertarians say any program is a violation of their rights and all taxation is theft, then instead of looking principled, they just look, well, selfish.

Pick some berries, guys.

Whose Land is it, Anyway?

These “patriots” (a/k/a “Vanilla ISIS”) who have taken over a bird sanctuary in Oregon say they are doing so because they want to “give the land back to the people.”

Forget about the silliness of these guys thinking that the words “well-regulated militia” in the 2nd Amendment refers to them — let’s talk about the whole purpose behind their protest.frjlLT4

One of their leaders, while showing his love of America and its freedom of religion by wearing a “Fuck Islam” t-shirt while at the same time telling us that God told him to do this, said that the government is a tyranny, stealing land.

While Native Americans laughed, the rest of us scratched our heads and said “Huh? Isn’t this already federal land, which means by definition that it does belong to the people? Land we all get to use?”

Ha ha! Silly us!  “The people” these guys are referring to are “rich ranchers.” They are upset because we, the people, have asked them, through our laws, to pay to use our land.

Pure tyranny, right? I mean, we can all remember when armed campers took over Yellowstone in protest over admission fees.

When one thinks of tyranny, one immediately thinks of that horrible dictator Teddy Roosevelt, the tyrannical man whose visage adorns Mt. Rushmore, who decided that much of America should belong to Americans and not land developers, mining companies, and ranchers. He started the government policy of setting aside land for everyone to use as public parks, hunting grounds, or other environmental means.

Sharing land? Positively tyrannical.

When I was a kid, I was always pleased to imagine that “U.S.” didn’t just stand for “United States” but that it also stood for “us” — as in “we are all in this together.”  Clearly, these guys think it only stands for them.

 

Republicans want to kill Aladdin!

According to a new poll from PPP, 30% of Republicans favor bombing Agrabah.

As any Disney fan will tell you, Agrabah is the completely fictional made-up country where Aladdin lives. But hey, it sounds Muslim and if there’s one thing Republicans love, it’s bombing things, even when they don’t have a reason to do so. aladdin

I am not making this up.

These are the people who are supporting another cartoon character named Donald Trump for president. These are the people who are willfully stupid and proud of it.

There are other revealing results in this poll which are just as disturbing:

  • 28% support the policy of putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps during WW II
  • 46% support a national database for all American Muslims
  • 54% support banning all Muslims from entering the United States
  • 36% believe Trump’s lie that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheered after 9/11

On the other hand, even the most conservative among us believe in reasonable gun control (despite what the NRA tells you):

  • 79% support a criminal background check for anyone wanting to buy a firearm
  • 80% support preventing anyone on a terrorist watch list from buying a firearm

Bottom line: We’re dealing with a party that has been taken over by bigots who believe lies and hate the United States Constitution. And they seem quite proud of it, too.

 

What IS “Democratic Socialism” anyway?

Many people are criticizing Bernie Sanders for being a “democratic socialist” without having the slightest idea what that term means.

scream-socialism

cartoon by Matt Weurker

Let’s try to simplify things.

There are two sets of terms to know:  economic and political. A government has both.

Economic

Capitalism. This is where the market decides and government stays out of it. No minimum wage, no health inspections, no laws against discrimination, no regulations on business at all. This doesn’t work, because you end up with the powerful running everything, destroying the economy, and keeping people in poverty.

Communism. This is where the government runs business. The idea is that we should all live together in peace and harmony and share everything, and the President earns the same amount as the guy who sweeps the street. This also doesn’t work, because it completely destroys initiative and any reason to try to improve yourself.

Socialism. This is where most countries are, somewhere between the two extremes. Here, the government regulates business to prevent the abuses capitalism can bring, and provides many services (libraries, hospitals, parks, fire departments, social security, unemployment, etc.) that pure capitalism would have private businesses provide (if they felt like it; pure capitalism would never require a business to provide something it doesn’t want).

This is the tough balance to meet. You don’t want to go too far in either direction, and most of the debate in the US is over how far to go — but honestly, even the most conservative politician agrees with some socialism (they’ll never admit that, though).

Political

Democracy.  This is where the people decide, usually through representative democracy or republicanism.

Totalitarianism.  This is a dictatorship, whether individually controlled (North Korea) or committee controlled (China). Once more, there are degrees here as well as various types (monarchy, fascism, oligarchy). But the key thing they all have in common is that the decision-making power is not with the people.

What usually happens is that people confuse the economic with the political. The Soviet Union was a communist country but was also a totalitarian country, and people started associating the two. This is wrong. You could have a democratic communist country. And despite what the Soviet Union would have had you believe with their propaganda, Karl Marx supported democracy.

It’s even more confusing when countries lie about themselves. Just because you call yourself “the Democratic Republic of Vietnam” doesn’t mean you are a democratic republic, any more than China is the “people’s republic.” The Soviet Union was indeed a communist country, but it was a corrupt one because you know perfectly well that not everyone shared equally in that society.

So when Bernie Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist” he is making it clear that politically, he agrees with democracy (the people decide) and economically, he agrees with socialism (government works for the people).

Disclaimer:  This is a really quick and simple explanation and is meant to be a guideline and a start for conversation. And it’s also mostly from an old post I did about two years ago, so if you have a long memory, it may be familiar.