You Had One Job, Democrats

I cannot tell you how furious I am to see headlines that use the words “Neil Gorsuch” and “confirmation hearings” in the same sentence.

Neil Gorsuch is getting confirmation hearings that Republicans despicably denied Merrick Garland. That is a fact, and Gorsuch’s nomination is illegitimate. His confirmation will be illegitimate and, if seated, his tenure on the court will be illegitimate. As David Faris wrote,

Gorsuch’s seat was stolen by a craven act of democratic sabotage, and he will always be sitting in a chair reserved for the nominee of a Democratic president. He is illegitimate today, and he will be illegitimate 20 years from now. The fact that he is willing to accept a stolen Supreme Court seat does not speak well of his underlying character. Nicking a Supreme Court seat is not a victimless crime.

Gorsuch is happy to steal a Supreme Court seat. That makes him a thief, and a liar, and a craven political douche canoe who is not worthy of a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court. And anyone normalizing this process as if what we all know happened didn’t happen needs to be seriously checked. That goes for every media person and every member of the U.S. Senate pretending Gorsuch deserves to have this hearing. He doesn’t.

So I don’t want to hear about Neil Gorsuch. I don’t care if he’s a brilliant legal mind or a nincompoop. He does not deserve to be there. Period.

I don’t care that he’s a mysogynist who believes women “manipulate” maternity leave. I don’t care that he’s praised voter suppression or hates the environment. I do not give a rat’s ass as to whether he loves his wife or if he supports an independent judiciary.

This seat is not his to fill. The seat belonged to the person President Barack Obama nominated to fill it, before the Republicans invented some fake “rule” about not filling seats in election years. That rule does not exist, no matter who tried to pretend otherwise. Everybody knows it and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

And how the fuck did this happen, Democrats? Who dropped the ball here? We have been saying since the damn 2000 election that the Supreme Court is everything. So how did everyone just fall in line and act like, “Oh, okay, it’s an election year, got it.” How in the living hell did this happen?

What was it? Was it that Democrats were so sure Hillary was going to win that they didn’t want to get dirty fighting this battle? Is that it? What was the thinking here? Did the pending election take all of the air out of the room?

WHAT HAPPENED?

And where were our allies? Where was the Human Rights Campaign, MoveOn.org, the Center for American Progress, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and everyone else who is constantly badgering me for money? The Supreme Court is the most important thing in every one of your begging emails yet not one of you people fought for Obama’s pick? Nobody ran an ad on cable news? No one thought to rally the troops, get people to sign petitions, call their members of congress, march on the capitol, none of it?

Words fail that the left dropped this ball. THE most important ball.

17 Comments

Filed under Democratic Party, Supreme Court

Culling The Herd

A lot of us suffered severe post-election anxiety, myself included. More than a few sleepless nights were spent worrying fitfully about what will happen to our most vulnerable citizens. And on a few occasions I even had the thought — fleeting — that in this new America, only the strong will survive. I have a bum knee, I need to lose 20 pounds, I’m middle-aged. Is there a place for me in Trump’s America? No, I decided.

If a gang of Trump thugs attacked me in a parking lot, could I fight back? Nope. My kickboxing days are more than a decade in the past. I haven’t run a marathon in years. I need to go to the gym, work out, diet. I need to give up beer. Trump’s America — Paul Ryan’s America — is for the young and strong. The denizens of Crossfit and SoulCycle.

And then I thought … nah! I mean, look at Steve Bannon: more Baron Vladimir Harkonnen than Master Race, right? If this schlub can get away with an extra 30 pounds, so can I.

But not so fast. Turns out I was onto something:

This budget will make America a lean, mean fighting machine with bulging, rippling muscles and not an ounce of fat. America has been weak and soft for too long. BUT HOW WILL I SURVIVE ON THIS BUDGET? you may be wondering. I AM A HUMAN CHILD, NOT A COSTLY FIGHTER JET. You may not survive, but that is because you are SOFT and WEAK, something this budget is designed to eliminate.

This excellent piece of satire had me ROFLMAO and is definitely worth spending one of your Washington Post freebies reading (or just go ahead and get a subscription, you cheapskate. Support the goddamn journalism, already.) But after the laughs died down I remembered my November panic attacks about being old and fat and weak and I realized,

Oh my god. Alexandra Petri is right. They are culling the herd.

