El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Category: Current Events (page 1 of 6)

Stuff that’s pop-tastic, pop-o-licious, and currently playing on FoxNews

En Exercise in Civil Dialog and Rational Thinking

Let’s try an exercise. In this exercise, you are forbidden from engaging in a discussion with someone from an oppositional political viewpoint unless you can effectively make their argument using their logic (or better if you’re feeling generous).

I’ll start.

Headlines from today’s news cycle:

The majority of Americans think Trump fired Comey to slow the Russia investigation

This is a commonly use logical fallacy that makes an appeal to the people (argumentum ad populum), and has no bearing upon what the truth is. This headline would be made effective if it actually showed proof that Trump fired Comey because of an investigation. Until you have such proof, why don’t you shut your idiot mouth? The news media knows that this headline will whip people up and offers exactly zero substance. If you want to be the party of science, of rational thought, why don’t you lead with your actions? Shame on you, liberals.

How did I do? Okay next.

Comey Is Said to Have Become Unsettled by Interactions With Trump

Innuendo. Where is your proof? In the absence of proof, you are resorting to an implication without actually providing a definitive statement. Are you giving yourself wiggle-room for later denial? “Comey is said to have…” By whom? Some aide? Who is this aide? Credible source? If it’s a credible source, then say, “Credible source Provides Evidence of Improper Behavior by Trump.” As a detail, you can also provide evidence of Comey’s discomfort. Video of him avoiding eye contact? The awkward hug/handshake. haha.

I can’t believe the New York Times let’s its reporters get away with such a lazy piece.  And I’m just attacking the method, not actually trying to articulate the worldview of a Trump supporter or “scandal denier.” I think it comes from the same place as climate denial, so let me lay it out and see if I get some of it right.

Let’s assume Trump is a blowhard. We know he is. He comes from the tough New York real estate and construction world. Stuff gets done because you push, sometimes aggressively for your interests and your project at hand. Trump seems to have proven himself somewhat adept at this. By all accounts he is rich, and has built and developed some high end properties. He’s had some ups. He’s had some downs. But he keeps trying, and he’s come back from some pretty heavy blows.

America loves a tenacious scrapper who gets back up.

You voted for him because you perceived him as a tough guy who could get things done. You didn’t necessarily like him nor would you leave him alone with your daughter, but you thought he was YOUR tough guy and he would advocate for you and correct the perceived slouch of America toward being a global also ran.

People on the right, are you with me so far?

Now, Trump is in the White House, and there’s a guy Michael Flynn who is being investigated for some money ties to Russia. Yeah, Trump knew going in that this could be a problem, but he liked Flynn’s moxie. Here was a guy who also talked and acted tough and knew how to deal with the Russians. Let’s go forward. There is this holdover director of the FBI James Comey who is mucking about. You know the truth, and you don’t see the problem with Flynn’s ties to Russia. It’s not like he was a traitor or something. For Pete’s sake he was a lieutenant general (three stars, count ’em) in the U.S. Army. He didn’t get to that level for being a traitor. His resume is unimpeachable. He’s got the best interests of the U.S. at stake, and wouldn’t it be nice to deal effectively with the Russians? Trump thinks he’s a safe pick.

Obama didn’t like him? Even better.

Trump knows the facts, but the FBI director is still “investigating.” We’ve all seen how he “investigates” with leak after leak after innuendo all the while eroding confidence. Trump keeps him around to see if he shapes up, but he’s keeping watch. Comey did it to Hillary, and he will do it to Trump, because he’s only loyal to himself. He’s a grandstander, a showboater. Trump knows he’s done no wrong, so he assumes the “investigation” is only there to get him.

Let me ask you, those of you on the left, if you were being “investigated” or attacked for something you know you didn’t do, wouldn’t you shut it down if you could? If you knew the person doing the investigating was actively trying to undermine you, your cabinet, the American Government, and acting in all other ways in bad faith, wouldn’t you want to do something about it? From Trump’s point of view, he’s an innocent victim. Flynn too. Comey’s the enemy of the law and order, the very thing he pledged to uphold.

