Trump: The untold positives

While Donald Trump continues to take a licking among non-mouth breathers, we should not discount his outcry against unfair press coverage.  After all, living with The Donald hasn’t been all bad, has it?  Please consider:

  • People finally understand that “misogynistic xenophobe” doesn’t refer toxena-warrior-princess-003 Xena the Warrior Princess’s court magician.
  • Acceptable English now includes “bigly” and “schlonged.” And “nasty” means the opposite of what you think it means.
  • Kids now see what will happen to them if they continue to act like selfish, entitled pricks.
  • The fake tanning business is tanking.
  • Taco trucks.  Everywhere.
  • Republicans and Democrats can finally agree on something.
  • Ben Carson is starting to look smart.  OK, maybe that’s a stretch.
  • Speaking of former rivals, Jeb Bush is about to release his new rap single, “WTF! WTF!”  Actually, it’s more like spoken word than rap.
  • 120817103149-pussy-riot-band-members-horizontal-large-galleryAll the women who were groped by The Donald are going to march on Mar-a-Lago.  They’ll call the event Pussy Riot.
  • Disabled Muslim African-American women win the Trump-insult superfecta.
  • The ten-year-old girl who Trump hit on in 1992 is now way too old for him (It really doesn’t belong in this list, but it’s funny.  I have the best one-liners, am I right)?
  • All those “hanging chad” lawyers from 2000 are looking forward to overtime pay.

Thanks, Don!  One request:  as a final gesture to us, please build a wall around you and all of your supporters, and then pay for it.

Follow @MindTheGape on Twitter.



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Trump is a better choice than…


While I was watching Donald Trump get raked over the coals for the last week or two, it occurred to me that he might look like a train wreck compared to, say, virtually anyone else, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few less appealing alternatives.  I enlisted my staff of top-notch researchers to explore other less palatable options, and we came up with the following choices:

  • Jeffrey Dahmer – He drugged and killed people, and then stored their heads in a refrigerator.  He was clearly not cut from presidential cloth, although as a homosexual he was not inclined to grab women’s genitals –  giving him an advantage over Trump in at least one category.
  • Grigori Rasputin – Rasputin was a religious charlatan who fed hisrasputin ego by having his way with scores of women.  Sound familiar?  His body odor was notorious, however, which would rule out closed-door cabinet meetings.  If not for the Tic Tacs, Trump might be in trouble, but instead he beats Rasputin in the electoral college.
  • Lord Voldemort – Like Trump, Voldemort’s success is predicated voldemorton the suffering of others.  He’s evil, narcissistic, egomaniacal, racist (Mudbloods), and ambitious.  His noseless visage is tough to take, but he does have large hands.  It’s tight, but I think Trump captures the women’s vote.
  • Bernie Madoff – On top of having an equally fitting surname, Madoff also shares Trump’s deep desire to steal from the rich (and poor) and give to himself.  But unlike Trump, he’s in jail, so while the public might be inclined to choose him over The Donald, I’m pretty sure that inmates can’t run the country.
  • Bluto – Bluto thought he could just grab Olive Oyl by the extra virgin (if ‘ya know what I mean), but Popeye said, “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands n’more!” It’s a close call, but Bluto never said he’s smarter than the generals.  Advantage: Trump.

Before you protest about it being a stacked deck, please note that it took my crack research staff a while to rustle up five less viable alternatives, including two that are fictional.  Stalin and Hitler didn’t make the list because our polling data showed either of them beating Trump by 5 points in Ohio.

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Conspiracy theories



The “great” thing about social media is that anyone can have a voice, regardless of how uninformed, paranoid, and ridiculous that voice happens to be.  One of the most obvious manifestations of this newfound power is the proliferation of conspiracy theories.  Fake conspiracies have been around for a long time (Shakespeare didn’t exist!), but now the sheer number and viral nature of them has increased their prominence beyond any reasonable level.conspiracy-theory-2

Current conspiracy theories come from the right and the left, and even from people who are well-enough educated to know better.  Here are a few current or recent ones:

What do they all have in common?