And it’s not just Trump, it’s the entire Republican Party. It’s the entire ethos of conservatism: if you’re poor or weak or sick, get outta the way. You’re dragging the country down. You are dead weight on American greatness.

Some examples:

Trump Budget Cuts Put Struggling Americans on Edge

[…]

“I have lung cancer and it’s the dead of winter,” she remembers thinking. “What am I going to do?”

Help came in the form of a heating subsidy: money from the federal government, delivered by the Highland County Community Action Organization, a small nonprofit in rural southern Ohio, where Ms. Feltner lives.

Now, that program is on the chopping block. It is one of many cuts in President Trump’s new budget proposal that would inflict the deepest pain on the most vulnerable Americans — a great number of whom voted for him.

Duh, lady. “What am I gonna do?” Die, of course. Don’t you know that? Get with the program, honey. Stop holding the rest of the country back with your lung cancer and your poverty and your lack of winter heat. That’s not American greatness! That’s weak. So either stop being weak and sick and cold, or get the fuck out of the way.

Here’s another one:

Rural Areas Brace for a Shortage of Doctors Due to Visa Policy

[…]

While the Trump administration is fighting, in the courts of justice and public opinion, for its temporary travel ban affecting six countries, the slowdown in the rural doctor pipeline shows how even a small, relatively uncontroversial change can ripple throughout the country.

In Montana, for example, where nine counties do not have a single physician, it means Benefis Health does not know when a Romanian doctor trained in kidney transplants will arrive. The health care company spent months recruiting the doctor and had been expecting her in July.

“Our health system already has nine months invested in her, and now we have no idea when she can start,” said Erica Martin, who recruits doctors for the company.

Sorry, Montana. Kidney transplants are for pussies. Do we have to make it more clear? People who need kidney transplants aren’t great, they are reminders of weakness and failure and THAT CANNOT BE ALLOWED so die already and stop reminding us of what losers you are.

This one is my absolute favorite: a “veterans rights gun bill” that would remove 174,000 mental health records from the background check system. It basically reverses a Bush-era law passed after the Virginia Tech massacre. Keeping PTSD-afflicted veterans from committing suicide sounds like the kind of namby-pamby thing liberals and losers would do. In the Republican Party’s “only the strong deserve Murrica” approach to public policy, Veterans considering suicide need to get on with it already – -and here’s the gun to do it with. Y’all are dragging us down, man! Soldiers traumatized by war are weak! Didn’t you get the memo? America doesn’t do weak anymore! So go and do what you need to do and get the fuck out of the way because we’ve got Greatness to accomplish, you candy-assed wimp.

(I love that the bill was sponsored by Tennessee’s own Rep. Phil Roe, by the way. An alleged “doctor.”)

And of course there’s this one:

Trump’s NIH Budget Cuts Threaten a Serious Setback in Medical Research

This makes no sense until you realize that the point is to cull the herd and cures for cancer and other diseases are simply impeding that process. If you are sick, disabled, mentally ill, poor, unemployed, etc., then you should be about one thing: getting the fuck out of the way. By dying. If you aren’t in the business of dying then you are dragging the country down.

Come on, America. Get busy living, or get busy dying. That’s the fucking point.

38 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, Republican Party

Trump In Nashville

You Are My Hero

What a bizarre event.

Trump’s campaign started robo-calling supporters in a four-county area 48 hours ago offering free tickets. The optics they were going for, of course, was, “thousands of people lined up to get in,” which isn’t as hard as it sounds when your venue is the Municipal Auditorium, not exactly the largest rink in town. However, they got the crowd they wanted: thousands of people were, indeed, lined up … all the way down James Robertson Parkway, all the way up to the state capitol, all the way around the building. I’m guessing there were 15-20,000, but I’ve heard other figures that are higher. Let it be said: most if not all of these folks could have fit inside the Titans’ football stadium. But that wouldn’t have provided Trump with the necessary ego-gratification that comes with a “standing room only/thousands turned away” narrative.

