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Heather’s Homily – Political Partisanship (and Tweets)

Any time you look at Twitter, there are multiple tweets about politics. Most of them take a strong partisan stance. Whenever I tweet about politics, I take a side too. It’s the same the world over.

However, I notice that in the US there seems to be a much greater level of vitriol in the tweets. Most countries have people on the extremes, whether right or left, but the US appears to have more of them.

It’s worse now that it’s ever been, and so, of course, the current president gets a lot of the blame. And actually he should. He does almost nothing to try and bring his country together, and goes out of his way to divide.

But it didn’t start with Donald Trump. He’s just the result of a trend that’s been getting steadily worse since 1999.

Personally, I blame the US electoral system. USians are told from the time they’re in nappies, or “diapers” as they would say, that they’re the greatest democracy the world has ever known. That the founding fathers gave them a great system with checks and balances to make sure everything is fair.

The problem is, it’s not fair.

This is something I will write about in a proper post as there’s a lot to go into, but the basic problems are obvious.

The system itself allows gerrymandering, which is an affront to democracy.

The Electoral College means the voters of some states get a lot more say than the voters of others.

If you live in a deep Red state and support the Democrats, or a deep Blue state and support the Republicans, your vote is wasted.

If you support a party other than one of the two major parties, there’s no hope you’ll get representation at the federal level.

Most states give all their Electoral College votes to whichever party gets the majority of the votes. All those who didn’t vote for the majority party have no federal representation from the political party they prefer.

There’s a lot more than that too. If those were the only problems though, I don’t think the hatred we see for people who support a different party would be so strong. This system has always been fundamentally unfair, but the intensity wasn’t always like it is now.

I think the problem started in 1999 when George W Bush became president despite Al Gore getting more votes. Even that might not have been so bad if it wasn’t for the voting irregularities in Florida.

What that meant was that everyone knew Gore should have been president, but Bush got the job. So Democrats felt cheated and Republicans felt the constant need to justify themselves. Bush then proceeded to take the country into an unpopular war, making everything worse.

Then Obama was elected in 2008. There was no doubt about his win, but there was a lot of the country that just wasn’t ready for a Black president. The racist underbelly was exposed, and it wasn’t pretty. The most prominent opposition was the Birther campaign, led by Trump, but there was a lot more. Membership in white supremacist groups like the KKK increased, for example.

After eight years of Obama, there was an election where the Republican won the presidency, but his Democratic opponent got three million more votes than he did. On top of the fact that the Democratic candidate got by far the most votes is the fact that there was a campaign by a foreign government to influence voters in key states who to vote for. There’s a strong feeling that the election wasn’t valid. It’s the 1999 situation again, but much worse.

A different president might have been able to bring the country together. But if you created a virtual president who’s every action would increase the divide, it would be all but identical to Donald Trump.

Political Tweets

Something to think about if you’re a USian.

 

In the US, the neutrality of the internet is under threat. I consider this part of Donald Trump’s pathetic efforts to undo everything that Obama did. With this the Republican party are moving into an area that goes against everything they supposedly stand for – freedom and lack of government intervention.

He’s not improving. As Ann German noted when she sent me this, “Sounds like the first draft of a Dr. Seuss sequel to Horton Hears the Who.”

 

Here’s the video.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Interesting.

Mueller Time Tweets

Another aspect of the investigation. Trump is definitely guilty here – whether what he did was illegal, on the other hand, Mueller will decide.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Michael Flynn is going to be one of the biggest problems in this whole debacle.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Human Rights Tweets

Here we go again. Exceptionalism in the good ole USA. WTF is wrong with these people? These ads would be illegal in places that so many in the US like to look down on like New Zealand and the European Union.
(Via Ann German.)

 

The Roy Moore story isn’t going away – we’ve still got about three weeks until the election. This pastor thinks he made it better. He actually made it worse. It just shows how screwed up conservative religion makes people when it comes to relationships.
(Via Ann German.)

 

A couple of responses to the above tweet:

 

 

As Ann German pointed out when she sent me this tweets, there’s no mention of gay priests molesting children either.

