Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Brief Parsing of Evil

In his first address to Congress, Donald Trump vowed to destroy health care for the tens of millions of children, disabled people, low-paid workers and elderly citizens who now depend on Medicaid. He promised to continue viciously demonizing Muslims and Latinos as terrorists and criminals. He blustered that he will gut government health and safety regulations so that billionaires and corporations may prosper and plunder, buzzed on a permanent capitalistic crack high. He committed himself to the destruction of public education, euphemising it as "school choice." He pledged a massive build-up of the already bloated military forces abroad and enhanced militarized police forces at home.

And the mainstream media swooned, because Donald Trump uttered all his depraved fantasies in such a normal, reasonable tone of voice. Trump is finally acting "presidential." He abandoned the dark rhetoric of his inauguration, and magically morphed into the heir of that sunny sadist himself, Ronald Reagan. He even managed an echo of Barack Obama's own "adult in the room" glib, bipartisan doubletalk.

Among the group-think headlines:
Trump Offers Up a More Hopeful Vision; In Optimistic Address, Asks Congress to End Trivial Fights (New York Times)

How Trump's Disciplined Speech Came Together (Politico)

Trump Address: President Lays Out Bold Vision With Softer Tone (NBC News)

President Trump Strikes Softer Tone In Outlining Ambitious Vision (CNN)

Trump Seeks  To Move Forward After Well-Received Speech (USA Today.)
President Began His Address To Congress By Condemning Hate Crimes (Time)
Now, about that mealy-mouthed condemnation. There is a strong case to be made that Donald Trump himself has unleashed the spate of attacks on religious and ethnic groups as well as the virulent increase of hate speech all across the country and the entire world.

But to hear Trump bloviate to Congress on Tuesday night, he himself has had nothing to do with Making America Hate Again.  And it took him only one paragraph to gloss right over it before immediately pivoting to a nationalistic mythology which bears an unsettling resemblance to 1930s-style nationalistic rhetoric.
 Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.
That introduction appears to have been inspired, if not written, by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, members of the Jewish faith and recently registered Democrats who are said to have a soothing effect on Trump and at least some veto power on his cruelty. But the next part -- obviously the original introduction -- has neo-fascist adviser's Steve Bannon's fingerprints all over it:
Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice, in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present. That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world.
I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart. A new chapter ...


 ... of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp. What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit. Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.


All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free. In nine years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding, 250 years since the day we declared our independence. It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.
Trump goes on to bemoan the drugs "pouring over our borders" and the trillions of dollars wasted on foreign aid and nation-building. He forgot all about the opioids being manufactured and marketed within our own borders by such  companies as Purdue Pharma and dispensed by the ubiquitous pill mills you can see wherever the middle class has been carved out.

And then he describes his squeaker of an electoral victory in outlandishly cataclysmic, revolutionary terms. According to TrumpBannon, citizens of America apparently shook the world as one unified blob by overwhelmingly annointing Donald Trump as our true leader:
Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds, families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns.
But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus, as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.
Finally, the chorus became an earthquake, and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly make America great again.
If you really want to get into the true spirit of things, try listening to this optional soundtrack alongside Trump's actual address. It certainly enhanced my own experience.

 On the other hand, if you prefer the fake conciliatory nicey-nice spirit being foisted upon you by the mainstream media, just skip the Wagnerian music and click on the headlines above. 

