Sunday, February 28, 2016

Understanding Trumpism

I will be visiting Israel next month and I expect to be asked about Donald Trump. This is what I will say.
This makes Donald Trump, by definition, a National Socialist.

I will be asked why is he popular. Many Americans want a strongman, a Putin or Stalin or Mussolini or Hitler. It doesn't matter to them what he believes or what he will do, only that he will be a forceful authoritarian.

But, I will be asked, "can he be elected?"

At this point, no. I believe most people when staring into the abyss of a totalitarian monster will turn away in horror.

German Reichstag (parliament) burning, Feb. 1933
But, a major terror attack in October, such as a bomb collapsing the Capitol Dome, and my nation will turn to a dictator who will make them feel safe again by deporting millions of families and killing millions more in a global war.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cat Fighting for President

It may have made good television in the same way that "Jersey Shore" made a celebrity of Snookie or bikini mud wrestling is always popular during Spring Break. But is this any way to choose a country's leader?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Quotes For Our Times: Political Division

The popularity of Donald Trump explained by Mark Twain.

H'aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town? ~ Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Why white evangelicals favor Trump over Ted Cruz explained by (probably not) Sinclair Lewis. Many white evangelicals are more dedicated to their racism than their God.

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. ~ incorrectly attributed to Lewis.

How Marco Rubio keeps claiming second place as a victory explained by Jerry Seinfeld and Dale Earnhardt.

if you win that silver [medal], it's like: "Congratulations! You... almost won." "Of all the losers, you came in first of that group." "You're the number one... loser." "No one lost... ahead of you." ~ Seinfeld

Second place is just the first loser. ~ NASCAR racer Earnhardt

Ted Cruz just explained by Sinclair Lewis.
He had, in fact, got everything from the church and Sunday School, except, perhaps, any longing whatever for decency and kindness and reason. ~ Elmer Gantry

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I Love the Smell of Panic in the Morning

Trolling through conservative sites this morning, I am picking up the fetid scent of hysteria in the air.

Rubio supporters are imagining a scenario where Rubio bribes Ted Cruz to drop out of the race by offering Cruz a seat on the Supreme Court. They think adding Jeb Bush's establishmentarian backers will catapult him into a strong second place which, by Rubio math, means victory.

Cruz supporters claim that a strong third place is really second place which is, of course, really first place. They cling to the belief that Super Tuesday is his firewall where Southern evangelicals will gift him with multiple victories even though evangelicals in very Southern South Carolina voted for Trump over Cruz and polling suggests Trump will win Super Tuesday.

Both sides are clinging to a fantasy that if everyone else would just drop out their man would win a head-to-head contest against Trump. In fact, most Cruz die-hards could never vote for RINO Rubio while several establishmentarians have said they would rather have Hillary Clinton than Ted Cruz. Republicans all over the internet are repeating the phrase "It's not over yet" as if it were an incantation to ward off Satan.

As for the victor, Trump is taking his bludgeon to Marco Rubio. Trump is shifting to Super Tuesday. He is appealing to the racist base of the Republican Party by noting that Rubio is a hyphenated American born of two non-citizen immigrants. Trump is going birther on Marco.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trump vs. the Pope

I am not surprised that extremist nativist Donald Trump has declared war on the Vatican. Hating Catholics is an integral part of the American nativist tradition.
The Know-Nothing Party, which folded into the new Republican Party in the 1850's, had a single agenda to stop the immigration of Catholics from Ireland and Germany.

In 1884, Republican presidential candidate James Blaine ("Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion") ran on a blatant anti-Catholic platform that Catholic European immigration was a plot by the Pope to conquer the United States.

The Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century included Catholics in their hate list of Blacks and Jews.

Rabid, I mean that in the sense of dangerously diseased, Trump supporter Ann Coulter continues this nativist tradition of hatred towards Catholic immigrants.

the "not Christian" Berlin Wall
Now we get to the latest kerfuffle, Pope Francis correctly describing someone obsessed with building wall and not bridges as "not Christian." Trump responded with the timeworn nativist invective that immigrants are criminals and drug dealers intent on taking over and destroying the United States. I expect Trump supporters to accuse Pope Francis of being the anti-Christ soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Antonin Scalia - An Epitaph of Sorts

Three quotes come to mind:
Death levels master and slave, the sceptre and the law, and makes the unlike like. ~ Walter Colman, 1633
Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it ~ MacBeth
This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent ~ Antonin Scalia (McQuiggin v. Perkins, 2013)
I know it is not considered proper, that one should be respectful of the departed, but since I never respected Scalia in life I can't bring myself to do it in death.

Antonin Scalia was an evil man. Nothing revealed his contempt for justice like the last quote above where he taunted a man facing death that his innocence is no defense in Scalia's concept of the law. His famed "textualist" judicial philosophy was less a scholarly approach than an excuse to promote Eighteenth century morality and racial prejudices.

Scalia was quite joyful in demonstrating his hatred of women, minorities, gays, and those wrongfully incarcerated. He was always ready with a sneering joke at their expense as he argued for their suppression. He was singularly responsible for politicizing the Supreme Court, demeaning its public face, and destroying any belief that the Court could be an impartial arbitrator of the law.

Scalia has now passed into a place where being a snide pompous ass carries no weight. The thought that Scalia will now be judged, begging for the mercy he cheerfully denied others all these decades, almost makes me want to believe in God.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Latinos For Trump?

