Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Republican Empathy

Fetus: Life is precious! Abortion is murder!

Day-old sick baby: Health care is not a human right, fuck off.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Not Aware

White House "not aware" of Manafort's ties to Putin surrogate.
Earlier, White House "not aware" that Flynn was a paid agent of Turkey, and "not aware" of his secret communication with the Russian ambassador.
First of all, given Trump's now obviously uncontrollable temper, why does he not seem angry at all that his staffers are hiding relevant and embarrassing information from him?
Secondly, a White House that cared about doing its job would be investigating who else has serious conflicts of interest.
But we see neither.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Deeds

It's a little funny and sad that liberals are asking Trump to repudiate the racists among his followers. In the countless months leading up to the election, if there is one thing that Trump has proven, it's that his words have neither meaning nor value. He repeatedly contradicts himself, and more importantly, does not care at all if he is doing so. His followers simply choose the parts they want to believe and ignore the rest*.

So stop responding to his tweets and statements, because they are all horse shit. Observe his actions and react to those instead.

* And that's the charitable explanation, because otherwise I'd have to assume that you support white supremacy, misogyny, religious persecution, and a host of other disgusting traits that he espouses. But don't think that your selective hearing will shield you from judgement, because in the end, you chose to be the kind of person who is okay with it as long as it didn't happen to you.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Marcos 2.0

A constant stream of crude remarks aside, President Duterte has made a number of curious moves after just a few months in power:

  • Moving from the US sphere of influence to the China/Russia sphere - The US historically cared little who they were supporting (e.g., Marcos,) as long as he or she was anti-communist, and still retains many unsavory allies around the world. China and Russia, however, coddle the likes of North Korea and Syria that literally enslave and bomb their own citizens. These guys really don't care what those governments do to their own people, so if you were planning to be a brutal dictator, you'd shift towards the East, too.
  • Co-opting the police - Extra-judicial killings can be investigated and prosecuted by a new president, so allowing police to commit these crimes also binds them to the current president. Well-paid and powerful on the one hand, risk of prosecution on the other, which would you choose?
  • Creating an atmosphere of uncertainty for foreign investors - Once the foreign businesses pull out, foreign governments will care a lot less what goes on in the Philippines. There'll be some noises made in the UN, but that's all. If it gets too serious, then you ask Russia or China for a veto.
  • Inflaming nationalism - Other than religion, the tried and true way of justifying harsh action against criticism. Who wants to stick up for drug dealers or American imperialists?

Now, I'm not saying this is the plan, just that it sure looks like one when taken altogether.

Almost immediately after taking power, Duterte insisted on burying Marcos in the heroes' cemetery. This isn't a grand political gesture to unify the country, as it might've been if offered by the Aquino family, so it must be a payment of political debt. The debt was either so enormous, or he cared so little about what it would symbolize to the victims of Marcos, that this couldn't be shelved.

So I think the puppet masters will emerge from the shadows soon. I hope the Filipino people are alert and brave enough to avert it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Four Years

Four more years of corruption, the Republic can take. Wouldn't be the first time.

Four years of Benghazi, we can survive, even if four Americans did not. We can even survive another 9/11.

Four years of even groping by a sitting president (or blowjobs for a first gentleman, if that's more of your concern) would not permanently hurt us.

Thirty or more years of a either more conservative or more liberal Supreme Court, America will endure. It's swung in the past, it'll swing again, but over time the Court will go where Americans eventually go.

Dissolving alliances and allowing the proliferation of nuclear weapons starts to get into very dangerous territory. Potential enemies perk up their ears in anticipation, and allies start looking out for themselves more. The horror of nuclear weapons has been counterbalanced thus far by the lack of real political benefits from their use, but we now have resourceful terrorists who do not seem to share that concern. But even that, we can survive.

What we cannot survive is a loss of trust in the election. Democracy only works if the result that you dislike (or even disdain) is temporary and that other citizens overruled you. If you think the elections are rigged, or that you're being outvoted by the "others," the only remaining course is violence: assassinations, coups, civil war.

In this election, one candidate has brought up "second amendment remedies," stirred hatred against Mexicans and Muslims, and is now suggesting that a loss would mean the election was rigged for no more apparent evidence than his bloated ego not allowing him to accept the results.

This is beyond dangerous, and the man must not only be defeated, he must be repudiated. American elections are not perfect, but they have remained remarkably fair. It's treasonous (metaphorically, anyway) to risk civil war for your own political ambitions, especially when you're running on a platform of supposed patriotism. America will be far better off when the losers accept the results without exception.

