Streep Versus Creep

January 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Meryl Streep, 16 February 2016, usbotschaftberlin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbotschaftberlin/24452956954/

Meryl Streep, 16 February 2016, usbotschaftberlin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbotschaftberlin/24452956954/

During the recent Golden Globes ceremony, Meryl Streep described how revolted she had been by Donald Trump’s bullying parody, at a campaign event on November 24, 2015, of Serge Kovaleski, an excellent reporter for the New York Times, who happens to be disabled. An astounding video containing both Trump’s jeering, and Streep’s comment on that jeering, is viewable at the beginning of the online version of Ann Hornaday’s article in the Washington Post about the Golden Globes event. An excellent article by Elahe Izadi and Amy B Wang also contains the video, along with the complete transcript of Meryl Streep’s remarks.

Trump, being Trump, responded by lying, in a tweet, that he hadn’t been jeering at Kovalevski. The video shows clearly that he had been jeering, in exactly the manner of a schoolyard bully. An eye-opening analysis by Glenn Kessler gives the background to Trump’s jeering, and to Trump’s multiple lies about it.

Hornaday notes that Trump’s jeering was “to distract his audience from the fact that Kovaleski caught him in another lie, about Muslim Americans celebrating on Sept. 11, 2001” Glenn Kessler’s article provides abundant evidence confirming Hornaday’s statement. Jeering to distract attention away from Trump’s own lies is a standard Trump tactic.

Hornaday notes that Trump’s tweet also called Steep “an “overrated” actress and “a Hillary flunky””. As was just mentioned, a standard Trump tactic is to smear anyone who points out any of his errors. Another standard Trump tactic is to claim that his critic is an unpopular has-been.

A tweet by a twit,
Who is full of it.
That is, who is full of himself!

Trump’s tweets and his public statements are his way of flailing about against critics, and against inconvenient truths (to use Al Gore’s indispensible phrase).
When Trump senses a threat, verbally he writhes frantically, like a startled snake.

American pipe snake = false coral snake (Anilius scytale).  Photographed 12 December 2007 by DuSantos.

American pipe snake = false coral snake (Anilius scytale). Photographed 12 December 2007 by DuSantos.

Trump flails about because he cannot use logic. He cannot use facts. He has never cared about either logic or facts, so he never learned how to use them.
So Trump has left only bald unsupported assertions.

Trump finds unsupported assertions to be a congenial tool. After all, Trump has a history of pretending to be other people , sometimes “John Miller”, and sometimes “John Barron”. While pretending to be these other people, Trump says about Trump what Trump would like to have had other people say about him. That is a con-man’s tactic.

This is a variant of Trump’s tactic of claiming that un-named “other people say” or “many people say”. Trump ascribes to these invented people the inuendo that Trump wants to plant.

To be charitable about it, Trumps false statements are not always deliberate lies. Sometimes Trump makes an unfounded statement simply because he cannot distinguish how the world is from how he thinks the world ought to be. At any moment, Trump’s idea of how the world ought to be is the same as whatever would have best served Trump’s current purpose. This is a natural confusion for anyone who thinks that the Universe revolves around him. A prime example of this facet of Trump’s fun-house mirror is his habit of asserting that each source that points out his flaws is “failing” or “overated”.

Trump likes to pin disparaging labels on other people to ‘re-frame the discussion’. Sometimes this is simply a smear tactic. At other times, as with Trump’s jeering at Kovalevski, it is a tactic for drawing attention away from a fact or a question that is unfavorable to Trump.
‘Lyin Ted’, ‘Lyin Hillary’ – you get the idea. The smears are rarely founded on fact.

Margaret Sullivan has recently written an incisive overview of Trump’s approach to using lies as a tool.

Since Trump’s labels and tweets are designed to re-direct the conversation, ‘most convenient for Trump’ usually means that Trump’s smears ascribe to Trump’s critics Trump’s own unsavory traits.

A recent example of a different aspect of Trump’s lies is his claim that before his inauguration, Washington DC had run out of inauguration gowns. Trump’s claim was quickly refuted . But Trump didn’t care: he relies on the fact that his original bombastic claim will stick in the mind better than will its later disproof.

When Trump was told about the Putin-authorized spying on him – and the resulting cyber-theft of Trump’s personal and financial data – Trump’s immediate reaction was to deny that it had happenened.

The most charitable way to describe Trump’s tweets and public statements:
Trump gives himself a colonoscopy, and reports what he sees.

Schematic overview of colonoscopy procedure

Schematic overview of colonoscopy procedure

Trump will be the first President in US history to constitute a major security risk.

This is important, so lets consider it further.

Trump finds Putin’s authoritarianism more congenial than the checks and balances of a free society.

Trump doesn’t understand the value of a free society, so he never bothered to understand what is required to sustain a free society.
So Trump does not accept America’s founding ideas.
Trump does not even know what America’s founders sought to accomplish.
Trump mistakenly takes ‘Amass wealth! WIN! WIN!’ to be America’s defining goal.

