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Internet Trolls are Assholes

Science once again proves what we already knew. A psychological study of self-identified internet trolls shows that they are sadists, narcissists, and psychopaths. Or as Psychology Today put it:

So next time you encounter a troll online, remember a few things. (1) These trolls are some truly messed up people and (2) it is your suffering that brings them pleasure, so the best thing you can do is ignore them.



Late Night Political Humor

“On Friday President Obama made a surprise visit to Stonehenge on his way back from the NATO summit in Wales. And even crazier — today he made a surprise visit to the White House.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Over the weekend President Obama visited Stonehenge. Yes, the cold, rigid entity no one can quite figure out said he enjoyed Stonehenge.” – Conan O’Brien

“President Obama visited Stonehenge. It was going well until Biden said ‘Look at the size of those dominoes’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“This week President Obama will announce his plans for addressing the threat posed by ISIS extremists in Iraq. It’s an incredibly difficult situation. I think at this point he should just tell Liam Neeson that they have his daughter.” – Seth Meyers

“On this date in 1974, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. A lot of people think Nixon’s trouble was for Watergate, but it was not. It was for wearing a tan suit.” – David Letterman

“The Department of Transportation is considering building a new high-speed train that could get people from D.C. to Baltimore in 15 minutes. It gets you out of Washington in 15 minutes — or as President Obama calls that, ‘Still not fast enough.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“AMC is coming out with a spin-off of ‘The Walking Dead’ that will show the apocalypse in other parts of the world. It’s called ‘The News’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Prince William and wife Kate are expecting another baby. This is big news — in the year 1614.” – David Letterman

“Now there will be two royal babies. This guy is going to have to start looking for a job, you know what I mean?” – David Letterman

“Also from England, it turns out they have now identified Jack the Ripper. They found the DNA off an old white Ford Bronco. Not only that, but they now know the guy was married to Kelly Ripper.” – David Letterman

“Reportedly the identity of Jack the Ripper, who killed five people in London, finally has been revealed. After hearing about it, the commissioner of the NFL suspended him for two games.” – Conan O’Brien

“This weekend a Native American group gathered outside of the Houston-Washington game to protest the Redskins’ nickname. And a group of Cowboys wide receivers gathered outside of the Dallas-San Francisco game because that’s where most of Tony Romo’s passes were landing.” – Seth Meyers

“Our former governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, returned today to Sacramento, where they unveiled his official portrait. They do this for all the governors, even the ones who were in ‘The Expendables’.” – Jimmy Kimmel


Existential Threats?

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

Another brilliant comic from Tom Tomorrow. Isn’t it strange that we have to attack Syria, international law be damned?

The terrorists seem to have figured out a winning strategy for them. Do something outrageous that pisses off the American people (9/11, beheadings, even genocide) and then sit back while the American response becomes the best recruiting tool they could ever want, and paid for by the American taxpayers!

Heck, Republicans even told Obama that he should take the lead on this one. Who thought that would ever happen? Of course, they are mainly doing this so they can blame him for whatever goes wrong in the Middle East, completely ignoring the amazingly stupid things they did to screw it up. After all, they seem to think that Dubya kept us safe from the terrorists.

Likewise, Republicans are continuing to deny climate change. We’ve had 25 years to do something about this before it is too late, but … oops.


Late Night Political Humor

“Happy Birthday to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who turns 52 years old tomorrow. The star of TLC’s show ‘Cake Boss’ is actually making the cake for Chris Christie’s birthday party. In fact, I hear he’s even making the cake in the shape of Christie’s favorite thing: cake.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Of course, it’ll get weird when Chris Christie’s family says, ‘No, no, no, you’re supposed to blow the candles out BEFORE you eat it!'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Chris Christie has to brush up on foreign policy, so he went to Mexico. Remember when he was in Africa? He was followed by ivory poachers. Now he’s in Mexico, and he was taunted by a matador.” – David Letterman

“Yesterday John Kerry joined five previous secretaries of state at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new diplomacy museum. Sorry, I just fell asleep saying that.” – Jimmy Fallon

“While the diplomacy museum is just a pile of dirt now, pretty soon it’ll be even LESS interesting.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The White House has decided not to send President Obama to campaign in battleground states because his low approval ratings could hurt Democrats. They’re only sending him where he can’t do any damage — or as that’s also known, ‘The Biden Circuit’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama is getting tough with that Vladimir Putin. Boy, what a bad guy that guy is, that Vladimir Putin. Obama is really getting tough with him. Now he’s wearing a much more aggressive shade of beige.” – David Letterman


We still hate Obamacare, but we love what it is doing for us

Robin Evans, a Republican warehouse worker who recently signed up for Medicaid when Kentucky finally implemented the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, loves her new health coverage. “I’m tickled to death with it. It’s helped me out a bunch.”

