Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Melania's Trump Hatred And The Seth Rich Stupiduty

Suppose I told you (a Trump supporter--okay, okay--but just imagine) that it was ESTABLISHED PROOF that Melania Trump hates Donald Trump--and refuses to touch him.

Bullshit, you would say/think. Is this based on some clips of video interpreted by assholes who hate Trump and the elegant First Lady to start with?

Why yes--yes, it would be. We've got several shots of Melania brushing off Trump's attempts to take her hand or otherwise engage her.

In Rome:
In Israel:

In America:

Here it is--three, count them three--pieces of unforged video evidence--that's proof that Melania Trump despises Donald. After all, what else could explain it?

The Seth Rich Stupidity

Right now Sean Hannity is flogging the ridiculous Seth Rich story for all it's worth. The story is that, allegedly, Seth Rich, a DNC staffer, gave emails (Podesta's?) to Wikileaks--as a leak--and so Hillary had him killed (or something). The story floated around during the primary with Bernie-Bros, loving Wikileaks and hating Hillary clinging to hope that the scandal would bring her down.

Post election, it might seem weird to keep beating the dead horse until you realize that (a) Trump's news media is apocalyptic right now with numerous damaging leaks, congressional testimony that isn't a good look for him, and an agenda that is most charitably described as stalled (uncharitably: ridiculous).

So Fox has to fill its hours of red-meat with something and hating on Hillary does a good job of that. Hence: the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. What is the evidence that Seth Rich was the source of the leaks / killed for it? Well:

  1. Seth was shot in the back--but nothing was taken. Clearly not a robbery, right? An assassination?
  2. A local Fox channel published a block-buster story saying that evidence of Wikileaks-Rich collaboration existed and was being hidden. This has collapsed entirely with the guy saying it admitting he made it all up.
  3. Assange indicated that Rich was the leaker. No evidence--in fact IC statements to the contrary (as well as public data)--but Assange said it.
  4. Kim Dotcom, a "reliable source" who hates Hillary also said it. He used his most recent reveal to get Hillary to send a ton of traffic to his site promoting his mix-tapes or some shit.
  5. The DNC, during the primary, did not let the FBI examine its servers when they thought they might have been hacked.
That's it. There's a veritable rabbit hole of bullshit you can climb down if you feel like it--but ultimately, it all comes down to a few unanswered questions, lies, and extremely dodgy sources. But if you believe there's an ounce of truth there what do you think about the Melania-Hates-Trump theory?

The Omnivore attests that it has way, way more proof that she hates her husband--they LIVE APART! She ONCE LIKED A CRITICAL TWEET ABOUT DONALD, There's psychological analysis of her tweets that shows she's basically enslaved

Here's the deal: if you explain all that away with "it's bullshit--it doesn't prove anything--you're just motivated to trash Donald / Melania--you're right! All this armchair speculation is just that. Who the fuck knows anything about their actual love life? The Omnivore is sure with Trump under assault in the Oval Office it can't be great right now--but that'd go for any human being--not just horrible ones.

On the other hand, if you like the Seth Rich story and dismiss the Melania Trump story . . . you're the worst kind of sucker: a partisan sucker who doesn't even realize it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Trump-Variations

What the fuck is going on with Trump?

This question--even with the vulgarity--is something that even nominally sane people are asking now. On the anti-Trump or the #NeverTrump side of the equation the suite of answers are straightforward:

  • He's incompetent
  • He's compromised
  • He's corrupt
These--or some combination or variant of them--explain just about everything we've seen. He leaks data to Russia because he's incompetent. He fired Comey because he's corrupt. He / his team are compromised by various financial entanglements from doing the right things, etc.

But that's not the only side in play here.

Trump-Supporters Also Have To Answer The Question

If you voted for Trump and are not in the position of "Of course he's an utter, humiliating disaster--but he's not Hillary Clinton" you have to have some set of beliefs that account for the current state of play. What does that narrative look like? What explains the leaks, the flailing, the contradictions, etc.

1. He's "Shotgunning It"

Presented by an Omni-Friend is the explanation that Trump is managing--with more success than the #NeverTrump faction would agree to--by sheer force of personality / will. Thus: Trump shares classified data with the Russians--that's okay, it might be unwise in a given particular but it's not stupid / out of bounds. Trump fires Comey? Hey--he fires people. That's what he does.

In this model Trump's competency is obscured by (a) the drama around his actions and (b) the fact that some of his actions are just plain wrecking-balls. Hey--Comey had to go. He goes. Fuck whatever people think.

EVIDENCE FOR THIS: Observation. Trump is doing what he wants without caring about the dramatics of it. There's little question of that. The evidence that beneath a flailing exterior there is a core of managerial competency is less clear. The Omnivore would place it as:
  • Gorsuch
  • Gorsuch
  • Possibly a move towards School Vouchers
  • Gorsuch
  • Passing the AHCA (Kiiiiinda)
  • Illegal Immigration at a serious low
  • Gorsuch
THE EVIDENCE AGAINST THIS: The evidence against this is that Trump's agenda is completely falling the managerial execution element. He isn't exhibiting leadership (getting people on his side with charisma, having bi-partisan appeal to any degree). He isn't exhibiting an understanding of the domain (healthcare turned out to be unexpectedly complicated??). His successes, Gorsuch and Immigration being down, are not related to managerial skill. Gorsuch was thanks to nuking the filibuster for SCOTUS and Illegal Immigration is due to ICE raids and messaging that's going to play badly.