So Trump does not even know what he should be defending.
That is just part of why he is a security risk.

Trump will be the first President whose loyalty to the United States is questionable.

Trump seems to be more loyal to Putin than to the US. Trump certainly believes Putin more readily than he believes the CIA and the FBI. Trump accepts Putin’s statements immediately, without any scepticism. At first Trump unconditionally rejected the CIA’s and the FBI’s findings – despite the evidence for them. Then he grudgingly accepted some aspects of those findings, again without having any non-subjective basis for rejecting the finding that Putin’s scheme had helped Trump. As Kathleen Parker (a Republican) asks in a valuable op-ed, “Well, didn’t it? Didn’t Trump loudly call upon Russia to hack Clinton’s emails?”  Two valuable op-eds (here and here) by Dana Milbank discuss the bias of Trump and his circle toward Putin.

The only possible conclusion: Trump is more loyal to Trump than to the US.

Trump has no self-control. His fragile self-esteme gives him a thin skin.
When opposed or disparaged he thrashes about defensively.

He deludedly thinks that his gut reactions are better than learning the facts, and are much better than thinking before reacting.

Those are the many other reasons why Trump is a security risk.

Imagine that your job was to vet applicants for security clearances, and to either approve or disapprove their applications.

Would you approve this unstable, flailing Trump?

I wouldn’t.

Trump poses a dilemma for those loyal Americans who are tasked to divulge sensitive information to this flailing buffoon who lacks all self-control.

*

Now consider Trump’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’.

Leave aside the fact that both Trump and his followers often twist the slogan into ‘Make America Grate Again’.
Leave aside also that a notable segment of Trump’s followers interpret the slogan as ‘Make America Hate Again’.

Consider instead why America was great in the 1950s and early 1960s, at least for some of its citizens.

At that time, many formerly economically and poltically important countries were still reeling from the physical devastation that had occurred on their soil during the Second World War. Their economies had been destroyed. Their infrastructure had been destroyed. Some countries even had to reconstruct their political structures.

For example, rationing continued in England for many years after the end of the Second World War.

None of those handicaps existed in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Of those four countries, the US had – by far – the largest economy and the largest manufacturing capability.

Our manufacturing and transportation infrastructure had swelled during the war, and our political structure was intact. We were able to supply what the ravaged countries needed to buy.
Few other countries could compete with us in that respect. Many of the other unravaged countries were still colonies, or were economically very undeveloped for other reasons.

In those days, manufacturing required many laborers. Automation was limited. Filling orders, monitoring inventory, keeping records, sending written or oral messages all required human hands. That meant a huge demand for human labor.

Labor couldn’t cross borders easily. Shipping was slow or expensive, and was itself labor-intensive. So the demand for labor was futher concentrated in the few favored locations.

That concentration of advantages will not happen again.
Trump will not be able to produce the job landscape that he promises.

*

There is much discussion these days as to whether respecting the office of the President entails respecting Trump.

Respecting an office means respecting its intended role – its potential contribution to society.

Respecting an office does not entail respecting any particular occupant of that office. Whether a particular occupant earns respect depends upon the occupant’s principles, virtues and weaknesses.

It is impossible to repect the upcoming occupant of the Presidency.

Trump is both creepy, and a creep.

Creepy? Witness Trump’s remarks to Billy Bush. I’ve never encountered a man whose locker-room conversation was as despicable as Trump’s. Trump needs Tic Tacs for the brain.

A creep? Witness Trump’s attempt to boot Vera Coking, an elderly widow in Atlantic City who merely wanted to live the rest of her days in her own home, with its treasured memories. Trump wanted the spot to make more parking for his casino.

Proto-President Creepy Creep,
Sneers at the humaneness of Meryl Streep.

A poseur at charity, secretly selfish and cheap.
Weak self-esteem, hidden by boasts in a heap.

Hidden also by smears that convince only sheep*.
Deceitful disgusting defective Donny The Creep.

A twisted brain, and a heart of ice.
Defective Donny just isn’t nice.

Sad!

Mad!

Bad!

* No insult is intended to bovine sheep, only to human sheep.

On January 20, 2017, President-elect Creepy Creep will become President Creepy Creep.

*

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Humane Executions

July 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Brain and mind, Crime and punishment, Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment, Terrorism | 1 Comment
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A woodcut showing a rabid dog in the Middle Ages. "Middle Ages rabid dog" by Unknown - Scanned from Dobson, Mary J. (2008) Disease, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus, p. 157 ISBN: 1-84724-399-1.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg

A woodcut showing a rabid dog in the Middle Ages. “Middle Ages rabid dog” by Unknown – Scanned from Dobson, Mary J. (2008) Disease, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus, p. 157 ISBN: 1-84724-399-1.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg

 

Execution by lethal chemical cocktails has recently become more difficult.  Some of the makers of the required chemicals refuse to sell them for that purpose.  The remaining makers desire anonymity, to avoid becoming the target of protests.  Worse, some of the recent chemical executions have been botched, and seem to have produced drawn-out painful deaths.

