Friday, October 21, 2016
Empathizing with Trump supporters is hard. I mean, how can people be so blind? Who could ever find it in their hearts to vote for this two-bit sleazeball? What could possibly motivate otherwise nice people to support the modern-day Mussolini?
Well, perhaps I'm being too harsh. After all, how would we feel if the tables were turned, and the Republican was the sensible choice while the Democrat was the mean-spirited demagogue? But what would that situation look like? How can we visualize it?
We need some names and faces to bring this thought-experiment to life. First, the Republican side. We would need to find a hypothetical candidate who embodies Hillary's qualifications while being conservative instead of liberal. She would have to be a woman, highly qualified, a resume as impressive as it is long, and a number of highly touchy scandals for which she is not legally culpable. That's a tough bill to fill, but one name comes to mind: Condoleezza Rice. She's eminently qualified, sensible, has a long track record of competent public service, and even fits Hillary's resume right down to being a former Secretary of State with her own email scandal. Perfect!
Now, the Democrat side, and this one's much tougher. We need to find a liberal demagogue, and that's not easy. The very act of being a liberal means that one is anti-demagogue, and so finding the leftist anti-thesis to Donald Trump is like finding a four-leafed clover in a desert. Plus, there are other things. This person would have to have no political experience, would come from an entertainment and/or real estate background, and spew insane babble from time to time. I don't know about you, but I'm hard-pressed to come up with a candidate like that who might sneak in as the Democratic nominee with twelve other names watering down the opposition. But I can think of one person who might fit the bill: Charlie Sheen. TV show? Check. Liberal? Check. Demagogue? Surely! He even has a track record of being abusive towards women. Double check!
So there's our scenario: Instead of Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, we make it Condoleezza Rice vs. Charlie Sheen. And now that the shoe is on the other foot, we can pointedly ask the question among fellow liberals, could we do it? Could we really vote for an incompetent nincompoop over a highly qualified former Secretary of State, even when that particular woman happens to disagree with everything we believe, and will probably tilt the Supreme Court towards the conservative side for the next 30 years?
I'll be honest, folks, even with a candidate as horrible as Sheen, and a Republican as wonderful as Condy, I'd balk! I mean, with the stakes so high, even a liberal who was complete shit might be better for us in the long run. And there's also the possibility that Sheen would get himself impeached right away with his insanity, thus leaving the vice presidential pick as the new president. If we leave the vice presidential picks the same as before, that would mean Tim Kaine would be the new president, and he's not a bad pick. I don't doubt there are some conservatives out there who anticipate that Mike Pence will be sworn in as president in only a few to several months after Donald Trump is sworn in.
Yet I have to look at the bigger picture. If Condy were sworn in as president, the liberal movement would galvinize in a way never seen before. We would not be as scorched-earth as Republicans have been with Barack Obama, and so we would actually get things done when the time came, but we would dig in our heels over the important stuff. And then we would secure nice majorities in the house and Senate during the midterms, as opposition parties always do, while flipping many, possibly even most, conservative states. Furthermore, we will have a president we are not embarrassed by. We would have a person who would make a good president. And isn't that an important standard?
And so, with a heavy heart, I would hold my nose and vote for Condy. Oh yes, I'd prefer a liberal, but if that liberal were potentially the death of liberalism as a movement, I would have to avoid that at all costs. I would also be sickened at a primary system which handed me such an asshole when the majority among my party wanted someone else. (And WHERE, I ask, are the Republicans who should be loudly voicing that concern?) I think most of my fellow liberals would agree with me on this.
Now, we can really turn things around. If we liberals would be unwilling to support a candidate who stinks on ice, and would vote for the person we vehemently disagree with in order to preserve our nation's pride and integrity...
What excuse do you Trump supporters have left?
Okay, Trumpsters, I get it now. It's a tough thing to vote against your values, even when your candidate is a living train-wreck. But now that I've proven that liberals would vote for the opposition candidate if their own candidate were as bad as Trump, aren't you now obligated to prove yourselves to be at least the moral equals of liberals?
