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      So, May has a Brexit deal. It’s a terrible deal, which makes the UK subject to many EU laws, and which doesn’t allow Britain to withdraw from the deal if the EU doesn’t want it to. This has caused ministerial resignations, and Corbyn has come out against it. But the interesting part is what the […]
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The Supreme Court takes on Abortion- Again

Just a heads up about the arguments that are going to be before the Supreme Court this week on abortion. Check out this enlightening piece by Linda Greenhouse in the NYTimes to see what all the fuss is about. Short summary: The state of Texas is requiring abortion clinics to comply with certain clinic building codes and physician admitting requirements that it doesn’t require of facilities that perform colonoscopies or liposuctions. They’re doing this in the name of “womens’ health”.

The outcome of this case is less certain at this time now that Scalia is dead. There could be a 4-4 tie and the fact that the court watchers are saying that this is a possible outcome confirms to me that Anthony Kennedy is not really that much of a swing voter. In the Casey decision, it was Sandra O’Connor who talked him out of joining the more conservative justices. With Scalia gone, his vote is even less diluted. If the court is tied, the lower court order is upheld which means the facilities will have to comply with the new Texas Law. If that happens, who knows what states will follow. We could be looking at a scenario that we had in the early 70’s when only a few states had abortion clinics and you had to fly to them.

On a related note, Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband are on a mission of their own making to convert the Catholic heathens in one of the central American countries (I can’t remember if it’s Guatemala or Honduras or what). This puts her and her particularly uncompromising version of “christianity” on a collision course with the Zika virus. That’s because the Duggars do not practice any kind of birth control, at all. It goes without saying that abortion is out of the question.

So, when she gets pregnant again, and for all we know, it’s already happened, she’s going to be smack dab in the middle of a crisis from the very beginning of her pregnancy. What complicates this even more is that the Pope recently told women that maybe it’s kinda sorta Ok to not get pregnant. It was a subtle *wink, wink* to go ahead and use birth control because life is harsh enough in poor areas of central and South America without having to raise a microcephalic, blind baby.

Let’s see how long it takes before the Catholic pagans in Jill’s mission run her and her hubby out of town on a rail.

Real meets reality.

 

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Ok, I’m onboard, Hillary

ba12d47309ea3c4af39a5a82686d6e79It wasn’t because she won South Carolina. I guess I just needed to hear this:

Ramen.

If you missed the harshness and petty cruelty at the hands of Republicans and their mean little followers during the past 8 years, consider yourselves lucky. Those of us who have faced this impenetrable wall of insensitivity, callousness and selfishness both on a public policy level and personally know that it can push you almost to the breaking point. Somedays last year, I had the distinct impression that these people weren’t going to be happy until I lost everything I’d worked for my entire life. If it weren’t for our friends, we couldn’t have gotten through it.

Thank you Katiebird, Pat and Franny, and Aunt Mary Ellen.

I’m so ready for the reign of the mean girls to come to an end. Ok, I’m with her today. Let’s do this thing.

 

Things that tick me off about lefty Hillary phobes

121115310_29ecec608bYou know who you are. You know she’s going to be nominated at this stage but there’s something about her you don’t like. It’s always SOMETHING.*

These are somethings that you would let slide in any other candidate. Please, don’t make me go over 2008 again. It’s even boring me. But before we move on with that, let’s just all get on the same page with 2008. We don’t buy any of the revisionist history on the 2008 Democratic primary. There should have been a floor fight and the fact that there wasn’t one tells us everything we need to know about how pure and virtuous the left can be.

On to stuff about Hillary:

1.) She feels she is entitled. She thinks it’s her turn. Ok, let’s take the first part. If you have as much experience as Hillary Clinton, you should feel as entitled as anyone with similary experience to run for president.

