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gulliver's Journal
gulliver's Journal
September 13, 2019

"Getting" more out of people instead of "giving" them more.

JFK said, "...ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

I hear the plans to tax the wealthy and corporations, and I strongly agree with them. I hear "free health care for all." I hear "free education for all." I strongly agree with those too.

But it's not just out of empathy that I agree with our country "investing" in those things. I'm not merely a "bleeding heart liberal." I'm also partly a "bad person," like perhaps one or two others in the world. Therefore, one of the main reasons I want our government to ensure free health care, free education, high quality child care, guaranteed nutrition, etc., is not because it will make people happier. (That's great but...) one of the main reasons is that by our government efficiently supplying those things, I'm going to get something out of it for good old number one.

I'm going to "get," in other words, for my selfish, nasty self and my offspring a better, cleaner, friendlier, stronger, wealthier world than I have now. We'll all be bettering ourselves. I'll be a better person (there's quite a bit of room for improvement) and have better people to be among. (You other people have somewhat more room for improvement than I do.)

In the end, if we get the right amount of investment units to the human resources, I'll have better thing makers to make better things for precious me. I'll have better trained, better dispositioned, more enthusiastic people to take care of selfish old me in my rapidly approaching old age. That's pretty important to me.

I realize that makes me a churl, and that almost no one else in the world thinks that way, but, yeah, there it is. I'm only bringing this up in case someone wants to point out to voters that Dem ideas are actually good for the few selfish people in the world.

September 2, 2019

Repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act instead of banning assault weapons.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 greatly restricts the rights of Americans to seek damages from gun manufacturers and dealers in court. I would say repealing that law might do a lot more to solve the gun problem than attempting to ban assault weapons.

For one thing, there would be no need to define what an assault weapon is. We wouldn't have this whack-a-mole game with the gun industry thinking up technicalities to get around the assault weapons ban. We wouldn't have all these subtle issues like magazine capacity to try to encode. The NRA, for its part, would not have a myriad of state and federal "restrictions" to exaggerate and use to stampede people to the polls for Republicans.

Second, repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act would expose other types of gun possession and ownership to proper levels of liability. Gun dealers and owners would no longer be able to sell just any gun, gun accessory, or ammunition to just anyone without managing financial risk.

What would happen if the law were repealed? Imo, guns would not completely go away, even "assault rifles," although ownership levels of weaponry of all kinds (assault weapons, perhaps much more than others) would drop dramatically. A huge "gun insurance industry" would likely spring up, and there would be a near-unanimous demand for a thorough system of dynamic, continuous background checking.

The gun industry, dealers, and owners would be at the front of the line clamoring for effective background checking to minimize insurance costs. It wouldn't be merely "point of sale," one-time background checking but would be more like a continuously updated "gun trustworthiness check" similar to our current financial credit checking systems.

If you want to sell even a single cartridge, your gun insurance policy would likely require you to run a background check on the buyer to ensure that the buyer were insured. The buyer's insurance company would either allow or prevent the sale, because they, not the seller's insurance company would be assuming liability for the buyer. Selling to an uninsured buyer would put the seller at risk of essentially unlimited lifelong financial liability. Even criminals would think twice.

Many gun owners right now are probably reluctant to sell or give away their guns and ammunition. They may not want the legal or moral responsibility of keeping weaponry in circulation. If gun purchases and sales, through the power of capitalism, were made far less risky, these gun owners could rid themselves of their weaponry without worrying they were circulating a future murder weapon. Or, better, the government, in the interest of public safety, could institute ongoing, permanent buyback or voluntary disposal programs.

Repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act might, imo, put ever forceful "money motivations" on the right side of the gun risk management argument for a change. It might be much more effective than an assault weapons ban at eliminating the proliferation of assault weapons. It might also help settle the "gun issue" that Republicans and the NRA now use to divide the American people.

August 10, 2019

My wall compromise

We should bargain away the wall. It's no more of a waste than a lot of our so-called defense spending boondoggles. At least it puts money into the economy and gives people something to do. More importantly, the wall (or a surviving piece of it after we end up stopping construction and destroying it later) can serve as a monument to and warning against Republican foolishness for the benefit of the ages.

Construction should be scheduled to commence in early 2020 on the land of a randomly selected Republican rancher in an environmentally responsible spot. Plaques to honor Republicans and Trump for the idea will be placed on both sides of the wall every thirty meters.

The plaques will read (in Spanish and English):

"This 'Great Wall of the United States' was the idea of the U.S. Republican Party and Republican President Donald J. Trump. At this time in our nation's history, the Republican Party is united in affirming that the wall is necessary to prevent people they currently refer to as 'illegals' from entering the country across the U.S. southern border.

"The Democratic Party opposed this wall, thinking it foolish, wasteful, and motivated in part by racism, but reluctantly agreed to build it as a compromise with our Republican colleagues. By agreeing to build this wall, Democrats were able to legislate action against climate change, a phenomenon our Republican colleagues and current Republican President Donald J. Trump consider a 'hoax.'

