The protest condundrum

Well, over a million people marched in protest of President Donald Trump yesterday. And while I definitely agree with the protesters and their messages, I couldn’t help but think of one thing as I watched the coverage on the news:

Where the hell was all of this during the election?

If all of those protesters had poured as much energy and organization into the election, I would bet that we wouldn’t be talking about president Donald Trump right now. So while I think the protests were totally awesome on one level, on another level it seems like it’s too late. Trump has already been sworn in and he’s sitting in the oval office right now.

Trump, Pence, and the republicans in congress probably don’t give a rat’s ass about the protests because they already won and protests aren’t going to change that.

But that kind of activity probably could have changed the outcome of the election. Of that I have very little doubt. This past election suffered from pretty low voter turnout. People just weren’t excited about Donald and Hillary, so they stayed home.

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But imagine if all of these people who protested had mobilized in a similar way before the election. Imagine if they worked that hard to drum up more excitement for voting. The outcome probably would have been different. Imagine if they’d all worked that hard to ensure that he didn’t get elected in the first place. These protests should have started the moment Trump won his party’s nomination, not after he took office.

There’s always 2020.

Vote your conscience, you idiots

So tomorrow marks the day that all the electors in the electoral college get together to formally elect the president of the United States. Lots of people are hoping that these electors will see Donald Trump as unfit for office and vote someone–anyone–else into office instead. Which they could technically do, because they’re not constitutionally bound to vote for whoever won their respective states. Unless of course you ask the electors themselves.

With only a handful of exceptions, most of the republican electors plan to vote for Donald Trump, even if they think he is unfit to be president. Why? Well, just ask this idiot from Texas: “Each of us signed a pledge that, as electors, we will support the nominee when called to Austin on December 19.” You hear that a lot when they interview these electors. “Well, you know, I just have to serve the will of the people.”
NO YOU DON’T YOU FUCKING TWAT. That’s the entire point of having an electoral college. So that when people DO elect someone who isn’t fit for office, you can nullify the whole damn thing.

Which makes the whole entire process pretty useless huh? If that’s your view, then why even have an electoral college at all? Why not stick with the popular vote if all you’re ever going to do is reaffirm “the will of the people”?

Not that that would be a bad thing. If we went by the popular vote, Clinton would be taking office right now and we’d all be fondly remembering president Al Gore. But that’s a subject for another blog.

Right now I’d like to focus on the electors and the fact that they apparently aren’t even aware of their own role in the damn process. Which begs the question: how the hell do people become electors in the first place?

They campaign for it. Then there’s a vote by the state party. That’s it. So any dumbass can become a member of the electoral college simply by showing up to meetings and throwing their name into a hat.

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No special qualifications–just pure, unadulterated party loyalty! Which seems to be why the whole goddamn system is fucked up the first place–people voting party over substance and policy. So sure, I guess it only makes sense that the electoral college isn’t immune to the bullshit that permeates every aspect of our society.

If we are going to have an electoral college as a kind of check or balance against populist idiots like Trump assuming the mantle of the presidency, then you’d think that there would be at least SOME qualification for choosing the president other than your ability to fill out paperwork and show the fuck up to the vote.

Like…a civics class! Or some demonstration of critical thinking. Or at LEAST an understanding of policy. Hell, far be it from me to defend the system that gave us Bush v2.0 and now Trump, but the whole point of the electoral college was to ensure that we didn’t have direct democracy, because the framers of the constitution thought that the masses were stupid enough to elect an idiot to office. Which apparently they are. But the very system that was designed to protect us from that eventuality wound up being populated by the very idiots that the founders didn’t want directly choosing the president.

I fully expect the electors to honor their pledges. Which pains me to write. It pains me that the very people who toss out sentences like, “I have to vote for the will of the people,” are going to elect the man who didn’t win the most vote–in essence, who WASN’T the choice of the people.

Maybe it’s because America is full of idiots. Or maybe it’s because we let the idiots run the place.

A tale of two Americas

Like many people, I’m still reeling from the fact that Tuesday night, Donald Trump was elected our 45th president. I’m saddened, dismayed, fearful, distraught even. But one thing I can’t say that I am is shocked. And that’s because there really are two Americas.

Politicians use that line on the campaign trail frequently. So do pundits. There’s Main St. vs Wall St. There’s red vs blue. There’s rural vs urban. Whites vs minorities. In the post-Trump victory, people were scrambling to figure out which group of voters was responsible. But the division between the two Americas isn’t a demographic one, it isn’t a geographic one. What this election unequivocally demonstrated for me is that the difference between the two Americas is this:

Intellectualism vs anti-intellectualism.

