We are repulsed by it all. What do we do?

trainwreck

The 2016 presidential election

According to a New York Times/CBS poll, 80% of Americans are repulsed by the current election cycle.  Me too.  I’m repulsed by Trump, I’m repulsed that people hate Hillary so irrationally, and frankly, I’m repulsed that the Democrats made her the standard-bearer knowing that she’s the most divisive candidate they could have possibly nominated.   And finally, I’m repulsed by the fact that these are the only two viable choices.

You can move your lips all you want about Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, but they’re viable like Donald Duck is sexy.  We have a two-party system in this country, and unless we make some major changes to the way Congressional candidates are elected, that will not change.  Ever.

Why?

Congress is elected using the first-past-the-post system, where every voting district elects one person and everyone else goes home.  If 40% like candidate 1, 35% like the second one, and the rest like #3, it doesn’t matter.  The voices of voters for 2 and 3 don’t matter; candidate one walks away with the gold.  This method of voting causes political entities to coalesce PRIOR to elections so that they stand the best chance of winning.  It also quells the voice of voters who really agreed with candidate 2 or 3.  That sucks.

Lots of countries use another method: proportional representation.  What’s so good about proportional representation?  If it were employed statewide in every state,  House seats would be allocated on the basis of the total statewide vote.  In the example above, 40% of Congressional seats would be from candidate 1’s party, 35% from candidate 2’s, and the rest from candidate 3’s.

Why is this better?  Here are a few reasons:

  • One party – let’s call them Republicans for the purpose of this exercise – couldn’t gerrymander voting districts that over-represent one party and under-represent others.
  • Smaller parties with specific interests would have a voice in Washington.  This means that everyone’s interest would be well-represented.  Women who favor women’s rights AND gun rights wouldn’t necessarily have to choose one party over the other.  People who were fiscally conservative and socially moderate wouldn’t have to listen to wingnuts like Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee.
  • At the same time, fringe parties could have their fringe candidates without imposing their will upon 1/2 the population.
  • Parties would have to coalesce AFTER elections,  enlisting the support of other parties to create majority rule.  This vastly reduces the possibility of dogmatic, unilateral decision-making in government.
  • And with multiple parties, it would be more difficult (but not impossible) to mislead American voters without having other parties call them out for their lies and deceptions.

All good, right?  The bad news is that this form of representation would make government less stable if, say, a small party decided to back out of a coalition and support the other side.  This could mean that smaller parties could have more power, but they couldn’t consolidate power so easily, as they’ve done today.

Does this mean that we’ll start loving politics and politicians?  No.  Does it mean that politicians will be more likely to represent our interests above “the party?”  I think so.  The only problem is that all the states would have to volunteer to change the way that Congress is elected, or we’d need to pass an amendment to the Constitution.  And nobody in power wants to give it up, so you can imagine how hard it would be to get that through Congress, let alone the states.

But we have to do something, and I think this is the something we have to do.  The place to start is by bugging your politicians.  Email your Congressional representative, your senator and the president.  Tell your friends.  It’s a lot better than sitting here and watching the slow-motion train wreck.

Follow @MindTheGape on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton is not evil. We are stupid.

hillary-devil

Not a real picture

Let’s face it:  The fact that Hillary Clinton is not polling the living crap out of Donald
Trump is horrible.  The fact that he’s even the Republican nominee is so insulting and embarrassing that, well, it’s beyond description.  And there is one source of blame: us.  We are a stupid, stupid population of idiotic morons.

 

Why do people think Hillary is evil? There is a huge body of evidence, not to mention a legion of people who say that she is possibly the most qualified candidate ever.  Don’t believe me?  Check out her decades of distinguished public service (Please disregard the bullshit propaganda to the contrary) and long list of supporters who actually know something about running the country.

But no! She’s evil!  After all, Hillary has apparently conspired to share classified emails (why, exactly?), conspired to cover up the death of Ambassador Stevens, conspired to cover up her husband’s infidelity, conspired to kill her detractors, and conspired to do lots of other terrible things – all ending in “-gate.”

Folks, it’s all crap.  Yeah, she screwed up with the email server – but tell me again what the possible malicious intent could have been?  The rest is baseless propaganda served up by a cynical Republican party that has been perpetrating bullshit conspiracy theories to a stupid American public for decades.  How big a hole must we dig before we realize we can’t get out?

These very same people who have been investigating Hillary fruitlessly for 20 years are responsible for the moron who is tragically leading their party – and maybe even the whole country – off of a cliff.  He is too stupid to be evil, but the result of his presidency will demonstrate what evil looks like.

If you’re not voting for Hillary because you vehemently oppose any form of taxation, fine. If you have religious objections to the pro-choice movement, I disagree but I understand if you don’t want to vote for her.  I totally get it if you want to sit this one out.

But would you feel proud pulling the lever for the same guy who has been officially endorsed by the KKK?  Whose history of disrespect for women is almost as legendary as his total ignorance about foreign policy or military strategy? Who thinks that deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is even possible, or who lies constantly?  If you vote for this guy, it’s hard to envision how you could be that gullible, that willing to ignore his enormous character flaws, that willing to believe in countless numbers of baseless conspiracy theories, that oblivious to legions of experts who warn us about him, and not be stupid.

Seriously.

Follow @MindTheGape on Twitter.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Innovation From “Raise Some Cash” Ash

Washington, D.C. – ash-carter-1Riding the wave of success started with the Pentagon’s bonus payback program, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today announced several new initiatives to raise revenues.  These include:

The Bullet Protection Program.  Carter said that the Pentagon wanted to reduce the amount of wasted ordinance.”Starting  soon, all members of the military must pay for the bullets they use,” Carter announced, indicating that all weaponry will be equipped with meters and credit card readers.  “Want enough bullets? Prepay. That’ll make a soldier think twice before shooting down the next civilian drone.” Plans to charge for use of ground-to-air and air-to-air weaponry are still pending.

Front Line Bungalows.  “Sick of foxholes and bunkers?” Carter announced, “We’ve partnered with the Trump Corporation to  offer our front-line soldiers state-of-the-art bungalows for a small nightly fee.  Made of gold-lamé  camouflage lined with Kevlar, these will protect our soldiers while also providing the latest memory-foam sleeping bags and Egyptian cotton, 720 thread-count sleep fatigues.”

Army World.  Noting the vast number of Americans who already carry semiautomatic weapons and walk around in militiafatigues, Carter said that the Pentagon will capitalize on this popular trend and let them do it for real – for a fee.  According to the Secretary, “We’ll develop theme park-like experiences in today’s combat zones, enabling civilians to live out their fantasies while simultaneously killing the bad guys.” Between reduced personnel requirements and new income, Carter expects to see a budget windfall of at least $20 billion in the first year.  “We’re ready to deploy the first wave of campers near Mosul, with additional excursions in the works for Aleppo, South Sudan, and Afghanistan.”

Carter indicated that more new programs will be coming soon, with the objective of making the DoD a profit center by 2020.

Follow @MindTheGape on Twitter.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trump is a better choice than…

trump

Donald Trump may seem like the Titanic of presidential candidates, but I set out to prove that it could be worse.  So 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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Conspiracy theories

conspiracy-theory-3

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment