Friday, October 28, 2016

Ammon Bundy acquittal: reaction

Today, despite hours of video evidence of clear violation of the law, Ammon Bundy and his co-conspirators were found not guilty. This comes as a shock to everyone following the case. In fact, the first article I read had to be edited to say acquitted rather than convicted because the factual (as opposed to legal) guilt of the defendants was apparent. This serves as further evidence, in my opinion, that trial by jury is failing in this country. Unfortunately, I don't know if the alternatives are any better.

My trust in trial by jury was tenuous at best from the time I started paying attention and became skeptical of everything (yay, adolescence). But it was further deteriorated after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Further hits came from efforts to free those that had been wrongly accused, and findings that juries in the US had a clear racial bias. The reason our jury system is imperfect is that our people are imperfect. But as our culture becomes more diverse, such attitudes are becoming less and less acceptable. However, we also need to be aware of our hidden biases and fight against them.

This is an issue that is affecting us in more and more obvious ways as time moves on and our culture becomes more diverse. I don't know how many times I've heard that by some near year whites will no longer be a majority of the US, but it seems the plan of the 60's and 70's to screw until we're all the same color is starting to have results, if not the exact results that were touted. But this isn't enough.

Because we all have hidden biases and a lot of those biases stem from one very understandable emotion: fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. This is the root of tribalism. You know the kinds of people you are around most often and are comfortable with them. But the "other", whether they are other because they have a different skin color, a different religion, a different culture, etc., make us uncomfortable because they are different than our norm.

While it is (or at least should be) culturally unacceptable to discriminate against people for these reasons, it is too often easy to get away with subtle discrimination. This is where change is needed. The first step is to recognise it in yourself. So I would like to encourage everyone to be more aware of their own biases (we all have them) and confront them. Make an effort to recognize when your decisions are being informed by racism, sexism, or any other intolerance, and change yourselves. It is not easy, but it gets easier over time. And I will make the same effort, and together we can make this world a better place.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I am not qualified to be president

So last night I came up with a bunch of topics I could write about, but then ERB released a new video, and YouTube comments pissed me off, (damn trolls, why do I even read those), and that gave me an idea for yet another topic, this one more pressing.

But first, a little housekeeping. If you're reading this (a huge if, I guess), then you may have seen my last post, a fake news article meant to subtly undermine the Project Veritas claims by hinting that if, as O'Keefe claims, all of the violent and racist elements of Trump's supporters were Clinton plants, his real support would be tiny. My plan, and I admit this may be unethical, was to push the post as if it were "real Trump supporter news" on right-wing sites, but after 1 post I decided against that for 2 reasons. 1: I don't want my site to be overrun by trolls, and 2: I can't handle the things being said on such sites, let alone feed into them. If that post later gets some popularity because I'm running for office and people want to use it against me or Trump supporters get more desperate and somehow see it as good for their candidate, I just wanna be on record here as saying that it is parody (as it is tagged), and that it's not even great parody at that.

That (slightly) leads into my next point. I have never run for public office, though Bernie's campaign has made me consider it more heavily than I have before. And I certainly have not run for president, nor would I at this stage in my life, even if the legal issues of me not being 35 and the monetary issues of me being a broke man with principles were magically taken care of. And there is a very simple reason for that: I am not prepared to be the president.

I hate to admit this, but when Gary Johnson was shamed for not knowing what Aleppo was, I felt shame too, because I also didn't know what Aleppo was at the time. And although I have since learned that, as well as more about Syria, Iraq, Iran, ISIS, and the middle east in general, I am not nearly an expert. I have some thoughts on when war is acceptable but I don't know how to handle the delicate situation in the middle east, with ISIS using chemical weapons, refugees seeking asylum (at least that should be a fairly obvious yes vote. Have some compassion), and so on, and that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my ignorance.

