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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 10,232

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A New Spirit of Compromise

(BNN, Washington)

In what many are calling a "New Spirit of Compromise," President Donald Trump reached an agreement with Republicans in the Senate and House on the Trump Wall.

"The era of gridlock has ended," announced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "The United States Congress and the President of the United States have created a new spirit of compromise. We now have a president who understands what compromise means."

Details of the revised legislation emerged over the past three days as Congressional Republicans worked long hours to craft the agreement with President Trump's team. Trump officials confirmed that the wall height in the legislation will be fixed at 12 feet for the entire 40-mile length of the wall.

"The new wall will be beautiful," announced a jubilant Trump via Twitter. "It's bigger and longer than the Great Wall of China. And Mexico is paying for it." BNN has not been able to confirm that the planned wall will in fact be bigger and longer than the Great Wall of China, although the claim raised some skepticism among Democrats. Reached for comment, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi alleged that the wall in China was actually "a lot bigger than that, you idiots."

In a statement to the press, a spokesman for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto confirmed that Mexico has agreed to pay for the wall. "What can we say, Trump voters? You win. Mexico will pay for the wall with new bonds. Your President Trump truly drives a hard bargain. Your American Social Security Administration is getting a great deal on the bonds."

Man-on-the-street interviews with Trump supporters found them supportive of the compromise. "With Obama in power, this never would have happened," said Arnold "Arnie" Arnold. "Never. We finally have a government in Washington that knows how to work together to give the American people what they deserve."

Scarborough Fair (update for the American voter)

Are you goin' to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
They once were a leader of mine

Tell him to lead us to better healthcare
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
With everyone happy on the way there
Then he'll be a leader of mine

Tell her to manage the Wall Street crowd
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
And never say "capitalism" out loud
Then she'll be a leader of mine

Tell her to fight like a female Conan
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
But funny, authentic, and not like a man
Then she'll be a leader of mine

Tell him to bring all Earth's people together
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
With us right behind him (barring bad weather)
Then he'll be a leader of mine

Are you goin' to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
They once were a leader of mine


You can't be resilient if every little thing tailspins you into emotional oblivion. What Donald Trump has shown (and what George W. Bush showed before Trump) is resiliency. Nothing destroys a person or position that has it. No matter how many times George W. Bush made himself look like a complete idiot on live TV, he simply bounced back and acted like it didn't matter. By doing that, he made it not matter. Trump did and does the same thing constantly.

People on the left are going to make mistakes, even mistakes that make them look "dishonest" or "two-faced" or "traitors to the cause" or "stupid" to one person or another. We need to just accept the fact that everybody is a little dishonest, a little two-faced, a little judgmental, a little selfish, a little sneaky, a little dumb, a little stuck up. None of those things should surprise us. None of them should shake loyalty or self-acceptance at all. We need to stop being so damned emotionally lightweight and easy to turn.

Part of the double standard treatment Hillary and all Democrats get is our own double standard. We need to be the good guys, not the saints. It's easy to be the good guy, nearly impossible to be a saint. We need to wear our dirt proudly. Then when someone tosses more dirt at us, it won't be noticeable.

Dem "political power systems" need to adopt a less hackable architecture.

Our political architecture is vulnerable to dedicated adversaries. If you think of Dem political power as a system, we have numerous system vulnerabilities. These have been demonstrated in the most convincing way possible, by exploitation. Someone needs to hit the whiteboard. We need a security upgrade.

Since the Dems tend to be the brains of the outfit when it comes to American politics, our vulnerabilities translate into American vulnerabilities. We owe it to the country to not be so incompetent when it comes to security, not just computer security but the overall robustness of our entire system. That includes institutions like the DNC, processes like the primary system, and computer systems. We have more fence holes in all of those than fence.

The Republican system is much more robust than ours. It isn't vulnerable to rationality, empathy, or ethics at anything near the level we are, for example. They don't play by the same rules we do. Even a cataclysm like the George W. Bush presidency wasn't enough to destroy the Republican Party. They learned from it. We didn't.

We didn't sell.

We had by far the better product, both in our candidate and our platform. We lost because we thought we were in an idealized election when we were, in fact, in a cutthroat competitive sale.

In an idealized election, a group of informed, rational, fair, well-meaning, virtuous adults meet to vote on what is better for the future of the country, themselves, and their fellow Americans. So, yeah, someday we should strive to have an election like that. In the meantime, we should learn to sell.

What we were in was a cutthroat sales competition. It was, in fact, more of a sales mugging. The reasons we lost narrowly when we should have had a landslide are many. I'll try to list them. If you don't like them, fine. None of them have anything to do with coalitions of Steinbeckian working class sweeties being let down by corporatist plants. That would make a profitable (but not a good) movie, of course.

Republican abuse of power. The Benghazi Committee was an act of political criminality.

ISIS got what they wanted. They did for Muslims what "Jaws" did for sharks. Republicans assisted ISIS in the same way their leadership example George W. Bush assisted Al Qaeda, by fanning hysteria.

