Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Swarm the Trumpephant

You are hopefully wondering what you can do, if anything, to push back against the unfolding tin-pot dictatorship of Donald Trump (see here). The good news is that this President is particularly vulnerable in two critical areas. The first is his wallet. Money is all he cares about. The second is his brand, because that is what brings him his money.

trumpephantBoth of these vulnerabilities are at the mercy of us, the public. If we work individually but in sufficient numbers we can bring him to his knees like an army of ants swarming to bring down an elephant – the Trumpephant.

Trump is not really a great businessman. He doesn’t build or produce much of anything. The Trump hotels he pretends to own are mostly owned by others who just license his brand name. He is essentially just a brand marketer and his brand is his only real product.

For example, his newest hotel, The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver was actually built by a Malaysian businessman named Joo Kim Tiah (see here). Although Trump pretends to build and own these hotels, he does not. Mr. Tiah simply licensed the Trump name for branding and marketing. The Trump Hotel Collection just manages the hotel portion of the tower.

Reportedly, Mr. Tiah attempted to cancel the licensing deal as soon as Donald Trump ran for President but was unable to get out of his contract with the Trump Organization. This should show you just how vulnerable Trump is. All he has to sell is his brand and if that gold tarnishes, he has nothing left to sell to his major partners.

All we need to do is to taint his brand name. We, you and I, can do that. We just need to take the Trump name that he has worked so hard to make synonymous with luxury and quality, and instead make it inextricably linked with corruption, lies, and excess.

So, make “Trump” a part of your everyday language. Every time you wish to ridicule something or point out a poser or liar or charlatan or cheap excess, refer to it as a Trump.

“Wow, check out that pathetic Trump over there.”

“That guy was a pretentious idiot, I’m talking Trump grade.

“The Congressman must think we are complete morons, he tried to pull a Trump on us.”

“Wow he really messed up, an epic Trump up.”

“You she looked absurdly tacky in that dress, a total Trump.

“I wouldn’t be caught dead going in there. It’s so… Trump!”

You get the idea. Be imaginative, wicked, relentless, and merciless. We need to take away Trump’s only real asset by turning it into an overused joke – a derogatory expression that will endure for generations as a cautionary tale to those who would follow his example. We need to make sure that the next Joo Kim Tiah does not even consider signing a deal with the Trumps.

YOU can ninja this Trump brand anti-marketing every day. But you can also take direct action as well by boycotting companies that peddle his ridiculous Trump crap. Boycotting DOES work. We know that. And boycotting in this case is easy. Just keep track of companies that sell Trump shit. Simply search their site for “Trump” or check this spreadsheet (see here). There is even an app for that (see here).

For example, Amazon was petitioned for nearly a year to stop promoting Trump merchandise. They continue to do so. Now, I know you probably cannot stop using Amazon entirely, but you can still pressure them. On occasion, just go to their feedback page and send them an email saying that I am NOT buying my new <fill in the blank> from you because you continue to promote Trump. Do this for all the retailers you can.

Even if you only do this occasionally, it is still huge when enough people do it together. One ant nibbling on the Trumpephant does nothing, but together we can reduce it to a zombie skeleton in minutes.

Now I know are probably rationalizing that it’s unfair to punish retailers. But you’re wrong. Now that Trump is President, these retailers are no longer non-political when they continue to sell his crap. Amazon (as the largest example) is potentially currying favor with the White House by continuing to offer his junk. They also implicitly condone his activities by hawking his garbage. Don’t feel sorry for them, this is part of the territory.

And are you thinking that boycotting is unfair because Trump cannot extricate himself from his businesses? Too bad! That would be like saying that it’s ok if Melania were a Slovenian spy because, well, he can’t really just be expected to divorce her! But that’s exactly what he would need to do, or step down as President. Our President simply cannot make policy that impacts Amazon and other retailers without concern about a conflict of interest, any more than he could remain free of legitimate concern if Melania were a known Slovenian spy. If retailers sell his products, will he favor them? If they do not might he punish them? Do companies favor him simply out of fear that he might punish them? He is after all known to be singularly petty and vindictive. We cannot ever know for sure and every decision he makes has this inherent uncertainty. That is why his particular conflict of interest situation is deeply unacceptable and just one reason why Donald Trump is entirely unacceptable as President.

