Current Affairs – US

The Delta Airlines NRA mess – the real game

The Lt. Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle, caused a row 2 days ago by invoking a process to suspend debate on a bill in the State legislature that would have provided a tax concession on aviation fuel for Delta Airlines.
His stated reason was that Delta is discriminating against the NRA.
The stated reason is bullshit.
Delta was granting NRA members certain discounts on its services. These discounts were not available to customers who were not NRA members. The NRA members were therefore enjoying a privilege.
Removal of the discount was therefore removal of a privilege, not discrimination.
It is not clear to me whether the threat to withhold tax concessions to Delta violates any state or federal laws. At best, it is clearly an attempt to punish a corporation for offending political sensibilities. As such, the precedent is a dangerous one.
However, the backdrop to this action is easier to understand. The current Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, is term-limited. There are multiple GOP candidates to replace him. A primary election is scheduled to determine who the Republican candidate will be, and Casey Cagle is one of the primary candidates.
The action to try and derail the tax concession for Delta is therefore almost certainly an attempt to appeal to GOP primary voters. Just to validate that hypothesis, another GOP primary candidate for the Governorship, Michael Williams, claimed on-air today in a CNN interview that Delta grants discounts to Planned Parenthood supporters. (when pressed on the source for the claim, he cited Google as a source, and then ducked and weaved. Well OK then.).
What is going on here, folks, is an attempt by GOP primary candidates to out-crazy each other to appeal to their base. This is because in the current GOP world, winning the primary is all that matters. They expect to win the general election because…the GOP always wins.
The right answer is for them to emerge from the primary process looking like censorious twits, and lose the general. However, that is up to the electorate in the state of Georgia.
In the meantime, Georgia can kiss goodbye to any idea that Amazon might move there, and other states are only too willing to talk to Delta Airlines about moving its HQ and hub from Atlanta. Corporations always have options, and they can probably get a better tax deal from another state, which might leave Georgia with a 30+k job hole if that is the outcome.

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Holy flaming peckerballs Batman…

If there really is a deity, may that deity come down from wherever and spare us.
I want us to be spared from the avalanche of intellectually risible, fear-addled ratchet-jawing by fringe media frontmen (and notice, this is all men in my posting) who seem to think that the recently released portrait of former President Obama contains all sorts of pointers and symbols to…
Well…why don’t we take a quick look at what the looney-tunes ratchet-jaws are claiming, shall we?

1. Sean Hannity
A two-fer here, since Hannity, more even than Alex Jones, appears to have come unglued about the portrait. First he wrote this Tweet, but, realizing that maybe the mask had slipped, deleted it:


Then he went on this rant about supposedly hidden detail in the portrait that of course, only he, the great savant, can see:

2. Alex Jones

Whisky Tango Foxtrot. cubed.
This is an effing portrait we are looking at here.
Here we have two commentators who appear to have completely jumped the shark into…who knows where?
I remain consistently amused at the level to which authoritarian dim-bulbs and their wind-up rabble-rousers consistently invoke sexual metaphor and fear trigger-phrases when talking about Other Folks Not Like Them. How many times have we read phrases along the lines of “I don’t want homosexuality rammed down my throat”? A real psychologist would have a field-day analyzing how fearful exclusionary authoritarians use THAT phrase.
And here we have more of the same. “secret sperm”? Perlease.
This isn’t a dog-whistle. It isn’t rooted in reality, or anywhere within 100 fucking light-years of reality. This is the exemplification of fear-addled, racism-soaked fantasy. The umpteenth recycling of the old fear trope that Those People Who Don’t Even Look Like Us are actually a band of marauding, primitive savages, who are in the grip of the caranlistic desire to gang-rape Your Family Members.
If this was part of a fantasy novel plot, literary agents would be laughing at it. You should too. Ridicule is the only appropriate and logical response to these conspiracy-mongering wombats.

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Arthur Jones and what he tells us about our country

