Monday, May 27, 2019

Week of 05/27/2019

Narcissist Games Show How Dangerous Trump Is To America
Imagine being asked to see your boss in his office.  You don’t know what he wants, since you don’t really know him too long, but he has built a reputation of being a “genius”. 
You see him in his office, and he says that he has a new opportunity for you.  A promotion and a raise would be involved.  He tells you that your years of hard work and loyalty to the company will be rewarded.  He just has to make some arrangements first, but he wanted to give you the heads-up.
Rumors circulate in the water cooler talks of this new opportunity being set out for you, although there are no real details of it and neither he nor you are saying anything about it.
Then, a couple of weeks later, you get called back to the office to meet with your boss, presumably to talk about the opportunity.  But instead of talking about that possible raise and promotion that has supposedly been long overdue, he comes down on you on the amount of paid overtime that you spend at work.  You try to defend yourself, but he just comes down even harder on you, saying that it’s costing the company too much money and if you need to work overtime, it should be unpaid.  He then holds an impromptu meeting and tells everyone in your department that there will be no more paid overtime at all, singling you out as the example.
Congratulations.  You’ve just been played by a narcissist.
Ever since he took office in 2017, people have gradually come to realize that there is something wrong about Narcissist President Donald Trump.  Not “different”, but “wrong”.  Who brings a cheering squad to a CIA tour?  Who demands that people ignore what their own senses tell them, as was displayed by Narcissist Trump’s own assertion just twenty-four hours after his inauguration about the size of people in attendance?  Who can make in excess of ten-thousand recordable lies, falsehoods, and exaggerations in just two years?  Who attacks our allies and befriends our enemies?  The list goes on and on, but sufficient to say, even people who have to work with him know that there is something wrong with him.
Yes, his myrmidons and propagandists will say that Narcissist Trump is “different” because he is “special”.  He is, according to his own words, a “very-stable genius”.  But we’ve had smart people in the White House before.  None of them have behaved like Narcissist Trump.  That’s because what makes Narcissist Trump “different” is not “special”, but dangerous.
Narcissists are skillful manipulators.  They use bullying tactics to get what they want.  They live for drama and chaos.  And even when people are “wise” to their games, narcissists find ways to get those people to re-engage with them.  They trick people with bait-and-switch games, luring them in with something nice, only to take it away and turn it into an opportunity to attack.
We saw this twice with Narcissist Trump in just six months of this column’s posting.
The first was concerning the federal budget this past December.  Trump invited Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer – then House Minority Leader and Senate Minority Leader, respectively – to the White House to discuss keeping the federal government running.  With media cameras recording it all, Trump shut down the discussion of the budget and then brought up his demand of money for his ego-wall and openly threatened to shut down the government if he doesn’t get the money for his ego-wall. 
And the only reason why Trump relented was that now-Speaker Pelosi told the narcissist that he couldn’t give his precious State of the Union speech as long as the government was shut down.  Kudos on Pelosi for using Trump’s own narcissism against him.
Most recently, as of the past week of this column’s posting, Narcissist Trump did it again to Pelosi and Schumer.  This time it was about the need to fix America’s infrastructure.
Our roads and bridges are falling apart.  They need to be maintained and even improved, but decades of budget-cutting and so-called “austerity” measures have left federal, state, and local governments with no money to make the needed repairs.  So at the end of April, Narcissist Trump calls Pelosi and Schumer back to the White House and supposedly comes up with an agreement that would cost two trillion dollars, provided the Dems could find a way to get the money.  No problem, right?
Fast forward to May 22nd.  Pelosi and Schumer meet with Narcissist Trump again to talk about infrastructure.  According to Pelosi and Schumer, the meeting was brief and didn’t talk about infrastructure at all.  Instead, Narcissist Trump goes outside to a prepared supposed “impromptu” press conference where he complains about all of the investigations being made on him.