Several protesters made it inside the Municipal Auditorium, by the way. Some chanted “no ban, no wall,” and got tossed out. Some turned their backs and left. One, a doctor, unfurled a banner and was ejected (but not arrested). Unfortunately, the coordination of the protest was poor so I’m afraid the message got watered down. Watching the televised speech, you could see something was happening that Dear Leader didn’t like. Maybe other cities can learn from our experience and do a better job of planning and coordinating ahead of time.

As for me, I was out on the street with both supporters and protesters. Any delusions that this wasn’t garden-variety bread-and-circuses were dashed by the dozens of pro-Trump merchandise tables outside (and huge Trump/Pence merchandise BUS, yes, it was a bus.) And from the looks of those selling the merchandise, not everyone submitted a head shot and full body shot.

As for the protest, again, there didn’t appear to be a lot of coordination. Protesters were scattered until around 5:00 or so, when the protest crowd really started to swell. It’s frustrating to me that there were so many different groups doing so many different things — there was the immigrants’s rights group, the #Resist group, the women’s group … people, can we not all talk to each other? Because nothing looks lamer than 30 people in pussy hats carrying Planned Parenthood signs through a crowd of 10,000 Trump supporters — especially when there were a couple hundred other pussy-hatted folks just a few blocks away, unaware of the march. Would have been nice if we all could have marched together, you know?

Also, it seems I must remind people once again that staying home and Tweeting about a protest is not, you know, the same as actually protesting. And here’s a fun fact: you can Tweet from a protest! Really!

So I was a little disappointed in the protest, but I left around 5:45 pm. At that point I’d been walking around in the freezing cold for 2 hours and had a nasty windburn. I understand good vibes were shared later in the evening.

Below are some more pictures from the event:

Some Slogans Never Get Old

Some Slogans Never Get Old v. 2

Great Sign!

Random Shouty Guy

Random shouty guy, religious edition

18 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, Nashville, protests

4 Times In 29 Minutes He Didn’t Mean It

He didn’t mean it, according to Sean Spicer.

Even though he said it again, and again, and again. He still didn’t mean it.

He didn’t mean it in a box. He didn’t mean it with some socks. He didn’t mean it when on Fox. He didn’t mean it, though he Tweeted it.

Not just once but FOUR times:

He didn’t mean this one, either:

And five minutes later, he didn’t mean this one:

… and he still wasn’t over not meaning it, 10 minutes later:

Donald Trump is a liar, an idiot, mentally ill, or all three. How is anyone supposed to trust him on anything when we’ve been repeatedly lied to and then told the problem was OUR fault for listening to him?

This is one sick motherfucker.

14 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump

Elitist

Yesterday I was listening to a program called “Indivisible” — one of those “intersection of culture and politics” type shows on NPR. This particular episode focused on millennials and whether they planned to stay engaged in the political process, and of course host Kerri Miller put out a special shout-out to millennial Trump voters because Lord knows, we haven’t heard enough from them.

And in general it was a fairly interesting conversation until we got to the caller from Columbus, Ohio, our millennial Trump voter. You can catch his interview here at the 22 minute mark:

I actually did vote for Donald Trump, I am a millennial, and perhaps one of the sole reasons why was just the coarse ugliness of 21st century activism. Everything from football games to flavors of ice cream has been politicized, and that type of culture is an extreme turnoff to blue collar millennials. And that’s a demographic the Democratic Party does need to pay attention to because there are many of us who do not have college degrees and are blue collar, and in general when you work with your hands it’s really hard to take the advice of people with pink hair seriously.

Cue record-scratch sound effect. Dude, did some chick with pink hair turn you down for a date or something? Poor baby.

So, got that? He voted for Trump just to stick it to the liberals. You sure showed us, boy oh boy! Har har. What a dumb fuck.

I am so sick of these people, I really am. It always goes back to their overwhelming butthurt over some imagined slight, the over-arching inferiority complex of the blue collar conservative. There’s this deeply-seated suspicion of us pointy-headed intellectuals who believe in shit like, you know, science and economics, and who have the temerity to believe that government in the right hands can function as the Founding Fathers designed it to.