 

Weather Tweets

I’m not sure if this really is recent – I feel like I’ve seen it before. However, either way, it’s Very Cool!
(Via Ann German.)

 

Art Tweets

This is cool! I want some!

 

Food Tweets

I’ve never seen cranberry sauce for sale in New Zealand, though we do have cranberry juice. I’d like to try it.

 

I’d like her recipe for Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Looks and sounds delicious. It’s weird to me that being queer makes a difference, but perhaps it still does in the US. Maybe it means she’s allowed to get away with all that cultural appropriation! 😀 (Sarcasm alert.)

 

Science Tweets

I’m a day late with this because of time zones, but I was a big fan of Marie Curie as a kid so I wanted to honour her.
(Via Ann German.)

 

A gift for someone who has everything:

 

History Tweets

Bizarre what we humans do to one another that meant this pic happened.

 

Go Scotland! That’s better than soccer in gas masks!

Now that’s a sign! I’d love to see that up somewhere!

 

Archaeology Tweets

Lots of cool stuff here today …

 

 

 

Marine Tweets

Cool pic.

 

Microorganism Tweets

I think I’ve put the tardigrade in before, but not any of these tweets.
(Via Ann German.)

 

 

 

 

Other Animals Tweets

Wow! 10 years and 16,000 pics! But it’s worth it for this shot.
(Via Ann German.)

 

How cool is this?! A black dormouse!

 

This is cool!

 

Bird Tweets

That’s a phrase I never thought I’d be regularly favourite-ing on Twitter: “crusty-bum free”.

 

Wow! What a pic!

 

Insect Tweets

What a cool looking creature!

 

Dog Tweets

These two will be friends for life!

 

Though this is a movie, anyone who’s owned a Labrador knows this is just what they’re like in reality. Our Labrador saved my life once. He also saved the life of a kitten we had by coming to get us when it got into difficulties. They’re wonderful dogs.

 

Sweet puppies!

 

Cat Tweets

Wonderful!
(Via Ann German.)

 

This cheetah cub is adorable!

 

Here’s some more info:

 

Poor pussy! It’s body armour prevents it being a cat!

 

A new game to play with the cat!

 

Where have your fingers been? 😀

 

Chewing on Mum’s tail! That’s what it’s for, surely!

 

A Tweeting cat!

 

There can never be too many cat tweets!

 

Check out her lovely eyes!


 

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51 Responses to “Heather’s Homily – Political Partisanship (and Tweets)”

  1. Federico Bär says:

    Thanks for your instructive homily on the US Electoral College – which I ignored until these last elections.
    .-

  2. Federico Bär says:

    —Science Tweets
    I’m a day late with this because of time zones—

    (What I’d like to tell here has nothing to do with that admirable woman called Marie Curie, but with the time difference).
    A magazine stand in front of my office once offered copies of newspapers of one’s exact age. I ordered one of the date of my birth, and discovered “too late” that it contained stuff that in fact had taken place the day before, so if I wanted to know what was happening in the world when I arrived, a copy of the day before would have been more accurate.
    But then I also realized that I was born in Indonesia on December 7 at four o’clock in the morning, when in Argentina it was still December the 6th. So I was reading the right chronicles after all (although those of another country! 🙂
    .-

    • Similar stuff happens to me all the time. Because I watch so much CNN, for example, and I have little contact with other people these days except online with friends overseas, I’m almost permanently confused about what date it is.

      9/11 is a good one too. 9/11 is actually 11/9 in most of the world, and for us it happened on the 12th anyway.

  3. Mike Brogan says:

    After watching many Presidential Elections since JFKs,I came to the conclusion many years ago that Zimbabwe was more democratic than the US. As for their much avowed “American Exceptionalism” they need to learn it irritates the hell out ofanyone not American.

    • “Irritates the hell out of” is exactly the expression I would use too. I have no problem acknowledging the good things about the US. It’s the attitude that they’re always better, and their way is always the best way, that annoys me. I’d hate to live somewhere where attempts at change and improvement are so often seen (or at least branded by those opposed) as unpatriotic.

