American Healthcare

The majority of Republicans don’t believe you should be required to pay into healthcare, or buy insurance, if you are young and/or healthy. This is an absurd way of looking at insurance.

Think of it this way: in rural Tennessee there was a fellow who forgot to pay for fire protection. So when his home started on fire the fire department arrived with one purpose–to prevent the fire from spreading to the man’s neighbors who had paid for fire protection. The man begged and pleaded for fire protection services to put out the blaze but they refused. He didn’t pay the fee.

You don’t buy insurance because you’re house is currently on fire any more than you pay taxes to pay for police protection services only when your home is in the act of being broken into. The whole premise of insurance is to have some capacity to deal with adversity, obstacles and problems, etc. in the future.

When it comes to healthcare you might not be sick now but odds are you’ll eventually, we’ll all eventually, make use of it; it makes some intuitive sense then to have everyone pay into insurance so we can pool our collective wealth avoiding such things as:

  • Bankrupting families who have to sell homes, cars, cash in assets, etc. to pay for exorbitant health care costs in order to seek treatment. When I was younger I had a number of medical procedures to determine whether or not I had cancer. These procedures would’ve cost me thousands of dollars (money I would not have had in my early 20s). Luckily I was born in Canada so I paid nothing for any of these procedures.
  • Pushing the elderly out of healthcare because a good proportion of them are stuck on a fixed income. My mother died of lung cancer in 1998. The various procedures to detect and attempts at treating the disease would’ve bankrupted my family; however, we paid nothing, not a cent for her treatment (and yes we did pay something, we paid taxes over time, and consequently we were able to worry about just caring for my mom in her last days instead of paying for her care).
  • Needlessly forcing young people off of their parent’s insurance plans, i.e. even young and apparently healthy people can suddenly grow sick.

I’ve met a number of Americans, particularly ones in their 20s, who were forced into the following gamble: don’t buy insurance this year so I can pay for that car or student loan. They gamble with the fact that cancer and a host of other illnesses do not discriminate and frequently appear as though out of nowhere. Why gamble in this way when it isn’t even necessary? There are, ironically, more cost-effective and productive approaches to healthcare than the private insurance Americans appear to love so much.

So, while there are some legitimate criticisms of a universal healthcare system like Canada or England has, e.g. long wait times, the use of older technology in diagnosis and treatment, etc. Canada’s system is far more efficient than whatever the heck America has had. Specifically, Canada has longer wait times because everyone–even homeless people–can access the healthcare system. (With that said, people who are seriously ill do not wait but are fast-tracked to the front so they can receive emergency treatment. Yet, no system is perfect, sometimes people do get overlooked…but far fewer compared to the millions of Americans who had no healthcare whatsoever prior to Obamacare.) The only reason you don’t find these longer wait times in the United States, historically speaking, is because private insurance systems naturally keeps millions of people out of the system because of cost. People who can’t afford insurance don’t make use of insurance or related health services. Good system? Stupid system.

In a meeting with all 52 senators at the White House today, President Trump argued that single payer (or the American equivalent of universal healthcare) doesn’t work because it would cost more money than would be taken in. I beg to differ. Canada, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland, Belgium, etc. all  have universal healthcare systems (or socialized healthcare) and these countries are doing fine. Healthcare outcomes in these countries are much better than what Americans experience by comparison. Why can’t some Americans see this?

If you bombard people with a trope like “universal healthcare doesn’t work” or “socialized medicine” doesn’t work enough, you can convince people through shear repetition that it doesn’t work. The thing is the American free-market approach, or placing profit over people, doesn’t work compared to what other G20 countries do (you can Google “healthcare comparison outcome” and you’ll find article after article backing up what I’m saying here).

Ideology and political culture. Free market fundamentalism is an ideology that’s alive and well in the United States despite being discredited by not delivering what it promises to do, e.g. trickle down economics. American political culture is prevents a lot of people from seeing socialism as a living option, i.e. people have been pounded and pounded with anti-socialist, pro-free market tropes, since they were young they cannot tell the difference between liberal socialism and authoritarian communism. Also, it would be difficult to establish a centralized system in a country like America because the United States, historically speaking, has purposely set up a system where individual states are preserved from interference from the federal government. A country like Canada, therefore, which has a strong central government was, and is, able to do things more seamlessly than America. This doesn’t mean you cannot establish a single system for America; it just means there’s an additional hurdle in the American context.

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Governing by Brand: Trump Inc.

“You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things. But nobody talks about that.”—Donald Trump

If I wanted to take power, Alexander Hamilton wrote, I would mount the “hobbyhorse of popularity, I would cry out usurpation, danger to liberty, etc. etc. I would endeavor to prostrate the national government, raise a ferment, and then ride the whirlwind to direct the storm”.[1] Demagogues and populist leaders not only direct storms, they create them; they whip the people into a frenzy and the minute they relax their hold—allowing people time to actually think instead of feel—the power monger’s influence wanes.

I have a theory about America’s new president. I don’t think he has any intention of actually governing. He governs by decree and executive order (something he and fellow Republicans vilified Obama of doing). This isn’t governing, it’s institutional cynicism. He’s going to continue doing what he did in the business world—sell a brand.[2] He doesn’t know how to do anything else (and he’s good at it). Yet, being good at selling a product doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to lead the world’s most powerful democracy for a four year term.

Trump doesn’t make anything; he slaps his name on a building or a steak and claims it as his own. Instead of actually reading briefings, Trump watches television to get his information. He listens to white supremacist radio shows and thinks he’s getting an accurate presentation of the state of the nation. If the man cracked a book in his adult life I’d be surprised. He isn’t a thinker. He’s a doer. So, instead of attending intelligence briefings or learning what constitutes or what does not constitute overstepping presidential prerogative, he’s back on the campaign trail bragging about his election how he carried Florida. He’s a salesman, not a president. Three weeks into his presidency and there hasn’t been a single day where Trump’s “finely tuned” administration hasn’t made some sort of mis-step. I hear the bell from the news app on my phone and I cringe wondering ‘what’d he do now?’ I still, honestly, cannot believe he won the election; and it wasn’t his smarts that won him the election–it was arguably the ignorance of the average American voter (who appears to be willing to trade the rule of law and pluralism for the prospect of short-term financial gain). I don’t think people understood what exactly they were buying.

A good test of a man’s character is how he reacts to constructive criticism. Trump fails this test. In order to avoid the justifiable criticism of his executive orders and cabinet picks, he directs attention back on the media calling them the greatest enemy of the United States. The greatest enemy of any country is a leader who resorts to special pleading[3] and cries foul whenever light is brought to bear upon one of his many ill-founded policies. Speaking of policies, when the Free World is led by a man so ignorant of history he cannot be expected to develop policies with a context (he just criticizes existing agreements or institutions a either “very, very bad” or “the worst deal maybe ever”); when you elect the intellectual equivalent of Jared the Subway spokesmen to power, you cannot reasonably expect him to make informed decisions around science generally or climate change (a Chinese plot!) specifically, e.g. his pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a climate change denier.

So, if I have any advice for President Trump it is this: just do it, sir. Build that wall. Think different. Think so differently that it appears you’re not thinking at all. The people will continue to melt in your hands, not in your mouth; because your leadership tastes so good, cats ask for it by name.[4]
Notes
[1] Private correspondence from Alexander Hamilton to Edward Carrington (1792). See: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-11-02-0349.

[2] Trump reputedly offered Governor Kasich the vice-presidency. The president told Kasich that he could control domestic and foreign policy. When asked what responsibilities Mr. Trump would take care of it became apparent the businessman turned politician would be the face of the White House, i.e. he’d sell the policies and be the brand for a new order. http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/20/politics/john-kasich-donald-trump-vice-president/

[3] The Republican Party recently passed a notion permitting President Trump from not having to release his tax returns. If Trump has nothing to fear and there’s no conflict of interest, why the secrecy? Just like his predecessors he should be required to be forthcoming with information that establishes his trustworthiness and integrity; or we can just take him at his word and trust. When has that ever gotten a people into trouble?

