Kübler-Ross and IMPOTUS defeat

 Remembering RBG

My daughter keeps track of GOP tropes. This design is available on sweatshirts.

You know, this political season has made me exhausted. I hoped the election would settle things, though I had my doubts.

Sure enough, Attorney General Barr is acting like IMPOTUS’ personal attorney. The future ex-President removes the scientist from overseeing a key climate assessment report. The grift continues. He seems to be engaged in a scorched earth policy. If he doesn’t concede, the GSA head won’t release the mechanism for Joe Biden to be a part of an orderly transition.

But it’s more than that. The vitriol is still strong. And, as people saw on my Facebook feed that Saturday, some guy came around to attack me personally for being pleased that Biden had won. It wasn’t some random guy either, but a fellow who had been my next-door neighbor when I was growing up in Binghamton, NY. Let’s call him Greg because that’s his name.

Greg had been around trolling me in the past. But I had found him useful. It’s important, I think, to understand how others think. This time, he was hyper-critical and fairly nasty at that. He said that I didn’t vote for the man because IMPOTUS had hurt my feelings?

Well, no, I objected to him trying to wreck the very fabric of the country: the postal service, the Census, the CDC, the Justice Department (see above), the EPA, etc, etc, etc.

Greg also seemed to be offended because I was a fool not to recognize that I’m financially better off under the regime. He never used the term directly. But I sensed that he was suggesting that since black people’s unemployment was down, pre-pandemic, I was oblivious to the regime’s “greatness.”

cf RBG’s death

Here’s the thing. I don’t agree with the premise. The tax cut helped the rich far more than regular folks. But even if I had concurred, I still thought his policies, toward COVID, immigration, the environment, and so much more, plus his constant lying, were disqualifying attributes. But why pick on me? There were plenty of people who are happy that the reign of error was over.

Then I saw Remembering RBG: A Nation Ugly Cries with Desi Lydic. It was a special program from The Daily Show folks. Desi was going through the five stages of grief as described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Although, instead of acceptance, the fifth stage is action. Not incidentally, Elizabeth Warren, as usual, offered wise counsel.

So Greg, I recognize, was grieving. He dumped on me because he sort of knew me, though I haven’t seen him in a half-century. I get it.

In my recollection, when Hillary lost in 2016, the reaction was mostly utter shock and depression, not rage. As my teenage daughter noted, in 2016, we were saying, “That can’t be true!” even as we grudgingly knew, unfortunately, it was. The losing side in 2020 has been fed the notion “It IS NOT TRUE!” (See John Oliver.) That’s a harder bridge to cross.

BTW, I remain infuriated by the continued voter suppression, particularly in Florida. The GOP won the state by about 340,000. More than twice as many released felons were disenfranchised. Maybe the Sunshine State COULD have gone the other way…

Hillary Rodham Clinton turns 70

Reporting about Clinton focused on ‘scandals’ involving the Clinton Foundation and emails, while reporting about Trump focused on his issues.

On her 70th birthday, my thoughts about Hillary Rodham Clinton, who I did vote for in the 2016 general election for President after backing Bernie Sanders in the New York State primary:

I’ve been watching her on her tour this year and I believe this is true: “Most of the tabloid criticism of the book suggests the book is an effort to shift blame elsewhere. That is complete bs. It is difficult to imagine any author more directly and completely accepting responsibility directly — and not just once, but throughout.”

It’s my fault Trump is President.” Follow the Vox interview.

But there seems to be a concerted effort to keep her in the woods, to get her to gracefully bow of public life, NOT to speak on International Women’s Day, NOT to speak at the Wellesley College commencement, NOT to go on a book tour.

As Dan Rather declared, “If you don’t like Hillary, don’t buy the book—it’s her prerogative to write it.” Or as the Boston Globe put it: Hate on Hillary, but she’s right about Trump. “You don’t have to like her. But don’t settle for a less than full reckoning of what happened to her.”

Hillary Clinton noted that the Donald was “creepy” in stalking her during one of the debates but that her cool reserve
wouldn’t allow her say anything to him at the time.

