Politics postsSaturday February 04, 2017
Shoutout to all the Trump fans who are never sure when it's *you're* vs. *your* but who are now suddenly constitutional law scholars.— Dab Aggin (@DabAggin) February 4, 2017
Pres. Trump Holds Meeting Honoring Easter Sunday*
* 'Inspired' by his speech yesterday at a meeting honoring Black History Month.
“I think Jesus is doing an amazing job, an amazing job. I've heard his numbers are very high. Arnold wishes he had numbers like that. A total disaster, am I right? A big, big movie star but he couldn't fill my shoes. My ratings were amazing, really, really amazing, and now Mark misses me. I've heard from hundreds of people about what a disaster Arnold is. I have good friends in the TV business who say that. But CNN won't say that because they're fake news, and so is the failing New York Times. A total embarrassment.
”But Jesus is very important to me, OK? Always has been. The money changers, I wouldn't have done that. I'm not saying I'm better than Jesus, I just support small business. Also, the hippie hair. Wasn't he Jewish? Where's Jared? My son-in-law. Where is he? Over there? He doesn't work Fridays and Saturdays, but like most Jews he's smart, and Jesus was smart, and that's why I'd hire him, because I really, really love these people. And they love me. But the Holocaust thing, the way that was covered, that was just awful to me. I'm the least anti-Semitic person out there. Believe me.“
”This is the day we celebrate the day Jesus rose from the dead. Remember how I rose from the dead? All the pundits, on all the shows, they were saying that Texas might turn blue. Oh, Texas! It's going to be a landslide against Trump. Never happened. Never. Happened. Instead I won by more electoral votes than anyone in history.
“This is a great, great group. This is a group that's been so special to me. Jared, George, my daughter Ivanka, who converted. Either way, a beautiful girl, a beautiful girl. That's another area where I disagree with Jesus. If they're just offering it up, what are you supposed to do? I know it's not politically correct to say it but I've never been politically correct.
”Anyway, this is a very, very special day, the resurrection of the Christ, and no one is a bigger fan than me. Biggest. Fan. Just ask anyone."
Why NPR's 'Morning Edition' Continues to Suck
Yesterday I heard a report on NPR's “Morning Edition” about the Dakota Pipeline and the continuing protest at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. And I was frustrated all over again by NPR.
Let me preface this by saying I don't really have any dogs in this hunt. I have a lot of friends on the left who were wringing their hands and posting on social media about the protest in October, and all I could think was, “Really? If Donald Trump gets elected in November, this will be the least of your worries.” So this isn't a post to convince you one way or another on Standing Rock/Dakota. It's about Journalism 101. Actually it's about common sense.
The NPR piece was hosted by David Greene and reported on by Amy Sisk, who is introduced at the top of the piece as being from “Prairie Public Broadcasting,” and at the bottom of the piece as being from “Inside Energy, that's a public media collaboration focusing on America's energy issues.” No attempt is made to clarify this. But that's not why I was frustrated.
Sisk spends the first third of the report just talking about the protesters still in the camps being resigned but determined, which is human interest and clarifies nothing.
Then she talks about the Sioux tribe's concern of potential oil spills and how this will damage the water supply. She says most oil gets where it's supposed to, but “leaks do happen, and they can be devastating.”
Then David Greene asks her about the other side of the debate:
I mean, you have the oil industry, labor groups. I mean, they have been saying that these two pipelines could be real job creators, so this must be good news for them.
Got that? Job creators.
Sisk agrees, and says she spoke with Ron Ness with the North Dakota Petroleum Council, “and here's what he had to say”:
RON NESS: This pipeline should be moving oil today, and we'd have 2,000 or 3,000 less trucks on the road in western North Dakota. We'd be getting our oil to market at - to a better market more safely and more reliably, and we'd be getting a better price for it.
What's your follow-up? Ness makes an environmental argument—fewer trucks on the road. But in doing so, doesn't he undercut Dakota Pipeline's main argument about being “job creators”? Aren't 2,000 to 3,000 truck drivers going to lose their jobs? Isn't this really about efficiency for the corporation to create greater profit, and in that efficiency, isn't net employment going down?
