Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Today's News

The Washington Post sends out a daily news summary in email. Today of course the lottery is a big story. I thought the list of headlines themselves represented a pretty good snapshot of our time (though the proposed federal reversal of gender identity equality is not mentioned today). This nightmare would not have seemed possible a couple of years ago.

I split them into groups just to make it more readable.
He won Powerball’s $314 million jackpot. It ruined his life.
Check your Mega Millions tickets. Here are the winning numbers.
A single Mega Millions jackpot winner is reported, in South Carolina

‘In the service of whim’: Officials scramble to make Trump’s false assertions real
White nationalist Richard Spencer accused of physically abusing wife throughout their marriage
A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

A quarter of college students could develop PTSD because of the 2016 election, a new study suggests
‘The President . . . says it’s ok to grab women by their private parts’: Man accused of groping woman on flight invokes Trump
‘I thought it was very nice’: VA official showcased portrait of KKK’s first grand wizard

Trump officials aggressively bypass appeals process to get issues before conservative Supreme Court
Trump says there’s ‘no proof’ that Middle Easterners have joined migrant caravan, although there ‘could very well be’
A witches’ brew of over-the-top Trump attacks

After Khashoggi’s killing, Turkey’s leader seeks to weaken Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince
Trump says Saudis engaged in ‘worst coverup ever’ as U.S. imposes penalties
Apple’s Tim Cook delivers searing critique of Silicon Valley

The world’s longest bridge-tunnel brings China even closer to Hong Kong. Not everyone is pleased.
You’ve won the Mega Millions jackpot! Time to hide.
Blue-collar men are riding America’s economic wave. Women? Not so much.

U.S. stocks rattled as two industrial giants warn of trouble
Lockheed Martin executives break silence over Khashoggi killing and their business with Saudi Arabia
iPhone XR: The best $250 you ever saved on a new phone

Money vs. morals: Khashoggi killing raises questions in Silicon Valley about Saudi investment
Amazon met with ICE officials over facial-recognition system that could identify immigrants
This CEO allegedly stole millions from low-income phone subscribers to pay for a Ferrari, a private jet and a Florida condo

Carolyn Hax: As my messy daughter’s landlord, should I evict her over cleanliness?
Many intermittent fasters skip breakfast. Here’s why that’s not a good idea.
Elle Mills is the celebrity every YouTuber wants to be. But her fame came at a price.
Megyn Kelly asked ‘what is racist?’ about blackface on Halloween. Plenty of people had answers.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Ignore High and Low

There seems to be some confusion lately about civility, and Michelle Obama’s 2016-ish idea that “When they go low, we go high.” Some prominent liberals — Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Michael Avenatti, among them — are having second thoughts about this lofty-sounding idea, which is, intrinsically, a losing strategy. When they hit us below the belt we are going to be nice back to them, uh huh. The problem arises when you think there are only two options, that is, we “go high” by turning the other cheek or we “go low,” like conservatives do.

Going low would mean lying, using dirty tricks such as voter suppression, manipulating the press, falsely associating your opponent with negative groups. Well, liberals could do that, we could go low. There is nothing inherently wrong with working the system to further a higher cause, except for one thing. When your cause is reason, fairness, and kindness, and the other side’s cause is to gain power for power’s sake, guess what — the power-seekers are gonna win. Winning power is conservatives' whole goal and they will be dedicated to it: winning at any cost. There is no belief system behind that, they don’t have a plan for what to do once they’ve won power, they just mean to win. Lying and manipulating people is inconsistent with liberals’ goals, and it wouldn’t work for us, anyway. So, as far as I can tell, “going low” is not a liberal option. A liberal who goes low is, technically, a "conservative." BTW, the concern with looking like hypocrites affects only one side of the national debate.

Another option is to fight back. But you can hardly do that. Here’s a term for you: Gish Gallop. Wikipedia explains:
The Gish gallop is a technique used during debating that focuses on overwhelming an opponent with as many arguments as possible, without regard for accuracy or strength of the arguments. The term was coined by Eugenie C. Scott and named after the creationist Duane T. Gish, who used the technique frequently against proponents of evolution.
You cannot “fight back” against the Gish Gallop. Trump is a troll supported by an army of trolls, and this is what they do: the Gish Gallop. They throw out accusations and ridiculous falsehoods too fast to keep up with. Trump’s lies have accelerated lately, almost every statement he utters contains a falsehood, and you simply cannot find the facts and refute every lie as fast as he can generate new ones. Never mind his supporters. The lies come so fast that you cannot in a lifetime disprove all of them. Fighting back is futile. There is also a tactical advantage for the person who makes a statement, relative to the person who counters it. So don't bother.

Oh, you could “go high.” WTF does that mean? You could talk in calm tones, stick with facts, make reasonable statements and follow through with them. Uh huh. You could bore people to death. The media will treat you like you don’t exist, people will ignore you. Picture Hillary in the debates, “going high” against Trump, talking about policies and decisions she would implement if elected, with him snorting and pawing behind her, stalking and distracting. In today’s attention economy, nobody cares about the high road. It should work, we should be able to discuss issues rationally, but in the current environment this is simply a losing tactic. You can take the high road all day if you want, to a room full of empty chairs.

