Thank You, Alabama

You shouldn’t have to congratulate someone for not electing a fecal blossom like Roy Moore, but considering everything he represents, I can’t help but feeling obliged. This is for you, ’bama.

Trump Is The Mother Of All Angry, Hateful, Violent Rhetoric

A terrible tragedy occurred at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park last week. Apparently acting out of political rage, a deranged gunman shot and wounded a number of Republican politicians along with a few of their ever-present lobbyists. And it was shocking to learn that this gunman was not only a liberal, but a Bernie Sanders supporter (and quite possibly Walter Sobchak’s doppelganger).

Why shocking, given that an average of 650 Americans are killed every single week by guns? Because it’s rare to find a gun enthusiast who also embraces liberal politics, though I suppose I could count myself in that category as well. And even rarer to find someone engaging in mass murder in the name of liberal politics, as that’s typically been the realm of both religious and political conservatives throughout the 21st century.

I was also surprised by some of the reactions to the shooting, with a number of Republican politicians and conservative pundits seemingly perplexed by the political vitriol that’s foaming throughout our society – with a few shameless hypocrites actually trying to blame Democrats for all the anger, hatred, and violence. Especially when it has been the Republicans and their conservative attack dogs who have been the ones billowing an endless stream of bellicose rhetoric throughout the presidential campaign – and through all eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, for that matter.

For example, when faced with hecklers at his campaign rallies, Sanders quietly let them air their views, offering to listen to his opponents rather than attempt to brutally silence them. In contrast, when asked how he would handle such a situation, Donald Trump took great pride in pointing out that he would immediately and unequivocally resort to violence: “I don’t know if I will do the fighting myself or if other people will.”

And what’s even more shocking, and downright ridiculous, is Trump’s daughter’s claim that she was surprised by the anger and hatred towards her father in Washington. Add to that one of her brother’s claim that those who disparaged his father were “not even human.”

Did they not hear Trump when he encouraged fans of the Second Amendment (aka, gun enthusiasts) to take action against his political opponents? Did they not hear him when he encouraged his supporters to “knock the crap out” of anyone who disagreed with them? Did they not hear him when he told his supporters that he’d pay their legal fees if they committed violence against protesters? Did they not hear him when he said he could kill a man and not lose any votes? Have they ever even glanced at their father’s Twitter feed, for shit’s sake? Gimme a break!

Given Old Man Trump’s world-class mastery of lying and hypocrisy, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the ridiculous, duplicitous rubbish being spewed forth by his children. His daughter is trying to position her father as some sort of innocent, angelic victim at the very same time as his son is echoing his brutish method of trying to demean and insult anyone who dares to question or criticize his father.

Let’s face it, Ivanka and Eric, when it comes to mean, Daddy Donald is the reigning queen. On the campaign trail, he mocked Marco Rubio’s physical stature – repeatedly calling him “Little Marco” – and then had the audacity to claim that Rubio was “a very nasty guy.” With Carly Fiorina, he also attacked her physical appearance, saying: “‘Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Of Lindsey Graham, he said: “He’s one of the dumbest human beings I have ever seen.” He repeatedly called Ted Cruz a liar, which is pretty ironic considering Trump’s chronic disengagement from the truth. He said that Rand Paul “reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain” (again, quite ironic coming from Trump). He compared Ben Carson, who he appointed as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to a child molester. And for John Kasich, who I thought was the strongest candidate of the bunch, the best he could come up with was: “I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion.”

Classy, huh? Certainly not a mean guy, right? And all this after publicly heckling President Obama for nearly a decade.

So please drop the “daddy’s a victim” crap and your whining routine about the rough and tumble of political rhetoric in Washington, DC. Trump and his band of bullies have bulldozed the competition in that category. And that goes for the rest of you right-wing hypocrites as well. It’s as disingenuous as all these nonsensical claims from Republican politicians and conservative pundits who, after eight year of obstruction, insults, and threats during the Obama administration, suddenly want the other side to keep their mouths shuts and let them do whatever they want while they’re in the White House, with no questions – let alone opposition – allowed.

It’s right to condemn this senseless act of violence. But if you want to figure out where all the anger and hatred comes from, Trump, his children, and his political minions across the country need to look no further than the mirror.

Thought of the Day: Crazy Conservatives and Their Conspiracy Theories

If liberals were even half as crazy as conservatives, then they would be pushing theories like claiming that the media actually conspired to get Trump elected, simply to boost their ratings and readership over what they knew, and accurately so, would be an epic, endless shit show of emotional and intellectual immaturity from our nation’s highest office.

In a word, “Gold, Jerry. Gold!

PS – And speaking of the news media, do you know who the luckiest man in the world is right now? Bill Cosby. Yes, his reputation is destroyed, he may likely be convicted, and he hopefully will get exactly what he deserves. But he is so fortunate that Trump and his shit show are dominating the news cycle. Otherwise, the Cosby trial would be getting the 24/7 OJ treatment, with full news coverage dissecting every detail of the accusations and testimony.

The Imaginary War on Christmas

SatancupsJesus freaks are on the warpath – again. It’s that time of year, Christmas, when Christians celebrate the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ.

Of course, December 25th isn’t exactly when Christ was born (if, in fact, such an individual ever actually existed). When shaping the doctrine of modern Christianity, determining what Christians would believe and what would be abandoned (specifically, what stories would be adopted as the Bible, the alleged word of God, and what stories would be left out, no longer considered the word of God), Roman Emperor Constantine and his sanctimonious spin doctors decided to declare December 25th as the day Jesus was born.

They didn’t select this date at random. No, they stole it from pagans, the very people modern Christians claim have declared some sort of war on their Christmas holiday. Constantine and his word-of-God-declaring minions knew that their best bet for getting people to join and celebrate their new-found faith would be to co-opt an existing holiday they’re already celebrating, like the pagan one on December 25th, which celebrated the birth of their Sun God.

Yup, Son of God…Sun God…Constantine was a clever little charlatan. After all, not only did his co-opted holiday usurp and ultimately outlast the original pagan one, but his favorite stories are now considered the word of God.

Today’s activist Christians (those who disobey the teachings of Jesus to openly judge their fellow man instead of leaving that solemn responsibility to God, as their Bible teaches) claim that non-Christians have somehow declared war on their Christmas holiday. Apparently those of us who don’t follow their faith have been accused of not following their faith. In a nutshell, we are treating December 25th like any other day, and that simply will not do for them.

This, of course, happens every year – at least every year since the Republican party cut a deal with the devil and decided to defy the Constitution by mixing church and state in an effort to win more votes. Christian fundamentalists have become one of the most powerful special interest groups in Washington, forcing countless conservative politicians and their right wing propaganda outlets to declare that there is a phantom war on the holiday they stole from the pagans.

The latest target of their wraith is Starbucks, a company that dared to introduce maroon holiday cups for the holidays. The cups, according to the American Inquisition, lack the apparently essential Christian symbolism. Forgetting the fact that these cups are designed to celebrate the entire holiday season, including Judaism’s Chanukah and Islam’s Mawlid, it seems these Christians want Starbucks to reissue new cups that honor only their beliefs – perhaps by prominently displaying either a baby Jesus being born in a dung-filled manger or the cross that was used to slowly kill the adult Jesus. You know, to better celebrate the season.

It’s strange, though, because most of these activist Christians are also conservative voters, and as such they generally oppose government interference in the business sector. Yet they have their politicians out in front of the news media interfering with the way a company does business – specifically how they design their coffee cups. And, similarly, you never see these Christians or their lap-dog politicos going after retailers who have big sales on the holidays. They claim to oppose the commercialization of Christmas, but not if it’s going to diminish their investment portfolio.

What would Jesus do? Happy Holidays, even to the hypocrites!

Ben Carson: Liar-in-Chief?

But does Ben Carson?

But does Ben Carson?

Ben Carson has been campaigning as the cool, intelligent option for conservatives – two characteristics that seem to be in short supply among the rest of the Republican presidential hopefuls. But, like Donald Trump’s key selling point, Carson’s turns out to be nothing more than a carefully crafted deception.