By now most of you will have heard that Arthur Jones has managed to get himself on the Republican primary election ballot for the 3rd Congressional District in Illinois.
This is not Arthur Jones’ first attempt to win the GOP nomination for the seat. He put himself on the primary ballot in 2016, and was the only GOP candidate. However, the GOP went to court and succeeded in having him removed from the ballot because of petition signature issues. This left the Democratic nominee to win in an uncontested election. This time around, Jones appears to have ticked all of the boxes for the legality of his primary election submission.
There seems little doubt that Jones is a Nazi. The evidence is fairly compelling. He is a former leader of the American Nazi party, and is on record as claiming up to the present day that the Holocaust is a “racket” i.e. mostly a fabrication. He has a track record of blatantly anti-Jewish remarks.
A lot of people are hot under the collar about Jones’ appearance on any ballot.
We should not be surprised that this has happened.
Really.
Arthur Jones has not suddenly leaped into prominence in the GOP because the GOP has become a party of Nazis. He simply used a feature of the current political system; namely that anybody who can obtain the necessary number of supporter signatures and pay a filing fee can run for office. This is a good feature. We do not want a system where only the wealthy, or those with the right connections, can run for political office.
Personally, I also want Nazis to be public about their odious ideology and ideas. I want to have those ideas demolished in public, so that the entire Nazi movement can once again be consigned to the trash bin of human history.
Is Jones’ entry on the GOP primary ballot the result of a shift in the American political climate towards the normalization of racist and fascist ideology? That is a tempting hypothesis in the current climate, but I doubt its validity.
The real underlying issue is that 90% of Congressional races are not competitive. They are not competitive because over the last 60 years, the two major political parties have, by subtle electoral gerrymandering, slowly reduced the number of truly competitive House seats to a fraction of the total. This has resulted in a an incumbent class of representatives dominating congressional politics.
Most seats are now stacked heavily in favor of one of the parties, to the extent that a dead tree stump could probably get elected from the party that dominates the electoral map of the district.
Because the general election itself is usually a foregone conclusion, this has two consequences, both of them negative:
1. Good prospective candidates from a minority party have no interest in running in the primary election, except possibly as a one-off to show that they have the “right stuff” to later run for election elsewhere. Why invest time and donor money on a lost cause?
2. The primary elections, which are usually dominated by the hardcore support base of the two major parties, decide who will be the elected representative.
Neither of these are good outcomes. For an election system based on universal suffrage to be credible, it must be demonstrably fair in its structure and execution, and enough of the electorate has to participate for the winning candidates to be able to plausibly claim that they were elected by enough of the electorate to give their position and actions credibility. An election determined 6 months in advance by a few hundred primary voters does not meet either of the above criteria.

The GOP clearly understands how toxic Arthur Jones is to their party and their brand image. They want nothing to do with him.
However, one can make the case that it is partly the GOP’s fault that Jones is the GOP nominee. They could have run an “establishment” candidate, but chose to not do so (one suspects that no mainstream GOP person was interested in wasting the time and effort to run), handing him the opening to run for the GOP primary election. So, whether they want him or not, they are stuck with him sailing under the GOP banner for the next few months.
The good news is that Arthur Jones is highly unlikely to win the election in the 3rd Congressional District. This is a solidly Democratic electoral zone. In the 2014 and 2012 elections, the incumbent Democratic congressman won the district by an average of 65% to 35%. So it is long odds-on that Jones will be defeated by a large margin. The GOP will therefore not try the Roy Moore approach of vacillating over supporting him, distancing themselves from him in public while secretly funneling money and support to him in private. The GOP has no chance of winning the seat.
Since he is already disowned by the GOP, Jones will be unconstrained, and we can expect to read more incendiary comments and allegations from him as he seeks to gain attention. To use the old military expression, Jones will therefore cause collateral damage to the GOP by his very appearance on the ballot. The Democratic Party will seek to use his utterances as proof that the GOP supports racists and nazis. That may help them nationally, but, as is usual in the adversarial two party system, it completely ignores the underlying causes of why crackpots like Arthur Jones can even gain any traction.

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Quick Thoughts – 10th January 2018

1. The Fusion GPS testimony transcript
Since the Republican majority on the Senate Intelligence committee refused to release this transcript, the Democratic minority went ahead and released it.
Here is Hoarse Whisperer’s analysis of it (HINT – it’s not good for the GOP or the current administration).

2. What happens when the children take over

3. Trolls on Facebook
Once upon a time there were no trolls on my Facebook friends list.
Then in the 2016 election cycle, some previously sensible people seemed to morph into juvenile trolls. Most of them (it seemed) were supporting Donald Trump, but not all of them. One or two also turned out to be Bernie Sanders supporters.
The worst offenders were given the heave-ho from my Friends list early last year as part of my annual rationalization. Two others were booted in 2017 for acting like horse’s asses on my timeline. More recently, some went on Hide.
However, some people are still behaving like trolls on my Facebook timeline. For reasons that I cannot fathom, they think it is OK to talk like a mocking strutting playground juvenile.
These people are operating on borrowed time. I intend to lower the boom om them real soon as part of my annual rationalization.