But she hates Obama, and says she prefers Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who wants to repeal Obamacare, saying it should be “pulled out root and branch”.

Does Evans even know that if McConnell had his way, she would lose the health coverage she now loves?

Which gives us the ironic situation where people hate the word “Obamacare” while loving everything else about it. Heck, former Republican Senator Scott Brown even recently called for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with Romneycare. Which is funny since Obamacare is directly based on Romneycare and is virtually identical, the only substantive difference being that Romneycare was implemented by a Republican at a state level, while Obamacare was implemented by a Democrat at the national level. Brown has even said that current beneficiaries of Obamacare could be grandfathered in, which means he doesn’t dare actually repeal it, since that would be so unpopular.

The bottom line is that the word “Obamacare” has become a dog whistle term signifying dislike of our president. Even among people who love everything that Obamacare has done for them. There is no longer any chance of it being repealed, but there has been so much propaganda used against the term (“Death Panels”, anyone?), that it is still a potent, albeit hollow, weapon. Besides, it seems so much less racist to disapprove of his policy achievements than to disapprove of him.

UPDATE: Because of the ACA, healthcare spending is up 9.9%. In fact, without the increased healthcare spending due to Obamacare, the US GDP would have gone down 1%. And in addition to helping (saving?) the US economy, all that spending on healthcare will result in a healthier America, which has long had some of the worst health statistics in the developed world.


More Climate Propaganda

Yesterday’s post was an amazing video showing how climate change deniers cast doubt on the science when there really is not any significant scientific doubt. But there are many other ways that propaganda is used by the climate deniers.

For example, in 2012 the New York Times (the poster child for the supposed left-wing media) published an article titled “A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn’t Exist“. The biofuel in question is cellulosic ethanol, which is a form of fuel alcohol made from agricultural waste products like corn stalks and cobs, leaves, wood chips, and other plant residue.

On the surface their article sounds reasonable – why should fuel suppliers have to pay a fine for not blending in a fuel that doesn’t exist?

Conservative media outlets jumped on the story. The Wall Street Journal published an editorial saying “Congress subsidized a product that didn’t exist”, while Fox News called the fuel “merely hypothetical”. The National Review Online went one step further, saying that the “EPA might as well mandate that Exxon hire leprechauns.” But my favorite quote is from The Daily Caller, which blames the whole thing on Obama:

First, President Obama decided that the government can punish consumers if they don’t buy a particular product (e.g., health insurance). Now, his administration has decided that the government can punish consumers if they don’t buy a product that can’t be purchased because it doesn’t exist.

Well, first of all, the law mandating the use of cellulosic ethanol was passed by Congress in 2007. So it is difficult to imagine how the Obama administration, which didn’t exist until 2009, is responsible for that law. Not only did Dubya sign it, it was passed with broad bipartisan support.

But the big lie is that the fuel didn’t exist. Of course it existed. The whole point of the law was to create incentives to dramatically increase production of the fuel, which generates an amazing 96% less greenhouse gasses than gasoline because it uses raw materials that often get burned as waste.

And the law worked. There is now a cellulosic ethanol facility in Iowa which can convert 570 million pounds of crop waste into 25 million gallons of ethanol each year. And that facility is the first of three such plants scheduled to start production this year.

This is great news in the fight against climate change and it also significantly reduces our dependence on foreign oil. But of course, none of the right-wing media outlets mentioned it. Personally, I’m waiting for the National Review to write an article admitting that it was wrong, that leprechauns do exist.



Unfortunately, propaganda works, especially with enough money pumped into it, and with help from the right-wing media. How many times do we fall for this snow job before we get wise to their tactics?

Another propaganda technique is telling people that they can’t do anything about the environment. For example, saying that it will destroy our economy. Well, you can do something about the environment. Thirty years ago we were facing an environmental catastrophe from a hole in the ozone layer, but we did something about it and now the UN has announced that the ozone layer is showing “signs of recovery”. It is estimated that this has already prevented around two million cases of skin cancer. That’s not just a lot of lives saved, it represents a lot of money saved.