2. There's A Coup

In this view the IC (or some of it) is running a literal coup against Trump. The FBI and CIA and NSA (etc.) are working in concert to make it look like Trump is compromised with respect to Russia. They want the public to demand he be removed on the basis of zero evidence and a bunch of anonymous innuendo. These people include the Clappers, Comeys, and other high-ranking people.

EVIDENCE FOR THIS: The main evidence for this is "lack of evidence." For people who believe there's a literal slow-moving coup attempt, the idea is that (a) I haven't seen anything yet. The big report is just an Iraq-Like lie. (b) The DNC didn't let the FBI search their servers--that's clearly some kind of cover up. (c) The Wikileak shows that the CIA can fake a bunch of shit to make it look like the Russians did it. (d) The Democrat's IT guys, Crowdstrike, backed off some of their findings.

Basically, if you don't see any evidence you believe then you conclude it's all bad actors.

EVIDENCE AGAINST THIS: The big report. You have to conclude that the heads of every agency are willing to lie to Congress and everyone else--without this leaking--to remove Trump because [ reasons ]. This makes no sense and would explode on contact if they tried to recruit one of a number of people (high ranking people) who just said "Uh, no, guys." It also posits that for some reason the scores of analysts and agents and operatives who are "providing" this research aren't leaking for some reason even though they would presumably know their work is being misrepresented.

Finally there's evidence that this stuff did happen--independent researchers confirm the presence of Russian methods in the FakeNews spectrum. The URL shorterner that got Podesta has been shown to have been used for large-scale anti-West hacking directed at government and political targets (sure sounds like Russia). The DNC refusing the FBI is also pretty easy to explain: they weren't told the scale of the problem and had their candidate under investigation by the FBI. The DNC-CIA conspiracy makes no sense anyway--the CIA hacks Podesta, releases the data to Wikileaks, and then blames Russia . . . in order to . . . what? If they wanted Hillary to win, why not just not-hack her to begin with?

3. It's The Media

In this view Donald Trump is still learning the ropes--but isn't actually making a fool of himself. That's the media narrative. You can add into this unprecedented obstructionism by the Democrats and some entirely made up "anonymous sources" and you have an attack by the Democrats and the 4th Estate.

EVIDENCE FOR THIS: The, uh, media bias? That's pretty clear. Add some potential hard feelings about their coveted elites being proven wrong by Trump's win and you get at least a semi-solid motive. Also look at stories that were wrong or kinda wrong. Did Rod Rosenstein threaten to quit? Sources say "yes"--he, when accosted in a hallway, said "No." Clearly "sources" are liars! Also, it's pretty clear that the press is, in fact, casting Trump in the worst possible light--it's hard to say he's getting the benefit of the doubt no matter whose side you're on.

EVIDENCE AGAINST THIS: Anonymous sources for major publications are not just made up. They are known to the journalists, they are vetted, corroborated, and so on. A conspiracy of the Washington Post, the NYT, and Buzzfeed fabricating stories whole cloth is a larger more unweidly conspiracy than an IC Coup.

Secondly, while there is definite bias against Trump, it is unclear just how much of that is earned vs. unfair. Word choice may well go against him on the basis of the author's and editor's bias--but the raw facts? The raw facts aren't with him either. His Immigration EO was called a "Muslim Ban" up until like a few weeks ago on his campaign website. When they (hastily) deleted it, the URL still showed 'Muslim Ban' on the page. Before that Rudy Giuliani gave an interview talking about his subterfuge to make it legal. After his first EO was shot down, Trump-on-the-Stump said his second was basically the same as the first. It's hard to argue that people pointing out that a Muslim Ban is unconstitutional are just doing it to put a thumb in Trump's eye.

Ockham's Razor: What Should We Think?

Ockham's Razor holds that the argument with the fewest assumptions is preferred. How do we score these?

What We All Agree On: Team Trump has made a fair number of mistakes. His Muslim Ban may or may not be constitutional given the aims espoused around it--but he'd have made it a LOT harder to advance the court's order if he'd have kept his trap shut.

Michael Flynn might not be a Russian Agent--nor Manafort--but having those guys at high levels on your team was clearly not a good idea. Trump has some very dodgy people at high levels of visibility and staffing. He has, by all appearances, ignored warnings and good advice.

Trump's mode of operation is combative. You can argue that the press would be on his back no matter what--but you cannot argue that he is not actively in combat with them. It is quite possible that if he didn't keep changing his story on things, undermining his Communication's shop, and telling fairly outrageous lies (inauguration crowd size) he could at least blunt some of that assault.

The entire IC and LEO community has stated that Russia interfered in the election to help Trump and hurt Hillary. They have stated that there is no evidence (maybe with some caveats) that Trump, himself, is in collusion with the Russians. That should be the main talking point. Trying to call the whole Russian interference thing #fakeNews means the whole IC And FBI are lying badly.

We can all agree that Trump's Tweeting causes him trouble for no real upside. His tweets certainly appear undisciplined and in some cases petty. They are the voice of a Hollywood celebrity who is having a bad stretch--not a president. We can disagree on how material this all is--but The Omnivore thinks most Trump supporters would agree that Trump should stop tweeting--at least until he has more wins under his belt.