Yes maybe 50% of Americans voted for Trump knowing that he would have business conflicts while in office. So what? If 50% of America voted for a candidate with a spy-wife, we should not simply accept that situation either. If 50% of Americans voted for a slave owner, well that is why we have checks and balances – including direct action by the other 50%.

So, tarnish the brand as much as you can. Turn it into a sad cliché of a joke. At the same time boycott not only Trump crap, but all companies that carry Trump crap. Make association with his brand a “loser” for business partners and retailers and elected officials and for voters.

Oh yes, and keep organizing, protesting,  and pestering your representatives. Call them out and embarrass them for aligning with Trump. We can bring down this lumbering Trumpephant that is trampling all over all our great nation – if we all relentlessly piranha his thin orange hide at every opportunity.

 

Tin Pot Trump

tinpotI’m sure you have heard the term “tin pot dictator.” It refers to “an autocratic ruler with little political credibility, but with self-delusions of grandeur.” This pejorative was coined in the early days of the British Empire and it associates certain rulers with the cheap, disposable containers used before the creation of the modern tin can. Like the one on the right, these cheap cans boasted labels that portrayed the contents in a highly overblown and pretentious manner. But the common people were not all fooled. They knew full well that Dinner Time Brand coffee was not exactly the Royal experience promised on the label. Thus the term “tin pot dictator” spoke volumes to them.

Dictators are not uncommon and not limited to only a few flawed countries. The Ranker website has a list of over 100 infamous dictators (see here) from a broad spectrum of nations. Not all of these were true “tin pot” dictators, some were quite capable dictators. Many of these dictators came to power through fair elections riding tremendous popularity with their voters. But I think it is safe to say that few of those voters thought they were voting for a dictator when they voted for a dictator. In fact it is probably safe to say that few people in those nations thought a dictator could ever take power in their country.

Now, in America, we have also succumbed. Deny it at your peril, but we have elected a wanna-be strongman dictator. Donald Trump is unquestionably “an autocratic ruler with little political credibility, but with self-delusions of grandeur.” Even if it is not his conscious intention to become a strongman dictator, his personality and style of leadership will inevitably lead him there. Bury your head in the sand if you must, but we now have a dangerously unstable tin pot dictator in power.

Psychologists generally agree that most dictators suffer from a group of 6 major psychological disorders including sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal. While I’m not a psychologist, it seems clearly evident that Donald Trump also suffers from these disorders to at least a sufficient level to warrant deep concerns. He is disturbingly similar to Kim Jong-Il in his worldview, personality, and behaviors.

If Trump succeeds in his aspirations or even allowed to follow his natural inclinations, America will become another tin pot nation. Trump will continue to be driven by his personality disorders in more and more bizarre ways. He will continue to aggrandize and enrich himself to the exclusion of all other considerations. He will inevitably take us and the world down a path that we may not recover from for many generations, if ever.

Only one question remains, having  foolishly empowered this fledgling tin pot dictator, will we now accept his increasingly dictatorial rule? Will we allow our newly elected tin pot dictator, so disturbingly similar to other crazy strongmen like Kim Jong-Il, to turn our once great nation into yet another pathetic tin pot dictatorship?

That will not remain a rhetorical question for long. We will soon have our answer.

 

 

 

The Presidential Pendulum

Lots of people subscribe to the popular pendulum swing theory of Presidential elections. Although long-term election history does not support the theory of a pendulum swing between Democrat and Republican administrations, the anecdotal impression that we tend to recoil from the predominant characteristics of the last administration is compelling. It’s not a pendulum swing exactly, but more of an extreme overreaction to the last guy, in which the very strengths that attracted us to the last President become the very things we recoil against in our next President.

Let’s review, starting with Nixon.

Still traumatized by the shady, crooked, “Tricky Dick” characterization of the Nixon debacle, voters recoiled toward squeaky clean Jimmy Carter – a person whose integrity was as beyond reproach as the Pope. (Gerald Ford wasn’t really a choice.)