But I digress. Host Kerri Miller asked our millennial Trump voter if he planned to disengage from politics, wondered how involved he’d been beyond voting in the first place, at which point I had to change the channel. Take it away:

I wasn’t involved in getting out the vote at all. I’m not affiliated with any political party at all. In fact, I’m even considering shredding my voter registration. The ugliness of the 2016 election, it’s a huge turnoff. There’s a large number of people that were independents and first-time voters, not because they’re registered Republicans or necessarily convinced with Republican principles, but it’s simply they saw no choice between a kind of pretentious chaos and a blue collar work ethic. And in the end Donald Trump despite his background portrayed himself as more sincere and he did not talk down to the blue collar demographic.

Pretentious chaos vs a blue collar work ethic? Yeah, I’ve actually heard that one before. Someone bought the Fox News Kool-ade that liberals are all on the dole while the hardworking, red-blooded, American blue-collar worker goes out and keeps America afloat for the rest of us.

We’ve been fed a lot of that horseshit since the election as the media pursues an endless analysis of the “typical Trump voter” (his sainted name be praised). Now is when I get to link to The Rude Pundit’s perfect response to this nonsense: a righteous rant called, Fuck You, Rural Elitists.

Yes, seriously, fuck you, Mark in Columbus, Ohio. I’m sorry your feelings got hurt by someone with a Yale degree who refused to accept that climate change is a hoax or Ayn Rand was anything more than a writer of bad fiction. Maybe people with college degrees actually know a thing or two, you know? That doesn’t mean that everyone without a college degree is a moron, I know plenty of smart, successful people who never went to college. But let me tell you, they’d be the last people to wear an inferiority complex on their sleeve and demand all the coastal elites worship their Carhartts.

I hear so much of this shit from so many people. Why is looking down on someone with pink hair and a nose ring — or, for that matter, a degree from Stanford or Vanderbilt — any less elitist than calling out someone wearing camo and a farmer’s cap?

And please, stop telling me that I need to “understand” these people. No, I fucking don’t. Maybe they need to understand us. How often does the news media try to explain liberalism to them? I’m not talking Fox News, I’m talking any goddamn news network. Does CNN or ABC or any media outfit ever try to explain “the typical Clinton voter” or “the Trump opposition” to these folks? That might be a start, you know?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately what we can do to change peoples’ minds, to “un-brainwash” them (to be impolite), or, as one commenter asked, to come up with some “suggested solutions to get these people to see that they are voting against their, and their families, interests.”

I don’t have a solution. There isn’t one. Study after study shows that people are entrenched in their ideas and giving them facts only makes them dig their heels in further. The problem is not political. The problem these folks have is psychological. They got their feelings hurt by some Democrat with a degree from Yale and now suddenly we all have pink hair and nose rings and should be ignored.

So take the log out of your own eyes, folks. You’re just as elitist and biased as anyone else. Maybe when you lose your health insurance and your corn exports to Mexico go the way of a fart in the breeze you can sit and think about all those kids with hair dyed from the Paas collection and mull over how it’s all their fault. Or maybe you can turn off the TV, crack open a book, and start thinking for yourselves.

28 Comments

Filed under conservatives, politics

Elections Have Consequences

Call me biased but there are some issues that I firmly believe are better in Democratic hands than Republican ones. And I put the environment at the top of that list.

If you want clean air, water, soil and all the rest, Democrats are your people. Sure, we have disagreements and we’re not perfect; BernieBros purists will be happy to point out Democrats who are okay with fracking, or others who believe in “clean coal.” These are complicated issues and there are some tough choices and all the rest. But by and large, Democrats are the ones who are reliable defenders of the environment. Republicans are the ones who harp on about “red tape” and “regulations” harming jobs, who peddle fantasies about the “free hand of the market” driving polluters out of business and who constantly harp on about dismantling the EPA.

So excuse me for being a little puzzled by the people of Benton County, TN who have lately been wondering how their landfill all of a sudden started accepting hazardous waste, which appears to be a health issue for those living nearby. I’ll tell you how that happened: you overwhelming voted for Republicans at every level of government, and those people don’t give a shit about your water and air, that’s how.