A vote for Donald Trump is a vote against reason, pure and simple. It’s not just a vote to smash the establishment, it’s a vote against everything that science and progress has led us to. And it really highlights the division between Americans:

America A

In this America, people value science and evidence. They allow it to guide policy. They believe in a secular society. They believe that they’re responsible for their fellow man. They believe that things like healthcare and education are rights and an investment. They believe in diversity, that we’re stronger when we’re more inclusive and tolerant. They seek enlightenment and progress. They believe that the height of being human is to learn and explore, and that those are the endeavors that lift everyone up.

America B

In this America, people value the Christian bible over all else. They think that every law and the constitution itself should be interpreted through a biblical lens. They think that expecting one to help everyone succeed is tyranny. They think the individual is stronger than the community, and that a hand up and a hand out are harmful to their fellow man. They think that a cluster of cells is the same thing as a person. They don’t value science and evidence, and don’t see a point in exploration and inclusiveness. They think that business and commerce is the highest thing human beings can aspire to. They think that the planet is something to use rather than safeguard.

Those two Americas can’t coexist. They’re diametrically and thematically opposed to each other. Asking us to unite and act like one country is a waste of time because we really aren’t one country, we aren’t one people. We’re two distinct groups who are trying to share one space and one government. I don’t feel kinship with half this country, or at least with 60 million people in it. And I don’t apologize for that. I shouldn’t have to try and force some sort of positive feeling about someone who’s every action and belief is harmful to my way of life. I shouldn’t be asked to unite with a racist or a bigot. At this point, I feel more kinship with people living in places like Iceland and Denmark than I do with half the people in my own country, because those places reflect the values and ideals that I hold. Asking me to come together with people in rural Pennsylvania is like asking me to feel a special bond with North Korea at this point.

A poignant and symbolic example of this from the past is the Carter/Reagan transition in 1980. During his time in office, Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House. It was during an energy crisis, and it showed that he represented a group of people that were willing to try to innovate and use science to solve their problems, to move forward and seek out alternatives.

When Reagan took office, the first thing he did was rip the solar panels off. It’s an incredibly symbolic act to me. It showed that he represented a group of people who wanted to take two steps back instead of going forward. People who wanted to double down on a solution that didn’t work. People who were either unwilling or unable to exhibit any critical thinking or creativity, and who couldn’t or wouldn’t seek out alternative solutions to problems.

And let me be clear, this is not a liberal vs conservative thing. There are atheist conservatives. There are conservatives who believe in climate change. And there are liberals who are anti-science (vaccines, GMOs). This is simply science vs anti-science. Reason vs anti-reason.

And it becomes clearer and clearer to me as time goes on that this isn’t a sustainable situation. I don’t want to live in America B, and those people don’t want to live in America A. I don’t think anything will ever get better until we finally cut those string and separate. In the aftermath of Trump’s win, many people are talking about petitions for referendums on seceding from the US. I’d gladly sign that and I’d gladly vote yes. I’m sick and tired of having some Hillbilly in Oklahoma decide which policies and people affect my life, just as I’m sure that Hillbilly is tired people from places like California doing the same.

It’s abundantly clear that we don’t want to live together, so it’s time for a divorce.

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Stupid political memes

As much as I hate to say it, internet memes are important now. They’re as much a source for news and information as any other social media outlet now. Indeed, memes are not only a way to transmit information, they’re also representations of ideas and beliefs held by people. There are literally entire generations and groups of people who get all of their news and information and ideas from social media and memes. So it’s important to call out bad memes that represent bad ideas, because they’re a very common way that misinformation and bad ideas spread. So without further ado, here are some popular political memes and my refutation of them.

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I’ve seen this one on Twitter and Instagram a lot lately, and it’s very disappointing. Right off the bat, anyone who paid attention in 8th grade history class should know something that casts suspicion upon this meme. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. Now, does anyone know when the Federal Reserve was created? 1913! A whole 48 years after Lincoln was assassinated. I guess old Honest Abe had a time machine that he didn’t tell anyone about.

Really, what we’re talking about with this meme is the idea of conspiracy. Because if there’s ever turmoil in this country, it has to be a conspiracy, right? And if it’s conspiracy we’re talking about, then obviously it’s the Federal Reserve’s fault, because why not. After all, everyone’s favorite crazy grandpa, Ron Paul, is always screaming about the Fed and how it’s the cause of all of the world’s problems. Except that it isn’t, clearly.