...

At the end of the final presidential debate, Trump refused to promise that he would accept the results of the election. This is a man who values his ego over his country. Please vote accordingly.

Monday, October 10, 2016

In-between Lines

I didn't really watch the presidential debates this year, mainly because it's probably bad for my blood pressure. I do read parts of the transcript, and a couple of things jumped out at me from the second debate.

First, a digression. If you're of a certain age, you might remember Bill Clinton's impeachment. He famously said, "it depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is," which makes the expression "splitting hairs" seem unexaggerated in contrast. Of course he was lying, if not in words then in spirit, but it's important for now to recognize how fine he was trying to be. He knew exactly where the line between the truth and falsehood lie, and skated up as close as he possibly could to it.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, said in the debate, "nobody has more respect for women than I do," literally just seconds after apologizing what he said had been embarrassingly bad judgement. (I'm paraphrasing, but yes, he used those words.) This is curious. How can he possibly think nobody has more respect for women? He clearly recognizes that only "stars" like him get to treat women like that, so wouldn't normal people have more respect for women? The other explanation, which is more plausible once you observe his speech pattern, is that he lied. He knows he doesn't respect women, and he knows that you know it, but he just doesn't care if the words that come out of his mouth are true or false.

I don't intend to judge whether Clinton or Trump is worse, just noting a difference.

On the subject of Russian involvement in Syria, the moderators cited Mike Pence as saying that:
provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.
to which Trump responded, "He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree."

Let that sink in for a moment. He couldn't stop talking about Syria and ISIS like it's the most important thing, but he hasn't spoken to his VP candidate about how to deal with Russian involvement? Anybody who pays the least bit of attention to Syria will know that the Russians are a major player, and no solution is possible without dealing with Russia. Yet the Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates have not spoken about Russians in Syria?!

We're talking about a basic policy position regarding Assad and Russia, not some minor policy detail. They haven't spoken about it, even though ISIS appears to be a top foreign policy concern, or at least an area he hopes to hit Hillary Clinton on. He openly praised Vladimir Putin as a "strong" leader, so it's clearly not because he lacks respect for the Russian. So how could they not have discussed how to deal with Assad and his Russian puppet master, leading to an embarrassingly public disagreement?

The mind boggles. There really hasn't been a presidential candidate this unprepared for office in living memory.

At this point, I think it'd be best if the third and final debate could be hosted by Nickelodeon, consisting entirely of slime and physical challenges.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget

We were roused from sleep by a call from my sister-in-law from half a world away. When the second plane hit the towers, it became undeniably clear that this was no accident. In the days following the attacks, "never forget" became a convenient mantra, but what is it that we're not meant to forget?

As the towers billowed smoke, police and firefighters ran toward the buildings. They may not have know for certain that it would cost them their lives, but they surely knew it could. The ran towards the towers and up the stairs to save other people. Americans should never forget this heroism.

A horrified world sent their condolences and pledges of support. Tiny Canadian towns opened their homes to passengers stranded by diverted airplanes. Queen Elizabeth ordered her guards to play the US national anthem in a break from ancient tradition. The world rallied to us and shared our shock and grief. Americans should never forget this kindness.

The US administration quickly fingered the mastermind behind the attacks, which led to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, but later turned into the disastrous invasion of Iraq as America remained reluctant to question a wartime president's flimsy justifications. This cost thousands of American lives, countless Iraqi lives, not to mention trillions of dollars spent off-budget. Americans should never forget this cynicism.

Today, about half the country stands behind a would-be tyrant whose solution to America's problems involve expelling all those who are not like him: Mexicans, Muslims. He advocates for war crimes and torture, and praises a foreign dictator widely suspected of assassinating political opponents and critics. He inflames barely-concealed racism behind the equally dangerous veil of nationalism. He turns a blind eye to the suffering of refugees. He threatens to isolate and homogenize America into something he approves, instead of the vibrant blend of cultures that brought it to greatness. Not only does this make him unfit to be president, it makes him despicable by just the normal standards of a human being.

Some may say I'm politicizing the tragedy. Sure. What are we meant to "never forget", if we ignore the bloody lessons whenever we talk about where the country should go? I think we should never forget that intolerance of others is what led to 9/11, and it hardly matters if the intolerance is dressed in Islamic verses or draped in stars and stripes. I think we should never forget that Americans voters have the privilege and responsibility to elect the leader of the free world. I think we should never forget that what brought the world together was our shared humanity, not the me-first selfishness that permeates his words and deeds.