1/31/17 – Like Jim Jones

It’s like they’re all hypnotized. Like mind control. You speak to them about facts, and their eyes are glazed over, continuing to mouth the words: “But Killary… jail… emails… Bengazi… Obama… fake news…He never said that…”

Like Jim Jones. He has redefined reality for them.

I read an article the other day about how the more you identify with a particular belief, the less likely you are to believe evidence that refutes it. In fact, you won’t.

People are not rational about Trump. They love him. They love him like it’s a love affair. They are emotionally entangled with him. Their egos are attached to him. He symbolizes something desperately important to them, something they feel they’ve lacked all their lives, something that would fill an empty spot inside them, make them feel complete.

So when you attack Trump, you attack them. He’s family to them.

So it’s really a waste of time and energy trying to persuade these people to change their minds about him. We need to just write them off.

Luckily they are only a modest sliver of America’s population, and if the rest of us get off our butts and take back the reins of public discourse, their whiny voices can be drowned out. Yes, they make a lot of noise, but that is only because the real majority has allowed them to take center stage. Between Fox News and the Tea Party, this modest sliver of America moved into the empty space left when the rest of us were off focusing on our personal lives. The rational among them have already jumped ship: 11 days of Trump has been enough for them to see the light. So all that’s left are the irrational Trumpites, for whom he can do no wrong. They have willingly forfeited rationality and should just be treated as imbeciles and mental incompetents.

A few years ago, I saw a movie about the handful of people who survived the mass suicide of Jim Jones’ people in Guyana, the ones who bolted into the jungle when the suicide was 0rdered and hid until the authorities showed up. They talked about how the brainwashing worked, the many ways Jim Jones used to control people and make them dependent, to make them into slaves. They all had one thing in common: the desire to follow him blindly. That euphemism about drinking the Kool-Aid has lost its potency through overuse, but it’s 100% relevant to this situation right now.

1/30/17 – Protest is an American right

I keep hearing people bellyaching about the protesters. Some people think they’re pretty smart when they comment: “Get a job!” Here is my response.

Dear geniuses:

Let me explain. The women’s march was on a Saturday, when a lot of people have a day off. Many of the people I know planned ahead to either take a vacation day or find someone to fill in for them at their jobs. People do it all the time. The ones with kids brought their kids along or arranged child care.

The ones that traveled to Washington are people who have enough money where they can afford the airfare.

The local protests here have taken place largely in the evenings when many people are done working for the day. They take mass transit to the events. It’s cold as hell, but they put on their heavy coats and go anyway. They are exercising their right to peaceful protest, like good Americans. This is how America is supposed to work. I’m proud of every single protester. 

1/29/17 – This is where it changes for me

I commented to a friend yesterday:

“I was so ashamed for us earlier today, ashamed of us… such a cruel, arbitrary, cowardly move — appalling how casually he blows off the values America was built on… But then tonight, with the protests in the airports, I am SO proud. There are a lot of good people who won’t stand for it. We’re the majority. We have to start acting like it.”

Something turned a corner for me Friday night, when I read this:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/trump-christian-refugees/index.html

This in particular struck me:

“If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”

The more I looked at that article, the more it sunk in:

Week One of our new presidency. Here is our new president, who has displayed open contempt for all forms of news media, giving one of his first face-to-face interviews as president. With whom? The Christian Broadcasting Network.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK

This is not a news network. This is a religious network. If Trump wants to go talk to church people, fine, I guess, but why are you talking to church people about politics?

This is such a vivid illustration of the blurring of the line between church and state that we’re all so worried about. No — not blurring. Trump is erasing the line.

And this sudden reverence for the church, donning the cloak of godliness now as it suits his needs. He has the GALL to do this, but even worse: some poor schmucks somewhere actually BELIEVE it. It’s all a big act! It’s part of the whole schtick of his, this obscene soft-shoe, this ham-fisted sleight of hand. He is a mediocre vaudevillian, but if you suck up to the TV Christians, it’s all good.

And there he is blathering nonsense about how the US deliberately excludes Christians seeking asylum here. I don’t even know what he’s talking about. It’s some fairy tale world. No, Virginia: the US does not require a Muslim secret handshake to get into the country.

And then there’s the random chopping off of heads comment. Who is chopping off Christians’ heads? Has someone’s head been chopped off recently, for which this action is retaliation? Or was this just a general head-chopping observation? He just threw that in for dramatic effect, I guess.

So here we are, one week into the new term, and it’s one fiasco after another, as we witness the unfurling madness of Trump’s reign of terror. In one fell stroke of his Sharpie, he throws the lives of countless people into turmoil, for no reason other than his ego. Or idle curiosity, to see what people will do.

When someone pushes back the next day, he relents, or equivocates, or dithers. Someone says we misunderstood. It was meant to be more a general statement of policy or some such bullshit. We are being emotionally manipulated every day, as he tugs us around like fucking puppets. Trump is the maniacal madman behind the curtain, snickering like an evil supervillian.

And so, he announces, we will be giving preference to Christians seeking asylum in America.

He can say this and keep a straight face because he’s too stupid to know what he’s saying. The man listening to him is struck dumb with shock. Or maybe his brain lights up like a 100-watt light bulb, imagining what kind of money they could make with breaking news like that, important policy statements from the new president. Or maybe he’s thinking about that Twilight Zone episode where young Will Robinson mercilessly bullied his family after acquiring the power to make things happen. “You’re a VERY bad man!”