Rebecca Solnit notes: Don’t call Clinton a weak candidate: it took decades of scheming to beat her. “Years of Republican plots, an opponent deified by television, and FBI smears stood in her way – and she still won the popular vote by more than Kennedy did.”

Joe Conason stated: “Now everyone knows that the Washington press corps dislikes and distrusts the former Democratic nominee. After all, several of its most eminent members have admitted their herd’s prejudice against her. But the nearly unanimous demand for her to be silent… cuts against normal journalistic curiosity, let alone the usual lust for fresh gossip.”

He points to a 140-page report out of Harvard, Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. “What they found was a sharp asymmetry between left and right outlets that benefited Trump and damaged Clinton. And while most mainstream coverage treated both candidates negatively, it ‘largely followed Trump’s agenda.’ That meant reporting about Clinton focused on ‘scandals’ involving the Clinton Foundation and emails, while reporting about Trump focused on his issues, such as immigration.

A perfect example of that was Matt Lauer questioning Clinton about her email scandal instead of foreign policy at the “Commander in Chief Forum” in September 2016, while asking Trump policy questions.

So Why Isn’t Hillary Clinton Even Angrier?

She has a lot to say. She believes the Electoral College should be abolished. “I said that in 2000 after what happened with Al Gore,” Clinton told Anderson Cooper on CNN. Gore, who was vice president to Bill Clinton, won 266 electoral votes, while George W. Bush won 271. However, Gore won the popular vote by 547,398 votes. She called the institution “an anachronism that was designed for another time [that] no longer works, if we’ve moved toward one person, one vote.”

I cannot ignore, too, the not-so-subtle sexism that she had to endure. She has quipped, “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.” There was an obsession about her cursing in private, not in public, which made her less “genuine” than her foul-mouthed opponent. A lot of men, and more than a few women couldn’t bear a woman having authority. It’s a
Hillary hatred derangement syndrome.

I felt badly for her when Hillary Rodham Clinton, as former First Lady, sat on the platform, listening to the Trump inaugural speech, which was a “cry from the white nationalist gut.” 20 January was “an out-of-body experience”; she attended in the hope of presenting a unified front following an ugly and bitter campaign.

The email Hillary Clinton’s pastor sent her the day after the election must have brought her some comfort.

I know she’ll continue to be perceived as evil incarnate – Harvey Weinstein is Hillary Clinton’s fault! – but I hope she continues to raise her voice anyway.

“President Trump”: stunned disbelief

Since the United States agreed to VOLUNTARY benchmarks for our participation in the Paris climate change accord, the US withdrawal doesn’t even make sense.

Our first contestant in Ask Roger Anything -you may still participate! is Jaquandor, writer of fine books, who asks:

To what degree does the phrase “President Trump” still fill you with stunned disbelief?

It used to be about 11 on a scale of 10. Now it’s only 9.89. To this day, there are people who say I dislike him because my candidate lost. This is not at all the case. I never felt as though his predecessors lacked the ethos of being President, even when I vigorously disagreed with their positions, such as W on the Iraq war.

This guy, though, either doesn’t know how to be Presidential or actively chooses not to be. I never thought He goes on Twitter, finds a video of him hitting a golf ball and his shot “hitting” Hillary Clinton. So, like a juvenile, he retweets it.

He comes up with an unclever name for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, “Rocket Man” – isn’t that what he wants Kim to STOP doing? The New Yorker’s David Borowitz had some satirical fun with this: In War of Elton John Lyrics, Kim Jong Un Calls Trump “Honky Cat” .

And then Trump, possibly encouraged by his shrinking base, uses it AGAIN in his address to the United Nations. This appears to be the dangerous taunting by an adolescent.

And Kim’s use of the word dotard – “a person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person” – put many Americans in the uncomfortable position of wondering whether he was onto something.

His threatened withdrawal of the Iran nuclear agreement makes creating a deal with North Korea even more difficult. Since the United States agreed to VOLUNTARY benchmarks for our participation in the Paris climate change accord, the US withdrawal doesn’t even make sense. Our allies oppose our leaving the Paris accords, and most feel the same on the Iran deal.