[4] https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33535/10-companies-that-totally-nailed-their-taglines.aspx#sm.0002dixf216rtfiqscz2fcdl6e35p

Westminster: Governing Through Reason, Not Tradition

The Westminster system of parliamentary democracy was established on the basis of reason and not traditional authority: after years of civil war (1642-51) between the middle and upper classes in England forced the Crown to eventually submit to the authority of a written constitution called the Bill of Rights (1688). England became a constitutional monarchy effectively ending the problems associated with either a king or queen changing their mind or a law at a whim. With the Bill of Rights in place, the Crown now governed with the consent of the governed while being limited by the law (reason).

The establishment of constitutional law in England introduced an era of unparalleled stability continuing into the present day. Prior to the Bill of Rights authority was exercised more or less on an appeal to either tradition or power, e.g. family dynasties, etc. and an appeal to God’s will, e.g. Divine Right of Kings. The problem with kings or queens is some of them aren’t particularly bright or well-suited to rule. With the establishment of a functional and well-organized parliamentary system, rulers became accountable no longer to something abstract like a good but to something concrete like the law. No one was above the law any longer.  Not even the king.

Since President Donald Trump assumed the presidency this past January, he has been an executive order writing machine. The executive branch of the United States Federal government has been gradually growing in power since the end of World War II. Although federalists like John Adams and George Washington believed in the need for a strong central government, it is unlikely that they would have approved of any president governing essentially by decree; however, these revolutionary brothers occupied a simpler time when factionalism was only beginning in the new republic known as the United States. In 2017, and with the Congress and American polity so divided, it has become more and more common for presidents to govern less by consent and more by fiat.

The Americans do not have parliamentary democracy; rather, they utilize a republican system that nonetheless possesses certain qualities in common with a parliamentary system, e.g. there are three branches (legislative, executive, judiciary), the government governs on the basis of the rule of law, and the law (and separation of the various branches) ensures no single branch oversteps its power. On January 27th, President Trump signed an executive order effectively banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries traveling to the United States. A federal judge, however, took issue with the constitutionality of Trump’s order and blocked it. Specifically, the judge argued the executive order violated the “establishment clause” of the Constitution (1783). The argument, so far as I understand it, is that the Federal government could not show preferential treatment for Christians seeking asylum over Muslims. The United States, despite assertions to the contrary, is not a “Christian” nation but a “secular” one in which Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. are allowed the freedom of worship and equally secure under the law. President Trump argued the courts had failed the United States. In reality the courts (or judiciary) worked precisely how they’re supposed to by preventing the executive branch from overstepping its authority, i.e. when you become president you don’t become “king of the world”. Your powers are limited (and wisely so).

* * * * *

As early as the 17th Century, democratic ideas like equality and liberty had grown in popularity and acceptance among the peoples of the Old and New Worlds. The Age of Reason (also called the Enlightenment) placed into doubt the wisdom of blindly accepting the authority of either the Church or the Crown. The Enlightenment created a fertile environment for philosophers and politicians to dissent and criticize traditional authority; and with every passing year in France of the 18th century, it became harder and harder for a tiny aristocracy to justify its lavish lifestyle while tens of millions of farmers, laborers, artisans and merchants, etc. all tried to eke out an existence.

Across the Channel in England (1685), King James II attempted to make himself something of an absolute monarch. He believed in and appealed to others to believe in the Doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings. According to this superstition, God had made James II king; therefore, if the people wanted to obey God then they would have to obey James. The middle and upper classes of England were not convinced (and disliked the trend of absolute monarchs appearing on the Continent). During the Glorious Revolution (1688), the English people rose up overthrowing James II.  James’ successor was his nephew William of Orange (later known as William III).

King William III accepted the Westminster System of parliamentary democracy when he acknowledged the supremacy of the English Constitution (Bill of Rights (1689)).  Instead of an absolute monarchy, England established the world’s first constitutional monarchy.  Responsible government had arrived as the king could no longer suspend laws, levy taxes, make royal appointments, or maintain a standing army during peacetime without Parliament’s permission. The King was effectively limited by the law. According to the Westminster System, parliament was divided into an upper house representing the aristocracy (House of Lords) and a lower house representing the merchant class and basically everybody else (House of Commons). The wisdom behind the division is obvious: each house represented the interests of their particular class and new laws (taxes) would have to be approved by both houses (ensuring no clique or segment of society could unilaterally rule the nation). This meant that in theory no one segment in society would have more power than another. For a new law to be passed it had to be demonstrated that it was reasonable, fair and did not violate the Constitution. Gone were the days when the king made up the rules as they went along. Arrived now were the days of responsible government whereby the king and Parliament were held accountable for their actions or inaction.

* * * * *

Canadians living in British North America rightly believed England’s political institutions to be some of the most “enlightened” on Earth; however, the colonies of British North America had the misfortune of inheriting not the Westminster but a colonial system of government with the passage of the Constitution Act (1791). The Constitution Act actually increased rather than decreased the power and privilege of the aristocratic and business elite in the Canada, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The power of the colonial government was so complete that the governor of Lower Canada could be said to possess more power than even the English king exercised in Westminster. The fundamental reason responsible government was not established in Canada was to prevent another American-style revolution. Westminster reasoned that America had rebelled because it had been given too much freedom; therefore, the logical response (to the English at least) was a reduction of freedoms, a turning back of the clock so to speak to less “progressive” times.

Absolute power was therefore given to the aristocracy of Upper (Family Compact) and Lower Canada (Chateau Clique). The reason the British chose to side with the aristocracy was because they were predictable: they could always be counted on to pursue their own self-interest at the expense of the greater population. (Not much has changed to be honest.) To the British Government the elite were “our kind of guys” (so to speak). The masses, unlike the aristocracy, were supposedly incapable of being reasoned with. They had to be controlled. Members of the upper classes argued the poor simply didn’t know what was good for them. Whenever any segment of society possesses privileges not enjoyed by all a condition of class struggle exists; and Canadians in the 1830s no less than the English (1688), Americans (1776) or French (1789) before them desired liberty and responsible government.  Politicians like Louis Joseph Papineau, William Lyon Mackenzie and Joseph Howe, though differing in their means, all wanted the same thing: they wanted the citizens of British North America to enjoy the self-same democratic rights enjoyed by the people of England itself.

In every society (regardless of the century), there is an ongoing struggle between two classes of people: there are those that “have,” e.g. aristocrats, priests, wealthy businessmen, etc. and those that “have not,” e.g. serfs, slaves, plebeians, and industrial workers. The 19th century political philosopher and economist Karl Marx called this condition a class struggle. To him class struggle was a permanent state of affairs; it could only be destroyed by destroying class itself. Further still, Marx argued it was natural for the upper class to try to maintain its privileges. After all, if you were rich, wouldn’t you seek to maintain your standard of living? And it was just as understandable for the lower classes to want to improve their own material and legal situation. Marx argued that the workers and laborers would one day rise up, cast off their chains, and overthrow the ruling class. He further argued that the working class (whom he called the Proletariat) would establish an ideal society where class no longer existed.  Marx of course was completely wrong. There were Marxist or communist revolutions in the 19th and 20th centuries; however, a new ruling class always emerged following each revolution that was successful, e.g. the Bolsheviks formed the basis of an economic elite in the Soviet Union while the inaptly named Communist Party (in contemporary fascist) China likewise forms the basis of an elite.

