Category: Politics

“Defending Statues”

Something to remember amid the resurgence of Klan and NeoNazi rallies — Robert E Lee, patron saint of the white Southern male “lost cause” literally said he did not support a monument to ‘Stonewall’ Jackson but valued unifying the country and healing the wounds of the war.
Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Thoms L. Rosser

Lexington VA 13 Dec – r 1866
My dear Genl
I have considered the questions in your letter of the 8th Inst: & am unable to advise as to the efficacy of the scheme proposed for the accomplishment of the object in view. That can be better determined by those more conversant with similar plans than I am.
As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated; my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; & of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour. All I think that can now be done, is to aid our noble & generous women in their efforts to protect the graves & mark the last resting places of those who have fallen, & wait for better times.
I am very glad to hear of your comfortable establishment in Baltimore & that Mrs. Rosser is with you. Please present to her my warm regards. It would give me great pleasure to meet you both anywhere, & especially at times of leisure in the mountains of Virginia; but such times look too distant for me to contemplate, much less for me now to make arrangements for –

It’s different when it’s your own …

U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, in a motion to compel an ISP to turn over 1.3 million IP addresses that visited a Resistance web site:

“That website was used in the development, planning, advertisement and organization of a violent riot that occurred in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2017”

Charlottesville is under a different district, thus different people involved. But anyone think the DoJ is pressuring a bunch of alt-right, Klan, and neo-Nazi sites to turn over their visitor IPs, registered user information, draft blog posts, and so on?

On many sides

Spartacus, Gaspar Yanga, Ali bin Muhammad – unruly insurrectionists the lot of them. And don’t get me started on those bigots in Syria who hate Bashar just because he wants to murder civilians en mass. Is decrying violence against violent oppressors the pinnacle of moral relativism? Can Trump find new levels of depravity? Tune in next week for the exciting continuation of … oh, bugger, real life?

I told my mom a few days ago that an author — not a no-name author who had never been published, I mean one of those people who could get a chicken to peck at a typewriter and sell the novel famous author types — who wrote the past year as fiction would have been laughed out of the publisher’s office a decade ago. Somehow, Trump seems determined to outdo all of his previous antics anew each week. Which I blame on his reality TV fame — you’ve got to do something more outlandish each week or you’ll lose viewers!

The whole making America great again slogan always struck me as uber white male. Because, really, “again” implies that there was some greatness in the past to which we are returning. Is that back when women couldn’t vote? When your skin color determined if you were allowed to sit on the bus? Or, hell, if you were a person or possession.  Couldn’t imagine a Republican candidate calling back to the Clinton years, so unless he meant the halcyon days of 1985, that slogan is treading well into “make America great for white dudes” territory. And if you’re talking about the mid 80’s … with out of control interest rates and fairly overt racism, you’re in “great for rich white dudes” territory. Then again, Making America Great for Neo-Nazi’s Again or Making America Great for the Klan Again doesn’t have a catchy abbreviation you can slap on hats and t-shirts to make a buck.

But this new low is down in the Marianas Trench and still digging. A bunch of bigots are holding a rally out in Virginia, and there are counter protesters. Bigot runs a car into the counter protesters. What’s the president say? “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. On many sides.”

Unless “many sides” means the Klan guys, the Neo Nazis, and the White Pride folks, the denotative sentiment doesn’t help the current situation. But words have connotative meanings as well — the emotions invoked by the words, the history associated with the words, the word in conjunction with other words being used, even the educational level and class associated with the words.

I won’t disagree with the violence on many sides — don’t know if it is true in this case, but my experience with counter-protests at Klan rallies in the 80’s is that, yeah, there’s violence on both sides.

Is it OK to hate racists and neo-nazis? I know there’s the whole judge not lest ye be judged idea, but civil is about the best I can do. But in conjunction with bigotry … to me, ‘hatred’ implies irrational hatred based on bigotry. Deciding a single facet of an individual’s personality can be so heinous that there is literally nothing else they could be/do/think which would make you say “yeah, he’s a racist pig … but he is XYZ too so it’s all OK” is your prerogative.

To the literal definition, that’s bigotry: intolerance toward an individual because their beliefs differ from yours. But by the strict definition, a lot of people are bigots when considering serial killers. Just because you think randomly murdering dozens of people is bad and wrong … the emotional definition of bigotry isn’t just hating someone because they have different beliefs but also that their beliefs are perfectly reasonable and don’t hurt anyone.

Messaging fail.

Corporate Tax Rate Bullshit

The most nonsensical bit about the trickle down sales pitch is that few trot out GE as an example of a company being helped by corporate tax cuts. These cuts are going to help all sorts of small businesses, farms, etc. The corporate tax rate is not a flat 35% unless your business makes over 18,333,333$! On the low end, the rate is 15% of taxable income <=50,000$. 50k may not seem like a lot of money for a business, but small/medium c-corp entities don’t pay taxes on their receipts. They pay tax on their *profits*.