Or to put it another way:

Obtaining a state permit to establish a new landfill requires public notice and disclosure about the types of waste that will be deposited so communities can discuss, debate or even intervene to stop a landfill before it starts. Once a landfill has gotten its initial permit, however, landfill owners and waste generators in Tennessee can privately petition the state to accept additional and potentially hazardous materials.

[…]

Camden Mayor Roger Pafford said no one from TDEC informed city officials that their town was now home to a hazardous waste landfill. The omission was particularly galling to city officials because the leachate – or wastewater – pipe carrying hazardous waste from the landfill flows directly above a city drinking water main.

Well, that’s bad news. So is it okay for private industries to “privately petition the state to accept additional and potentially hazardous materials” and not tell anyone what’s going on? I certainly don’t think so. But remember, our wonderful “moderate” non-crazy Gov. Haslam is the one who removed consumer representatives from the Underground Storage Tank and Solid Waste Disposal Control Board. So that might be one reason why you didn’t know about the toxic sludge now buried in your backyards.

And to add insult to injury, these folks are now hoping the EPA can help them get to the bottom of this mess. They’ve actually requested that the Environmental Protection Agency investigate this.

Excuse me a moment.

{{ HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA GASP HA HA HA HA HA HA

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA }}

Okay, I’m back now.

Have y’all seen the bill Republicans filed in Congress to eliminate the EPA? That is literally what the bill says:

The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.

And that’s it. So, Benton County, good luck with that! Even if that bill fails, have you seen the order of the President (the guy you voted for overwhelmingly) to dismantle the EPA’s clean water rule? Or his proposal to slash the EPA’s budget by a whopping 25% so we can build more nukes? I mean, you voted for it, bigly, so certainly you’re aware of the Trump mandate that EPA data and studies undergo a political review before being released to the public?

You knew about this right? Right?

So do you seriously think a Trump-era EPA has the time, money, or political mojo to go after Haslam cronies in the solid waste business? Pardon me again:

{{ HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA }}

And do you really think that Congressman Marsha Blackburn, who wants to fold the EPA into a cubby in a corner of the Dept. of Energy — and yet another politician you’ve voted for, repeatedly, by like 75% — is going to give a rats’ ass about your drinking water?

And let’s see how much Gov. Haslam, who also has your undying electoral love and devotion, cares. He’s in the midst of actually increasing the amount of toxic sludge flowing into landfills that people previously thought were for orange peels and other household waste:

TDEC is moving forward with efforts to speed up the special waste approval process. TDEC officials last month told members of the Underground Storage Tank and Solid Waste Disposal Control Board – the oversight board of members appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam – they were creating an online submission portal that will allow TDEC officials to approve requests for disposal. Haslam four years ago reconstituted the board to remove consumer representatives.

So I really want to know why you idiots keep reflexively pulling the lever for Republicans when you’re worried about safe drinking water and complaining about the loss of land values because of the burning sensation when you jump in the swimming pool and the pH levels that are “off the charts.”

When will you people wake up and realize that your Republican representatives at the state and federal level do not respect you or care about you? They use gays, God and abortion to sucker you into voting for them, then they ignore you the rest of the time. They cut government to the size where it’s useless when you need it, but hey: you bought every BS line they sold you about “big government,” so you have only yourselves to blame.

And okay fine, go ahead and join the Sierra Club now as a last resort, while you try to tell yourself that you’re “not an environmentalist.” We’re all environmentalists, asshole. Poisoned air and water don’t care about your party affiliation. This stuff affects all of us, regardless.

Honestly, I don’t get it, folks.

16 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, elections, environment, EPA, Tennessee

Principles

I apologize, I’ve been remiss in posting. Believe me, it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve started about a dozen posts over the past six weeks and every time, without fail, I’ve deleted them. They’ve all seemed inadequate to the task when compared to the absurdity of current events.

And not that I would put myself in the same company as our political press, but I do understand why they all fawned over Trump’s address to Congress. It was like this collective sigh of relief that they could write about something normal for a change. Familiar ground at last! Terra firma. Was the speech good or bad? Whew! As opposed to today’s headlines, which went something like,

wiretap

I mean, my God.

None of this is normal.

Recently I was in New York City at a music club. A guy at the table behind me was talking in one of those loud, overheated voices men use when they’re trying to impress their dates. It was hard not to hear him, and when it became clear he had worked for the Trump campaign, you’d better believe I listened in. He said,

“most of us in Andrew’s office are pretty liberal Democrats….”