During the Carter years however, the public took his integrity for granted and instead focused on his “scholarly” nature. He communicated like a scientist – everything nuanced and complicated. He was well-known to dig into the details of original source material rather than rely solely upon executive summaries. He was viewed as an intellectual, and his successor, Ronald Reagan, was the perfect opposite extreme. Reagan played up Carter’s “egghead” perception, called facts thing that “get in the way,” offered simplistic, shallow quips as answers to complex questions, and consulted with psychic advisors. The public embraced Reagan because he was anti-intellectual and because he was anti-government while Carter still naively believed that government was good and should do good things.

In response to what was increasingly seen as a glib and even dangerously senile Reagan, the public gravitated toward the uncharismatic and uninspiring administrator, Bush Senior. But after being quickly bored to death by him, they flew into the arms of a youthful and inspiring Bill Clinton.

After his opponents finally made the Slick Willy impression stick, the public was next prime to reject our “smooth big city talker” and instead adopt a “good old boy,” a virtual country bumpkin, named Bush Junior. Electing Bush was essentially voting for Ned the farmer for Iowa City Mayor because we were just all taken in by that big-city fast-talking flimflam man that we finally booted out of town.

But after the inevitable embarrassment of an inept Barney Fife President that could barely speak proper English, threw up on foreign leaders, and seemed to laugh and dance in the most inappropriate ways, we were ready to recoil toward a far more dignified leader, and we found that in Barack Obama.

cousineddieNo one, even his worst critics, can do anything but praise and applaud the dignity and bearing with which Obama and his family have represented the office of President. Yet, it is that very characteristic that we now feel compelled as a people to reject. So what do we do? We elect Donald Trump – a man who is the antithesis of dignity. A trash-talking trailer-trash President who is about as refined as Cousin Eddie played by Randy Quaid in the Vacation movies. We love Eddie because he is NOT dignified. Likewise we see Trump as a refreshingly frank person who is a great natural businessman.

But after four humiliating years of Donald Trump as President, we will inevitably recoil again. After having eaten up all the food in our house and having trashed the carpets and furniture, we’ll finally push cousin Eddie our of our house, hitting the road again in his garish RV.

Who will we recoil to after Trump? I don’t have any idea, but I wouldn’t put it past many voters to decide that the problem with Trump was that he was just TOO dignified, TOO politically correct, TOO pro-government, and just TOO dang nice.

If there is a Presidential pendulum pattern, it seems to be more like a “nice guy – bad guy” cycle of dating. We are never satisfied in our relationships, so the things that attracted us to the last guy are the very things we explicitly reject in the next. We overcompensate like angst ridden teens and find ourselves making a lot of really, really stupid relationship decisions.

Will Trump be a troubled, deeply flawed bad boy with potential that we can fix, or just another supremely stupid relationship decision that we realize was a huge mistake five minutes after he moves in? I hope for the former but expect the latter.

 

 

Why Wall Street Loves Trump

I hear that Wall Street is all excited about a Trump Presidency. They should be. I’d like to comment on this, but first let me admit that I have absolutely no qualifications to offer any sort of informed analysis. In fact I’m probably the least qualified financial analyst possible. As amazing as it may seem, I am literally an Economics 101 drop out.

How is it possible to fail one of the easiest undergrad filler classes you ask? Well back in Econ 101, the professor instructed us that we had to “play the game.” We were explicitly told not to consider any common sense, logic, or real-world experience while participating in his discussion sessions. We were admonished to simply play along and accept his premises as presented, however absurd they they may seem.

I had trouble participating in these discussions. In fact, at one point the professor called on me to select either option A or option B for some hypothetical scenario. I told him that I could not choose either one because they were both ridiculous. As this was not my first uncooperative infraction, he told me that I should either “play the game” or drop his course. I stood up, gathered up my books slowly, and announced that I chose option C, dropping the course. Then I took a long walk up the lecture hall steps and across to the back door to give my fellow students as much time as possible to consider what they hell they were learning in this idiotic class.

Although I never did “play the game” to the end to see how it all came together, I suspect that the professor never actually got around to showing how all of his ridiculous economic scenarios applied to the real world. I suspect that all of my former classmates came away only with the expected understanding of our crazy capitalist system, and with absolutely no recollection of the sanity that they were required to abandon in order to accept it.

