6.23.2020

Left Right and Married on To Biden Or Not To Biden

Check out the new podcast my husband and I started:

Left, Right and Married.

Our latest topic is To Biden Or Not To Biden.

Enjoy!


5.18.2020

Trump Derangement Syndrome Is The Other Trump Cult

Hating on Trump Has Itself Become a Cult


When Donald Trump supporters were compared to cult members at TruthDig, one phenomenon was ignored:  some of the anti-Trump movement is a cult as well,  described by Scott Adams as Trump Derangement Syndrome.

The election of Trump to the Presidency was a 9-11 level shock to the Democratic Party.  So now, similar to post 9-11, many are convinced they need to be in blind lockstep to fight evil, in this case, Trump.

Trump is horrible, no doubt.  His language uses vagaries to fuel right-wing rage and violence, as in “there are good people on both sides of the debate.”  With that simple statement, he refers simultaneously to supporters of Confederate statues and fascists who kill peaceful protesters.   It is no accident.  The phrasing allows Trump to telegraph one messaging while publicly embracing another.

Trump prioritizes grandstanding over policy, as when he claimed to have a cure for Coronavirus in bleach and colored lights.  He lies when confronted with evidence of his inaction or failings, which is daily.  A credible claim can be made that he is uniquely horrible, as a President and a man.

None of that means there isn’t an Anti-Trump Cult.

Trump Himself Controls the Anti-Trump Cult

It is a truism that if you do everything someone tells you to do, they control you; and, if you always do the opposite of what someone tells you, they still control you. That describes the anti-Trump cult to a tee.

The anti-Trump cult has Trump as its leader.   Its members are always reacting to him.  What Trump says, what Trump plans, his jokes and his hair are all the center of their daily dialog.  They wring their hands and tell us the end is near.

Trump knows he rules their reactions, too.  You can see him laughing to himself as he throws out crazy and watches the Anti-Trump Cult jump around in outrage.  It is funny, in a way, how people who see themselves as the elite react and become apoplectic.

Trump is not the only person laughing.  So are his supporters.  Trump supporters are the people who were sold the neo-liberal lie that the technocrats and over-educated know best while regular Americans' security and money were stolen through outsourcing and cheap imports.  They finally had enough and elected a clown.

“No Think Zone"

Newsflash:  if you keep reacting to a crazy person, you become crazy yourself.  The Anti-Trump Cult has descended to that level.

To be sure, Trump has done some horrible stuff.  But criticism of brutal policies differs from mindless and baseless claims of treason and blackmail.  But the more they say “Russia! Russia! Russia!” the more they believe only they are the saviors, and anyone who disagrees with them are enemies.

The anti-Trumpers have no other designated leader, they always look to Trump for focus.  The Democratic Party keeps trying to put someone in the chair of Anti-Trump, and have settled on Joe “Rapey Fingers” Biden.  Hillary Clinton really tried hard to be their leader, but no one would have it.  Robert Mueller was a prospect for this role for a while, but he seems to have been lost to Alzheimers.

Instead, they look to their favorite source of rage: Trump. He never disappoints.

The anti-Trump cult hates everything Donald Trump does reflexively.  He reaches out to North Korea and makes more progress in 18 months than the foreign policy establishment has in 40 years.  "Boo hiss!  Terrible!  We want to stand in place even longer!"  cry the anti-Trump cult.

And if someone strays from the orthodoxy of lament, they are attacked as being a “Russian asset” or some other equally silly accusation.  They follow President Trump in their hatred and their bile.  They watch his every move and react, react, react.

It has made them crazy.

Crazy Anti-Trumpers’ Denial

For two years, "Russiagate" was the self-soothing mantra for a neo-liberal crowd who couldn’t imagine they lost fairly.  When their “hero” Robert Mueller proved to be a blithering old man who seemed an escapee from a nursing home, the debacle was ignored.

The Anti-Trump Cult cuddles up to their soulless hypocrisy as if that makes them more hero than idiot.  It doesn’t matter that Obama also put children in cages, Obama’s Department of Justice prosecuted anti-torture whistleblowers, and Obama’s ICE actually went to court to avoid basic regulations for children in ICE detention.  Did I mention the children were in cages?  The Kill List, the failed drone war, and assassination of U.S. citizens without a trial.  Yes, that included a six-year-old girl.

Instead, the Anti-Trump Cult attacks Trump with all their repressed guilt.  They are afraid that people not in their elite club could do the same things as their guy did.  And like Jamal Khashoggi, they would not be immune from strangulation and dismemberment in a government facility.