This is the game that Narcissist Trump plays.  Find something that you want, something that you want to have happen, pretend to go along with it and give you what you want, and then turn around and hold that thing hostage for something that he wants.
Those of us who are wise about who and what Narcissist Trump is knew that what he was doing was a trap.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told Pelosi and Schumer that as well, but they still played it, thinking that somehow things would be different.
Now, I’m sure Narcissist Trump’s myrmidons and cult followers and propagandists will claim that this just the same kind of deal-making that politics is notorious for.  And Narcissist Trump does pretend that he is the master dealmaker.  Except that normal deals don’t engage in bait-and-switch tactics.  You don’t commit – or pretend to commit – to a course of action and then cancel it in exchange for something else. 
And when you look at what is being switched in this bait-and-switch game, it’s always something for Narcissist Trump personally.  First it was “You want the keep the government from shutting down, you’ll give me $3-billion for my wall”, and now it’s “You want the infrastructure fixed, you’ll stop investigating me and stop talking about impeachment.”
What makes this game dangerous for America is that nothing is safe when it comes to Narcissist Trump.  No subject, no agreement, no course of action that Narcissist Trump pledges is immune to this tactic.  He’s already shown that even long-held treaties are subject to re-negotiation.  He’s already shut down the government over his ego-wall.  Now we’ve seen that even the things that he wants – like his much-promised infrastructure program – are subject to his bait-and-switch games.  Everything he touches is subject to re-negotiation for something else that benefits him or strokes his ego.
Let’s get brutally honest here... we all need to understand and accept that Narcissist Trump is not your typical leader.  He is a narcissist.  Everything is seemingly done for his benefit, his glory, his ego-stroking.  It’s not about the good of the nation anymore.  It’s about the good of Trump.
This is what separates Narcissist Trump from his predecessors.  Past presidents, no matter who they were or what they did, had some modicum of honor and respect for the office they held.  Even Richard Nixon, considered by many to be the worst of the worst before 2017, had some respect for his job.  That’s why he resigned rather than be impeached by Congress.  This commentator seriously doubts that Narcissist Trump would have even a tenth of that kind of honor and respect that Nixon held for the position even during his worst of times.
As long as Narcissist Trump is in the White House, nothing should be taken for granted.  Honor, respect, ethics, decency... these do not exist in the wheelhouse of a narcissist.  His word, his oath, his promise, should always be suspect and subject to change.  We’ve seen it happen twice, with cameras rolling.  There is no reason in the world why we should somehow expect that to change.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Week of 05/20/2019

Democrat Complacency Is Failing America
In the 2016 movie “Captain America: Civil War”, billionaire hero Tony Stark meets Peter Parker for the first time and asks him why he does what he does as Spider-Man.  This incarnation of the classic Marvel hero flubs up the legendary line of “With great power comes great responsibility” which was crafted by the late Stan Lee, but he still manages to convey it in a unique way.
“When you can do the things that I can, but you don't, and then the bad things happen?  They happen because of you.”
This is certainly applicable to recent events.
It has been often said that America is either getting into or is already in a constitutional crisis thanks to Narcissist President Donald Trump and his cohorts in the fascistic and sociopathic GOP.  Except that those who are sounding the alarms now are far too late.
America has been in a constitutional crisis.  For quite some time, in fact.  It’s been this way when those in the GOP decided that they didn’t need to formally pass a budget, just string along a series of continual resolutions.  It’s been this way when those in the GOP decided government shutdowns and legislative stagnation should be standard operating procedure.  It’s been this way when those in the GOP decided they can choose who should be in the Supreme Court in opposition to everything in the Constitution.  It’s been this way when those in the GOP decided that the rules only apply to everyone else and not them.
All of these didn’t start when Narcissist Trump took over the White House.  It’s only gotten to the point to where he and his minions can flaunt their abuses of power without consequence.
But it didn’t get this way in a vacuum.
