Monday, November 14, 2016

You may not want to hear this, but it's your fault

This weekend was not a happy weekend for the Zymog. Two of my close friends, and a friend of a third close friend, suffered what can only be called racial harassment. The nature of the harassment, and the things that were said to them, make it clear that this only happened because of Donald Trump being elected.

I got a lot of my friends mad at me when I reposted on Facebook a blog article that says, more or less, "if you voted for Donald Trump, then it's partly your fault, and you need to fix it."

A lot of people don't want to hear that. Bear with me here, okay? Don't close your mind and get all upset yet.

Let's start with a scene from Disney's Aladdin

Jafar used his third wish from the lamp: "I wish to be an ALL-POWERFUL GENIE!"

So the genie said, "Way to go, Al" and granted Jafar's wish. Jafar became this huge, red genie. 

"Yessss. YESSSSSSS! The power! THE ABSOLUTE POWER! The universe is mine, to command, to control!" 



He was reveling in his power, when suddenly Aladdin said, "Not so fast, Jafar! You wanted to be a genie? Well, you got it. AND EVERYTHING THAT GOES WITH IT. Phenomenal cosmic power —"

Suddenly two two bracelets of slavery were clamped onto his wrists, and against his cries of "No! NOOOOOO!" he got sucked into his own tiny lamp.

"— itty bitty living space!"



Hang onto that story. It will become immediately relevant. (You gotta admit, I did a pretty good job reciting the scene from memory, didn't I? I'm sure that my grandchildren can do better than I did.)

Now, follow this logic:

Many voters in this country fell for the Supreme Court scam: they voted for Trump or for Clinton because they wanted to preserve the conservative or liberal majority, respectively, on the Supreme Court. I have heard from a lot of people who voted for both candidates, who told me that that was the only reason they voted for them. Well, that and all the other stuff they didn't like about the other candidate. They were both awful.

But, the Trump supporters told me, they didn't like Donald Trump because of his racist, misogynist, reactionary, petulant, et cetera, ways. They ignored, or pretended that they didn't see, all of the radical right-wingers who were chanting at Trump's rallies and posting hateful garbage on the Internet. Or they hoped it would all go away after he got elected.

(If, at this time, you want to tell me "Yeah, but Clinton supporters were the ones who actually committed violent acts at the rallies," I'm going to ask you to stay with me here. Don't distract yourself. I'm not talking about Clinton.)

Way back in June 2016, Mitt Romney warned that Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric, if he were to win the election, would change the face of America. He warned that the extreme racists would consider themselves legitimized by Trump's victory, and somehow authorized to practice their nasty racism. "Emboldened" is the current term for it. (See this CNN article, entitled "Mitt Romney says Trump will change America with 'trickle-down racism'."

So Donald Trump got elected. (And the extreme liberals - I mean progressives - Clinton supporters, anyway - rioted. That's also a post for another time. I don't want to dwell on it here. It's a distraction. Let's keep focused on Trump and his supporters, okay?)

In the three days following his election, these three things happened to friends of mine. This isn't something I'm reposting from a remote newspaper or blog, okay? Two of these are first-hand, and the third one is second-hand, but it still counts because I know these people and I know when it happened to them.

These things really happened.

1. This first one is from one of my former math students. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. legally, before she was born. She and her two sisters graduated from college. This woman is working as a teacher in a downtown Denver elementary school (which Donald Trump disparagingly referred to as "inner city," because he didn't want to say "black" or "Hispanic" or "low-income" or "crime-ridden") while she is pursuing a graduate degree. Someone left this comment on her FB page, the day after the election: 

Try to convince me that this was not a direct result of Trump being elected. Go ahead. I'll be glad to call you an ostrich.

2. This second one is from one of my parishioners. This woman is from Saipan, an island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Saipan, and the other islands in the CNMI, have been part of the United States since 1944, and its inhabitants are natural-born U.S. Citizens. Got that? Not immigrants. Citizens, just as much as native Hawaiians and Alaskans are citizens.

She works at a large nationwide retail store here in Colorado, whose owners were yuge donors to the Trump campaign. This happened to her on Friday, three days after the election:

Again, try to tell me that this wasn't a direct result of Trump getting elected. Try to tell me (or her) that it would have happened if Clinton had been elected instead - or that it would have happened if this weren't an election year.

