Thursday, July 27, 2017

Welcome to Dictatorship

The Post this morning announces: "Trump announces that he will ban transgender people from serving in the military". Naturally, we have something to say about that.

Actually, I hardly have to comment. It's a bad idea and interestingly enough just about everybody is lining up against it. There had been some debate going on about whether the military should pay for sex reassignment surgery -- which, by the way, The Post notes that The military spends five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops’ medical care -- and that is fine, it is a great thing to debate, let the conservatives and liberals fight it out. But nobody was proposing banning transgender people from the military. The President got up in the morning and decided he needed to distract us from his plan to fire his Attorney General and special counsel, distract us from the fact that the Russia investigation is getting very close to him and his finances and his business associates, distract us from noticing that he and his staff are a crime mob, and so he signed into Twitter and blasted out some absurdity. Didn't tell his press staff, didn't tell the Pentagon, didn't consult with anybody, he caught all of the federal government by surprise. Yes, he's the commander in chief, the most vaguely defined position in the world. He still has a chain of command, and Twitter is not part of it.

You know how we feel about the order itself. Transgender people are just people. There is no point in discriminating against them. I don't even need to make the case for that. Here, this is fascinating, look at the Republicans speak out: The Daily 202: Growing GOP backlash to transgender troop ban underscores Trump’s political miscalculation.

The important part here is: this is not how we do things. The United States has a Constitution. We have well thought-out branches of government, processes for deliberating new policies. Our representatives debate and discuss and vote on things. America does not have a king. We do not have a guy who gets up in the morning and makes capricious decisions and the millions of federal employees, including the military, just do whatever he says.

You will note that Joint Chiefs of Staff are ignoring the tweets. Marine General Joe Dunford sent out a notice: “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.” Because that is the way we do things.

I understand Trump not knowing how it works. He doesn't know anything about how government works, and doesn't want to know. In the meantime, this is not a "new policy." Government decisions are not announced on Twitter, by one guy. This is one idiot talking off the top of his head. He has his reasons for changing the subject and he found a hot-button issue to make everybody's head spin. Nobody wants to discriminate against trans people, it just isn't a viable position any more. Too much progress has been made and we're not going back. Even staunch Republicans have realized that people they know are trans, people they count on, including as many as 15,500 transgender people in the military already.

The guy is allowed to blow off steam on the Internet, no problem. His tweets are entertaining and at least we have some idea where he's coming from. But he is the President of the United States, and in that function he is bound by the Constitution and the rule of law. No matter how much they wish it in the red states, the US is not a dictatorship. Yet.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trump Youth

Tens of thousands of Boy Scouts booed former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as the "fake media," and cheered the repeal of the US healthcare system yesterday in a huge rally for Our Leader.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

RIP Jonathan Shurberg

We want to take a sad moment to report the passing of a friend and colleague, Jonathan Shurberg. The many beautiful elegies and obituaries being written about him describe his passion, and that is the best thing to remember about Jonathan. He loved people, he loved the cause, and he loved a good fight. He used to comment on this blog under a pseudonym and started his own blog which was quite influential, a sort of behind-the-curtains look at local politics and activism. Jonathan was a force of nature but had been very sick for quite a while with a combination of things that finally took his life.

A fund has been set up to take care of Jonathan's sons. You can donate HERE. Funeral arrangements are pending.

I am turning off comments on this post out of respect.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

It's Like a Third Grade Playground

Watch this "CNN blackmail" thing, it will be going on for a while. It is a sort of experiment to see if the government can destroy the free press -- if CNN falls they'll all go like dominoes.

Trump tweeted a stupid pro-wrestling video of him beating up someone with "CNN" on their head, and also tweeted that he was going to change the network's name to "FNN" -- for "Fraud News Network." It was just embarrassing, like an eight-year-old's fantasy, and with an eight-year-old's production value.

It turned out that a version of the video had been circulating on Reddit's /The_Donald subreddit, and the CNN found out who had made it. When they looked into it, it turned out this same person had done a bizarre image that showed a bunch of CNN personalities with Stars of David beside them, implying that ... I don't know the exact nature of the conspiracy theory, but somehow it is significant to him that a lot of Jewish people work at CNN. He had posted stuff about how “most blacks don't know who their fathers are,” and claimed to hate Muslims. His account is now deleted but it was full of the sort of standard alt-right troll stuff.

Apparently when CNN confronted the guy he apologized and took his stupid stuff off the Internet, and CNN thought that was good enough. He said he was just trying to get a reaction and didn't mean what he said, and he closed his Reddit account. CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski wrote:
CNN is not publishing "HanA**holeSolo's" name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.

CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.

Listen, if I'd been CNN I would have hung that guy up to dry. A nice, informative news story about the "producer" of the President's video, and a review of some of his other works and comments on Reddit about Muslims, Jews, blacks and other minorities. As far as I'm concerned, they made a mistake letting the guy off the hook. These slimeballs hide behind their anonymity, they can say anything as long as they don't have to be accountable for it, and then when they're found out they were "just joking," or they're "not really like that."

You probably know that the rightwing went crazy, accusing CNN of "blackmail," for giving the guy a break.

This came days after the story came out that Jared Kushner had threatened Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough that if they didn't apologize publicly to Trump for some things they'd said, The Enquirer would publish a story about an affair they were having. They didn't apologize, and sure enough the Trump family followed through: the tabloid headline was "Joe & Mika: TV Couple's Sleazy Cheating Scandal."

Now that is blackmail.

If CNN had published a story about the guy who made the video, interviewed his neighbors and schoolteachers, showed his hometown, nobody would have blinked an eye. But they gave him a break.

Donald Trump, Jr., took it to a new level with his tweet the following day: “So I guess they weren’t effective threatening the admin so they go after & bully a 15 y/o? Seems in line w their ‘standards’ #CNNBlackmail”.

Kaczynski responded on Twitter: "Need to point out again HanAssholeSolo is a middle aged man. People claiming he's 15 are wrong. Some are intentionally spreading this."

Now, remember, preceding this, CNN had published a story about Trump's connections that was apparently incorrect. When the story was found to be wrong, CNN issued a retraction and apology and three employees resigned. Quick, do you remember what the story was? It was about a Russian investment fund and Trump officials, a partner of Trump's named Anthony Scaramucci was mentioned. This forgettable and under-researched story was never shown on television but had appeared on their web site. Trump had jumped on this to say that CNN was publishing "fake news." This is apparently what led up to the stupid wrestling video.

CNN employees are getting death threats -- The Daily Beast said that "The parents and wife of Andrew Kaczynski, author of the GIF story and leader of CNN’s investigative K-File team, had received around 50 harassing phone calls each by Wednesday while other K-File team members had ugly messages—apparently from Trump supporters—left at their homes." CNN World President Jeff Zucker told a meeting of reporters that the physical safety of CNN staffers “is an incredibly serious issue.”

This also happens while Trump's Justice Department is considering a merger between Time Warner -- CNN's parent company -- and AT&T. As the New York TImes reported, "White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T." This isn't blackmail, this is just ordinary smalltime gangster stuff.

These are times when America needs to remember who we are. The Constitution offers several avenues for dealing with an unquaified person like this, and we have to be patient and let the law work itself out. We'll be okay, eventually.