"The legislation allowed construction of the wall to begin. In the event that the nation changes its mind on the wall idea at a later time and legislates the end of construction and the destruction and removal of this wall, nevertheless, a designated fifty-meter section shall be left intact, bearing the plaque you are now reading. This way, the ages will be informed by the lesson."

"Let us all see who was right."

May 4, 2019

It's the Obama economy, stupid!

Why am I not seeing every single Dem giving credit to Obama and the American people on the economy every time it is brought up? I just saw on CNN that people are giving Trump 56% approval on his "handling of the economy." (Please. That's a push poll, most likely accidental, but a push poll. The question itself implies that Trump should get credit for the economy.)

We need to dispute that Trump deserves any credit–not question it, dispute it with complete self-assurance. We need to make it seem churlish, grasping, and arrogantly credit-grabbing for Trump to even suggest that he deserves any credit for Obama's economy. We shouldn't say, "Trump is 'forgetting' to credit Obama" or other forms of weak tea. We should say "It's Obama and the American people's economy. Trump can take credit for the weak-to-nonexistent gains in coal, steel, auto manufacturing, and the deep losses to rural communities thanks to his trade wars."

Currently, I'm seeing some of our folks trying to "pivot" on the question of the economy by saying un-useful things such as, "Americans are interested in issues other than the economy, like immigration, healthcare..." and so forth. That's not good; that's bad. Sure, by all means, pivot. But start with, "It's Obama's and the American People's economy, not Trump's. Trump's just putting his name on something he didn't have anything to do with again."

April 28, 2019

Hold Republican feet to the fire for Trump's behavior, not just Trump himself.

Trump thrives on word game fights. Formal legal or institutional attacks against Trump hurt him, but eloquent editorial blastings, fact checking, and so forth usually don't. For the most part, word game fights help Trump. They are oxygen to him. That's why he tries to start them with the pathetic tweets and rally rantings we see all the time now.

Even for formal, institutional fights such as legal system and lawsuit conflicts, Trump's strategy is not to fight them as legal system and lawsuit conflicts. Instead, he and his PR fixers (everyone who works for him plus the Republican Party and Fox News) turn these formal conflicts into word game fights too. That takes the proceedings out of the realm of the sober, rational, and just and gives Trump a chance to bend rules, pull strings and, above all, wail about unfair partisan treatment.

But what if we didn't always play Trump's word games directly with him? What if every time Trump spat on, say, the Constitution or adult norms of decency, we trained our political responses not on him but on someone else. Instead of taking up the argument with Trump, for example, we take it up with Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party or Fox News. We then treat Trump as if he were nothing more than an unaccountable, ill-behaved child, incapable of adult agency. "Trump's a nothing, people. He's a helpless child. Let's talk to the adults behind him."

Take this latest Robert E. Lee disgrace from Trump as an example. "Many generals... in the White House," per Trump, supposedly told him Lee was one of their favorite generals. It's just another nutso, crazy, lying thing to say (I hope and assume). Two possible approaches for our sane response are: 1) Ask Trump for proof that many generals in the White House told him that, or, 2) Point Trump to (or issue fact checks by) "history experts" who will educate everyone on how Lee was a bad general and a bad person.

Unfortunately, neither of those will work. The first, asking Trump for proof, won't work and never does. He's lying. Of course he's not going to furnish proof. He turns not furnishing proof into proof that those asking for proof are powerless.

The second, fact checking Trump and sneeringly pointing him to learned experts on how wrong he is, never works either. Again, he's lying, so he doesn't need to be educated; he needs to be shamed. We let that key fact slide when we try to educate or show he's ignorant. Also, there are no "experts" in Republican world. Trump's fixers (the Republican Party and Fox News) will simply point to some pseudo-history comic book and pretend that it refutes the anti-Lee experts. (And, adding intelligence insult to disappointment, much of the rest of the media will call the comic book a "refutation," not a "rebuttal," for no other reason than they don't know the difference between the two words.)

What if, in this case, we called on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide a list of generals willing to take responsibility for telling Trump what he says they told him? Go around Trump altogether. Treat the story not as "Trump says generals told him Lee is great" but as "U.S. generals tell Trump that Lee is their favorite general." Call Trump's bluff by calling the generals on the carpet. Don't ask Trump for a list of backers. Ask the people he says backed him why they backed him.

Likewise, whenever Trump says something stupid, lying, or crazy, why not immediately ask Mitch McConnell to explain it? Make Mitch McConnell Trump's keeper, whether he likes it or not. Just presume that McConnell and Senate Republicans are standing behind their illustrious leader every time that leader disgraces himself and ask them to account for him. Instead of saying, "Trump, we demand you prove U.S. generals told you Lee is their favorite general," we say, "Senator McConnell, why does the Republican Party stand behind Trump saying U.S. generals love Robert E. Lee?"

It might drive Trump crazy if he is casually and dismissively treated as unworthy to participate in adult conversation. It might drive Republicans crazy too, because they are used to Trump always being their lighting rod. Maybe we need to make them his lighting rod.

April 21, 2019

The minute we impeach is the minute we lose ownership of the narrative.

