Trump Is Guilty

May 4, 2018 at 7:38 am | Posted in Abuse of Office, Conceited, Crime and punishment, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Old gavel and court minutes displayed at the Minnesota Judicial Center, photographed by Jonathunder, 2008-04-17.

Old gavel and court minutes displayed at the Minnesota Judicial Center, photographed by Jonathunder, 2008-04-17.

Trump is guilty of something that causes him to frantically impede the investigation of Putin’s interference in the American election in 2016.

Trump is so guilty, that he opposes an investigation that every patriotic American would want to succeed, because the legitimacy of elections underlies the legitimacy of the American government.

Trump is so guilty, that he seeks to terminate the only activity that would exonererate him if he wasn’t guilty.

Trump is so guilty, that he seeks to terminate the only activity that would remove the cloud on his legitimacy.

For a summary of the issues, see the New York Times article on Robert Mueller’s questions to Trump.

Robert S. Mueller, III, director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013

Robert S. Mueller, III, director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013

A Fallacy About Guns

March 2, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Dysfunctional Politics | Leave a comment
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In a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, Marc A. Thiessen recounted an incident in which a private citizen, Stephen Willeford, used his own AR-15 to interrupt Devin Patrick Kelley from continuing a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas, on November 15, 2017.

The AR-15 is the same type of assault rifle that Nikolas Cruz used to massacre students and teachers at the at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.

Thiessen uses the incident in Sutherland to argue that it would be perverse to conclude from the incident in Parkland – and from the many other incidents – that access to assault weapons should be restricted.

Thiessen’s argument rests upon a fallacy of omission. He does not mention that Willeford’s gun-assisted intervention would not have been necessary if Kelley had not had access to an assault weapon.

In fact, that would have been a better solution, because it would not have relied on the rare circumstance that a neighbor had an assault weapon, and was at home at the time, and was willing to engage the shooter.

Looking for the best solution to a problem is mathematically equivalent to trying to identify the tallest peak in a region that hosts many hills and mountains.

A mathematician, a scientist, or an engineer would say that Thiessen identified what was merely a local maximum, but didn’t notice the global maximum nearby.

Thiessen spotted the crest of one of several foothills, but failed to notice the mountain that towered in their midst.

To see more clearly why Thiessen’s argument is incorrect, imagine his argument being applied to cars. Someone in a car can pursue a criminal who used a car to commit a crime. Applied to cars, Thiessen’s logic would imply that driving a car should be unrestricted, and shouldn’t require a license.

In fact, the issues in gun control are closely analogous to those in automotive and aeronautical control:

As was noted in a previous blog, and as has recently been noted by others, the argument for restricting acess to assault weapons is the same as the argument for requiring a license for driving an automobile, and for requiring a more restrictive licence for driving 18-wheelers, and for requiring a still more restrictive license for piloting an aircraft.

Freedom to travel within the United States does not mean unrestricted freedom to travel by driving a car, nor by driving a truck, nor by piloting an aircraft. It also does not mean that access to particular locations cannot be restricted to only particular people.

Analogous statements should apply to guns.

A recent very enlightening article by Mike Spies in the New Yorker magazine describes how we started from a reasonable, rational approach to gun laws, that had lasted for at least a century, and how the discussion was perverted into the present frenzied, dysfunctional tug-of-war.

Gun laws today

Gun laws today

Unpatriotic Devin Nunes, Unpatriotic Donald Trump

February 28, 2018 at 9:41 am | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom | Leave a comment
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Devin Nunes, U.S. Representative from California

Devin Nunes, U.S. Representative from California

Every loyal American would want the investigation of Putin’s interference in the 1916 election to get to the bottom of what Putin’s minions did, and how they did it. Every loyal American would want to refute Putin’s lies, and would want America to have the information it needs to craft defenses against Putin’s future attempts, both on this country and on its allies.

It is iron-clad logic, a simple syllogism: if every loyal American would want those things, then any American who obstructs those investigations and defenses is not a loyal American.

Devin Nunes is not a loyal American.

Donald Trump is not a loyal American.

Devin Nunes is not a patriotic American.

Donald Trump is not a patrotic American.

Devin Nunes is inadvertantly an agent of Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump is inadvertantly an agent of Vladimir Putin.