- “This will create jobs.”
- “We'll have 2,000 or 3,000 less [sic] trucks on the road.”
There's a seeming discrepancy here. I thought NPR would dig into the discrepancy. Didn't.
I mean, wouldn't it be ironic if the corporation actually had the better environmental argument (fewer trucks on the road) and the environmentalists had the better jobs argument (more truck drivers)?
BTW: This BBC report suggests that most of the current oil transportation for this area is via train. It also asks the most relevant question of all: Who does this benefit? The answer? “The pipeline would benefit oil companies, shareholders and local governments. Dakota Access says the project will create between 8,000-12,000 jobs and generate $55m in annual property taxes.” It doesn't mention if those jobs would be temporary or not, and what the net gain/loss for continued employment might be.
BTW2: Can we stop pretending corporations are interested in creating jobs? Corporations are interested in creating profit. That's it. And they often do this by eliminating jobs. Let's start there. The rest is bullshit.
Day 1: A View from Inside the Women's March
I felt better yesterday than I have at any time since Nov. 8, 2016, when Donald Trump, with the help of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and FBI director James Comey, as well as 63 million sad excuses for Americans, won the presidency. Yesterday was his first full day in office. So why did I feel great?
That's from inside the march. You can see great, overhead, footage from King 5 TV here.
I'd heard there were going to be a march, a women's march, but initially I wasn't thinking of going. I thought it was their thing. But Patricia was going with her friends Sullivan and Melanie, and Ward, so I jumped. Any chance at protesting that fuck.
You got a sense it was going to be big even as we stepped outside the Old Colony at 9:15 a.m., Patricia, Ward and I, waiting for our neighbors, Adam and Justin, so the five of us could walk to the starting point, Judgkins Park, nearly two miles away. Because there were already folks walking past us in their pink pussy hats and their homemade protest signs. Again: the staring point was two miles and two hours away. And the closer we got the more people we picked up, until it was a near protest march just walking to the protest march. We camped out on the south side of the park, as Adam and Justin went to hook up with friends at the skate park there. Though phone/text reception was almost nonexistent due to the crowds all phoning and texting each other, Patricia managed to get word out to Sullivan where we were, and she and Melanie arrived about 10 minutes prior to the offical start of the march, and when people began to move we moved, too.
We left the park on Ingersoll, about six blocks south of Jackson, where the real march proper began, and it looked like a good move ... until halfway through Ingersoll, when everything just stopped. For a long time. The edges of the crowd flowed a little better, so we went along there, then went off the official parade route to other residential streets. Some part of me was assuming a Seattle moment at the logjam: someone ahead of us, politely waving everyone else in. But it was just the size of the march. There were just too many people.
What a beautiful feeling.
When we finally made it onto Jackson, it was a sight to behold: huge throngs of people filling the street ahead of us; huge throngs of people filling the street behind us; the pussy hats everywhere. We were in the middle of the beast, so we couldn't fathom the size of the beast. It went as far as we could see in either direction. It didn't seem to have a start or an end, just a mass. Which we were part of. This. This was our power.
I didn't have a sign. Justin and Adam made some, and, of theirs, Ward chose the cheetos sign with NOPE on it, and a pink sign with a uterus and the phrase NONE OF MY FUCKING BUSINESS. P had the cheetos sign. I didn't have any, figuring I'd spell Patricia occasionally, which I did, but all the great handmade signs I saw (we have the artists on our side, yo) made me wonder what I've would put on a sign:
JAMES COMEY CAN GO FUCK HIMSELF
COMEY AIN'T MY HOMEY
I liked all of the signs that made reference to Trump's Russian alliances. That shit's unforgivable. I'd like signs that shame the patriots who support Trump, and the Christians who support Trump. But I thiink I would've gone with something like this:
STOP THE BULLSHIT
Then I'd include the names of the worst media offenders: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Matt Drudge. We only have two media in this country: corporate media and right-wing media. But the right-wing media keeps claiming we have a “liberal media,” which, in turn, makes the corporate media turn ever more to the right. You couldn't get a Trump without this dynamic. And if this dynamic stays the same even after Trump, we'll get something like Trump again. Or worse.
