They Elected Trump To Erase Obama….

In 2015 and 2016, opponents of President Obama’s administration and its legacy backed Donald John Trump as a repudiation and erasure of Obama. They didn’t like Obama, they wanted him to be forgotten and nullified. Donald John Trump was the man for the job. He would renounce everything that Obama stood for.

But to renounce President Obama was to renounce the entire system that afforded him his office. Everything from the Constitution to Christian values to capitalism. And so, they set out on that task. “In case of a black president,” it said on the sign above the glass with a red steel hammer dangling by a chain, “break everything.”

President Obama stood for the rule of law, so it had to go. He stood for kindness and good humor. Who needs those? Get ’em out! Obama wanted people to have healthcare, and so the party and Trump must be opposed to healthcare. And so on. Everything from climate to Christmas. “Tear it all down,” they said.


The phenomenon is most often seen among disillusioned extremists of all stripes. The cult failed them, and now everything connected must be jettisoned. The problem, of course, is that cultists never had a strong philosophy, any kind of foundational outlook on the world. Otherwise, the cult never would have duped them to begin with.

The cult strips away associations with outside influence, much like the media bubbles that various tribes wrap themselves in today. The cult seeks to supplant the individual’s identity, usually with the identity of the cult. Wear a red hat. Chant the slogan. That’s who you are now. Reject the way of the outsiders. Reject the rule of law. Reject allegiance to the state. You’re on a new team, now. We’re a family. Don’t sleep, practice owning the libs. Don’t question, there’s a new message from the messiah coming soon, and you must be ready to accept it.

The cult scam only works as long as its members keep believing. Once they stop, the cult only lasts as long as it takes for enough of the members to jump ship. They will remain if they believe they’ve locked themselves in, which is why more extreme cults push for criminal activity or other threshold-breaking behavior. Make them think they’ve crossed over, that they’re past the point of no-return.


But most of the supporters of Donald John Trump were never that far gone. Most of them thought Hillary Clinton would win, and if he won, he’d turn out to be a regular Republican or maybe a little bit of a windbag, but nothing crazy. He wouldn’t really try to erase Obama and everything that entails, right?

We will see. He’s suggested as ruined about everything in the Constitution except the Second Amendment, and even that he’s flirted with on occasion.

It reminds me of “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.”

We’re 61 weeks from the 2020 election. The next Democratic debate is in just under two weeks (12 September 2019).

Inertia: Chains You Can Believe In

President Obama recently said, in discussing the alleged leaking of marked-protected documents by Pfc. Bradley Manning:

People can have philosophical views about [these things].  But look, I can’t conduct diplomacy on an Open Source [basis].  That’s not how, you know, the world works.

He went on to discuss more directly the law with regard to such disclosures.  But I’m not writing today about the law or the allegations against Manning or his treatment while in detention.

This post is about the inertia that Barack Obama has chained himself to in the time since he took office.  It hasn’t been wholesale.  Progress has been made on some fronts.  But on major fronts, the status quo keeps on pulling us down.

The biggest areas are the following:

  1. Foreign policy
  2. Energy policy
  3. Fiscal policy
  4. Social Health policy

In these four key areas (though there are others that are less obvious, and all of these have overlap too) we haven’t seen the change that’s needed.  In these areas there are entrenched interests that preclude the change that’s needed.

Obama says, rightly, that diplomacy isn’t conducted in the light of day.  But he gets it wrong saying that he can’t change that.  He can’t change it by not changing it, but if he moves to change it, it will change.

All systems seek equilibrium, and by changing any aspect of any system you introduce further changes toward that equilibrium.  If you can’t swim, and you’re alone in deep water, you’ll drown.  But if you introduce a floatation device, like a life preserver, then the equilibrium shifts, and you won’t drown.

What should happen in this situation, if Obama does want change, is to speak up about that.  “I would like to have a higher burden of the health care system be carried by Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and the like, to lower costs and increase access, but the current system’s inertia makes that hard to enact.”  And then he would have those classes of workers (RNs and NPs) on his side to help push for the change.  He would have patients that want better care and better pricing saying, “Yes, I know a few nurses and they could handle more responsibility.”