      • j.a.m. says:

        If it irritates the hell out of you, the obvious question is, why are you so fixated on it? For a start, you could save yourself a lot of irritation by unburdening yourself of many misconceptions.

        I’m not aware of anyone who doesn’t think there’s plenty that needs to be fixed or improved. We look to government mostly to get out of the damn way. President Trump is making great strides in that regard.

        • Irritating me doesn’t mean I’m fixated.

          There are one or two good things Trump has done, but I don’t see any “great strides” in any regard. That’s another comment you need to explain, and not by linking to what someone else says. If you want people to be aware of your pov, you need to put it here. You can’t expect people to go off to another link and read another person’s ideas. The idea is to put it into your own words – it’s not as if you’re not capable of that.

  4. j.a.m. says:

    It’s a shame that Trump is no more unifying than his predecessor.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/politics-of-division/2012/05/25/gJQAN5zvpU_blog.html

    On the other hand, as Christopher Hitchens astutely noted, “politics is division by definition.”

    • I haven’t bothered to look at any of your links. As has been pointed out, the right thing to do is to contribute to the discussion, then support your comments with links. Just sticking in a link is rude, lazy, and annoying.

      My comment and Hitchens’ comment are about different things. A good president can be a unifying force by the way he conducts himself despite the differences of politics.

      • j.a.m. says:

        The essay I cited speaks for itself. It explains how Obama cynically practiced the politics of division (which makes him a bad president by your criterion). He was glib where Trump is crude. But the main difference is that the lamestream media worshipped him unquestioningly.

        • If that’s your argument, you should make it. Then give the link for people to go to if they want to look into it further.

          People should be able to read your argument here rather than go off to some link where someone else says something. This is a place where we interact with each other. You should be able to articulate your argument, and we should know it, without having to go elsewhere unless we want to look into the issue further.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Okay, but I would think any thoughtful person would welcome the suggestion, because it’s only to their advantage to get a more accurate and realistic perspective.

        • I still haven’t looked at the link.

          However, whether or not Obama practiced the politics of division is irrelevant. Even if Obama did do that, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for Trump or any other president to do the same. Trump is continually stating he’s better than Obama. This is one way he could prove it.

  5. nicky says:

    The F-35 is one of the most-if not the most- expensive fighter aircraft ever made. It is also one of the worst. It is not really a stealth aircraft (despite what Mr Trump appears to think) so it can be detected, it is way too heavy because of it’s VTOL (a marine demand), the latter also impeding the visual field of the pilot, making it a relatively easy prey for leaner fighters. It is a jack of all trades (“versatile”), but not good at anything. In simulated battles they were picked off like sitting ducks.
    Unlike, say, the F-16 or the Phantom, there is not much international demand (please correct me if I’m mistaken there).
    This high-priced aircraft got a Pentagon evaluation. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program gets a damning report: “The Services have designated 276 deficiencies in combat performance as “critical to correct”’ and only about half have been corrected.
    One thing it is good at though: pumping taxpayer’s money into Lockheed-Martin.
    Just imagine where we would be if that trillion dollars had been used to convert to solar. It would have had more effect on the ‘situation’ with fundamentalist Islamic countries than any strike fighter aircraft could ever have.

    • I don’t know anything about fighter capabilities, but I agree completely with your last point. What has enabled Islamist extremists to spread their doctrine is oil money. If other countries were less dependent on that, their funding would all but dry up.

  6. nicky says:

    The Moore story quirks me somewhat. Ok, in his thirties he ‘dated’ a 14 year old (there is no accusation of statutory rape) and he ogled 16 year olds. Not really savoury, but not deeply reprehensible either (Compare that to the accusations of Mr Trump raping a 13 year old girl). The whole thing only shows he is a hypocrite.
    The problem with Moore is not his lecherous interest in underage women (I guess most males have, but don’t act on it), but his Bible thumping and flaunting of the Constitution, his fundamentalist, homophobic, intolerant, (racist? I’m not sure, but strongly suspect) and reactionary ideology.

    • He was already an unsuitable candidate before the most recent allegations relating to girls and young women came to light. I’ve written about him before. All the things you say, as well as the fact he was fired twice for ignoring judicial orders from the Supreme Court. He makes clear he puts his fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible before the US Constitution. That is untenable for a US senator.