But I digress. While I don't have the stamina to parse and annotate Trump's whole hour-plus of mutterings, here are a few of the really scary nasty bits:
The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of fantastic — and it is a fantastic - new, F-35 jet fighter, and we will be saving billions more on contracts all across our government. We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential federal workers.
It's happy days for the oligarchy, and the average worker in the gig economy should also rejoice that Trump is saving her some of her lousy take-home pay by negotiating down the price of a horrendous piece of military hardware to kill more Others. And since Big Business is good, and the Public Good is bad, let's only hire those federal workers whose job description is blowing up stuff and killing a whole bunch of people.
 We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every government agency.
Because breathing clean air and drinking clean water and making sure our food and medicines are safe stands in the way of profits for Trump and his cronies. If they don't kill you over there with their jet fighters, they'll kill you over here with their greed.
We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.
Thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs, and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.
Tens of thousands is such a phony outlandish number that sounds almost as good as a thousand-year reich, doesn't it? And it's so good and patriotic if we can destroy the environment with tar sands oil flowing through only good, clean, pure Amerikan-made steel.
 And with the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a counsel with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.
This nugget has Business Everywoman Ivanka Trump's fingerprints all over it. Forget equal pay for equal work. Ivanka is the consummate neoliberal: branding, entrepreneurship and networking take precedence over wages, hours and workplace protections in the new gig economy.
 To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a task force on reducing violent crime. I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread all across our nation.
This sounds ominously all of a piece with Trump's recent "gaffe" announcing that ICE is now part of the military. The surveillance state will be granted new powers to crack down on "criminal cartels" (Trumpian dog whistle for people who exist while brown or black.) Trump's Department of Homeland Security is also establishing an assistance bureau specifically limited to helping victims of crimes committed by undocumented refugees and migrants. This program, known as VOICE, further demonizes Latinos and Muslims as being somehow more guilty than white criminal suspects lucky enough and politically correct enough to have been born within our borders. It insinuates that being mugged by a foreign-born person is more painful and deserving of extra help than being mugged by a white person. This is institutionalized racism, pure and simple.
 As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens. Bad ones are going out, as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign. To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question: What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?
Ask not about white  people committing crimes. Blame everything on non-white people. Above all, blame none of your economic problems on members of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, whose policies instigated the worst wealth inequality in recent history, and in turn spawned reactionary nationalistic demagogues like Donald Trump.
 According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offense since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home, from Boston to San Bernardino, to the Pentagon, and yes, even the World Trade Center. We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany, and all over the world. It is not compassion but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.
Trump just lied again, in that newly reasonable and much-admired softer tone of voice. As NPR notes in its own annotated transcript of the speech, "in the 16 years since Sept. 11, 94 people have been killed in the U.S. by what Trump would describe as "radical Islamic terrorism," according to a policy analyst with the International Security Program at New America, a think tank that tracks terrorist attacks in the U.S. Each of those deaths is a tragedy, but more than six times as many Americans have been killed in that time by lightning strikes. Of the 12 terrorists behind those attacks, seven were from the United States and none came from the countries targeted in Trump's original travel ban. By focusing on preventing foreign infiltration, Trump may be neglecting the challenge of domestic radicalization." 

Furthermore,"although Trump has cited the danger of attacks by people traveling from the countries affected by his travel restrictions, all the lethal attacks by radicalized Muslims in the U.S. since 2001 have been carried out by U.S. citizens or people who were in the country lawfully."

And now we come to another dog-whistle threat to the nation's most vulnerable citizens, an announcement that visibly excited Ayn Rand fanboy Paul Ryan, seated just to the rear of the Trump of Doom:
We should give our state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.
Translation: Trump supports Ryan's initiative of taking Medicaid funding and control out of the federal government, and transforming the program into block grants to the states. This ploy has a built-in expiration date for assistance, limits benefits, and seems designed to ensure that the poorest and sickest among us themselves expire sooner rather than later.

Like all modern presidents addressing a joint session of Congress, Donald  Trump finally paraded out the requisite gallery of victims, human shields for his draconian antisocial programs and war policies designed to make us feel guilty and sympathetic enough to be cowed into compliance with our own destruction.

The star of the human prop show in this year's edition was the widow of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, who died in a botched raid in Yemen last month. Without mentioning the women and children who were also killed in an impoverished country with which we're not even at war, Trump brayed that it was "a highly successful raid," in the vein of the operation was a success, just so sad that the patient died.

