Repeal the Second Amendment Many are tired of hearing people say “I support the 2nd Amendment, however….” Former supreme court judge says it is a relic of the 18th century and we should just get rid of it entirely. An Op-Ed in the LAT makes the same case.
The Facebook Betrayal Michael Hiltzik, columnist for the LAT worried when he noticed how Zuckerberg developed a two-class stock structure with the purpose of cementing his power over the future of Facebook. “You better hope he does everything right, because if he doesn’t he’ll be harder to get rid of than tuberculosis,” Hiltzik quipped. Now we see what Zuckerberg has been up to (in secret). Facebook with its 2.2 billion users now joins the Russians, Kushner, Cambridge Analytics, and the FBI in efforts to help the Republican throw the 2016 election. Some years ago, Mark Zuckerberg was asked why people willingly gave up so much personal information. “I don’t know why,” he said. “They trust me. Dumb….” FB has been criticized for many years for data mining of personal information and making it difficult for users to manage privacy options. In 2010, Zuckerberg admitted that FB needed better privacy controls but he never did anything about it. He is now making the same kinds of statements. Better take your picture off FB because they use facial recognition technology and everything about you starting with your face may be for sale. If you want to delete FB (it is hard to do). check this out. If you want to protect yourself from data harvesters, read this.
Big Brother is Watching You Remember when politicians railed against the dangers of Communism? Thought control is already standard operating procedure in Russian and China, and Russia now successfully uses thought manipulation (with the cooperation of Donald Trump) to manipulate elections in other countries. The Communist Party of China employs and army of fake internet commenters who spew out 448 million comments per year aimed at cheering on the government and redirecting attention to distract the public from issues the government doesn’t want them to talk (or think) about. A Georgetown professor writes about high-tech totalitarianism and what it is like to live in a surveillance state. Is this already happening here? Have we become a country where real news is dismissed as fake news, and fake news (like FOX) gets promoted as real news?
The Republican Guide to Presidential Etiquette Our February In the News column featured the official list of the 425 people and organizations that Trump has insulted. Here is another NYT list with about 50 examples of presidential behavior that are acceptable (even admired) by Republicans. Examples: Trump tells an average of 5 lies per day (over 2,000 so far). Watches 4-8 hours a day of cable TV and makes policy decisions based on what he hears on FOX. Boasts that he has signed more legislation than any other first-year president when in fact he has signed the least. Praises Norway for buying fighter airplanes that Trump has seen in video games (there are no such planes). Boasts to his rich friends that his new tax bill will make them all even richer. Says it is “disgusting” that reporters can write whatever they want and suggests that reporters who do this should be investigated. Spends about a third of his time at his golf course properties (at tax payer expense). Brags that there were no airline crashes last year because he was in office. Read the rest here.
The Republicans Fight Back Several decades ago the Republicans realized that their future was bleak unless they could somehow manipulate the popular vote. Much effort went into gerrymandering, and it worked. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by a wide margin but was able to win the gerrymandered electoral vote. In spite of this advantage, the prospects for the Donald Trump party continue to look bleak. Look for more efforts at voter suppression to help them out. The subtitle of this piece in the LAT is “Republicans have doubled down on the tactics of voter suppression.”
Beauty Contest in Washington Ever thought you would see the day when people reminisce about the good old days under Richard Nixon? The antics in our capitol have inspired a vigorous debate by Gail Collins who has written three pieces on Who Is the Best and Who is the Worst. For example, there is some good news for James Buchanan! Move over, you are no longer at the bottom of the worst president ever list! And who is worse, Trump or his lawyers? And what about the current Trump cabinet? Gail Collins rates the entire swamp. Read who is the winner.