      • nicky says:

        Yes, that is exactly what I meant. These ‘hanky pankies’ , deplorable as they are, are not the essence for why he is unfit to be a senator, it is because “he puts his fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible before the US Constitution” , It could not have been put more succinctly and clearly. You said it right.

        • nicky says:

          I also note that Mr Pence is of the same stock as Moore: “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”, repeated at nauseam. Nothing about the secular constitution of the US.
          You know, I’m quite happy with Mr Trump in a way. He has his negatives, of course (he bathes in negatives), but he appears to be so incompetent as to achieve very little. What is achieved is the regression of the US judiciary, but that is done by the despicable Mr Mc Connell, not Mr Trump. And he gutting of the EPA, but I have this feeling they are going to fight back (if Mr Pruitt becomes your boss at the EPA, you are nearly forced, you are bound, into ‘subversion).
          I shiver to think what would happen under a presidency of Mr Pence.
          At the time I remarked that choosing Mr Pence as his VP was a kind of life insurance against assassination attempts by some fanatic leftists, but it goes further than that, not assassination, just impeachment (by ‘good’ US-ians from Dem or Rep background) has become nearly unthinkable.
          Some think that a fall of Mr Trump would include the fall of Mr Pence, but I fear that is just wishful thinking.

          • Yeah, I think Pence would be even worse too, as I’ve said before. Trump is influenced by Dominionists, but Pence is one. The best thing would be to get Trump to the point where he doesn’t run again, or even better, expose the issues with the 2016 election to the point where there’s a demand for a rerun in 2018. There are honourable Republicans like John Kasich and others. I don’t agree with his politics, but he’s basically decent.

          • j.a.m. says:

            What do you mean by rerun in 2018?

          • nicky says:

            The Republican I respected most was Ms Condoleeza Rice. Who says nothing honourable comes from Alabama?

          • I think we’ve discussed before that I like her too.

          • nicky says:

            Yes, we did, just wanted to stress she’s from Alabama too.

  7. nicky says:

    I love tardigrades too. They appear like cuddly little bears, and they do not harm anybody. But virtually indestructible, freezing, disiccation , and even quite high temperatures are taken in stride.
    If there are any aliens I hope they will resemble them. Cute and harmless, but if they -aliens- do exist, I fear they will not resemble them at all.

  8. Lee Knuth says:

    Glad always that you point out the fallacies of the American political system. Our so called democracy was founded by elite white males and the rest of the population was ignored. Changes have been made but it is still skewed.

    On the Trump tweets John Oliver pointed out that you could randomly put in words on a smart phone and get a tweet that made more sense than some of his. Think the ones that make sense are done by staff and not Trump.

    • I saw an interview a few months ago somewhere of some guy who tweets for Trump during the day. Trump tells him what he wants to say, and he puts it into words. Those are probably the more coherent ones.

  9. nicky says:

    Those bush dogs have their own genus (Speothos), so they are different from other canines. They have eg. very short legs.
    They are not extremely rare, but not common either, classified as ‘near threatened’. Reputed to eschew humans, probably for good reasons. They are quite common in Surinam (at least according to my Surinam friends, yes, I ‘What’s Apped’ them to ask). They are also known to down prey much larger than they are, such as peccaries, capybaras and even tapir. Apparently they do not engage in hunting cattle.
    They look quite cute, but I doubt they are ‘cuddable’.

  10. Jenny Haniver says:

    Hope you saw that you can get the invisible spray here: https://rain.works/invisiblespray/. I’m definitely going to get some. I love the swimming tardigrade, the woman in Jeddah, but, as usual, there are more favorites than I can mention. I, too, was a fan of Marie Curie especially in my childhood. Preeti Mistry is the chef whose mac and cheese you featured. She’s right here in the East Bay area of the SF Bay Area, and is one of the hottest chefs around. I’ve never eaten at one of her places, but hope to soon. As for Thanksgiving, I offer Williamm Burrough’s Thanksgiving Prayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLSveRGmpIE.