Neither should ever have had access to classified information.

Neither should have future access to classified information.

Trump’s primary loyalty is to himself and to his “brand” – not to America, not to freedom, not to fairness, not to honest elections.

There are indications that the same is true of Devin Nunes.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution begins, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, …”

The writers of the Constitution never anticipated a President who favored an opponent of the United States.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit.  Photo by www.kremlin.ru.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit. Photo by http://www.kremlin.ru.

What about Paul Ryan?

Donald Trump shaking hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of Congress.

Donald Trump shaking hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of Congress.

Surely Paul Ryan had some sense of Devin Nunes’ personality and character before appointing him to the House Intelligence Committee.

Why then did Paul Ryan appoint Nunes as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee?

Why did Paul Ryan even allow Nunes to be on that Committee?

Paul, please explain to the American people why you appointed Nunes as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Paul, now that you cannot miss seeing that you introduced a worm into the apple, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to re-assign Nunes?

Paul, are you, too, not a loyal American?

Paul, are you, too, inadvertantly an agent of Putin?

Paul, where are your primary loyalties? They seem to be to the Republican Party in its current debased form, not to America, not to freedom, not to fairness, not to honest elections.

As noted by Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post:

“Real patriotism would be not to denounce the “Russia hoax” but to insist that Congress — and for that matter, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — get to the bottom of what happened in the 2016 election and, even more imperative, that the United States strengthen its defenses to prevent future meddling.”

#hashtagDonaldTrump

July 7, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Climate change, Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Artwork by Charles Raymond Macauley for the 1904 edition of The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Publisher: New York Scott-Thaw

Artwork by Charles Raymond Macauley for the 1904 edition of The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Publisher: New York Scott-Thaw

 

failing
lying
corrupt
fake
ignored

These are some of the adjectives that Trump tries to attach to the names of persons and organizations that he want to disparage.

He repeats these derogatory linkages relentlessly, trying to embed them into the public’s mind. After all, the one aspect of business that Trump has mastered is marketing.

Trump’s disparaging adjectives actually name his own deepest fears and guilty feelings about himself. They list his vulnerabilities.

That is why his menu of derogatory adjectives is so well-defined.

It is also the reason – besides marketing – why he uses them so obsessively.

Since these adjectives accurately describe Trump himself, it is easy to list what could become the most popular hashtags on Twitter. Here is such a list, expanded to include additional adjectives that accurately describe Trump, even though he does not habitually try to pin them on his enemies:

#failingDonaldTrump
#lyingDonaldTrump (see here )
#TrumpTowerOfLies
#corruptDonaldTrump
#fakeDonaldTrump (see here)
#ignoredDonaldTrump
#deceitfullDonaldTrump (see here and here)
#greedyDonaldTrump
#conartistDonaldTrump
#shallowDonaldTrump (see here)
#simplisticDonaldTrump
#ignorantDonaldTrump (see here)
#incompetentDonaldTrump
#inadequateDonaldTrump
#fragileDonaldTrump
#defectiveDonaldTrump (see here and here)
#unhingedDonaldTrump (see here)
#insaneDonaldTrump
#DonaldTrumpAtMar-a-Loco
#disastrousDonaldTrump (see here)
#dangerousbuffoonDonaldTrump (see here)
#PresidentChump (see here)
#AmericasMisfortuneDonaldTrump


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Who Should Squelch Lies and Trolls on Social Media?

June 30, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Posted in Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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John Bauer (1882-1918), artist, in 1915: "Look at them," troll mother said. "Look at my sons! You won't find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon."

John Bauer (1882-1918), artist, in 1915: “Look at them,” troll mother said. “Look at my sons! You won’t find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon.”

By now you have read and seen the damage caused by the flood of misleading or harassing material on social media. Vulnerable teens have committed suicide, ordinary adults have become fearful and intimidated, fools have become enraged vigilantes, racists have infected those with weak mental immune systems, and President Chump has been elected.

Elizabeth Dwoskin’s recent article in the Washington Post describes how Twitter and Facebook and Google are trying to weaken the flood.

Colin Crowell is the Vice President of Policy at Twitter. Dwoskin’s article quoted something that Crowell had written recently, and it is worth discussing here, because it states a misunderstanding that is prevalent in all of the major social media companies.