Open Source Diplomacy would mean that everyone has the same information, and therefore, there’s no strategic advantage to lying or subterfuge.  It would mean that if a Middle East leader can’t stomach telling his people what he’s doing, he shouldn’t be doing it.  It would mean that we wouldn’t find ourselves in wars without a cause.  If the world can’t work that way, then I don’t see why the hell we’d bother at all.  But of course it can work that way.

It works that way all the time.  Just not in the circles that Presidents and Congresscritters run in.  Every day the software that powers the internet is developed in that way.  The stack that the likes of Obama and all of these other chained leaders are depending on to improve their productivity isn’t created in secret, behind closed doors.  Their own computers may be running the equivalent of a closed door, but the servers are overwhelmingly running software that anyone in the world can download, compile, and hack on.

People that go to school aren’t told, “you aren’t allowed to apply this knowledge without prior written permission,” and then forced to get their Algebra teacher to sign off when they need to do a calculation.  Learning in such an environment would be impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a right and wrong way to handle the open sourcing of diplomacy, and as I’ve indicated with the nursing example, there’s a good way to mitigate inertial effects when seeking change.  Things don’t need to change overnight.  But we do need change, not chains, and if Obama wants to be that leader, he needs to start standing up for the cause and be honest about it, not just spit another can’t in the face of the world.

The Obama Investment: A Player Piano?

President-elect Obama has one thing right as he gives his weekly addresses: we need some change, and we need to act swiftly and appropriately with this economic crisis.  His response is appropriate, on its face: increase demand and market liquidity by investing in infrastructure.

But his call to build and repair roads and bridges will be the greatest missed opportunity since President Bush squandered our spiritual capital with our allies in the wake of September 11, 2001.  It will be a waste not on par with the bailouts still being meted and even still being formulated in terms of dollars spent, but certainly in terms of misdirection.

We should commit some amount of any infrastructure-building program to include public transportation.  To not so do is to break the promise still ringing from the Flash player: ‘build jobs, improve infrastructure, decrease dependence on oil, become more efficient, and increase America’s competitiveness in the world.’  Every single criteria he gives is met by investment in public transportation and in every case it is met better than by building and repairing roads.

I believe in hope and change, but it needs to be real change, not just a Player Piano.  We need new directions and industries.  Trying to tread water for a whole century is not going to cut it.  Bailing out Detroit will not cut it.  Walk the walk.  Some of what he says is real change.  Increased investment in technology will be a welcome change.  Upgrades to public institutions such as government buildings and schools are great.  Even pushing hospitals to become more wired, which fits nicely with the prospect of radical changes to our health care system in the next four years.

And some roads do need fixing.  We do not want to imperil anyone through lack of investment in our existing infrastructure.

But we must begin to add rails to the mix.  The sooner we do this crucial change in attitudes will begin to take place.  People will start to see property values rise.  New enclaves of shops can be born around the stops and routes the light rails take.  It will become cheaper to add more down the rail once we’ve gotten rolling.

Right now, when it can be had for less money, when production can be ramped up, and when shops that are closed due to the downturn are ripe for retooling.  Right now is the right time.  But does Obama have the Right Stuff?

Racism in a Post 11/4 World

From Election spurs ‘hundreds’ of race threats, crimes

To paraphrase a line from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (written April 16, 1963): ‘Daddy, why do people treat people so mean?”

There’s some white folks right now scared shitless and their lack of rationality leaves them no choice but to lash out. It is a testament to the dry rot of the anglo culture that predominates in some echelons of our society that they have such utter lack of self-respect as to take out their frustrations in this banal and despicable fashion.

On the other hand, many people from the same exact towns and cities are exemplars of the truly peaceful human seeking out love and understanding. What separates the two? I can only call it faith, but not in some deity for surely the racist numbskulls would claim that lickity split. It is faith in their common man and in the institutions we have wrought for over two centuries, some older than that.