Gazing up at Mrs Owens with all the rehearsed reverence he could conjure up on a moment's notice, Trump smirked:
I just spoke to our great Gen. Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, "Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” Ryan's legacy is etched into eternity.  Thank you. Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he is very happy because I think he just broke a record.
Trump, whose own need for constant adulation is a full-blown addiction, projected his pathology upon the dead Navy man and his surviving wife. The surviving wife obliged by gazing up at the ceiling, eyes overflowing and hands clasped together in prayer. She even enjoyed a few curtain calls to sustained and thunderous applause from the Congress which unblinkingly funds all the wars, declared or not, proxified or direct.

Basking in the glory of the drama, Trump was certainly very happy.  His opinion of himself as national lord and savior was validated Tuesday night. His performance as president is getting rounds of applause and glowing reviews from the same media establishment that he so recently castigated as the enemy of the American people.

The ratings so important to Trump broke records. It was the speech and the face that launched three million Tweets.

He is the consummate salesman whose acting skills would qualify him for an Oscar if Hollywood ever changed its mind and decided to like him after all. Never say never.

As a testament to his never-ending neediness and quest for attention, Trump sent out a morning-after email survey which asks his fans to rate his performance on a scale of 1 to 5. (No perfect 10 available, so I guess Trump is figuring out that even a special president like him has to be realistic and adult during these fraught times.)


Mark Thomason said...

"his squeaker of an electoral victory"

True, but it ignores an important part of the story.

Recall that the media was confidently showing Hillary as winner by such a huge margin they expected to carry the Senate and maybe even the House too. They were assigned odds upward of 90% to that outcome.

Suddenly, it did not happen. Those reporting the election on TV looked stunned. Hillary herself could not even come out on the stage that night.

It may have been a squeaker in vote totals, but it was an Earthquake in the political understanding of our elites. Furthermore, it was an Earthquake they still don't get. Team Hillary just retained control of the DNC. Her flacks still dominate her friendly media.

So it was a squeaker that was also an Earthquake. Both parts need to be acknowledged.

voice-in-wilderness said...

I keep trying various ways to explain why the super-rich are not content to loot the country, but want to impoverish large numbers of citizens at the same time. Why don't they toss health care and food stamps to the masses as crumbs, while they become ever richer?

Sometimes I think it is the remaining influence of Calvinism. Sometimes I think it is pleasure from the power to crush people. But most of the time it is puzzling.

Karen Garcia said...


Your point is well taken. I was mainly criticizing Trump's melodramatic language. He conjured up an image of a mass uprising of people of all faiths, creeds and colors uniting as one glorious gigantic force to allegedly give him carte blanche to... let's see, as you read between the hyper-nationalistic lines of his speech, he wants to slash medical care for the poor and increase the military budget while cutting most of everything else. I don't think his fans had this in mind at all, except the rich subset and maybe the bigoted subset. He aptly perceived a lot of pain being felt at many different levels, and he skillfully co-opted it. Christopher Hitchens called this ploy populism in the service of elitism.

No argument from me re Hillary Clinton. The earthquake felt by establishment Dems and the earthquake described by Trump are two entirely different things. The Democratic Party is so insular and so insulated that it no longer even deserves to exist, in my opinion. It's a private corporate club in all but name. I'm puzzled that some people still think that it can still be reformed by just a little more outreach, just some better propaganda and messaging.


You're right, there is a strong Calvinist basis to American politics. It started with the Pilgrims and their shining city on the hill; the resulting American Creation Myth has survived to this day. He who does not work shall not eat, and the like. And it is absolutely bipartisan. Everything benefiting the poor has to be "paid for" by cuts to other social safety programs. Never by cuts to the Pentagon and the Surveillance State. Onward Christian Soldiers.