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I saw this one just today and got into a bit of an exchange with someone about it. First of all, let’s take the two sentences at the top. “Never arrested. Never convicted.” Well fucking duh, because again, history. Obviously Hitler was never arrested and convicted of any of his war crimes because he fucking shot himself before we could capture him. Now, let’s take the last sentence. “Just as innocent as Hillary.”

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Clinton isn’t some angelic figure. But Hitler? Come on. There’s no comparison. Nothing Hillary Clinton has ever done even remotely compares to straight up genocide and literally trying to take over the world. This is false equivalency or dichotomy at its absolute finest. By the way, the person I debated about this meme kept calling Clinton a despot, which is what makes her as guilty as Hitler, apparently. Her despotism according to this individual? Voting for the war in Iraq and the no-fly zone in Syria. Because obviously those are just as bad as the holocaust, guys.

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This was pretty popular when Bernie was still in the race, but I still occasionally see it making the rounds, or other memes that are similar to it. The only problem with it is that it’s total and absolute crap. Taxes are not collected at gunpoint. Similarly, nobody is going to shoot you if you don’t pay your taxes. And do you know why? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T COLLECT TAXES FROM A DEAD PERSON. And despite all that, your economic value is still greater even if you don’t pay taxes than if you were dead. So knock this bullshit off, the government doesn’t go door to door with soldiers to collect taxes.

At the very worst, tax evasion will land you in jail. But most likely it’ll result in a garnishment or lien of some kind.

But let’s take this moment to look at countries who do practice socialist principles. People in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, etc. gladly and proudly pay taxes. Their systems are sources of national pride. Some of the very things that Paul and his ilk believe are privileges are considered human rights over in parts of Europe. And while we’re on the topic…

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No, taxation is not theft, goddamnit. For anyone who believes this drivel, please kindly give me an example of one modern society that functions without taxation of some kind. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I’ve been waiting, because nobody that I’ve ever posed that question to has ever been able to provide an answer, because the whole premise that taxation is tantamount to theft is absolute horse shit.

And comparing the government to the mafia is also horse shit. The mafia doesn’t produce anything. The government, on the other hand, and contrary to popular belief, DOES produce things with your taxes.

Taxation is roads. It’s bridges. It’s schools. It’s the fire department. It’s the police department. It’s the trash collectors. It’s the military that defends us. It’s drinking water. It’s all of the things that are promised to us by the social contract. But if you really think that taxation is theft and you shouldn’t ever have to pay any taxes, then go right the fuck ahead and leave society. You’ll see real fast how far no taxes and no social contract gets you, you twats. I also find it hypocritical that these same assholes probably use all of the public goods that the taxes they hate so much paid for.

And before anyone says it, saying that you’re being taxed too much or that your tax dollars are being used inefficiently is not the same thing as saying that all taxation is armed theft. So don’t even try making the argument that it’s all really the same thing.

What all these memes have in common is that they show a breathtaking ignorance of history and fact. And yet there are millions of people out there who see stuff like this and just accept it as fact. And they all vote. Every last ignorant one of them.

Why Donald Trump might be the next president

We’re almost to the end of the primaries, and Donald Trump has a commanding lead on the republican side of the aisle, while it looks all but certain that Clinton will be the nominee on the democratic side. But surely, everyone is saying, Donald can’t become president. He either won’t get the nomination, or he isn’t electable in the general election. And even though I hate Donald Trump, I have to admit that he has a legitimate chance of ending up in the white house. There are lots of factors that could lead to us seeing Donald moving into the oval office, like…