The colonial system in British North America established through the passing of the Constitution Act (1791) was by its very nature unfair; that is, it placed all the decision-making power into the hands of the few (oligarchy) while completely ignoring the needs of the many. For example, the common person had the privilege of paying taxes but no say on how those taxes might be spent. In such a situation, it was inevitable that the lower classes would regard violence as preferable to the status-quo. The rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada (1837-38) were a catalyst for such change. The rebellions woke the British up to the fact that maintaining “peace, order, and good government” in Canada did not depend upon building an alliance with the wealthy elite. Instead, good government depended upon the reverse: establishing relevant democratic political institutions that empowered everyone—regardless of class—giving everyone a voice in their own government. The English learned this very same lesson in the 1600s when they removed a would-be absolute monarch in James II.  For some reason the British lacked the foresight to apply the same wisdom to the American colonies in the 1770s or its Canadian possessions in the 1830s.

Society, when governed by laws, runs smoothly; it might be counter-intuitive to people in positions of great power but laws are supposed to be inconvenient; they’re supposed to be limiting, i.e. we cannot rely upon the good character or judgement of men or women occupying positions of influence. Instead, we rely upon a combination of a leader’s prerogative while balancing their decisions against constitutional standards of what is lawful and what is not. While I doubt President Trump is much of a student of history (especially legal history), I suspect he learned a valuable lesson when he attempted to push the ill-advised executive order banning Muslims from traveling to the United States through. Specifically, he is not the “boss” of the United States; he’s the “president” and there things he can do and things, constitutionally speaking, he cannot do.

Podcast Episode 19: America like…WTF?

In episode 19, the Hooligans discuss the significance and meaning of Donald Trump’s recent (and surprising) victory in the American presidential election. The cast considers the impact of Trump’s stated policies for Canada, the United States, and how the controversial figure’s rise in the United States is increasing popular support for ultra-right wing political parties in Western Europe (a trend not seen since the 1920s).

Episode 19: America like…WTF?

Click on the hyperlink above to download and listen to the podcast. Feel free to leave a comment or question in the comments section below. One of the cast members will respond.

Thanks in advance for listening and check back regularly for updates to the site and podcast. Also, if you like what you hear please follow us on Word Press to receive notifications on when the blog or podcast is updated.

Notes & Clarifications
1). On the night of the election, Mark Halpern (one of the hosts of Showtime’s Circus) was interviewed on Stephen Colbert’s Election Night Special on November 8th.  Halpern is one of the managing editors of Bloomberg Politics and a senior political analyst for MSNBC. He and co-host John Heilemann followed both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Halpern argued that Trump’s election was one of the three most disastrous events to befall the United States, e.g. World War II, 9/11 and of course November 9th, 2016.

2). On November 8th Donald Trump won the presidency by winning the electoral college; however, for what it’s worth Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, e.g. As of November 11th Clinton had received 60,467,245 votes (or 47.7%) while Trump received 60,071,650 (47.4%).

Source: http://www.ibtimes.com/latest-popular-vote-results-2016-hillary-clinton-has-almost-400000-more-votes-winner-2445216

Three other candidates won the electoral college but received less of the popular vote, e.g. Clinton had more than Trump (2016), Al Gore had more than George W. Bush (2000), Grover Cleveland received more support than Benjamin Harrison (1888), and Samuel Tilden received more than Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876.

3). Rick made reference to John Cruickshank during the show. Cruickshank is a former contributor to the Toronto Globe and Mail who, during a recent interview on CBC’s The Investigators, discussed the reasons why media’s predictions were wrong. Also, Cruickshank provided some interesting insight as to the significance of Trump’s unexpected victory. Specifically he said the campaign was covered “as if it were a plebiscite on the character of Donald Trump, but it wasn’t, really. It had a lot more to do with the fact that for almost all of the American population, they haven’t had a raise in 40 years.” You can watch the interview by clicking on the link below:

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/americans-vote-out-media-1.3846307

4). During the show Rick made reference to the stagnation of African-American wages since the 1960s, i.e. as a cohort this group actually made more money in the middle of the 20th century than they do in 2016. The site linked below presents information from a report published in 1965 called “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.”

Source: http://yourblackworld.net/2013/03/02/the-black-family-is-worse-off-today-than-in-the-1960s-report-shows/

5). There are a series of important elections coming in Europe in 2016 and 2017. The election of Donald Trump, and specifically the way he won, has emboldened and increased support for right-wing political parties in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Belgium and Italy. The BBC article linked below provides a context for understanding the paradigm shift currently taking place in Western Europe.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36150807

6). During the podcast, Rick couldn’t recall the name of President John F. Kennedy gave to his administration’s time in office. Kennedy called it the “New Frontier.” Kennedy pursued a domestic policy which carried on with liberal social reforms enacted under the President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. In terms of foreign policy, Kennedy encouraged Americans to make a difference in the world by joining the recently formed Peace Corps and to land a man on the moon before the Russians (during the so-called Space Race).

Three Girls & A Guy American Election Night Facebook Chat

Read as the cast shares the contents of their Facebook chat conversation on the night of the election.

Jessica Clare: So who’s watching coverage already?

Angelea Marie: Championships from the weekend are archived on wftda so I’m watching roller derby Lol.

Richard James III: I am following. Early lead for Trump

Jessica Clare: I’m doing periodic check ins. I know some people who are following close already and they’ve already got intense anxiety. For mental health reasons I’m for real not following intently till latr

Richard James III: Trump says if he doesn’t win ‘it was all a waste of time; quite selfish of him to say that because he should be proud to represent the needs of his supporters. The election is not about him.

Shooting at California polling station: 1 dead, 3 hurt.

Angelea Marie: Omfg…

Richard James III: I tht Kodos and Kang promised there would be no need for a blood bath…

Angelea Marie: The States is F*****.

Richard James III: Well Canadians killed one another at poll stations…in the 1830s

Angelea Marie: Get with the times America.

Richard James III: Clinton 68, Trump 57

Texas will make things interesting

Jessica Clare: It’s terrifying even that he’s leading at this point. Even if he doesn’t win his strength right now signals some scary stuff. Saw the shooting article :holy s***.

Richard James III: White men are being challenged

It isn’t just political correctness and Academia–it is control of power structures

Jessica Clare: Yep.

Richard James III: Working class though. The wealthy do not care about economic displacement (they have benefitted from globalization).

Angelea Marie: It is terrifying. Makes me not wanna go to Disneyland in May.

Jessica Clare: I’m just trying to pretend it’s not actually possible for him to win. Like, I want to believe the muse of fate just wouldn’t allow it

Richard James III: To be honest though I can appreciate the desperation of this segment of American society, ie. this segment has been struggling with secondary effects of economic dislocation more than any other (specifically suicide rates of white men much higher than any other demographic since 2008).

The frustration is palpable

Jessica Clare: And frankly I think their frustration leads naturally to Trump over Clinton. I wouldn’t feel like she’d alleviate the situation in their place.

If that makes sense. Sorry, my brain is seriously sleep-deprived right now 😳

Richard James III: If she becomes president she will be confronted with some existential and paradigm issues akin to what FDR faced in the 1930s depression era (crisis of capitalism and democracy)

Jessica Clare: Oh whatever happens tonight the madness doesn’t end tonight. If she gets in she’s in for a fucking rough term

Richard James III: Well the drama certainly won’t end tonight. I am concerned for the safety of both candidates to be honest

Jessica Clare: Did you read about Trump saying he’ll demand a recount if he doesn’t win?

Richard James III: Yes but only under certain conditions

Angelea Marie: Yeah I heard about that. What a poor loser. And that’s who the republicans have chosen to represent them.