As far as Trump is concerned, who knows what he really stands for on any given day. I think he agreed to Paul Ryan's Medicaid destruction to give his infrastructure deal some legs. So I think that the best we can hope for is for Trump and Ryan and/or McConnell have a falling-out and nothing much gets done in the next four to eight years. The Democrats certainly have no real interest in "taking back" Congress in the mid-terms. They seem perfectly content to continue fund-raising on the basis of their own grievances and phony outrage, along with red-baiting Trump in a resurgence of McCarthyism.

That said, I wouldn't complain if Trump got a trillion dollar infrastructure plan done and Paul Ryan got permanently laughed off the stage in his own district. So far he has been very lucky in getting cooperation from the DCCC, which has never funded a Democratic candidate to run against him. And Obama won his district, twice!

Erik Roth said...

My representative in the House is Keith Ellison.
His recent defeat by the Democratic Party elite was led by Barack Obama who lobbied hard right up to the final vote, for Perez to head the DNC.
For what it's worth, here is what I wrote to Ellison in January:

Dear Representative Keith Ellison,

You’ve announced that you seek to head the National Democratic Party, and if selected by the party elite would resign your popularly elected seat.

I urge you to stay in the House.

The Democratic Party is a grave part of the political problem, corrupted by money, and beyond redemption or reformation.
A more honorable choice would be to become an Independent, like Bernie Sanders.

Now, my first vote was cast for George McGovern in 1972.
But after his defeat, the Democratic Party began to move to the right, forsaking their principles and their base.
Nevertheless, since then, that is until 2016, I’ve always voted for Democrats.
Too often that has been for the lesser of two evils, but never again.

In 2008, Barack Obama was elected to bring hope and change, even a new New Deal, which we desperately need.
Then astoundingly, but very revealingly, he utterly betrayed his promise and his base.
Horribly, he had the audacity to kill hope by embracing Wall Street, and entrenching the military-corporate complex.

Hillary Clinton represented more of the same, and consequently aroused deep and widespread revulsion.
While Bernie Sanders inspired a large segment of the electorate with a progressive message, the Democratic Party subverted his campaign to favor her instead.
Yet even against Donald Trump, an outrageously repulsive Republican, and a vastly greater evil, Hillary could not win election.

For the first time, in 2016, I did not vote for the Democratic nominee.
Rather, I voted for Jill Stein of the Green Party.

Perhaps, if not becoming an Independent, you might consider aligning with the Green Party.

Meanwhile, thirteen Democrats just crossed party lines in a 52-46 vote against prodding Congress toward examining the allowance of pharmaceutical imports from Canada.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sponsored the measure.

The Democrat defectors include Bennet (D-CO); Booker (D-NJ); Cantwell (D-WA); Carper (D-DE); Casey (D-PA); Coons (D-DE); Donnelly (D-IN); Heinrich (D-NM); Heitkamp (D-ND); Menendez (D-NJ); Murray (D-WA); Tester (D-MT); Warner (D-VA); plus, inexcusably not voting: Feinstein (D-CA).

By that, those thirteen effectively ended their political careers as far as I’m concerned.

Campaign filings show Sen. Booker received more than a quarter-million dollars in campaign funds from pharmaceutical companies between 2010 and 2016.
Like I say, corrupted by money.

Please realize, I’ve supported you enthusiastically, and will continue to do so, but I’m done with the Democratic Party.

Your constituent ( as long as you work for the country and not the party* ),
Erik Roth

* Parliament is not a Congress of Ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of Parliament.
~ Edmund Burke, in a speech to the Electors of Bristol (3 November 1774);
as published in "The Works of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke" (1834)

Neil said...

re Karen and Mark Thomason, "squeaker of an electoral victory?"

If you are referring to the electoral college victory, which is the only vote that elects the president (270 electoral college votes wins), Trump trounced Clinton 304-227. Trump had a 77 point lead over Clinton, a landslide. Looked at from another perspective, Trump had 34 more electoral college votes than the 270 needed to be president. A big win, not a squeaker.