While the GOP has gone through two recent phases where they were one party in charge of everything, there have also been several periods when they weren’t.  And yet, they still were able to manipulate the system to get what they wanted.  Why?  Because those in the Democratic Party let them.
Twenty years ago, a sitting President of the United States was impeached for lying under oath about oral sex with an intern.  The party that raised the stink and pushed the investigation all the way to impeachment said that they did it because of the rule of law.  Even though they knew they wouldn’t get the conviction they wanted, they went through it anyway.
Today, a sitting President of the Untied States is accused of much serious charges.  A special investigation was held, a report filed, and some people even went to prison over it.  But the sitting President now claims “executive privilege” prevents the public from seeing it.  The same party that pushed for impeachment two decades ago – the GOP - now wants this to just go away.
And the Democrats?  Well, they could call for impeachment, like the GOP did two decades ago.  But they don’t want to.  House Speaker and perpetual fail Nancy Pelosi has made it clear on more than one occasions that she doesn’t like impeachment.  At all.  Ever.  And the rest of the Democratic fail machine are running lock-step with her.
Ignore a subpoena?  Oh the horror!  Fail to show up at congressional hearings?  Shame!  Declare a fake emergency to go around the constitutional authority of the Congress just to fund an ego-wall?  Shake fist!  Shake fist!
No, the horror and the shame belong to the Democrats for their self-imposed impotence.
Yes, Speaker Pelosi and her friends in the Dem-controlled House of Representatives could do more.  They could.  But they don’t.  Because they want to focus everything on their favorite subject... “the next election”.
The 2018 Mid-Term Hoax wasn’t even finished when people started looking ahead to the 2020 Presidential Fraud.  There are over twenty Democratic challengers and one GOP challenger to Narcissist Trump, and Pelosi and company just want to focus on that next election.  And it certainly helps them if Narcissist Trump and the GOP are seen as belligerent, abusive, aggressive, hate-filled, bigoted, amoral sociopaths and psychopaths.  That just makes their side look that much better.  Hell, Narcissist Trump makes Panama’s late dictator Manuel Noriega look like a Cub Scout!
That’s what it’s all about, folks.  Pelosi and her lackeys don’t want to impeach Narcissist Trump or do anything remotely resembling restoring those “checks and balances” that they love to talk about, because they can use the abusive GOP and their narcissistic self-appointed savior for their own elections.  Scare their own base to keep voting for them and keep them in office.
So, yeah, who cares of Narcissist Trump and his lackeys abuse their power and violate the Constitution and turn the rule of law into a joke?  All that matters for the Democrats is the “next election”!  It is always about that “next election”!  Always!
And I predict that even if the Democrats manage to unseat Narcissist Trump in 2020 and he doesn’t decide to behave like a certain former Panamanian dictator and actually leave in 2021, power-monger Pelosi and the rest of the Dem leadership will still do nothing about the abuses of power by the GOP.  Nothing at all.  Because, after all, there’s 2022 to consider.  And, after that, 2024.  And, after that, 2026.  And so on, and so on, and just keep upping the year by 2 and you get the picture.
Let’s get brutally honest here... for all that the GOP does, for all of their abuses, all of their violations, and all of their aggressions, the Democrats are guilty of complicity in those actions; for letting them happen for the sake of that “next election”.
That’s why the GOP love to say “both sides are at fault” in their endless fetish of negation through false equivalence.  Yes, the GOP are abusive thugs, but the Dems are guilty of letting it happen for the sake of that “next election”.  It has nothing to do with equivalence.  It has to do with them doing things and the other side doing nothing about it except complain.  And, while their actions are aggressive and abusive and even bigoted, the GOP are actually seen as doing something, as opposed to the Dems, who are afraid of taking a stand.  That’s why the tactic of waiting for that “next election” will often fail the Democrats.  The GOP are seen as doers, and the Dems are seen as a bunch of incompetent and impotent do-nothings.