(Andrew being Cuomo, the governor of New York, I am guessing). But when the Trump campaign came along a bunch of them saw an opportunity because,

“…Stephen (Miller?) came in and said how if the Democrats aren’t going to be the party of working people, we might as well be….”

… as if the Trumpers give a shit about working people? Really? And so all of these folks who worked for the Democratic governor of New York were now finding roles in the Trump administration, principles be damned.

But our Boy Wonder is no dummy, even he could see what a shit show the White House is, so he was going try to find something in the AG’s office. And how you can call yourself a liberal Democrat while working under Jeff Sessions is a complete puzzler to me.

I heard all of this on the earie, as they say, and it was all I could do to keep from turning around and asking Boy Wonder WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? I mean, kids today, amiright?

Folks, this stuff matters. This isn’t just your resume we’re talking about. There are actual, real-life consequences to the policies that Trump is pursuing. Real people are being affected here. There’s the migrant deported to Mexico who committed suicide hours later, the grandmother deported while her son in law is in Afghanistan. Or the trauma inflicted on this family:

Immigration agents tailed a man as he dropped off his daughter at a Los Angeles school last week. They pulled him over and took him away — all while his 13-year-old sobbed in the back seat.

It’s been just six weeks, and this is the kind of stuff happening already. There’s more: I know people who expect to lose their Obamacare coverage who have been forced to make real life changes as a result: career decisions, life partner decisions, you name it. So the idea that someone would be so cynical as to think, “I’m a liberal Democrat but I’m going to work for Trump because I’ve got my career to think about” is repulsive to me.

And it seems to be going around. A lot of people want to know how Stephen Miller became such a horrible person. Friends want to know how the educated, liberal Jewish Julia Hahn came to write for Breitbart News and ultimately get hired by Steve Bannon as a White House staffer. It’s quite a conundrum:

After college, Hahn moved to Washington, D.C., hoping, she told friends, to “get a job in media.” She didn’t seem to care what kind. At around this time, a Chicago classmate who worked at a think tank saw Hahn at a party; Hahn said that she was a producer for Laura Ingraham, a fixture of far-right talk radio. “I asked, ‘Oh, is that what your politics are?’ ” the classmate recalled. “She went, ‘Nah, I’m apolitical.’ I thought, O.K., there are two possibilities. Either she’s dissembling because she doesn’t feel comfortable being outed as a hyperconservative or she actually is just a pure social climber.”

[…]

“Seeing her writing for Breitbart—and writing some of the most aggressive, white-nationalist stuff on the site—was quite a shock,” Eliza Brown, one of Hahn’s Chicago classmates, said. “My friends and I talked about it a lot, along the lines of ‘Was this festering in her all along?’ ‘Can you ever truly know anyone?’ ” She continued, “Not to wax too poetic about academia, but part of the idea of learning the canon is that it will, ultimately, make you a better person.”

Is this some new thing, people not having any principles? Is it some generational thing? And looking at the shit show that the Trump regime has become after just six weeks, who thinks a Trump administration job will be anything but a liability on their resume in coming years?

I don’t get it, I really don’t. But whatever. The important message, if there is one, is that this shit matters. Everything you do matters. Even if you aren’t Boy Wonder, even if you’re a normal person going about your day, what you do matters. Do it with integrity, honesty and humility or don’t bother getting out of bed in the morning.

That is all.

25 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump

This Is Your Periodic Reminder That Trump’s Twitter Is Fake

Looks like the dumb housewife has struck again.

Last year I had a sneaking suspicion that there was something very phony about Trump’s most active Twitter followers. I’d see people — some of them prominent journalists and public figures — get in weird debates with Trump supporters. But there was something really strange about these supporters. They always had 32 supporters or 32,000 — no middle ground. They universally had “Deplorable” in their names and the #MAGA hashtag in their bios. Their profiles usually represented a minority of some kind — African Americans, Hispanics, women, etc. — i.e., people who were not supposed to be Trump supporters, according to conventional wisdom (and polls). Their bio pics were always extremely physically attractive, not a dog in the litter. And their Twitter feeds were all virtually identical. They all repeated the same pro-Trump lines, and re-Tweeted each other. Many were re-Tweeted by Trump himself. It was all just a little too “straight out of Central Casting” for me, and my bullshit meter went off. I finally wrote about it here.