Richard James III: Specifically, if the electoral college numbers are close he will try to challenge the result; if there is a clear victory he will accept the result

Jessica Clare: Oh okay that’s more reasonable than I assumed

Richard James III: That’s the thing, really, is we are often guilty of believing (unqualified) our assumptions about our opponent. So it makes intuitive sense just to assume Trump is going to be an ass about things.

Jessica Clare: To be fair, even if it’s technically a logical misstep…it’s not like he hasn’t set a precedent of whiny petulant behaviour. You’re right though, assumptions are a huge part of what’s made this election so caustic.

Richard James III: Totally understand

I guess though a person can be ‘whiny’ one time and ‘reasonable’ the next.

We shall see I guess.

What are the numbers at now? I am watching Oilers playing Pittsburgh.

Jessica Clare: Haha I suppose they can! And 125 trump to 97 Clinton. He’s halfway home

Richard James III: What ‘big’ state did he get…Texas?

Angelea Marie: That’s just sickening. Ugh.

Richard James III: It is democracy heh.

Jessica Clare: Yep. Texas.

Richard James III: That is no surprise

Jessica Clare: NERP.

Richard James III: This gets interesting once Florida is decided.

Angelea Marie: Need Florida to win, I hear.

Richard James III: Yes and Ohio, Pennsylvania too or equivalents.

Jessica Clare: T 125 C 104. Closing the gap a bit. God this is gonna be a tight race.

Richard James III: There’s a certain part of me that wants to see Trump win.

Angelea Marie: Yeah the sadistic part.

Richard James III: The reptilian part of my brain, the limbic system.

Angelea Marie:

😜

Richard James III: When I was a kid I remember helping my dad build a porch.

He asked me for a hammer while he was kneeling over.

I grabbed the hammer and this thought popped in my head, ‘I want to hit him on the head.’

I wasn’t mad….it just sort of appeared out of nowhere—that is the limbic system.

You all have experiences like that at all….?

Angelea Marie: Yes I’ve had random weird thoughts like that before.

Richard James III: For instance….

Angelea Marie: Oh you want an example? I don’t have one off the top of my head but I remember it happening to me as a kid and hoping it didn’t mean I was a psycho Lol.

Sometimes my brain wanders off to “what if” tragic events – like someone driving into me with my kids in the car. Then I indulge myself in imagining what I’d do to someone if my kids got hurt.

Richard James III: ‘Indulge.” Hehheheh.

Angelea Marie: Lol it is an indulgence. It’s an acknowledgment of that animal side that all humans have. Logically, I know it doesn’t make it okay to hurt someone else because they’ve hurt me.

Richard James III: Human nature is funny. We are both beautiful and terrible at the same time.

Angelea Marie:

Two sides to the same coin.

Richard James III

god_larson

Angelea Marie: A jar of krill Lol. That’s a good comic.

Richard James III: THAT is an awesome comic strip.

Jessica Clare: Oh man step away for supper come back to very compelling thoughts on the limbic system and one of my all time favourite comics.

Richard James III: We aim to please. He won Virginia. Protest votes in Virginia cost Clinton that state.

Jessica Clare: A lot of the time when I’m walking on bridges I have a weird urge I have to resist to jump off it–ABSOLUTELY NOT because of any emotional compulsion but because I always think I’d love to splash into the water below. And I have to like, rationally remind myself I wouldn’t like the trip down. That limbic too?

Jessica Clare: Yeah?

Richard James III: Yes i think so. I want to ‘go splash.’ Baha.

Jessica Clare: Yeah! It’s awful man:P

Angelea Marie: I think a lot of the trouble we humans get into is because we go “hmm I wonder what would happen if..?” or sometimes because we just skip that step altogether Lol.

Richard James III: I agree with you Lea. How have we managed to survive on this planet for 200,000/6,000 years?

Jessica Clare: Hahaha I think that’s entirely true.

Richard James III: The Peso was going up with Clinton’s early lead.

Angelea Marie: 200,000/6,000 😂😂😂

Richard James III: Now it is plummeting

Angelea Marie: Good observation Rick.

Jessica Clare: Haha oh good gravy.

Richard James III: Asian stocks tumbling.

Jessica Clare: Okay I’ve got a friend who’s anticipating riots if Trump doesn’t win. Thoughts?

Angelea Marie: Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Richard James III: Riots are possible with either side winning.

Angelea Marie: His supporters have already turned up with guns at the polls. I agree Rick.

Richard James III: I feel like Aragorn on top of the wall just before the Battle of Helm’s Deep breaks out…calm. Then one of you two let loose an arrow.

Jessica Clare: I’m trying to calm her down. I don’t see like a huge, united riot, like country wide. But there will be violent fallout I think for the next several weeks

Richard James III: And BAM the battle starts. It will be France in 2005 all over again.

Angelea Marie: It’ll be like Vancouver when we lose a hockey game…..

Richard James III: Or that.

Angelea Marie: A huge united riot would be akin to civil war and I don’t think ‘Murica is there yet. Close though.

Richard James III: I ran a survey election of my own. Clinton winning by quite abit. I think though someone voted 30 times.

Angelea Marie: Too bad the rest of the world can’t vote in this U.S. Election. Trump wouldn’t stand a chance.

Richard James III: I want Germans to have a vote.

Angelea Marie: Heck, let’s just get this New World Order happening already.

Richard James III: Don’t blame me. I voted for Kodos.

Jessica Clare: Bahaha this might be a step in this direction.

Richard James III:

kodos

Angelea Marie: Shiver me timbers.

Jessica Clare: Aww see now who could say NO to voting for that face?

Angelea Marie

😂

Richard James III: https://pandesite.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/elections-101-kang-and-kodos-on-clinton-and-trump/

I wrote this a month or so ago. I have had about 70 views (40 of them in the last three days).

Elections 101: Kang and Kodos on Clinton and Trump

Richard James III: Traffic coming to the site/podcast through Internet searches and not FB. Someone searched and found the site by entering the following search phrase, e.g. Kodos and Kang take me to Clinton!

Jessica Clare: Hahah that’s awesome.

Richard James III: Grrrr, found a typo. I got the election date wrong. Fixed that mofo. Gah I hate when I do that. You might find this encouraging: the same Republican surge took place early in the previous two elections but Obama was elected. My wife made this observation. She’s so smart: S-M-R-T.

Jessica Clare: *and she dances will the house goes up in flame * Clinton won new Mexico. I’m guessing that’s minority voters showing up

Richard James III: They clawed their way over the wall.

Just occurred to me: maybe Obama wasn’t the anti-Christ after all…

Jessica Clare: Bahaha it just occurred now he might not be? So…you thought he was before?

Richard James III: I am being tongue ‘n cheek. Republicans kept saying Obama was. I think, wouldn’t it be clever, if Satan aka the anti-Christ was brought in by the religious right? Aka Trump.

Angelea Marie: Isn’t that how it always works?

Richard James III: And I am being figurative.

Jessica Clare: Haha oh I gotcha, I was bugging yous

Richard James III: I do not believe in such a thing as anti-Christs. I am invoking a corollary of Jean Paul Sartre who said “hell is other people” and would observe now “Trump is other people therefore the anti-Christ.” Seems logical to me.

Jessica Clare: Haha it’s PERFECT logic.

Angelea Marie: Trump is a sweet potato in a wig.

Jessica Clare: BAHAHAHA I love that. Except for the fact I love sweet potatoes…

I do not love Trump.

Richard James III: Sweet potatoes are good for you.

Ergo, Trump is good for you.

Angelea Marie: He’s only useful in his true form – sweet potato. He won’t be of use to us as President.

Richard James III: Trump won in Ohio.

Jessica Clare: Haha I’m just picturing an actual sweet potato in the white house, giving out orders.

Richard James III: And over 200,000 third party votes in Florida. Prob cost Clinton the state.

Jessica Clare: But now I’m not laughing so much.