3. This third one is a friend-of-a-friend. One of my friends works with a Muslim man, whose brother lives and works in Seattle. This extended Muslim family immigrated legally to the United States years ago, fleeing an oppressive regime in the Middle East, and looking for freedom. They bought into all the ideals which constitute the American Dream, and have been working hard at becoming Americans. On Wednesday morning, the guy in Seattle found this piece of paper under his windshield:


I'm sure you will agree with me that this is despicable. You will even tell me that you would never do this yourself, or condone anyone else doing it. You might even point out the cowardice of the perpetrator, since he didn't leave his name or contact information on the paper.

But you cannot convince me that this is not a direct result of Trump being elected. When the message starts with "We won! Now ...", it's pretty clear and undeniable.

Now, here's the part that you don't want to hear. And you may get offended by this. If you voted for Trump, and if Trump won your state, then these racist incidents are partly your fault.

Follow my logic here. And remember that scene from Aladdin.

1. If you voted for Donald Trump, and so did a majority of voters in your state, then you were part of that majority. That's an important distinction.

2. If the majority of voters in your state voted for Trump, then all of the electoral votes in your state went for Trump.

3. Donald Trump won in 31 states, giving him over 300 electoral votes and winning him the election.

Okay so far? You can take part of the credit for electing Donald Trump. You can loudly proclaim, "My candidate won!"

4. As a result of Donald Trump's election victory, many racists and extremists, lowlifes who had been hiding in the shadows for years, muttering to themselves on their racist blogs, suddenly felt empowered. They moved out into the light and began openly harassing and threatening minorities and immigrants. 

I have given you three examples in support of this fact. Do you want more? Are three witnesses not enough for you?

Now, I know you weren't voting to embolden the low-level racists and hatemongers. You were voting to preserve the Supreme Court majority, or to keep the Clintons from looting the White House for a second time. You had no intention, with your vote, of causing pain to my former student, my Saipan friend, or that Muslim immigrant in Seattle.

And yet, just like Jafar, you got Donald Trump - and everything that goes with him. You don't get to pick and choose which consequences of Trump's ascension you voted for. You voted for all of it.

You can't say "I just wanted the Supremes, not all the rest of it." You knew, going in, that you were going to get all of it. But you squeezed your eyes shut, held your nose, and voted for him anyway.

And, just like Romney said it would, the "trickle-down racism" happened. And, whether you want to admit it or not, even if it wasn't your intention, it's partly your fault.

On Sunday, November 13, five days after the election, Donald Trump was interviewed on 60 Minutes.  Leslie Stahl asked him about the harassment that had been taking place, and in typical Trumpian reality-distortion mode, he said:

Donald Trump: I don’t hear it—I saw, I saw one or two instances…
Lesley Stahl: On social media?
Donald Trump: But I think it’s a very small amount. Again, I think it’s--
One or two instances? I have told you of three real instances, and I'm just one person - a white male person, no less.

So then, to his credit, Trump said:
Lesley Stahl: Do you want to say anything to those people?
Donald Trump: I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together.
 Lesley Stahl: They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims--
Donald Trump: I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it-- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.
So Donald Trump told everyone to knock it off with the racist stuff that's been going on. Do you think it will work? The horses have left the barn, Mr. Trump. There's no use locking the door now.

Now, if you are a white person who voted for Donald Trump, what are you going to do about it? You voted for him, what are you going to to do fix it?

John Pavolovitz, a white Christian blogger, pointed the finger at all of the white Christians who voted for Trump, and told them what they need to do to fix the situation. Basically, he told them that this mess was their fault. He gave them two tasks:
1. Reach out to the victimized minorities, tell them you're sorry, and try to make amends.
2. Stand up to the perpetrators. Protect the victims. Do your part to bring an end to the harassment.
And he suggested that this should be done, live and in person, person to person.

For some reason, a lot of white Christian voters reacted poorly to his article. He was very blunt, he did point the finger of blame, and it made a lot of people uncomfortable. In reaction, there was a lot of "It's not my fault" and "I don't have to fix anything." (Remember Jafar.) And, even in the face of what he said in his blog, many people insisted that it was up to the victims to reach out, to establish a dialogue, and to be forgiving.

The Latinos and the Muslims aren't the ones who need to have a change of heart. And it's time that everyone who helped to put Donald Trump in the White House take their share of the blame and do their part to make amends.

Some of the white Christians didn't take kindly to be singled out. They say that's not fair. Some of them, not really understanding what "racist" means, have told me that it's "racist" to single them out like that. Then I challenge them to explain away this article from Religion News Service, entitled "White evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons carried Trump", or this one from World Religion News, entitled "Why the majority of Christians voted for Donald Trump".

