Thursday, July 27, 2017

Of Values and Tradition

In his apology, the Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America Michael Surbaugh wrote: "The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies."

In other words, Trump was invited out of habit. "Tradition", if you really must.

He goes on, however: "Trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness and bravery are just a few of the admirable traits Scouts aspire to develop."

Trustworthiness? Trump is a habitual liar. The NYT list helpfully provides sources you can check yourself.

Loyalty? Trump is, at the moment, attacking the first senator to endorse him. His business dealings left a trail of betrayed partners. Alaska gave him a nearly 15-point win over Clinton, but because their senator voted against the Obamacare repeal, he is threatening retaliation on the state. Don't take my word for it, look those up.

Kindness? Even die-hard supporters would agree (gleefully) that Trump is an asshole. He insulted women, Muslims, Mexicans, a disabled reporter, a POW war hero, foreign leaders, you name it.

Bravery? Trump got five deferments from military draft. He played squash, football, and tennis, but somehow had a bone spur that exempted him while other young men of his age fought and died. Whatever you thought of the Vietnam War, he certainly didn't seem to do anything except to find ways to avoid it himself.

In other words, Trump exemplified none of even the short list of what Scouts aspire to, so inviting such a counter-example shows a remarkable lack of judgement, and hiding behind "tradition" is a feeble excuse. It's something of a tradition for champion sports teams to visit the White House, but many have declined because of Trump. You simply cannot paper over the words and deeds of this man.

When Tradition contradicts your Values, there's no avoiding a choice, and the Scouts certainly chose just as Republicans have. It's deeply disappointing to have no more doubt that so many Americans are such utter hypocrites.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

So It Begins

The key thing to understand about martial law is that human rights violations are not a sad accident. While in the best case they are not the main intent, they are nonetheless an accepted cost.

Like chemotherapy that is basically drinking poison in the hopes that it kills the cancer before it kills you, martial law hopes to harm the rebels/terrorists/criminals far more than it harms innocent people. When the tool involves the suspension of the mechanisms that are meant to favor the protection of the innocent even at the cost of freeing the guilty, it is guaranteed to harm or even kill innocent people. That's the whole point of the tool.

This is why martial law must be used as an absolute last resort, and as narrowly as possible. You wouldn't want a doctor who prescribes chemotherapy for a nasty cold, and you do not want a president who jokes about soldiers raping people when he declares martial law.

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.