I’m not saying I’m making plans to move to Norway, just that I’ve bookmarked Emigrate Me. You know, it’s nice to have some options available. I learned the Albanian language in my 20s, I think I can handle Norwegian in my 30s.
I’m not saying it’ll happen, but IF a hostile foreign power wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on the US, I think Washington DC would be one of their primary targets. I live near DC, so I’m open to hearing solid, evidence-based advice on how to be prepared for the possibility of a nuclear bombing.
Instead of calling them billionaires, we should call them money-hoarders, and yes, that is meant as an insult. Yes, that does include the billionaires we like. They may have many fine qualities, but having accumulated that much money is not a point in anyone’s favor.
Rather than congratulating people for having money in the 10-figure range, we should instead praise them for how much they’ve given away. For example, JK Rowling gave money to charity until she was no longer a billionaire and no longer on the list of wealthiest people. This is a good thing! I’ll bet she still has much more dough than she’ll ever be able to use, but the point is, her having given a lot to charity reflects better on her than ranking on a Forbes list ever will. Another example is Bill Gates. He’d be richer than Jeff Bezos if not for his charitable donations? Cool! Let’s talk about how much money he’s put into making the world a better place!
Here’s a simple reality that capitalism would like us to forget: money is a means to an end. Money is not an end unto itself. You’re hungry, so you use money to get food, and you eat the food. You don’t eat the money itself. You use money to pay for housing and utilities, but money all by itself does not keep you warm and dry. You use money to see a movie, but money itself is not entertainment.
Up to a point, saving money is constructive. You build up wealth so you can have nice things, or in my case, to budget for a spell of unemployment. You might want to have some to pass on to your children so they can have some nice things. They should still pay estate taxes, though.
Beyond a certain threshold of accumulation, money stops being useful. Once you have more money than you will ever be able to spend on nice things for your family, what’s the point? That amount of money under the control of one person doesn’t achieve anything except to make sure that money isn’t available to other people. Having allowed that much dough to pile up in your liquid assets is nothing to be proud of. If the tax structure makes it impossible for anyone to become a billionaire, that’s a good thing.
Show off your wealth by spreading it around.
If there’s a single issue we should be voting on for the foreseeable future of US politics, it’s voting rights. This goes for conservatives as well as liberals. Do you care about democracy? Then you should care about voting rights. If you care about voting rights, whether liberal or conservative, then you should be voting for Democrats. Not forever! But for the next several years. Hear me out.
When voter turnout is high, Democrats do better in elections. When voter turnout is low, Republicans do better. This is because the demographics that favor Republicans are more reliable about voting. BUT ALSO the demographics that favor Democrats are more vulnerable to voter suppression.
I’m not saying the Democratic party is perfect. I’m just saying they’re the party that is actually interested in governing. It doesn’t have to be that way forever. That’s how it is now. Furthermore, since their candidates have better outcomes when voter turnout is higher, the Democrats are the party with a built-in incentive to maximize voter turnout and abolish voter suppression.
For the foreseeable future, the US democratic process depends on Democratic politicians.
There’s a reason why Trumpty Numpty recently disbanded his Voter Fraud Commission. It’s because even when they were utterly determined to find evidence of voter fraud, they couldn’t find it. The US does not have a problem of people voting fraudulently. It simply isn’t happening. We do, however, have a problem of people being unfairly kept from voting, and it will continue to be a problem as long as Republicans are in power. This is not a moral judgment, it’s a question of incentives. When more people are kept from voting, Republicans have an easier time winning. Thus, Republicans have no reason to address voter suppression.