Richard James III: CBC Headline: Strong Trump showing so far has markets ‘increasingly worried.’

Angelea Marie: If we don’t have laughter, we’ll have nothing if Trump gets in.

Jessica Clare: God you know I sincerely didn’t even think of the economic ramifications. Like short term.

Angelea Marie: I didn’t either. I didn’t think ‘Murica was actually that stupid to let it happen.

Richard James III: Well, the worth of markets and currency are fundamentally tied to consumer confidence. So it makes sense they either go up or down based on perception.

That is the short-term.

Over the long-term if Trump plays around with various trade agreements we’ll see some global shifts in the economy which will quite possibly be painful to Canadians.

Canadians who supported the idea of a Trump presidency are pretty short-sighted, in that, if he raises those tariff walls he promised to raise then farmers, producers, etc. can kiss America good-bye as a market.

Want to know something interesting?

Jessica Clare: Always.

Richard James III: Thanks Obi Wan.

The erection of tariff walls preceded both world wars in the 20th century.

Sweet, huh? Protectionism. We have a serious case of historical amnesia.

Angelea Marie: Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Jessica Clare: Oh good lord we certainly do. And are.

I was reading today though apparently Trump opposes the TPP?

I didn’t have time to dig into the article properly but does that sound familiar?

Richard James III: I believe he does oppose it.

Yes. For good reason he opposes it largely because of the state-investor arbitration component I think.

Richard James III: This state-investor component gives corporations inordinate amounts of power in the countries they operate in, e.g. if a government passes laws to protect either labor or the environment and these laws hurt profit margins, for instance, a corporation can appeal to the TPP investor-state provision and actually sue a government.

This ostensibly means governments (nation states) do not actually have full sovereignty and power has shifted to these transnational companies. The state-investor arbitration disputes that do take place are largely overseen by the very lawyers who drafted them in the first place. Zero transparency. Quite shady really.

Jessica Clare: And so he opposes it on the grounds of…not wanting to give up that control to other nations big companies?

Richard James III: I should think so, yes. That’s why most people oppose it (or the educated).

The blue collar workers oppose it because agreements like the TPP do mean more jobs….just not in America.

Or Canada.

These agreements make it easier for jobs and factories and such to be moved to China, India, etc. In the 1990s when globalization was really coming into its own, national governments in America and Canada, etc. tied human rights, pensions, and such to allowing corporations to move to the Far East; however, over time those rights and pensions/benefits for Chinese workers are being ignored.

Apple is one of the worst violators, e.g. not giving workers pensions for creating their iCrap. This despite the fact workers are actually owed pensions by law/agreements. Those same workers are killing themselves due to terrible working conditions and exploitation. There are “suicide nets” installed on tall Apple factory buildings in Shanghai. It is a pretty messed up situation, really.

Richard James III: The only thing, in my honest opinion, keeping North America’s economy going is in fact deregulation and the extension of cheap credit.

We are meeting our material needs, and maintaining our standard of living, not through high paying jobs (those jobs in the manufacturing sector are largely gone) but through access to cheap credit. We are “pretending” in a sense that our economy is strong; it is not strong by many measures.

Richard James III:

clowns

Jessica Clare: And it’s amazing that that’s the case because we’ve already seen that facade collapse in recent history.

Richard James III: The 1920s.

This is regrettable, the Democrats losing, from an economic standpoint.

Clinton was on record saying she was going to bring back Glass-Steagall. This was the act FDR passed into law preventing stock brokers from being so free wheeling with the economy.

Bill Clinton repealed it back in the 1990s.

Wonder if Trump would re-introduce it….kinda doubt it.

Angelea Marie:

angelea

Richard James III: That a sweet potato?

Jessica Clare: Hahahaha that is MAGIC.

Angelea Marie: That is a sweet potato with Trump hair Lol.

Richard James III: How you find such an exquisite picture?

Angelea Marie: I made it Lol.

Richard James III: Heheheh. Thats a lot of effort. You and Alaine are meme creators.

Angelea Marie: It wasn’t too much effort. I’ve had a lot of practice with photoshop making derby posters and memes so I’m getting quicker.

Richard James III: You’ve found your calling.

Jess next time you come into town try to make time so we can get together for our “dinner” and a movie. *wink wink*

Angelea Marie: Lol I’m a Jill of all trades. Yes! That would be fun.

Look what I found at Value Village:

godnotgreat

Angelea Marie: it’s in my bathroom so all my guests can have something to read when they visit the can 😜😂

Angelea Marie:

mammoth

Richard James III: His autobiography is quite good. Hitchens. Not the mammoth’s.

Angelea Marie: They have a choice though, I’m not unreasonable. I’ll get around to my to-read list one day.. 😅

Richard James III: You read all the books I lent you yet?

Jessica Clare: Haha we’ll have to very expressly plan our “dinner and a movie” night. I’ll drive out for it, but it’ll have to be the main reason I’m driving.

Angelea Marie: *crickets*

Hence, I’ll get around to my to-read list one day.. 😳

Richard James III: Take care of my babies

Angelea Marie: They are on my bookshelf, scolding me daily for not having read them all yet.

Richard James III: 191 Clinton, 187 Chump.

Angelea Marie: Omfg.

Richard James III: Like little chicks

The books want their momma to puke/give them food. Feed them… Wow. On the news an African American pundit said something very powerful just now

Angelea Marie: Deets.

Richard James III: Trump’s support represents the last gasp of white supremacy in the United States.

Angelea Marie: I like it. Hopefully it cuts as close to the bone as it’s expressing.

Richard James III: Apparently Trump supporters believe Michelle Obama is a man. Hehe.

And the Obamas kidnapped their kids.

Duning-Kruger Effect much?

Angelea Marie: Brutal. People are stupid.

Jessica Clare: In fairness Michelle Obamas arms are friggin JACKED. They’re impressively and enviously masculine.

Richard James III: These are rumors being bandied about at Trump rallies.

Jessica Clare: Heh oh obviously! I’m just kidding around.

Richard James III: There are rumors Trump gropes beautiful women and….oh wait.

Angelea Marie: You should see my arms now, from working at the stables doing farm chores. It’s ridiculous!

Richard James III: Michelle Obama is a beautiful woman in every sense.

Angelea Marie: Class act.

Jessica Clare: Oh my god of course she is. She’s incredible.

Let’s be clear, I was totally kidding. I absolutely admire that woman. Beautiful inside and out.

Richard James III: No takie-backsies, Jess.

Jessica Clare: Now what scares me about that pundits comment is that this may be the “last grasps” of white supremacy….but it’s a tight grip now. Race relations are not going to calm in the states for a long time.

Richard James III: The Canada Immigration website just crashed apparently. Heheheh.

Jessica Clare: Hahaha oh my god it actually has.

Richard James III: No but the balance of power–in terms of demographics–is shifting inexorably in favor to non-whites or at least the historically marginalized.

Angelea Marie: No, it’ll take several years for this fall-out to settle. But the tide is definitely turning.

Richard James III: 2020. Next cycle.

Angelea Marie: White people aren’t going to calm their collective tits in a scant four years.

Richard James III: Dont need to. They won’t have the same bloc voting power is what I am saying.

Jessica Clare: Yeah I doubt they will…but in that time I suspect minority voters will activate more.

Richard James III: This will change the face of state legislatures and the fed.

Jessica Clare: Yeah? You thinking like district lines will get redrawn?

Richard James III: Gerrymandering?

I don’t know. I suspect so. The Supreme Court will become an obstructionist institution with a Trump presidency which means effective attempts at maintaining the status quo will be made.

Never understood why the Americans allowed their Judiciary to become affected by partisan politics; it should be politically neutral.

Jessica Clare: Oh absolutely it should….the extent of lobbyist influence in the entire system is mind-boggling.