Dwoskin wrote, ““We, as a company, should not be the arbiter of truth,” Crowell wrote earlier this month. He emphasized that Twitter users — “journalists, experts, and engaged citizens” — tweet side by side to correct public discourse every day in real time.”

The fallacy in Crowell’ argument is that the corrections are not really in real time. They are never soon enough. The misleading material reaches the public before any retractions or corrections appear, and sits out there, at least briefly unopposed.

Correcting misleading material is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.

Only a tiny fraction of those who see the misleading material will ever see the retraction or the correction.

Even among those who do see the correction, the first-seen version often makes the deepest impression.

The timing is such that most of the simple-minded and all of the malicious will propagate the uncorrected version.

Sociopathic liar that he is, Donald Trump regularly exploits this weakness of all of the media: public appearances, TV, the print media, and the social media.


That the misleading material is seen first, and the stickiness of first impressions – those are inconvenient truths for the social media giants. The social media giants do not want the expense that would be required to pre-disinfect the stream that flows onto their platforms, nor do they relish the potential legal battles that any gate-keeper may face.

Good technical and legal solutions are not yet known. But at least the social media should drop the self-serving illusion that they can evade at least some gate-keeping role.

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Vandalism By Squirrels With Aroused Teeth

June 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Humans and other animals | Leave a comment
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Baby American red squirrel, photographed 20 June 2010 by Dan Leveille.

Baby American red squirrel, photographed 20 June 2010 by Dan Leveille.

Every one feels aroused and lustful at times.

Sometimes one part of your body feels aroused, and sometimes another.

But have your teeth ever felt aroused?

No?

Well, that proves that you are not a tree squirrel.

Previous posts on this blog have wondered what drives tree squirrels into a frenzy of arboreal vandalism several times each year.  The most recent of those posts was here.

At last, we have an answer.

A local citizen’s association sponsored a walk through a local park, with a park ranger to show us how to identify the type of each tree, and to explain its ecological role and prospects.

The ranger provided the long-sought explanation of what drove the tree squirrels to their periodic frenzies of vandalism.

The squirrels are not teething, but are driven by something close to teething.

A squirrel’s teeth would become over-long unless the squirrel gnawed on something hard.

Wikipedia confirms and expands upon this explanation: tree squirrel’s’ “characteristic gnawing trait also aids in maintaining sharp teeth, and because their teeth grow continuously, prevents [the] over-growth [of their teeth].”

In short, tree squirrels have aroused teeth!

Vandalism by tree squirrels isn’t confined to trees. Tree squirrels occasionally chew on electrical wiring, sometimes in the attic of a house, or strung between poles outside.

Their non-arboreal vandalism probably has the same explanation as their vandalism of trees.


The topic of this blog posting obliges me to end it on a more personal note.

As is clear from my picture, I am a prairie dog.

Prairie Dog, the poliblog, 2012-06-23 .

Prairie Dog, the poliblog, 2012-06-23 .

While researching squirrel teeth for this post, a relevant Wikipedia article contained this bombshell: “Prairie dogs … are a type of ground squirrel …”

Imagine my astonishment! This post has been about my own distant cousins!

Of course, prairie dogs differ from tree squirrels in important ways. That is why I have been careful throughout to call them tree squirrels.

Now, about those differences.

Prairie dogs hate black-footed ferrets. Not only are those sharp toothed nasty- dispositioned fiends of the right size to creep into our burrows, they do not read advice columnists, and therefore have no sense of boundaries.

Roy, a ferret, photgraphed by Alfredo Gutiérrez .

Roy, a ferret, photgraphed by Alfredo Gutiérrez .

A picture of a ferret's teeth, photographed by Erlendaakre, 26 September 2008.

A picture of a ferret’s teeth, photographed by Erlendaakre, 26 September 2008.

A ferret in the middle of a war dance jump. Photographed in 2005 by Inkrat773.

A ferret in the middle of a war dance jump. Photographed in 2005 by Inkrat773.

Tree squirrels do not have nightmares about black-footed ferrets.