Now most of us do accept as we are constantly led to believe by the media, that when the Dow and the Nasdaq are excited, we should all be excited. And here I am, without the insight gained by completing even Econ 101, epically unprepared to understand why we should all be excited by Wall Street’s enthusiasm for Donald Trump.

Yet it seems to me that Wall Street gets excited over one thing and one thing only, higher profits for shareholders. Profits are not increased by the things most of us want like more jobs, higher wages, better benefits, a cleaner and safer environment, or greater consumer protections. In fact profits go up most dramatically when these things can be reduced, circumvented, or eliminated completely.

Wall Street gets excited when businesses can replace jobs with machines or cheap overseas labor. They get excited when they can lower wages or benefits to increase profits for shareholders. They get excited when they can be shielded from corporate malfeasance or pollute our environment or bankrupt retirement funds to hand out executive bonuses. The markets go up and down all the time. Usually when they go up it means nothing good for the workers or for the consumer.

These are all things that Wall Street expects Donald Trump to help them do as President. Is it any wonder they are all excited?

wallstreetOne thing that Wall Street loves most of all are disasters. Disasters make bankers salivate. Life is full of its little ironies, and as it turns out I just moved away from New York City after 10 years of living literally on Wall Street. In another strange twist of fate, I worked on Church Street (I’m a devout atheist). Anyway, back on point. I used to meet lots of financial types. I remember after a tornado leveled some towns in the South, these guys were like kids in a candy store. They could hardly contain their enthusiasm over this disaster and all the new loans and sales it would create.

Make no mistake. The election of Donald Trump was a huge, mega-disaster. No wonder my former Wall Street neighbors are getting erections. Disasters create opportunities for massive profits for the already wealthy. But for all the rest of us? Well they are still just disasters. Maybe we all just need to forget reality and simply “play the game” when CNN Money and The Economist reassure us that Wall Street is bullish over a Trump Administration.

 

 

 

 

The Rise of the Nevers

If our American Presidential campaigns were envisioned as a Star Wars style movie series, the 2016 episode would be entitled The Rise of the Nevers. In this episode, the electorate has been divided as never before and we see the emergence of an ominous new movement.  The Republic becomes divided not by their sincere support for their respective candidates, but by their entrenched intransigent hatred for their opponents. They no longer care about their own candidate, they merely oppose the other side. They are The Nevers.

The rise of these Nevers is frightening. The movement both reflects and reinforces a level of divisiveness that can only bring strife and ruin. Many are SO hell-bent on wining that they gin up exaggerated reasons to take an extreme Never Clinton position. Their opposition to her is so vitriolic that they turn to the most deplorable candidate possible to carry their message. The opposition find this candidate so abhorrent that they can only respond with a Never Trump position.

As long as we have people electing or forced to take a Never stance, we are in such a hyperbolic state of rabid partisanship that democracy cannot function in a healthy fashion. We are proud of our system of government with its checks and balances. But that is a fragile thing. As we have seen, it is far too easy for that system to slip from gracious debate, advice, and consent, to win-at-all-costs internecine warfare that serves no other purpose than to crush and destroy the other party.

Think of our nation like an airplane. The wise founders of the airline put in place a system of check and balances, including a pilot and a copilot, to ensure that the planes will carry all passengers to their destinations safely and on-time. In most normal situations, the two pilots are expected to work as a team, cooperating for the good of all. But they are also there to watch each other and ensure that one of them does not become unhinged and choose to fly the plane into a mountainside. However, imagine the dysfunction if they were to say “I’ll never allow the other to fly this plane!” The pilot tries to fly one direction, but the copilot insists on flying a different route and they start fighting for control of the cockpit. It would be lucky if the plane did not crash in a spectacular fireball of metal and bodies.

duelAs long as we are reduced and diminished to a Nevers attitude of elections and leadership in this country, we are pilot and copilot struggling for control of the cockpit as the plane races into a mountainside. We are Darth and Luke fighting each other when only united can they hope to oppose the truly evil Emperor. Only when the Nevers fade away and we once again express affirmative support for civil, respectful candidates who commit to work together to solve problems, rather than working merely to destroy each other, can we thrive and survive as a people and as a nation.

The true Emperor that cackles as his grand scheme unfolds while we fight senselessly against each other has a name. He is Climate Change.