What We Don't Know: We don't know what Trump (and Pence, for that matter) knew--and when they knew it. We don't know if Trump knew what he was doing in talking to Comey (and we don't know for sure what was said--but in the absence of other evidence, as David French put it, "Comey lied to his diary is the defense of the doomed.").

We don't know if Trump's discomfort with the Russian investigation is feeling it's a waste of time--or fear of getting caught. We don't know what the IC knows. If they have something really damning--why haven't we seen it yet?

Therefore: Smaller conspiracies are preferred to larger ones. So the overarching press conspiracy (that all the major outlets are hopelessly corrupt or so biased they will print baldfaced lies) is out. The conspiracy of the IC + the FBI is questionable. The preferred conspiracy is between some of Trump's staff and the Russians (where the conspiracy is no longer a theory).

The idea that Trump is being successful and it's just not being reported is fixed by looking at his supporters. It's unfair to say that he hasn't done anything--but even his most generous supporters don't give him much. Rolling back Obama's EOs is fine as far as it goes--but these aren't "managerial successes." No major plan regarding coordination has come together and some of Trump's trumpeted home-runs are taking credit for things companies announced several years ago.

His "shotgunning approach" may or may not be a reasonable one for a celebrity president--but his particular execution of it leaves almost everything to be desired.

The Omnivore is certain the press is salivating to give Trump bad press--but argues that this falls well short of a conspiracy. Trump invites bad press constantly and a White House is chaos is going to leak under the best of circumstances. This is better explained by cause-and-effect than a driving agenda.

What The Omnivore Thinks

The Omnivore's personal conspiracy scenario goes like this:

  1. The Russians wanted to hurt Clinton. That meant helping Trump and Sanders voters. They preferred Trump to Hillary (at first)--but didn't think they'd get that.
  2. Trump had people who were tight with Russia (Manafort, Flynn, Page). Trump saw that as an asset because he likes Russia too--on a personal level. He was okay with lifting Obama's sanctions if he won. He figured that wasn't illegal (and he's probably right, Logan Act aside).
  3. Russia has a developed Information Operations machine. They just needed to know where to point it. I think Team-Trump gave them targeting data from their intel-shop Cambridge Analytica. Maybe through the Alfa-Bank data transfer. Maybe not.
  4. These meetings (if, indeed, they occurred) need not have involved Trump at all. If he did know something, he might have okayed a high-level, low-touch operation. If you were told that if you gave another country some of your private data, they'd help you? Why not? The Omnivore isn't even completely sure this is treason--The Omnivore, though, is not a lawyer.
  5. Trump's insecurity and belligerence has led him to make enemies of the IC, the FBI, the press, and Democrats to an unnecessary degree. Trump's instincts about being "the boss" led him to see Comey as an employee rather than a patriotic civil servant. Trump was rebuffed and didn't like it. When Comey turned up the heat and wouldn't say he was loyal, Trump, thinking he could get away with it, fired him (note: Trump probably expected a bunch of blow-back--but he may have thought that Democrats, having condemned Comey, would be tongue-tied when it came to his firing. This would be stupid--but it explains the behavior perfectly).
In this case the obviously guilty suspects were surveiled talking to Russian spies. The Trump Campaign is probably guilty of crimes--maybe--but Trump does not rise to the level of a Russian agent. On the other hand, an American president getting help from the Russians would be grounds for impeachment--and a disgrace of historical proportions. 

In short: Trump is shady--but not entirely corrupt (not a Manchurian President). Trump is undisciplined and does not "do the home work." He is impulsive, petty, and has an over-active ego. He also seems to suffer from thinking everyone else is stupid and corrupt and therefore our problems will be easy to solve. 

The worst of this is that he doesn't seem to have learned otherwise quickly--or, indeed, at all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


An Omnivore reader asks if he should be worried about violence from Trump-supporters in the event of an impeachment. It's a good question. Obviously, The Omnivore doesn't know--but we do have a handle on a few things. Let's look.

The Violence Scale is 0 - normal election to 10 - real civil war.

Point A - The Left Had Some Pretty, Uh, Kinetic Demonstrations When Trump Won Fairly

There were marches. There were demonstrations. At Berkeley there were for-real riots. Now, a lot of people felt Trump's victory was illegitimate either because of the popular vote, the Russians, or slightly more nebulous reasons--but the fact is that the massive bulk of society recognized his victory. There were no headlines asking if Trump would move into the White House.

Well, okay, there were--but that was because Trump thought he might stay in Trump Tower. You know what The Omnivore means.

In the case of impeachment there will be constant questions about outcome, method, and legitimacy. So let's baseline disruption at at least what we saw for 2016.

Let's call that 2pts on the Violence Scale.

Point B - A Lot Will Depend On How It Happens

The House votes to Impeach, the Senate convicts. Between all of this there are a number of questions. Does Trump resign? Seems unlikely. Are there two large factions in the House / Senate with Democrats "breaking the tie"--or is it more unified on the Republican side? Is the Impeachment due to hard evidence (the Comey memo maybe qualifies) or due to Republicans hedging their political futures?