For an example of how this happens: voter ID laws. Ostensibly, the purpose of a voter ID law is to make sure nobody votes more than once, or in the wrong district, or without the legal right to vote. However. If the voter ID law were actually intended to make sure every vote is valid, then the same jurisdictions instituting voter ID laws would also be making it much easier for all citizens to get state-issued IDs. The demographics that are mostly likely not to have state-issued IDs are also some of the demographics that most reliably vote Democratic. Not limited to, but especially including African-Americans. Many don’t have state-issued ID, but they do have the legal right to vote. Realistically, the way these laws work out is that a state says everyone needs to show ID at the polling place, and then the same politicians in the same jurisdictions also start cutting DMV hours in the areas with the highest concentration of African-Americans. Shorter DMV hours means it’s much harder for someone who doesn’t already have an ID to get one. That’s because the real purpose of these laws is not to prevent fraud, it’s to make it harder for certain populations to vote.
Again, this cannot be overstated: the US does not have a voting fraud problem. You could round up every single person in the US who votes fraudulently per election cycle, and you could bus them all to my house, and I could take them out to lunch at one of our local restaurants. They’d fit. I could afford to pay the bill.
So, again, we have one party that is actually interested in governing and which benefits from higher voter turnout. And we have another party which is more interested in fucking everything up, which benefits from voter suppression, and which paved the way for Trumpty Numpty to squat in the White House. At this point, a one-party system would be better.
So here’s the plan I propose for fixing the democratic process:
- Vote for Democrats in 2018. Paint the House bright blue. For those Senators up for reelection in 2018, turn their seats blue. This part alone is simply damage control. We should not expect Congress to accomplish anything major as long as Putin’s Pup and his enablers have their paws on the Executive Branch. The purpose of Congress, between the 2018 elections and whenever we evict Trumpty Numpty (hopefully no later than 2020) should be to refuse to give the Commander-in-Cheeto what he wants.
- Vote for Dems again in 2020, for both houses of Congress, and also for POTUS. Send Bitch McConnell home to cry in his wife’s lap. After all the shit he’s pulled as Senate Majority Leader, he should not have a career.
- Once the Dems are in control of Congress and the White House, we start lobbying the fuck outta them to fix voting rights. Such measures would include, but not be limited to:
- Abolish voter ID laws. Fuck that noise.
- Abolish gerrymandering. Set up a bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw the districts to be compact and contiguous.
- Enable weighted voting. This is where you can vote for first, second and third choices of candidates, rather than just choosing one. This is the sort of thing that would allow third parties to get some traction.
- Abolish the Electoral College. Please note that I’m not suggesting this because it would mean more Democratic presidents. For instance, Clinton won his second term despite losing the popular vote. We need to chuck out the Electoral College because it gives states a disincentive to maximize voter turnout. Whether a state has 90% of its eligible population vote, or 9% (or less!), it gets the same degree of electoral power. This is a problem.
- Make sure all districts have lots of polling places, so voting is easy. The longer people have to stand in line, the more people end up not voting. The districts that tend to get fewer polling places tend to be—surprise!—areas whose populations favor Democrats. Ergo, the Democratic party is the one with the incentive to fix the problem.
- Require all states to restore voting rights for ex-convicts. You finish your prison sentence, you should regain the rights of citizenship.
- Once we have our electoral shit together, the Republicans are going to lose again. This is fine.
- They should keep on losing until they change their platform and their attitude in such a way that a majority of the population can actually be convinced to vote for them. How many years the Democrats have a monopoly on the government depends on how many years it takes for the Republicans to get their heads out of their asses.
- Once we get to a place where Republicans can get elected without undermining the democratic process, then the Democrats will have to change their attitude to something more productive than just “You don’t want THOSE assholes to win, do you?” This will be a good thing for everyone.
There’s an excerpt at NY Mag from Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
So…this is what happens when we let a reality-TV star go straight to a Presidential nomination with no prior political experience. I feel like we’re living in a satirical dystopian novel.
Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump’s advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — the effective head of the campaign — wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.
As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. “I can be the most famous man in the world,” he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.
“This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,” he told Ailes a week before the election. “I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”
And then as soon as the electoral victory actually went to him, Trumpty Numpty started thinking he totally deserved to be President. Not that he became any more interested in doing the work of running the country. Just thinking he’s entitled to have that power.