"The 2016 historical interactive map shows the 'official' electoral vote, which Trump won 304-227, with seven total faithless electors." See, Did Trump win 304 or 306 electoral votes?

As I recall, Karen predicted Clinton would win the presidency a month before the election, along with the rest of the MSM.

Love it or hate it, the Trump presidency was a massive Earthquake, of The People, by The People, with lots of unintended help from the DNC, HRC, BO, the MSM, and a socialist sell-out named Bernie Sanders. (did Bernie keep his unspent campaign money?)

To make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs. Trump is cracking the eggs of this corrupt government. I say we should help President Trump crack the corrupt government eggs. Yes, there will be mistakes along the way, and perhaps a high price in human suffering, but that price was set long ago by the Democratic Party, the Clinton Mafia, BO, and the complicit MSM who sold-out Our Nation, and sold-out The People.

While I oppose much if not most of Trump’s agenda, the Trump wrecking ball is needed.

Trump inherited "a mess" as he described in his first press conference Feb-16-2017.

The price to clean up the mess brought on by the Democratic Party, the Clinton Mafia, BO, and the complicit MSM, is blood on their hands.

Meredith NYC said...

I couldn’t bear to watch the speech, or commentary and I’m only reading a bit now. I congratulate you Karen on your intestinal fortitude to grapple with it and quote from it. But you’re a journalist.

Seems a lot of the comments to the Times article are very negative, saying his change in tone means nothing. Beware of what comes next from the great manipulator.

What’s ironic is that nobody stood up and yelled “You lie!” at Trump the constant liar, like they did to Obama.

But what headlines should the newspapers use for this? Trump strikes phony stance in speech? There’s continued criticism of Trump in the op ed pages, to put it mildly. See Rosenthal column on the speech---Trump and Low Expectations.

The last 2 days I avoided TV news for the 1st time in years. . I’m actually accomplishing some other things. Rather a nice change. Tonight I’m watching a bit of cspan. Pick and choose. Gradually. It’s too damn much. .

Karen Garcia said...


Great letter to Ellison.I'm of two minds whether Bernie and Keith et al should leave the undemocratic party. Staying makes them seem hypocritical, however leaving would just about guarantee that they would get zero coverage in the mainstream media. Right now, they're popular guests on the Sunday shows simply because they are putative party members and add to the "debate" and keep things lively and (party bigwigs hope) keep at least some of the disgusted progressives safely within the veal pen.


Yes, I predicted Hillary would win along with about 99% of the "punditry." Made the yuge mistake of listening to the Narrative instead of expertly reading the actual polling data for myself... which I readily admit I am not equipped to do. Numbers and math are the bane of my existence.

As for my use of the term "squeaker" I'm referring to Trump's loss in the popular vote. No, this doesn't count, and no, I don't think Hillary "won" the election... but his mandate is a lot weaker than he pretends. A lot of people just stayed home instead of shaking the earth on election day. Again, his constant use of exaggeration and superlatives to describe his victory is quite telling.


I spend time away from the news as well. But I felt obligated to watch the speech. I notice that today, more news sources are coming down from their high and noticing that Trump's celebrated "tone" was just one more head fake. I'm reading a lot more fiction than I used to, especially the classics, plus psychology and sociology. For insight into the psychological (gas-lighting) effects of Trumpism on various constituencies, I've found Victor Klemperer's "I Will Bear Witness" to be invaluable. It describes everyday life under an authoritarian regime evolving into totalitarianism.

Neil said...

Thanks Karen, no harm, no foul, on the Hillary prediction. Trump is evidence that anyone can run for president, and they might get elected. Many people like Trump’s non-lawyer manner of speaking, which they judge more honest than law professor Barack Obama. Under the doctrine of separation of powers, lawyers (judicial branch) should not be president (executive branch). That’s what I argued in the Florida Supreme Court, Petition SC16-2031 for writ of mandamus as a candidate in the 2016 election.