    And as for Roy Moore (who has been discussed in your posts, and I hope will be again, when the time comes), during the past few days, I’ve been investigating Moore’s lawyer, Trenton Garmon https://wonkette.com/626041/al-com-responds-to-roy-moores-lawyers-sad-pathetic-threat-letter-after-it-finally-stops-laughing. If anything, this guy is crazier than Moore; well, they’re equally nuts, two peas in a pod. He’s a minister as well as an attorney (albeit from an unaccredited law school — and he obviously didn’t do well in his English classes because he can’t even write ‘coherent’ legalese, which is an oxymoron in itself). Looking at this man’s photo – which comes from his web page in progress http://trentgarmon.com/ (the best effect is seen here), one would sure like to see him wearing that get-up in a high court arguing for the primacy of biblical law in the secular realm. He was the one who, in an on-air interview, twice called the black TV journalist Don Lemon, Don Easy Peezy Squeezy Lemon! If Moore gets elected, this bozo might have a career in the Federal judiciary.

    • I agree about Moore’s attorney. I wrote or said something about him a few days ago, though it might have been deleted before I posted it. I do that sometimes when I think I got a bit carried away.

      • Jenny Haniver says:

        I don’t recall seeing your comments on Garmon; maybe you’ll have more later. I certainly got carried away when I learned about this guy, but I don’t think that my fears are over the top and unfounded — after all, stranger things have happened; to wit, we’ve got Trump as president and Roy Moore is a legitimate political force, yet something out of a demented opera buffa (my imagination is already running away with the idea; maybe I’ll write one!). Not to forget all the other dangerous, profoundly corrupt and cynical, if marginally smarter, doofusses befouling the corridors of power in this country. Some might accuse me of engaging in an unwarranted ad hominem attack on the man, but I don’t consider every direct comment about a person to be unwarranted, even comments about his strangely gay-ish sartorial style and very peculiar aesthetic sense in general. I’ve also watched some of his videos, where he’s wearing his minister’s hat, and they are strange and incomprehensible to me. In this case, to use a legal term, but in its broader, root meaning, it’s obviously res ipsa loquitur with Mr. Garmon — ” the thing speaks for itself” — he patently demonstrates his profound doofussness.

        • I must have cut them then. I had a couple of tweets about him with videos in them and my comment was something like, “Moore’s attorney is just as bad as he is.”

          I think most of the criticism of these people is valid and not ad hominem attacks. They are relevant to his ability to do the job of a senator. Also, who he chooses to represent him speaks to his judgment and the type of person he is.

          Another thing voters should consider is that candidates who appear likely to have some sort of sexual improprieties in their past (or in other cases, business, legal etc.) may be able to be blackmailed to do things that are against the electorate’s interests.

          That is obviously why in the past being LGBT was a problem because it was something that had to be kept hidden from society. Now most people don’t care, which is as it should be.

    • Jenny Haniver says:

      Or was it “Don Easy Peezy Lemon Squeezy”?

    • Thanks for the link to the spray! It’s even on special for Black Friday!

  11. nicky says:

    And coming to the ‘meat’ of your post, you sum up the shortcomings of the US electoral system pretty well.A vote in Wyoming carries three times the weight of one in New York.
    You did mentìon ‘voting irregularities’ in Florida in 1999. However, they were not ‘irregularities’, but plain fraud. Sanctioned by the SCOTUS, which lost all respect from me then and there. Would the world have been different if the rightful winner, Mr Gore, had been sworn in? I think so.
    It happened again in 2016. Fraud. Sorry to repeat it again. In all the swing states where Ms Clinton led in the exit polls and where a Republican was in charge, Mr Trump ‘won’.
    The only swing state where that ‘reversal’ did not happen was Virginia, where a Democrat was in control. I have no clue why there is not a public outrage over that. After all, Ukrainian elections were not recognised as fair by the US just because of a discrepancy between exit polls and count. Exit polls are generaĺly very reliable, if the discrepancy is more than half a percent one should be suspicious. In 2016 it was several percentage points, enough to give a different-and prima facie fraudulent- result.
    Mr Trump is an usurper, he should not be POTUS.