The Gloves Come Off at the NYT The news division of the NYT continues to mute its headlines but the editorial division doesn’t mince words. A couple recent examples: In one entitled “Is Mr. Trump Nuts?” The editors debate the findings of psychiatrists who concluded that Trump has mental illness issues which are a “grave and immediate danger to the safety of America and the world.” Another editorial is about the total romp that lobbyists are now enjoying in Washington. Lobbyists stream in and out of the White House in secrecy. Favors and deals abound. A non-partisan watchdog group documents 60 lobbying groups, foreign governments, and corporations that make the stench worse than ever. All this after Trump stated during the campaign, “I’m going to fight for every person this country who believes government should serve the people – not the donors and special interests!” Is this lie # 2001?
Is Trump Honest or Dishonest? Did Donald Trump trick the American voters? Not so, says Frank Bruni who insists that Trump is the most honest president in recent times because he makes no effort to hide his ugly side. Everyone knows that he is a totally unprincipled liar, bigot, and racist. He is vengeful, has an explosive temper, ignores facts, reads very little and gets his information from television. He worships money, wallows in vanity, enjoys being a con artist, and cavorts with prostitutes. He didn’t trick anyone because this was all common knowledge and Americans elected him anyhow. The real story is what this tells us about America. See this Op-Ed with a cartoon of Trump hiding behind four Joker cards:
Is Orange County Turning Blue? Not so fast, says the LAT headline: “OC’s Conservative Side Is Alive and Well.”
Hate Groups Increasing According to the Orange County Register, there are 38 extremist hate groups in Southern California. They are becoming significantly more open and brazen, often flying high-visibility banners across freeways. Most banners are anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and white supremist. For example, “Americans are white, the rest must go,” “Blood and soil” (an old Nazi slogan), and “Jews Did 9/11.”
The Voices of Young People
Madison Leal: “The children will become leaders as the leaders have become children.”
Sara Chadwick: “We may be young but our voices are louder than you can imagine.”
Lina Crisostomo: “I blame the government for what happened and also the people that are sending prayers and condolences but aren’t doing anything. It’s just heart-breaking to know that the people representing you are failing you.”
David Hogg: “The fact that some of the students are showing more maturity and political action than many of our elected officials is a testament to how disgusting and broken our political system is right now in America. Every day, politics is used to suppress you. I have always felt this way. Now I have the platform to speak out.”
Florence Yared: “You adults have failed us by not creating a safer place for your children to go to school. So we, the next generation, will not fail our own kids. We will make this change happen. If not today, then tomorrow. Take it from us. You created a mess for us, but we will make this world safer for our children.”
Aly Sheehy: “The children you pissed off will not forget this in the voting booth. Don’t doubt the power of the younger generation because we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Jaclyn Corin: “In the period of one month, we have shaken up the world. But I feel like the adults keep pressing the snooze button. At some point they’re going to have to wake up.”
Darct Schleifstein: We are Generation Z, the generation after the millennials. We outnumber them by nearly one million….We will flex our muscles at the ballot box, too.”
Best Letter to the Editor of the Month
To the Editor, NYT: What can you say about the state of our country when an adult film star sounds more believable and more intelligent, and is more sympathetic, than the president of the United States” Judith Katz, New York
Best Craigslist Ad
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Best Book Remember Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame? He has a new book out The Doomsday Machine which gives a terrifying account of the thinking of military planners whose job it is to come up with scenarios for the world’s final war. It is a little like Star Warriors written a few decades ago by think tank strategists who considered blowing up the moon or changing the earth obit to put our enemies in a polar climate. Ellsberg’s new book is actually an extension of the more famous one written by Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War. He originated the idea of the Doomsday Machine whose appeal was that it was quick, simple, cheap, and effective. The United States would assemble an enormous H-Bomb and bury it under a place like New York City. When the temperature in NYC reached 100,000,000 degrees (a nuclear attack), the temperature sensor would trigger the bomb which would kill all life in the northern hemisphere in short course. (It might take a few months to kill all life in the southern hemisphere.) Because of this grand theory of mutual destruction, no one would ever launch an attack. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/books/review/daniel-ellsberg-the-doomsday-machine.html Are you reassured?