For more information about climate change and things you can do go help, see The Climate Reality Project.


We Hate You, But We Vote For You Anyway

Obama has a 54% disapproval rating. The Democratic Party has a 61% disapproval rating, making the party in general even more unpopular. But nobody beats the Republican Party, which has a whopping 72% disapproval rating. In fact, 47% of Americans – nearly half – say they “strongly” disapprove of the GOP.

And yet, according to FiveThirtyEight politics, Republicans have a 59% chance of winning enough seats in the November election to get control of the Senate. Note that their forecast is updated regularly based on new polls, so the numbers might change slightly by the time you click on the link, but that’s a pretty significant lead.

So, how can around half the country “strongly” disapprove of the Republican Party, and yet we are ready to hand control of both the House and the Senate to them? Because ironically, many of the people who hate the Republican Party … are Republicans. While 63% of Democrats approve of their party’s delegation in Congress, only 34% of Republicans approve of their GOP Congress-critters. They may hate their representatives, but they will almost certainly still vote for them anyway (maybe because someone even more right-wing isn’t on the ballot).

Is this just an example of “haters gotta hate“? (Go ahead, click on that link. You’ll be glad you did!)

And the House is even more screwed up, mainly because of gerrymandering. In 2012, 1.4 million voters picked Democratic representatives over Republican ones, but the GOP won a 33 seat advantage anyway. And 2014 will probably be just as bad.


Late Night Political Humor

“President Obama will attend a NATO summit in Wales this week with 67 other world leaders. He’s trying to project strength, so the White House says he’ll be wearing his toughest shade of tan suit.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama will be at a NATO summit, where he will discuss the recent actions of Vladimir Putin, who wasn’t invited. Then Putin said, ‘Has that ever stopped me before?'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Vladimir Putin said today he hopes to have a Ukrainian peace deal by Friday. He’s reached out the olive branch. And if there’s no peace deal by Friday, Putin said, ‘I will crush Ukraine like bug under boot.'” – Craig Ferguson

“President Obama is back on the job, and he’s visiting Estonia. He said he wanted to be there before Russian tanks rolled in.” – David Letterman

“Apple is sprucing up the iPhone. Tomorrow you can get the new iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 is a lot like President Obama’s hair. Every year it’s lighter and thinner.” – David Letterman

“Apple plans to launch a mobile wallet to replace credit cards. That’s good because if there’s one company you want to trust with your money, it’s the company that leaked your nude photos.” – Conan O’Brien

“A survey showed that 71 percent of Americans do not believe Washington should drop the name of their team – the Redskins. Also, most Americans believe that New York should just drop the Jets altogether.” – David Letterman


Obamacare has Failed

… to live up to the warnings from the detractors.


It’s the System, Stupid!

A few days ago I posted a story about Hillary Clinton (told by Elizabeth Warren) about how after becoming a Senator, Clinton voted for something that she fought hard against before that. Go watch that video if you have not already.

And now, we have a similar story from the other side of the aisle. Senator John McCain voted against overturning the Citizens United ruling that gave corporations and unions the right to spend infinite amounts of money in political campaigns. This is hypocritical because when the Supreme Court decision was announced, McCain denounced it as the Supreme Court’s “worst decision ever” and blasted the court for demonstrating “a combination of arrogance, naivete, and stupidity, the likes of which I have never seen.”

McCain is well known as a promoter of campaign finance reform, including the McCain-Feingold Act.

McCain’s office claims that the reason he voted against it is because it had no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House. And he has a point. It is clear the the main reason the Democrats introduced this bill was so they could use it as an election issue to keep control of the Senate. They knew it had no chance of passing the House.

But that just begs the question, why would Republicans refuse to vote against campaign finance reform? McCain himself is evidence that there are influential Republicans who support reform. But unfortunately in today’s gridlocked political world it has become a partisan issue.

Which to me brings up the real point. Both Clinton and McCain are evidence that the problem is not people, it is the system. And indeed, both show that we need to find some way to reduce the influence of money in politics. And there are definitely ways to do this without compromising the right to free speech. One way would be to require the disclosure of every person and organization who donates money for political ads. We need more transparency.

We also need to slow down the revolving door between politics and business. Otherwise, our representatives will only represent their future (or past) employers.

And finally, we absolutely need to reduce the power of political parties. A very good way to do this, which is already working in a few states is nonpartisan primaries (also sometimes called open primaries), where all candidates appear on the same ballot and the two highest voted candidates proceed to the regular election, which is actually acts as a runoff election.

I think it is absolutely crazy that we have partisan primaries, which are paid for by the taxpayers. It is insane that I am not allowed to vote in a taxpayer-funded primary election that may well determine who becomes my representative (or even president) unless I register as a member of that party. The constitution gives me the right to vote for my representatives.

You would think that even Republicans would be in favor of nonpartisan primaries, since it is well known that current Republican primaries end up being a race to embrace the lunatic fringe. Candidates are forced to go so far to the right in the primary that they often become unelectable in the general election. I’ve seen the same thing happen in Democratic primaries too, although not to the extent seen in recent Republican primaries.

Another thing that needs to be done is to take redistricting out of the hands of the political parties. Stop gerrymandering now.


Late Night Political Humor

“President Obama shows up at a press conference and he’s wearing a beige suit. Well, this drives the Republicans crazy. It’s nothing but, ‘How could he?’ and ‘What’s he trying to pull?’ Republicans would just rather have a beige President.” – David Letterman

“Over the weekend the White House chef married an MSNBC news anchor. Or as Fox News reported it, ‘Person who serves the president marries person who serves the president.'” – Conan O’Brien

“Texas Senator Ted Cruz has invited President Obama to play golf on the US-Mexico border. Cruz thought it was a funny way to point out problems the president hasn’t fixed yet. While Obama said, ‘So are we playing or not?'” – Jimmy Fallon

“There is a certain irony to being judged on one’s physical appearance by a group of men who, if you squint, look on a good day like a bowl of dried fruit. I’m not going to name names, but our Senate is filled with people who look like balls.” – Jon Stewart (on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s revelation about the sexual harassment she faced from her congressional colleagues)

“Folks, I do not have to tell you that the world out there is spinning out of control. The Middle East is in flames. Russian troops have crossed into Ukraine. But the biggest news this weekend was the shocking invasion of Boob-istan.” – Stephen Colbert (on the celebrity nude photos scandal)


The Past is Present

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

We should be living in a golden age of enlightenment and advanced technology, but instead we seem to be preoccupied by greed, anger, and selfishness. Will we survive?


So help me…

On October 30, 2013, the Air Force changed their rules. It used to be that they would allow you to omit the phrase “So help me God” at the end of their enlistment oath. But no more.

So for now, you have to swear to God in order to be in the Air Force. And indeed, an airman who crossed out the “So help me God” part has been told that if he does not sign the full oath and also recite it (including the God part), he will be kicked out.

Considering that the constitution prohibits the establishment of any religion, and further prohibits requiring religious tests to hold an office or public trust, this will be an interesting court case.

Personally, I think that putting religious beliefs ahead of the constitution is a supremely bad idea. The Hobby Lobby ruling was bad enough, but at least that was not an actual arm of the government requiring someone to swear an oath to God.


Late Night Political Humor

“According to a report from the United Nations, the damage from global warming could be irreversible. It’s clear we need to do something. We need to give the Earth the ice bucket challenge.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“In Washington state you can now smoke weed. But they have something I’ve never heard of. It’s weed soda. It is the opposite of diet soda, if you think about it. A minute ago I was just thirsty. Now I’m starving. Weed soda!” – David Letterman

“Race is there; it exists. You’re tired of hearing about it? … Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.” – Jon Stewart (on Fox News’s coverage of Ferguson, MO)

“President Obama watched the Emmys and said the U.S. would be out of the Emmys by 2017.” – David Letterman

“Israel bugged John Kerry’s phone last year while he mediated Middle East peace talks. They listened in on John Kerry’s phone calls. It’s the rare case where the crime IS the punishment.” – Seth Meyers

“Republicans have a video game for the kids. You have an elephant on your video game and it tries to accumulate seats in the Senate. It’s not the first. Remember George W. Bush had a video game back in 2000 — Grand Theft Election.” – David Letterman

“Burger King is moving to Canada. They bought the doughnut place, Tim Horton’s. Financed by Warren Buffett, Burger King will be moving to Canada to avoid paying taxes. Hearing about it, President Obama immediately took away Buffett’s medal of freedom.” – David Letterman