    • j.a.m. says:

      LOL. Put down the Kool-Aid, friend. You’ve imbibed quite enough.

      • Trevor says:

        Thanks, just.another.moron. Your advice is always deeply appreciated. Like thrown down the nearest drain.

      • nicky says:

        Nope, I only drink dry red. Occasionally a dry white with the fish (and Sake with sushi or sashimi, once every other fortnight).
        Are you denying what I remarked about the exit polls?

    • I think the reason they don’t look into it is they fear the consequences of an armed and pissed off public not having faith in their electoral system. Almost all right wing authoritarians will take the word of the government that everything is okay. If they don’t rise up, no one else will fight back. Liberal leaders will always be able to calm their supporters with the non-violence message because of Dr King.

  12. j.a.m. says:

    In the European Parliament, Luxembourg and Malta hold 10X the representation per inhabitant compared with Germany and France. Cyprus is at 6.5X, with many other states at 2-3X times.

    Multiple recounts by news organizations in Florida in 2000 showed that most reasonable scenarios produced the same result. They found no evidence of fraud (which BTW Democrats and liberals always insist is nonexistent).

    If polls are “generally very reliable” then we may as well save a fortune by eliminating balloting altogether.

    • nicky says:

      If I remember well, there was a question of ballot papers being ambiguous. I saw the pictures of these ballot papers, and they were ambiguous indeed, to put it mildly.
      There was a whole area of ‘black’ voters who did vote en masse for an extremely conservative candidate (Mr Buchanan? IIRC), while it was blatantly clear they intended to vote for Mr Gore. And these votes would have given Mr Gore his rightful victory.
      In fact I think Mr Gore was wrong and arrogant to concede, after all, these votes were not ‘his’, but his voter’s. He let them down miserably.

    • nicky says:

      “If polls are “generally very reliable” then we may as well save a fortune by eliminating balloting altogether.”
      We are not talking ‘polls’, but exit</b -polls, a wholly different proposition, and taken after voting. And yes, they are highly reliable. It is extremely rare for them to vary more than a few decimals of a percentage point from the actual result (cf eg the Brexit vote, less than 0.1% difference). As soon as they vary more than 1 or 2 % from the counting, one can reliably conclude fraud, or at least ‘counting irregularities’.
      [As mentioned, the Ukrainian elections were declared fraudulent by the US (and EU), because the exit polls differed by nearly 4% from the official count.]

    • nicky says:

      I agree with you that the ‘proportional’ representation of the European parliament is not proportional. Since it’s role is not as decisive as, say, the European Council, it does not wrangle as much, but basically it is not right. At least we agree on something 🙂

    • Once again you start with, “someone else gets it wrong too, so it’s okay when we do.” How many times do I have to repeat that two wrongs don’t make a right?

      • nicky says:

        Good point. In it’s extreme form: it is not because X steals, murders or rapes it is ok for me to do the same.

      • j.a.m. says:

        No, I didn’t say anybody got it wrong. The point is that there’s nothing “wrong” about a federal system making allowances for population disparities among its constituents. (In the Senate, where as you presumably know, states are guaranteed equal suffrage, a solid citizen of Wyoming has the power of 66 Californians. Work yourself up over that if you must.)

        In any case, you can’t blame the founders for the current apportionment of House seats and Electoral College votes. Congress determines the size of the House.

        The web site “270towin.com” ran a hypothetical analysis of the 2016 presidential results in which it apportioned electoral votes among states based strictly on population (but still awarded all of each state’s electoral votes to the top finisher). Only three electoral votes shifted from Trump to Clinton. In other words, in this election at least, winner-take-all made much more of a difference than apportionment. Not surprising since Clinton’s support was relatively densely concentrated.

        And you can’t blame the founders for winner-take-all either. They warned against political parties and would be appalled that parties effectively control electors.

        The purpose of checks and balances is not to “make sure everything is fair”, whatever the devil that means. The purpose is to provide firewalls (or at least speed bumps) against rash decisions and the tyranny of the majority. The system is designed to favor consensus, stability, and limited government. What it can’t do is guarantee us politicians who understand and respect the founders’ wisdom and genius.

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