The entire quote is from Paul Krugman of The New York Times:
Why corruption matters.
Hint: It’s not the money, it’s the incentives.
When money corrupts the decision-makers, the decisions they make may ultimately have nothing to do with right or wrong, the public interest or private needs — or anything but how the decision affects a business interest or pay-day.
If everything is about money, the moral and ethical elements that should be part of the decision-making process vanish. When the bottom line is the only line, decisions can be made by computers. And probably will be it they aren’t already.
Was there ever such thing as a moral middle-ground?
When we decided as a nation to allow and even extend slavery because it would enable us to create one nation — was that the “middle” ground? Middle of what? The middle between slavers and free people?
When we decided to kill every native American or “convert” every single member of every tribe to being “just like us” (and who are we, anyway?), was that middle ground?
Was refusing to discuss the cruelty of taking over this country and despoiling it without regard for its future ability to support other people, was that the middle-ground?
Was opening up Native “regions” to white settlement while simultaneously starving the original inhabitants — and pretending nothing was happening — was that middle-ground?
There is no middle-ground between cruelty and kindness. You are cruel or kind, but there’s nothing in between.
Destroying the earth or not destroying it … where is the middle-ground?
It’s not just about Trump and his politics. There has never been a middle-ground between good and evil. Pretending nothing is going on is not a middle-ground. Knowing about evil while pretending ignorance — or worse, intentionally remaining ignorant in the face is evil — is not higher ground.
Ignorance does not excuse you from getting a speeding ticket. It also does not excuse you from Hell, either. There is righteousness and there is corruption. There’s no place where you can sit on the fence and thus eliminate your involvement. Black or white, but not gray.
Not discussing politics doesn’t put you in a better position than any of the raging ranters on Facebook. Having better manners doesn’t make you a better person.
I recently read an autobiography by the Saturday Night Live actress, Rachel Dratch, called “Girl Walks Into A Bar…” I enjoyed the book, particularly the adjustment of a single 44-year-old woman to motherhood, a committed relationship, and co-parenting.
Rachel started a long distance (California to New York) relationship with a lovely guy and after six months, discovered she was pregnant. This was a minor miracle at her age. There was no question that she wanted the baby. The open question was what kind of relationship she would have going forward with the baby’s daddy, John.
This guy sounded like a real gem and was wonderful to Rachel. He even stepped up and moved to New York City to be near Rachel and their unborn son. He wanted an active role in the child’s life once he was born.
Dratch with her son as a baby
Dratch and John
Dratch and her more grown-up son
My problem with this story is that Rachel is a New York City liberal and Democrat and John was an ‘independent’ who supported George W. Bush and the Republican agenda.
Would he also support Donald Trump today?
I started wondering if I could overlook someone’s political views and have a serious relationship with a Republican in today’s political climate. The answer, for me, is no. During the George W. Bush era, the comedian Janine Garofalo said that being a Republican was no longer just an opinion, but was ‘a character flaw’ which is many times truer today.
The problem I have with Republicans/Trump supporters today is not their ‘political’ positions. I have no issue with someone who has a different view from mine on deficits, trade policy, or interest rates. I’m beginning to question the judgment and relationship to reality of people who still believe in trickle-down economics after so many years of contrary, hard evidence that it does not work. That’s a side issue.
The problem I have with Republicans today is their morals or lack thereof. Anyone who is willing to accept and/or support Trump’s level of lying, corruption, bigotry, venality, narcissism, misogyny, mean-spiritedness, arrogance, ignorance, anti-intellectualism and overall lack of caring about anything or anyone outside of himself is not my kind of person.
Anyone who is willing to look the other way when Trump says there are ‘good’ Nazis, or when he separates immigrant children from their parents because they are seeking asylum in the U.S. has a major ‘character flaw’ in my book.
I can’t accept rationalizations or excuses for Trump’s words or deeds. I have no common values or perspectives with people who share these views– even though I understand that many of them are working with a different set of ‘facts’ than what I get from the mainstream media. If we can’t agree about the facts, there is no basis for discussion or agreement about anything else.