10:26pm You named the conversation: P & E: Apocalypse 2016.

10:26pm You changed the conversation picture.

devilll

Richard James III: There are hundreds of lobbyists for every individual member of Congress.

Angelea Marie: Agreed. They need to start wearing suits like the NASCAR people.

Richard James III: Heh. I would support such a law.

Jessica Clare: Me too. Haha imagine it.

Nice group name change btw.

Richard James III: *curtsey*

curtsy even

Jessica Clare:

bluedress

Jessica Clare: Dat you

Richard James III: I embrace my femininity. But I would wear a blue dress. Blue is my color.

Jessica Clare: That is a blue dress!

Richard James III: The events of tonight remind me of a quote from Adolf Hitler. He hated democracy and observed why he hated it, i.e. winning elections was like moving a magnet over a dunghill to find what would stick.

Jessica Clare: Well it looks kinda periwinkle there…

Richard James III: That is a pink dress!

Jessica Clare: Are you colourblind?! Haha.

Richard James III: The magnet is the politician’s promise and whatever sticks to it are the pieces (voters) of dung which want those promises kept.

Periwinkle is not blue.

Jessica Clare: Jesus that’s a stark metaphor isn’t it?

And it’s closer to blue than pink, brah

Angelea Marie: It’s blue. Lol.

Richard James III: Actually periwinkle is part of the blue and violet family.

I am just as justified in saying it is purple-ish as you are saying it is blue.

Google it.

baha

Jessica Clare: Okay we’re totes say the same thing here re:colour.

Richard James III: Speak Engrish?

Jessica Clare: Haha my point is that dress ain’t pink.

Richard James III: Hey, wanna come to Japan?

*classic avoidance*

Jessica Clare: Bahaha umm maybe?

Richard James III: I am taking a group to Japan in July. I will stay away from Hiroshima though if Trump is president.

Someone get Alaine in here already.

Jessica Clare: Oh in July? Ain’t enough time to save for me. That’s a good idea though.

And right?? Is she still part of the group?

Richard James III: She doesn’t get notifications.

Jessica Clare: Ahhh so.

Richard James III: Washington went to Clinton (210), Iowa to Trump (228).

I am binge eating tonight with this whole election thing.

Jessica Clare: Oh yeah? What’s on the menu?

Richard James III: 5 pieces of pizza, bag of M and Ms, two cokes, box of cracker chips, and two bowls of mini wheats.

Jessica Clare: Holy monkeys you weren’t kidding!

Richard James III: to be fair I work out a lot so i need lotsa calories…but i could eat much better sources of energy to be sure.

Jessica Clare:

nomnomnom

Richard James III: hehehehe.

Jessica Clare: Haha hey man I ain’t judging. I do that sometimes and I definitely don’t work out like you:P

Richard James III: I ain’t judging.

Jessica Clare: I’m having chocolate tonight. And frankly I’m on the verge of regaining the classic “sqvishy radio announcer” body for a bit before I get used to early mornings again and can figure out an afternoon workout regimen of some kind.

So, may as well embrace it!

Jessica Clare:

chocolate

Richard James III: I wish you lived closer. We could be workout buddies every so often.

Jessica Clare: I would love that.

Richard James III: I am quite liking learning how to fight. Best cardio workouts ever and super low impact compared to running a 23 km Spartan Beast race up and down a mountain.

My toe nails are still black from the race I ran in early August.

I have to admit I am really disappointed but perhaps not surprised by this election.

This election was not a plebiscite on principles (“What kind of America do we want?”) but a mandate for Trump on job creation. Economics seems to “trump” everything–especially when the economy isn’t doing all that well for a significant segment of the American population.

Richard James III: Kind of an interesting development, really. Even white people on the left are changing patterns abit. They’re joining movements like Occupy and the people who typically belong to these protest movements against power–the poor, people of color–are now joined by economically dislocated whites who were born into the middle class but who cannot really expect to have the same standard of living as their parents given prevailing economic realities.

Richard James III: Here’s a curious thought: what kind of relationship will a Republican dominated Congress have with Trump? He isn’t really a Republican, not really.

Jessica Clare: That might be the thing I’m most interested to watch in the next while. Trump has consistently flaunted convention through his campaign. How far will he try to push the “conventions” (legalities) of the role of president? And how will other party members, legislators, congress etc react, and will they be able to reel him in to keep him operating within the legal confines of his role?

Richard James III: He cannot rule by fiat. The Constitution was designed to prevent such a thing from happening by incorporating checks and balances. The Senate provides a powerful counter-balance to the office of the president.

He’ll need to be able to build consensus. Curious if he’s capable of such a thing.

Jessica Clare: Exactly the question. I imagine he’ll try to avoid those checks and balances at least on occasion. I don’t think he considers himself a person who has to be responsible to anyone

Richard James III: He can’t “skip” or “avoid” them.

If America was like Colombia, sure. He could do it. There’s enough corruption and complicity and virtually zero civic virtue in that country.

But not really possible in America. Too many people genuinely love and believe in democracy (despite the lobbies).

I am confident the American government can survive a man with as big an ego as Trump.

Jessica Clare: I also am confident. I’ve been saying for some time I take comfort in thinking that if trump wins (and I’m going to bed soon thinking he’s got it), then it won’t be long before he’s in trouble, possibly facing impeachment for trying to skirt the system and getting called on it.

Richard James III: Getting into trouble.

Yeah, his temperament tends to mean trouble or controversy finds him.

Jessica Clare: Oh but he has the best temperament remember? 😛

Anyway I hate to say it but I’m outta gas. Gotta call it a night sadly

Richard James III: Okay, Gnite. I’ll man the wall. Natha daga thia!

Jessica Clare: And we may die as one of them whether we want to or not.

Richard James III: G’nite, Aragorn.

Errr, Legolas.

Oh wait, I’m Legolas.

Jessica Clare: Haha goodnight elf-man

Richard James III: Nite, home girl.

Angelea Marie: Missed quite a bit while I was getting things done around the house and ready for tomorrow! And alas, I too must call it a night.

Richard James III: Alas, fair thee well. I am the late night warrior.

Angelea Marie: Greet thee on the morn, late night warrior. Guard thy post.

Richard James III: I shalt to the death….or until sleep takes me…waiting on the final, final result.

I want to go to bed having truly earned my nightmares.

Angelea Marie: Lol then fight to the bitter end!

Richard James III: Anon and anon. Take thy face hence, you egg.

Angelea Marie

😂 good night, chicken leg.

Richard James III:

wine

Alaine Berjian:

alaine

Alaine Berjian: Ummm I went to bed at seven and I woke up to this.

Wtf guys 😭

Richard James III: Alaine!

The world ended.

Alaine Berjian: I’m super sick and this isn’t making me feel any better.

Richard James III: Step 1 to survive the next 24 hours

Alaine Berjian: Oh no!

Richard James III: 1). You need a young priest and an old priest.

2). Team up with people who are slower than you or bruise easily.

Alaine Berjian: Why??

Richard James III: The world ended. Trump won.

I am dying here and want to go to bed but want to know the final results.

Schadenfreude

Alaine Berjian: We don’t know yet. The dead people haven’t voted yet!!!

Richard James III: Good point. They’re an overlooked segment of the American polity. What did Trump promise them?

Alaine Berjian: There’s still a shred of hope that I’m going to cling to 😱

Richard James III: I think the keyword there is “shred”-ed.

Well I am heading to bed, Alaine. Watch the wall for me.

Alaine Berjian: Lmao will do

“And so my watch begins….”

12:18am

Richard James III: baha. night.

___________________________________________________

The conversation picks up again early the next day.

Jessica Clare: Welp, friends, it’s been a slice. I look forward to riding out the end of days with you.