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder – an analysis of Donald Trump

Twitter user The Hoarse Whisperer wrote a tweetstorm this Summer about Donald Trump’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I extracted it from Twitter and tidied it up because it is too old to be rolled up into a thread by online software.
Here we go…

People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) seem erratic but they’re actually ultra-predictable. They are simple machines.
There are only two driving impulses:
1) Avoid shame
and
2) Collect adoration and esteem.
That’s it. There is no other priority or concern
Trump will do anything humanly possible to try to avoid being publicly shamed/diminished in others’ eyes. It’s an impulse he can’t control.
Take Russia/Putin. If Trump were to acknowledge Russia interfered, he’d be admitting he was less worthy of the presidency.
Donald Trump would literally sell out his entire family and the country as well to avoid acknowledging that he didn’t deserve the office.
He is pathologically incapable of doing anything which admits to the world his worst internal fear: he’s unworthy of being seen as special
Now, he has no choice on how he has to play this. He HAS to actually make Putin look worthy of partnership. He has to make the shameful thing, look unshameful somehow. He has to make shameful hacking and potential collusion somehow seem smart or purposeful or dignified.
It cannot be done. It makes no logical sense. It will fall apart and as it does, Trump’s behavior and lying will get more outlandish.
But make no mistake, Donald Trump is clinically incapable of doing anything other than what he is doing: trying to avoid the shame of being discovered to be illegitimate and unworthy of public respect. He has an uncontrollable compulsion to avoid that awful truth.
No matter how absurd each new action or lie sounds, he’ll throw even his own family under the bus until there is no way out, and then he will first explode on everyone and everything around him when he realizes there is no escape.
It will be the crazy tweetstorm to end all tweetstorms… and then he’ll either
a) implode in a miserable ball of self-loathing and flee
…or
(b) concoct some attempt at a face-saving exit. Claiming he’s too good for the job or that he’s protesting the “deep state”…
It’ll be transparent bullshit that none but the most loco Trumpers believe but he will take it to the grave swearing it’s true.
The key thing to remember in watching Trump is that there are literally only two things going on in his mind at all times.
1) Fight to the death to avoid being seen as shameful or underserving of public adoration…
2/ Doing whatever it takes to make the people right in front of him think he’s powerful, important and special.
That’s it.
Donald Trump is an empty shell. You need do no more than ask “what shame is he trying to avoid?” and you’ll understand his every move.

Trump has no grasp of how other people feel or think. He just tries to manipulate the people right in front of him. Since he surrounds himself with awful people, pleasing the crowd means saying and doing horrible things. He is then shocked by the coverage.
Then, when called out, he can’t handle the criticism and behaves really, really badly. Doubles down, says ridiculous things, etc. It’s all impulse
Narcissists, like sociopaths, have no empathy. Understanding what other people think or feel is literally beyond their abilities. Other people are either:
1) sources of admiration (narcissistic supply); or
2) sources of criticism (narcissistic injury).
Narcissists live for more narcissistic supply to bolster their grandiose (albeit fragile) self-image, and live in fear of narcissistic injuries that would puncture it. They are often charming and charismatic (seeking that supply). They can be highly functional, channeling the need for supply into hard work. But when things go wrong, it is NEVER their fault. Other people are to blame AND have betrayed them.

Psychologists, by default, see few severe NPDs because they refuse to seek treatment. Living with one is a whole different kettle of fish.

P.S. my money is on Trump spiraling down into denials then trying to pull a face-saving exit when it is far too late to escape consequences

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The Roy Moore campaign – pay attention people

Folks, a brief rant as my inner “Pay attention people” personality surfaces.
People are expressing amazement that the supporters of Roy Moore are capable of uttering nonsensical twaddle as they seek to promote him as a candidate.
This is logical, but it is irrelevant.
Roy Moore’s campaign is not a conventional political campaign. It is the campaign of a Christian Dominionist cult leader. As such, the campaign is immune to factual attack. By definition, most of Roy Moore’s supporters are not listening to or motivated by facts or reason.
The aim of sending out “advisors” and the likes of Steve Bannon to stump for Roy Moore, and to show up on major TV networks and utter jaw-dropping nonsense, is not to sway undecided voters. Those people are probably regarded by the Roy Moore supporters as useful idiots and/or heathen vermin, to be exterminated when Judgment Day comes.
The entire aim of the Roy Moore campaign right now is to get every single one of their supporters to vote on the day. They simply intend to out-turnout Doug Jones.
The election can be won by Doug Jones, but only if every one of his supporters shows up and casts a vote.
If Roy Moore wins, the commentary on Alabama will be withering and highly deserved. But his supporters will not care. They are building Jerusalem in Alabama, and they don’t give a rats ass about the modern USA or the Constitution or any of that other Secular Evil.

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The tales of sexual harassment – 2 comments

You will have noticed an epidemic of exposure and punishment for sexual harassment unfolding in the USA, with the current focus being on Big Fish in the media, showbusiness and political spheres.
I have two comments:

1. Sooner or later, whether anybody realizes it at the time or bothers to do the investigation to prove it, a person or persons will be punished and driven out of their profession based on accusations that are false. There is a rather concerning willingness on many peoples’ behalf to abandon any semblance of due process in a stampeding eagerness (as they see it) to give male harassers a deserved comeuppance. This is going to lead to some bad mistakes sooner or later.
2. The focus on show business, media and politics obscures the reality that a lot of sexual harassment has occurred in corporate America. It is easier to hide bad behavior when a business basically operates out of the public eye. The situation may be worse in family-owned and run businesses, which are often private corporations, with little to no external stockholdings to provide any checks and balances.