There's one constant that we can depend on, however: Trump will handle it badly (as he has mismanaged every other PR crisis thus far) and will tweet about it (as he has, consistently). This will raise the drama no matter what other organs of government do.

So let's aim for a middle-case scenario where Trump is impeached for obstruction of justice (the Comey memo), there is an actual memo, and the GOP is reasonably intact. In this case we get Trump throwing a tantrum--but not a real split of the conventional government.

Let's call that +2 on the Violence Scale (+4 if it goes badly in the House and Senate)

Point C - Nixon Is A Model--But a Bad One

Nixon was impeached but stepped down before the Senate could convict. He was pardoned--and that was (?) that. The Omnivore is not a student of Nixon and is basing what follows on what he has read. With that caveat:

  1. Nixon was popular in the GOP until the House Impeached. Once they congealed against him with formal charges, it appears that the public broadly accepted his guilt.
  2. Nixon left office with a 25% (Gallup) popularity rating. That was like as far as he fell before hitting 'terminal velocity.'
  3. Nixon's story was broken by the press--which enjoyed widespread respect at the time. You could think of it as akin to "investigators cracking the case."
The reasons these are all bad is that currently Congress polls way less than 25% popularity (The Omnivore doesn't know what it polled in Nixon's day--but well above Ebola, one would think). Right now Trump's aggregate popularity is around 36-40%--but that middling number is due to sky-high popularity with Republicans. This isn't a good model for predicting what will happen in the public sphere should he be Impeached.

Finally, the press is held as literal traitors by a lot of Trump's base--and as untrustworthy and hopelessly corrupt and biased by many Republicans in general. There is no "breaking of the case" here--it's going to be seen all as partisan Machiavellian maneuvering.

Rather than having an outright score on the Violence Scale, let's call this +1 due to uncertainty. Nixon's resignation was, The Omnivore thinks, pretty orderly--but that doesn't tell us much about today.

Point D - Trump's Base

It is tempting to think of Trump's base as heavily armed skin-heads with stockpiled munitions--but that isn't the case. Trump's base is older than fighting-age in general. They are also in many cases more well off than, say, desperate minorities (or whites) below the poverty line. Being old--and having something to lose--are two big predictors against violence (ask China--their totalitarian stability is built on a pretty good economy!)

On the other hand, Trump's base certainly does seem to have more AR-15's than Pussy Hats--and they have a rhetoric of violent revolution. 

Let's call this a wash: Team Trump isn't likely to organize an organized militia and march on Washington--but there are going to be some of them with the will and capability to cause trouble.

Point E - The Media Narrative

There will, necessarily, be two narratives here. The first will be "what the country as a whole hears." The second will be what Trump-Supporters hear. In the first case let's say it's pretty obvious obstruction of justice: that sounds legit. In the second, what if it's a "literal Coup by the Left-Wing Revolutionaries"? That sounds pretty Johnny-Get-Your-Gun, right?

It's pretty clear from this that Trump's base is not going to be hearing about how Trump sold them out by breaking the rules. There are some signs that  a few of his boosters in the media might turn on him (Ann Coulter has famously said that him hiring his kids was fascist--thanks heaps, Ann)--but even if you find that encouraging consider this: Trump has super-elevated a lot of really necrotic news sources. Cernovich has gotten direct scoops as leaks. The Gateway Pundit has White House press credentials. Bretitbart is on staff. 

These people have no reason--and no history--of telling a real or complete story. They have every reason to inflame their (millions) of viewers. They have shown, in every case, a willingness to tell the most partisan story possible--and in many cases to outright lie or present wild conspiracy theories as truth.

Let's call this +2 on the Violence Scale.

Final Score: 6 Out Of 10

 The Omnivore thinks that equates to trouble. There will be factions of people--in some cases desperate, betrayed feeling people, who are told, directly and clearly, that they were robbed by Washington Elites, Social Justice Warriors, and Communists. They believe--today--that Trump is delivering for them: Saving their jobs, bringing back their coal mining communities, preventing the country from being over-run by Mexican rapists, and so on.

Despite the evidence saying otherwise, they believe that if he just gets [ a year--or two--maybe a second term ] in office everyone will come around and see him as the hero he is. For them, these charges are #fakenews of the worst kind: partisan, intentional, and malevolent.

To think that (a) someone will (or can) set them straight or that (b) some of them will not take matters "into their own hands" has to be wishful thinking. Add to this the probability of Trump not going down easily--trying to do damage, illegitimatize his opponents, or even calling for violence (obliquely, as he did at his rally)--you have a clear and present danger.

The good news, however, is that these people will have difficulty pulling off large operations. The Omnivore predicts political violence of a sporadic sort without solid targeting, planning, or competency of execution--more Columbine than Al Queda. 

What Can We Do?

The obvious thing to do is to try to make any proceedings as bipartisan, fact-based, and transparent as possible. If there is a clear crime (obstruction of justice), evidence that both parties strongly attest to (the memo), and a lack of carnival atmosphere (or gloating) that will be the best. 