As for it being her turn, I have heard this over and over again from die hard Obots over the last 7 years, that somehow, there’s an unspoken deal that the party or Obama’s financial backers or even the Obots themselves, would allow Hillary to run after Obama prevented any change  presided over the executive branch for eight years. I don’t know where these people got this idea. None of the Clintonistas were in on this deal. In fact, as far as we were concerned, she probably shouldn’t have bothered. Eight years of Obama after eight years of Bush have made it harder for her to make any real changes. I would have just said “You’re on your own” and walked away if I were her. I don’t think it’s a deal that made her run. And anyway, it’s a stupid deal and she’s not stupid.

2.) The vote for the Iraq War. I hated this vote. I was all in favor of Afghanistan. We had to go there. No, no, peaceniks, we really did. But Iraq was a blunder of monumental proportions. I despise that vote.

But you know what? She was one of 100 senators. Guess what? Without her vote, we were still going to Iraq. Yep, going there and ruining the world for no good reason. John Kerry voted for going to Iraq and his long, disjointed, rambling speech made a lot less sense than Clinton’s. John Edwards voted for Iraq. I can clearly remember lefties falling all over themselves over Edwards. He was the one to beat. If he hadn’t been a cad, the Kossacks would have told Obama to take an old cold tater and wait his turn.

But Hillary is held to some higher standard. The way lefties go on about this makes you think that it was going to be a 50-50 tie and she broke it with her one single vote. It was not. It wasn’t even close. The hypocrisy is ridiculous in this area. So, you know, knock it off.

3.) Coziness with the banks. People who voted for Obama should not be bringing this up given his track record, the results of which certainly suggesting very strongly that there was a deal in 2008 in exchange for all their filthy campaign lucre (which the DNC lapped up without protest). But if they must, we should probably see how many times Jamie Dimon visited the White House in Obama’s first term. Maybe Ron Suskind, the author of Confidence Men would have the answer to that query.

And if we’re going to get transcripts of her speeches, we should probably get the transcripts for all of the other candidates, including Obama’s, from 2007-2008. Fair’s fair. If the media thinks the transcripts will tarnish her reputation with lefties, why bother? They’re already there. Her reputation with lefties can’t get any lower. The question is, does she have a record of exchanging money for influence? Her voting record does not show that.

Does it say that she would be ‘captured’ by the banks like Obama clearly was? Time will tell, I suppose. It might help if we could get a regular person on the Supreme Court who would see the sense in overturning Citizens United. Good luck getting Donald Trump to do that.

4.) Libya. I’m getting a little tired of this one. At the time she advocated the air strikes in Libya, there was a humanitarian crisis developing there. It’s the same kind of humanitarian crisis that developed and spun out of control in Syria. But note that we did nothing in Syria. And how did that work out? I mean, for the average, every day Syrian?

There were terrorists in Libya before the air strikes. The head honcho was one of them. This has been proven. Lockerbie, anyone?  Getting rid of terrorists was not why we did air strikes in Libya but it’s not like there weren’t any there before hand.

Failed states. Yes, it is regrettable that Libya is now considered a failed state. And whose fault is that? No, seriously, whose fault is that? What should we have done? Should we occupy another country? Like a pacifist is going to be thrilled with that solution either. We rebooted the country because it was going to crash (like Syria). Isn’t it the Libyans’ responsibility to keep it running?

So now the terrorists are back. But these are not the same terrorists as before. They are a product of what happened in Iraq when the Bushies insisted that we go kick Saddam Hussein’s ass. Which takes us back to the first point. Hillary’s vote in favor or opposed was not going to keep us out of Iraq.

Do you guys remember the crazy rhetoric in Congress back in 2003-2008 when anyone suggested we dial it back? Remember “cut and run”, “Freedom Fries” and “If you don’t like <fill in the blank>, then the terrorists have won”? Remember the Patriot Act??  Remember Russ Feingold? Hardly anyone does. And that’s the point. You cast a nauseating vote that you can do nothing to mitigate and live to fight another day.

As for the air strikes in Libya, they happened in 2012. So, this problem has had 4 years to fester. There have been 4 years for the Libyans to get their shit together. Why are we not asking the Libyans to step up? Why are we not pointing the Libyans to Kurdistan and saying, “look guys, you have the same oil reserves, the same crazy ass religious relatives, and YOU aren’t landlocked. Why can’t you be like Kurdistan? We gave you a chance to get your shit together and you sqaundered it.”

Why are we blaming ourselves for this?

I only ask.

BTW, if you are a Republican who is cowering in your bedroom because you are afraid that a Muslim is going to behead you, you have only yourself to blame. Iraq was entirely preventable. In fact, your insistence that we go get the WMDs and steal the oil in Iraq has put the entire world in danger by making the rise of ISIS possible. Colin Powell said we would break it. We were warned. So, you know, we’ve had enough of your less than helpful input.

I don’t like warhawks and I don’t like isolationists. They’re two sides of the same coin. Neither is thinking ahead.

Now, I have plenty of problems with the way Hillary is running her campaign this year. The economy is not nearly as good as her ads make it out to be. I understand the need to not make us feel like losers. I get it. But I really do feel like she is neglecting the suffering that a lot of us have had to endure because we have had an ineffective president and an obstructivist congress.

And there are very few people that I know who have benefitted from Obamacare. There is almost universal dislike of it. Her “never, ever” comment came off like a lead balloon and more than a little paternalistic. Like, “You’re not going to Ashley’s house for a sleep over and that’s final. Don’t even ask.” or “I’m tired of going over this and over this. We aren’t dredging this up again.”

That’s a mistake. That feels like inevitability. That makes people feel like they have no choices. But as Stephen Covey says, people always have choices. And they are really beginning to hate nudges.

America may still be great, I wouldn’t argue with that. But we are not addressing the problem that the people who live here are increasingly seen as crops to be harvested instead of people. To the rest of the developed world, what is happening here is horrifying. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

So far, I haven’t heard Hillary talk about the exploitative profit mining of the American people and I think it’s time she started to discuss that. What is she going to do to reset the balance of power and what is she going to do about income instability?

Everything else is New York Times getting its money’s worth on the deal it and WaPo and Fox News struck with an opposition research company last year.

* Someday, we’re going to have to talk about what really bugs lefties about Hillary Clinton. I think Anglachel was on to something when she discovered the Male Graduate Student problem.

 

 

 

 

“Your assistance is greatly appreciated”

 

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Superhero power: ability to IM 10 people at one time 

Not really. No, I don’t mean that it isn’t appreciated. It’s just that I don’t need your assistance. Wait, what am I saying?

Let me back up. I’ve been writing that on the bottom of almost all of my business emails lately. And I really mean it. For gawd’s sakes, if you know the answer to my question, please give it to me now!! I really appreciate it.

But it’s cool. I think I am finally getting the hang of my new job. It’s hard to characterize what I do without giving too much away but let’s just call me “The Fixer” at work. It’s my job to analyze situations quickly and come up with equally quick solutions for extremely busy colleagues on my team. Weirdly enough, the R&D background kinda sorta helps in a way I can’t quite describe. Also, it helps to be slightly unhinged in a zany, “off the cuff” but not business inappropriate way. It helps put people at ease.

And in today’s NYTimes Magazine, a study at Google to find what are the characteristics of good teams bears this out. The article is called What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build a Perfect Team. To boil it down, the secret is that people who see their jobs as a crucial parts of their whole lives make better team members. That is, sharing yourself as a person doesn’t just happen in your off hours. You’re going to spend 33% or more of your day at work. It *is* your life. Those people on your team? They’re not just colleagues. They’re people with personalities and lives of their own. Get to know them.

Anyway, I’ve been figuring most of this out in the last several months without Google’s help but I am relieved to know I’m on to something.

Will it make you rich and famous and a billionaire? Probably not. But you might end up much happier than the people who write into to Trump University looking for the keys to phenomenal success and hot eastern European arm candy. That’s the conclusion I came to when I was reading I was a Donald Trump Ghost Writer. Here’s what I learned about the Donald – and his Fans by Adam Eisenstat over at Vox.