Putin got what he wanted, assisted by WikiLeaks. Republicans also assisted. Hackers weren't bad guys.

Colin Kaepernick created and starred in Republican "Willie Horton" ads which he broadcast during NFL games. Many other athletes at all levels did their own Republican ads, following Kaepernick's lead.

Clinton blew it with the "deplorables" comment, although it started out promising. She shouldn't have said it, but once she said it, she should have used it to get a bunch of free air time. Kellyanne Conway got that game; Clinton didn't.

Clinton kept saying things to try to get an angry country into some kind of group hug. That's great for the people who want to do a group hug. But you have to account for people who don't want to hug the other people on the team but still want to play for the team. A white, working class, rural worker with a family to feed would agree with a black, working class, urban BLMer with a family to feed on a $12 minimum wage or health insurance. They may not want to hug in many cases. Don't try to make them.

Trump is an effective salesman. He would obviously lose a traditional election, so he turned the election into something he could win, a sale. Lying is bad in an election. In a sale, it's standard practice. At least in a Trump sale.

Sanders divided the team. He started out strong, but he drifted into evil. His innuendo on Clinton's Wall Street speeches validated the Republicans' preposterous comic book portrayal of Clinton as corrupt. His portrayal of the Democratic primary process as rigged played into Trump's hands.

Republicans successfully suppressed the Democratic vote by eliminating polling places, purging voter roles, and pushing voter ID.

Democratic voters successfully suppressed the Democratic vote through apathy, laziness, unawareness of the stakes, and capitulation to discouragement and depression. Voting is not something one needs to be persuaded to do. Voting is the default. The burden of persuasion is on the non-voting argument. Having this backwards is the main reason we have so many Republicans, including Trump in offices they aren't fit to hold.

It's a tricky feeling.

I don't know if feelings of intense revulsion and mental frozenness qualify. I may or may not know what depression is like, but I have similar feelings frequently. Knowing them, I am not really sure how they could feel more terrible. But I explore them when I feel them, feeding them to curiosity. Then I study the feelings and realize I don't have to be only them. They can become just another deep and interesting place to be, not even a place necessarily to be avoided if it weren't for the boring stupor, the pain, and the anxious need to hide from other people.

The thing not to do with the feeling is to drive cognition with it, at least not without standing mentally outside the generated cognitions as an observer and student. There is a tendency to produce thought models, deductions, and narratives from nausea, mental pain, and stupor. I always take those cognitions as provisional and curious, regardless of how limitlessly horrible and conclusive they feel. They are like dreams. The stupor/ugh feeling is where it begins. The feeling hits and conjures up seemingly inescapable, nighmarish, irrefutable "reasoning" for self-hatred and despair. What is really just an awful feeling becomes elaborated in the language of all levels of the mind. But you have to recognize where the "reasoning" and spiritual level cognitions are coming from and that all such thinking is provisional, suspect, curious. It is ignorable, questionable and capable of being learned from. You don't have to interpret it as your "self," because it simply isn't that. That position helps reasoning and feeling both, imo.

I did just finish reading Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus and I tend to agree with Camus. Sisyphus doesn't have it so bad. He rolls his rock up the mountain and watches it roll back down, and the message of it can be one of intolerable, Hell-like futility or of joy-filled heroism and mindfulness. You can accept absurdity and darkness and derive great strength from them.

And no, I'm not telling people to dump their meds or that everyone should just try to face down their demons with mental tricks. I'm just sharing something that I think it is useful. I think our culture and art have given many people a kind of operatic feeling of what authenticity is all about, and it is, we think, about "being true to our feelings." But that's just a step or two away from being slaves to them. We share a whole bunch of feelings with all mammals, mammals that lack basic cognition. We aren't being inauthentic to be more than our feelings, we are being more authentic.

Everyone knows why Benghazi

It's because practically nothing else bad has happened during Obama's entire presidency. All kinds of good things have been happening and no bad things. Exactly the opposite of the way things were under George W. Bush and his Republicans.

No skyscrapers being destroyed by hijacked airplanes, no ruinous, unnecessary wars, no mishandled weather catastrophes, no historic stock market, real estate, and jobs depressions...nothing. It's been relatively pleasant under Obama and the Dems—as usual. All the country's meters are either back in the green or at least moving that direction.

Not so under the Republicans. The Bush/Republican administration gave America, on average, one Benghazi-level dose of suffering for every single day they held office...and then some. People need to be reminded of that. Under Obama and the Dems, lots of good things have happened. Under George W. Bush and his Republicans, lots of bad things. Let the trees be judged.

We should take the "let's talk about Benghazi" ploy by Republicans for what it really is, an admission that Obamacare is a strong Dem issue now. Republicans are so politically bankrupt, they are down to boiling their shoes for food.

"May I speak to Mr. Edward Snowden, please?"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"Certainly, this is the President's office."

"Would that be President Putin or...?"

"Yes, President Putin. Is Mr. Snowden available?"


"Good. Mr.Snowden, the President will be taking questions from the public, and he asks if you would like to pose him a question."

"Um, sure. When would this be?"

"Tomorrow afternoon."