Richard James III: Remember that podcast we shot on what we would do if the end was coming….? I’ma come visit you all one at a time.

Jessica Clare: Haha deal.

Angelea Marie: Guess we get to watch America burn.

Richard James III: Heh. It won’t be all that bad.

There will be some awesome meme creation over the next four years.

Jessica Clare: Heh. This is true.

You hear he’s been congratulated by Putin?

Haha that’s a great sign 😛

Richard James III: Alaine made an appearance last night btw.

*points at the corpse*

Episode 16: Why You Should Support Trump

Peasants & Emperors is a podcast presenting topics related to democracy, science, culture, women’s issues, current events and critical thinking. A new podcast is produced and available for listening/download approximately every two weeks.

In episode 16, the Hooligans welcome their first guest speaker (Lane S. who is a statistician based in Kansas) to the podcast. Rick and Jess hoped Lane might be able to shed some light on why so many people support Trump. Lane argues Trump’s candidacy is more or less a reaction of Middle-America to decades of graft and corruption in Washington, D.C. Whatever side of the political spectrum you reside on, you’ll find some of the things Lane has to say revealing to say the least.

Episode 16: Why You Should Support Trump

Click on the hyperlink above to download and listen to the podcast. Feel free to leave a comment or question in the comments section below. One of the cast members will respond.

Thanks in advance for listening and check back regularly for updates to the site and podcast. Also, if you like what you hear please follow us on Word Press to receive notifications on when the blog or podcast is updated.

Notes & Clarifications
1). In the podcast, Lane asserted 94 million Americans are currently not looking for work. This would be an extraordinary number of unemployed people considering the population of the United States is approximately 320 million. The figure above (94 million unemployed) is used by Donald Trump. According to the Bureau of Labor, approximately 92 to 93 million Americans aged 16 to infinity were not participating in the labor force as of July 2015. This number needs to be unpacked, i.e. it includes a number of people not actively looking for work (17.5 million retired Americans 65 or older). The number likewise includes high school, graduate and professional school students. Also, it includes people with disabilities, stay at home parents, and every adult attending school full-time. The official number of unemployed Americans is 8.3 million (but according to Political Fact, a watch-dog website, depending upon the criteria you use the number of unemployed could be as high as 21 million). So a more realistic number might well be somewhere between 8.3  to 21 million unemployed.

2). Lane observed 68,000 crimes had been perpetrated in Texas alone by illegal immigrants in Texas since Obama was elected in 2008. According to Political Fact figure is accurate (and depending upon how you interpret some of the statistics) and might be more or less an understatement of the problem facing the American judicial system by illegals.

3). Rick claimed that 7 out of every 10 jobs created in any modern economy are technology related. He was unable to find the source where he came across this information. He did recall learning this statistic while completing his education degree back in the 1990s. Nonetheless, listeners are counselled to take this stat with a grain of salt until a source can be found affirming it.

4). Lane observed he had some problems with free trade but no problems really with “fair” trade. This led to a discussion of some examples of “unfair” trade which has resulted from free trade agreements. Specifically, the topic of Apple Corporation’s exploitation of cheap Chinese labor in Shang-hai came up. Follow this link to a discussion on Apple’s problematic alliance with the Chinese government. Ultimately, when you purchase Apple products you are directly contributing to the misery of tens of thousands of workers in China.

5). During the podcast, Rick couldn’t remember the name of the legal instrument used by corporations to sue national governments. This tool is called an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Every major free trade agreement, e.g. NAFTA, etc. has an ISDS clause empowering corporations to sue national governments whenever a government’s policies or laws might threaten shareholder profits. Critics of ISDS have raised concerns about its unpredictability, how it contributes to a lack of transparency, and the apparent lack of impartiality on the part of arbitrators; that is, the same lawyers who craft the agreements also preside as judges (arbitrators) during conflict resolution.

6). Lane referred to an apocryphal story of Donald Trump helping a married couple out by paying hospital bills, mortgage, etc. for helping him with some car troubles. The story is fictional and has made the rounds in different forms with different celebrities helping the couple. A similar story has circulated about stars like Vin Diesel or Will Ferrell moving to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to escape the hurly-burly of Los Angeles. Click here to see the Snope’s fact check page on this story.

7). Rick mis-spoke when he said nuclear deterrence has worked for six years. He meant to say six decades.

8). Rick couldn’t remember the location of one Al Qaida led terror attack on an American embassy from a country starting with the letter “t” (that country was Tanzania and it took place in 1998).

9). Lane mentioned an attack on the American embassy in Iran in 1973. He meant to say an attack came during the 1979 Iranian uprising.

Part 1: Donald Trump: The Problem of Relying on Men Instead of Principles
Part 2: Donald Trump: Why Reasonable People Vote for Him
Part 3: Donald Trump: Where’s It All Heading
Trump Makes Promises He Can’t Keep
Podcast (audio): Why You Should Vote for Trump

Elections 101: Kang and Kodos on Clinton and Trump

The year is 1996 and it’s an election year: aliens have kidnapped presidential hopefuls Bob Dole (Republican) and Bill Clinton (Democrat). Aliens Kang and Kodos take on the human forms of the candidates and run for the presidency themselves; these tentacled creatures have not come in peace but to take advantage of America’s two-party system where voters have no choice but to vote for either the Democratic or Republican party in the upcoming election. Yet, before the coup d’état is complete, Homer Simpson arrives in a stolen UFO smashing into the Capitol building. Homer reveals to the crowd they’ve been duped into supporting alien overlords. With their cover blown, Kang and Kodos abandon their human forms revealing themselves as hideous, single-eyed, green, tentacled monsters. The conspiracy uncovered, the aliens don’t attempt to escape. Instead, they confidently communicate to a crowd of spectators that they have no choice but to vote for either Kodos or Kang. After all, America has a two-party system and it’s too late to select new candidates; also, the aliens caution the crowd from being so foolish as to throw away their vote by supporting a third-party candidate like Ross Perot.

Art imitates life or, in the case of the Simpson’s, satirizes it. Clinton and Trump’s approval ratings are about the same as Kang’s and Kodos’. Clinton like Kang before her is viewed as an untrustworthy opportunist seeking the presidency out of personal ambition as opposed to a desire to serve. The insomniac Trump, just like Kodos, is believed lacking in the intelligence, judgement or the temperament required to be president; and as was the case with the voters in 1996 the electorate in 2016 are a free people captive to an unresponsive two-party system where the only option available is to choose between the lesser of two evils.

This November 8thAmericans head to the polls to elect the 45th president in what many regard as the most important election in generations; it is important because America is stuck with a dysfunctional two-party political system offering voters little hope for meaningful change. There are third party candidates and parties yet these alternatives aren’t really options at all: the Green Party’s Jill Stein has little understanding of economics; she believes quantitative easing is the appropriate tool to pay for social programs or free university, etc. She has zero appreciation for the negative effects of pursuing such a dangerous fiscal policy in the long-term; then there’s the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson who an American friend of mine aptly describes as an “asshat.” Johnson is essentially a stoned Donald Trump—he is chill, likes to “partake,” and doesn’t know much about anything in particular. So, the Americans limp towards the next election like lame ducks.

Political theorists argue two-party systems are actually supposed to prevent parties from becoming too polarized—the competition for popular support (at least in principle) keeps party policy somewhere in the middle. This clearly is not happening in America. The dysfunction in the Congress we’ve seen over (at least) the last eight years and the lack of civility when it comes dialogue in the public sphere, e.g. conservatives labeling progressives as not “true Americans” and liberals accusing conservatives of being a bunch of Luddite racists, etc. take us anywhere except along a middle course. You could not have a more divided polity right now.