It might also be good to try to get InfoWars, Cernovich, et. al out of the press-room.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Libertarian Fool's-Mate

The above picture is the crowd cheering for the 2012 electoral debate on the prospect of letting the uninsured die. Ron Paul, the Libertarian-in-Chief, was pretty quiet about it--but his face says everything. Specifically, Ron Paul's desiccated face says "My dudes, of course we let them die--but we do not say that out loud." This is important--because while the Libertarians are a vanity-party, the Republican party isn't--or at least, isn't supposed to be--and yet, with the passage of the AHCA they have fallen into the Libertarian Fool's-Mate.


Don't Believe Me, Believe Conservative Ron Douthat

Douthat writes in: House Republicans Go Over a Cliff
As written, the A.H.C.A. basically takes Trump’s [populist] gift to the party and hurls it off the highest possible cliff. It is not just the scale of the likely insurance losses, or how much the rich benefit from repeal relative to everybody else. It’s also the gulf between that reality and what Trump and various Republican leaders explicitly promised — insisting that their plan would deliver better coverage, lower premiums, and a lot of other things that have since taken a back seat to making room in the budget for more tax cuts.
He's not wrong. But falling for the Libertarian Fool's-Mate is, of course, one of the things that has wreck Republican chances for real representation for ever. Well, that--and also this:
But it turns out? They're related.

The Libertarian Fool's-Mate

Fools-Mate is an opening in chess that delivers you a checkmate victory if four moves if your opponent falls for it. Only a fool would fall for it--so it's called the "Fool's Mate." In libertarian debate, the fools-mate works like this:

Debater: "I think it's okay to tax people for health care."
Libertarian: "No--no it isn't MUH LABOR! IT IS MINE!"
Debater: "But poor people get sick--and health care cost money. What do we do when they go to the hospital?"
Libertarian: "Let them--oh shit. I did it, didn't I?"
Debater: :: Laughs Like Chris Christie Did After Devouring Marco Rubio ::

The End-Game For The Libertarian Fool's-Mate

The trap, of course, is that when you tie taxes to health care you bring the unstoppable force of LOWER TAXES against the immovable object of BASIC HUMANITY. Now, Libertarians have been jettisoning their basic humanity for a long, long time*--but Republicans, now in the age of Control Of Government--are still learning how to suppress their empathy like a hooker  learning to suppress her gag reflex. For example:
The problem is that the rest of America isn't--and thus while the AHCA gives 8bn worth of lip-service to people with pre-existing conditions--the real math says it'll take 20-30 bn or more. A lot of that which came in the ACA from taxes on the very rich--that Ryan wants to save.

So they did it. Now their best hope is that the repeal bill die in the Senate so they can shrug their arms and say "Hey, I tried."

* Libertarians suppressing empathy for the poor is pretty stupid considering that they will need empathy / sympathy for going to jail for pot-smoking--but if they were strategic they wouldn't be libertarians, The Omnivore supposes.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Snake

“I saved you,” cried the woman,
“And you’ve bitten me, heavens why?
“You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die.”
“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin,
“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in!”
-- The Snake

At a campaign event Donald Trump read from the poem "The Snake" where a woman rescues a snake and it bites her, killing her. Trump is speaking about refugees (Islamic)--but The Omnivore is thinking of a different species that The Donald is unwisely welcoming into his home--literally.

The Right-Wing Media.

The Right-Wing Media

In an age where Fox News, busted for allowing 13 million dollars of rampant sexual harassment over the years, is now judged too social-justicy (and too far left) the White House has opened its doors to The Gateway Pundit, Breitbart, Mike Cernovich, and others.

This, of course, is a mistake. Here is a Breitbart reporter taking it to Sean Spicer over the current budget's lack of funding of a border-wall. Breitbart also hosts a partial transcript of Rush Limbaugh's meeting with VP Pence saying "if this is the budget we get with R's in power--why vote Republican?" Ann Coulter isn't in the White House (yet) but she fumes over the budget saying Swamp People: 47; Trump: 0.

Now, it's true: Trump did not in fact, deliver on all his budget priorities in this go-round. He did get some money for border improvement and the military. VP Pence says this is a serious win for the American people.

It is, of course: Obamacare is still funded along with Planned Parenthood--but that's not what he meant. VP Pence, Trump, Spicey, et. al. are, of course spinning a Capitol Hill thumping as hard as they can--yes. That's also true. That's what they do.

But okay--that's politicians. Why would the Right-Wing media lie?

Why The Right-Wing Press Lies: The Dirty Little Secrets

The RW press lies because there are several dirty-little-secrets that would ruin Republican voter's day if they were said out-loud by people the Republican Voters trust. The reason there is a right-wing media is because the normal media wouldn't carry the water for the Republicans as they became more and more ridiculous ("It's the Democrats forcing a government shutdown! We swear!")