Aren't you now obligated to vote for Hillary?
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
For once, Donald Trump has spoken the truth. He says the election is rigged, and he's 100% correct.
It's rigged for the Republican Party.
In hundreds of congressional districts all over the nation, the election is rigged through gerrymandering - which is vote theft done by drawing the districts in a way which carefully carves up liberal districts into little pieces while watering down their vote with conservative suburbs. Take for example Austin, Texas, one of the most liberal cities in the U.S. You would think this city would get at least one Democrat to represent them. Instead, they get six republicans. The district map looks like a wagon wheel with Austin at its hub, as Republican state legislators sought to dilute the liberal impact of Austin. Or sometimes, the district maps are drawn in such a way as to sequester all the liberal vote into one area, leaving other districts completely to the Republicans. Take for example Milwaukee, WI. That city used to be represented by two Democrats, one on the north side and one on the south side. Now, only one Democrat represents Milwaukee's central city, while Republicans gave themselves an entire additional seat in congress, bolstered by hyper-conservative Waukesha, and therefore unassailable by the moderate majority.
The system is rigged through voter ID laws, which are a deliberate means of making minority voters jump through extra hoops in order to have their vote cast. Apparently Republicans are more concerned with the rare occurrence of someone voting for a dead person or voting twice than they are about something like gerrymandering - which steals millions of votes at a single stroke. Rigging the system is apparently all right - if it's for the conservative side.
The system is rigged because the removal of the fairness doctrine in 1988 by Ronald Reagan and the deregulation of the airwaves by Bill Clinton in 1996 has destroyed the balance and objectivity of the media. Now, nearly all the A.M. airwaves are owned by Newscorp. All the AM, FM, television and cable network stations are owned by three behemoths: Newscorp again, Spectrum (Time Warner) and Comcast. These Sauropods regularly stomp on freedom of the press, dominating everything that gets prioritized. And so when A.M. flagship stations, like WTMJ in Milwaukee, are not covering a major sporting event or weather emergency, they are belching non-stop right-wing propaganda designed to foster hatred at the liberal left. Fox News then exacerbates the problem by providing a news outlet which tells conservatives only the news they want to hear - and they inevitably want to hear stuff that makes them even angrier. MSNBC provides a similar outlet for those on the left, and CNN sensationalizes whatever is left in the middle.
Somewhere along the way, these three major media providers realized that the more they divided America, and the more gasoline they threw on the political fire, the more money they could haul in every two to four years. Because all that campaigning money doesn't go down a deep, dark hole. It goes into advertising! Which goes into the pockets of Newscorp. Spectrum, and Comcast! Each election, it gets worse, and more money is purportedly needed to stop the extremism of the other side. More money, to feed the ever-hungry monster of political advertising, for which the networks charge over-inflated rates.
And this downward spiral has been going on for over two decades, now. Nearly thirty if one includes the period from 88 to 96 when the conservative media moguls didn't yet fully realize the power Reagan had handed them through executive order, no input from Congress. This is why the cult of liberal-bashing has led to the cult-of-personality known as Trumpism.
The system has literally rigged some people's brains. Which is why Trump isn't losing in every state, which is the way it would be if the media were capable of doing its job.
The system was rigged to make Trump the Republican candidate in the first place. Because Trump, for all his faults, is exactly what he boasted himself to be back in 2015: a "ratings machine." So the news media accidentally promoted Trump, reporting about him at every turn as though the Republican primary were the new TV reality show. With only few brave exceptions such as Megyn Kelly, they went soft on covering Trump. Then, after nearly a year and a half of handling the man with kid gloves, the news media had a crisis of conscience and began covering him like the human train wreck he really was. A "Trumpster fire," if you will.
I don't blame Donald for griping about how the media is against him now, and claiming that the media is now part of a "rigged system" against him. He has a legitimate point at least in the sense that the media has changed the rules towards the end of the game. But the system was rigged in his favor before, and the reality is that he's complaining now because it's finally being fair. How dare the media report the truth about him!