I think “political malpractice” should be a working concept. I think the Congressional GOP is continuing to perpetrate malpractice on us by giving Trumpty Numpty what he wants.
The way I see this administration is, we don’t really have a President. Trumpty Numpty is squatting in the White House. The Executive Branch is basically treading water now.
While I still can’t say for sure that impeachment would be a good thing, I must admit that I’m making my calculations differently since reading this excerpt. I’m open to discussion of whether letting Mike Pence be President until 2020 would be better than letting Trumpty Numpty keep on squatting until then.
Either way: vote more Democrats into Congress in 2018. Vote even more Democrats into the Senate in 2020. Vote the entire cast of this goddamn reality show to oblivion in 2020. Vote those sorry choads out.
The Republicans are the party that says the system doesn’t work, and they get elected and prove it.
The system works if we want it to work.
More specifically, the system works if it’s under control of people who want it to work.
Those who insist on telling us government is inherently toxic and dysfunctional, should not be elected to positions of power within the government.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is an excellent movie, but daaaaaaamn is it ever begging for a trigger warning. I do not like seeing zoo animals get shot. You leave those elephants alone, rotten soldiers! While it does not show the act of violence directly, there is an incident early in the movie in which a pair of German soldiers rape a very young girl. (Jessica Chastain later gives her a sweet little bunny rabbit to cuddle.) Little kids getting loaded onto a train headed for a concentration camp, etc. Well-done, but you better have your stomach strapped in tight.
All that said, I think “Trump ist kaput!” would be very handy as a protesting slogan.
For all the dudes who are concerned about the backlash against sexual harassment, I have some questions I’d like you to ask yourselves:
If a man getting fired is comparable to murder, what about when someone is so miserable at work, they resign without another offer lined up? Is that suicide?
If a woman ends up leaving a job and ultimately gives up her career because the never-ending parade of abuse is fucking up her mental health, would you say she’s been driven to suicide?
Would you be interested in at least a partial accounting (a full accounting may be impossible) of all the people in the entertainment industry whose stories you never heard because they were still obscure and powerless when they were driven to career suicide? If the termination of someone like Harvey Weinstein or Louis CK is a tragedy of lost productivity, then are you willing to estimate the lost productivity of all the people who never got a chance to build the career they wanted because they couldn’t make it past the hurdle of sexual abuse?
For every Ashley Judd or Mira Sorvino, who knows how many promising talents never made it that far before some powerful predator killed their careers? Does their wasted potential count for anything in this discussion of the “brain drain” following sexual harassment accusations?
Or does the equation of job loss with death only count for powerful men?
I decided to look around the Hermes website earlier today for fun. And browsing through their products, I was actually more surprised when I saw some items that were sort-of-reasonably priced.
It’s not that I expect upscale design-house merch to be affordable to plebes like me. I expect some relationship between what the item costs and what it has to offer the consumer. And when I see an office wastebasket—doesn’t even have solid sides!—costing $8200, I just want to know: why does this shit even exist?
The question should not be: “Why does this apparently not-rich person want to buy a $395 belt?” A better question would be: “Why does a rich person want to buy a $395 belt?” Why does the $395 belt even exist? Why is anyone making a product that costs so much to do so little?
I don’t think it’s morally wrong to have lots of money. (Up to a point. There’s no good reason to be a billionaire in any currency approaching the value of USD.) I don’t think the emphasis should be on making sure no one is allowed to accumulate wealth. I just think, if it seems like a good idea to spend thousands of dollars on a thing of which the cheaper version works at least as well, and even the best version of the thing doesn’t do all that much? Then you’re doing something wrong. Pay your employees (especially including domestic help) more, or give more to charity, or your tax rate should be raised.
Come the revolution, the people in possession of $4500 desk blotters will be first against the wall.
I don’t want the US to become a one-party system. What we have right now, though? It’s worse than a one-party system. We have a party that is interested in actually governing. And then we have a party that’s mostly just interested in fucking everything up.
They’re gonna keep fucking everything up as long as they keep getting into office.