This is where I'm supposed to put down two or three pithy statements and a final zinger, to make a powerful concluding paragraph. I don't have any. I'm too tired.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Four Years is a Long Time

Four years is a long, long time. Whatever the American public does to survive these four years, we need to make sure that this never happens again.

The Republican party needs to start now to seek out men of integrity and wisdom, something that was sorely lacking in 2015 and 2016. They need to be prepared to replace Donald Trump in 2020 - or before then, if impeachment or resignation is a possibility.

On the Democratic side: if that party ever wants to be in power again, they need to find someone with the integrity of Jimmy Carter and the savvy of Ronald Reagan. It looked like Hillary Clinton had this one in the bag. She should have won by a landslide, instead of being edged out by a mysoginistic, bombastic, lying windbag like Donald Trump, but the people rejected her. What message should the Democrats take from this? It is as follows:
The American people have said in this election is they don't want someone in the White House as corrupt and nasty and greedy as Hillary Clinton.
On the third-party side: Americans need to look deeply inward, and ask themselves if it was worth it, compromising their morals to vote for "the lesser of two evils" this year. I still maintain that it wasn't worth it, not even from the beginning. I'm realistic enough to know that we will never have a perfect, flawless candidate to vote for. But these two were so badly flawed that neither of them was qualified for the job.

Something that needs to be said: I don't think that this election was a rejection of the idea of a woman as President. I think it was a rejection of the person, Hillary Clinton.

As evidence of this, I point out that nobody, not even Donald Trump, intimated that she should not be elected simply because she was a woman. Maybe our society has made some progress after all.

One final word: if you have spoken out against Donald Trump in the last 18 months, and if you have not changed your tune yet, you would do well to find someplace to hide. Your name is probably on his enemies list (here's a link to another one), and either his secret police or his storm troopers will be coming for you.

The Biggest Losers of the 2016 Presidential Election

At this point, it is clear that the third party wasn't a factor in this presidential race. It could have been. All of the advocates of the third-party vote were just shouting into the wind. Everyone else was locked into the two-party mentality and didn't think a third party would make any difference.

Are you kidding me? Donald Trump was pronounced the winner with just 276 electoral votes. If only one third-party candidate had won seven electoral votes, it would have made all the difference in the history of the world.

So the most obvious losers in this contest were Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. But the American people were also losers. We were losers as soon as Clinton and Trump were nominated by their respective parties.

But no - this post celebrates three other losers, three First Class, Grade A Idiots, three long-eared jackassses, who by their actions managed to royally screw up the campaign. Like Grover Norquist four years ago, nobody voted for these people, and yet they managed to insert themselves into the election process and make a royal mess of it. If they had just used their brains, things would have happened differently.

Here, for your reading enjoyment, are The Biggest Losers of the 2016 Presidential Election.

1. Reince Priebus

This is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. In a totalitarian state like the USSR, the chairman of the ruling party is the Man Behind the Throne, and the most powerful man in the country. By hitching his wagon to the Trump star, Priebus may have really enhanced his cred, and he may yet become the most powerful political figure in the country.

But with Trump, Priebus is like a little kid taking a Great Dane for a walk: the dog drags him around wherever it wants to go, despite the child's cries of "Heel! Heel!"

In the days before the Republican national convention, and in the days that followed, Priebus missed several opportunities to take Trump behind the woodshed, give him a good whipping, and make him fall into line. Instead, he was cowed and bullied by Trump, and both blindsided and intimidated by Trump's popular support, and he chose to follow instead of to lead. He has allowed Donald Trump to lead him around by the nose since July.

Reince Priebus surrendered his brain, his spine, and his manhood to Donald Trump. He may yet come out ahead, politically speaking, but as a person, he is an idiot, and a loser.

(UPDATE: On November 13, Trump named Priebus as his White House chief of Staff. Yep, he's coming out ahead. I guess sometimes it pays to be a jackass.)

2. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

This is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. She is also a member of the House of Representatives, representing a district from Florida. (Florida, by the way, voted for Trump, so that makes her a loser already.) Since she is still in Congress, she may consider herself a winner, but ...

What makes her a loser is that she and other DNC executives were exposed as having been instrumental in denying the other candidate, Bernie Sanders, a fair shot at the party's nomination. In fact, she fumbled the whole pre-convention campaign effort, and was responsible for an unelectable candidate getting nominated. Here's the way Wikipedia puts it:

2016 Presidential election

Clinton's opponents, Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders, separately criticized the decision by Wasserman Schultz to schedule only six debates in the 2016 Presidential Primary, fewer than in previous election cycles, as well as the timing of the debates.