In fact, a good chunck of Carson’s personal narrative appears to be a lie. He claims to have received a scholarship to West Point. Except that he completely made that up. He also claims to have saved some fearful white students from his riotous black schoolmates in Detroit, though he couldn’t name a single student in question and no one from the school remembers him doing anything even remotely like that. Similar fabrications have surfaced throughout his personal creation myth, from being threatened at gunpoint to trying to stab a childhood friend, all without anyone else recalling such events – not those who were allegedly involved or even those who knew him at the time, let alone any of the official records that such incidents would have surely generated.

It seems that the most important aspect of Carson’s character is his eagerness to make up stories that portray himself as a hero. And to put the discrepancies of his past into a cultural context, everyone remembers him as Urkel, but he claims that he was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Like most Republican candidates, when questioned about these discrepancies and inaccuracies, such as his denials of being involved with a company that sells nutritional supplements when there’s abundant evidence that he was, Carson simply lies about it and attacks the media for asking questions that expose him as a fraud. Lying doesn’t seem to be a problem for the likes of Carson and Trump…the problem is those pesky reporters who expose their lies.

It remains to be seen if voters will buy the traditional smoke and mirrors of the media bias argument. Carson was supposed to have the integrity lacking in most of the other Republican hopefuls, but his litany of lies might be too much for even his lemmings to swallow.

The rampant vanity of Ben Carson becomes apparent in his home, which is filled with portraits of himself, much like the megalomaniacal cartoon character Montgomery Burns.

The rampant vanity of Ben Carson becomes apparent in his home, which is filled with portraits of himself, much like the megalomaniacal cartoon character Montgomery Burns.

Lying is one thing, but stupidity is another. And Carson is no slouch on that front either.

For example, Carson, who hopes to become the next leader of the free world, appears to think the pyramids are hollow. Rather than learning from experts who have studied the culture, beliefs, agriculture, and building practices of ancient Egypt (and the actual pyramids themselves), as any reasonable non-expert might do, Carson has opted to concoct a fairytale explanation for who built the pyramids and why. He claims that they were built by someone in the Bible to store grain – not by the people of Egypt as burial crypts for the Pharoahs.

But you don’t have to be an Egyptologist or even an archeologist to realize just how stupid Carson’s claim is. The pyramids are mostly stone, with surprisingly little open space inside them. They are not, as Carson seems to believe, giant hollow structures. If you wanted to build something to store grain, the pyramids would surely be the worst possible option to choose. In fact, the claim is so ridiculous one has to question the man’s hold on reality.

Fortunately, the media are starting to ask the hard questions, and actually fact-checking Carson’s answers. Will his supporters, like Trump’s, ignore the answers and hide behind claims of media bias? Or will the truth set them free?

How can a brain surgeon be stupid? Hubris makes it easy to overlook the details, as evident in this inscription Carson had chiseled into the marble in his home. Poor spacing is one thing, but you'd think someone fond of quoting proverbs would at least know how to spell the word.

How can a brain surgeon be stupid? Hubris makes it easy to overlook the details, as evident in this inscription Carson had chiseled into the marble in his home. Poor spacing is one thing, but you’d think someone fond of quoting proverbs would at least know how to spell the word.

America Has 99 Problems…

…But A Mexican Ain’t One Of Them

If you listen to any of the many Republican presidential hopefuls, the biggest problem America is facing today is illegal immigration from Mexico. It’s become the hot topic of both candidates and the media alike. By comparison, there’s been relatively little discussion regarding the candidates’ views on other topics such as the economy, environment, and foreign policy, let alone on issues like education, healthcare, tax reform, energy independence, and gun control.

I’m here to tell you, folks: America has 99 problems, but a Mexican ain’t one of them.

So why has the Mexican border become the primary focus of the Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns so far? Probably because it’s easy to oversimplify, meaning the candidates don’t have to put much thought into it and develop an intelligent, comprehensive policy to address what is actually a very complex and nuanced issue. They can simply say, “I’ll stop it.” And if you are a real lunatic, you can even claim – as Donald Trump does – that the money to do so will magically appear.