The Republican Senate would then take up the matter and turn it into the Mueller Report vs. the Steele Dossier, the FISA warrants, and the Strzok texts. The trial would be rushed and stage managed through the Senate by Senate Republicans and Republican Chief Justice John Roberts. It would be quickly decided in Trump's favor and would be Constitutionally over. We lose. Trump would be exonerated. The Republicans would make sure that the story ended on a high note for themselves and Trump. Any further investigation in the House would be cast as Dems not accepting a Constitutional verdict.

Time is on our side. The longer we hold the impeachment power, the more we can drag Trump and the Republicans through the dirt and build a stronger and stronger case. I definitely want to see more and more dirt on Trump, more and more cravenness from Republicans. We need to have the courage to fight for the Constitution against both Trump and the Republican Senate, using both our Constitutional powers and the democratic vote. That also means being brave enough to withstand our own impulses for instant gratification and the rationalizations that accompany them.

April 5, 2019

Trump's use of the word "collusion" is all bluff, and we should turn the tables on him.

Trump's been getting people to fixate on the word "collusion" for a very long time. I have to grudgingly admit that, to me, it shows true genius. It really does. No one says genius has to be "good," folks, and Trump's use of the word "collusion" is a case in point.

First, look where we are now. Trump and his Republicans are beating up our people and cowing the media with the word "collusion." They've got a rhetorical weapon in their hands. They are going on the offensive with it. All of their enemies "despicably" accused Trump of "collusion" and "treason." They should all resign. They should all go away. Go into isolation. Go into a shame spiral. The Mueller Report, as Trump and his Republicans would have it, proves that there was no "collusion."

We're afraid of the word. Some (many) think the Mueller Report does clear Trump of collusion. Some think the Mueller Report handed Trump a big win on collusion.

Nope. It's a bluff. It's all in our heads. And Trump and Barr put it there. We are being beaten with the very stick we should be using to beat Trump. That's genius on Trump's part. He's going strongly on the offense with a rhetorical weapon that is in reality among his greatest weaknesses.

Trump set this all up by hammering on the word "collusion" all this time. He has used it constantly for essentially the entire duration of the Mueller Investigation. "But...but my goodness," our mild mannered, thoughtful intellectual community told us, "doesn't Trump know that 'collusion' isn't a legal term. (Snort. Snort. What a dummy that Trump is!)"

But no. They were the dummies. The sneakiness gland in the middle of Trump's brain knew that "collusion" was a great term for sales purposes and for self defense. He was right.

In reality, Trump did collude. He is guilty as sin of what is very arguably "collusion" with Russia. Also, the Mueller Report probably makes that case exceptionally strongly. The slick Barr Report just says "[The Mueller] investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

They "did not establish?" That seems pretty damned weak, and it's coming from a Trump flack who was trying to make it as strong for Trump as he could. He could have said that the investigation "reached the conclusion." He didn't say that, because that's not what happened. Barr knows better than to lie.

More important is the use of "conspired or coordinated." Barr doesn't say that Mueller said Trump didn't collude. Essentially, Barr just spins out that the basis for a legal charge of conspiracy or coordination was not established. Collusion is left open. Barr can't say Mueller addressed "collusion" and dismissed it, although we can be sure Barr would say exactly that if he thought he could get away with it.

Instead, Trump and his Republicans are playing everyone and saying what neither Barr nor Mueller said, that Trump and his campaign were cleared of "collusion." Far worse, the media are saying it. This sneaky word switch, from "conspiracy" to "collusion" mentally links what the honorable, believable Mueller "did not establish" to what "poor, mistreated" Trump has been griping at us all along. Message: Trump was right and has a big win. The false link is made. The trick is complete.

And it is a trick. It's a rhetorical trick of the first order. It's brilliant hocum. Adam Schiff recently laid out our proper definition of "collusion" in his powerful "You might think it's Ok" speech. I only wish Schiff had used that opportunity to wrest the word "collusion" out of Trump's hands. As in, "You might think it's Ok. I don't. Frankly, it seems a lot like what most people would think of as 'collusion.' It really does."

Bottom line, when people hear the word "collusion," they should, in a just and rational world, think of it as a perfectly good word to describe what Trump and his campaign did. It's an apt word for what they did. In a just and rational world Trump should be afraid to the use the word "collusion" lest it remind just and rational people that Trump really did collude.

March 31, 2019

The Barr Report. Now we see why Trump needed Sessions out of the way.

Trump and his team knew the report was going to be damning but that Trump would not be indicted on a statutory crime. They knew the report would be released to the AG first, and that they could slow walk the actual release.

Therefore, Trump needed an AG who would do him a favor and release the "good" news that there was no indictment. Barr, dutifully, released the Barr Report. Concerning Trump, the Barr Report just says what no one should have found surprising, that Trump wasn't going to be indicted.

But then comes the big switcharoo. Trump, his Republican fixers, and the Fox "News" echo chamber then began doing their best to sell the Barr Report as the Mueller Report. Some are going to be gulled by it. Some are going to be afraid that a lot of people will be gulled by it.

I'm neither, nor should anyone else be. If the Barr Report is any indication, the Mueller Report looks really bad for Trump.

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