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Collecting thoughts on the inevitable question

I’ll be visiting family in a few days, and would be surprised if the presidential election didn’t come up. I wanted to try and collect some thoughts here in anticipation of that. 

The most likely question is probably “What do you think about Trump?” I would like to simply say, “He’s a jackass, a bigot and a fraud, and anyone who votes for him is either a jackass or bigot himself, or a dupe. The only good news is that he’s exposed the Republican party for what it is, a bastion of the same.” Hey, I did that without dropping an F-bomb!

Let me try a more gentle approach. In the United States, the President serves two main roles— head of state and head of government. The way I originally learned the distinction is to think of the United Kingdom, where the Queen or King serves as head of state, and the Prime Minister is the head of government. Trump would be a disaster as head of state, and god only knows what he would say or do on foreign trips. Remember how embarrassing Bush II was every time he went abroad? Trump would be that times a thousand. As head of state I’m sure he would be just as bad, but in a different way. Putting his idiot ideas about walls and banning a quarter of the world’s population from entering the US, he has zero experience (and likely temperament) for what it takes to manage the executive branch, let alone work with Congress. In fact, this part frankly baffles me. Putting Trump in the White House is the equivalent of hiring Kanye West to run Apple. What do you suppose would happen to Apple’s stock price if that were to happen? 

Or, I suppose I could just point to what Elizabeth Warren has said about him. Do you know what it’s like having her as your senator? It’s pretty awesome.

Now, a word on Hillary Clinton. There’s no question that I’ll be voting for her in the fall, although I did vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ll be doing so with any great enthusiasm. She’s certainly got the experience for the job, and I have no doubt she’ll do fine. My problem is two-fold. First, I don’t find her terribly inspiring, certainly not in the same way that Obama was (although that may not be a fair comparison). She’s campaigning on maintaining the gains we’ve gotten over the last several years and incrementally adding to them, which is hardly a recipe for inspiration. More importantly, she still shows a tendency to want to triangulate, such as when she recently  reached out to Republicans. This is the kind of behavior that leads people to think there’s no difference between the parties, and predicts the kind of anxiousness to compromise that was so maddening about Obama at times. I find this particularly galling given what Republicans did during Bill Clinton’s administration, and how they have done nothing but try and block Obama at every turn in his. I had hoped that she would show more inclination to let them stew in their own failure.

Which brings me to my last thought, which is that as much of a shitshow as Donald Trump is, he is only emblematic of the Republican party as a whole. Let me just quote John Scalzi here:

There’s a reason why the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s executive director wants GOP candidates to “be like Trump” even as Graham bleats that Trump doesn’t represent the party. Lindsey Graham, are you shitting me? Trump doesn’t just represent your party. He’s the goddamn Platonic ideal of it. You can’t spend decades preparing the way for someone like Donald Trump and then pretend to be shocked, shocked when he roars down the field, flawlessly executing your playbook.

Given how many Republicans voted for Trump, it would be fair to say that whether party leaders like it or not, it is now filled with jackasses, bigots and dupes. Think back to all the crap about Obama’s birth certificate, “death panels” or the Vince Foster garbage that’s getting recycled again, or the multitude of votes to repeal health care reform that went nowhere. My only hope is that Trump makes the bullshit so inescapably clear that people finally wake up to it and not only does Trump lose, but so do large numbers of others in the party. Maybe then Hillary will be able to push forward more than what she seems willing to do now.

Posted in Politics.


A quickie

From a recent article on Talking Points Memo:

Throughout the press conference, Trump railed against the press for looking into the details of his fundraiser.

“The press should be ashamed of themselves,” he said, telling reporters, “You make me look very bad.”

I’m sure Bill Maher would call him a “p(r)issy little bitch” for this, but the response that comes to my mind is:

Posted in Politics.