Plus, it plays to the fears of the base supporters of the Republican agenda. It creates an enemy, and positions the candidate as the savior. Which is a lot easier to do than addressing a real threat like ISIS or climate change, because those enemies are going to be hard to defeat. And the thought required to overcome such challenges, or to even intelligently discuss the options, is well beyond the intellectual capabilities of most candidates.

A Basic Intelligence Tests for Higher Office?
Which leads me to ask: why don’t we have an intelligence test to at least select our top presidential candidates? Would anyone have a problem with that? Seriously?

Assuming a candidate can pass a unilaterally determined level of basic knowledge, they would then be eligible to run for our nation’s highest office. I’d go for a mix of basic intelligence along with a rudimentary understanding of the issues of a the day: economics, science, political science, geography, and geopolitics. Maybe it would be wise to throw in a little history as well, since we are supposed to learn from it.

I’m not asking for in-depth expertise on the issues of the day. That’s why you hire experts (unless you are George W. Bush, and then you put a political crony, like the commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, in charge of FEMA, leading to the worst domestic clusterfuck in modern American history). I’m just asking for candidates that have above average IQs.

It’s a hard job, and an increasingly complex world. We’ve tried our richest and slickest for some time now. I think it’s a time we gave our best and brightest a shot at running this country. Is that too much to ask?

The Real Donald Trump

ArtOfTheStealEveryone knows that when Donald Trump speaks, human intelligence winces. Well, everyone but the large swaths of the American public who claim that he has the courage to say what’s on their mind. And if Trump’s belligerent bombast and crass cajoling is really what much of America is thinking, then that is about the most depressing indication of the decline of this great nation as I have ever seen. We are doomed.

Even if you agree with the endless inanity of the Trump persona, even if you prefer sound bytes over substance, and even if you think that America should be the land of not only the bully pulpit but a bully president, the one thing you cannot deny is that, while many – though none more so than himself – consider the man to be the posterchild of American business, Donald Trump is actually a fairly poor businessman. And an outright lousy human being.

Yes, I know what you are thinking: Trump is a billionaire, so how can he be anything but a brilliant businessman? It’s quite simple, actually. Donald Trump is good at looking out for Donald Trump. He’s an expert at self-promotion. And, like Bernie Madoff, he knows how to fill his own pockets. But anyone who has ever run a successful business knows there’s a lot more to it than that.

A successful business person doesn’t just serve themselves. They build a sound company, offer valuable goods and services to their customers, provide secure jobs for their employees, and practice corporate responsibility in their community. Trump’s track record shows that he’s only really concerned with his own image and assets. His employees, investors, and creditors are merely tools for his own personal gain and glory. All Donald Trump really cares about is Donald Trump.

The Anatomy of a Schmuck
First of all, it’s important to note that Donald Trump inherited his father’s company. And, perhaps equally important, he inherited his father’s business connections. The Donald’s father was an immigrant, and a self-made man. He made the family fortune by building low-income housing. And he helped his son get into the family business.

This is important because Donald Trump likes to sell himself as a self-made man. He doesn’t want to offer assistance to the less fortunate because he claims that he never received any. But the truth is that he had a more than healthy head-start in the business world, thanks to daddy helping him along, clearing the way, setting him up with the right people, and supporting his initial investments.

Then there are the management failures. Over the past 25 years, Trump has miss-managed his businesses to the point that four of them had to declare bankruptcy. He has never personally had to declare bankruptcy, as he’s quick to point out, but his failed leadership has forced his companies to do so about once every six years. Impressive track record, huh?

Trump claims that these bankruptcies were shrewd business deals. How is amassing more than $5 billion in debt, the accumulation of the losses that led to these four bankruptcies, a shrewd business deal? Is it shrewd to run businesses into the ground like that, repeatedly? No, my friends, that is poor management.

And keep in mind, this doesn’t even count the companies he’s run into the ground without filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Trump Shuttle, Trump Mortgage, and Trump University are all businesses that he was either forced to close down or sell-off at huge losses. When you look past his bullshit and bluster, Trump has quite the dismal record.

Donny In Denial
Of course, Trump insists that none of this was his fault. In fact, in one case, he resigned from the board of his company four days before it defaulted on a $53 million bond payment. Afterwards, he claimed that the bankruptcy wasn’t his fault because he wasn’t in charge…he was no longer on the board. That’s leadership for ya!