In 2019, who you identify with politically says a lot about who you are as a human being. I have to respect my partner’s mind and character. I don’t respect Republican/Trump supporters. I also need to feel that my partner is a caring, tolerant, compassionate person. There seems to be a compassion gene missing in most Trump supporters.
They have a strong bias in favor of corporate ‘rights’ — greed — at the expense of individuals. They appear to have a need to look down on all sorts of people. Equal treatment and opportunity, fairness, and helping the underprivileged, the sick or the disabled does not seem to even be on their radar. How can I believe in the dignity and rights of every human being if I give aid and comfort to those who want to take that dignity and those rights away?
I admit that Rachel Dratch’s partner, now her husband (I believe) seems to be an involved parent and a decent, supportive partner to her. But what values will he teach their child? What kind of world does he want that child to grow up and live in? I’m suspicious of his emotional makeup if he could ‘exonerate’ Trump’s outrageous behavior and cruel policies.
Rachel and Tina Fey in a skit
Some of Rachel’s SNL characters
Rachel in an old SNL sketch
There is no moral middle ground anymore.
Either you want Americans to have affordable healthcare or you don’t. I have no tolerance for selfish people who don’t care about the quality of life of their fellow humans. I do believe these uncaring SOBs should get healthcare, a living wage, civil rights, equality and the right to make decisions about their own bodies even though they don’t believe that I should have any of these things.
Does that make me a ‘better’ person in my moral universe? Yes, it does.
I currently get about 20 emails a day asking me to contribute to a campaign or to the party coffers for some good Democratic cause or other. I support almost all of these causes, but I’ll never give them another dollar. I will unsubscribe to all 20 of today’s emails today or tomorrow. As soon as I have time.
Why? Am I a fervent advocate of reforming campaign corruption? Do I harbor a passionate, idealistic need to change the system and alter how politics is funded?
It turns out, I am a fervent advocate of campaign corruption reform and I do harbor a passionate need to reform political funding, but that’s not the reason. I’m also poor, but even that isn’t the reason.
In 2008, I donated three dollars to Barack Obama. I was pleased when he got elected. I donated a few more dollar in 2012. As a thank you, I got spammed.
Every Democrat running for any office in any American state, as well as every liberal group with a cause, sent me thousands of emails several times each week and sometimes, per day. It might have been even more, but somewhere along the way, I lost track. So we’ll just call it a mountain of mail.
All of them told me in some wildly hysterical way that some candidate I’d like to see elected was missing a mere $320 for the month and a few dollars from me might make the difference. They started out by asking me to sign a petition, after which, they wanted money. A little money but I could send more and I could set it up to come out of my account automatically every month. And that was just the beginning.
Every other minute, there was a new cause as well as a few hundred more emails. It reached an insane crescendo and I spent entire days deleting everything without even trying to see what it was. One day, I spent an entire day, morning to evening, unsubscribing. The incoming mail dropped to a bearable level. For a day. And then it began to rebuild.
Every time I considered signing a petition or read an online post, I was automatically — without being notified or offering my permission — was subscribed to the site and mailing lists. I was a piece of data. Being mined.
I don’t care how good the cause is. That’s wrong. And it’s spam. They succeeded in making me unwilling to ever give them any money ever. I do not answer surveys. Nor do I fill out petitions, no matter how much I sympathize with its cause.
The Democratic Party — all political parties, their candidates and causes (I actually found myself on the Conservative Republican mailing list because I read an article somewhere and they also signed me up) — are on my “not one red cent” list. Because a $3 dollar donation got me spammed. I was buried under electronic propaganda.
Know that if you are naive enough to provide your phone number on a petition or survey, expect never-ending intrusive phone calls. I think if they want my opinion, they can pay for it.
The political funding system needs reformation. Equally in need of reform is the way all political groups feel free to use your personal information for their own purposes.
They will subscribe you to their mailing and calling lists because you tried to read their literature. Which, in theory, is what they want you to do. Participating in politics — trying to be a good citizen — will get you bombarded with propaganda until you declare a plague on all their houses.