Finally, the system was rigged to ensure that the Republican base would elect a primary candidate that would not be moderate. It was rigged with "winner take all" states that gave more delegates to someone who did not win that high a percentage of the vote. So, for example, Trump won only 32.5% of South Carolina's vote, yet got all 50 delegates. He won 32.7% of the vote in Vermont, and got all the delegates. He won 45.7% of the vote in Florida, yet received all 99 of its delegates. Does this sound fair to you? Of course it doesn't! It doesn't because that's what we call a rigged system! It was rigged in favor of demagogues like Donald Trump!
Now he's upset because the general election isn't tilted in his favor in the same way. So the system must be "rigged." Boo fucking hoo, poor baby.
Up to now, at every turn, any rigging of the system has been in favor of the Republicans and/or Donald Trump. And yet, in spite of all this cheating, in spite of all the vote-stealing through gerrymandering, in spite of all the roadblocks put in place to hamper minorities from voting through voter ID laws...
Trump is STILL losing!
How incompetent do you have to be to be on the brink of losing even the gerrymandered congressional districts, and then somehow complain that the system is rigged against you?!
The answer is, too incompetent to work as a greeter at WalMart, much less be president.
Monday, October 10, 2016
I'm supporting Russ Feingold for Senate this year. I mean, why not? When his opponent is Mr. Smith & Wesson goes to Washington, and one of the 47 lemmings who followed Trey Gowdy off a cliff with a treasonous letter to Iran, anyone else would do.
But this is Russ Feingold we're talking about here. This is the man who stands up to Washington bullshit and communicates his principled stance to his constituents with wit, wisdom and humor. It's what gives him the one quality Washington insiders lack: a backbone.
So where is this quality this year? Where is the witty? Where is the wisdom?
Where is the funny?
Russ charmed his way into Wisconsin's heart by being a clever fellow with college-humor political ads. But this election cycle, those ads have been replaced with cookie-cutter ads that repeat mind-numbingly boring talking points about "tax cuts for companies that move jobs overseas." This sound byte has not only been debunked, it's outdated. It was a relevant point when John Kerry ran against George W. Bush, but not so much anymore. So why is Russ sticking to this one issue like glue?
Who kidnapped Russ Feingold and replaced him with this adobe-brick golem?
There's a conspiracy theory going around that when Hillary Clinton was sick with pneumonia, she actually died and has now been replaced with a body double. But I think it's more likely that Russ Feingold has been co-opted by a doppelgänger.
Don't get me wrong, a washed-up xerox of Feingold is still ten times better than anything the Republicans can put up, much less the Trump-supporting Ron Johnson. But it's time to mince up another sacred cow for the brat-festival, my friends: Russ is simply off his game.
Come on, Russ! Bring back the funny!
It's your greatest campaigning strength.
Friday, October 7, 2016
Early voting is great! It allows voters who are restricted by job schedule, hampered by voter ID laws, or just plain discouraged by long lines to be able to vote with relative ease. You can go pick up your laundry, vote, and be back in time to watch Timeless.
I first tried voting early back in 2012. I experienced no hangups, there was a short line, and I was done inside of ten minutes! That's ten minutes including commute time!
Yes, there are problems with voter ID laws this time around (probably). But the good news is, there's even more places to go vote besides City Hall now. Sure, you can still go to City Hall (830 N. Market St.) if that's more convenient, or you could go to Midtown Center at 56th and Capital! Or you could go to Forest Home Library, at 14th and Forest Home Ave.!
Not so much of a bottleneck anymore!
And here's where the real advantage for Democrats comes into play. It's usually been the case that Democrats outnumber Republicans by a considerable amount, but Republicans give a damn about voting. As such, Democrats tend to win during general elections, but lose during midterms when the excitement factor isn't there as much.