The Democrats need to stop complaining about the GOP and start taking action when they can.  They have majority control of the House of Representatives.  So what if the GOP-controlled Senate kills your bill on the spot?  Let that be on them!  So what if the GOP-controlled Senate will not convict Narcissist Trump if he is impeached?  Let it be on them!  So what if the GOP causes the government to be shut down again?  Let it be on them!  Let them do nothing.  Then the tables will be turned on the GOP.  Then *they* will be seen as the impotent do-nothings.
Remember that line from “Civil War”.  “When you can do the things that I can, but you don't, and then the bad things happen?  They happen because of you.”  It may not be as simpler than “with great power comes great responsibility”, but it certainly makes things crystal clear.  If you have the ability to do what is right, and you don’t, and the wrong things happen, then it’s on you.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Week of 05/13/2019

Break Up Big Tech?  Why Just Them?
So the big talk when it comes to Big Tech is that it’s just too big to keep it going.
By “Big Tech”, of course, we really mean Big Social Media.  That’s primarily Facebook and Alphabet (aka Google).  Yes, some people want to include Apple, but, really, Apple keeps sabotaging itself.  They show all the traits, they get really good at something, and then, for whatever reason, they just fail.
So right now it’s Facebook and Alphabet, because they seem to have a stranglehold on all the really big things, don’t they?  Well... “big” in terms of online social media and interaction.  “Everyone” has a presence on Facebook, this columnist included.  “Everyone” has an account.  Or two.  Or three.  People put up pages for their pets as well as their pet projects and business ventures.  Again, that includes this columnist.
But Facebook also has a problem with... well, itself. 
Most people see Facebook as a medium for social interaction.  However, as I pointed out in my “Don’t Be Facebook” article, Facebook is really an information brokerage group using social media as a means to collect data.  From day one, they collect information about every interaction we make through their service and then they make some form of that information available to others, be it through polling or advertising.  That’s how they make their money.  They sell your interaction as data.
Facebook is “Big” because it gobbles up anything that could replace it.  Instagram was considered a “threat” to Facebook... until they bought it.  WhatsApp was considered a “threat” to Facebook... until they also bought it.  And what they couldn’t buy, they pretty much rendered useless.  Snapchat used to be a “threat” until Facebook and Instagram copied many of Snapchat’s prized filters, and now it’s pretty much a dying media.  Yahoo’s Messenger service was driven into oblivion by both Microsoft Skype and Facebook’s Messenger.
Then there’s Alphabet, the “Big” that used to just be Google.  Much like its much older rival Yahoo, Google was originally just a search engine that made money off ad revenue.  But then it bought out all sorts of other things.  They bought out Blogger (which is the service this column is hosted through) and YouTube.  They bought out the Android operating system, which is now on almost all non-Apple cellphones.  They came up with their own browser, their own email service, their own maps, their own translators, their own streaming media service, their own home security service, their own laptops, their own... well, they had their own social media service but they couldn’t compete with Facebook so they dropped it.  Oh, and they also have been laying down some serious Internet cable, and getting into the cellphone business itself.
Like I said before, Apple tries to be a “big”, but they keep on sabotaging itself from getting too big for their own good.  They come up with one niche product, excel at it, and then that’s usually it.  They survived because of iTunes and the iPod, then because of the iPhone and all of the apps that were developed for it through iTunes.  They’re just hanging on right now, looking for the next “pop” venture to put everything into.
And, really, I’ve been on everything from Apple starting with the Apple IIe back in the pre-Internet days, and from what I’ve seen, they don’t really do anything to get past the stage of “wannabe”.  They may control their own hardware and software, but that rigid control has also limited their own scope so they will never be anything but a wannabe “Big”.
Am I missing anyone?  Oh, yeah, there’s Amazon; owner of the Washington Post, king of the online shopping business, and the sworn enemy of Narcissist President Donald Trump.  I guess they count as a “big” as well.
