The Healthiest President Ever!

I apologize for the revisionism, but these photos speak for themselves.

Need I continue?

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Filed under Elections 2016, Obama 44, Trump 45

Bipartisan Collusion to Make Russians More Important Than They Are

sessions-i-lie-because-i-can

 

UPDATED BELOW

Let there be no doubts. I have no love for Mr. Trump who I believe to be a uniquely unqualified mediocre businessman blowhard psychotic old man with small penis syndrome. But let’s be honest: This whole Russian thing is a big joke on Americans. The Russians did nothing and are nobodies.

The real scandal should be that the tiny brained Democrats need a tiny brained reason for Americans to hate Trump that does not bring to light the fact that Democrats have nothing to offer the American people and are in bed with the same Wall Street and corporate interests as Trump & Co. Then you have the dumb-ass Republicans who wrongly think the Russians did them a favor and somehow want to both show Russia their gratitude and hide that fact at the same time. Furthermore, Mr. Trump’s ego is so vulnerable to manipulation, that the mere hint that a foreign power favors him over Obama turns him into putty in their hands.

But the fact of the matter is that the hacked emails revealed absolutely no wrong-doing on the part of Hillary. Of course, Americans are too tribalistic and persuadable to have realized that it was all about nothing. All they knew was that there was supposed to be something bad about her private email server (but they don’t know what) and that there were hacked emails. Add those two together with 30 years of brainwashing that Hillary is evil, and ergo email scandal proves she’s Crooked Hillary.

Even though the investigations were never about corruption and those emails revealed no wrong-doing, I believe they were ultimately in the public interest, just as the leaked “grab’em by the pu$$y” recording of Trump was. Does it matter who disclosed them? Americans, Russians or others? The information was true and newsworthy. Had the Russians hacked voting booths, this would be a very different story.

Objectively the Trump recording should have been more damaging to Trump than the Hillary emails were to her, but it wasn’t. Evangelicals still voted for a disgusting con artist pig with no moral or business scruples while far too many Democrats stayed home on Election Day. Personally, I think the FBI decision to pretend to reopen the investigation was decisive but not the email hack.

Now we have Mr. Sessions (and other Trump appointees) lying about having spoken to Russian officials. In the case of Sessions, it makes absolutely no sense that he lied under oath. He had plenty of valid justifications as a Senator for having met with the Russian ambassador. So why does the person who is now Attorney General, the highest ranking US official in charge of enforcing the laws of the nation, commit perjury? Surely if he really is one of the top lawyers in the country, he understood the question and knew that his answer was false. Either he’s an idiot and unqualified or he is a felon. But in America, if you are a person of color or an average white dude, our judicial system is unforgiving. When you are an immigrant, you get deported. When you are part of the ruling elite, you keep your job and pay absolutely no personal or professional price for your actions. So much for Personal Responsibility in America. It reminds me of this silly kids song – Johnny Johnny Yes Papa – my 20 month old  loves. I have my own version:

Father: Jeffrey Jeffrey
Little Jeffrey: Yes, Papa
F: Speaking to Russians?
LJ: No Papa
F: Telling Lies?
LJ: No Papa
F: Open your mouth
LJ: Ha ha ha

Mr. Sessions lies like a little boy because he can get away with it. Ha ha ha.

But overall, the tragedy of going retro with the Russian paranoia is that both Democrats and Republicans have colluded here, arguably unintentionally for their own selfish reasons, to rehabilitate Russia as a global powerbroker and force to be reckoned with. Everyone should be ashamed of themselves. It’s just really dumb geopolitics.