In May, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski called on Schultz to step down over the DNC's bias against the Bernie Sanders campaign. The 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak revealed that Schultz was furious at the negative coverage of her actions in the media, and she emailed [NBC News political director] Chuck Todd that such coverage of her "must stop". Describing the coverage as the "LAST straw", she ordered the DNC's communications director to call MSNBC president Phil Griffin to demand an apology from Brzezinski.
ResignationSee also: 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak

After Wikileaks published Democratic National Committee emails which suggested that DNC staffers had inappropriately backed Hillary Clinton in the primary campaigns while criticizing the Bernie Sanders campaign, Wasserman Schultz tendered her resignation as the head of the DNC, to become effective as of the close of the nomination convention in Philadelphia. According to reports in the Washington Post, Wasserman Schultz strongly resisted suggestions she resign, requiring a phone call from President Barack Obama to finally force her resignation.

Following a speech at the convention before the Florida delegation where Wasserman Schultz was "booed off stage" the DNC announced she would not gavel open the convention. She was subsequently appointed honorary chair of the Clinton campaign's "50 state program."
It wasn't gettting caught that makes Schultz a loser. It was engaging in those blatantly preferential and, frankly, self-centered and childish, activities in the first place.

The rest of the Wikipedia article about Schultz is not very complimentary either, She may be an elected member of Congress, but as a person, she is an idiot and a loser.

3. James Comey

This is the director of the FBI. He was appointed to the office in 2013. He will serve a ten-year term, and he cannot be removed from office except by voluntary resignation. Well, perhaps he can be fired.

He came under fire in July for his mishandling of a criminal investigation against then front-runner candidate Hillary Clinton. Then he inserted himself into the political process in the last 10 days of the campaign. He was alternately praised (by both sides) for his professionalism and his integrity, and criticized (by both sides) for his partisanship, his poor sense of timing, and his clumsiness. Whether he was praised or criticized depended on who benefited from his public pronouncements.

By making any public announcements at all, he flouted FBI and Justice department protocols and interfered with both due process of law, and the election process. Someone said that he was "putting his thumb on the scale," one hamfisted man tilting the election first one way, and then the other way.

There is no doubt that he got too close to the action, stuck his nose where it didn't belong, and influenced the election. Clinton may be able to lay the blame for her loss squarely at his feet. Maybe he deserved the praise for his professionalism, maybe not, but as a person, he is an idiot and a loser.

So there you have it: Three Big Losers

Many other people lost something in this election, but Reince Priebus, Susan Wasserman Schultz and James Comey have all earned the right to walk around in public with giant paper dunce caps on their heads, proclaiming to all the world: "THIS PERSON IS AN IDIOT. THIS PERSON IS A LOSER."

Congratulations, Utah. You blew it.

Congratulations, Utah. You blew it. You had a chance to make a difference in this election, with your 6 electoral votes. But you chickened out.

As of this morning, with two states still uncounted, Donald Trump had exactly 276 electoral votes. That's six more than he needed to win. Six electoral votes. That's Utah.

If Arizona and Michigan swing for Hillary Clinton, Trump will have won by only six votes. If one other state, say Arizona or Idaho, had swung for Clinton, and Utah had voted for a third party, it would have forced an Amendment 12 election and we would have been spared both of these losers.

This election was a squeaker. Neither major political party can claim a mandate. Trump won by the slimmest of margins, the Republicans hold a slim majority (18 seats) in the House and only a one-seat majority in the Senate. It was more or less a coin toss.

Whether Clinton or Trump won, either way, we would have awakened to despair on Wednesday morning. There had been a glimmer of hope from the Rocky Mountains. This was a race in which a third party could have made a real difference. Instead, the Mormon majority in Utah decided to align with the Evangelical Christians in the Deep South, to abandon their principles and vote for what was expedient instead of what was right. They wanted to save their precious conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

You people have it all wrong. Haven't you seen how Donald Trump has used, abused, and manipulated the justice system for his personal gain, since 1973? Nothing's going to change. Trump is going to appoint judges who will enrich him, who will help him to amass wealth and power, and who will help him to punish his enemies, even those whose only crime was to speak out against him.

Let me put it in words you Mormons will understand: You have elected King Noah. (Now is a good time for everybody else to go and read the book of Mormon.) Of course, your other choice was the Gadianton robbers - but again, that's only if you buy into the fallacy that the election was an either/or, two-option choice.

