Monday, August 27, 2018

The Pointless Pettiness of the POTUS

I genuinely cannot understand why Trump's being so wince-inducingly petty about lowering the flag for John McCain. For far longer than I've been alive, it's been bog-standard bipartisan courtesy that when a quote-unquote "public servant" of his stature dies, you lower the US flags for awhile to show respect and yadda yadda. And if you're the sitting president, then you (or rather, your speechwriters) produce a statement about how this is a sad day for America because blah blah blah great loss to the nation.

(Yes, you can make a "that's hypocritical" argument, but I don't care -- a certain level of polite dissembling and hypocrisy is necessary to keep the gears of civilization greased.) What I specifically don't understand about Trump's mindset is, it costs him nothing to lower the flag, and he GAINS nothing by refusing to do so (until the American Legion and others finally convinced him of it) -- seriously, what the devil is he thinking here? Everything Trump does, he does because he expects to personally benefit by it somehow -- what benefit did he hope to get by being so petty in this instance?

A friend of mine suggested Trump hoped to get revenge for not being invited to McCain's funeral. Which may well be Trump's motivation, but that still inspires massive face-palming: what kind of American politico insults an American soldier solely for having become a POW, for fark's sake? (Don't get me wrong: the Vietnam War was stupid from the get-go, and had I been around then I'm certain I'd've protested it--but you still don't insult American POWs for having been POWs, for fark's sake.)

Even had there been no history of acrimony from Trump toward McCain, the McCain family would still be justified in not wanting Trump at the funeral due to Trump's tendency to simultaneously politicize events and make them about him: "Senator McCain's death was a sad day for America. SAD! Almost as sad as the FBI giving Crooked Hillary a pass! You know what wasn't sad, though? The day I was elected president by the hugest electoral landslide in all history!"

I'm thinking back to when I was in middle school or the higher elementary grades: academically I was "advanced for my age," but socially and emotionally I was arguably below par (in my defense, I had some pretty warped adult role models in you youngest days) -- plenty of things to make me cringe to recall them now -- but for all my terribly immature traits, I at least knew enough to TRY to "act like a grownup" in certain situations. Like, for ordinary Sunday church services I'd be fidgety and bored, but on those Sundays when I was assigned to be the "acolyte" (minister's assistant -- lighting and extinguishing the altar candles, passing out and collecting offering plates, and similar tasks), on THOSE days I made sure to behave "properly." Or -- again at church -- on those other Sundays when I didn't have to attend the sermon because I was instead put on "nursery duty" (helping to babysit the preschoolers who were far too young for the adult service) -- again, even as a 10 or 11-year-old I knew that when I was helping babysit little kids I had to act "like a grownup" in that instance.

Granted, I'm guessing any actual adult who observed me in such situations would've been very amused by some of my attempts at "grown-upness" -- but at least I was trying, and knew enough to try. And if my 10 to 12-year old self were somehow made to change places with President Trump today ... no doubt Young Me would've been just as clueless as Old Cheeto regarding economics and the like -- but I can say with absolute certainty that I'd've been orders of magnitude better than Trump at the diplomatic stuff. Because even as an immature 10-year-old I'd mastered such pathetically basic social skills as "You must at least PRETEND to be sad when someone dies," and more advanced concepts such as "If you're in a position of power -- like say the president of the United States -- comedian-types WILL sometimes fun of you, and you must accept this and NOT publicly get mad at them." 

As a ten- or eleven-year-old in a position of semi-power over inmates at the church nursery, I knew better than to get angry and take it personally one morning when a certain tantrumy toddler called me a "doodoo brain." I've seen nothing to indicate Trump has that level of maturity even today. If anything, Trump's still wont to lash out with toddler-style rants ... except Trump would more likely say "shithead" than "doodoo brain." Because advanced insults are as close to emotional sophistication as Donald Trump seems to get, and his unbelievable pettiness over John McCain shows it.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Unite the Right 2 Showed Why Free Speech is Better Than Censorship

After last year's Unite the Right tiki torch Nazi rally, there were calls for "hate speech" exemptions to the First Amendment: no free speech rights for racists, no free assembly for racists. (Somehow, people making these calls overlooked that the current POTUS and Attorney General sympathize with the tiki marchers -- those "very fine people" -- and convinced themselves that if the government had the power to pick and choose which ideas may legally be expressed, the likes of Trump and Sessions could surely be trusted to only go after the "right" people.)

But free speech ultimately prevailed: that reprehensible Jason Kessler, organizer of Unite the Right, received a permit to hold Unite the Right 2 in D.C. yesterday.

Result? Something like two dozen bigots showed up, outnumbered by the police who were there to protect said bigots from the anti-racist counter-protesters who outnumbered them by orders of magnitude. The bigots ended up bailing out half an hour before their rally was officially scheduled to start.

On the other hand: had authorities listened to the "ban hate speech" crowd and forbidden Kessler from holding his rally, he and his fellow bigots would now be portraying themselves as bold Speakers of Truth suppressed by evil anti-white (((conspirators))), and assuring their fans that, had the rally taken place yesterday, there would've been thousands if not HUNDREDS of thousands of Proud White Men marching through DC in a bold display of racial pride.

Unite the Right 2 is a textbook illustration of why free speech is better than censorship.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Hiroshima and the Purple Hearts

It's the anniversary of the nuclear bomb dropping on Hiroshima, and there's plenty of after-the-fact speculation that dropping the nuke and its sibling on Nagasaki a couple days later was an unforgivable sin, possibly even a war crime. For what it's worth -- given the genuinely evil behavior of Imperial Japan and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, I always felt Truman made the right choice given the information he had at the time (nowadays, of course, it would be very bad to drop a nuke because we know about radioactive contamination and other aftereffects which Truman did not). 

Here's a semi-related trivia fact: almost every authentic US military Purple Heart medal currently in existence is an antique, at least 73 years old at minimum.

When Army generals ignorant of the nuclear bomb were planning the American invasion of mainland Japan, they estimated 500,000 initial US casualties, and pre-made a supply of medals sufficient to cover it. But then the two bombs dropped and the invasion never happened, so every Purple Heart awarded between 1945 and around 2000 (when the stockpile finally started running low) came from that original cache.

There's a very good argument to be made that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved far more lives than they cost, American and Japanese both. 
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