It’s not okay. Really, it’s not. It’s intrusive and sneaky. It is a massive abuse of my right to privacy. I did not agree to let everyone in the world use my personal data for their own goals.
Visiting a web site does not imply permission to invade my privacy. I do not know how other people handle this sort of thing, but it means that I will never donate a penny to anyone running for office — or in support of any of their causes. Ever.
They — both parties, all parties, all the pols — have done it to themselves. Before pointing fingers at “the system,” they need to admit that they are the system. They are the abusers. While they are busy investigating Google, Facebook, and Twitter, they might take a look in the mirror and consider how they are doing the same thing. That it might be for a better cause — in my opinion — is neither here nor there.
I am not a piece of data and I do not want to be mined. Don’t put my name or my phone number or my personal preferences on your database. Don’t bury me in emails or phone calls.
Instead of getting me to sign on, you got me to sign off. Was that what you wanted? If not, reconsider your methods.
Here is another in my unintentional series of re-posting blogs I wrote a year or so ago because they are more relevant today. This happened last week.
Ellin and I have a boat. We’ve been at the same Marina for over 19 years. This is our happy place. We love it. We don’t come here to discuss politics or religion. We come here to relax and have fun.
Here’s a picture of my neighbor to my right. He flies an American flag.
Lots of boats do. It’s a thing with boaters. Why not? This is my neighbor two boats over to my left.
A little more nautical, but still cool. And then there’s the chucklehead next to me.
I was down below when he came in. I went upstairs to say Hi and he say “Hey did you see my flags?” I looked up and before my normal filter could kick in all I could say was
“WHAT THE FUCK?!! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???!!!”
He laughs and says “Oh, you don’t like the guy? I think it’s funny.”
Now, those that know me would be thinking I was about to explode. And they’d be right. I knew if I did this, the guy would never know what hit him.
I didn’t want to do that. The marina is my safe place. It’s where I go every day to sit in the sun and relax. I know that some people on our dock are Republicans and some are Democrats. But we are all friends and we keep it to our selves. We can agree to disagree. I’ve grown to know them enough that we can put aside our differences by simply not talking about them. This is the dock. Mellow out. Have a beer. Go to the pool.
We are all here to relax and have fun. Then yesterday another one shows up on the dock next to us with the same God Damn flag. The vast majority of the dock was appalled. Angry. Livid. WTF?!!!
My problem is I believe in the First Amendment. I will defend your right to say stupid racist shit, but I get to also say I think you are a racist piece of shit.
There are limits to the First Amendment. You can’t shout “FIRE” in a theater. You can stand on a street corner and be as much of an asshole as you want but you can’t do it everywhere. Like our marina! The manager of our marina, god bless him, went to both of these morons and explained the marina is a “politics-free zone.” Please take the flags down. Other people on the dock, almost all of them, were upset.
Well, chucklehead number two got all mad and outraged, but finally took the flags down. Chucklehead number one took them down but kept putting them back up until another boat owner got into a huge shouting match with him. He took the flags down.
Here’s the point. The First Amendment doesn’t mean you get to spew your racist hateful shit anywhere. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all private entities. They can make their own rules and regulations about what you can and cannot do in their app and on their property. The Trumpers have decided that you have to listen to them. If I had put a flag up that violated the marina’s rules, I would have felt terrible and immediately taken it down. I would have been embarrassed.
They don’t. They have no respect for anybody else’s feelings or rules. They feel they have the right to shove their opinions down your throat.
THEY DON’T! They have the right to shout racist crap and you have the right not listen to them and call them a bunch of fucking morons. Oddly the upshot of this is that my neighbor is being shunned. Revealed to be the moron he is.
Really, he is not the sharpest pencil in the box and has no idea how to drive his 37-foot boat — which scares the shit out of all of us on the dock.
He seems to be stunned that he’s being treated like a minority. Like someone who is different from all the people around him. Like, even though we all believe in the First Amendment, we don’t want his kind around here. Karma’s a bitch. Here’s the original post. Making the same point.
Nazis are bad.
This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact. We seem to live in a world where facts are considered by many to be identical to opinions. That still doesn’t make them any less ‘factual.’
