Some Friday Thoughts

A bunch of random stuff.

  1. #LABron? LOL. LeBron James will be a free agent in under 48 hours. Many people seem to think he’s going to the Lakers. He may want to live there more, in which case he’s probably going. If it’s a basketball decision though, he’d be foolish to go there. Right now, they have very little of value. If they trade for Kawhi Leonard, they’ll trade it all. Even if Kawhi and LeBron both get there, Golden State will beat them. I know the media wants the Lakers to matter again, but LeBron should let that mess of a team just die.
  2. Putin is going to play Donald Trump. If you’re not terrified of their impending summit, you should be. Trump is almost certainly going to end up giving the far more cerebral Putin something of value. Like Crimea.
  3. Anthony Kennedy was a rotten SCOTUS Justice. I know it’s sad he retired, and his replacement will probably be worse, but Kennedy was an awful judge. He just upheld the Trump travel ban, gutted union rights, and hurt women’s health care in the span of a week by voting just like Gorsuch and Thomas. He voted for Citizens United. He voted to make George W. Bush the President. Cry me a river, I have little good to say. Besides, he’s retiring to let Trump pick his replacement- because that’s what he wanted.
  4. Wtf World Cup?!? Germany, out. Italy, not there. USA, not there. Why would I care? Worse yet, Senegal got eliminated because of yellow cards. Go Mexico, I guess, but I’m struggling.
  5. The Phillies and Rangers should work out a blockbuster trade. As I stated before, the Rangers have some players who make sense in Philadelphia. Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, and Adrian Beltre would make the Phillies serious contenders- together. Matt Klentak can make it happen- and he should.
  6. The Democrats are probably going to lose Senate seats in 2018. The U.S. Senate race in Florida is polling all over the place, with both Senator Nelson and Governor Scott leading different polls. Democrats are in very difficult defense races in West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, and Missouri. There are several other races, namely Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, that could go south on them. Meanwhile, they have a shot to pick up Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas. The odds aren’t great of Democrats picking up two Senate seats, and the majority. They may be as unlikely to hold all 49 they have now, too.
  7. Roe v. Wade is probably dead, but that’s not all. So the bad news is that Roe v. Wade will probably die at the hands of Donald Trump’s next SCOTUS pick over the coming few years. The awful news is that this will probably motivate Republicans to come out and vote this year to support their President. The worst news? Roe v. Wade may look like the top of the iceberg as issues of executive power, LGBT rights, election law, and issues Kennedy gave us the fifth vote over reach the court.
  8. Rising interest rates and cost-of-living issues are the top political issues no one is talking about right now. The cost of living has been rising faster than wages for decades, but that’s not news. The news is we’re in one of those periods right now. The cost of borrowing money is starting to rise. The cost of essential goods like gas is rising. The trade wars we are launching against Europe, China, Canada, Mexico, and others will raise prices. Their retaliatory tariffs will spike the cost of some of our key products, causing layoffs and outsourcing of jobs. Prices are going up, and that’s bad for middle America.
  9. Steven Tyler was in Bethlehem and I’m mad I missed it. I’ve been on an Aerosmith kick lately, particularly their 90’s era records “Get A Grip” and “Nine Lives.” The bluesy feel they took on during that period fits life right now. So naturally I missed Steven Tyler coming through Bethlehem for a solo show. Oh, and I missed Joe Perry and his band coming through, a month or two back. Bad timing never fails!
  10. I’m really angry at Joe Crowley. The reports are that he didn’t run much of a race to keep himself in. Now we’re being forced to listen on how “the future” is Dem Socialist. He probably would have lost on demographics, but at least he’d have tried. I will not support a Democratic Socialist party. We really didn’t need to give them there one good primary night of this season, just so they could sing the virtues of embracing a 28 year old, ex-Sanders organizer as our future.
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Donald Trump Actually Shares Putin’s World View

In the midst of all the insane news that came out of the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit, I think we all are missing the big point. Sure, Trump saluted a North Korean General and elevated a tin-pot dictator to his level in direct negotiations, but that is a blip on the overall radar. In the long run, bringing North Korea out of it’s pariah status is a good thing, if it’s possible. Having a poor, starved, nuclear state sitting next to South Korea and Japan isn’t beneficial to anyone.

The important thing is the suspension of “war games” with our allies in Asia, coupled with our refusal to join the rest of the G-7 in the joint statement of principles at the end of that conference, our threats to pull out of NAFTA and other trade agreements, and our willingness to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris Climate Change treaty. Donald Trump is moving the United States towards isolationism, out of our world leadership role. A United States that doesn’t counter-balance Chinese power in the Asian Pacific, doesn’t lead in negotiating Middle East Peace, doesn’t lead on international trade, and isn’t part of solving global problems is simply not a superpower anymore. Trump is creating a militant, inward looking, isolationist state, complete with fraying alliances abroad and a nativist, nationalist identity driven immigration policy at home.

There is someone happy about that, and that’s Vladimir Putin. His stated world view is that there should be no United States superpower, but instead a collection of regional powers. Russia should dominate the old Soviet-bloc, China should move into the void we leave behind in Asia, we should dominate our hemisphere, perhaps Germany controls Western Europe, and someone should emerge in the Middle East. Even if all of that doesn’t work out, he just wants the United States to stop leading a strong Western coalition. If he can get us to break our bonds with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, he’s happy. If he can get us out of Asia, even better. If he can get us out of the Middle East too, he now can grow Russian influence in every direction. For Putin, that’s the goal.