  • They are bullshit, paranoid delusions that do nothing but distract us from much more important discussions.  I think we knoFoilw, after 7.8 years, that Obama is not a closet Muslim (???) who wants to institute Sharia law in the U.S.  WTF? Get over it.
  • These conspiracies are perpetrated by people with agendas, mental illnesses, or too much time on their hands.    When Donald Trump says that it’s weird how there was a pillow over Scalia’s head, well that’s not evidence.
  • At the end of the trail of ‘legitimate’ research that proves the point is someone whose credentials qualify them to say absolutely nothing on the subject that you can trust.
  • Most conspiracy theorists automatically reject legitimate sources such as mainstream media, leading authorities, and even accepted scientific research.  If the New York Times, Washington Post, or the NIH are held up as examples of corporate or governmental sheep, then your bullshit meter should be so loud as to disturb your neighbors.

Does that mean that there are no conspiracies in the world?  No.  ADM and several other agribusiness companies really did conspire to artificially elevate the price of lysine.  The sugar industry really did fund fake research to hide the connection between sugar and heart disease.  The Gulf of Tonkin incident – which precipitated the Vietnam War – never happened.  But these are facts, not theories, because they were documented and proven by legitimate sources, not someone who is regularly visited by aliens or gets his talking points from Jenny McCarthy.

As I said, silly conspiracy theories are as old as the hills, but they’re coming on so fast and furious these days that people have to grow up and be smarter.  It should be a source of unending frustration to any reasonable person that Americans are so easy to get up in arms about all this trumped-up bullshit. It’s like nationwide game of three-card monte, where people keep doubling down on the latest fantasy while some pickpocket works the crowd and rifles all of our wallets.  The problem is that the stakes keep on going up, and sooner or later all of our wallets are going to be gone.





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What’s so super about superdelegates?

In case you just regained consciousness from that beach party last August, you may have heard that we’re in presidential primary season.  This is the opportunity for voters to select the nominees for each party; to participate in the democratic process; to have our voices heard!  Oh, wait.Screen-Shot-2015-11-17-at-9.38.31-PM

Among the peculiarities of nominating process is the use of superdelegates.   You can look at the Wikipedia definition, but the short version is this:

  • In the Democratic party they’re delegates who are selected on the basis of their role in national or state party leadership, or because someone in the party says the should be.  There are about 717 Democratic superdelegates (compared to about 4000 regular delegates) in the race
  • Republicans have superdelegates, but they’re small in number, state-appointed, and must stick with the results of the primaries in their respective states.  As far as I can tell, the only thing they do is give states with small delegate counts a little more power.

So 1/6 of all the Democrats’ delegates are superdelegates.   That’s OK, right, since they’re unaffiliated and can vote for anyone they like?  Here’s the problem:  We’re still not that far into primary season, and 467 superdelegates have already put themselves in Hillary’s column.  Here’s how the Democratic race looks, with and without superdelegates:

Without superdelegates

With superdelegates

Clinton Sanders Clinton Sanders
768 542 1235 580
59% 41% 68% (!) 32%

How many delegates does a Democratic candidate need for the nomination?  2383.  So the fact that Hillary has 20% of the superdelegates pre-baked into her number seems, uh, a little unfair.

polls_superdelegate_5748_415361_poll_xlarge-1Superdelgates can change their vote anytime they want, which is exactly what happened in 2008, when Hillary’s superdelegates mostly marched into Obama’s camp.  But that year, Obama was a juggernaut.  Sanders is doing very well, but why does he have to overcome this hurdle that she does not have?  How does it represent the democratic process?

Here’s the thing:  we already use a republican form of democracy to select our candidates and eventually our president.  Safeguards are built into the system to save us from ourselves, at least in theory.   Superdelegates take it a step further, obfuscating the process and further diminishing the power of the voter.

Of course, we can look across the isle for a compelling counterargument.  But as abhorrent as the likely Republican nominee may be, he is also the leading vote-getter; in other words, he’s the embodiment of the democratic process.  I most definitely do not want him in the White House, but I would never want us to break the system in order to avoid it. Similarly, I don’t want to be attacked by terrorists, but I would never want the government listening to all of my phone calls or reading all of my emails.  Sorry – replacing something bad with something worse does not make sense.