The march route went down Jackson, through the interntional district, and then up 4th into downtown. We stopped off at a very harried Starbucks for coffee (buy local), then kept going, all the way to the end, the Seattle Center, the Space Needle, where people hung out on the grass, in the drizzle, or went their separate ways. P, Sullivan and Melanie went to find a bar, I stuck around a bit, ran into a few more friends, watched the crowds just stream in and stream in. It was never-ending and beautiful.
I've seen estimates of 130,000 to 175,000 for our little walk. Worldwide, the estimate is almost 3 million. That's also Hillary Clinton's margin of victory in the popular vote. (Crazy what you could've had/ Crazy what you could've had.) The organizers themselves estimate there were 4.8 million in the sister marches.
One thing? I was a bit disappointed there wasn't more to do at the end of the march. I wanted the next step. I want to turn this people power into political power.
This morning, my friend Erika shared a link on social media about the next step: 10 actions in 100 days. I don't know if the march was the first or the uber step—the one that made the others possible—but the next step is simple: “Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you - and how you're going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead.”
My postcard will probably begin with protecting the ACA/Medicare/Medicaid and go from there. I would love to see us outlaw all of the Ciitzens United dark money that is ruining our democracy, and calling out Mitch McConnell when (not if) he tries to protect his beautiful dark dollars—the only reason that asshat is still in office. Above all, I'd like accountability. If you have accountability, you don't have James Comey as FBI director, and Betsy DeVos isn't a nominee for Sec. of Education and Rex Tillerson isn't a nom for Sec. of State. You don't have Mitch McConnell. I would like an investigation into Russian influence into our election. I would like an investigation into why James Comey acted the way he did 10 days before the election.
There's no end to their malfeasance. But this is the beginning of our fight. Yesterday, in the march, cramped in with tens of thousands of like-minded people, at times unable to move for the mass of humanity surrounding me, I was able to do something I hadn't been able to do well during the last few horrible months: I was able to breathe.
Me and Ward get ready to step out.
The Con Artist in Chief
“Barack Obama governed wisely and honestly, and presided over peace and prosperity, and was rewarded with an approval rating of 60 percent. He is being replaced by a swindler who has been consistently opposed by a clear majority of the public. This happened because of a combination of oddities and systemic abuses: an Electoral College system that allows the second-place candidate to win if his supporters happen to be distributed more optimally; the dramatic intervention of the FBI on behalf of the Republican challenger; the Twenty-second Amendment, which prevents the popular incumbent from running again. All these factors in combination have produced a dramatic transfer of power from a president who has won the support of a clear majority of the country to one who does not. ...
In his presidential announcement speech in 2015, Trump hired actors to pretend to be supporters, and then, characteristically, refused to pay them. He boasted this week that he was writing his inauguration speech, even displaying a photo of himself purportedly working in Mar-a-Lago. (In a touch that could have come straight from a David Mamet film, the backdrop to Trump's speechwriting scene turns out to be a corridor, the desk belongs to an administrative staffer.) Trump is a con artist, and a very good one. It requires enormous talent of a kind to successfully identify and exploit new marks, for decades, without their catching on to you. Constantly luring new contractors, partners, and customers to place their faith in Trump so he can exploit them is a difficult ruse to sustain. ...
”The presidency raises the stakes of Trump's con game to a completely new level. ... But what happens when his grandiose promises fail to materialize? And when the aspects of his program that he never mentioned in his speech — tax cuts for the rich, stripping away health insurance from millions, massive graft — do take place? A con artist who always escaped his old victims and found new ones has reached the maximal limits of his strategy. What happens when the marks are demanding that the promises he made be redeemed, and there is nowhere for him to go, and he commands the powers of the state?“
-- Jonathan Chait, ”The System Has Failed and a Con Artist Has Won," New York Magazine