SCOTUS vacancies in election years

So…Republicans are saying they’ll block any nominee Obama puts forth to replace Scalia, and are using the line that it’s “standard practice” not to nominate Supreme Court Justices during an election year. I’m sure this won’t surprise anyone, but that’s horseshit. As Amy Howe writes for SCOTUSblog:

The historical record does not reveal any instances since at least 1900 of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year because of the impending election.  In that period, there were several nominations and confirmations of Justices during presidential election years. 

She even provides a list of such instances starting in 1912 and going all the way through 1988. I have no doubt people spouting the “common practice for the last 80 years” are using some weaselly definition of what’s an “election year.” However, at this point is there anyone who doesn’t see this for what it is, just one more episode of obstructionism on the part of Senate Republicans? I’m sure Vonnegut fans will understand what I’m talking about when I suggest that maybe this is the appropriate symbol for the modern Republican:

Gop asshole

Posted in Politics.


Two exchanges I’d like to see in episode VIII

This is super spoilery, but it’s a snow day and I’m pretty sure no one’s reading this stuff anyway. So, here are two small scenes I’d like to see in Start Wars Episode VIII

INT. resistance hangar

The MILLENIUM FALCON lands, and after a brief moment LUKE, REY, R2-D2 and CHEWBACCA exit. GENERAL LEIA approaches LUKE and gives him a hug.

LEIA

It’s good to see you again. It’s been too long.

LUKE

I know. Listen…I’m sorry about Han.

LEIA steps back and looks at LUKE for a moment. He looks older than his years, and clearly feels guilt about his friend’s death. She gives him a wistful smile.

LEIA

It’s alright. It’s a wonder he lived as long as he did.

CHEWBACCA grunts his agreement.

 

…and scene number two…

 

INT. Corridor

KYLO REN is pursuing REY, who is injured and desperately trying to break away. She pauses at an intersection, glances left in surprise and then takes off to the right. As KYLO REN gets to the same intersection, GENERAL LEIA steps in front of him. She is pissed.

LEIA

Benjamin Anakin Solo, put that light saber down! Now!

KYLO REN drops his saber and stumbles back a step.

KYLO REN

Mother?

LEIA

And take off that ridiculous mask.

He rips the mask off his head like it’s on fire and stares past his mother, unable to make eye contact. LEIA picks up the light saber and starts pulling at the exposed wires.

KYLO REN

Mother, no‑‑ that’s mine!

KYLO REN reaches for the light saber, but LEIA refuses to let him have it. She continues yanking pieces from the weapon.

LEIA

Not anymore, it’s not. Do you have any idea how disappointed I am with you? If your father were here…

KYLO REN

But he’s not, is he?

She slaps him across the face, hard enough to leave a growing red mark.

LEIA

Your father loved you, and did everything he could to keep you safe. And how do you repay him?

She begins jabbing him with the light saber pommel, wires and bits now dangling from it. KYLO REN’s eyes begin to tear up.

KYLO REN

Mother…

LEIA

Answer me!

KYLO REN

I‑‑

Suddenly, FINN bursts into the corridor, a small group of Resistance fighters in tow.

FINN

General? Rey said‑‑ oh, crap!

FINN and the other fighters point their blasters at the now weeping KYLO REN.

FINN

Uh…General?

LEIA

Take him into custody.

(to KYLO REN)

This conversation isn’t over.

I have no idea what Kylo Ren’s middle name really is, but “Anakin” seems as likely as anything, and it has a nicer ring to it than the only other options I could think of. Bail? Luke? Lumpy? In any case, I’m amused at the thought that even though as far as we know Leia’s had no training or interest in the Jedi arts that her sheer force of will would be enough to stop Kylo in his tracks and reduce him to a little child again.

Posted in Film.


Just going to leave these here…

Josh Marshall has argued that the model for Trump is less Hitler than Mussolini, but when you’re trying to make a visual point, the fasces symbol just doesn’t cut it.

Gop fasces

Gop swastika

Posted in Politics.