Now, those of you on the right, do you feel fairly represented by my take on your positions? I could tear it all down if I wanted, but I’d rather have you make the left’s case for why Trump is bad for America.

Only conservatives need reply.

 

 

 

Who Pays for Healthcare?

Jimmy Kimmel is getting some flack from Republicans for his tearful plea to leave the Affordable Care Act alone. Here’s a choice quote. I’m not making this up:

Do supposedly smart people know how the healthcare system worked/works in this country? Forget that. Do these people know how insurance works?

You all pay into a pot and then when somebody gets sick you draw from the pot. Everybody puts in a little, and that goes to pay for OTHER PEOPLE’S care. For God’s sake, folks, it’s not that hard. You don’t pay for your own healthcare – you never did – under the old system, under new system. NEVER. You think your little monthly employee/employer health insurance deduction covers your cancer? Try doing the math. You’re not paying into your own personal fund.

Why would it better to pool our risk at the Federal Government level instead of with private companies? Well, now that’s a decent question. The best answer I can come up with is that profit has a tendency to distort the market for certain demand locked (inelastic) markets. Bottom line, you need some ER treatment, you can’t price shop. You need it when you need it, and with certain exceptions (like waiting until you’re critical to go to the hospital), you don’t really have much choice over where you go, how much you pay, and what care you get. Everybody wants the best. Everybody wants it now. It’s your life. If you let a private corporation enter into the equation with a profit motive, they have an incentive to reduce supply of quality healthcare and increase price. They try cheaper treatments before more effective ones. They limit what they cover (preexisting conditions), they raise prices and co-pays so that you will not select that treatment or perhaps not even go to the doctor.

That sounds like a bureaucracy run amok or even better, it sounds like a death panel – a private, monopolistic, beholden to no one except their shareholders death panel.

If, however, healthcare is run as a public service with the profit motive removed, we can at least see how it might reduce costs while still providing effective services.

And as a side benefit, do you have any idea how much of the healthcare industry is dedicated to billing? Let doctors and nurses do their work – the work they were trained to do, the work they like to do, and leave the billing, chasing invoices, collections, and dealing with insurance companies behind.

At the end of the day though, you have always been paying for other people’s healthcare. Wouldn’t you like to pay less?

 

Fidel Castro vs Comcast

It’s surprising how the Internet seems to be in the midst of beatifying Fidel Castro. “Oh, he brought justice to his people.” Or “He battled the American hegemony for 50 years! Good for him!” “He brought health care and literacy to his people while being oppressed by the U.S.” “He threw out the wretched oligarchs, and put the wealth of his nation into the hands of the common people!”

Oh, well, yeah, his people could read and write. They just couldn’t read or write what they wanted. Sarcasm mode on. But yeah sure the people were generally happy, because they had simple meaningful lives toiling in a worker’s paradise pulling together for national pride while waddling around in their 1950s era USSR sugar subsidized cars.

Oh please, Internet. Your hypocrisy is showing.

Aren’t you the same assholes who hate – no scratch that – loath Comcast, the same company that has the audacity to cap you at 1000 Gigabytes of data per MONTH!!! Oh, the humanity! Those bastards, those evil corporate scum, how dare they restrict my freedom to download porn 24/7. Comcast consistently finds itself at the top of most hated companies in America. The same company that brings broadband to your house so you can surf the web in your underwear and binge-watch House of Cards, is more hated than Fidel Castro?

What?

Fidel Castro wouldn’t even let his people access computers? He capped their connection at zero. No data for you. Only worker’s paradise.

Let the Purges and Bullying Begin

The next four years will be marked with payback, purges, and bullying. That’s my take on the next four years, anyway.

How could the US have had two elections since 2000 go against the popular vote?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, please hang on for four more years. Please!

Please President Trump, do not guild the White House with gold.

…Or destroy the world in WWIII. Yeah, no destroying, please. That would be bad.

Let’s dispel once and for all with the fiction that the News Media doesn’t know what it is doing, it knows exactly what it is doing

I’m so gnarled up, spasms in my back, shoulders hunched. I labor in a Sisyphean purgatory where I can’t see the hand in front of my face for the nacho haze.