Since then we’ve learned more about Trump/Russia’s use of social media to spread Trump memes. The goal is to establish the idea that Trump’s agenda and Trumpism in general is more widely accepted among Americans than it actually is. Another goal is to attack opponents — Hillary during the campaign, but post-inauguration, the tactic is deployed against anyone opposing Trump.

Why Twitter? Because our idiotic news media uses Twitter as its assignment editor. There are news shows that literally cover “trending topics” like they’re real things. Last week a WSMV morning news report had the “breaking news” (not making this up) that Trump Tweeted five times overnight. So it’s important to remind everyone that Twitter is often fake, and Trump’s Twitter in particular is super fake. Trump-related Twitter activity does not equate with support for his regime.

For example, a Twitter audit reveals that over one quarter of Trump’s Twitter followers are fakes:

twitteraudit

This isn’t necessarily Trump’s fault, as bots and zombies can attach themselves to anyone without the account holder knowing about it. But when this zombie bot army is Tweeting identical pro-Trump messages, it’s not out of line to question what the hell is going on. For example, see this string of identical Tweets from different pro-Trump accounts. Hmmm …

And there’s this from Facebook (I know I’m talking primarily about Twitter here but the same shit goes on over at Facebook):

c3zdtetweaajsh2-jpg-large-1

Just before the inauguration Forbes did an analysis of Trump’s Twitter following and found not only are there an unusually large percentage of zombies and bots, but the majority of accounts are not U.S.-based:

In Trump’s case, many of those followers come from Moscow or elsewhere in Russia, India, Nigeria and Latin American countries, primarily Venezuela and Mexico.  It’s not surprising that our PEOTUS is followed by people around the world, but those people should not be counted as part of Trump’s electoral base in the U.S.

If you limit the scope of analysis to accounts of users who self-identify as living in the United States, those 20 million total followers worldwide become more like 3 million active domestic Twitter users who included a location setting in their Twitter profile, and thus are likely to represent actual people and businesses. Affinio says they often see large shifts in audience size by applying this kind of geography filter.

So of Trump’s 20 million followers, only 3 million represent actual Americans. That’s … pathetic. Mashable recently noted:

It’s been estimated that up to 80 percent of Trump’s Twitter traffic is perpetuated by bots, singing his praises and hawking Trump-related merchandise. The most famous item they sold was a now-infamous “Liberal Tears” mug.

Tolulope Edionwe at The Outline uncovered that the mugs were a scam, with many customers never receiving their much-desired liberal-shaming swag.

As the Mashable piece explained, a change in Twitter’s mobile app has made the creation of spambots moot. They’re still there, but not as prominent. But of course, whenever technology creates a wall, savvy manipulators figure out how to build ladders.

I have long suspected that a major reason Trump was so enamored with Twitter in the first place is because it’s so easy to manipulate. It’s so easy to create an army of adoring followers on Twitter, which is what Trump craves. And who knows, maybe it’s not him, maybe it’s someone smarter than him — a Steve Bannon type, maybe — who’s figured out how to pull Turmp’s strings by using bots to up the “likes” on whatever asinine thought comes to him at 3 a.m. I don’t know if he’s using Twitter as part of a massive propaganda campaign or an ego gratification campaign or if someone else is using it to manipulate him; regardless, it’s time everyone wised up and started acting accordingly.

So, I don’t want to hear any more “breaking news” about trending topics, or Trump Tweets. If Trump wants to threaten opponents with his Twitter army, bring it on: the “army” is fake. It’s one thing for the news media to cover the latest cute kid viral video, but when this stuff involves our acting leader, and the information affects world events, the news media needs to seriously check itself.

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Filed under Donald Trump, media, Social Media

Some Words On “The Bowling Green Massacre”

Kellyanne Conway’s “Bowling Green Massacre” oopsie is ironic on so many levels. Let us count the ways that using this incident to justify a Muslim ban is completely wrong.