Here's a few of the Dirty Little Secrets the right-wing media can't tell the truth on.
  1. The popular pre-existing condition protection in the ACA requires maximal buy-in by healthy people (hence the mandate). They're going to try to push an eight billion dollar fund (which won't be enough--but kind of sounds like it is). If they told the truth, they'd say it was either (a) The Mandate (b) Billions and Billions of Government dollars forever, or (c) Let people with pre-existing conditions get fucked. That's the truth--but they can't say that--so they have to tell some preposterous lies.
  2. The Border Wall was never going to be paid for by Mexico, Won't work, and will never be built. Huh? Yeah--all of that. We can't build it as depicted due to terrain, most illegal immigrants come over by airplane and then overstay their visas, the wall will require taking land from thousands of Americans via endless court-cases, trying to interdict funds going into Mexico is "good luck, trying that dude" (major banks even have problems with that when they try), and although Congress likes the idea of border security, they mainly don't like the fantasy-wall. So that means that Republicans have to tell a series of whoppers to try to get you to believe it's all feasible--at least remotely feasible.
  3. Trump is a good negotiator. Let's face it: Trump is amateur-hour when it comes to government in general. When it comes to policy, he's Mr. Did-Not-Do-The-Homework. His plan for bi-partisan cooperation seems to be the Pick-Up Artist's political equivalent of "negging"--insulting the opposition so they'll feel insecure and . . . fold at the table? Doesn't seem to be working--maybe 'cause they're mostly men? The president is winging it like a Frat Boy at Hooters. Because telling the truth about this would blow the narrative, they have to sling some pretty stinky bullshit. Fortunately, you trust them implicitly.
So all this lying is necessary for the right-wing narrative to function. This, in fact, is why there's a Right-Wing media. But . . . there's  . . . a problem. The problem is that while the Right-Wing media has zero problems telling lies, for whatever reason they are not lying for the president right now.

But the question you should be asking yourself (but are not, if you are one of the consumers of Right Wing Media) is this: Why not? Why not tell some lies about the budget too?

The Right-Wing Press Requires Something It Doesn't Have Right Now

If you say "Duh, Omni--it's because this time out the Prez didn't quite deliver and so the RW press is, of course, going to take a whack at him--" consider that they spun happily for his lie about inauguration size. That they happily lied and carried water for his various flip-flops--for his lies about 3 million illegals voting--all of that. They sold his lie about wiretapping--a million other things. Why not continue to lie this time?

(You don't buy that--because you simply don't believe it. That's okay--The Omnivore didn't expect you to).

The reason why the Right-Wing press isn't lying right now is because in order for their business model to work--that's the outrage machine--they need an enemy. Who is it? Well, it's Democrats in congress--but they've been really quiet. In fact, they didn't have to do anything to shoot down the AHCA. The Senate Republicans will do that just fine with any bill the House finally manages to pass.

Also: they're a minority--sure: they can filibuster--but they haven't even had to do it yet.

Obama? Good! But he's out of power and while he's resurfaced somewhat, as has Hillary, neither of these make a good scapegoat. So who do you blame? Because the Right Wing media is all about blaming someone--that's how they work. That's what they do. So who will they blame?

That's right: Ryan (1), Kushner (and Ivanka, a little) (2), and, you know--if they have to--Trump.

The only thing they care more about than seeing the New Right catapulted into power is their own skins--and what it takes is attacking The Power--so they will. The reactionary new right (Trumpism) doesn't exist as a ruling party--they only exist meaningfully as a counter-culture.

Something has to burn. Today? It's Trump.

Of course Trump knows this--or should know it--but he let them in anyway. 

Bad move.

Respect The Office?

Last night Stephen Colbert issued a crass monologue against Trump. Among other things (such as saying Trump "attracts more skinheads than Rogaine") he said that Trump's mouth was "only good to be used as Putin's cock-holster." Leaving out the irony of the right-wing's defense of Coulter--but calling for Colbert to be fire--there is a decent question to be raised here: should we "respect the office" of the presidency--even if we don't respect the person?

Tom Nichols, a conservative author of a book about the Death of Expertise, holds that we should. He says (on Twitter) that if you don't respect the office in every case--then you simply do not respect the office. Worse, he holds that if you treat the office with enough disrespect you can't simply turn that back on when your guy wins.
Is this true? If so--what should people who are horrified by Trump actually do?

Respecting the Office--But-Not-The-Man

There is a very strong case to be made that we, as Americans, should respect the office. For one thing, so long as America is America, the office will exist. The rules for populating it, while perhaps somewhat arcane, are well understood, the same for everyone, and seem to do at least a decent job of going back-and-forth (and keeping, for example, Jill Stein from coming anywhere near it).

Secondly, we've had bad presidents before--some serious stinkers--and survived. If, indeed, disrespecting the office-holder damages, in some cumulative way, the institution of the presidency, then we should probably refrain from hurting the thing we all at least theoretically hold dear, America herself.

Finally, for people who supported Obama, wasn't it at best tiresome--at worst destructive--to continually attack Obama? To be sure, things like demanding to see his birth certificate--and then declaring whatever he produced a forgery--seems like the kind of thing that a nation should generally refrain from if they can.


On The Other Hand, The Birther-In-Chief Won

On the flip-side: what if the speech about the presidency isn't driving disrespect for the office--but just exposing it. If we start from the standpoint that Republicans going new places (that the president is an illegitimate foreign-born fraud) indicates that the respect is already broken--then maybe whatever disrespectful speech there is just the result of that. In other words, the damage is done--say whatever you like.

There's also the case to be made that disrespect won. There can be no question that Trump--albeit by slim margins, against a non-ideal candidate, and due to specific geographical and demographic topography--won the election. Ask a professional athlete: if their tactics aren't actually against the rules they're legit. Sure--there's sportsmanship in how you comport yourself--but first and foremost you play to win. If the win is legitimate then how you get there . . . is also legitimate.