So let’s dispense with the notion that the Democratic party knows what we want better than we do.  Let us vote in the primaries, and how about having our votes count for 100%, not 83%? The Constitution used to count certain Americans as 3/5 of a person;  is that how we want to be represented today?   And by the way, if the majority of Americans really want a reality TV star to run the country, Canada is looking awfully appealing these days.







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Gerrymandering is not an ice cream flavor

Gerrymandering is not an ice cream flavor.  It is not a deceased member of the Grateful Dead.  It is not the governor of California, and it was never a member of Stealers Wheel.  It is, however, a scourge that explains a lot about our crappy political system.

Gerrymandering is a term originated by the foes of  Elbridge Gerry, a Massachusetts politician who, among other things, was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and the fifth vice president of the United States under James Madison.  However, his legacy was cemented while he was governor of Massachusetts, during which time he signed a Republican-sponsored bill to reshape the state’s voting districts and elect more of his party’s candidates.  The oddly shaped redistricting map looked like a salamander, so an opposition newspaper decided to call it a gerrymander.  The rest is history.


The gerrymander.  He must work on his posture.


What does gerrymandering have to do with politics today?  A lot.  According to the Constitution, it is left up to the states to determine voting districts.   Not surprisingly, these districts are typically manipulated by incumbent political parties to maximize the number of party-affiliated officeholders.  Ever wonder why Mitt Romney won North Carolina in 2012 by a mere 2%, and yet 10 of the 13 members of the North Carolina House delegation are Republican?  You got it – gerrymandering. Ever wonder why Massachusetts, a state with 40% Republican voters, hasn’t had a Republican in Congress for two decades?  Gerrymandering.

“Sucky” is the most polite word I can think of to describe gerrymandering;  I can think of many more graphic ones, however.  There have been many implementations of gerrymandering over the years, but it was perfected by the Republicans in the 1990’s and then coopted by the Tea Party in 2010.  It’s why, in a country in which religious observance is declining, the power of evangelicals is so strong, and why, even though more than 50% of the population supports a woman’s right to choose, Congress spends an inordinate amount of time trying to defund Planned Parenthood.  In short, gerrymandering enables politicians to disregard the will of American majorities to advance their own interests.

But gerrymandering doesn’t explain our current conundrum, in which P.T. Barnum is perilously close to the power-gasm of his life.  Or does it?  When Americans feel that their representatives don’t represent them, and instead  follow the whim of their most influential corporate sponsors, an ethically challenged pied piper populist B9320607428Z.1_20160121163416_000_GVFD7P0IF.1-0whose bald-faced, pandering lies foment their greatest fears and prejudices is just the elixir they’re looking for.

It’s too late to stop that bombastic buffoon from monopolizing our airwaves (if not our executive branch), but it’s exactly the right time to re-empower American voters with a real voice in the selection of our lawmakers.  What can we do? It’s simple:  tell our politicians to pass a Constitutional amendment to remove redistricting power from the states, and instead institute proportional representation in its place.

What does proportional representation do?  It ensures that our elected officials reflect the demographics and interests of their voters.  If a state has 48% Democratic-leaning voters,  proportional representation makes sure that Republicans will no longer have 10 of the 13 seats.  It ensures that minorities, poor people, and other underrepresented voting blocs have a full voice in our electoral system; that the rights of all constituents are more likely to be represented fairly.  If you want to find out more about proportional representation, I suggest you check out this video, which describes it nicely.

Bottom line:  the era of letting self-interested, cynical politicians make this country a device for their agendas must end.  But of course, we all have to take action, and that means letting our elected officials know that gerrymandering must stop and proportional voting must begin.  Which of course means that I also have to get off of my lazy ass and follow my own advice.

If I do, will you?



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Women are the problem

You know, there are lots of problems in America.  The poor are spending our money like it belongs to them, we’re being attacked on a daily basis by Muslims, and Mexicans are stealing our high-paying jobs.  But what do these things all have in common?  Women, that’s what.  redneck pregnant woman

I mean, women are Muslims, and they’re Mexicans.  And a few other things that if I mentioned them the pc police would get all in my stuff.  And all they do is cause problems.