Here’s a crazy idea — how about playing good, positive, assertive offense? What if liberals went out and talked about what they actually stand for. Don’t bother saying, “Tax fairness isn’t socialism,” or “My brother-in-law did not work for such-and-such borderline controversial group” or “I do not support crime,” or “I do not want an unregulated border…” or whatever. What do you stand for? A decent minimum wage? International relations? Climate issues? Gender equity? Making clear, un-watered-down progressive assertions will be controversial enough, the cameras will follow you. Wolf Blitzer's eyeballs may pop out, but they will pop out on national television and it will draw a great audience.

Say what you say, and ignore what the authoritarians say you say.

Liberal politicians, and liberal voters for that matter, should deliver their message, clearly and loudly. Act like the ridiculous accusations don’t exist. If somebody is so stupid that they think, say, that Eric Holder is literally going to kick a Republican, then they are a lost case anyway. Make a joke if you must address the issue, and move on to your own talking points. This isn’t “going high,” and it isn’t “going low.” The media will pay attention to you if you make bold and clear statements of your beliefs and your intentions as a candidate.

The truth is, most Americans hold progressive values; you might find thirty percent are haters, the rest are good, reasonable, caring people. A liberal candidate may advocate a single-payer healthcare system, and another may recommend another way to enact coverage for everyone — let that be our debate. Almost all Americans would want to have their health needs taken care of without cost, there is nothing controversial about that idea. The question should be, what approach will we take? What is the best way to do it? Who cares if pharmacy and insurance lobbyists are freaking out? Not our problem. Let them figure out what their role is in America’s better future — I am confident they will figure out how to rake a buck off the top.

Similarly, most Americans are not racists, or sexists, they may hold traditional values and stereotypes that bias their attitudes but they do not mean to block women from being successful and do not approve of rape and harassment, they do not believe that Hispanics and black people are inferior and less deserving that white people; they might not understand gay people but they don’t really have anything against them. Fairness and equality are not radical ideas, you don’t have to “go high” to say out loud that discrimination needs to be eliminated, and that there need to be programs that lend a hand up. Most people believe that. It is a winning argument. Just say it. Abortion, too. Most people know that sometimes a woman needs an abortion. If one American woman in three has had one, then that means everybody knows a woman who has had an abortion. It is your wife, your sister, your neighbor. It is legal, it is medical care, and it needs to be protected; everybody knows that. Don’t pussyfoot around, don’t let the nuts define the topic, just say what is obvious. It’s not “going low” and it’s not “going high” to say that decisions about a necessary medical procedure need to be made by a patient and her doctor, not some religious terrorists. It is saying what needs to be said.

It may seem to be a little rude sometimes to refuse to go along with the topic that the authoritarian right and their media pundits believe we should be discussing, well we can be nice about it, but firm. We don’t need to talk about giving guns to teachers — it’s a dumb idea, we don’t even have to argue why it’s dumb, the idea is not realistic and it was only suggested to throw reasonable debate out the window. People do not want to take little kids away from the parents and lock them up or put them up for adoption, there is nothing "bold" about opposing that. Nobody in America actually wants lower taxes for rich people — we all hate having to give our money to the government, but we do it because we all know we are going in together on the costs of services that only government can provide. So why are America’s oligarchs getting away with paying nothing? Liberals should not have to argue about whether they are socialists or not when they oppose tax cuts for the rich, it’s a stupid criticism and we should ignore it. Anybody who thinks it is “socialist” to expect the rich to pay taxes is a goner already anyway.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Minorities See It

If there was a movie, Brett Kavanaugh would be the bad guy. He is somebody you can't identify with, a puffy-faced drunk with an impotent whiny temper and no respect for women, he's moody and defensive and paranoid and not very smart. He would be the "spoiled rich guy" in the movie, the ex-boyfriend, and at some point the streetwise hero would punch him out and the audience would cheer. He is a creep.

But Republican Senators think he is a fine specimen, a regular guy. He's one of them. He likes beer a lot but never blacks out -- just ask him -- and so when he says he doesn't remember trying to rape this particular Holton Hosebag, it means it never happened. Not that it matters, because the Senators didn't believe her, or, really, care. They hired somebody to talk to her so they wouldn't have to, and at the end of the day it didn't matter. Kavanaugh is one of them, and now he will determine how the Constitution will be interpreted for all of us.

The Root is an online magazine with a black readership, and they make a great point, regarding a recent poll.
...what virtually no mainstream coverage of that poll mentioned, despite Quinnipiac highlighting it in their own summary of the data—is that there were steep racial divides in how people viewed Kavanaugh.

Those results would reveal that 83 percent of black and 66 percent of Latinx voters believe Blasey Ford, compared to a mere 40 percent of white voters. And that 80 percent of black and 69 percent of Latinx voters considered her honest compared to just 54 percent of white voters.

This gap persists even when you isolate out white women, a demographic some pundits believed would be outraged at how Blasey Ford was treated by Senate Republicans (her testimony—deemed “credible” by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—was essentially thrown out once Kavanaugh began rage-crying).

According to the Quinnipiac poll, nearly half (47 percent) of white women considered Kavanaugh to be honest. The numbers for black and Latinx voters? Just 7 percent and 34 percent, respectively. A plurality of white women did believe Blasey Ford (46 percent)—but it was nowhere near the majority, as was the case with black and Latinx voters. ‘People’ Aren’t Divided on Kavanaugh’s Confirmation. White People Are.
Black and Hispanic Americans believed the victim and saw the creep as a creep.

Trump rose to power on a message of white supremacy, and here you see how it works.