Peeling back the layers of wrongness here, at its core, fascism defined. All of us American, we all abide by laws, we observe conventions, we follow the rules. We all live by these rules.

So when someone travels abroad, we have rules and laws about it. Every single one of the people they detained or turned back had followed all the rules and the laws. They were entering the country lawfully. They have legal green cards, many of them. They have the required visas. They met all the conditions.

Trump’s action leapfrogs over the laws and rights that uphold all our transactions, not just in international travel but in so many other terms as well. For example, there is the money involved. These people had paid good money for their tickets. Do they get refunds on their flights? Who’s paying for them to be flown back to the country they came from? Who’s paying for their hotel bills? Who’s feeding them while they’re in detention? Who’s paying the guards who are handcuffing innocent people for no reason?

What about the reasons? There literally is no danger to American citizens from these people. None. Trump exploits the groundless fears of the people brainwashed by Fox News and the Insane Clown Posse known as the Tea Party with imaginary terrorists. In actual reality, the terrorists in America are white Christians.

I feel very strongly about this for a reason. I’ve traveled internationally a lot. I’ve crossed borders, utterly comfortable that I had my ducks in a row, confident that my status as an American would protect my rights. I’ve worked all my life with people from other countries. They enrich our country enormously.

On the genocide ladder, the first step is lists. When your official papers force you to state a religion, then somebody can keep a list of names. Everything comes after that: questioning, surveillance, detaining, deporting, relocating, and possibly worse.

I’ve read quite a lot about Rwanda. One of the things that made the genocide so easy was the fact that everybody had to state their tribe on their identity papers. So when the killing started, they didn’t have to wonder who to target. They had lists.

In America, we don’t have to state our religion, ever, to anybody. Until now. According to Trump.

1/23/17 – It was all a big joke

I’m still trying to figure out how the Clown in the White House got elected. If Hillary got so many more votes. Even allowing for the weirdnesses of the electoral college, you still have a ton of voters who showed up to vote for this guy.

I’m starting to think that a sizable percentage voted for him because they never believed he would win. The same way they did in the primaries. It was their way of registering disgust with the other candidates (a valid complaint!) and an unwillingness to embrace the status quo, which is what Hillary represented to them. It was a little bit like, “Let’s vote for the lunatic, wouldn’t that be funny, since politics is such a circus anyhow.”

Yes, I know there are devoted Trump fans who really believe he has the right vision for America’s future. But I suspect that represents a much smaller fraction than we know.

How? The reason so many former Obama voters stayed home is the same reason these Trump jokers went to the voting booth — we had been told by the pollsters and pundits that Hillary was going to win. So why bother to vote? Or why not use your vote to give Washington the middle finger?

This is why nobody should ever not vote, and nobody should ever use their vote to make a statement when they’re not dead serious about living with the consequences.

 

1/21/17 – Running the country like a business

OK, so how does this sound?

Every summer, we take bids for all of our schools, K-12 nationwide, from corporations who want to run the schools. Each bidder presents a proposal to the school board, highlight selling points, past successes, etc. The highest bidder pays the school district a flat fee. The fee goes into the state’s general operating funds. The corporation is then responsible for the school’s operations.

In return the corporation is free to market their products to students in whatever way they wish, as long as it is approved by the school board. So for example your kid might attend Apple Elementary or Exxon High School. Children attending Pepsi Cola Middle School will naturally find Pepsi products in their pop machines. Pepsi is free to set up relationships with other vendors to provide food, school supplies, maintenance contracts, etc. Pepsi hires the teachers and is responsible for monitoring and evaluating teacher and student performance.

State officials would work with school boards to set standards and requirements, but the corporations would have to make sure their schools meet those standards. If a corporation is found to be lacking in any way, the school board can fine the corporation.

States would be under no obligation to create uniform standards from one state to the next. So for example a Tyson’s Chicken High School in Montana might be a really excellent school, but the one in Pittsburgh would suck. That’s the state’s problem. If the state wants better schools, it’s their job to pick a better corporation to run it. Tyson’s would certainly want all their schools to have a good reputation, so it would be in their interest to meet or exceed those standards.

The federal government would be out of the education business.

The state’s only role would be to set standards, take bids, award contracts, and monitor the corporation’s performance. Formal performance evaluations would take place twice a year. The corporation would be given a grade; if necessary performance improvement plans put into action to bring up sagging performance. Corporations would be fined and put on probation after failing grades; in time they would be either dismissed or their contract would not be renewed in the spring.

The advantage to corporations would be that they get to lock in customers for their products from the earliest possible opportunities. A kid who grows up eating Tyson Chicken products will tend to remain a customer in later life.

Your kid would play football for the Intel Raiders or the Samsung Pirates. There would be no need for bake sales or other fundraisers; if a school needs a new computer lab, the corporation would have to pay for it.

What could go wrong?

1/15/17.2 – We participate in the delusion that we are powerless

All we really have to do is make the leap to electric cars. Fuck the hybrids. We’ve had plenty of time to get used to the idea. We knew this was what we needed to do 20 years ago. Like the NFL covering up the concussion thing for all those years, we are in denial. We are acting like toddlers, trying to negotiate our way out of bedtime. It’s time to grow up.

And it’s time to stop waiting for leadership from our so-called leaders. It’s evident Congress is nothing more than a flock of corporate lackeys, most of them, and they’ll NEVER have the balls necessary to make this happen.

So we have to do it ourselves. If we stop buying their stupid gas-based cars, they’ll have to stop making them. We are the ones in charge here, really.