"Ok, well sure. I can be there. Just let me know when and where."

"Actually, we thought that for your convenience we could tape your question ahead of time. Would that be all right?"

"Um, ok. Yeah, I don't see why not. Now, about my asylum extension. Is this the right time to ask?"

"You should continue to work that through our legal system, of course. I don't think your participation in this event with President Putin should hurt your case, if that is what you are asking."

"Sure. Ok."

--- Or ----

"Hello, may I speak to someone who knows about the President's next public questions event?"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"This is Edward Snowden."

"The Edward Snowden?"

"Yes, the Edward Snowden."

"Yes Sir. How may I help?"

"I thought that in the interest of the privacy rights of Russian citizens I would tape a question for President Putin."

"Well, that is not such a good idea, Mr. Snowden. President Putin is under a great deal of pressure saving our good Russians in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine from terrorists. He prizes civil liberties like no one else, but he is just too busy to take your inquiry."

"I insist, Sir! It is my intention to hold President Putin's feet to the fire; I want to ensure that Russian children will know what it is like to have a private thought and to have a say in how their government is run. I think I am the one to do that if you will only assist me."

"Mr. Snowden, do you realize what you are asking? You want me to allow you to tape a question for my President that will embarrass him on television? You want me to keep it a secret from him?"

"Yes. It must be a secret between you and me. What's your name by the way?"

"That's not important is it?"

"You're right. It's better for you that I don't know. The plan is that I will tape the question. Then you make sure that it gets on the show."

"It will get me in trouble. They will know it's me."

"Do it for your countrymen, dammit!"

"I see. You are very persuasive, Mr. Snowden. You have won me over to your cause."

"I'll get you the tape and you will make sure that it surprises President Putin?"

"Yes. I will do that. I'll do it for Pussy Riot."

"Make sure that the President doesn't see my tape in advance. Heh. I'll be taping in English. I want the President to have to ask for an interpreter live. Make sure one is there! Remember, we don't want him rehearsing a joke about how he and I are both ex-intelligence professionals or anything like that. That would just play into his hands. We want to surprise him."

Voting to get a "political product" is a sickness.

I guess Americans can be forgiven for thinking of voting as a way of paying for a "political product." It's deeply misguided, but in our world, practically everything has taken on the characteristics of a transaction.

First, the product is shown or proposed. The buyer looks over the product or proposal. The buyer chooses and "buys." The product is delivered or not. If the product is not delivered as proposed, then the buyer has a right to be angry and to choose not to buy from the seller in the future. If the product is delivered as promised, the buyer returns for more.

Fine, but voting isn't that. Government isn't that. Everything isn't that.

I think a lot of folks have gotten so used to this passive, "sell me something" paradigm that we sometimes apply it where it doesn't apply. Voting isn't buying. Voting is taking action. Voting is, if anything, producing a product, not simply buying one off of the menu.

Look at the net monetary value of a single vote. It's practically worthless. People used to—rationally—sell their votes for a beer. One of the best arguments against the Republicans' lying contention that there is widespread voter fraud is simply that a vote isn't worth enough to risk going to jail over. It isn't worth enough to risk getting a parking ticket.

A vote isn't money, and you aren't buying things with it. And if you don't get the things you thought you were "buying," you don't have grounds to be angry. You weren't buying anything. You were trying to empower a position. You don't get to be a consumer in this case, much as you might want to be. Much as you might not be able to see yourself as anything else.

A voter is just a tugger on a rope, an engine on the democratic plane, not cargo. If you don't win the tug-of-war or the plane doesn't make it over the mountain, it doesn't mean you didn't "get what you paid for." It means that voters with your position—as a group—were outnumbered or, if not outnumbered, failed to do their part.

I bought a car from a used car salesman a couple of years ago.

True story, but since I don't intend to tell you anything about who the guy is, you are free to assume I am making it up. You'll just have to refer to your own experience.

I saw the guy's ad on-line. He runs a small car lot out on one of the local highways. He had what looked like the perfect car I wanted at a good price. So I made an appointment with the guy and later drove out to look at the car.

The guy was maybe late thirties, early forties. Very big, very muscular. He told me he was a dedicated bodybuilder. I'm not, but I work out (sometimes), so I know it takes a hell of a lot of work to look the way this guy looked.

We talked some about our families and then I took the car out for a test drive. It drove great.

I had a couple of minor problems with the finish on the car, and I told the guy about them. I said I wanted to make an offer on the car, but I couldn't unless I was sure the minor problems were fixable. He told me to give him a day and the problems would be fixed. He wanted me to make the offer before I left, but I told him no, I wanted to wait until I was sure. He was fine with that.

I came back the next day to look at the car, and sure enough, the problems were taken care of. So I made him an offer, and he made a counter-offer. We settled somewhere in the middle. I bought the car. He sold it.

It has been an excellent car. I have had no problems with it. I'm very glad I bought it.

It bothers me when I see "used car salesman" used as a putdown, and not just because it is bad writing. I think a lot of good people make a living selling cars to people who want them. They then take the money and buy groceries.
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