Trump pardons a criminal sheriff, who violated hundreds of people’s civil rights. He declares that Nazis and white supremacists can be “good people.” Then he calls NFL players who kneel for the national anthem “sons of bitches” who should be fired. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rightly released a statement saying Trump’s comments are “divisive” and show a lack of respect for the league, the game, and the players.

His behavior, to borrow a term, is unpresidented.

He supports various pieces of legislation in Congress without seeming to have any idea what they mean. He said that Cassidy-Graham, the now-dead latest iteration of “let’s kill Obamacare”, was “better than the other bills” the Senate tried to pass in 2017. Given the fact that the new bill’s impact hadn’t been fully explored by the Congressional Budget Office, this assertion seems dubious.

His anti-immigrant positions have helped lead foreign students to choose to go to college in Canada, travelers abroad to avoid the United States and the DACA families to feel destabilized in the US. I won’t even get into the migrant farm workers who won’t be there to pick the crops.

His insensitivity towards Puerto Rico in its hour of need is not only appalling but possibly self-serving.

So, yes, it’s difficult to believe that any “normal” President could be so terrible so quickly. See The Seth Abramson Trump Tweetstorm.

Abolish the Electoral College?

Here’s Arthur with another Ask Roger Anything question:

Where are you at now with the whole “abolish the Electoral College” thing?

Let me back up and address the request by several entities, including my local paper, to deny Prima Donald an Electoral College victory.

I had real ambivalence about it – rather than outright rejection – because a number of people I knew and respected supported it. I didn’t think it would work, but then again, I didn’t think AO would win the electoral vote.

And I wasn’t sure that it SHOULD work because using a maneuver that hadn’t used in two centuries would not go down well with a large swatch of the public. The only thing I wrote, I believe, was that we could deny him an EC victory now or impeach him later, since, like many people, I believe he will be at least subject to impeachment on January 20.

As you know, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 states that no American officeholder shall, “without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” But that is exactly what Bratman is about to do, without divestment, or a blind trust, which having the kids run the show after being part of the transition does not qualify. He risks endangering American democracy.

It is true that for the second time in five elections, a presidential candidate who won the most popular votes lost the election. Hillary won the popular vote by nearly three million ballots. Still, I’m not so sure that abolition of the Electoral College is the solution.

How do you address Republicans’ belief that if the EC was abolished, big states (California, New York, etc.) would solely choose the winner?

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

It COULD happen in either system. Avoiding that was the reason for the initial design. Instead of concentrating on “swing states”, one could concentrate on large states. Instead of ignoring New York and Texas, one could ignore New Hampshire and New Mexico. People would still fly over Wyoming and Delaware in favor of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

And state borders are so random. So are counties, BTW, which is why you have 62 of them in New York, some large and relatively empty others with great density, and nearly 200 fewer counties there than Texas.

Here’s an interesting article in the New Republic from 2012. I agree that the Electoral College is a terribly difficult system to explain. Yet I do think that the argument that (choke) Mitch McConnell articulated it in 2001 is not necessarily wrong that, absent the EC, we could have had recounts in almost EVERY state, not just Florida, in 2000.

The REAL problem for me with abolishing the Electoral College is that we have the first past the post system, where the person with the plurality, even a small plurality, say 34% in a three-person race, of the vote, rather than the majority, could become President. I’ve become a broken record on this, but we need ranked, Instant Runoff Voting; this would make me more enthused about getting rid of the EC. Otherwise, a candidate could manage to win PLURALITIES in a few large states and win.

Once upon a time, in this blog, I had suggested that all the states should switch to the way Maine and Nebraska do it, with the electoral votes apportioned by Congressional district, and the statewide winner getting the other two electoral votes. But when I realized that, in 2012, more people voted for Democrats for the US House of Representatives, but Republicans won the majority of the seats, I had an epiphany. THAT WON’T WORK unless there is a way to draw Congressional lines in an unbiased, non-partisan way, which, of course, means state legislatures ceding power to a fair third-party entity, since they cannot do it themselves.