Here’s the money quote:

Trump had somehow tapped into a fundamental yearning people have: the need for something they can call their own, a way to rise above the relentless challenges of grubby survival. The budding entrepreneurs who sought his counsel wanted to control their own destinies. To these people, Trump personified everything they aspired to, and many believed that a version of his life — or at least the opportunity to enjoy many of the things he valued — was a realistic possibility, if only they had the knowledge or training and a chance to prove themselves.

The fact that Trump himself had inherited a fortune — representing the far more common, universal paradigm that wealth begets wealth and poverty begets poverty — was left unsaid by TrumpU as far as I knew, and was either unknown or overlooked by its customers. Though not every one of these people was completely naive or benighted, I think nearly all of them engaged with Trump University as a way to live Trump’s life vicariously, to embrace the fantasy of being the boss and running the show — projecting power and strutting on a big stage, never pulling punches, never backing down.

Jeez, are these people enjoying their days at work? Do they foster a sense of psychological safety in their coworkers?

Why is it that regular people who love what they do are nothing but Biff Loman’s in TrumpWorld? I sometimes wonder if the people who subscribe most to  Trumpism are the ones who have had the most trouble finding their niche in life. Have they never found a job they loved? Felt too cowardly to try something new? Lacked self-esteem? And now they have to project those feelings onto others and make them feel bad for not being fabulously wealthy?

I only ask.

In the off hours, I’ve been playing games with a group of people I met recently. Last night we had some time to try Heads Up. If you haven’t played it yet, get thee to they apps store on your favorite smart phone device. It’s the best 99 cents I’ve spent in a long time. We drew attention to ourselves acting out. Which just goes to show, you don’t have to be a billionaire to have fun.

What is your super power?

 

Chickenhawks or Chocolate pudding?

hqdefaultThere is yet another debate tonight for the Republican candidates, as if we haven’t heard enough of them trying to out-mean each other.

I don’t think I’ve heard anything new from the GOP candidates in the past 42 debates. Some of them seem to think that government should be run like a business. But that’s wrong. It should be run like a UNION. You know, widows and orphans, good wages, decent pensions, credit unions?  But whatever. I think the non-bigoted Republican voter (they do exist) is completely capable of figuring this out for themselves.

In the meantime, I have to ask myself if watching Marco Rubio trying to take down Donald Trump is more or less entertaining than a Warner Bros cartoon. (Dude!, You’re behind in Florida, FLORIDA! You’re a senator from Florida and Floridians don’t even want to vote for you.)

Or would I rather snuggle up in bed, download The People vs OJ Simpson and eat chocolate pudding while it’s still warm?

 

Tip: go easy on the salt in this recipe. I also added about 2 tbsps of honey. Delish.

So, what’s your plan?

Tell me in the comments.

STrumpets

procuressSTrumpet sounds so quaint. I get the image of floozies in bodices where their cups runneth over. There’s a whiff of something overripe about them. They don’t necessarily have hearts of gold. They’re looking out for themselves. Nothing so tasteful as Vermeer’s Procuress but the boob grabbing seems to be a thing.

It’s a silly image. How close is it to reality?

Well, Matthew McWilliams at Vox did what looks like principal components analysis of the typical Trump supporter and most of you will probably not be surprised with the results:

What I found is a trend that has been widely overlooked. A voter’s gender, education, age, ideology, party identification, income, and race simply had no statistical bearing on whether someone supported Trump. Neither, despite predictions to the contrary, did evangelicalism.

Here is what did: authoritarianism, by which I mean Americans’ inclination to authoritarian behavior. When political scientists use the term authoritarianism, we are not talking about dictatorships but about a worldview. People who score high on the authoritarian scale value conformity and order, protect social norms, and are wary of outsiders. And when authoritarians feel threatened, they support aggressive leaders and policies.

Authoritarianism and a hybrid variable that links authoritarianism with a personal fear of terrorism were the only two variables that predicted, with statistical significance, support for Trump.

