The Clinton Standard

Since when did the Clintons become the standard for propriety in politics? The latest news is that Hillary Clinton intervened to keep an accused of sexual harasser on her staff when he was about to fired. The implication is that the #metoo crowd should back off, because even Hillary tolerated harassers.

Well, duh. She’s the person who excused her husband when he cheated on her with a young intern named Lewinsy.  In fact, she aggressively defended him.

But here is the thing. The Republicans have spent the last 30 years telling us how corrupt and slimy the Clintons are. So telling us that even the Clintons cheat, lie, steal, etc. is not the best way to say that it is ok to do it. We are not really talking about Ghandi or Mother Terresa here.

The truth is that the Clintons are an excellent straw man. Bill is an admitted adulterer / harasser yet has high approval ratings – ergo, other harassers that aren’t as popular also should be able to get away with it.

Hillary doesn’t have Bill’s high approval ratings, but she is living in some kind of alternate reality. She fancies herself a politician and is easily drawn into the fray. But the truth is that she is a great policy wonk but a terrible politician, constantly making decisions without understanding how they will play out politically, such as defending harassers or ignoring advice not to use a personal email server.

The best thing she could do for the Democrats would be to declare that she is a flawed individual who should not be a standard for anything, and fade away from politics. A true politician would realize this. Unfortunately, she is not a politician.

Where’s My Purse?

Getting ready to go out with a friend yesterday, she was frantically looking for her backpack purse. “Did you see it? I hope I didn’t leave it somewhere . . .”

I let her search for a few more minutes before I kindly pointed out that it was on her back.purse

“Ohhh. Hmm. Ok, ready to go now.”

I have seen this movie before, but it still makes me laugh.


The Self-Driving Future: Part 4

So I am driving down the highway in my self driving car and the driver in the next lane pulls a bonehead lane change. We crash. Who is liable?

Of course the self driving car should be smart enough to avoid bonehead moves by other drivers? But how smart? What will the standard be?

On the one hand, the self driving car would probably have a camera recording everything that happens around it, and would be able to show the cops and insurance company the reckless and probably illegal move the other car made that ‘could not be avoided’.

On the other hand, the manual driver might say, “Look, maybe it was an idiot move, but people make idiot moves all the time – that’s part of driving. An alert driver would have been able to avoid an accident and your self driving car is obviously not as good as an alert manual driver.” Sue the manufacturer.

Inventively there will be horror stories in the press about people with unexpected hits on their insurance due to self-driving crashes. Eventually, the government, the lawyers and the insurance companies will work it out. But until they do, look for many folks to be reluctant to turn on the autopilot.


Trump Will Lie To Mueller

At some point over the next few months, President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have a conversation. Each will be accompanied by a phalanx of lawyers. Mueller and his team will ask questions. Trump, guided by his team, will answer. And then Trump will throw in a few lies.

It is certain that Trump will lie? No, but the odds are pretty good, and here’s why.

  1. He has done it before. Trump has been in court many times. He is familiar with testifying and has told many lies and misleading statements in the past
  2. He doesn’t believe he is lying. Trump is a narcissistic pathological liar, in other words he believes his lies because they are part of his self image.
  3. Even if he knows he is lying, he feels that as president he can do whatever he wants. Trump probably believes it is his right and duty to lie in the right circumstances, and a vindictive witch hunt by Mueller is one of those circumstances.
  4. He doesn’t see any downside to getting caught lying. The president can always pardon himself from committing perjury, right? Even if that doesn’t work, what’s the worst that can happen? He’s the guy that could get away with shooting someone in Times Square. They certainly aren’t going to impeach him for a lie or two. If they try, there will literally be blood in the streets – his people will never take an impeachment attempt lying down.

Mueller probably knows that he will never take Trump down. But he can take his company and business associates down. When he uncovers the full nature of the money laundering and side deals that Trump, Inc. has been involved in with the Russians and firms like Deutsche Bank it is going to get mighty uncomfortable to be in business with or as a Trump.

Google Steals Your Face

A few years ago, Google came out with an Arts and Culture app that gave users access to artwork from a multitude of worldwide museums. Want to see paintings or sculptures? Here’s your app.

In the past month, Google added a new feature to the app. Upload your face and it will try to find a ‘match’ with a piece of art. Want to tell your friends that you look like a famous painting? Google can help.

Of course, one has to remember the first rule of the internet: When the service is free, the product is you. Google gives you a ‘match’ (most of the ones I’ve seen are pretty iffy) to a museum piece and you give them a face to add to their database. They then analyze your facial characteristics with your search habits, browsing habits, shopping habits, email habits and any other habit they can get their greedy little tentacles on to figure out what you should be seeing, doing, buying, etc.