Again for the Mormons, there are two scriptures that matter, although it's too late for you to apply them to this election:

From Doctrine and Covenants, 98:8-10:

I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.
Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.


And from Doctrine and Covenants, 121:39:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Utah (and Idaho, and Arizona), you could have taken a moral stand, however futile it might have appeared. You could have stood on principle. And, in hindsight, now that the numbers are in, you would have made a difference in this election. But you abandoned your principles in favor of expediency, thus joining the evangelical Christians, who threw in the towel months ago. You're no better than them.

And you have reinforced the tautology that a third-party candidate will never win an election because nobody will vote for him, and nobody will vote for a third-party candidate because he will never win an election.

Let's all try again in four years, okay? Stay tuned for the next two posts.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I May Be Wrong About Donald Trump

I may be totally wrong about Donald Trump.

He may not be the stuck-up, self-important, ignorant, obnoxious, mean, petty, underhanded, vindictive, amoral, dishonest, braggadocious (his word, not mine), boastful, narcissistic, greedy, foulmouthed, peverted, misogynistic, racist, power-hungry megalomaniac I perceive him to be.

He may actually be a total and complete windbag, an impotent fool, nothing but a braying jackass with an inferiority complex.

I'm willing to admit to that possibility.

Donald Trump and the Supreme Court Argument: Don't Be Fooled

UPDATE, 20 OCT 2016: You Mormons will understand this one immediately. One of my friends pointed out that electing Clinton is like electing the Gadianton Robbers, while electing Trump is like electing King Noah. That's perfect. 

I've seen the "Supreme Court Justices" argument against voting for Clinton for president. This argument makes an important, but WRONG assumption: that Trump, if elected, would appoint justices that reflect conservative ideals and will make decisions that favor the desires of (pick one) Republicans, conservatives, or religious people.

ARE YOU PEOPLE BLIND? What is Trump's opinion of the judicial system? Does the name Gonzalo Curiel ring a bell? And that's just for starters. He has abused other judges as well, and he has flouted the law and dared us to try to bring him to justice for it. He has been involved on one end or the other of 3500 over 4000 lawsuits, an astonishing abuse of the civil court system.

If he is elected, Donald Trump will appoint justices to the bench (and judges, to lower benches) who reflect HIS ideals, and who will make decisions that favor HIM and HIS desires. He will appoint judges who will throw his enemies (starting with HRC) in jail. He will manipulate judges to decide civil and criminal cases in his favor, just as he has done (or attempted to do) in his private life. He will declare war on his enemies, either openly or in secret, and use everything in his nearly limitless power to destroy them.

Anybody who speaks against him, opposes him, or even makes fun of him, will see their lives ruined. He or his operatives will harass people, getting them fired, dispossessed, evicted, whatever he can get away with to make their lives miserable.

When he said about Clinton in debate #2, "She'd be in jail," I got chills. That was a sinister threat, evoking images of totalitarian regimes in Russia, Argentina and, of course, Nazi Germany. If Donald Trump gets elected, and if he has his way, Lyin' Hillary will be the first of thousands of American desaparecidos.

Donald Trump doesn't care one spotted fig about ideologies, morals, the rule of law, or YOU. He only cares about HIMSELF. Don't fool yourself.

Postcript: Some of you Trump defenders are ready to hit the "Comment" button and tell me that Clinton will do the same thing, or worse, or that she is already guilty of crimes. I don't know why you're even bothering to tell me that. I already know what Clinton is like. Reminding me about it is not going to prove that I'm wrong about Trump

Morally, I cannot vote for either one of them. Fortunately, the third-party alternative is a reality, and it's becoming more tangible every day

Post-postscript: It has come to my attention that I may be completely wrong about Donald Trump. I'm willing to entertain that possibility. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

PLEASE VOTE THIS YEAR - Even if You Don't Like The Choices

Just end it already. (This image carelessly copied from imgur.com)
In a previous post, I did some math and I'm sure it flew over everybody's head. Here's a restatement of the math. Please bear with me - especially those of you who are so fed up that you don't even want to vote for president this year.

This year, more than ever, we need you to cast your ballot on November 8, and not for the Democratic candidate, nor for the Republican candidate.

In that previous post, I mentioned that Donald Trump got nominated because less than 7 percent of all registered Republicans voted for him. About 7.8 percent voted for all of the rest of the candidates, combined. That means that 85 percent of registered Republicans didn't vote at all. If you stop and think about it for a bit, those 85 percent are the real reason that Donald Trump won the nomination. They didn't vote for anybody, and their apathy let a [insert really nasty adjectives, invectives and epithets here] minority of Republicans give him the nomination.