I figured out today what it was, and I’m furious with the News Media for perpetuating this Trump bullshit. They’ve made my life far more noxious than it had to be. With all the shit we have to deal with, I could have done without the invented drama, manipulated emotions. They have known exactly what they were doing and who the Donald has been all along.

Laura and I laughed when he bought the Miss Universe pageant. Oh, lordy lordy, Donald’s got his hand in the cookie jar again. We knew who he was. We saw those creepy interviews way back when.

Hell, we have all known who he was since the 80’s. He was a gauche, tasteless braggart, a womanizer,  a short-fingered vulgarian sitting on a gold-plated toilet . We all made fun of him for his bankruptcies, his crazy deals, his even crazier hair. Remember folks, that ridiculous hair of his has been around for the past thirty years at least. How could anyone have ever taken this Miami Vice era cringe-worthy moron seriously? Like a seventies era muscle car he was all excess and slop.

And smell those fumes.

The only explanation I can think of is this: the news media has cynically and deliberately manipulated the news cycle to drill those fields of reality show ratings.

“Bully!” the bosses shouted, “Boys, keep the cycle stoked with that unscripted high sulfur content and the circus – oh the circus – by gum, keep it going as long as possible. Keep those belching fires roaring! That’s industrial politics, m’boy!”

Oh, yeah, the fields would wain, the atmosphere so toxic that you can scarcely see the sun or take a breath.  We knew the Donald was going to go down, that the reserves would be exhausted, but profits demanded we ride him in to his last combustive belch.

* Sad update on 9 Nov. Well, boys, we’ve found a new reserve. It’s a real gusher, and should be good for another 4 years. Hurrah!

Weapons Don’t Belong Everywhere

Before I go off on my rant, I just want to say, I do like firearms, but I don’t own any, because I don’t want the responsibility in my home with 4 children. That’s a personal choice, though.

I have had the privilege of firing quite a few different things in my time in the military and throughout my life.

Despite what the NRA says, there is a legitimate debate on where you draw the line of what you can own, what you can do with it, and who can own it. I don’t think we as a society want homicidal maniacs getting their hands on rocket propelled grenades, do we?

A registry and background check isn’t an unreasonable manner to facilitate our 2nd amendment rights. As a society, we should have procedures and laws, not anarchy, a wild west where the solution to every violent act with a gun is more guns. The first few words of the amendment are, “A well regulated Militia…” Some would argue that personal arsenals were never intended.

And don’t give me shit about the fact that “assault rifle” as a class doesn’t exist. Bullshit. A semi-automatic rifle packed with NATO 5.56 mm rounds and a muzzle velocity of around 3000ft/s is a helluva thing. It’s only purpose is to kill people. That’s why NATO uses these instruments in war. For assaulting the enemy. Sheesh. That the public calls them “assault rifles” is immaterial. You can accurately put a ton of rounds downrange at high velocity and they will kill every damn thing in the way. There is NO, absolutely no legitimate use for these types of military grade hardware in civilian life.

Oh, but it doesn’t do fully automatic, you’ll say. Well, I’m not so sure that’s a positive feature. I never put my M16 on full auto. That’s the way you miss your target and waste your ammo. You can empty a 30 round magazine before your first bullet hits the ground. I’d wager that if the Orlando shooter had modified his Sig Sauer to fire on full automatic, he probably wouldn’t have killed nearly as many people. He’d have emptied his magazine, missed most of his targets, and then been jumped by bystanders while he tried to reload.

Oh, but they’re fun to shoot! I agree, but the downside of mass murder is too much for me. I would very easily give up the right to own any high rate of fire assault style weapon it it meant no more deranged people could kill tons of people on a whim.

Open carry anywhere and everywhere?

If you’ve been on a military firing range, it’s a tense place. Safety is taken very seriously, I’ve sweated blood, I’m sure. You have to be aware to point your weapon down range at all times, make sure you clear the chamber, eject the magazine, put it on safety, exit and enter the firing line in an orderly fashion, all the while being aware that your weapon is to be considered loaded and ready to fire at all times and being aware of those around you. If you’re a good and conscientious person, then you’re going to be on guard during that time. For me, at least, it was stressful. One mistake and people die.

Do I really want some idiot eating next to me in a Longhorn steakhouse with his sidearm or assault rifle? I came to a restaurant, not a firing range.

Firearms are rightfully scary, and I don’t want to be scared 24/7. Everything in its place, if you ask me. Firearms don’t belong everywhere at all times.

Oh, but the only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Now let’s also deal with the pathetically unlikely white knight scenario that the NRA likes to promote. Let’s say you’re in a loud night club and someone fires a shot. Do you honestly expect me to believe MORE GUNS in this scenario will fix the situation? Hmm, let’s see, multiple armed un-uniformed members of the general public all shooting at an assailant, but more likely each other.

The Aurora shooter was in a dark movie theater. How in the hell are you going to identify and neutralize the threat without yourself being a target? The “he shot first” defense isn’t going to work when all other gun wielding members of the public see are your muzzle flashes in the darkness.

How stupid is the NRA, Republican politicians?

I have never been in combat, but most anyone who has been in the military goes through infantry training which involves maneuvering and firing (blanks, pyrotechnics etc.). It is confusing as hell. It’s hard to tell where shots are coming from, especially with explosions around. You’re trying to listen to your squad leader, maneuver, and engage your objective. It’s stupid hard, and more often then not, when the oppositions forces are revealed, they weren’t where you thought they were, and they weren’t doing what you thought they were.

When engaged in these sorts of exercises, you’re primed. You know what you have to do. You’re in battle mode. You’re not in a shopping mall trying to find clothes for your 4 year old. You honestly expect to be ready for a gun fight 24/7, identify the assailant and neutralize them before going back to the jean rack?

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Live. In. That. World.

And what do you do with law enforcement arrives? Who’s the bad guy shooter? At least the police wear uniforms so we know they’re the good guys (and sometimes even they shoot each other). Forget the fact that at Pulse in Orlando, the news initially reported multiple shooters. It turned out to be false, but do you honestly expect all gun owners in a crowded loud night club to have some super secret and accurate radar, or like in video games a little tag that floats above your head identifying friend or foe. Bah! It’s stupid. There is virtually no scenario where having a gun to defend yourself makes you or the general public safer. Mostly you’re going to get shot by the assailant or some other armed bystander who mistakes you for the bad guy. This is why we have police, people.

No, the way to make us safer as a society is to make sure that nobody can own a mass death device.

Sinister

Donald Trump’s presidential announcement lit off a firestorm in the Latin world. What a buffoon, I thought. What a moron. Such outdated ideas. How could he have said that? Ridiculous. Still, I dismissed it as the ramblings of a cognitively challenged aging megalomaniac, more like the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling. He’s an idiot, but the comments were so weird, I almost feel sorry for him. ¡Ay bendito! Abuelo necesita su medicina.

We were watching the Nightly Show today, catching up, as we’ve gotten behind, and coincidentally today’s episodes was from the day of the South Carolina shooting. Contrast The Donald’s remarks with those of the white shooter.

You rape our women and you’re taking over our county. And you have to go.

The Donald:

They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

They sound remarkably similar, do they not? You don’t have to wonder anymore where the voices come from. They weren’t in a crazy person’s violent head, they are all around us. In fact, they are professed by the #2 presidential contender according to current polling.

What was at first, laughable, ridiculous, seems to me now decidedly more sinister.

Landmark Supreme Court Decision

I am very much pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that same-sex marriage must not be denied anywhere the U.S. Constitution has authority. Great, I think to myself, and like yesterday’s 6-3 ruling on the Affordable Care Act, it’s the dissenters who are most entertaining. I found Scalia’s frothing at the mouth particularly delicious.

Today’s,  would surely not disappoint, I thought. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Chief Justice John Roberts:

“This universal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is no historical coincidence. Marriage did not come about as a result of a political movement, discovery, disease, war, religious doctrine, or any other moving force of world history — and certainly not as a result of a prehistoric decision to exclude gays and lesbians,” Roberts wrote. “It arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring that children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.”