 

Voting Third-Party in 2016

In his recent Op Ed, Paul Krugman talked about the dangerous attraction of voting Libertarian (see here). I’d like to second this. Well actually from my perspective he is seconding me, but he did hit “Publish” a few hours before this planned Monday morning post.

Look, Paul said it well but here’s my unique take on this. I have long advocated voting third-party to anyone who would listen. I argued, soundly I still think, that Progressives consistently vote out of fear and have failed to play the smarter and longer strategic game. By failing to take a stand for change and to lose a Presidency or a Supreme Court Judge in the short term, we consistently vote for the “lesser of two evils.” This has only played into the hands of the Conservatives in which they win either way, maintaining the status quo and moving the center methodically ever further to the Right with each election cycle. Unless we are willing to back a third party candidate in large numbers and lose a battle, sacrifice a Pawn or even a Queen, we cannot hope to win the war.

But there are rational limits to everything, and even in war there are some battles that we cannot give up; a hill that we cannot allow to be taken, a Rubicon that cannot allow the enemy to cross. If Jeb Bush or John Kasich were the Republican nominee, I would still be advising the long game. However, Donald Trump totally changes my calculus. A pathological liar who rivals Kim Jong-un only in his level of obscene narcissism, simply cannot be allowed to assume a position of such immense power. Allowing a reckless buffoon like Trump to take office in America, even if only for four years, is utterly unacceptable.

As much as it catches in my throat to even say it, voting third party is simply foolish in this election. I admit that I am motivated by fear here. I am afraid of the real, existential threat of Donald Trump. Sometimes fear can save our lives.

Even if one grants the silly Fox meme that Hillary is a crook, a crook in the White House is infinitely preferable to an utterly self-serving compulsive liar.

One of my biggest complaints and concerns about Hillary is that she is too hawkish. But recklessly insane Donald Trump has already said he would launch missiles if some guys give the finger to personnel on one of our Destroyers! There is absolutely no comparison here. Hillary the lesser of two evils? Absolutely, by an incalculable margin.

And don’t fool yourself. Your vote matters even if you live in a safely Blue State. Unless Hillary wins with an overwhelming popular vote, she will have no mandate and the forces that spawned Trump will only feel encouraged and emboldened to block her every effort and to keep giving us more of the same extreme Conservatism.

libertarianIf, after all this, you still feel compelled to vote third-party, think about who you are supporting with your symbolic vote. Johnson and Weld are Libertarians. They claim to be “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” But this is a HUGE LIE. They are only socially liberal in as far as they support the legalization of pot and a woman’s right to choose. But they also support privatization of almost every social institution including education, the right to own assault weapons, eliminating all corporate taxes, instituting a hugely regressive consumption tax, trusting in the private sector to stop climate change, and eliminating almost all regulations. The list goes on and on. These guys are not socially liberal since all of their “fiscally conservative” positions are actually socially conservative positions painted up as fiscal common sense.

If you vote Libertarian, you are not just saying you reject the status quo, you are also saying you support all of their extreme Libertarian positions that are too far Right for even mainstream Conservatives to accept.

One final plea. If you DO still feel compelled to vote third-party, strongly consider voting for Dr. Jill Stein. The Green Party is not an ideologically blinded wolf in sheep’s clothing like the Libertarians. They are truly sensible, rational, intelligent, and represent real Progressive change. If we were not faced with the horrifying specter of a Donald Trump Presidency, I would be proud to vote Green. Vote for them down ticket as much as you can.

Sorry Jill, I feel terrible but please try again and again!!

 

Data, Data Everywhere…

In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge lamented “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” There seems to be no better way to describe our situation today with regard to information. We sail upon a vast ocean of data and yet we die of thirst. Indeed, we are too often deluged by great waves of facts that batter us relentlessly to and fro upon treacherous seas of data.

It feels particularly disconcerting for me to write this article. In my book, Belief in Science and the Science of Belief (see here), I promote the importance of elevating facts above beliefs. After all, facts should reflect reality. They should be the basis upon which truth is known. Today however, data seems to be used far more effectively to support beliefs, fantasies, and lies than it is used to reveal truths. Indeed, those who wish to sell us nonsense don’t often bother to invoke the bible or faith anymore – they invoke their own “facts” instead.