Let me give you an example.  What happened in Colorado Springs is horrible.  I mean, women went in there to cut up fetuses for money!  Some idiots think they were getting medical care or making sure that they wouldn’t get pregnant.  Tell me another joke.  I mean, no wonder that everyone is up in arms (literally, get it?).  It’s time for us to do something about all these women, and here’s what we should do:

  1. First, we have to knock them down a peg or two.  I mean, how valuable is a woman to society, anyway?  I say women are worth about 3/5 of a man (Right men?), so let’s just put that in the Constitution.  That means they have to spend 40% of their time serving men – who really run this place – and then they can spend the other 60% on household chores or whatever menial labor they can find.
  2. Taking care of their medical needs has gotta stop stop right away.  It only leads to bad stuff.  Doesn’t matter what they want, what’s growing down there or how it happened; just let it be.  That’s what Jesus would do.
  3. If women do something stupid and get pregnant, we shouldn’t have to pay the price for it, even if they can’t work because they have a kid.  Cut off all financial assistance for women.
  4. And why should we pay for their dumb kids?  Cut off all early childhood education as well.  While we’re at it, let’s dump funding for public schools.  Half those kids – and you know which half – are racially dumb, and we shouldn’t have to pay for them.  If you’re not white…I mean, rich enough to pay for the kid’s education, just teach ’em about Jesus at home.

If we care about America – and I care A LOT – this is what we’ll do.  We’re gonna help all those women to help themselves, because that’s the American way.  Oh, and build a big frickin’ wall to keep out all those lazy Mexicans who steal our high-paying jobs, and the Islamic terrorists who keep shooting people in abortion clinics and all.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Go Trump! Let’s make America great again!

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The war Christians…I mean, Christmas

I’m a Jew in a Christian country.  According to the results of a Pew study released in May of 2015, over 70% of U.S. citizens identify themselves as Christians.  So when people call it “Christmas break” or wish me a merry Christmas, I recognize where it’s coming from and don’t take offense.

Huckabee's war on christmas

Nothing brings out the Christmas spirit like war metaphors.

I also understand that towns and school districts sometimes change “Christmas break” to “winter break” in the name of being more inclusive; an admirable objective, although not a big issue with me.  I also wouldn’t care whether Starbucks decided to put a picture of Jesus on their cups, or if Santa was seen sporting a yarmulke.

What does offend me is people getting up in arms and calling an attempt at inclusiveness a “war on Christmas,” particularly because they really mean that there is a war on Christianity (which of course is ironic, because Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in the world).  Even ignoring the blatant use of hyperbole in these assertions, the idea that Christmas is under threat because someone wants to be more inclusive is, well, imbecilic.   In fact, this umbrage is really a thinly veiled burst of venom from social conservatives who are desperately worried that their tenuous hold on power – along with their ability to legislate our morality – is evaporating.  War-on-xmas-4

And it is.  According to that same Pew study, the number of ‘Nones’ – that is, people who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated – jumped almost 42% between 2007 and 2014.  Another Pew study showed that as a whole, the United States is becoming less religious.

Even so, Christianity is neither under assault nor is it a dying faith; in fact, it’s alive and well on a global scale. So when  Ted Cruz pretends that there is a war on faith, he’s full of it.  And Donald Trump’s war on Christmas is a fabrication,  and Ben Carson’s  “war on the  pc police” is really a war on inclusiveness.   These guys aren’t worried about the importance of religion; they’re just using it as a lever to scare the crap out of (read: capture the vote of) disaffected middle-aged or elderly white people by preying on their fears.  It’s the same pretzel logic that’s used to stir up fear and hatred of Mexicans, Muslims, and even African-Americans.  And it’s shameful.

So when someone says Merry Christmas, I’ll probably just return the sentiment, because they’re just being friendly to me.  But if they tell me there’s a war on Christmas, I’ll know there’s nothing friendly about what they’re saying.





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