We’ve been here before. If you’re new to the concept of authoritarianism, stop right here and go read Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians, his online study of the subject. I’m not sure the typical Trump supporter would see themselves as cousins of North Koreans or an Ayatollah but that’s about where they are. Trump has similar qualities of power and strength that the typical authoritarian follower admires.

Conformity is a key personality characteristic of authoritarian followers. The wariness of outsiders has been a constant feature of our culture. We all learned about xenophobia in America in our 11th grade social studies class. It’s an “us vs them” strategy employed by politicians since forever.

There’s something I think the analysis is not yet picking up on and I’m not sure what parameter to chuck into the mix to see if it counts but it has something to do with the inability to assess risk or think critically. I’m not sure this has anything to do with education either since I’ve known plenty of people with PhDs whose ability to think critically can be derailed by a good propaganda campaign. Let’s just say that politicians like Trump and George W. Bush are good at poking at the amygdalas of some people to make them think of how vulnerable and unsafe they are all the time.

There’s reasonable fear that we can think through and prepare for and then there is unreasonable fear that resists thinking through. I think authoritarians are very good at stimulating the latter. But the funny thing is that the scenarios that the authoritarians present to all of us are the same. It’s just that some of us don’t fall for them. That’s the part I’m most curious about.

Well, that’s about as far as I want to delve into the mind of a typical STrumpet today. I think we can all see where the campaign is heading at this point. The Republican primary is set up for “winner take all”, while Democrats have gone with proportional distribution of the vote. We all know from 2008 that this is just a convenient fiction for the Democrats. The Superdelegates will make the final call and pretty soon (In fact, I’m already seeing signs of this), the word will go out to fall in behind Hillary. Im already seeing the ice crack around protecting Obama’s legacy too with Bill Press’s book on Buyer’s Remorse and one of Tom Sullivan’s posts at Digbysblog where he pretty much admits that the Democrats tried the Republican campaign strategy in 2008 (and how did that turn out??). The title of the post is An “existential sense of betrayal”.  Digby herself seems to be stuck thinking that it’s all about racism but some of her co-posters are a little more introspective. That’s encouraging. In any case, Hillary is going to have to start distancing herself from Obama and probably sooner than later if she has to present herself as something new.

Trump will continue to insinuate that Hillary is about to be indicted for something. Not sure how she’s going to deal with it but I suspect that the media, who has had an irrational hatred of her for two decades, is going to have to swallow its pride and start, you know, actually reporting the truth about her. That should be interesting.

I thought 2008 was ugly but I think this campaign year is going to get even uglier. We might even see one candidate completely rid himself of the Mister Nice Guy routine we expect of serious candidates and go after his opposition using language that will make everyone but the most hardened strumpet blush.

Winter is Trumping

 

Australian humorist Huw Parkinson put that together, which is somewhat ironic given Australia’s notorious treatment of refugee boat people who try to reach its shores.

I was listening to a This American Life episode that featured a Trump supporter from South Carolina who is young, evangelical and gay. What struck me about this interview is how convinced the guy was that Hillary Clinton was going to be indicted.

That seems to be just hanging out there. You’d think that after all the investigations, and nearly 4 years after she left office as Secretary of State, that if there were something to indict her over, someone would have done it by now.But the idea that there’s something hanging over her is definitely a weapon that has always used against the Clintons to great success. It’s out there, we don’t know when they’ll be arrested but you can bet it’s going to happen eventually. Or not, most likely.

The other thing that struck me is that like most other Trump voters I have heard, the kid seems confused. He thinks Trump is an advocate of gay marriage. It reminds me a little bit of the way that Obama supporters in 2008 would pin their hopes and dreams, sometimes conflicting ones, on Obama, the ultimate tofu candidate. I doubt that Trump has a real issue with gay marriage but you never know what’s going to pop out of his mouth in front of the right audience.

I try to stay out of the minds of Trump voters. In there, the world doesn’t make sense, up is down, things happen for no apparent reason and they seem to be unreasonably fearful. It can make you feel a bit like Tyrion Lannister trying to be reasonable with people who will kill off the best characters in pursuit of an iron throne.

Valar Morghulis