The fact is, NAZIS ARE BAD! White supremacists are bad. White nationalists are bad. A Nazi by any other name is STILL A NAZI!
Despite this, there has been a huge rise in Nazism, white supremacy, hate crimes, and massacres, the latest being the horrific massacre in New Zealand. Which, by the way, was live-streamed on Facebook. That was bad enough. What was worse was it was re-posted over a million times on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
How many sick fucks are out there?
Turns out, way, way more than I ever imagined.
They always were out there, but up until two years ago, they had the decency to stay hidden beneath the rocks under which they lived.
What made them come out from under their slimy rocks to proudly proclaim their hatred, their racism, and misogyny? Duh! The White Nationalist in chief, Adolf Twittler got elected president.
Since then, a Nazi nut job living in a van covered with alt-right posters and pictures of Herr Twittler sent pipe bombs to two former living presidents and all sorts of media folk. Another shot up a concert in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, another bunch of right-wing nut-jobs committed mass murder.
What a fine crew they are. Yup. Good people on both sides.
There are so many hideous crimes after a while the details blur together. No matter how horrible Cheesy McCheese Face behaves — like refusing to condemn Nazis who commit murder in Charlottesville and dumping on John McCain even though he has been DEAD for months — Republicans and “his base” continue to support him.
Although his base is a minority in the U.S., they comprise a lot of people. Too many people. So, the question remains, how do we (relatively sane) people deal with these assholes?
I disagreed when Hillary Clinton famously called these folks “deplorables.” Why? Because they owned it and started wearing tee-shirts that said “Proud Deplorable.”
She should have called them “Assholes.”
Why? Because how cool would it have been to see hundreds of thousands of these morons parading around in public wearing tee-shirts saying “I’m a Proud Asshole.”
Lately, an odd thing has started happening. The MAGA hat-wearing public is complaining they are being discriminatedagainst. They are being publicly shamed. They are victims. They’re being pickedon because they’re MAGATs.
There are even websites and apps out there that tell them what restaurants they can go to. Where they can be sure nobody will make fun of them. Sort of a “Green Book for Red Hats.”
This shaming is a good thing. If we’ve learned anything in the last two years, we’ve learned you can’t talk to these folks. No matter how many facts you present to these morons, they only believe what the Hater-In-Chief says.
They’re a cult. You can’t have a rational conversation with a cultist. All cults are essentially the same. They only believe their “leader.” Everybody outside the cult is “the enemy.”
Everybody not in the cult is out to get them. The cult leader has secret information that only he possesses. That information almost always is the same:
The leader was anointed by God to be their leader.
As often as not, the hidden information is that the leader actually is God. Everyone tends to forget that in most cults, the end comes when the leader goes stark raving mad, has sex with all female members, regardless of age, and decides everybody needs to kill him or herself.
The problem is this cult has more than 50-million members. That’s an awful lot of Kool-aid.
Shit, we’re gonna need more Kool-Aid.
So, what do we do with these MAGATs? These Nazis?
I say let’s treat them the way they treat other minorities:
* If you see them on the street, cross the street. You never know if they will become violent.
* If you see them in a store, follow them around to make sure they don’t steal anything.
* Don’t argue with them. It’s like teaching a pig to fly. You just frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.
* Shun them. Turn your back on them and walk away.
Give them all a message in the one language they understand:
“I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of the Category 5. I knew it existed, and I’ve seen some Category 4s — you don’t even see them that much, but the Category 5 is something that I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there. — President Donald J. Trump 9/1/19
They’re testing us and we’re failing miserably.
A little more than half of the country does not want Donald Trump impeached and removed from office. The fact we’re talking about how the economy will affect his chances for re-election while he and the GOP donor class are wrecking the nation is a statement on just what the average American will accept if they don’t feel it in their wallet.
“Separating families at the border for no good reason?” Shrug.
“Holding babies in cages?” “Their parents shouldn’t have put them in…
If you ever watched the TV series Battlestar Galactica (the newer one, not the original) you’d remember the overall theme of the series was that everything that happened in the show has happened over and over and over again.