Let’s see if we can’t beat last year’s count at least

I realized over the holiday break that there were only two posts here for all of 2014, and both of them were purely related to making sure WordPress was happy. There were only five posts the year before that, although at least some of those were more substantial. Pathetic— especially since it isn’t that long ago I advised a colleague that the last thing the world needs is another dead blog. I’m not going to make any promises to be more prolific, but if I’m going to be paying for the domain I might as well use it for something. However, I would like to think about why it is that I’ve been writing less, with an eye towards changing that. I can think of three reasons why I’ve been posting less: laziness, reduced interest, and changes in browsing habits.

Let’s get the easy reason out of the way first. After working all day, dealing with the commute, handling other tasks at home and some minimal amount of exercise, I’m finding the draw of a comfortable spot on the couch, Netflix and a cat on my lap to be pretty inviting. I might goof around on my iPhone or iPad, but don’t often find the energy to do much else. 

Related to the above, for whatever reason I don’t seem to have the passion to write down my thoughts that I had a while back. This is a little different from sheer laziness, in that there are often things I am interested in, but it requires overcoming a certain amount of inertia to get a post written. There are multiple elements to this, but I think the two key items are mental organization and logistics. I don’t put a ton of time into structuring posts here, but I like to be able to do something more than a Twitter-level amount of writing. Without the interest to completely follow through on that, I’ll often just skip it. The logistics question ties into the last item, so I’ll deal with it more there.

Historically, my internet reading has always been closely tied to whatever writing I’ve pursued. As far as reading goes, for the last ten years or so I’ve done a combination of web browsing and RSS feed consumption. My writing has always gone through a desktop application or two, depending on the particular topic. As long as all this activity took place on a desktop or laptop, it was easy to switch from one to the other, and I could bang out a quick paragraph or two in reaction to something. However, with the advent of iPhones and iPads, I now find that my reading and writing activities take place in two separate worlds. I still use an RSS reader, but instead of NetNewsWire I’m more likely to use Reeder on iOS. Unfortunately, I still find writing on an iDevice to be a little clunky (and that doesn’t even get into switching between applications and trying to copy/paste URLs and other content). I do have WordPress, so technically can write on my iPhone or iPad, but other than short emails I very rarely do, even with an external keyboard. Because I’m now consuming information when I don’t have a laptop handy and there’s a time lag between consumption and the opportunity to respond, my initial spark of interest often dissipates and I end up not doing anything at all.

AND THE WORLD IS POORER BECAUSE OF IT.

Sorry, a little snark snuck in there, although there might be some hidden truth. After all, why would I be doing this at all if I didn’t think at some level people would benefit from my sharing? Maybe that’s another reason I’ve been quiet of late— a lack of hubris that anyone gives a crap what I have to say.

Having said all that, is there anything I can do? A few thoughts:

  • Switch to a different desktop RSS reader. Much as I like it, NetNewsWire 3.x is no longer serving my needs, and version 4 has been in beta for a year and a half. I’m thinking Reeder 2 may be the way to go. This should better sync with my iDevice browsing to give me a jumping off point.
  • Keep the laptop closer. This should help with logistics barriers.
  • Find the passion, or some other incentive. This is tougher, and might be the thing that keeps me from writing. It’s not like I get paid for any of this, after all.
  • Pay more attention to the blog. The two-post count for 2014 came as a surprise to me, clearly because I hadn’t looked at the thing in ages. If I can be more aware of it as a thing to use, it will be more likely to get some love.

Okay, now only one more post and I’ll have equalled last year’s count!

Posted in Uncategorized.


What the what?

Just a test. Move along.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Hmm…

Dove into configuration files to fix a glitch that came out of nowhere and caused the blog to go belly up for who knows how long. Given the time between updates, I begin to wonder whether this whole enterprise needs a rethink…

Posted in Uncategorized.


C’est quelquechose de Jedi. Tu ne comprends pas.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Small successes

I told someone I had been using a piece of software for 20 years and did not follow up with “Jesus Christ, I’m old.”

Posted in Uncategorized.