Well, those days may be over! Because for the third straight election cycle, early voting is a major thing! Yes, we need to make voting even easier for a hard-working general public, but this is a major step in the right direction. We should take full advantage of it!
As I blogged about in 2014, early voting threatens to tip the balance towards the Democratic ticket forever. Because if Democrats actually voted in the midterms, no Republican could win! Well, not unless he seriously abandoned the crazy shit on his ticket (and isn't that the point?). It's time to make that powerful X-factor FELT! And felt permanently!
The polls are showing this current election to be tighter than it should be. Hillary is back to a comfortable 5-point lead, but aren't we all amazed that the lead isn't much, much larger? Well, if we get huge voter turnout, it will be! Why? Because polls are only reporting likely voters. And that estimate has been skewed the wrong way ever since early voting came to be. As of yet, early voting has not truly been felt, and yet the last two election cycles showed that more voters turned up than expected. No, it's not yet enough, but this year it can be! The gates are wide open to us! All we have to do is walk through!
Early voting is on! From now until November 8, you can cast your vote early, at your convenience, whenever you can find time in your busy schedule to do it. And if you do so, and find some silly voter ID law, some lack of registration, or some other nonsense blocking your way, you have weeks to deal with it!
So make your vote count! Make sure it's heard early!
The revolution is not just about Bernie Sanders. It's not just about who you vote for. It's also about when you vote!
Thursday, October 6, 2016
So, some of Trump's tax returns have been leaked, and it seems that he's very likely been paying zero dollars in taxes for nearly two decades.
I ask somewhat jokingly, as the "so what" should be obvious. The "so what" is the working stiff, scraping by on two minimum jobs, paying taxes on every dollar he earns. He, the minimum wage laborer, the poor bastard who prays he doesn't get a cold lest he lose both sources of income overnight, pays taxes.
And Trump doesn't.
So I get really frosted at Trump supporters saying, "so what?" You know what? If you use those two words, and pay taxes, then you are so delusional that nothing will snap you out of the Satanic spell Trump has cast over you.
"But wait!" some clever person out there might ask, "didn't you defend County Executive Chris Abele when he didn't pay any taxes?
Indeed, I did. And if you read this blog enough to catch that, bravo, even if you disagree with me. In fact, especially if you disagree with me!
But Abele and Trump are as different as Churchill and Mussolini. (Yes, respectively.) Abele's tax breaks came through well-documented charitable giving. He proved so by releasing his tax returns to the general public very early in his campaign, even though he was running for a lowly municipal office (as opposed to the presidency) and he didn't give a damn that he was being audited at the time. (Actually, I think he was audited earlier, but he was audited, and he certainly didn't use being audited as an excuse.)
Contrast this with Trump, who has met none of these basic standards. His charitable giving, such that it is, is not enough to eliminate all his taxes, even if he really did give to charity, which he hasn't really done until cajoled into doing so by the media. He has not released his tax returns, and will likely never do so because his excuse that he is being audited does not preclude him releasing said tax returns.
When such a man like this pays no taxes, it is not because he is generous. It is because he is a snake!
But this isn't the real scandal. As has been pointed out by many people, the real scandal isn't that these people, Trump and Abele, have paid no taxes. The scandal is - they can! And we cannot. Even if we earn minimum wage, we have a percentage taken out of our weekly or bi-weekly paycheck. And if we are hard-working enough to work two minimum wage jobs, some of that money is gone permanently.
Where's the tax break for the two-job minimum wage earner? Where's his break? Where's the break for the workers who are kept under 35 hours per week so that the employer doesn't have to dole out company benefits? Where is the tax break for the retail workers who are told to go on food stamps to supplement themselves so that the corporation doesn't have to pay any more to its workers than is absolutely necessary?
They don't get a tax break. But the corporate bigwigs who run the company, who are people like Trump and Abele, they do. They get to take advantage of real estate loopholes and write-offs for charitable giving.