Bernie Sanders could be president, but he could not say "no" to the DNC/HRC and continue his campaign. Politically Sanders is finished, in my opinion. Keith Ellison might be a contender if he leaves the Democratic Party. Neither party has credibility, and the DNC looks like a criminal enterprise. I hope people see this, and move to terminate the Democratic Party.

The New York Times has an excellent book review by Peter Gay of Victor Klemperer’s "I Will Bear Witness", called "Inside the Third Reich" at the link

Peter Gay was a historian, educator and author. I became aquatinted with Gay through his translations of the works of Sigmund Freud.

I have two volumes of "I Will Bear Witness" and profile it on my website,

Victor Klemperer

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....good idea to read the classics and fiction now. I took out some old Agatha Christie mysteries from a carton. PG Wodehouse is always good for a giggle.

I may try some historical fiction. A friend once raved about 'The Red and the Black' by Stendhal. Did you ever read it?

Would you believe, I happened upon a cute, clever children's TV show called 'Caillou'---produced in Canada---about the life of a 4 year old as he learns new things with family and friends day by day. I never watched a kid's show before, but it is the most creative, charming thing ever and a pleasurable distraction from the daily negative news grind.
I even checked out Dinosauer Train and Paw Patrol while at that channel! Cute, but not like Caillou. Maybe I'm having a 2nd childhood.

Meredith NYC said...

I'm reading a book---" American Amnesia: How the war on Govt led us to forget what made America prosper" by Jacob Hacker. It shows our past contrasted with today, which is missing in today's media commentary. Contrast is the best teacher and would give context to what's happening now.

Voters stay ignorant of what in the past expanded the middle class, now constricted. So they don't demand more of politicians, who are dancing to the tune of their megadonors.

And our media, so proud of it's 1st amendment freedom of the press, conforms to the norms set by the big money election sponsors. Actual govt censorship of the press is not the only way to stifle press freedom. How the media presents issues, and what issues they pick or ignore, is skewed, even as it loudly fights against Trump's attacks on it.

annenigma said...

OT, but if you need a break from the madness as I do, here's a couple of nature related escapes for you. One shows a mesmerizing view of wind patterns and has other options for rain, etc.

The other is a choice of webcams by bird species from the Cornell Lab. Some are offline and the thumbnail photo will indicate that but the Ontario Feeder Watch and a few others are live and active with birds.;-65.8;5&l=temperature

Jay–Ottawa said...

Ugh! You escapists chasing after art and nature. Next, you'll be pulling out pictures of kittens or the grandchildren.

More on the "squeaker" issue. Yup, Trump won hands down because the electoral college vote is the last word, period. Now, we're left to hope Mr Wreaking Ball doesn't destroy the world as we know it, including those good books and birdies. On the positive side, the event of Trump may arouse the not-so-cute Democratic frogs who would have continued to swim placidly in Hillary's hot pot.

The number of electors who make up the electoral college equals the number of congressional districts (now 435) plus 100 (two senators from each state). Sounds fair, right?

Trump's win under the existing rubric, however, can rightly be viewed as a gross distortion of democracy on two counts: (1) widespread gerrymandering and (2) the widely different population size of congressional districts. Both make a mockery of 1-citizen: 1-vote.

(1) Instead of 'splaining in detail the gross distortion of democracy through gerrymandering, I'll just provide a link to a short, vivid article on its effects, which are profound and, if ever set right, might keep a con like Trump out of the White House. Sure, you know all about gerrymandering, but look at these maps.

(2) Then, what about the widely varying population size of congressional districts? For example, Montana has one representative only in Congress. Montana's population is almost 600,000. California has a population of 39,000,000 but only 53 representatives. Huh?

If California's representation ratio were the same as Montana's, California would have 65 congressional districts, i.e., 12 more electoral votes. And it's a very blue state, don't you know. Apply that 600,000 factor across all 50 states. You end up with 545 congressional districts and, therefore, 645 voters in the electoral college (545 + 100), with a lot more Democratic electors.