On the other hand, prairie dogs are much bigger than tree squirrels, because our weight is not limited by the strength of the branches of the most numerous trees. So our paws are much bigger, too, and that is what enabled me to write this blog. With a small stubby strap-on on each front paw, two-pawed typing is possible on a keyboard. It is very similar to two-fingered typing by a person. With a strap-on, I can even swipe a touch screen. (A bare paw doesn’t work on a touch screen. A bare paw produces too complicated an imprint for a computer that is looking for the simple dot-like pattern of a finger tip.)

The paw of a tree squirrel is too narrow to serve as the stable mount for a strap-on.

Those are some of the differences.

But still, they are cousins.

So I have three wishes for them:
– teeth that are sharp and not over-long,
– the discernment to distinguish an insulated electrical wire from a twig,
– and the understanding that although random changes of direction do help when escaping from a pursuing animal, they do not help when evading a car.

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President Chump, You Cannot Distract Us

June 6, 2017 at 7:59 am | Posted in Abuse of Office, Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom | 1 Comment
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Orangutans can use objects in creative ways. Photo taken by Postdif from Wikipedia, at the Philadelphia Zoo on 8 May 2010.

Orangutans can use objects in creative ways. Photo taken by Postdif from Wikipedia, at the Philadelphia Zoo on 8 May 2010.

To President Chump –

When others point out inconvenient facts about you, one of your favorite tactics is to change the subject. You deliberately do something attention-grabbing, to distract the public’s attention away from the inconvenient facts.

When there are questions about the connections of you and your gang to Putin’s regime, you squawk instead about how those inconvenient facts became widely known. You squawk about leaks – you, who said “I love Wikileaks” during the campaign, when leaks had been crafted to harm your opponent, just like the more recent “leaks” that were crafted to harm Emmanuel Macron‘s campaign for the Presidency of France.

That doesn’t work any more. We are on to you.

Speakers and posters at the March for Truth on June 3 said so, loud and clear.

Every morning, you will wake up to us asking again about your taxes.

You will wake up to us asking again about your conflicts of interest.

You will wake up to us asking again about your loyalty.

You will wake up to us asking again about whether you are a security risk – you, the first US President ever to have been called The Leaker in Chief.  (Yes, that was one of the posters at the March for Truth.)

Perhaps Mar-a-Lago should be renamed Mar-a-Leako.

The March for Truth on June 3, 2017, in Portland, Oregon, which was one of its many cities.  Photographed by 'Another Believer'.

The March for Truth on June 3, 2017, in Portland, Oregon, which was one of its many cities. Photographed by ‘Another Believer’.

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The ‘Racist Right’, Not the ‘Alt-Right’, and Not ‘White Nationalist’

May 16, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom | 2 Comments
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A dune-dwelling Aptostichus sp from Baja California.  Photo by Marshal Hedin.

A dune-dwelling Aptostichus sp from Baja California. Photo by Marshal Hedin.

There is no such thing as the ‘alt-right’.

What presently calls itself the ‘alt-right’ is really the white-racist right.

It is racist because because the group favors people solely on the basis of birth – upon skin color and ethnic ancestry – not upon earned achievement (moral/humanitarian, intellectual, artistic, or athletic).

The present usage of ‘alt-right’ is a ‘framing‘ trick, designed to hide the group’s goals behind a phrase that sounds more benign than ‘white racist’ or ‘white supremicist’.

In part, Richard Spencer’s appropriation of the term was probably because ‘alt-right’ sounds almost like ‘all right’. That would heighten the mask of benignity.

The term ‘alt-right’ is camouflage, like the false surface created by a trap-door spider.

Promyrmekiaphila burrow entrance closed, in northern California. Photo by Marshal Hedin.

Promyrmekiaphila burrow entrance closed, in northern California. Photo by Marshal Hedin.

Spencer also uses another phrase as camouflage: ‘nationalist right’.

In using that phrase he wants to hide behind the long pedigree of nationalism, in an attempt to pass his radical position off as being somewhere on the mainstream spectrum.

But he reveals the racism underneath by having used his new term at demonstrations against the removal of monuments to the Confederacy. No matter how the racists try to deflect attention from the fact, the Confederacy was an attempt to ensure the long-term survival of slavery. That reveals that white-racism underlies the ‘nationalist right’.