In one of the more bizarre articles written this political season, Ruben Navarrette has opined that Chicanos in the Southwest will support Donald Trump. His thinking is that fully assimilated Chicanos are nationalists who hate Mexican immigrants as much as the next racist. He may be right because this has all happened before.

In 1921, Dr. Max Naumann (r) organized the Association of German National Jews (Verband nationaldeutscher Juden). They were fully assimilated right-wing German nationalists who just happened to be Jewish. Naumann thought Jewish immigrants to Germany from Eastern Europe were a human disease with their vulgar lower class ways and speaking Yiddish instead of German.

Naumann and his organization supported the Nazi rise to power, attracted by Hitler's strength and convinced he would expel the dirty immigrants while accepting loyal Germans with Jewish ancestry. They were sure that Hitler would "Make Germany Great Again."

In 1935, the Nazis outlawed his association and threw Naumann into a concentration camp. He was later released, a broken man, and died a few months before the start of World War Two. By the end of the war most of Naumann's 3,500 followers had died in the camps.

So, Ruben, good luck with that whole Trump "won't touch loyal Americans of Mexican heritage" thing but don't complain to me when you are being loaded into a cattle car bound for Calexico. I'll have my own life and liberty to worry about.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Marco

Have you ever felt sorry for a robot embarrassing itself? Marco Rubio did it again, again. He repeated a canned phrase like his hardware was glitching.

The saddest moment was at the 26 second mark where he had a brief flicker of self-awareness. He hesitated for a moment as if a small corner of his brain realized that something was wrong. But he lacked sufficient sentience to correct himself on the fly or ad-lib a humanizing joke. All he could do was stumble through like an automaton with faulty wiring.

Full points if you got the musical reference in the title.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Hillary's Wall Street Speeches

If Wall Street mega-bankers offered me a six-figure payday for talking at a podium for 45 minutes I'd take it. I'd tell them whatever they wanted to hear, I'd massage their egos and justify their greed.

For that kind of money I'd prostitute myself to their wishes knowing that with all that lucre I could buy enough liquor to drown my shattered dreams and debased values. If, at some later point, people wanted to know what I had said to those inflated egos to pump more hot air into them I'd clam up tighter than a, well, clam. That would be my little secret that I would take to my grave.

The big differences are that I'm an unimportant peon that nobody with an endless supply of cash would want to hear speak and...I am not running for President. Hillary had to know these questions would some day be asked.

What Did She Say?
I don't know except if she had said anything to upset the Goldman Sachs crowd, questioned their beliefs, or attacked their business model it would have been headline news at the Wall Street Journal. They were happy with her speeches. She made them feel good.

Friday, February 05, 2016

How to Cheat a Coin Flip

Several Democratic precincts in the Iowa caucus decided the winner between Clinton and Sanders with a coin flip. After the bizarre coin toss at the Packers-Cardinals football game a few weeks ago, I looked into the ways to cheat at this traditional technique to break ties. It's remarkably easy.

Willing It
In 2009, researchers in Vancouver had thirteen subjects toss coins 300 times each and told them to try to get as many "heads" results as possible. All of them did, more than half showing a significant prejudice towards "heads" with the best getting 68% of his flips turn up "heads." The scientists concluded that with little practice anyone can manipulate a coin flip to control for the result.

No Flip Flip
This is a magician's trick and what happened in that football game. It is possible to flip a coin so it does not rotate in the air but simply flutters, creating the illusion of it turning. Whatever was face up at the start will be the result.

Catching the Coin
You know the deal. I toss the coin, catch it, flip it to the top of my other hand, and reveal the result. When I catch the coin I feel one side, heads and tails feel differently, and then manipulate the coin so the side I want is face up for the reveal. This one requires practice and manual dexterity. You can also count the rotations in the air to know the position of the coin in your hand.

Iowa Results
Hillary won six of seven coin flips (the estimates vary widely), that has a 5.5% probability of happening. Unusual but not impossible. The most extreme charge, Hillery winning six of six flips, has a 1.6% probability that is still not impossible. And a coin flip conspiracy would require training hundreds of people in flip rigging techniques on the off chance those skills might be needed to win an extra few state delegate equivalents (SDE) that might translate into one extra convention delegate. And then all of the conspirators keeping it secret.

I love a good conspiracy theory but this one is simply too silly. It was a tie. Neither Hillary nor Bernie won.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Hummin' To Myself

I've been less than impressed with the Iowa Caucus. Ted Cruz has joined the ranks of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum as Iowa winners and he did worse than Huckabee in 2008. So, meaningless. As for the Democrats, a tie is a tie and says nothing.

So, I'm going to write about old music.

Around 1930, Tin Pan Alley veterans Sammy Fain and Herbie Magidson joined the little known Monty Siegel in writing a cute little ditty, Hummin' To Myself.
I've got the words, I've got the tune,
I've been rehearsin' under the moon!
But I got nobody to hear my song,
I'm hummin' to myself!
It was preformed by Joan Abbot in George White's (he was a poor man's Flo Ziegfeld) Broadway musical review in 1932. After that it has been recorded periodically over the years.

In 2004, Linda Ronstadt used it as the title number for her last solo album. It was her third visit to the old jazz tunes of the 1930's through 1950's. Her first two had been with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, this time she used small combos instead of a full orchestra. At 58, Linda's voice was beginning to show the effects of her Parkinson's Disease, a fact she freely admitted in a Vanity Fair article. Intended or not, the song hints at the end of her musical career.

Still, of all the versions I've heard Linda's is the most vibrant and most beautiful rendition. Enjoy.