  1. The Cruz/Kasich alliance is bound to backfire. It looks great if you’re a strategy wonk to try have the other candidates acquiesce to each other in states where they hold an advantage to steal votes from Trump. But at the end of the day it simply won’t work. Trump is running as an outsider, and two establishment candidates coming together to try to hijack the election just plays right into Trump’s narrative that the whole system is rigged. It makes him look MORE like the outsider. And most Americans already agree with Donald that the system is rigged.
  2. The only person people hate more than Trump is Hillary. Both of these people have high unfavorability ratings. I mean, really bad. Almost two thirds of voters have an unfavorable view of Trump, and a little more than half feel the same way about Clinton. Such unfavorable candidates could mean low voter turn out, and low voter turnout almost always favors republican candidates. And speaking of voters…
  3. Trump could build a nice coalition of voters. If republican voters are anything, they’re loyal to the party. It’s very unlikely that republicans would vote for Hillary just because they don’t like Donald. So he’s probably got the conservative vote. But independents make or break an election, and I see this going one of two ways. The first way is that at least some of the independents who are angry at establishment politics and would have voted for Bernie will switch to Trump. The second is that the #bernieorbust people will simply not vote. And any vote that isn’t for a democratic candidate is one more advantage to the republican candidate. And like him or not, Donald has indeed done a good job of getting more republicans and independents to come out and vote.
  4. If the GOP tries to nominate Cruz or Kasich, all hell will break loose. And I mean that literally. Trump is only 249 delegates short of winning the nomination. He could very well hit that naturally all by himself. A new poll shows he has support of 50% of conservative voters. With 10 states left, it’s very possible for him to win before the convention. But even if he doesn’t, he’ll get very close. Close enough that if the party tried to nominate Cruz or Kasich over him, A LOT of people would be upset. It would solidify and cement Trump’s message that the system is rigged, that the party’s will is greater than the will of the people. The GOP would probably fracture into two parties. The establishment would be foolish to try and “play the game” at the convention.
  5. Trump is a stronger candidate than Hillary. I know that sounds absurd, but let me explain. Clinton has a record, Trump doesn’t. In a general election, she’s going to be constantly on the defensive, trying to defend her record, her choices, and her gaffes. You can bet that Trump will drag all of the Clinton’s skeletons out of the closet. She’s going to have to defend her email scandal. She’s going to have to relive Benghazi. She’s going to have to try and explain and validate every foreign policy choice she ever made.  And let me tell you, constantly having to defend your record on the campaign trail isn’t how you win; it’s how you end up looking like the weaker candidate.

And if that isn’t enough, the latest polls show Clinton with just a 3 point lead over Trump. Here, see for yourself. Donald and Hillary are essentially tied in the polls once you take the margin of error into account. Canada is looking nicer and nicer every day.

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Read my lips: empty words on the campaign trail

I received a voter pamphlet in the mail today. It wasn’t for anything huge, mostly school board and water commission stuff. But, as most of you know, the political machine for national candidates is already in full swing. Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and a host of others have already declared their presidential candidacy for 2016. It seems that the election process in this country is never ending. Someone is always campaigning for the next election, no matter how far off it is.

This local election, though, brought something to light that I think is problematic in all politics here in America. I’m the type of voter who reads everything in the pamphlet. They printed it and sent it to me using my tax money, so I might as well get my use out of it. But I read every single word in regard to a bill or a candidate before voting, all of the “for” and “against” arguments and all of the endorsements, everything. Prior to today, I felt like that was a good way to stay informed and to get a better sense of the candidates than the political attack ads run on TV.

I opened the pamphlet and began reading up on the candidates. And then I noticed something that I’d never noticed before. It looked something like this:

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I had never noticed that little text at the bottom of the page before. And it was underneath each candidate. Here it is close up:

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Oh? Is that so? Well, then why the fuck do I bother reading these? Apparently anyone who runs can pay to have whatever the hell they wanted printed, and nobody is going to check to make sure any of it’s true. I could run for office here and just completely make up my education, job history, and other qualifications–just totally pull them out of thin air–and nobody would ever know.

And that got me thinking about the national elections. Just like the printed ads in the pamphlet, political candidates will do anything to get elected. They’ll make promises, pledges, whatever. Those are empty promises most of the time, just like the words on the page of the pamphlet apparently.

All of those presidential debates, congressional townhall meetings, they’re all worthless. It’s simply a chance for candidates to pay you lip service. No politician can do even a quarter of the things they promise, because in the real world there are a multitude of factors in play that make it impossible.

But that’s what people get elected on, isn’t it? What they’re going to do. It’s all about what they can do for you in the future. Well, considering that they can promise whatever they want, how are you supposed to pick a candidate? Well, there’s a simple solution: look at what they’ve already done.

Ignore the promises and rhetoric. It’s meaningless, literally. But if there’s an incumbent in the race, you can certainly take a look at their voting record. That’s really the only measure you have at whether this person is representing your interests. And there’s a lovely site that I recommend every single person in America take a look at come election season:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes

Using that site, you can see how every single member of congress voted on any particular bill. If they voted how you wanted them to, keep ’em in office. if they didn’t, elect the other guy or girl. Simple as that.

But what if the election is between two novices with no prior political experience? Well in that case it’s kind of a crap shoot, isn’t it? The political process is largely trial and error, for better or for worse. You pick the person who you think will do the best job (although what you’d base this on anymore is anyone’s guess. You may as well flip a coin with all the propaganda and rhetoric out there) and then when it’s time for the next election take a look at their voting record. Did they adequately represent you and your interests? If yes, keep ’em and if not throw ’em to the curb.

But I would urge people to run off the TVs, close the magazine articles, change the radio station, and avoid the stump speeches. They don’t tell you anything. Try actually participating in your democracy and actually look at how your representative votes on your behalf.