This has become Trump’s trademark move. And perhaps what he feels is a shrewd business maneuver. The company tanks under his shoddy leadership, so he bails out just before the crash and leaves his investors, creditors, and employees to bear the brunt of his miss-management.

The reason Trump is a billionaire is because he rarely gambles with his own money anymore. He took a heavy hit on that first Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After that, he decided to invest less and less of his own money in his business deals, realizing that gambling on his own business acumen was far too risky…even for him.

And why are these failures so important? For starters, they prove that the man’s one claim to fame, his business acumen, is actually well below average. Quite poor, in fact. Secondly, they demonstrate how he treats the people foolish enough to put their faith in him (which is exactly what he’s asking the American public to do). In each of those four business failures, Trump left his investors, creditors, and employees holding the bag while he escaped relatively unscathed. Is that the type of person you want running this nation? Do you want a president with a track record of running things into the ground and then bailing, refusing to take any responsibility?

What I don’t understand is how political conservatives can embrace a candidate who so eagerly embraces government entitlement programs like Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Nor how religious conservatives can embrace a man who has filed for divorce almost as many times. Or how everyday people – the working class, and even the middle class – can think an unabashed one-percenter like Trump is in anyway like them, let alone interested in their well-being.

Two-Faced Trump
Not only is the man incompetent, but he’s also a heartless hypocrite. Trump has repeatedly said that big money donors have ruined this country. Yet he admittedly is one of those people. Do his supporters not see this?

Trump is the fat cat one percent that’s been sticking it to you for years. He is not a political outsider. He’s a political player, who has admittedly been buying influence for decades. And now this bloated little wolf is trying to squirm into a sheep costume? Are you really buying this crap?

Trump isn’t the solution to America’s problems, political or otherwise. He is the posterchild for everything that’s wrong with this country. He is greed and avarice, vanity and self-aggrandizing, power and abuse, sanctimony and selfishness. He is the establishment, minus the middleman…your traditional bought-and-paid for political candidate. He, like Ross Perot back in the 90s, is self-shilling. He’s his own puppet of the power elite, because he is the power elite.

Throughout his life, the man has shown no loyalty to any political party or principle…only to himself. It’s enough to make you wonder what his real motivations are. If elected, will he be plastering the Trump name on every building in DC? Will we become Trump America? That’s how he’s operated his on-again off-again business empire. The man is like a white Tyler Perry, so shamelessly desperate for attention and acknowledgement. Is that what this all about?

Finally, there’s the unabashed jingoism. It’s as if tea partiers can overlook everything else about him as long as he shouts loud and waves the flag. Are you really tired of big business moving manufacturing overseas? Well, that’s Donald Trump. He’s already sold out America for his own personal gain. And he’s been doing it for years. Why do you think he would be any different in the White House?

I wanted to conclude this piece by calling out Trump’s most ridiculous claim of all, which is that he is going to build a wall along the Mexican border and have the people of Mexico pay for it. Why not just tell the American voters that he’s going to reduce the work week to four days and double everyone’s pay…without raising taxes. If we’re going to make empty promises to the American public, why not go all the way?

But as I thought about it more, I started to realize what Trump might have in mind. Given the man’s track record in business, and overall behavior, a Trump presidency would almost certainly send America into a spiraling nightmare of economic failure and armed conflicts around the globe. If I were Mexico and Trump got elected, I would indeed build a wall along the border…to keep American refugees from fleeing into Mexico. In fact, I imagine Canada would build a wall as well, fearing Trump might decide he was going to unilaterally renegotiate the 1783 Treaty of Paris in an effort to claim the Canadian territories as part of the United States.