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America, America – STOP

Stop. Stop Stop Failing US History.
For several years in the early 1950s, according your oral and written history, you were seduced by a demagogue US Senator named Joseph P. McCarthy, who had exaggerated his wartime record, gotten himself elected to the Senate, and then, in 1950, decided to start a campaign against Communists.
Every group in the USA except for one, that should have been acting as a check and balance on abuse of power, then proceeded to say and do next to nothing as McCarthy ran a full-bore persecution campaign using the House Un-American Activities Committee as his own personal kangaroo court forum,. The media swallowed his progressively more ludicrous statements like credulous nodding dogs. (Nothing much has changed). The Senate and the House of Representatives stood idly by. The President did not say anything of consequence (Eisenhower apparently disliked McCarthy and his methods, but, like many politicians of the era, preferred to say nothing of substance publicly).
McCarthy’s abusive power trip was finally ended in 1954 when he was called out by the US Army. Suddenly, nobody wanted to be associated with him, and he died a few years later, having seemingly drunk himself to death. But the damage that he caused to lives, careers and industries took a long time to heal.
Folks, we have McCarthyism unfolding right now, in the form of the backlash (long overdue, I will say) against endemic and pervasive inappropriate and abusive behavior by men in positions of power over women in workplace situations.
So far the main areas where the backlash is pervasive are the entertainment and media sectors, and politics. Bit let nobody be fooled. The level of bad treatment of women in corporations and government was been every bit as bad as those industry sectors. They wre merely shielded by a lower level of consistent public scrutiny.
This backlash has been a long time coming.
However, as those of us who have been on the plant know only too well, humans have a tendency to lurch from one non-optimal extreme to its polar opposite.
Along the way, we are watching the appearance of McCarthyism in front of our eyes. Unsourced or anonymous accusations are being made public against people. This is not good. We have a legal system based on due process for a damn good set of reasons. Mostly, this stems from the idea that maybe, just maybe, you don’t charge ahead and punish people without some verifiable, corroborated and substantive evidence.
What I am seeing unfolding right now is a rush to tar, feather and run men out of town on a rail. The level of vengeful enthusiasm is both salutary and frightening.
Now, I am a white male, so some people reading this will probably already be mouthing “who the **** does this misogynist enabler think he is, mansplaining to us about how to tolerate sexual misbehavior? ***k that”.
Sorry, you will be missing the point.
The point here is a simple one. If you want to run a society based on attempting to compensate overnight for decades of abuse of power by, in revenge, engaging in abuse of the power of publicity and the power of sanction, you are heading down a dangerous path. Vengeful behavior is what turns disagreement into demonization, persecution, skirmishes, fights and wars. This will not end well.
We are starting to head down a dangerous path, with media of all kinds feasting on any anonymous allegation or claim with cries of “See! I knew he was an asshole all along!”. This is not measured, sensible application of logic and careful analysis. This is mob-like behavior, the bayings of groups who seek revenge, not judgment.
Would you like to be put on trial by opinion poll?
Because that is what is happening now in the United States. We currently have all manner of people advising Senator Al Franken to resign because a majority of people asked about the allegations against him think he should resign. Ditto Roy Moore in Alabama.
That is not how politics works, folks Franken was elected by the electors of Minnesota. If those electors decide he is no longer fit to represent them, they can un-elect him. The electors in Alabama can also decide if they want to elect Roy Moore or not.
In the meantime, if the Senate wants to investigate Al Franken’s conduct they can do so. So can law enforcement. However, those latter activities will be based on due process, including the evaluation of evidence. That will require real people to provide evidence, and be prepared to testify in public. This may be difficult for them. However, that’s due process for you. It is not quick or simple.
Right now, the world of social media is full of people who are signing on to any number of cockamamie ideas and theories about just about everything. Many of these people seem to be quite happy to believe anything bad about people or groups based on little to no evidence. They are, individually and collectively, behaving like intellectually comatose credulous dimwits.
I have one question for those people: would they be OK if I showed up at their house and arrested them on suspicion of a felony based on evidence from anonymous sources that I am not going to reveal, and by the way, they are going to stay in jail because the internet social media discussion forums have already decided that they are guilty?
Yeah, I can see them not liking that process all of a sudden.
This is where we are and where we are headed. The destination is undefined, but it will not be a good place to be if we do not wise up and stop behaving like vengeful dimwits.

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