Wednesday, May 30, 2018

If You Can't Dazzle Them With Dexterity, Baffle Them With ...

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon ever since we elected an anthropomorphic STD to the White House. Every day there is a new revelation about the level of corruption in this administration, or gross incompetence, or possible collusion with Russia during the election. And every day, each of these revelations is followed by an army of right-wing commentators at all levels -- from national figures such as Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro, all the way down to some guy in New Jersey who insists on calling everybody he disagrees with a "hack" and a "libtard" -- scrambling to justify trump's actions, or explain why it's not what it seems, or to demand that Hillary be investigated for something.

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, "they doth protest too much, methinks." Or, to put it another way, "If you see smoke, there's a pretty good chance there's fire." I have seen, countless times, a right-winger be confronted with actual facts concerning something trump said or did, only to have it thrown back ... with the added flaming pile of dog poo that is usually stuffed in a "Hillary deleted emails" bag.

The odd thing is that there are relatively few examples of the right trying to elevate trump. Almost all of the effort I see is geared toward bringing progressives down. It's almost as if the subtext is "Yeah, we know our guy's a total piece of crap, but your people are no better." Contrast this with the previous administration, when a) progressives didn't feel an overwhelming urge to justify President Obama's actions, trusting that the results would speak for themselves, and 2) on the rare occasions when they did chime in, it was to either acknowledge something really great or (far more frequently) to call him to task for something with which the commenter did not agree.

What this tells me is that conservatives know they have no leg to stand on, and are trying to compensate for -- or divert attention away from -- this fact. Let's look at some metrics:

All of these have one feature in common: the Republican Party is acting in opposition to the will of the very people they claim to represent ... and when confronted with this, instead of possibly adjusting their stance, the tactic is to scream louder that "people don't get it, and here's why," followed by an endless stream of "alternative facts." These run the gamut from cherry-picked coverage (citing Fox News' friendly coverage of the president and his gang) to outright pure fabrication (a story from YourNewsWire that claimed that Obama was selling the children of illegal immigrants into slavery).

The unfortunate thing is that the right seems to have suspended all critical thinking, so the Fox News biased, but basically factual, coverage of an event carries exactly the same weight as the bogus story about child slavery ... and the GOP is encouraging this behavior. Why?

It's easy, really. Something that donald trump knew from the beginning, and that the rest of the GOP is learning at is knee, is that if you inundate the media with enough bullshit, eventually it gets to the point where the opposition just can't keep up. Debunking everything coming from the right becomes an exercise in futility, simply because of the volume of garbage. It's like trying to clean up all of New Orleans with a Swiffer and a bottle of Windex in the midst of Hurricane Katrina ... it just can't be done.

Fortunately, I have a solution.

Any time you see a media outlet spewing right-wing nonsense, simply announce publicly that you will no longer support companies that advertise there. You see Fox News reporting rubbish, followed by a Home Depot commercial? Go to Lowe's (or better yet, go to your local hardware store and support local business), and tag it online. Followed a link on Facebook to Breitbart (although why anyone in their right mind would do that in the first place is a mystery to me ... but I digress), and there's an ad for Chevrolet? Buy a Ford, and post online that you specifically avoided Chevrolet because their advertising supports BS.

Right about now there are going to be a bunch of righties getting their nineteenth century bloomers in a bunch over this, claiming that it's just another liberal conspiracy. There are a couple of problems with this accusation: 1) This approach can -- and should -- be used against sites that promote a left-wing agenda as devoid of facts as the right, and b) the words "liberal conspiracy" are on a par with words like "cheap sushi." Yes, such a thing may exist, but you can betcher ass it's going to end badly for everyone involved.

The point of all this is to use the free market (which Republicans love) against them, and to drive the purveyors of bullshit from the public square. Hold them to a higher standard. Demand accountability.

I gotta lie down.

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With A Nod To Douglas Adams ...

There has been a lot of hyperbole associated with trump ... the biggest, baddest, best, most amazing, least racist, least misogynist, most intelligent, most incredible negotiator, who will all by himself fix everything and make America great again.
At least, that's what he says. Others hold different opinions. There are those who think he is the ultimate savior, come to rescue us from ... what, exactly? (It's never really specified; it's usually a bunch of whining about how Obama ruined everything, but with a marked lack of specifics). And there are those who think he is the embodiment of our doom, the engine that will drive us all into extinction.

I wanted to take a closer look at this phenomenon, so I did a little studying of the Book of Revelations. I found some interesting passages I thought I'd share with y'all ...

Rev 9:13 - 14 - "13: The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14: It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.'"
This refers to the release of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. It also refers to the river Euphrates, which runs through present-day Iraq and Syria, also known as the Levant (the name of the region before the creation of the Iraqi and Syrian nation-states).

The current situation in Iraq and Syria matches this description. Hundreds are dying every day -- from disease, from missile attacks, chemical attacks, starvation -- all at the hands of their own leader, Bashar al-Assad. Unfortunately, the quirks of the geopolitics in that region put the United States, as the de facto "good guys," in a bit of a bind: Assad is killing his own people, which is a bad thing, but he is also aligned against ISIS, which is a good thing, but he is working with Russia, which is a bad thing, but it might help us get Russia to the table to negotiate a unified strategy for peace in the region, which is a good thing ...