In the end, Trump is truly awful and leading his followers like Jim Jones led his: to their deaths.  Lockstep harping and reacting just drives you crazy and makes you look ridiculous in the process.  The mental framing for Trump Derangement Syndrome is just as much a cult as some of Donald Trump’s followers.  It has a charismatic leader, permits no dissent or debate, and casts people out who violate the rules.  They are what they are criticizing.

Imagine This

Imagine that Donald Trump was right.  Could you see Rachel Maddow telling the world this great news?  Or rather, could you see her broadcasting false information just because Donald Trump told just one, helpful truth?  OK, forget Rachel Maddow.  How about Hillary Clinton?  

The true test of the Anti-Trump Cult is that a person could not admit that Trump was right about something.  Anything.  But they can’t.  Everything he does is awful, and as a result everything they say is justified.  What they can’t see is Trump is playing them.  Oh, and that impending defeat in November, 2020.

So if you want to talk political cults, they exist on both sides.


4.03.2020

Medicare4All or I Dont Vote

"Please.  My husband is in the hospital."
There was a pause on the phone.
"OK.  We can delay the hearing for two weeks.”

My conversation with the opposing lawyer let me breathe a little.  We had a foreclosure hearing coming up and litigated against each other frequently.  He is a good guy.

My husband Justin had just been diagnosed with Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) and had a dangerously low number of platelets in his blood.  A normal person has 100,000.  My husband had 3,000.  He was in and out of the hospital for a month.

There were signs something was wrong for a while: large bruises on his stomach, some bleeding in his gums, but I told myself I would focus on it after my two upcoming trials. When his friend threatened to tell me how bad it really was, Justin told me.  I made him go to the emergency room immediately.  He almost died a few times.   He has Medicare, though, and getting full treatment for him was available to us, and so were the many follow-up doctor appointments.    His care is a part-time job.  I can’t do another one also.

Let me tell you something:  the Democratic Party doesn’t care if you live or die.  If they did, Medicare4All would be part of its platform.  Over 45,000 people die each year because they can’t afford healthcare.  People like Justin, but who don’t have Medicare.  With the almost-certain nomination of a sputtering old man as the Democratic candidate for President, one who promises to veto Medicare4All, the centrists in the Democratic Party have announced their priorities.  Those priorities don’t include most of America.

Since my husband’s diagnosis, I've shut my law firm and instead do document review - basically temp work for lawyers.  Schedule flexibility lets me get Justin to doctor's appointments.  Justin is on disability and has Medicare.  If he didn’t, we would be going into old age with nothing but medical debt.

I don’t have Medicare, just medical insurance with a $7,000 deductible.  My story is that I have been putting off basic preventative tests and hoping I don’t have cancer.  I can’t get issues checked out before a serious problem.  I hope I am really healthy and not just deluding myself.

When Joe Biden says he won’t sign a Medicare4All bill into law, he is taking away life from people like my husband and making widows of people like me.  When shouts of "Let poor people die!" are heard at the Republican National Convention, they think it will never be them to suffer.  The struggles with my husband’s health are bad enough without medical debt.  Creating this health atmosphere makes us weaker as a nation and in our souls.

Bernie Sanders leads us in the fight for Medicare4All - but not as much as we need him to.  He thinks Joe Biden is his friend.  Joe isn't your friend.  He isn't a friend to any American.  I was an intern at the Senate Judiciary Committee when Joe Biden chaired it.  He is mean and petty behind the plastic surgery and whitened smile.

So now we must lead ourselves.  You want my vote? It's Medicare4All, bitch.  You need me more than I need anything you offer.

3.09.2020

Shut Up and Vote

Seriously.  Stop twittering.  Stop yelling. Stop canceling.  Just shut up and vote.

All this other stuff just makes you feel like you've done something.  You haven't.  A tweet doesnt change anyone's mind any more than throwing potatoes does.  

Stop throwing virtual potatoes, you peasants.  Do something useful.  Register to vote.  Register other people to vote.

Then vote.

2.27.2020

Shame by ContraPoints Thoughts

ContraPoints is a YouTuber philosopher who, as a transgender person, has introduced me to gender issues.  I didn’t even know some of these things existed.

Her latest video on Shame really describes her sexual identity journey from transhetero to transhomo.    Shame about her sexual identity really skewed her romantic choices.  Wow.  So powerful.

Even though I am just plain heterosexual, her description of her relationship with her last boyfriend and her best friend mirrors mine with my husband.

Justin and I had a very intense friendship.  We just couldn’t stay away from one another.  We dated a few months in 1992, and after that we were either inseparable or fighting.  People thought we were divorced.

Justin was always a factor in every romantic relationship after I met him.  Every boyfriend knew about him because I talked about, and worried about, him all the time.  Some of them hated him.  Others dismissed him.  But he was always there.