Finally, although Tom makes a point The Omnivore thinks we all kind of understand, there is no clear guide-book for respecting the office but not respecting the man. Where do you draw the line? Is it just the etiquette of critiquing Trump? Is it just not-getting-personal? The Omnivore isn't sure there's an agreeable standard.

Will This Help Trump in 2020?

One of the most foolish rejoinders against people spewing tacky attacks at Trump is that this'll help him. That's not true. All the racism and crassness of Trump's supporters sure didn't hurt Trump, right? Guys wearing "Fuck Your Feelings" t-shirts won last year. Does this only go one way?

Secondly, are we sure that no one can "restore dignity to the office"? Trump is undignified in several ways that are thus far unique. The first is his Twitter-use. While Obama tweeted some snarky things (as did his rivals), Trump goes well above and beyond any previous line you care to draw (including some wild accusations of criminal activity, for example).

Secondly there is some very trivial lying--crowd size, for example. Obama said "you could keep your doctor" when he knew his health care plan would be disruptive. Trump claims his inauguration crowd was larger than Obama's and that it didn't rain on him. Both are clearly lies. Trump didn't just say this stuff once either: he keeps saying it.

Trump breaks the rules in other ways--not placing his business holdings in a blind trust. Not releasing his tax returns for what-do-you-take-me-for false reasons (while proposing a tax plan that we have reason to think would benefit him strongly). Trump surrounds himself with highly dubious and poorly vetted people (Flynn, Gorka, etc.) and seems to want a banana-republic style suite of roles for his direct family.

If the next office holder refrains from meeting this bar, maybe Tom is wrong: the above is all so unusual that perhaps dignity could be restored just by electing someone like, say Mitt Romney (who, whatever you may think of his policies, was certainly a gentleman--if you protest that Romney lost, you're making the case for being disrespectful to Trump. If you make the case that the press was savage to Romney, you have badly selective memory--go ahead--throw down with The Omnivore. You won't like the results).

If Trump Could Cure Cancer

An Omni-Friend (and Trump-Supporter) held that "If Trump could cure cancer The Press would say he was putting doctors out of work." She was frustrated in the constant attacks of the press--and no one giving him a chance to enact his agenda which she felt would be politically centrist and a result of compromise.

Never mind that this lament (Cancer-Doctors-Jobs) is an old one (The Omnivore heard it in presidential politics about Obama and the Republicans first)--but certainly, if you think Trump has shown that he deserves a chance you get to be frustrated that he sure doesn't seem to be getting one. If the country is now so broken that the other side's president will always and forever be seen as plainly illegitimate then maybe Tom is right: maybe that Rubicon, once crossed, is irreparable.

The Omnivore's response to this, however, is that Trump's problems are almost entirely of his own making. Trump claimed that 3 million people voted illegally in the election--the margin he lost by--his call for an investigation was quickly dropped (The Omni-Friend probably doesn't know why--but The Omnivore does: if Congress really does investigate wide-scale voter fraud they will be forced to announce there wasn't any--awkward for their Voter ID agenda!).

Team Trump is under a breathtakingly unique FBI investigation for collusion with Russia. Yes, Hillary was under investigation--but for mishandling classified documents--not colluding with the enemy.

Trump's method of communication seems to be to make wild claims (Wiretapped-By-Obama) and then, when no evidence shows up, just move on to something else: even if you think Trump deserves credit for "not being a politician," shouldn't taking that bull-in-a-china-shop approach to messaging to the American people (not just his voters, remember--all of us) have some negative consequence?

And speaking of not-a-politician, Trump seems to be having problems with the basic mechanics of governance. He has failed several executive orders. He has problems passing a ACA-repeal in even one chamber of congress. He has unfilled positions. His staff is using private messaging systems that far exceed what his party was upset at Hillary for doing. Trump has staffed his office with the kind of people that Mainstream has been afraid of: The 1%. If Trump is going to get credit for not-being-a-politician, can he also be legitimately criticized for not-being-politically-competent?

You'd think so, right?

The End Game

So do we "respect the office"? Or do we "go nuts"? The Omnivore thinks there's a few lines to be drawn here--and for the most part they are being drawn. Fellow office holders should, in The Omnivore's view, not be saying Trump's mouth is good for sex-with-Putin. That's bringing indignity to their office and their constituents.

Provocateurs like Colbert and Coulter are free to be as crass as they want--that's part of their job description (and the public should vote with their eyeballs). Common people, likewise, should say what they want--their words will reflect on them first and foremost before Trump (or Obama, etc.).

Don't believe anyone who says the behavior of "the other side" will help "the opposite side." That's wishful thinking.

Finally, whoever replaces Trump will have work to do in restoring the dignity of the office. This is one reason why the Democrats probably shouldn't run, for example, Mark Zuckerberg or The Rock. We need a statesman in the Oval Office. Obama met the bar for that (you can say "just barely" if you want--The Omnivore won't quibble by how much)--but Trump does not. If someone is going to usher in an age of tax reform, they should at least release their tax returns.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Another Thing Coming

The Omnivore saw an online Twitter-poll from a liberal (not leftist) source: Who would you choose (if it comes to this):

  • Chelsea Clinton
  • Mark Zuckerberg
It's  . . .  kind of a hard choice, really. Do you want the guy who basically owns all your social media data running the country or . . . Clinton Mk III? The Omnivore (and the original tweeter) isn't at all suggesting it should come to this--just that, erm, it might.

In the Post-Trumpocalypse world, who's to say? 

The Clinton Facts

If you are one of those people who believes that Clinton was a counterpart to Trump in terms of Liberal vs. Crazy, The Omnivore can't help you. Clinton was a popular Secretary of State for many years (fact). She regularly was polled by Gallup as the most admired woman in the world (fact). She had tons of experience in politics--was a policy wonk--and knew the international political scene as well as anyone.

These are all irrefutable facts.

If you believe she was hopelessly corrupt? Well, The Omnivore can't help you--she was investigated to hell and back and however corrupt Clinton could have tried to be, she's a piker compared to what Trump is doing now.

The above isn't an irrefutable fact-set--but go ahead: try to refute it.


Here's one thing The Omnivore is certain of: Whoever primary's Trump--and whoever runs against him--both will run on restoring dignity to the White House.

The problem is: this may not be possible.

Is Something Irreparably Broken In America?

'Irreparably' is a strong word--but The Omnivore thinks that something--some Rubicon--has been crossed with the election and installation of Trump. For example: Gorka being ousted isn't good news compared to the fact that a pretty obvious Nazi-Like-Object got into the White House in the first place.

Trump's apparent self-dealing makes it clear that the Republicans absolutely will not seriously investigate one of their own. You may say the Democrats wouldn't either--but that hasn't been shown in nearly the same way . . . yet. Let's just say that The Omnivore isn't all that hopeful. The reason why is that there isn't a guiding principle in play here that seems to have any political traction. 

On The Right: It's clear that the GOP has no overarching governing principle. They don't have clear ideas about Obamacare, Tax Reform, Foreign Policy, or anything else. Worse, this isn't exactly a "transition" issue which will get ironed out. It appears to be fundamental: the Reaganite vision is dead. What remains? Some kind of half-baked populism? It's not clear.

On The Left: The Left has a less traumatic problem--but only by degrees. Firstly, their base can't decide if they're going to be the staid, solid, adults-in-the-room--or social justice advocates who want to first topple Wall Street and then rebuild something amid the rubble. There's little doubt Hillary would have bombed Syria too. The Omnivore thinks Bernie would not have done anything, really.

Which is the Democrats? Which should be

(Note: This is one data-point--but it's indicative of a whole pattern)

This lack of clarity is caused by a number of factors that don't seem to be going away any time soon. These are:
  1. Problems with no-good-solutions. What do you do about North Korea? Economic Inequality? Medical Care in America? Right.
  2. The Elevation of Assholes. The right has elevated guys like Mike Cernovich. If you think that's "okay" because "You don't know who the fuck Mike Cernovich is," well, you're part of the problem--and if you're a Democrat, you're the smug-liberal-bubble-type of the problem (even if you voted for Trump or didn't vote at all--then: especially). Of course Samantha Bee isn't helping much either, it seems.
  3. Lack of Leadership: Charisma is hard to define but it's hard to argue that Hillary came close to Trump's. Yes: Trump is repulsive to a lot of people--but so was Hillary. The fact is that Trump made it as a reality TV mogul and won the presidency. He was (if just barely) likable enough. Hillary--Obama aside (not really)--wasn't. Who fills this gap? Biden? Booker? Cruz? . . . Uh . . .
Without leadership, clear ideas on solutions to real problems, and with each side clinging to their Guns and Religion Assholes, we're kind of strapped to a missile aimed directly at fucked-town. To make things worse, that missile is accelerating faster and faster.

I've Seen The Future Brother, It Is Murder

Not only are our problems not going away--but we're getting new ones. We're going to have a shit-load of people losing lower level jobs in a decade. This from the retail-collapse, the self-driving vehicle explosion, and A-fucking-I augmenting a bunch of people so that one underpaid employee can do the work of 5. This isn't the Complete Economic Realignment which is going to land on us like that Armageddon meteor in 20 years--no. This is just the shape of things to come.

We're not nearly ready. Society isn't caught up to Russians fucking with our news sources and Social Media mainlining everyone else's Ids into our eyeballs. We can't handle what we've got. We can't handle what we can clearly SEE coming.

Want a chillClick Here.

Yeah--we're not ready for 2025 which is 8 years away.

Zuckerberg vs. Clinton

So imagine the showdown is Trump (because Cruz primaries Trump and loses) vs. [ Zuck v. Clinton ] in the primary. You're a previous Trump voter (or Hillary voter--but let's imagine) but even through your haze of identity politics you realize that 4 more years of Trump will sink what's left of America (hey, we had one nuclear war already in his term).

So who do you choose?

Fuck. You can't choose Zuckerberg because he's going to turn us into the United States of Facebook. You can't choose Chelsea because she's got no background--but has a corrupt, paranoid political dynasty behind her. You're still mad at imaginary liberals in your head--but you can't choose Trump. 

The Answer: Zuckservative

So this is no kind of good choice--but The Omnivore chooses Mark Zuckerberg because while it's certainly a Cyberpunk Dystopia Nightmare Presidency, he's the only guy on the list who might be able to prepare for the Cyberpunk Dystopia Nightmare future we've got commin'.

And brother, we've all got it commin'.