When coupled with Spencer’s views and goals, it is impossible to forget an earlier use of ‘nationalism’ as a camouflage for racism. ‘Nazi’ was the abbreviation of the German words for National Socialism.

This is not just guilt by association. There is evidence for a real connection.

John Woodrow Cox interviewed Richard Spencer at a party that Spencer’s group held in Washington, DC, not long after Trump’s election. Some at the party gave a Sieg Heil salute. At one point, Spencer said “Let’s party like its 1933.” Spencer had previously dated an Asian-American woman, but now regrets his deviation from racially-pure behavior. He said that he would never again date a non-white woman and that interracial relationships should be forbidden.  Cox asked, “How, in a nation with more than 100 million blacks, Asians and Latinos, could a whites-only territory be created without overwhelming violence?” Spencer’s answer: “Look, maybe it will be horribly bloody and terrible.”

Just last week, Spencer led two rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, opposing the removal of Confederate memorials there. One of those rallies was lit by torches. Charlotteville’s Mayor pointed out the wrong-headedness of the rallies, evoking a storm of racist tweets. One of them said “I smell Jew.” (The Mayor is Jewish.)

(Interestingly, one of the chants at the second rally was “Russia is our friend”. An echo of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.)

Every time that you say or write ‘alt-right’ or ‘nationalist right’, you are falling into the trap, and are inadvertantly advancing the white racist cause.

Promyrmekiaphila burrow entrance open, in northern California. Photo by Marshal Hedin.

Promyrmekiaphila burrow entrance open, in northern California. Photo by Marshal Hedin.

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Dishonorable Devin Nunes: What Are His Loyalties?

March 29, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Illustration of the Devil in the Codex Gigas, folio 270 recto, early 13th century, by Herman the Recluse of the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice.

Illustration of the Devil in the Codex Gigas, folio 270 recto, early 13th century, by Herman the Recluse of the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice.

To what Is Devil Nunes loyal?

The one who is better known as Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)

Based on his stonewalling of investigations into Russia’s role, and his frantic attempts to divert the focus of the investigation away from Russia and away from Trump’s campaign, and toward the patriots who alerted the country, and his secret nightime trip to confer with the White House, it appears that Devin Nunes’ loyalties, in their order of importance to him, are

  • First, Devin Nunes himself, followed – possibly closely – by his family.
  • Second, Trump, followed – possibly closely – by the Republican Party in its present grotesquely deformed version.
  • Third, possibly the United States, possibly including the district that he supposedly represents.

Given that order of priorities, it is not fitting that Nunes should be a member of the House Intelligence Committee, much less that he should chair it.

Nunes was in Trump’s transition team. Yet he claims that there is no conflict of interest for him to lead the investigation of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The conflict of interest is clear. Nunes cannot be objective about this issue.

In attempting to deflect attention away from the real danger – Putin’s mafia – Devin Nunes betrayed his country.

He doesn’t belong in Congress.

For his future, his best career option is to apply to become a caddy at one of Trump’s golf courses.

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Donald J. Trump is Persona Non Grata at our house

March 5, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Detail of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, retouched by Bluszczokrzew .

Detail of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, retouched by Bluszczokrzew .

Donald J. Trump is Persona Non Grata at our house.

We will not welcome him in, nor shake his hand. In fact, we will not let him in. We do not want to see his face – not in person, nor in the news. We do not want to hear his voice, nor his self-serving opinions.

This rejection also applies to John Miller and to John Barron/John Baron, if Trump again lies by pretending to be them, and feeds major newspapers “their” views on Trump, in a bizarre attempt to trick the newspapers into adopting positions favorable to Trump’s ‘brand’. For examples of Trump doing this, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Yes, the same Donald Trump who claims that every unfavorable news report is fake “news” has tried repeatedly to create fake news.

A national organization should host an online registry where millions of Americans, and millions in other countries, could declare that Trump is persona non grata to them, too.

The hosting organization should not be one like CREDO Action nor MoveOn nor the ACLU, whose positions on other issues are divisive enough to repel many of those who would otherwise sign against Trump.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) would be an ideal hosting organization. (The SPLC’s scope is much wider than its name indicates: it monitors and educates against bigotry and injustice against every ethnic group.)  So would any major environmental organization.

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