He set up my dating profile on Match.com for me, and when I went to meet a guy he went with me, lurking in the background to make sure I was safe.

I started to realize I was in love with him while being dragged into one of his rescue missions to clean out one of his friend’s apartments of clutter to prevent eviction.  Oh God, you would not believe the level of clutter.  It took eight hours to clear a path from the back porch door to the dining room.  We actually smelled old air.  You wouldn’t think there was such a thing, but there is.  We saw detergent boxes from the 1980s.  We found a color tv and a full, formal place setting under the trash on the dining table.

It was emotionally draining work.  I realized that I would rather be doing this with Justin, than spending time with my actual boyfriend, who was sweet to me.  Then I realized this was always the case.  I would always rather be with Justin than doing anything with somebody else.  He always made me feel better.  He really hurt my feelings sometimes, and when he did, it devastated me.  I also hurt him a lot out of selfishness and thoughtlessness.  But somehow we were tied to each other as ostensible friends for ten years.

When I got sick, he came over to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and keep me company. You know, I really want to be with a guy that takes care of me when I am sick, I told a friend.  I need to marry someone like Justin, I said.  When I moved because I sold my condo but the deal to buy another one fell through and I had nowhere to live, Justin helped me pack my things and gave me a place to stay for a while.

For some reason, when it was time to go to my sister’s wedding, I just had to go with Justin, not my boyfriend.  Justin didn’t really understand it, but I insisted.  It was there that I realized Justin was the love of my life.  We got engaged a few weeks later, and married later on that year.  It was the best thing I have ever done in my life.

2.10.2020

Lying Dog Face Pony Soldier

So said Democratic candidate for President Joe Biden this week.  It is a slip up that disqualifies him for public office.  Any public office.  Would you want a mayor or school board member so out of control they can't even insult people right? Or a register of wills?

Calling a young woman names on the campaign trail is always ill-advised, just as a general rule.  Making up your own insults can show cleverness.  But insults that come out of nowhere and make no sense show something else: cognitive problems.  

The entire media should be screaming about Joe Biden's weird comment to a polite and rational question.  But they are not.  This and many other reasons explain why mainstream media outlets do not have the credibility of yore.


2.09.2020

Agenda-Free TV

Facebook is down.
Massive power outage in parts of the country.
Virginia gun rights rally.
Hurricane Dorian.
Live breaking news without an agenda.

Steve Lookner has gained a cult following in the livestream world. His YouTube channel, Agenda-Free TV, covers breaking news happening in the United States and outside of it.  Increasingly, it is news being missed by larger media outlets that focus on Russiagate or impeachment obsessively. 

When Facebook and WhatsApp went down for half of the United States, Agenda-Free TV was the only outlet covering it.  At the beginning of the China Virus outbreak, Steve saw its importance and began daily coverage - a week before other news outlets.

His value to the information marketplace is critical thinking and a wide net.  When Steve Lookner covers a topic in the news, he gathers information from vetted sources and frequently rejects information if the claims can’t be substantiated elsewhere.  When viewers bring new information to his attention, he puts it through analysis as to whether it fits with other information, whether it is from a verified source, whether the source has first-hand knowledge or an expertise in the area or if it just doesn’t make sense.

An excellent example is how he covers the China Virus.  He cites official Chinese statistics while noting the comments from epidemiologists in other countries who suspect the number of sick are much higher.  What he doesn't do is create a sensational headline with panic-inducing infection rates.  It would be so easy to do.  Very reputable scientists and doctors have given estimates that the China Virus infected ten times the official Chinese count.  But Steve won't do it.  It gives him credibility.

As a host, Steve Lookner is like a homeroom teacher for restless seniors about to graduate. He's always setting boundaries and reminding us why we are there when we veer too far off course.  Yet he is likable.  So much so,  he gets viewers who just want to see what he is up to.  That's when he gets complaints about the news he chooses to cover.  "What is Steve upset about now?" asks my husband only half sarcastically.  

And they do complain. Exasperated, Steve tells everyone they are not obliged to watch.  They can just turn it off if they don't like what he is covering, he reminds them.  It speaks to his appeal to his audience that they would watch him despite his topic.

He has strict rules for his audience:  no trolling, no conspiracies, manners at all times.  If you violate one of these rules too much, you are put on time-out.  Yes, that’s right.  Which is how this senior citizen was put on a time-out for hurricane jokes.  If you continue to act up, you can be banned for the day or permanently.  He doesn’t put up with racism or fake news or conspiracies.