Then along comes trump, barging in and pushing his weight about, making demands and offering solutions that really aren't, and generally making things worse (in all honesty, all of these moves are probably meant to be diversions away from whatever shady scheme he has cooked up to line his pockets). Now, it is highly unlikely that this sort of disruptive behavior is intentional; quite frankly, I don't think he has the intellect or enough interest to do these things by design.

Rev 9:15 - "And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind."This would imply that the Apocalypse was held at bay until the election of trump, which makes sense. Everything about the man is about sowing disruption and chaos. From upending the norms of campaigning, to using childish insults as a tool of diplomacy, his whole modus operandi is based around keeping everyone around him off-balance.

It is not at all a stretch to think that he is here because of his talent for chaos, not despite it.

Rev 13:3-5 - "3: One of the [seven] heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4: People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, 'Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?' 5: The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months."
So let's unpack this one. Granted, trump himself does not have multiple heads -- that we know of -- but in an allegorical sense it could be argued that the seven heads in question are representative of the inner cabal of trump: trump himself, Steve Bannon, KellyAnne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, and Steven Miller. The dragon in the text is representative of the Republican Party. The "fatal wound" could refer to the "Access Hollywood" tape, the various women who came forward accusing him of sexual assault, Stormy Daniels ... all of these things are things which would have sunk any other candidate -- or President -- but for some reason he emerges unscathed.

As far as "people worshiping the dragon," this could speak to the slavish devotion of trump's supporters to Republican orthodoxy, even as it changes on a daily -- hourly -- basis based on trump's tweets. In fact, since January 20, 2017, the sole identifying characteristic of GOP orthodoxy is "destroy everything Obama did."

Verse 5 refers to "proud words and blasphemies." Is there any better way to describe the semi-literate ramblings of donald trump? Everything he says is either a sheer braggadocio or an outright lie (claiming that he saw "thousands cheering" on the Jersey shore of the Hudson when the twin towers came down, for example).

It is here also that the text refers to the beast (trump) exercising its authority for forty two months. "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" reference aside, this could indicate that he will be removed from office -- through impeachment, resignation, or more violent means (and wouldn't that be a kick in the grapes to the NRA?) -- in either May of 2020 (42 months from Election Day) or July of 2020 (42 months from Inauguration Day). It definitely points to a single term.

Rev 13:7 - "It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation."
We only have to look at the current state of affairs. From trump bullying other world leaders and demanding they accommodate him to his childish rants against the press (except for Fox News, of course) one gets a picture of a man who thinks the entire world is here solely to bow to his will.

We also have to acknowledge the reality that, in some ways, he's not wrong. Being the sole remaining superpower (although Vladimir Putin is definitely making a run for the title), the United States does have a lot of global authority and influence and, as President, trump is the embodiment of that power. One could argue that, by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, he has sparked a regional conflict that will end up eradicating Israel.

Yes, Israel is a nuclear power. However, by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal (which was working), trump has essentially handed the bomb to Iran. This shift in global dynamics could lead to an armed conflict between Israel and Iran. It would not be confined to the two of them, however. The Palestinians would be siding with Iran, while Israel would have on its side the United States. Once the US gets involved, it becomes a completely different ballgame, and we could conceivably end up with a global conflict pitting the United States, India, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom against Iran, China, Pakistan, North Korea, and Mexico, with Russia trying to stay neutral (believe it or not) in the hopes of picking up the "superpower" mantle after the smoke clears.

Rev 13:11-14 - "11: Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12: It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13: And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14: Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived."
This refers to either Mike Pence or Rudy Giuliani ... probably Pence, given that it specifies the second beast acting as a proxy for the first, which is a constitutional duty of the Vice-President in certain circumstances.

Another reason that Pence fills the bill, is that he has been a near-fanatical supporter of trump from the beginning. During the Vice-Presidential debate against Tim Kaine, Pence was asked about trump's comments that Mexicans were rapists. Pence replied, "He never said that" despite there being a video recording of trump saying those exact words ... and, for some reason, people believed him.

Maybe it was his smooth, NPR-sounding voice.

Regardless, these verses speak to a "backup" demon. The line "It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon" could refer to Pence's mild-mannered, bland demeanor (the lamb), combined with his fiercely partisan GOP rhetoric (the dragon, previously identified as an allegory for the Republican Party). The reference to making "the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed" refers to Pence's (somewhat effective) efforts to boost trump's poll numbers (the worship) after the "Access Hollywood" tape was released (the fatal wound that turned out to be anything but ... see above).

So was trump's presidency predicted in the Book of Revelations? Hard to say. Partisans on both sides will give their obvious opinions (Democrats will instantly say "Of course he is!" and start making the sign of the cross, while trump supporters will shriek something about "libtards" then demand to know why Hillary isn't being investigated for something), but for those in the middle it is not quite so cut-and-dried.

Then again, in today's polarized atmosphere, "the middle" is minuscule -- that is, if it even exists any longer.

I gotta lie down.

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Come At Me, Bro

So the latest stunt from Ron DeSantis and the Floriduh GOP -- and that's all they are is stunts -- is SB 1316, a particularly odious and...