UPDATE 5 March 2017:

Now that it is clear that various Trump advisors and appointees, including his son-in-law, had meetings with Russian officials during the campaign and prior to entering office, Trump has decided to go with “but Obama was illegally wiretapping me”. Here are some quick observations:

  • Again, who cares about the Russian meetings? Does anyone doubt that Bibi – who openly hated Obama – had conversations with Trump & Co.? I don’t think there is anything wrong per se with Trump speaking to Russians. I think he did engage with them because he has a pathetic need for attention, as said above. What doesn’t look good, though, is for the Trump team to try to cover up the meetings. While I am not concerned about those meetings (at least based on the evidence we have to date about Russia’s involvement in the election), I am concerned by (i) Trump’s need to cover it up with lie, (ii) having a president who is so easy for foreign governments to bait, and (iii) Trump’s decision to scapegoat a former president with wild, unfounded allegations.
  • Even if the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump, that would not absolve Trump if he or his team had acted illegally or excuse their instinct to lie about the meetings.
  • Explain this to me: Trump first asked that someone hack Hillary’s emails, congratulated the Russians for the hack, but then whines incessantly about leaks against his administration. Either leaks are bad or they are not.
  • The Republican mantra about domestic surveillance post Snowden has been “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about”. I guess that doesn’t apply to Trump.
  • Trump loves to keep a scandal alive. Instead of moving on, he goes off on twitter and tries to blame someone else, this time Obama. One would think this is just bad political strategy. If Trump were a master strategist, he might be doing this on purpose to distract Americans from, say, quietly pushing Bannon’s dark policies. But, Trump is both a nihilist who couldn’t care about policy and too dumb to think that far ahead.
  • After the election, Democrats criticized Obama for not having intervened on the Trump/Russian relationship. As the argument went, if Trump was in bed with the Russians, the intelligence communities would have informed Obama and he could have done something about it. But Obama remained silent. My guess is that Obama was smart enough to know that you don’t want to give Putin the free publicity. Had O Obama really wanted to get Trump, he would have had ample opportunity.
  • One of my biggest criticisms of Obama was his Look Forward Not Backward policy relating to the egregious law breaking of the Bush Administration because it meant that future presidents could commit the same crimes with the same impunity. In part that is how people like Trump could campaign on reinstating torture or reviving Guantanamo. But my purely political criticism was that no Republican president would ever respect Obama’s gesture of not investigating him. Clearly Trump never got that memo. As with everything else, he just doesn’t give a fuck.
  • No president in American history has ever played the victim as much as Trump. He won the election but still can’t come to terms with it. Everyone is unfair to him. Poor boy.
  • Welcome to Great Again!

Note: this post is derived in parts from comments I made on this subject on Facebook this week.

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Have You Ever Been to A Developing Country (or Making America Great Again)?

polluted-waterHave you ever been to a developing country? One where you can’t drink the water, the roads are full of potholes, the air reeks of car emissions and pollution, tree branches and fields are littered with plastic bags, trash piles up on street corners, you can’t afford to go to the doctor, public schools are atrocious, corruption is endemic, but at least you see people in police or military uniform everywhere?

china-air-pollution

In many developing countries, government investment in public services is almost zero, and government regulations of the environment or business activities are non-existent. The only real use of government spending is to build up the military and the police forces to protect the elite. Call it choosing growth over sustainability, if you like. But the effect is that only the rich, who can afford huge 4X4s, expensive private schools and hospitals, bottled water and cronyism can thrive.

And that’s basically Mr. Trump and the GOP’s vision of America. I suggest you get vaccinated, travel abroad, and then come back and see if you can stomach making America Great Again.

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Filed under Trump 45, We The People

The America I Hope They’re Watching

no-muslim-ban

I hope that when people around the world look at what Trump is doing and saying, instead of the hate and ignorance, they’ll see the enormous outcry of support for Muslims’ humanity from average Americans at protests and on social media, including the massive support shown by Jewish Americans (despite the animus you’re supposed to believe exists between Jews and Muslims). Of course, Americans could have shown similar concern when we were bombing, droning and killing innocent Muslims throughout the Obama administration.

synogue

Nevertheless, I do hope that the world sees the protests in our streets, campuses, at airports, and on social media against the Trump administration’s policies and actions. In my own little social media bubble, I have read countless stories shared by my American friends of Jewish, Iranian, Arab, Latin American, European, and Asian backgrounds about their own families’ courageous journeys to America as refugees and immigrants during times of political violence or severe economic turmoil.

That is the America I hope the world is watching. They are the people that make me proud to be American.