If the National Security Agency or the FBI tried to collect this kind of information there would be huge outrage. But in exchange for a little social media fun, it looks like millions of people will voluntarily give it up to Google. What ever happened to “Don’t be Evil”?

Who’s A Racist?

Donald Trump doesn’t consider himself a racist, and by his definition he is probably correct. Trump’s picture of a racist is someone that belongs to the KKK, looks for black people to harass or worse and tells bigoted jokes regularly. Since none of those apply to him, he is therefore not a racist. Heck, he even has a black person in his cabinet.

Trump’s views of minorities and have-nots were probably shaped during the months that he worked on crews in his father’s construction business. His roll models were blue collar, working class white men. They likely held a hard day’s work in high esteem, welfare and handouts in low esteem, ogled the ladies and had little use for affirmative action and similar programs, especially they negatively impacted their job eligibility.

Trump understands these guys and knows how to communicate with them, which is why he won the election. Few of these men, if any, considered themselves racist and neither does Trump. Sure, some of these guys are prejudiced, but in Trump’s experience their hearts are good, which is why he makes excuses for them.

As far as Trump is concerned, there shouldn’t be any question that Haiti is a shithole. It’s full of slums and the closest thing the Western Hemisphere has to a failed state, right? Too bad he is ignorantly oblivious to how prejudiced he sounds when he calls black countries shitholes.

And therein lies the truth. Trump is not a racist. He is a clueless bigot.

The Asshole Piehole’s Shithole Shitstorm

On Tuesday of this week, Donald Trump was magnanimous. He declared he would sign whatever DACA solution that Congress came up with, even if he disagrees.  “If they come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m (still) going to do it, because I respect them.”

Trump was looking to get some props from minorities, which of course are most affected by his immigration policies. Look at me: I want the issue solved, I am flexible, it is up to Congress to do their job.

Unfortunately for the President, his piehole did not get the memo and made a typically assinine comment. In a meeting two days later where a bipartisan solution to the DACA problem was presented, Trump called a bunch of African and Central American countries shitholes. The countries happened to be the homelands of immigrants of color. Just to make himself clear, he contrasted these countries’ immigrants with those from snow-white Norway.

So much for winning any kind of appreciation from immigration advocates. Even worse, his strategy of taking the high road and blaming the Democrats for the failure to fix DACA just went down the drain. Of course, Trump never backs down so he will try to blame them regardless, but only his (white) core is going to buy that argument.

At the end of the day there will probably be a deal because Trump actually agrees that DACA needs fixing and he does not want to deport hundreds of thousands of people. But it is going to be hard for the master negotiator to get the deal he wants when he shoots himself in the foot with shithole comments.


Bannon Blinks

The publication of Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury” has been a publicity windfall for Donald Trump and his (former?) friend Steve Bannon. Both men are seriously – and probably dangerously – addicted to whatever press they can get. They really don’t care much whether it is good or bad, as long as they can dominate the news cycle.

Unfortunately, in this case they were on opposite sides of the story. The book caught Bannon shooting his mouth off about Trump and his family. Naturally, Trump shot back – not at the book but at Bannon, in effect acknowledging that the book’s quotes sounded like Bannon and were probably accurate but the product of someone who ‘lost his mind’.

Both men love a good fight, but this was a lose-lose. The longer they kept insulting each other in the press, the more ammo the onetime and possibly future allies provided to the opposition.

Bannon blinked first. He apologized to Trump and tried to walk back his statements. He really had no choice. Trump sees every issue as a zero sum game and has to win every point. If Bannon did not show contrition Trump would never stop. Even so, Bannon kind of admitted saying many of the nasty things, and Trump will remember that.

Will it make a difference? Both men need each other. Trump needs Bannon and his media organ Breitbart to keep the hard core base fired up with stuff that is too unfair and unbalanced for FOX. Bannon has a president whose political outlook is as close as he is ever going to find to his own.

They are a natural pair. They will find a way to get back together. On Trump’s terms.

Et Tu, Star Wars?

Somewhere, somehow, America’s unions lost their cachet. Even into the 1970s, Hollywood made heroic union movies like Joe Hill and Norma Rae that succeeded at the box office.

How the tables have turned. Star Wars, The Last Jedi, is an example. In one of the biggest films of the year, the heros put in a call for help to their friend Maz Kanata. It is a quick scene and when Maz, the proprietor of a popular bar appears, we find her in the thick of battle, dodging bullets and so on.

“Are you OK, Maz?”  “Yes, it’s just a little union dispute.”

Most of the people that worked on the movie were union members yet they had no problems slipping in a joke dissing unions. It is a testimony to how poorly unions are regarded that the union-disparaging joke enters the canon of one of the most popular film series ever.

The union’s PR situation will continue to deteriorate until they get some leadership that understands how the public forms its perceptions in the age of social media (and Trump). Maybe they can interest Steve Bannon in the job – he may be unemployed soon.