One reason that facts have become the new champions of beliefs and cons is the sheer amount of it. We now have so much data that one can mine anything they want from the endless mountains of the stuff that we have produced. Misrepresented facts can now be dredged up to fabricate lies far easier than spinning magical stories of gods and devils.

Nowhere is this new perversion of facts more true than in politics. Today politicians like Donald Trump incessantly cite completely misleading facts to support their beliefs and positions and to outright lie. Even if the majority of people do not believe their “trumped up” facts, they nevertheless conclude that all facts are suspect and that no facts can be trusted. This tangibly undermines the level of rational thinking of our entire culture and leaves us without any sound basis for making good decisions as a society.

In his excellent Op-Ed (see here), William Davies points out that “they [facts] seem to be losing their ability to support consensus.” According to Davies, there is clear agreement that “We have entered an age of post-truth politics.” This new age of bullshit is fueled not by assertions of faith, but by assertions of facts. As Davies further points out, “Rather than sit coolly outside the fray of political argument, facts are now one of the main rhetorical weapons within it.

So facts have become the new bullshit. We claim to care about facts, but only because, as with the bible, we can always find something in them to support our beliefs and prejudices and self-interest. Our abundance of data seems to be only serving to diminish and undervalue it; to make it increasingly vulnerable to manipulation, misrepresentation, and lies by half-truth. The sheer volume of it makes it far more difficult to say anything with certainty without some other bit of data seeming to contradict it.

And this perversion and misuse of facts is not just true in politics but has become the new normal in all walks of life. All too often journalists and pundits do not pursue facts to reveal truth, but rather invoke them to advocate for opposing sides of an issue. This makes great theatre, but does little to advance the important questions that we face. It instigates and perpetuates conflict rather than help reach a sound fact-based consensus.

Even scientists, our gatekeepers and guardians of fact, all too often emphasize only those facts that advocate for their positions rather than serving the far greater goal of advancing science as a quest for truth.

Abandoning facts is simply not an option. Allowing the manipulators to turn all fact-based thinking into rationalization games and data manipulation exercises is not an option because without sound facts good decisions simply cannot be made. If we allow facts to be coopted by magical thinkers, by self-serving politicians, or even by well-meaning advocates, we might as well put the psychic hotline staff in charge of our fates.

What is the answer? We must reclaim facts. We must become smarter consumers of facts who are no more likely to be fooled by the bogus facts cited by manipulative politicians or corporations any more than we are by laughably ambiguous bible citations and interpretations. We must learn to recognize valid data and sound conclusions amidst all the cherry-picking and false claims. We must learn to treasure and respect fairly presented facts as diamonds amongst all the heaps of rubble and fool’s gold that we have to sift through every day.

Our overabundance of data should make us value – and demand – sound analysis and conclusions based on that data all that much more.

 

2017 State of the Union

trumpThe state of the union is … great! It’s the greatest in fact. It is the greatest state of any union ever. The main reason our union is so great is because I am honestly the greatest president ever, no contest, and everyone agrees on this. Am I right?

Our rebranding of America is going really, really well – it’s amazing. The golden Trump sign we installed on the White House is spectacular, so classy. I’ve gotten so many tweets about it you wouldn’t believe. The flashing can be seen all the way from the new Trump Tower. I mean who was this Washington guy anyway? What did he do that was so great? Wear wooden teeth? Give me a break! And we are still looking for an artist to replace the statue in that Lincoln Memorial with one that people care about. Everyone wants it to be me; what can I say? Once I’m sitting there all huge you’ll be so proud to be an American. Also, I’ve got even more exciting news. We’re working on a new flag with the stars forming a constellation in my image. It’ll be classy, trust me, it’ll be so classy you won’t believe it.

And when it comes to the economy, let me tell you, last year we’ve made absolutely the best deals ever. Our deal to sell Atlantic City to The Trump Organization is the greatest deal for this country. It’s a big deal, the biggest. The new Trump City is gonna be fabulous, you’ll be so proud. And let me tell you, once our corporate takeover of Las Vegas is complete, the new Trump City West will be incredible. It’s going to make us the envy of the world that I can tell you. Tourists will flock there by the millions, trust me, millions.