Nice, John. Invoke nature. Seriously, that’s the best argument your legal mind can come up with? Nature? It’s always been this way, it evolved naturally. You know what else nature likes to do, John? Turn you inside out and reduce you to plant food. Nature is brutal, cold, uncaring, and life within it is short.

If nature is so great, how come we do so much to change it? It’s too hot; air conditioning. It’s too cold; fire. We invoke the “natural” way when it is convenient to our predilections.

Now, why would Justice Roberts write such a thin non-legal argument in his dissent? I’d wager he just finds gays icky.

Burke, You’re Out!

In an interview with a Spanish Catholic weekly published last week, Burke said of the pope’s leadership: “Many have expressed their concerns to me. … There is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder.”

To which Pope Francis replied, “How’s this rudder feel, bitch?”

Threatening Compliments

As some of you may know there’s been a series of videos and discussions going around, almost meme-like, of a woman walking around New York and the catcalls she received as a result. It has sparked parody videos, conservative backlash, imitators and apologists.

First, here is what the apologists sound like. “Ah, they didn’t mean anything by it. Men are just being men. She should take it as a compliment. She’s pretty, right?”

Then there are those would think that somehow it’s the woman’s fault, as if she’s asking for it. “What does she want us to do dressed like she is, looking the way she does? We’re only human.” It’s as if women should cover themselves in some sort of head to toe garment with eye-slits for navigation.

The most galling to me are those that offer what seems like an attempt to understand by saying, “Hey, I’m a guy, if a woman catcalls to me, I take it as a compliment. I smile and say thank  you, ’cause that makes my day.” It’s a false equivalency, folks. Don’t be fooled. Assholes use that technique for a variety of things, most of them racial or gender based, but it’s just flat out incorrect.

A woman catcalling a man, is not the same thing as a man catcalling a woman.

First, let’s construct a proper equivalency. Generally women pride themselves on their appearance, right? It’s a general tendency, not that it is universal, but rightly or wrongly, a woman’s appearance is an important part of her self worth.

What would the equivalent self worth trait be for a man? Money? Success? Let’s go with that. Men are judged less on looks more on career achievement – money. So women – appearence. Men – success.

So, we’ve got a woman walking down the street, dressed nicely. She’s got a knee-length (just below) pencil skirt, a nice top – bare shoulders because it’s hot out and she is walking. She has some low heels because she’s good at walking in them. The couple of blocks to her office isn’t that far. She knows she looks good, and she likes feeling desirable. “Hey there sweetheart. You got a nice pair of legs.”  says a construction worker.  From the other side of the street she hears shoutouts like “beautiful,” “sexy.” If she doesn’t smile, she will receive an aggressive comment, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more.”

Now let’s have our man. He’s a successful businessman. He is wearing a business suit. He has his jacket draped over his arm with a smart phone. He has a Rolex watch, expensive Italian shoes, and a $300 belt. He knows he looks good. He knows his adornments show that he is successful, that he is wealthy. If you got it, flaunt it, he thinks to himself.

Suddenly, from an alleyway a delivery person calls out to him. “Nice watch ya got there.” Another, “Dude, those sure are some nice shoes. Bet they were really expensive. Where’d you get ’em,” as he takes a step closer. “That the iPhone 6? Those are niiiiice. My brother got mugged for his. You should keep it safe.”

You see? They’re just complimenting him and expressing concern for his person. They are letting him know that they appreciate his hard work and wealth. If he didn’t want them to comment, he should have toned it down a bit, no? They are responding to what he is communicating – that he is successful, that he is wealthy.

But our businessman is anything but smiling when he arrives at his office. He breathes a sigh of relief as he passes through the lobby. It’s a small thing, I suppose, being suddenly aware of how vulnerable one is. He shakes it off and goes about his day.

As he leaves the office in the evening, he tucks his phone is his pocket, puts on his jacket and tells himself it’s just because it’s a bit chilly.

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