It is faith in the essential promise of life itself: that given time and air and food and light, a tree will bring shade to the weary. Given a nudge from its mother’s beak the nestling will take flight.  And given the opportunity, with rights in hand, the individual will prevail in achieving happiness.

There are those that see the election of a black man, an African-American.  There are those who see the election of a liberal, of a lefty.  And there are those who see the election of an American.

And the first group, on both sides, seem to hold race as a prominent factor in their self-identities.  They are not men or women, but they are a white man or a black woman.

And the second group, on both sides, hold a particular ideology.  They see the benefits of low taxes and deficits be damned or they see the benefits of government regulation and market forces (ie, economic blowback) be damned.  They are committed just as much as the first two groups.  They have invested in their world view and in some cases are past the point they are willing to pull back and rekindle their spiritual savings account to put it toward a more modest appraisal.

And then the third group, of which I consider myself a member, and I am hopeful that we have elected not a black man, not a liberal, but an American to the highest office of our government.  I see the benefit of lowering taxes, but only if we can do the honest thing and pay for our government.  I see the benefit to some measure of regulation, but not to the point that economics dictates will do more harm than good.  I may have white skin and a Y chromosome, but I consider myself a human foremost.

And above all I strive to pride myself in a rational understanding of the world.  That the path of regulation should more often than not be informational regulation (ie, ensuring transparency in markets) that allow for the economic system to self-regulate in the same way that the awareness of a predator in the wild invokes a response in the potential prey.

That the path of taxation should seek a balance between the needs and rights of the individual to provide and to reinforce hard work and the needs and duties of a social organization to fulfill its contractual obligations to its citizenry.

We have some problems in this country, but let’s be sure we focus on the real problems and not on imagined ones.

Language: The Debate and the Law

Stractics and Tagegy

Elizabeth mentions that they looked up the difference between strategy and tactics during the debates too.  And I thought Obama was supposed to be the intellectual here.  Oh, campaign posturing, you’ve fooled me again!

My understanding is that the plural, tactics, is equivalent to strategy.  The singular, tactic, would be equivalent to stratagem except the latter has the connotation of trickery or deception, which is a subset of tactics and strategies.

This election has seen many stratagem of attacking the opponent over language.  We’ve seen metaphors involving swine, doctrines that redefine themselves by an egg timer (and somehow remained owned by their minter), and so on.

It is obvious that neither candidate is familiar with the principle of charity nor do they believe winning on the issues alone is more important than winning.

Come Guy Fawkes Day, the cheese stands alone.  With all 300 million of us standing in a big circle.  That is the level of maturity our political landscape has devolved into.  Hi-ho, the derry-o!

How to Create Good Law

Even in the midst of a financial market meltdown the question on the tip of their tongues is “How do we show off?”  So McCain straps on his bullet-proof vest and charges into the fray.  Obama talks some sense about regulations, but seems to favor a bailout nonetheless.

Meanwhile, we’ve still got soldiers trying to stop the violence of two foreign lands and no real consolidated plan to stop buying all this oil.  We’ve still got millions without health insurance, one heartbeat away from bankruptcy.  Our electricity grid is aging.  Our internet service sucks.  Our transportation system is regressive.  Our tax structure is about as sensible as Ahmadinejad (again, in many ways caused more by perception than any intrinsic conviction).

One of the big problems is that we still legislate using 20th (err, 18th) century methods: a bill is born, and the staples fly until a simple three-section bill turns into a 200-section monstrosity. Then, as Obama said about funding the troops during the debate, a disagreement about something like time-tables (or in the case of the update to FISA that Obama voted for, illegal immunity for telecommunications companies) may force a voter’s hand either way.

In software we call the concept of having a module or class directed at a single, specific task “cohersion.”  When a bill focuses on everything from Iraq funding to the drinking age to a resolution praising the latest Pixar film we call that “coincidental cohesion.”  We should have law created according to the same principles that govern (proper) software engineering.

What’s more, we should have a context free language that describes the law.  That is the kind of thing that might drag me back to school some day.

Peace.