Sunday, September 11, 2016

Response to Mutual Damage Control

(See: Just Above Sunset: Mutual Damage Control)

Lately, people keep saying stuff like, "Our two parties have nominated two deeply flawed candidates this time…”, but I think that’s too much of the same old infamous “both sides do it” bullshit. It leaves the impression that there are two equally-guilty contenders here, of which Donald Trump is one and Hillary Clinton is the other.

Yes, Hillary has some faults, and so does Barrack Obama, arguably the best (or maybe second-best) president in my lifetime, but neither one of those two is “deeply flawed”. To put this back into perspective, Hillary is actually just fine and whatever flaws she has do not belong inside any equation with those of Donald Trump, period, and belong probably more in the “horserace” category (either “she doesn’t smile enough” or “she smiles too much”) rather than of the stuff that is important, such as “All things considered, would this person make a tolerably good American president?”

The fact is that Hillary would make a good president, whereas Trump, being an evil scumbag, would not.

But more importantly right now, here’s something else we’ve been hearing lately:
“I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country,” running mate Mike Pence told CNN on Thursday.
Okay, but using that standard, you could also say, "Vlad, the Impaler has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country”. In fact, by that standard, the 15th-century Rumanian Vlad was even more powerful than the present day Russian one.

In both these cases, the argument ignores that the reason these guys are/were powerful is that they are/were tyrants, with essentially nobody to report to but themselves. Obama is at a disadvantage there, since he has to work within our American Constitution and, unlike Putin, can do hardly anything without the concurrence of Republicans. Putin can do virtually anything he wants to do, without the inconvenience of having much of any opposition to deal with at all.

But conservatives just don’t give as much weight to real reality as they to do the so-called optics:
“Bare-chested Putin gallops his horses, poses with his tigers, and shoots his guns,” wrote National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson in a 2014 column. “Barack Obama, in his increasingly metrosexual golf get-ups and his prissy poses on the nation’s tony golf courses, wants to stay cool while playing a leisure sport.”
And yet, with all this imagery of galloping horses vs tony golf courses, you might be tempted to believe that the strongman's domain is going gangbusters, while the leader of the Land of the Free is presiding over a wasteland. Don't be, since it's actually the other way around. The United States, much to the chagrin of both Trump and Putin, is doing remarkably well, under the circumstances, while Russia is its usual mess.

But also, think about the implications of this:
“He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good,” said Trump of the late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during a July campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina. “They didn’t read them the rights,” he continued. “They didn’t talk, they were a terrorist, it was over.”
Which all sounds fine if you’re just spouting off, without giving it much thought, but the obvious reason they didn’t "read them the rights” is because they didn’t have any! 

After all, Saddam killed lots of people, and I’m willing to bet that whether or not they were “terrorists” was never a real consideration. In fact, I’d bet hardly any of the people he murdered were terrorists! He killed people because he decided he didn’t like them, and also because he could! After all, he didn’t live in the United States of America, where you’re not allowed to do that sort of thing, and the failure to acknowledge this just highlights a lack of appreciation for what the American founders were able to accomplish in creating their republic.

Will this Putin admiration thing finally be the deal-breaker for Trump? That’s hard to tell, given that the standards for breaking the deal have lowered of late. After all, who of us doesn’t indulge in nostalgia for the days when a simple promise to do three things, then to remember only two of them, was enough to instantly bounce you out of the race? Maybe that’s the way it should be.

Think of it this way: If you are interviewing a job candidate who, during the course of his initial interview, professes his belief that adults should be allowed to have sex with toddlers, you don’t even consider inviting him back for a second interview in hopes that he might say something to redeem himself. But times have apparently changed, at least in Republican party politics.

Trump is not, as portrayed by his army of seemingly all-blond surrogates, the “defender” of “Western civilization” against the invading barbarian, he is the invading barbarian! He represents the enemy that this country has traditionally sought to defend itself from!

First of all, Donald Trump is literally evil (figuratively speaking, of course.) If I were at all religious, I would argue that Donald Trump was sent here by Lucifer to finally destroy the United States of America, at least in the sense of the U.S. as a guiding example of a nation ruled by good people.

Second of all, we should not elect an evil person president!

And thirdly, the only thing we can do to keep this evil person from becoming president is not to stay home on election day, or randomly vote for whoever the Libertarians are putting up this year, the only thing America can do is to elect Hillary Clinton.

“But I just don’t trust her,” (whatever the hell that means), you say? Well, after deftly sidestepping the obvious question, “Trust her to do what?”, you need to seriously ask yourself the crucial question, “But do you distrust her more than you do Donald Trump?"

And if your answer is yes, then you have to ask yourself this:

"What, are you nuts? Have you actually lost your mind?”

Once all of this is behind us, assuming Hillary wins, I do hope America takes a lesson from all this, and maybe looks for a way to fix our system of choosing candidates, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

For one thing, as I’ve mentioned before, the Republicans should consider making a rule that nobody who “self-finances” their campaign should be allowed to get the party’s nomination. Trump was only able to take control of the party because he had so much money of his own that he didn’t need to pass any of their qualifying tests. He should have had to impress them, but instead, he ignored them.

(The GOP might also consider a rule that limits the size of donations, making it more likely that the winner would have widespread popular support, instead of just billionaires who can afford to buy support for their own agenda — but maybe that’s too much democracy for the party to swallow in one gulp.)

And maybe we do need to take a citizenship test to earn the right to vote, for which you will need to study very hard — to learn, first of all, what it was the founders were trying to do when they created the nation, and secondly, learn about all the trials-and-errors the country had to go through to collectively learn the lessons that it had to learn to get to be what we are today, the longest-lasting democracy in the world.

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