Trump’s foreign policy and Putin’s long held aspirations seem to be perfectly aligned. It’s beginning to be a lot less shocking that Putin’s Russia was so solidly supportive of Donald Trump’s campaign. After all, this is the new alliance that matters.

Trollmageddon 2018

Russia infiltrated our electoral process, and that’s just a fact. We can question if they hacked voting machines, we can debate the meaning of collusion, but that’s not changing the things we know they did do. They did purchase Facebook ads designed to hurt Hillary Clinton, in both the primaries and the general election. They did hack the DNC’s emails. Kremlin allies did meet with people around the Trump campaign. They did set up fake news sites, publishing false articles about impending indictments for Hillary and her family. They did set up phony writers in American left-wing outlets to push Democrats against Hillary and the party. All of this is real. All of this is fact. You can interpret it as you wish, but not deny it.

It’s over now though. There is no way to re-litigate 2016 and make Hillary the winner. Donald Trump is now in the White House, and I have great faith that Bob Mueller’s investigation will figure out who committed what crimes. Will we ever know if the Russians literally hacked our election? Maybe not. I trust Mueller’s investigation will answer the possible.

This leaves us to ponder what lies ahead. The 2018 mid-terms are coming, and they promise to be insane. The primaries in both parties could be bloody. Democrats will see a fight between people committed to Civil Rights, worker protections, the environment, and moving the country forward, and people who literally want to have a Socialist revolution that they haven’t thought through the details of yet. Republicans will see a war between people who want to cut taxes for the rich and slash the social safety-net of working Americans, literally taking the food from mouths, health insurance from those who need, and roofs from over heads, and actual Nazi/White Nationalist types being lead by Steve Bannon. We get to have these fights before we have the general election argument over the insanity of Trump America. Excited yet?

Does anybody think this will be any cleaner or nicer than 2016 was? Does anybody think those accounts with cartoons and dogs as their avatars that followed Nomiki Konst into attack on Hillary supporting Democrats aren’t coming back for more during these primaries? Does anyone think that openly racist Russian troll accounts, like the “Tennessee GOP” one that Twitter took down, aren’t coming back? Does anyone think Russia won’t attack Democrats in the Fall, knowing that a Democratic Congress will insure a completed investigation of their acts of war against our country? Let’s be honest, even real people like Katie Halper (who I wish wasn’t real) will be spewing leftist hatred towards any Democrat who dares to not bow at the altar of Bernie moving forward. If anything, 2016 will look nice, next to 2018. We are heading towards an absolute internet doomsday, as these freakish alt-right and alt-left voices attempt to destroy anyone who dares stand in the way of their goals. Outside interference, doxxing, and general nasty behavior will be the norm.

Some of these characters are obviously automated, and not real people. Some of these people are paid trolls, grifters that are here to waste your time and sap your enthusiasm. All of this is an attack on our democracy. It’s only going to get worse as we go. I have a few tips for dealing with these people, and trying to keep your sanity in the process:

  1. Block liberally- If someone is trying to waste your time with repetitive debate, or trying to tell you how you’re evil for supporting a $12 minimum wage instead of $15, or just sending you screenshots of yourself, block them. I usually make a snarky remark back at them first, just so the person on the other end feels like a loser, but the main point is to block them and not waste very much time on people who are losers.
  2. Report liberally- If someone who fits the profile mentioned above, and they say something abusive or curse at you, report them. If they send graphic sexual images at you, report them. Obviously block them too, but report them in hopes of knocking them off of Twitter, real or fake.
  3. Know a troll or dead-ender when you see one- If you get into a debate/fight with some famous leftist- like say Matt Bruenig or his wife- and a bunch of people swarm you, they are either bots or paid trolls. If a bunch of people with roses in their bio swarm you, they are either loser trolls or paid trolls, if not outright bots. If they have a small follower count and are part of the swarm, they’re either a troll or bot. If someone starts spewing racist or sexist content, they could be a paid troll from the other side, or even the “dirtbag left.” Most of the people attacking Neera Tanden are just trolls and wackos, ignore them. Anyone with poor grammar who jumps in just to attack Democrats (on the behalf of Trump or Bernie) is a Russian troll. They often use the same lines of attack (“so-and-so won’t f**k you” for instance), and try to use bios and profile pictures as lines of attack quite often. They’re not hard to figure out. If you see them, report them and block them. It’ll save you time.
  4. There are real hardliners- I’ve had my fair share of Twitter battles, even some with people whom I “agree” with on the issues. There is a fairly prominent resistance tweeter from Brooklyn for instance, who attempted to “dox” me (and failed miserably because she’s an imbecile) because she didn’t like my arguments against a full litmus test on abortion rights in the Democratic Party. This young lady isn’t worth my time any more than Katie Halper and Matt Bruenig were from Socialist land. There are some serious psychos out there in our political world, and not all of them are paid Russian bots. I suggest not wasting too much time arguing with overly impassioned real people either. You’re never going to make any progress with them.

This is my best advice for surviving what is likely to be a crazy year. It is my hope that Twitter will clean this up and start enforcing their terms of service in a reasonable way, but I’m not holding my breath. The best way to handle the lunatic fringers and their virulent attacks is largely to ignore them, to report them as much as possible, and to realize they represent a small fringe of society. Most Bernie Sanders supporters are nothing like Winnie Wong, and even many Trump supporters aren’t like Cassandra Fairbanks (though this point pushes the limits of truth sometimes). Almost nobody in real life is like a Russian bot or a DSA troll. Limit your interactions with them, and you deny them the lifeblood of their existence- your time and attention.