I also mentioned that similar percentages voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders - and I also noted that the Democratic National Committee had the fix in for Clinton all along. There was no way they were going to let Sanders win the nomination. This has been revealed in leaked emails, which leaks resulted in the resignation of four top DNC executives shortly after the Democratic National Convention. But nobody apologized, nobody went to jail, and nobody offered to undo the damage that had been done. So in Clinton's case, it was a comparable minority of Democrats, plus a conspiracy among the party leadership (one in which Clinton was undoubtedly involved, or at least aware of), that elevated her to the candidacy.

Now, here's the thing. As this presidential race comes down to the wire, it has turned into a contest of not-Trump vs. not-Clinton. "Which one do you not want to win?" says the prevailing wisdom, "Then vote for the other one." THAT'S THE WRONG THING TO DO.

The choices are so unpleasant that many voters are going to stay home and not vote - again. THAT'S THE WRONG THING TO DO. Just as the 85% who didn't vote are responsible for Trump and Clinton getting this far, likewise the ones who do not vote, who do not exercise their Constitutional right and obligation, will be the ones responsible for the wrong person getting into the Oval Office. The majority cannot afford to be silent this time.

So who do you vote for? You vote not-Clinton and not-Trump. You vote for a third-party candidate - any third-party candidate. Let's be realistic: no third-party candidate is going to win the election. But all we want to do is deny both Clinton and Trump the majority of votes. We want to deny both of them the majority of all registered voters who voted in this election.

It would be really cool if the only majority on Election Day was "none of the above."

So on Election Day, go down to the polling place. If you cannot in good conscience vote for either Trump or Clinton, DO NOT leave your ballot empty. Let the silent majority become the Very Vocal Majority, which rejects both candidates. Stand up and make sure your rejection is counted. Vote for somebody else.

One Two final thoughts:
When the votes are counted, I expect that Clinton will win. Her one term as president will be full of greed and corruption, and she and her family will pillage the White House (again) on their way out the door in 2021. But I think (and I hope) that most Americans realize before it's too late what a disaster it would be to let someone like Donald Trump loose in the White House.

And after the election, when your friends point their fingers at you and say, "Your vote is the reason XYZ won!" you can tell them, "I didn't vote for XYZ! But I did vote. I did my civic duty, I joined my voice with thousands of others, and my conscience is clear. XYZ won because of everyone who didn't vote."

Don't be the reason that either one of them wins. Vote for someone else.

#votethirdparty #noneoftheabove

Monday, September 26, 2016

Seriously, America? Is this the best you have to offer?

Seriously, America? Is that the best you have to offer?




We're stuck with Donald Trump because less than 7 percent of registered Republicans voted for him in the primaries, but that was more than voted for any other Republican candidate.

We're stuck with Hillary Clinton because (1) a comparable percentage of Democrats voted for her, and (2) the DNC rigged things in her favor, as news reports and public resignations have made clear. Thanks to all the crooked backroom dealing, poor Bernie Sanders never had a chance.

There is no place for an honest politician in American politics.

If all of the registered independents go off and vote #noneoftheabove #votethirdparty, then the losing side will point a finger at the independents and say "You cost us the election. By voting third party, you took away the majority from our candidate." And the independents will point a finger right back at them, and say, "No, YOU cost yourselves the election - by YOUR lousy choice of a candidate. YOU picked someone I could not vote for."

And the winning side will look past all of those independents - right over their heads - and say to the losing side, "Thanks for picking such a LOSER! You GUARANTEED that we would win the election!"

You may tell me that my ravings are insane and illogical. I will counter that this entire presidential election has been insane and illogical.

I want one of these signs.

Seriously, America? Is this the best you have to offer?

Seriously, America? Is that the best you have to offer?




We're stuck with Donald Trump because less than 7 percent of registered Republicans voted for him in the primaries, but that was more than voted for any other Republican candidate. We're stuck with Hillary Clinton because (1) a comparable percentage of Democrats voted for her, and (2) the DNC rigged things in her favor, as news reports and public resignations have made clear.

If all of the registered independents go off and vote #noneoftheabove #votethirdparty, then the losing side will point a finger at the independents and say "You cost us the election. By voting third party, you took away the majority from our candidate." And the independents will point a finger right back at them, and say, "No, YOU cost yourselves the election - by YOUR lousy choice of a candidate. YOU picked someone I could not vote for."

And the winning side will look right over the heads of those independents, and say to the losing side, "Thanks for picking such a LOSER! You GUARANTEED that we would win the election!"