Ask yourself whether, given the vote expressed last November 8––fairly carved up into rationally mapped out congressional districts of equal size––Trump might have LOST in the electoral college?

Oh, WAIT! … that means Hillary won.

annenigma said...


What if, what if, what if. Poor Hillary was predicted not just to win in a landslide but to carry the House and Senate on her pantsuit-tails. The fact is, everyone in her campaign knew it was an electoral college contest, and they relied on Ada to win it for them. Ada's the one to blame for Hillary's loss!

"Ada is a complex computer algorithm that the campaign was prepared to publicly unveil after the election as its invisible guiding hand. Named for a female 19th-century mathematician — Ada, Countess of Lovelace — the algorithm was said to play a role in virtually every strategic decision Clinton aides made, including where and when to deploy the candidate and her battalion of surrogates and where to air television ads — as well as when it was safe to stay dark."

"Like the candidate herself, she had a penchant for secrecy and a private server."

What if Hillary spent even one hour in Wisconsin instead of spending an evening at Barbra Streisand's mansion begging for even more money from the stars?

What if she hadn't conspired to steal the primary from Bernie?

What if she could fill a room without needing celebrities?

What if she didn't insult half of Trump supporters by calling them Deplorables?

What if she didn't put all her eggs in one star-studded basket? Her popular vote margin all came from one state - California.

Small correction about Montana: The population is now over one million - humans, not horses. We should have a second Congressman.

Re: Jeff Sessions - He should have admitted talking to the Russian Ambassador but claim they were "just talking about our grandchildren" and he wouldn't have had to recuse himself. Worked for Loretta Lynch.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Oh, Anne, if my grandma were a trolly car, I'd be an Uber taxi. I'm not whatiffing events in real time. The election's over––electoral college or Russians or whatever notwithstanding. Trump won it fair and square, by existing rules. I'd be just as worried if Donald's opponent––what's her name––had won.

But as a matter of curiosity, I wonder about the outcome for president and congressional seats in this and recent elections IF gerrymandering were replaced by unbiased redistricting and IF congressional districts were all close in population size. How much different would the picture be?

The bird cams were great, but I had to jump westward to catch up with the light. I saw what seemed to be labeled an albatross nest in Hawaii. Only the chick was on camera; I have to go back to catch a lumbering adult on duty. I've been to the Cornell ornithology lab site a few times. Researchers say that birds are not birdbrains. They're strong and clever, have their feet on the ground most of the time, see things in perspective when airborne and wear classy clothes (move over Ivanka); maybe we should give them the vote.

annenigma said...


Voting is for the birds!

As the country learned from the Occupy movement, the whole system is rigged. Let me add a few to your gerrymandering problem, which indeed is a big one: there's the Corporation for Presidential Debates that prevents 3rd parties from participation (give it back to the League of Women Voters!); states that rig their election laws to make it nearly impossible for third parties to even get on the state ballot; and the Democratic primary system's caucuses which discourage and effectively prevent the elderly, disabled, and anyone but political insiders from participating in their day-long, complicated machinations. The whole system is rigged from top to bottom and inside out.

In terms of what Ada wrought for Hillary's campaign, there are a lot more Adas out there bombing and cratering the country. Former quant Cathy O'Neil calls them WMDs, and titles her chapters in similar terms in her interesting little book, 'Weapons of Math Destruction - How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy'.

Talk about a What If moment. What If O'Neil knew about secret Ada when she wrote her book published in 2016. What If the Clinton campaign had read it. The point of the book, with interesting examples minus Hillary's infamous Ada, is that relying on algorithms is wreaking havoc on peoples lives, mainly the poor, and unfortunately, they're widespread in the whole system.

If the media wasn't so addicted to All Trump All the Time coverage, totally lacking in substance (He lied! She lied!), we might have a discussion about that, among other problems.