Where's the write-off for these guys paying directly into a food stamp program as a charity? Where's the write-off for paying the salary of a soldier? Where's the write-off for helping fund a highway, or a bridge? Or even a write-off for paying employees a decent wage for a change? Does any of that sound like a goddamned good idea?
Oh yeah. Because any of that would actually be paying taxes!
Trump says he knows the tax code, so that he can fix it. Which is a little bit like cookie monster saying that he knows how to fix the cookie jar so that he won't be able to take any more cookies out of it. Fox, meet hen house.
I call bullshit. You may say, "so what?" Well, I say, "so what" to your "so what!" You're an idiot! That's what!
Sunday, October 2, 2016
It seems the primary tactic against Hillary Clinton these days is to attack her through her husband and his well-documented philandering. They call her an enabler, pointing out how she went after Monica Lewinsky with all the viciousness of a pit bull terrier, even though Bill was guilty. They say Hillary aided, abetted, and even possibly encouraged her husband to abuse women.
Rudy Giuliani, in particular, has utilized this argument with the kind of full-throated shrieking I haven't heard outside of Donald Trump. In fact, I'd say Trump is exactly who he learned it from. What Christopher Hitchens ever saw in Giuliani back in 2007 is beyond me.
Oh, Rudy. You picked the wrong teacher.
It's time for me to bury yet another of the myths regarding Hillary Clinton. And yes, there do seem to be a good deal of such baggage items following Hillary around. But what I find so fascinating about such baggage is - there's nothing in them! Most baggage at least contains something. Not Hillary's!
To understand why Hillary's attacks against Monica Lewinsky and others are justified, it is necessary to construct a timeline. Once you see the timeline, you will understand why the argument Trump and Giuliani are using is totally bogus.
1995, Bill Clinton begins his affair with Lewinsky. They would have about a dozen or so fellatio encounters over the course of the next few years.
January 17th, 1988 - The Monica Lewinsky scandal broke on the Drudge Report.
January 21st, 1998, the Lewinsky scandal gets reported in the Washington Post.
January 26th, Bill Clinton issues his harsh denial to the press, "I never had sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." Hillary was standing beside him at the time.
** Keep in mind, at this juncture, Hillary takes Bill at his word when he flatly denies any affair took place with Lewinsky. She knows he's had trysts in the past, such as the affair he'd had with Gennifer Flowers. But she believes him anyway. Why? Partly because he was so firm in his denials, but more importantly because it was just unthinkable. In the oval office? Surrounded by Secret Service personnel? It just seemed too ridiculous at the time, even with her husband's reputation! In fact, such a reputation would make him a prime target of such a concocted right-wing smear campaign! She concludes that the Republicans must have cooked up false allegations to attack her husband. She was out for blood!
January 27, 1998, Hillary interviews with Matt Lauer on the Today show. She utters her famous line about there being a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against her husband, then makes her not-to-veiled threat that certain people would "have a lot to answer for."
Hillary, true to her word, tries to apply an "Ellen Rometsch" strategy, where her husbands opponents, including Monica Lewinsky, would be shamed into silence by having all their dirty laundry aired out. She does this from February until mid-July of 1988. Keep in mind, she believes her husband is totally innocent, and that Monica Lewinsky is a lying bitch who was working for the Republicans while she worked as an inside staffer. To her mind, she's earned it!
July 28, 1998, Monica Lewinsky is given transactional immunity in exchange for her grand jury testimony. She also turns over a semen-stained dress which her friend, Linda Tripp, encouraged her to not throw away or get dry cleaned.
August 15, 1988 - Bill Clinton, realizing that Monica was not bluffing, and that he had nowhere left to hide, awakens Hillary in the middle of the night, and nervously confesses everything. He says that the whole thing is far worse than he thought. He says that the tryst with Monica was brief and fleeting, and that he did everything he could to pull away from her.
** Now, imagine what must be going through Hillary's mind at this point. Holy shit! It was all true?! It hits home that her husband has been caught lying about something the Republicans will no doubt grill him mercilessly for, and there was no getting around it. She could go down for it too! And holy hell! She'd attacked Monica Lewinsky for nothing! True, she was hardly innocent, but she was nothing more than a stupid bimbo! And she'd treated her like a traitor!