All of these problems could be eliminated by returning to an older technique: death by bullet.

But the shooting should not be performed by a firing squad.  Too many things can go wrong with a firing squad.

Instead, use a device that softly but firmly holds fixed the head and chest of the condemned.  A commercially available cervical collar might be one part of the device.  The condemned should be lying horizontally, face up, unable to move, on a special table having a soft surface.

The execution would be carried out by one or more gunshots from behind the head.

The gun could be fired by either a person or a computer.  Computer-controlled firing would be less subject to mistakes.  Sensors viewing the vicinity of the condemned could provide signals to the the computer so that the gun could fire only when no other person was in the line of fire.

Note: The general design described above is hereby released into the public domain by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.  It is not patentable.

That covers the how.  What about the why?

As long as the death penalty is imposed fairly, its morality is clear.  We kill mad dogs, attacking wild animals, and armed enemy soldiers.  We kill terrorists.  We kill madmen and criminals who try to kill the police, and madmen who attack the public.  We kill cancers.  No matter how morally advanced we become, we will always regard such killing as justified.

But can the death penalty be imposed fairly?

Some claim that the death penalty can never be imposed fairly on an individual who is now under our control.  Why not treat such a person as a prisoner of war?  Why not restrain them instead of killing them?  Why not try to rehabilitate them?  These are difficult questions which I hope to address in a later posting.  But for the present, recall that we do not use these alternatives for mad dogs.  Recall that the intrinsic dignity of human beings may be a too-sweeping and vaguely founded concept, and likewise for the concept of free will.  And recall that many innocents have been killed by seemingly reformed but unreformed parolees: different person’s brains are wired differently.

On these matters I have to agree with Charles Lane, and have to disagree with Eugene Robinson, who is usually one of the most insightful analyzers of public issues, and with the Editors of the Washington Post.

 

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He got away with manslaughter

July 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Posted in Judicial Injustice | Leave a comment
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George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman's not guilty verdict was read in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013.

George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict was read in Seminole Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013.

The not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial for shooting Trayvon Martin was an injustice to Trayvon Martin, and to all of us.  Eugene Robinson’s analysis in the Washington Post is particularly perceptive on the topic, and makes important points that have not been made elsewhere.

Two previous posts (here and here) on thepoliblog also stress crucial features of the encounter.  Indeed, thepolibog was started out of frustration with the then-current state of the public discussion of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, because, at the time, essential aspects of the encounter were being ignored.

George Zimmerman got away with manslaughter.

But the jury’s verdict was ‘not guilty’.  Within our legal system, George Zimmerman cannot be retried for the same crime (no ‘double jeopardy’).

Those who believe him to be guilty can only treat him as they would treat any other guilty person who escaped conviction because of the imperfections of the judicial system.

He can be shunned.

Too Frail a Reid

March 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Dysfunctional Politics | 1 Comment
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Harry Reid (D-NV), United States Senator from Nevada and Majority Leader of the United States Senate, official portrait, 2009, turned upside down.

Harry Reid (D-NV), United States Senator from Nevada and Majority Leader of the United States Senate, official portrait, 2009, turned upside down.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Harry Reid is too frail a reed for the Senate to lean upon.

Harry Reid adheres to the principle, ‘don’t bring it to a vote unless you already know that it will pass’.

This led him to withdraw a ban on assault weapons from a recent bill on gun control.  Eugene Robinson’s insightfully described the issues, the calculations, and the trade-offs in a recent article in the Washington Post.

If losing the vote would have made it less likely for the legislation to be brought up again in the future, then Harry Reid’s principle would have been appropriate.
But the legislative histories of the battles for civil rights and for non-traditional pairings in marriage show the opposite.  Losing a vote now, and forcing your opponents to publically attach their names to their position, lays the groundwork for eventual victory.  But to win eventually, you have to bring your legislation up for a vote again and again, never being discouraged by the fluctuations in the political weather.  You never stop proposing your legislation.  You never give the impression that the pressure might fade away.

This is illustrated spectacularly by the imminent victory of efforts to reform the immigration laws – especially those that pertain to those who are here because they or their parents snuck in.  Advocates of immigration reform modeled their campaign on that for gay rights, as recounted in a recent article by Frank Sharry in the Washington Post.

Harry Reid is a good Senator.  But he is not a leader.  Seniority, by itself, is not a sufficient qualification for a leadership role.

Gutless and spineless, Harry Reid is anatomically deficient for the job.

Adult Moon Jelly (Aurelia labiata) photographed at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by Dante Alighieri (really?)

Adult Moon Jelly (Aurelia labiata) photographed at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Photo by Dante Alighieri (really?)

As urged in a previous post in this blog, at the very first opportunity, Senate Democrats should elect a new Majority Leader.

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