You may tell me that my ravings are insane and illogical. I will counter that this entire presidential election has been insane and illogical.

I want one of these signs.

Friday, July 29, 2016

More proof that Barak Obama is a classy guy

I have written that Barak Obama is a classy guy. I have never written about his wife, Michelle Obama, who is even classier than he is.

By "classy", I don't mean someone who is rich or powerful, or well-dressed. Normal, everyday people can have class. Donald Trump, in spite of all his purported riches, has no class. Zero. Hillary Clinton, in spite of her professional and political career, has no class, either. But Obama has tons of it.

You don't have to like his politics, and you can even disagree passionately with some of his words and actions as President. (Personally, I still do.) But you can't deny that the man has class.

As yet another piece of evidence, I offer this photograph, by official White House photographer Pete Souza, published in a photo essay in the Huffington Post called simply, "Obama With Kids." This is a picture of the prez with Ella Rhodes, daughter of National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, in her elephant Halloween costume last October.



That's the Oval Office, people. And the President of the United States. In a really expensive suit and shoes. During business hours. AND this isn't the first time he's gotten down on the floor to play with this little girl.

I will say it once more.

The man has class.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Election 2016: Let's All Vote Third-Party This Year

With a respectful nod in Mr. Sanders' direction, it looks like, when November 2, 2016 comes around, we will be faced with a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
We're all Screwed 2016 campaign button

Giant Meteor 2016 campaign button
Alien Invasion 2016 campaign button



Not necessarily.

I have some alternative proposals for you to consider. The first one is too easy, it's the one that most people will do, and it may backfire. Don't do it - think a little harder. The last proposal is the greatest idea ever. But to work, requires an open mind, a bit of daring, and a lot of cooperation - like millions of people combining to do it.

The cool thing about voting in the United States of America, exit polls notwithstanding, is that it's a secret ballot. You don't have to tell anybody how you voted. Remember that.

1. Vote not-Clinton or not-Trump. Choose the one you hate the least, the proverbial Lesser of Two Really Bad Evils.

(Maybe you are one of the rare Americans who really does support Clinton or Trump. Good for you. Vote your convictions.)

2. Vote for Dictator, not for President. Decide which one you would be most willing to live under as a dictator, because that may happen. Vote for the dictator of your choice.

3. Vote for the Vice-President. Look carefully at the candidates for vice-president. Vote for the vice-president who will make the best president, on the assumption that the elected president is likely to get impeached or otherwise removed from office before his or her term is up.

None of the Above 2016 campaign button
4. THIS IS MY FAVORITE: Vote for somebody else - anybody else. We tend to forget that the Democrats and the Republicans are NOT the only political parties in the nation, and are definitely NOT the only parties with candidates for president. And while the conventional wisdom has always been that (1) third-party candidates cannot win a presidential election  and that (2) a strong third-party candidate unnecessarily muddies the waters, this year they may be very useful. Stay with me here. Read on.

WARNING: There is some math in the second paragraph following this one.

It is common in modern politics for the winning candidate to claim a "clear mandate from the people." The word "mandate" implies that, through the popular vote, the people overwhelmingly chose this candidate to rule. The mandate is claimed even when margin of victory is laughably slim. This year, let's deny the winner any mandate.

Election results pie chart


It's inevitable that one of the two major candidates will win the election. But if enough people vote for a minor-party candidate, then the winner will be denied a majority of the popular vote. If the winner gets less than one-third (33%) of all the votes cast, and the loser gets even less than that, then more than one-third of the votes (more than the winner got!) will go for the bloc of third-party candidates. We will have demonstrated to both major candidates, and both major parties, that we don't like them and that We The People are supremely dissatisfied with the way this election turned out. We will show them that they do not have a mandate to rule, and that we prefer anybody else to them.

American Pirate Party logo
So vote Libertarian. Or Green. Or United States Pirate Party (arrr!).

Ron White for president poster
Or vote for comedian Ron White - yes, he's a registered presidential candidate this year. It doesn't matter who you vote for. Your candidate will not win, but your vote will be counted, and if enough of us do this, we will deny the major parties their so-called mandate, and somebody important will finally Get It. We will send a message to Washington D.C. that they won't dare to ignore.