I have also been very impressed by the many Germans  who — usually so reluctant to discuss their own country’s shameful past — have been sounding the alarm about how easy it is for a people and their nation to take a nose dive into the abyss.

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Filed under Trump 45, We The People

Why Lie about Election Results?

Isn’t it the epitome of stupidity to question the validity of an election you just won? Especially if you just won the election based on very small margins in a few key states and after every poll in every major news publication said you were going to lose big.

Of course, Trump is spinning this to be about 5 million or so votes that lost him the popular election. If there really were 5 million fraudulent votes isn’t it possible that many of those were in the decisive states where Trump won, like Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin? And isn’t it possible that those votes tipped the election in favor of Trump? In that case, is Trump willing to call for a reelection if voter fraud tipped the election in his favor?

In terms of just basic reality, it makes no sense that illegal immigrants would come out and vote and expose themselves to possible deportation. If you know anything about those who are undocumented, you know they stay as far under the radar as possible and avoid consuming or participating in public services or going anywhere where they may be confronted by the authorities. That 5 million illegal immigrants risked getting caught just to sabotage the election is absolutely absurd.

So why lie? I think there are four main reasons the President and his entourage lie:

  1. Small Penis Syndrome. You lie to yourself because you cannot face the fact that you are a very, very small man.
  2. The Emperor has No Clothes. You lie to your boss because that is what he wants to hear. Trump has never been employed. He has always been the boss and no one has ever told him he is wrong. So if you tell him what he wants to hear and it reinforces his narcissistic self-image as a winner, then you can keep the boss happy. In this sense, Trump will be the easiest president in history to manipulate. All you need to do is play into his ego.
  3. Testing the Limits and Alliances. You lie to see how far you can get lying, how much your fan base will accept your blatant falsehoods, and which news outlets and political allies will defend you no matter what you say or do. This is the test of committed tribalism. And so far he’s gotten away with it.
  4. Voter Turn-Out and Fighting Against the Inevitable. In both Bush 43’s first election and Trump’s, the Republican candidate won the election but did not win the popular vote. Trump arguably did worse than Romney yet was able to pull off the election due to the Electoral College. In order words, there is no real popular support or mandate for his policies. But as demographics continue to move against the GOP and its policies, elections will continue to be won by Democrats getting high voter turn-out and Republicans trying to make it harder and harder for Democrats to vote. One of the major reasons for the voter fraud lies of the past few years – and now even more evident with Trump’s massive lack of popularity – is to create enough hysteria to pass draconian voter suppression laws. The GOP simply has not other long term game plan to the White House. On the congressional level, they achieve the same by gerrymandering.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to get an independent panel (which we know will never happen) to review votes, especially in close states. But when that was suggested by Jill Stein with support by some people in the Hillary camp, the Trumpsters cried foul. Now ironically, Trump is questioning his own victory. Both amusing and scary.

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My Year in Books 2016

fiction

Y2016 was a busy year. We had our third child, but somehow I still found time to read a slightly larger than normal volume of books. Here is my list:

non-fiction

While I did read some very good books, I wouldn’t say that there were any must reads this year. I probably got the most from non-fiction, with highlights being: The Snakeshead, an amazing story of a Chinese woman who became a billionaire illegally bringing Fujianese Chinese to the U.S.; Sahara Unveiled about a trip across the desert; Servants of Allah about the many African slaves in the Americas who were Muslims and carried their religion with them; Sapiens about the history of humankind and our evolution put into a behavioral/political/historical context; and A Short History of Reconstruction about, you guessed it, the period after the Civil War when the U.S. tried to rebuild the divided nation and economy based on free labor and find a place for recently freed slaves, marked by white supremacist violence and terrorism.

manchild

There were a handful of good novels including Youngblood, A Homegoing, Goat Days, and a General Theory of Oblivion. There was also an underlying – though not intentional – theme of African American lives which included the aforementioned non-fiction about Muslims in America and Reconstruction and the novel A Homegoing. Even Goat Days is a story about slavery. I also read Edward P. Jones’ excellent short stories about D.C,. Lost in the City. But probably my best read of the year was Claude Brown’s semi-autobiographical Manchild in the Promised Land.

pelecanos

And, whenever I needed a break from my ambitious list, I could always turn to the D.C. crime writer George Pelecanos. Though most of his books are similar in theme, characters and stories they are so easy and enjoyable to read, especially as a Washingtonian.

Finally, I finished the year off by re-reading Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. It was never my favorite of his novels, but there were three pieces of narrative in the novel that always stuck with me and that I wanted to revisit:

But I didn’t understand then that I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.

Izumi wasn’t the only one who got hurt. I hurt myself deeply, though at the time I had no idea how deeply. I should have learned many things from that experience, when I look back on it, all I gained was one single, undeniable fact. That ultimately I am a person who can do evil. I never consciously tried to hurt anyone, yet good intentions notwithstanding, when necessity demanded, I could become completely self-centered, even cruel. I was the kind of person who could, using some plausible excuse, inflict on a person I cared for a wound that would never heal.

Every time we met, I took a good long look at her. And I loved what I saw.

“Why are you staring at me?” she’d ask.

“Cause you’re pretty,” I’d reply.

“You’re the first one who’s ever said that.”

“I’m the only one who know,” I’d tell her. “And believe me, I know.”

. . . for no particular reason.

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Things I’ve Read (recently)

things-ive-read

The following are some interesting and insightful things I have read in the past few months from the following three non-fiction works of history:

Servants of Allah traces the history and influence of the large number of African Muslims who were brought to the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade. The book documents how, contrary to the popular historical depiction of African slaves as peasants, many – especially those who were Muslim – were educated and literate. In particular, I find the following except interesting as it serves as a reminder that in the populist Islam vs. the West narrative, Christianity isn’t always the brightest light on the hill:

Ibrahima pointed out “very forcibly the incongruities in the conduct of those who profess to be the disciples of the immaculate Son of God.” The Africans had experienced or witnessed forced conversion as a justifications for slavery, whereas in their religion, conversion was a means of emancipation. They were in daily contact with religious men and women who were nevertheless sadistically brutal. The debauchery of Christian men who sexually exploited powerless women—not accorded the status of concubines—could not have escaped them. As slaves, they had experienced the Christians at their utter worse. Because they did not have a race or class consciousness, they saw the Americans primarily not as whites or as slaveholders but rather as Christians.

Similarly, Sapiens – a materialist recount of the evolution of humans in a historical context – helps put current Western/Christian fears of the Other into perspective:

These theological disputes turned so violent that during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Catholics and Protestants killed each other by the hundreds of thousands. On 23 August 1572, French Catholics who stressed the importance of good deeds attacked communities of French Protestants who highlighted God’s love for humankind. In this attack, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, between 5,000 and 10,000 Protestants were slaughtered in less than twenty-four hours. When the pope in Rome heard the news from France, he was so overcome by joy that he organised festive prayers to celebrate the occasion and commissioned Giorgio Vasari to decorate one of the Vatican’s rooms with a fresco of the massacre (the room is currently off-limits to visitors). More Christians were killed by fellow Christians in those twenty-four hours than by the polytheistic Roman Empire throughout its entire existence.

The figures of 2002 are even more surprising. Out of 57 million dead, only 172,000 people died in war and 569,000 died of violent crime (a total of 741,000 victims of human violence). In contrast, 873,000 people committed suicide. It turns out that in the year following the 911 attacks, despite all the talk about terrorism and war, the average person was more likely to kill himself than to be killed by a terrorist, a soldier or a drug dealer.

With A Short History of Reconstruction what I found most interesting was how (i) terrorism, in the form of organized violence was employed successfully by Southern whites to maintain the status quo of white supremacy; (ii) an assortment of coordinated efforts by the police, the legislature and courts, and white civil society (often through terrorist violence) were employed in full force to sustain white supremacy and the economics of free labor; (iii) the political rhetoric to rationalize the above – for example, on taxation, federalism, and personal responsibility – are all very much alive and part of the conservative lexicon and worldview today; and (iv) all of the above defined the Jim Crow South up until 1970, a legacy which we undoubtedly still suffer. Continue reading

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Filed under Literature, We The People