What do we do about immigration? I think we should keep families together and provide a path to citizenship, but I don't know enough about the existing laws or the situation on the ground to draft or even judge the finer points of a bill on that issue. The same is true of healthcare, trade deals, drug laws, law enforcement, etc. I have strong opinions, and varying levels of knowledge, but I don't have the kind of experience or training required to be the person overseeing the whole apparatus, nor do I have the connections to appoint a good cabinet, a bunch of judges, and pretty much the whole executive branch. I am absolutely not (yet?) prepared to be the president. However, I am more prepared than Donald Trump.

In my opinion, the best line Hillary Clinton delivered this election ( which was sadly left out of Epic Rap Battles' take on it) was this line about preparation. This is a great line, because Hillary Clinton has not only wanted to be president for a long time, she has made an effort to achieve that goal. A monumental effort. She has gone through law school and has been the first lady, a senator, and the secretary of state. She knows the law, she has dealt with legislation, she has dealt with diplomacy and war, and she has connections. Though I have disagreements with some of her policy, if anyone is qualified to be president, she is.

Now contrast "The Donald". He has been a real estate mogul, a casino owner, and a reality TV star. I wouldn't be surprised if he knew as little about Aleppo as Gary Johnson and I did at the time. He has no legal training, no experience in foreign affairs or domestic affairs, no knowledge or experience with the legislative process, and he doesn't even have the will to learn or the patience to prepare. He's surrounded himself with the same kind of panel of sycophants and yes-men as Douglas MacArthur (who he often praises) did and he is even more likely to ignore intelligence to the detriment of himself, his country, and the world. (KERA Think did a piece recently on Douglas MacArthur and the Korean war that I enjoyed. I recommend looking up the podcast if you haven't already.)

Donald Trump wanted to ignore the issues before October 8. He wanted to be as vague as possible to hide the fact that he knows nothing about policy. After the infamous tape came out, he started saying we should be focusing on the issues, because he thinks that no one will take him up on that proposition so he can pretend he's taking the high ground by proposing real solutions to the problems facing America and the world, even though his most substantive issue is a stupid wall. But I think we do need to take him up on his challenge and call him out not just on his lack of ethics, but also on his lack of substance, policy, and experience. I already used the early voting available in Texas to vote for Hillary Clinton (and democrats down-ballot, but that's an issue for another post). I hope many of you will do the same. Get out there and vote for the qualified candidate.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Shocking: new WikiLeaks emails reveal many Trump supporters paid by Clinton

In a shocking turn of events, emails between top Clinton campaign officials released by WikiLeaks today show that the Clinton campaign has been paying large numbers of people to go to Donald Trump's rallies. The paid rally attendees were told to be as belligerent and intolerant as they could, in order to make Trump's support look deplorable. They were even told to punch anyone looking like they weren't "crazy enough" to fit the image Clinton wanted of "Trump supporters".

They were also identified to news organizations so that the media coverage of Trump supporters was almost entirely made up of Clinton plants. "They had us all set up and ready to go with the full line of reporters," Rick Ashton, a Pennsylvania actor who took money to appear at a rally, told us. "I told CNN that there was nothing Trump could do to lose my vote, can you imagine any sane person saying such a thing?"

"What really surprised me at first, was that Clinton expected Trump to be able to get through the primary," Chevy Carlin, a former plant at an Ohio primary rally, reminisced. "I wondered, 'well what about the other 50 or whatever candidates,' but Clinton just has incredible foresight. She knew Trump would win the primary, even with all the bad press we were getting him. I just wish I knew how she knew."

While this comes as less of a shock than it would have if not for previous leaks revealing that most pro Trump YouTube comments are made by a team of bots maintained by Clinton staffers, some revelations of this latest leak are just too insidious to believe. Perhaps the most shocking of all is that Donald Trump was paid millions of dollars by the Clinton campaign to tell his supporters at one rally to punch anyone looking like they were going to throw tomatoes at him. He confirmed to us in a 3:17 AM tweet that this was true. "I'm not a violent man by nature, and I don't like to incite violence, but I really needed the money to keep the lights on and pay the rent #BeingBrokeSux"

We still don't know how this will change the election, but 95% of responses in our online poll on the issue were bots run by Clinton staff to make Trump supporters look bad. Chat with them in the comments.