So I have no strong feelings on the EC, but I am for IRV being instituted AND having fair Congressional lines being drawn, plus ending voter suppression, which may have made a difference in this election. BTW, Arthur answered the question himself, after he asked me but before I had a chance to post this.

As part of a larger question, which I will deal with later, Jaquandor notes that the election of Darth Hater was-
ultimately abetted by a weird quirk in our electoral system (a quirk that, for all the defense it gets, has not been replicated ANYWHERE on Earth in anybody else’s electoral system)

I can’t say that I know how every country works electorally and am not energized enough to investigate them fully. Wikipedia suggests there ARE other countries with electoral colleges, though the ones for which they give specifics are in no large way anything like our system.


Figuring it out, post-election edition

I have to “combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.”

donald-trump-vfw-convention-26-jul-2016I started, post-election, from the position of wanting to give Donald Trump a chance to do well, I really did. He gave a lovely, conciliatory acceptance speech, and President Obama said his meeting with the (gulp) President-elect went well.

There was a church service seeking to heal political wounds, organized by the FOCUS Churches of Albany before the elections, but taking place the day after at noontime. Since it was held at First Church, less than ten minutes away by foot from my office, I attended, and there was a lot of hugging afterward, even from strangers. it was helpful in dealing with my grief.

But so was John Scalzi’s Cinemax theory of racism. Maybe people voted for Trump to “Make America great again,” whatever the heck that means. But you get, at no additional charge, the “racism, sexism and religious and other bigotries that Trump and his people have already promised to engage in.” I read it and even shared the core message with a friend of mine I happened to run across Thursday night. Non-Trump voters can perhaps see that the Trump voter was only thinking about the HBO, as it were; if Trump supporters read it, it may explain why people are so afraid.

Especially since their fears are already proving to be justified. For instance, racist graffiti and being harassed for speaking Spanish on the phone and a transgender veteran’s truck painted ‘Trump,’ lit on fire and a gay man being brutally beaten up and women reporting strangers grabbing them below the navel, and reports of anti-Islam attacks and a whole lot more harassment, or worse.

BTW, I find Barack Obama more and more incredible. Being statesmanlike with the man who rose to power on the slander that Obama was not born in America is impressive. Especially when his accomplishments are likely to be erased by a guy who freaked out on Twitter after Obama won re-election in 2012, with Trump calling for “revolution in this country!”

Ironic, then that, four years later, he complains: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” In a single tweet Thursday night, the President-Elect has threatened free speech, a free press, and freedom of assembly, though he subsequently walked that back.

And people are rightly also freaking out about Trump’s potential Cabinet of Horrors, as well as the loss of their Obamacare, and the loss of civil rights, and the further despoiling of our planet (regardless of how the Trump team spins it), and more. Oh, and with his kids running his company AND being on the transition team, “there will be no wall between the Trump administration and Trump Organization.”

(Christians voted for Trump. Meh.)

Now that Trump has won, my post-election thought is that I am getting ready to participate in the loyal opposition. Not sure what that looks like yet for me. But I’ll have to work to combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.

It’s a tricky time. Often we are critical of each other over the tactics we are using, whether it be wearing safety pins or sending money to a right-minded charity. I myself haven’t tweeted #NotMyPresident, though I surely understand why others do. I didn’t join in the local protest because I don’t yet “get” the strategy, but this isn’t to say I wouldn’t at some point.

I seem to be drawn to the issue of voter suppression, which I think may have made a difference in some states, notably Wisconsin. I haven’t figured out what to DO about it, though.

I was planning to be a thorn in the side of a President Hillary Clinton had veered off course, but I suspect this will prove to be a greater challenge. And speaking of Hillary, I give her a lot more slack than most, I gather, at not coming out at 3 a.m. after the election and facing the crowd. Not only was she understandably devastated, she may not have decided whether to contest the election. Her losses in a few swing states were very close, and she deserved the benefit of the doubt of not making a hasty comment, but composing herself before making her speech.

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