First, a recap of the incident in question: two Iraqis were arrested, indicted and convicted for a plot to send high-powered rifles (the kind available at any gun shop in the South) and money to Al Qaeda overseas. The weapons and money would have been used on Western targets overseas. The plot was uncovered by the FBI within months of the men’s arrival in the U.S. No weapons were ever sent overseas, and no terror attack occurred thanks to these two, either in the U.S. or anywhere else. The part that involves refugees is here:

Although both Alwan and Hammadi had been arrested by Iraq security forces, in 2006 they were allowed to enter the United States as refugees in April and July 2009, respectively. Asked why officials and Homeland Security had not properly vetted or reviewed the men’s records, a Homeland Security official said, “This case demonstrates specific gaps that were present in the screening process that was in place in the beginning of the administration. Once the administration became aware of these gaps, it took immediate steps to fill them. Today our vetting process considers a far broader range of information than it did in past years.”

The specific “gap” revealed by this case is that in 2009, fingerprints found on IEDs in Iraq weren’t being matched with those of refugees seeking entry into the U.S. Under George W. Bush, the IED fingerprint data base wasn’t included as part of the refugee screening process. That flaw in the vetting process was corrected by President Obama as soon as it was revealed by this case. So using this specific case to say “we need to fix the vetting process” is wrong because Obama already did that.

Even funnier is Trump’s claim that his bigoted Executive Order is “similar” to Obama’s “2011 Iraqi refugee ban.” Actually, no: Obama never banned Iraqi refugees, temporarily or otherwise. He did order refugee’s fingerprints be checked against those in the IED database. That caused some seriously big delays in the processing of applications as thousands of applications had to be reprocessed. It was not a ban, it was addressing a security issue that Trump now claims he’s addressing.

So just to review our “Bowling Green Massacre” incident:

1- The plot exploited the country’s lax gun laws;
2- The men were under FBI surveillance almost as soon as they entered the U.S.;
3- There was no plot to launch an attack inside the U.S.;
4- No weapons or money made it to Iraq because of the FBI’s undercover investigation;
5- Flaws in the refugee vetting process revealed by this case were corrected by President Obama years ago;
6- Claims that Trump isn’t doing anything that Obama didn’t already do are wrong.

Why do I know this and the president’s top advisor does not? I’m no expert, I don’t work for the government. I’m not involved in the security services. I don’t have top-level security clearance. I’m just a dang housewife in Tennessee who reads the New York Times instead of listening to Sean Hannity and watching Fox News. Is that all it takes to make someone knowledgeable about the world?

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Filed under immigration, terror alerts, terrorism

Horrible Ideas, Vol. Eleventybillion

The Trump regime actually thinks this is a good idea?

Miller also noted on Saturday that Trump administration officials are discussing the possibility of asking foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit, and to share the contacts in their cell phones. If the foreign visitor declines to share such information, he or she could be denied entry. Sources told CNN that the idea is just in the preliminary discussion level. The social media posts calling for jihad by San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik — made under a pseudonym and with strict privacy settings — are part of this discussion. How such a policy would be implemented remains under discussion.

Jesus ever-loving Christmas Tree, you’d think 9/11 had just happened again. What fresh stupidity is this? And can I point out that Tashfeen Malik was born in Pakistan and spent most of her life in Saudi Arabia — two countries not on Trump’s “target list”? This kinda makes Rand Pau’s hissy fit over getting a TSA pat-down look even more childish.

Who would submit to having their social media posts and cell phone contact lists perused by the U.S. government before being admitted into the country? Not me. How would this even work? Will tourists all have to take pre-emptive screen shots of them “liking” Despot Trump’s latest Tweet in order to get entry into Disney World?

Trump’s Muslim ban has been a disaster. But this is what you get when you put the Celebrity Apprentice in the White House. Someone with no knowledge or respect for how government works is not going to be able to craft or implement logical policies. The result is chaos, confusion, anger, you name it. You thought the TSA lines were awful before, just wait until a TSA agent has to check some hapless visitor’s Twitter feed before allowing him through. God, this is incredible.

Somehow “we told you so” just fails to convey sufficient despair this moment requires.

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Filed under Donald Trump, immigration, War On Terror