Lessons Learned from the Fox News Republican Presidential Debate

FoxDebateesI thought the Fox moderators did an admirable job of asking some tough, pointed questions of each candidate last Thursday. Yes, you heard me correctly. I think Fox News actually did something right. #BlondesHaveMoreFun

Of course, conservatives are apoplectic because the Fox moderators did in fact do a decent job of questioning the candidates. I think they are a little miffed that the normally conservative cocoon of Fox may have exposed their entire field of candidates for the hypocritical buffoons they really are. #Irony

FoxRepThat said, few of the candidates actually answered the questions asked of them. Instead, they spun it around to recite the same canned message points each time they were called upon. And rarely did any of the moderators press them to answer the actual questions. #Weak

However, I thought the seven candidates in the first debate, those who hadn’t polled high enough to make it to the prime-time debate, did a slightly better job of answering the questions asked of them. #CandorDoesNotPollWell

All of the Republican candidates said they want to reduce the size and scope of government. And in particular, they said they want to reduce the amount of money our government spends. #AntiGovernmentPoliticianIsNotAnOxymoron?

Despite this aforementioned claim, all of them also said that they want to increase the size and scope of government – and particularly increase government spending – to do things like fight more wars, build and protect our borders, and enforce expansive immigration laws. #SpendThenBlameTheDems

In other words, all of the Republican presidential candidates are talking out of their asses. #Hypocrisy

And while all of the candidates professed outrage over our nation’s current debt, they failed to acknowledge the indisputable fact that much of this debt was created the last time a Republican was in the White House. When George W. Bush became president, our nation had a budget surplus, thanks to the presidency of Democrat Bill Clinton (who, incidentally, had inherited a budget deficit from Republican George H.W. Bush). But thanks to eight years of a Republican in the White House, Democrat Barack Obama inherited yet another massive budget deficit. #NoAccountability #Hypocrisy&Denial #SpendThenBlameTheDemsAgain

I think the debate spelled the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. He came off even more dickish than usual, and that’s saying a lot. His spotty record as a businessman was exposed, including the fact that he has had to rely on government entitlement programs like bankruptcy as many as 4 times in past 25 years to make up for his management failures. And it didn’t help when the moderators reminded everyone that each time Donny shirked his debts he left a lot of loyal employees – hard-working Americans – unemployed as a result of his repeated incompetence as a leader. #DonaldRump #BankruptAmerica

FoxTrumpPlus, Trump made it clear that he’s more interested in Donald Trump than the Republican Party. In fact, he flat-out admitted that if the party chooses another candidate, he would continue to campaign as an independent. Which, of course, makes you wonder if he’d put the needs of the nation ahead of his own, should darkness sweep over this land and actually put him in the White House. #AllAboutMe

Though I think Trump’s popularity may serve as an important lesson for all candidates, but particularly Republicans. Republicans have falsely assumed that Trump’s appeal is based on their conservative ideals, when what people are really responding to is his unorthodox candidacy – the fact that he mocks the other politicians. Trump is walking proof that it’s really all about anger and rage against the system, rather than intellectual support for specific ideals or policies (especially since he has yet to articulate any of these). #WeHateBothParties

Ben Carson seemed to be largely ignored by the Fox moderators. Was this because he’s black, or because he’s smart? #SmartLivesMatter

And Lindsey Graham? All that guy cares about is starting a war. Look, we get it, you have invested heavily in the defense sector and want to make a killing – both in the market and on some battlefield. But try not to make it so obvious. Even Republicans have grown weary of wasting American lives. #WarMonger

For me, the brightest spot was Ohio Governor John Kasich. He’s what they call a compassionate conservative, and – despite his professions of faith – he sounded like a fairly reasonable, trustworthy guy. In other words, he seems to be the least bat-shit-crazy out of all the Republican candidates. I consider myself fairly liberal, but if the Republicans nominate that guy (which they surely won’t), I just might vote for him over Hillary Clinton. #VoteKasich

And speaking of Hillary Clinton, apparently she is far more qualified to be president than I realized. In fact, it seems she’s far more qualified to be president than any candidate on either side. You see, having listened to the Fox moderators and every single candidate in both debates, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton already is the President of the United States, a role she has apparently been sharing with Barack Obama for the past two terms. #FoxMisleads #PresidentHillary

Thought of the Day: Freedom Isn’t Free

Have you ever noticed that the people most likely to have a bumper sticker that reads “Freedom Isn’t Free” are also the ones who tend to complain the most about having to pay taxes?