So, yeah, let’s break them all up.  Split them into smaller groups.  Scatter them so they can’t be so all-imposing and abusive and stifle progress and stifle innovation.  Because, you know, “Big” is bad, right?  Well, except when it comes to banks... and airlines... and healthcare... and oil... and political parties.
Yeah, we broke up AT&T back in the day.  They were “the” monopoly back then.  The original Ma Bell.  They owned all the phone lines and all of the phones and all the phone service.  And we broke them up.  We declared that they were a monopoly and that it was wrong for them to own and control everything.  They got split up, and we had a whole bunch of local and long-distance carriers.
Ever wonder what happened to Ma Bell?  Well they got bought out by one of those “new upstart” services, and then that company renamed themselves AT&T, and now they are the biggest media service in America, owning not only phone service, but also DirecTV and the mega-media conglomerate Time-Warner, which, in turn, owns Warner Brothers, the CW, DC Comics, CNN, TNT, TBS, Headline News, Cartoon Network, TruTV, HBO, Cinemax, etcetera, etcetera.  The current AT&T essentially became far bigger than the original AT&T ever could be, and nobody is saying that it is wrong or that they should be broken up.
But, yeah, let’s break up Big Tech.
Let’s talk about Microsoft for a minute.  I came to their defense twenty-plus years ago when the White House under President Bill Clinton (who is a novice in the field of narcissism compare to Trump) decided that the house that Bill Gates built was “too big” to keep intact.  Their supposed “crime” was having the most dominant operating system of the time, and then having their own in-house browser.  You may have heard of it.  It’s called Internet Explorer.  Yeah, *that* Internet Explorer!
Well Microsoft had to politic-up and learn to bring in lobbying groups in order to keep from being broken like Ma Bell.  But what happened to them since then?  Well, they’ve ventured into the cellphone service... which they failed at.  They came up with a really cool-looking cloud-based netbook that’s overpriced.  They put up a half-hearted attempt at a streaming device which is junk.  They have a gaming system that they are fumbling at.  And they’ve decided to replace Internet Explorer with the buggy Microsoft Edge browser that people hate and instead rely on Alphabet’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers.  Oh, and they declared that Windows 10 would be “the last” operating system.  And they’re working on including Android-compatible apps.
In other words, like Apple, Microsoft has really been sabotaging itself.  Instead of being “too big” like the Clinton White House proclaimed, they have been slowly working themselves into oblivion.
But, yeah, let’s break up Big Tech.
Let’s get brutally honest here... while “Big Tech”, or at least “Big Social Media Tech”, is, in fact, big and over-imposing and behaving like the abusive giants they are, they are far from the only “big” that we need to worry about.
Big Healthcare and Big Pharma have been teaming up to form much more abusive conglomerates to the American people than Big Tech.  We can say “no” to the new $1000 cellphone, but we can’t say “no” to paying through the nose for drugs that keep us alive.  We don’t need a wireless speaker, but we do need to see a doctor. 
Tell me, which do you think is more important: a voice-over home assistant to play songs, or an urgent care service close by that will see us when we need it?
We’re looking at cable services and satellite services and we’re saying they’re “too big” and “too expensive”, but also look at what’s popping up to challenge them!  Cord-cutting services like Roku are making streaming media a suitable replacement.
Don’t want to pay for that $1000 cellphone?  Hate paying those huge cellphone service costs?  There are affordable substitutes to both!  This commentator not only knows they exist, but this commentator also uses them!
The truth of the matter is this: Facebook and Alphabet are only “big” because we made them this way!  They are monsters of our own creation.  And we can also break them down if we want to.  We don’t need corrupt government officials or well-meaning politicians to do that for us.  And, really, they have much bigger and more menacing “big” groups to target.
Social media is just that... social.  That means we make it what it is.  We can also turn to something else if we don’t like it.  Don’t like Facebook?  Fire them and find something else.  Don’t like Google?  Go Bing or even Yahoo.
You want to break up “Big Tech”?  Do it yourself.