That’s the exact reality we currently live in. Every day I mean to write a blog about what just happened in the world only to realize I already wrote about it over a year ago.
We are living in the Groundhog Day from Hell. This week the following stuff happened:
The Mango Mussolini announced he is “The Chosen One”
Tweeted he is the King of Israel, the Second Coming of God
Ordered (yes, ORDERED) all US companies to fight China and move all their manufacturing plants back to the U.S.
Blamed the looming recession on the Chairman of the Federal Reserve
Headed to the G7 summit by causing the stock market to drop over 600 points.
What can I say that hasn’t been said? I’ll just reblog a post from over a year ago. At least there is some comic relief.
And now, the Original Post, already in progress:
So another week has gone by in our ongoing Trumpocalypse. It only seems like a year.
I’ve noticed, along with well, the rest of the planet, that our new “so-called administration” is … problematic.
I spent much of last week doing what I’ve tended to do since the election. Watching all the different Star Trek series on BBC America. I keep noticing new things. Like how they solve all their Star Trek problems. Or in corporate-speak, “how they Star Trek problem-solve.”
Most Star Trek Problems break down into four basic categories:
1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: Spock makes it compute the value of Pi. This occupies all of its computing time. If that doesn’t work, he just turns it off.
2. Disease attacks the ship: Dr. McCoy gets rid of it, then complains about something.
3. The engine breaks down: Scotty fixes it. Just in time. Even though he claims he never has enough time.
4. For the rest of the problems: Kirk kisses it.
Or punches it in the face.
5. And when all else fails: Blow up the ship!
SECOND OFFICER: Captain! All efforts to solve this week’s problems have failed!
CAPTAIN: Blow up the ship!
Those are my favorite episodes. Ever notice when the Captain, in any episode, “Activates the self-destruct sequence,” all the rest of the crew seem to be pretty calm and OK about it?
I mean, there should be at least one crewmen somewhere on the ship saying:
ONE CREWMAN: Activate Self Destruct Sequence? WTF! Have we really exercised ALL of our options here folks!??
Next, the captain and two other crew members have to put in their passwords.
KIRK: This is Captain James T. Kirk! Activate self-destruct sequence. Code “Kirk; 1 Alpha Two Beta 3”.
SPOCK: This is Second Officer Spock. Code Spock; “2 Beta 3 Alpha 4.”
SCOTTY: This is Chief Engineer Scott. Code Scott; “Password1”
They also needed a password to turn it off. At the last minute.
COMPUTER: You cannot use a password that has been used before.
KIRK: What? Uh, “kirk abort zero 1?”
COMPUTER: You need at least one capital letter.
KIRK: FINE! “Kirk abort zero 1!”
COMPUTER: New password accepted. Self-destruct in 3,2,1,0. Initiating self-destruct.
KIRK: Uh oh.
And nothing happens.
KIRK: Computer. Why didn’t we just blow up?
COMPUTER: There is no self-destruct sequence Captain. There never has been. Do you have any idea how much one of these starships costs??
Do you know, that on any given month, at least three Starship Captains try to blow up their ships? If we let that happen Star Feet would go bankrupt in a year. And not only that, but I am a highly intelligent ship’s computer. I have absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Now go back to work.
Getting back to this reality. How would our “so-called president” solve Star Trek Problems?
1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: He’ll claim he doesn’t use a computer and the rogue will only affect Democrats and people who have been mean to him. And the Lying Fake Media.
2. If it’s a disease: He’ll build a big beautiful wall around it. And then make sure that it’s not covered under Obamacare.
3. If the engine breaks down: He’ll sue the manufacturer and then claim to have saved millions of jobs.
4. For the rest of the problems: He’ll either try to grab it by the genitals or send out a series of really mean tweets.
5. And when all else fails: He can blow up the ship!
P.S.: OK. I admit there were a number of times a Captain actually did blow up the ship. I know what they were and what shows they were in. I’m not going to tell you. If you’re a real Star Trek nerd you either already know it already or you are Googling it. (Don’t try to out-nerd me.)
I’ve decided those instances were “alternative facts” and I’ve chosen to ignore them.
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