Then it hits her how insincere her husband's apologies for the Gennifer Flowers affair were! It hits her that allegations she took to be false from Paula Jones and others are probably also true after all! She remembers how viciously she attacked them, and they were only guilty of the far lesser crimes of being hapless sluts as well!
According to all accounts, Hillary scarcely spoke with Bill for the next two years. Bill literally spent the next several weeks sleeping on the couch. If it weren't for Chelsea pleading with the two of them not to split up, the marriage may have ended right there.
Fast forward to 2016. Nearly two decades have gone by. Hillary finally has opened back up to Bill somewhat. After much soul-searching (and winning her elections), she forgave Bill, but not because he deserved it. She did so because their marriage was always about partnership, and destroying it meant destroying the political franchise they'd built together - a chance to make the world a better place.
Now imagine how pissed off she must be when shriveled old farts, like the shell-of-his-former-self Rudy Giuliani, spout off accusations that Hillary's attacks on Monica Lewinsky were consciously designed to knowingly protect a guilty husband. Imagine how her blood must boil when he repeats the Paula Jones lie that she is some kind of "enabler."
As if she weren't lied to as well.
And Hillary stays cool. Shit, she doesn't have thick skin, she has armor-plating!
I was right to nickname her, "Lady Titanium."
Republicans would like to paint Bill as a college playboy whom Hillary could, in her lust for potential power, mold into a political draft-horse which she could drive to the White House. They speculate that she thought she could use his sex scandals against him as a weapon, brow-beating him into enacting whatever policies she wanted done.
Bullshit! Let's have some common sense, here! No woman who marries a known philanderer can ever control him! Nor does any woman look at such a man and see such opportunity! How ridiculous can you get?! Bill was a shy, pudgy band geek who fell in love with a brainy woman who never wore makeup. He was always awkward around women, and so the "plain-Jane" woman Hillary was back then must have seemed more approachable to him. By all accounts, he asked her to marry him first. She initially refused. It was a classic "semi-attractive smart people" romance, and the Republican narrative of a philandering college-boy Bill is all wrong.
It wasn't until Bill won the governorship of Arkansas that he suddenly got attention from women, because certain women are attracted to power, and it probably went to his head. Literally. He spent many years trying to recover from that sudden drug overdose! And Hillary spent many years coming to grips that her husband was not the shy, committed band geek she first married.
Hillary may be battle-scarred, but she's no lady-pimp cracking the whip over her gigolo husband. Such a notion is silly, if one knows the background. And even if one doesn't, it's easy to see that the back-story concocted for "enabler Hillary" makes no logical sense.
Contrast this with Donald Trump, who is not only a philanderer, but one who has openly boasted of it! A man who has been a playboy, been in Playboy magazine, and even had a cameo in a porno. A man who has had three wives after cheating on the first two, and has undoubtedly cheated with all three by yet more women besides.
If you thought a man getting a blow job in the oval office was bad, just think what this neo-Caligula will do to in there!
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
I just sent the following angry letter to Fox 6 News in Milwaukee. I could give background to the letter, but it really speaks for itself.
Name: Eric Hildeman
Comment: I wish to voice my extreme disappointment at the Fox 6 News Team's coverage of the Donald Trump Rally taking place tonight (9/28) at the Waukesha Expo Center. The story was covered professionally until the end of the segment, at which point Stephanie Grady's voice was clearly heard to say, "Hopefully, his message will resonate."
Are you kidding me?! A more clear-cut example of media bias is difficult to come by, even by today's low standards. I would like to sternly warn Fox 6 that this sort of unprofessional behavior cannot be tolerated by a public that relies on objective reporting to be properly informed. May I please remind you that far greater journalists have been fired for far less?
I seldom get my local news outside of Internet sources, these days. Now I remember why! Please act more like professionals!