This is the problem I had with not-a-Joe the not-a-plumber’s question to Obama years ago. Buy a plumbing company that runs two million dollars in receipts a year. You’ve got 20 people working for 50k a year and that’s a mil deducted right there. Petrol for your trucks, vehicle maintenance, office supplies, advertising. Bring an accountant on staff (their salary is deductible too) and you can get into the whole amortization/depreciation adventure when you expand your building or buy new vehicles. You’re not paying taxes on two million dollars @ 35 (or whatever) %. You’re paying whatever personal income rate on the money you pay yourself and the business is probably paying about 20k on 100k in profits. 20k is a lot of money too, but it’s 20% of the 100k in profits. And if you want to pay less in corporate taxes, you know an easy way to do that that also benefits your company? Hire another dude, invest in some energy efficient building enhancements … turn that profit into deductible expenses.

National Emergency Status

Some special commission wants opiate abuse to be declared a national emergency — if the money that is meant to be allocated for emergency response, for recovery from tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes gets directed to the “war” on drugs, I hope someone can find standing to sue. Some actual disaster that is underfunded because money went elsewhere harms people. Want more money to combat opiate addiction, then FUND IT.

The Legislative Process

I am not sure what to make of the legislative process when there are Senators willing to vote for a bill if they get assurance from the House that said bill will not pass over there. That they would hold a vote on a significant piece of legislation without providing adequate time for Senators to read it. And I know exactly how much the opinion of constituents matter given the amount of time between the release of the bill and the vote.

Alternative Fact: Public Records Are Leaks

Alternative Fact:

Real Fact: Much like the “leak” regarding an employee’s termination where the leaker was Scaramucci himself … the “leaked” financial document was a public record completed by … Scaramucci. At some point, is this dude going to have to fire himself?

When taking a position in an administration that goes on and on about witch hunts, undertaking one’s own witch hunt is, in and of itself, a rife with risk. But in a witch hunt for leakers, maybe one should undertake extensive research to verify that they themselves are not the leaker in question.

Government by Threat

Trump is reportedly threatening Alaska, hoping to garner enough votes to pass something health-care related. No matter how bad the bill might be, no matter how it may impact *his* voters, no matter how much money it will end up costing everyone (great, I save 20$ in taxes but I’m spending 20k on insurance each year instead of 6k).

A president looking to influence legislative decisions is certainly not new, but I question the legality and ethics of this technique. What is the point of “checks and balances” if the party that implements the policy and uses the budget uses their responsibilities to force legislative direction? Or threatens to abdicate their responsibilities to the same end?

I’m reminded of every bad mafia don show ever made — that’s a really nice building you got there, be a shame if something happened to it. The president has become this caricature! That’s some really lucrative mining we’re planning to approve for your area. Be a shame if someone lost this approval form.

Goofiness aside, this (if true) is the most frightening report to come out of the nascent Trump presidency. Well, maybe not the most frightening. That dubious honor, thus far, goes to Michael Lewis’s nuclear threat piece in Vanity Fair. I have to categorize the potential for nuclear destruction due to administrative ineptitude and malfeasance as worse than the breakdown of the entire system of American governance. Despite coming in a close second to nuclear annihilation … why in the world is there not an investigation into Trump’s strong-arming of Alaska for votes?

Why risk management is so hard

I finally found someone who perfectly summarizes my awful experiences in risk management. Michael Lewis, in an article in Vanity Fair magazine, says “People are really good at responding to the crisis that just happened, as they naturally imagine that whatever just happened is most likely to happen again. They are less good at imagining a crisis before it happens—and taking action to prevent it”.

My experience goes farther — undertaking the academic exercise of imagining different variants of previous crises and hypothesizing unique scenarios … you get told you’re going down a rabbit hole. Wasting time. Talking about such an unlikely set of circumstances.

That’s the point! If it were a likely set of circumstances, then it would have happened already. Or there’d be mitigation in place already to prevent it. Shoving a bunch of explosives up your bum and greeting some head of state was absolutely crazy … until someone tried to do it.

Drafts of the non-beer variety

Back when gays were banned from the military, I figured there was either an implied belief that we would never need to draft soldiers again or a big ‘*’ following the ban. Because unless they’re requiring video evidence of your disqualification, I’d happily claim to want to do chicks to avoid becoming cannon fodder. Hell, even if they demand evidence, I would do another chick to avoid being drafted. Became a moot point when the ban was lifted. And then came Trump.

Now trans individuals are banned from the military, can you instantly avoid conscription by claiming to be trans-gendered? The technical definitions I’ve seen are based on internal experiences and feelings – there’s no requirement to undertake reassignment surgery or ingest hormones. Which also brings into question the flimsy “their medical expenses are exorbitant” argument.

Beyond the actual maybe-a-policy-change that has been made, are tweets now considered official statements of government policy?! Or Trump’s got absolutely no intention of actually implementing the policy and just wanted a bunch of bigoted supporters to go back to loving him.