Picture credits:
 "Giant Meteor 2016" appeared on the Nihilist Memes FB page as a reader submission. 
"Alien Invasion 2016" was created by Randy Cassingham at This Is True, the Internet's oldest and most successful news-and-commentary newsletter. It appeared on True's FB page.
"None of the Above 2016" and the pie chart are my own creations. © 2016 Ray Depew. Go ahead and spread them around, free of charge. Just remember where you got 'em.
Everything else I found on Google. 
And the United States Pirate Party is a real thing. Arrr, matey.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I love Linux: more Linux tools

While most computers in use today run on OS X (Apple) or MS Windows operating systems, there's a small but hardy contingent that run on Linux. My PC is a Windows 10 machine, but I use a Cygwin window to do a lot of my work. When I started a new job in December, I was delighted to discover that my computer was running Linux:



Linux is not an OS for the faint of heart. It's like the do-it-yourself pickup truck or street rod that experienced mechanics or gearheads like to drive — there's always some tinkering to do, and always some workarounds for the whizzy options pre-installed in other vehicles but not yet installed in your own. Nevertheless, if you are a computer professional, Linux is the OS that lets you get stuff done. With Linux, the OS doesn't get in the way nearly as much as it does with Windows.

You're getting off track, Ray. Reel it in. What's this blog post about?


I'm always running across new capabilities and new toys in Linux. Let me tell you about my latest finds. None of these are new. Linux heads with more hours at the keyboard than me have known about these tools for years. Some of them may snicker at me for not having discovered them until now. But if you don't know about them yet, then let me be the first to tell you about them.

screen - a remote terminal utility

Many Linux users have been using screen for years, while I've been trapped in Windows land using TinyTerm and other terminal emulators. screen lets you connect to any device with a serial interface — or any of a number of interfaces. If it's an I/O device listed in the /dev directory, you can connect to it with screen. In fact, with screen, you can connect with multiple devices at once.



For example, if you have an Arduino connected to your Linux box with a USB cable, and the Arduino is listed as /dev/ttyACM0, then you can talk directly to the Arduino (and it can talk back) through the screen interface, after you type the command:

     screen /dev/ttyACM0

ytree and Linuxtree - file management utilities

The tree command allows you to list all the subdirectories and files in your current directory in a hierarchical (tree) diagram. It's moderately useful. For those of us who get tired of typing commands like

     ls * */* */*/*

it gives you a quick way to see all of your files in an organized fashion. Wouldn't it be nice if you could do something with them while they're displayed like that, the way users used to do with Norton Commander or Xtree?



Well, you can! Xtree fans have created two Xtree lookalikes, ytree ( because it comes after Xtree - heh) and Linuxtree. Both are text-based file management utilities that are superior in some ways to Windows Explorer or File Manager or whatever they call it in the latest version of Windows. After you use ytree or linuxtree for a day or two, you won't want to go back to the Windows way of doing things.

Fortunately, you don't have to. There's a Windows-based lookalike, called Ztree. While ytree and linuxtree are free, Ztree costs money. Ztree gives you a fully-functional 30-day free trial, and before the end of the 30 days, if you like it, you pay a (very reasonable) one-time license fee.

autojump - an easier way to jump around


Most Linux heads like to do most of their work from the command line - you know, a window like this



where you use the keyboard instead of  the mouse and type in all of your commands. You make think that's old-fashioned and archaic, like a manual transmission, and you would be right. But the fact is that, even today, all of the really nice, GUI-based programs that you use were created by a team of software engineers punching away at command lines.

Most of us don't realize how often we use the cd (for "change directory") command from the command line. After a while, I get tired of typing in the same  cd command over and over again - things like

     cd /users/ray/Documents/webpages/blog/

and so I assign it to an alias, a shortcut like this:

     alias blog='cd /users/ray/Documents/webpages/blog/'

Creating an alias like this lets me hit four keys instead of 38 keys.

A tiny tool called autojump lets me do the same thing, but without aliases. Autojump learns which directories I use most often, and then it lets me switch to them quickly, by typing 'j' (for jump) and part of the directory pathname. For example, I can type

     j blog

and autojump takes me to the same directory as that alias does. Autojump is not perfect, but it is very useful to command-line weenies like me.

Where to get them


If screen isn't built into your Linux distribution, you can find it using apt-get or your distro's Software Management tool. It's also available for Cygwin, a Posix-like shell for Windows. Cygwin is one of the first things I install on a new Windows computer.

Likewise, you can get ytree or linuxtree using apt-get or your distro's Software Management too.l. While linuxtree isn't immediately available for Cygwin, ytree is. And if you really want linuxtree in Cygwin, you can download and compile the source code.

You will need to use git to download autojump from github. You will need Python to run the installation utility. Git and Python are available for every Linux distro out there, and for Cygwin as well.