Interestingly, Agenda-Free TV has not covered the impeachment trial.  Frankly, that is a relief.  Every news outlet in the country is pointed in the same direction at the same time.  After two years of Russiagate ending with a doddering Special Prosecutor's testimony of nothing, basically; a fresh angle on current events is needed and refreshing.




1.22.2020

The Tulsi Strategy

Got to hand it to Tulsi Gabbard, she is scary and smart.

The punditry is yammering on about how her lawsuit against Hilary Clinton can't be won when that is not the point.

Tulsi's goal is the document discovery that will come along with the trial.

When you file a lawsuit, you get a chance to ask for copies of any records, bank statements, writings, phone calls, emails or anything else to make your case.  The same applies if you are being sued.

By filing a lawsuit, Tulsi Gabbard is giving herself the power to review Hilary Clinton's life.  That is her endgame.  She probably already has a target in mind.  And I'll bet she will never agree to settle.

Hilary Clinton is playing a 90s game.  She really thought that Tulsi Gabbard would just outrage and then simmer down after a while.  Nope. Lee Atwater did this kind of garbage in the 80s.  It is not a new play.

What Hilary Clinton doesn't understand is the Information Age.  She is no longer doing battle with one person while supported by her media friends.  Everyone on Earth can weigh into the discussion now.  Her message cannot be predictably chewed into cud by the predictable writers of the major media outlets.  She has to answer to more people now.  There is no more control of the medium, by anyone.  Clinton's reporter pals can't steer the message anymore.  She doesn't see the new reality.

So now Tulsi Gabbard is going to tear Clinton apart slowly over the next few years.  Drip by drip, Clinton's relevance will disappear.  And she can't even see it.

1.10.2020

The Frontrunner Curse

Have you noticed that whoever the press puts forward as the presumptive winner of a Presidential primary, loses?

At the start of his Presidential run, Jeb Bush was the anointed candidate.  At least by the press.  And they were wrong.  The same with Hilary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential election.  In this Presidential primary, the media has picked one candidate after another.  And each one failed.  

It almost looks like the coveted place to be when running for President is in the background.  Popular enough to get on the debate stage, smart or lucky enough not to say anything stupid, without a Klan robe in your attic, and you have a much better chance of becoming your party's nominee than any early hoopla will give you.

The media focus on Presidential elections is about ratings.  So rather than choose a multi-faceted, nuanced style of reporting, the mass media covers the leadership and vision competition for our nation like it was a football game.  Up the field! Sacked! Good! Bad!  No critical thinking required.

It would be one thing if this approach gave good results, but it does not.  It does not predict anything well, and certainly does not inform voters.  It leads to an attachment to premature predictions and warped reporting to not look stupid when they turn out to be wrong. 

The football approach to political analysis hurts the Presidential candidates the talking heads are trying to prop up.  As in, they don't win. There could be many reasons for this: declaring a frontrunner too early may just invite tougher vetting in general.  So just announcing a Presidential candidate may invite a scrutiny no one could survive.  Maybe voters just get mad that someone is telling what to do.  It also could get all the other candidates to shoot at one target: the presumptive frontrunner.

When will they realize this? Probably never.  Football games do not reflect Presidential elections, but it takes out the work a reporter has to do.

12.08.2019

My Magnificat

Our minister this week has challenged us to write our own Magnificat.  Yes, I am Jewish and go to both church and synagogue.  So there.

Rejoice

I rejoice that I have found the love of my life and a sober way of living that is useful to society and others.

Glorify G-d

I glorify G-d for swooping me up as I was falling down a black hole, devoid of even gravity or light, no hope, no vision, no purpose.  I hadn't hesitated on the edge, I had jumped off, willingly, into this condition.  Worthless, throwing away everything for nothing, I called for help, and You were there.  What a messy inconvenience to calculate where I was in my fall, reach out, grab me and lift me up.  You did it anyway.  It is a debt I repay every day.

Look forward to the works of G-d

World transformation barely seems worth it, but then neither was I when it happened for me.  Regardless, You still love us.  That love will help us see the love of our siblings and rivals.  That love will cull destruction and violence among us.  That love shines on to each of us, waiting for us to open our eyes.  With You, G-d, we will.

Exalt G-d because

A catalog our Your magnifigance is beyond any mortal.  Great and small, seen and unseen, you try to guide us with daily miracles.  The founding of the state of Israel in the shadow of the Holocaust; the parting of the Sea of Reeds with the Egyptian army at our backs; the aim and power of David’s stone all testament to You, O G-d.  Still, we ignore you whenever we get a chance.  The Call of Abraham, promising to make of us a great nation, has been fulfilled.  Still, we turn our heads away from you.  There is a verified faith you have maintained over and over again, and we have no reason to doubt you now.  I have faith in that.  I have faith in that.