The transition of my cabinet and staff is complete, and all those old losers are out. What morons and scum bags, jeesh. Today I’m pleased to announce that David Duke will be my new FBI Director. He’s going to make sure that the Congress and Supreme Court get in line, believe me. And I’m also happy to announce David Koch as Director of the newly combined Departments of Energy and EPA. I was just gonna disband them but frankly David paid so much money for the job I’d be an idiot to say no, and I’m not an idiot. And here’s the best news. Lovely Melania has agreed to be our new Secretary of State. She asked me, what do they do? I said, don’t worry your pretty head, you just have to look fantastic and keep your mouth shut. She’s so good at that I can’t tell you, she’s the best.

I gotta be honest; there have been some problems, that can I tell you. But now with old lady Ginsburg and hysterical Sotomexicano put away in Guantanamo, my lawsuits should all disappear. OK folks? Look, women and Hispanics and old people all love me by the way. And now that Pelosi is back in her place and Palsy Ryan has slithered back to whatever hick town in Wisconsin he crawled out of – sorry but it’s the truth – everyone else is falling in line with my plan to privatize the Senate and Congress. Excuse me, it’s just a fact… private companies can govern so much better than the “government,” am I right? And don’t worry, I’ll hire only the very best people to run my government, believe me, THE best. I’m personally interviewing the guys who made a killing in Michigan. They know how to get things done let me tell you. After a crash course at Trump National University, they will be ready to take over and make America great again, totally great again.

America will be so great you won’t even recognize it!

Dear Future Time-Traveler

If you are reading this it is probably the year 2416, give or take, you are undoubtedly one of the few technologists remaining alive in the last enclave of a largely uninhabitable future Earth decimated by the ravages of corporate planetary exploitation resulting in resource wars fueled by religious extremism. Your search algorithm undoubtedly pulled this ancient blog article off of molecular storage because you have just completed a prototype time-travel machine, you have only enough energy left on the planet to send one person back one time, and you are researching what a single lone agent could do to avert your catastrophic timeline.

ReaganHere is what you must do. It is your best chance for survival. You have to stop Ronald Reagan.

I know that time travel theory requires that you make only the most subtle possible alteration at a key intersection in the timelines, so just killing Reagan is ill-advised. Besides being ethically unacceptable, even to save the planet and billions of future lives, his death could result in wildly unpredictable repercussions. Therefore, you must send your agent back to April 22nd, 1980 just two days before the fateful Operation Eagle Claw failed famously to rescue American hostages held in Iran. Your agent must gain access to Col. Charles A. Beckwith and convince him to inspect the helicopter rotors and hydraulics and avoid flying though regions with sandy particulates.

If your agent can assure that these minor problems are avoided, he or she can thwart Reagan’s alleged conspiracy with Iran to hold the hostages until after the election in order to discredit Jimmy Carter. In any event, this will likely prevent Reagan from gaining the White House, which will keep the solar panels on the roof and ensure that the nascent enculturation of Carter’s responsible, science-based energy and social policies are not aborted by Reagan.

By thwarting the Reagan Presidency, we avoid the critically pivotal fork when we chose self-interest over social good; unrestrained consumerism over sustainability; religious extremism over humanist ethics; voodoo trickle-down economics over sound economic policies; superstition over science; beliefs over facts; hatred for the government over pride in government; rabid partisanism over political cooperation; and unrestrained militarism over a thriving peace-time economy.

If Carter had retained the Presidency, there would have been a chance at least that science and fact-based thinking would have prevailed; that the religious community would have followed his humble example of restraint and separation from government affairs; that rampant consumerism and self-interest would not have completely corrupted corporate leaders into elevating next-quarter’s profits and personal bonuses above all social considerations; that subsequent generations of government leaders would not be hell-bent to destroy government and the people that support them would not be convinced that government is their enemy. In the alternate timeline, John McCain would never have considered nominating Sarah Palin and Donald Trump would never have become the orange-haired Frankenstein’s Monster of our own creation that he is. The existential threat of Global Climate Change and all of its resultant horrors would have been managed responsibly with a long-term and forward-looking sense of responsibility for the planet and for future generations.

So, future time-traveler, this is your only hope, our final hope. You must ensure that Operation Eagle Claw does not fail. If you succeed in that mission, this whole tragically cascading timeline will never have occurred. Hopefully moments after I click Publish on this blog article, my timeline will shift because you will have read it in the future and sent your agent back in time and he or she has succeeded in averting the failure of Operation Eagle Claw which has prevented the Reagan Presidency and the ascendency of the crazy religious anti-government Right. Your future world and mine will transform into a sane, rational, humane planet, unpolluted and unthreatened by climate change, with an America that is truly the light of the world rather than the single greatest threat to its survival.

If we fail to rise to our challenge of building a sane and sustainable planet, you future time-traveler are our last hope!

 

The Political Pickup Artist

mysteryIn 2007, a show called “The Pickup Artist” ran for two seasons. It was a reality-show contest format in which an elite Pickup Artist named Mystery mentored a motley group of misfits and losers in techniques for picking up women. Which dweeby kid would apply their lessons well enough by the end of the season to earn the title of “Pickup Artist?” Stay tuned!

People had lots of negative reactions to the unsavory methods taught in the show and by the suggestion that women are really that manipulable (though the same is certainly true of men). They were especially vexed by the fact that they could not completely dismiss the reality that the techniques promoted in the show really do work. By applying a few seemingly counterintuitive principles, these Pickup Artists really are able to pretty much walk into any kind of venue and walk out with the very willing phone number of pretty much any woman they choose.

Here are some of the important techniques taught by Mystery:

  1. Peacocking is critical. Even if you look silly, you need bling to stand out.
  2. You have to project more worth than anyone else in the room to be desirable.
  3. You have to establish outcome independence with an attitude that you really don’t care if she goes home with you or not.
  4. You have to project absolute confidence and not show a hint of self-doubt.
  5. You have to show the target you don’t particularly care about them. You need to even dis them and put them down in a mild way to make them want you more.
  6. You have to engage and actively listen.
  7. You have to be fun and actually have fun.

The series showed us that if you are able to execute these techniques successfully, pretty much any woman will give you her number. Even if she knows you’re bad news. Even if all her friends warn her you’re terrible for her. Even if she knows that there are way more sensible choices out there that would be far better for her. Despite all reason and common sense shouting “stay away” she’ll still want you anyway.

trumpNow The Pickup Artist reality show is back for another run. This time it stars The Donald as the Master Pickup Artist and he is schooling another motley group of misfits and losers in how to pick up voters. This season’s cast includes math club runt Bobby Jindal, pathetically desperate Jeb Bush, awkward twit Marco Rubio, sickeningly nice Rick Santorum, creepy-crawly Ted Cruz, messed-up-by-religion Mike Huckabee, tries-too-hard Rick Perry, and only-one-who-thinks-he’s-smart Rand Paul. None of these poor losers has a hope of getting a voter to give him their vote, let alone their phone number.

Here are some of the critical voter pick-up lessons that The Donald demonstrates this season:

  1. Peacocking is critical. That hair may look ridiculous, but bling is bling and he certainly stands out amongst the other stuffed shirts.
  2. Everything about Trump implicitly and explicitly shouts “I’m worth more than anyone else in the field and I know it.”
  3. Trump’s attitude of outcome independence says sure, I’ll be your President if you beg for it but I don’t need to be. I’m just as happy to move on to something better.
  4. Trump projects absolute confidence in everything he says and does. He never gives any hint of hesitation or self-doubt.
  5. In talking to voters whether it be women, Hispanics and pretty much everyone else, Trump is happy to put them down to make them want him that much more despite all their better judgment.
  6. Trump doesn’t hold press conferences; he holds conversations with the press and the public. Whether he cares what you have to say or not, he makes you feel that he actively engages with you and genuinely listens to you rather than delivering rehearsed pickup lines.
  7. He definitely is fun and actually sincerely seems to have fun out there playing The Political Pickup Artist game.

So, tune in this election season and see how many voters, men and women, despite all logic and reason and common sense to the contrary are nevertheless drawn like moths to the flame of The Donald. No matter how bad for us we know he is, no matter how self-destructive the attraction, we’ll secretly be drawn to him anyway. He’s the master political pick-up artist, the bad boy, the alpha male of the pack and we desire him regardless of how ridiculous that may be. It’s in our DNA.

Can you resist his repulsive attraction? Yea, right, sure you can…