Since I’m lacking any direct experience with the American system, I asked Kang and Kodos if they would answer some questions I have about the two-party system, the Electoral College, and the overall significance of the 2016 election.

trio

Rick: Kang you obviously did your homework before attempting to take the presidency in 1996. You were the Republican nominee. Kang was the Democratic nominee. Has there only ever been two political parties in the history of the United States?

Kang: glad to be here. I trust there will be no need for a bloodbath. To answer your question there have been plenty of other political parties. They just come and go. For example, there were the Federalists (1790-1820), National Republicans (1825-1833), Whigs (1833-1854) and Democratic-Republicans (1800-1820s).

Rick: Kodos how long have the Republicans and Democrats been the only real options available to Americans?

Kodos: why do you recoil so? My culture has learnt all it can from human anal probing. Rest assured you have nothing to fear from me. Kang, well, that is another story. Since 1852 only candidates from either the Republican or Democrat parties have placed first or second in a presidential election. There was one exception: in 1912 Theodore Roosevelt ran as a Progressive third-party candidate. He came in second to the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.

Rick: I took a gander at the Constitution (1787) and there’s nothing in there saying American has to have a two-party system. This is just a convention that developed over time. Kang why did the two-party system develop in the first place?

Kang: [polishing his anal probe] some of your human balding white political scientists argue two-party systems are the natural result of using a winner-takes-all voting system.

Rick: [looking around for all the available exits] some of my readers might not know what this winner-takes-all voting system is. Could you explain further?

Kang: [drooling] why yes, most certainly. In such a system, the candidate receiving the most votes compared to the others wins the district. You don’t need to win a majority or receive 50% plus one of the votes. You win by just getting more votes than the person in second place. Candidates who come in third, fourth, etc. don’t matter whatsoever. The winner could receive as little as 15% of the votes assuming the second place finisher received 14% and so on and so forth.

Rick: a person can win an election by receiving so little of the popular vote?

Kang:  baha, oh my. The main problem with winner-takes-all is there’s a real chance the wishes of the majority of voters in any given electoral district are not reflected at all in the final results.

Rick: what system do you use on Rigel 5?

Kodos: [interjecting] we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.

Rick: yes…

Kodos: but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting.

Rick: yes, I see.

Kodos: by a simple majority, in the case of purely internal affairs.

Rick: yes, yes, I see.

Kodos: But by a two-thirds majority, in the case of more major—

Rick: let’s bring our attention back to earth shall we? There is one genuine alternative to winner-takes-all. This is called the proportional representation system like Australia uses.

Kang: Australia an interesting place. We avoid probing its animal life: everything there seems to want to kill you.

Rick: could you describe the proportional representation system used in Australia…?

Kang: in the proportional system if 25% of the electorate vote for one political party then that party receives one-quarter of the seats available in the legislature. All parties receive a proportion of seats in the legislature based on how well they performed in the last election. But proportional representation isn’t possible when a country is divided into single-member districts like in Canada or the United States. In Canada you call these districts “ridings” I believe. Speaking of ridings: Kodos and I were in Sydney just the other day and we overheard a conversation between an Aussie and an American. The American asked the Australian if all Aussies rode kangaroos. Then the Australian responded by asking the Yank if all Americans rode fat people.

Kodos: I don’t get it.

Rick: lost in the idiom I suppose. So to be clear in a single-member situation each district can only send one representative to the legislature?

Kodos: yes, yes. And this makes it all but certain that third party candidates and parties, and the people who support them, are not represented in either the Congress or your fancy-smancy Parliament.

Rick: there are exceptions though. Sometimes third party candidates or independents win elections.

Kang: [unibrow moving up and down] yes, but it is as rare as a redneck who doesn’t like a good probing.

Rick: I think since 1939 of the 535 people elected to the Congress only two have been independents. The most noteworthy independent to win is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Kodos: feel the burn.

Kang: au contraire, feel the probe.

Rick: okay, turning our attention to the presidential election and the Electoral College. Which one of you can explain this best for our readers?

Kodos: I think I’m a little more well-rounded than Kang.

Kang: we’re both round.

Rick: Kodos how about you explain?

Kodos: [puts thesaurus down] interestingly, there are 50 states in America. With the exception of two states—Nebraska and Maine—every state has a specific number of electors. Some states have more than others. The strange thing, and this is coming from someone from Rigel 5, is when someone votes in a presidential election they aren’t really voting directly for the president.

Rick: could you elaborate? What do you mean voters don’t vote directly for the president?

Kodos: let’s ignore Jill Stein of the Green Party and the Libertarian Gary Johnson for the moment. Let’s say there are only two candidates on the ticket—one a Democrat and the other a Republican—people can vote for. You cast your vote on election day, November 8th.

Rick: it would’ve been hilarious if the election took place on the 5th of November…

Kodos: I’m not sure what you mean.

Rick: sorry. Keep explaining.

Kodos: California has a total of 55 electors. Following the results of the election all of the electors by convention pledge to support either the Republican or Democratic candidate.

Rick: all?

Kodos: all of California’s electoral votes go to the winner of the state-wide election, even if the margin of victory is only 50.1% to 49.9%. All of the votes go to the winner.

Rick: so if, let’s say, Donald Trump receives 60% of votes from California he receives all 55 electors. Clinton doesn’t receive 40% of the electors.

Kodos: no. This is a winner-takes-all approach. [Puts thesaurus down, again] There’s no room for nuance.

Kang: [proud of himself] this winner-takes-all approach contributes to a situation where voters choose between the lesser of two evils. Whoever wins 270 of the available 538 electoral votes becomes president.

Rick: so the election is decided by electoral votes and not the popular vote?

Kang & Kodos: that is correct.

Kang: [punches Kodos on the shoulder]—Jinx! You owe me a soda!

Rick: this is what happened during the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Bush received less of the popular vote than Gore while Bush received the majority of the electoral votes. Bush won because he carried states which had proportionately more electoral votes. This seems odd that in a democracy someone could become president without actually receiving the greater proportion of the popular vote.

Kodos: the system was designed to [makes air quote gesture with tentacles] mitigate the problems with giving the American People themselves too much decision-making power.

Kang: this is true. We did the same thing on our planet. There’s a strong tradition dating all the way back to Adams and Hamilton in the early days of the Republic where the elite of your country feared what they called a mobocracy or the [makes air quote gesture] rule by the mob. Electors make sure democracy doesn’t get too democratic.

Rick: what if neither candidate receives 270 of the electors? What happens then?

Kodos: in that case according to the 12th Amendment of the Constitution the House of Representatives determines the next president.

Rick: you know for a couple of aliens you know quite a bit about political systems. Thanks guys.

Kang: it was our pleasure.

Kodos: I would run if I were you.

The leading theory why countries with genuinely free elections evolve into two-party states is called Duverger’s Law. This law, one of the few established in the field of political science, states that two parties are a natural result of a winner-take-all voting system. In principle the winner-take-all system is supposed to keep the parties running for election in the middle when it comes to platforms and values. However, theories are only as good as the most recent data. The law was formulated a long time ago and the data has definitely changed.

When the French political scientist Maurice Duverger first began articulating this “law” in his essays in the 1950s, the political situation was very different then in the United States compared to now. Specifically, the political left and progressivism (social reform) had been on the ascendant in the United States since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushed through his “New Deal” through a combination of compromise and executive orders during the 1930s.

Since the Great Depression, and even before the Stock Market Crash in 1929, a significant proportion of the American polity actually distrusted capitalists. This is one of the reasons why otherwise reasonable people supported more radical political movements like the American fascist and communist parties in the 1930s. Through the New Deal, the United States developed into one of the more socially responsible and responsive societies in the world (a process reaching its nadir during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon in the 1970s).

After Nixon the political right began a concerted effort to deregulate the economy, deregulate ecological oversight, deregulate social services, increase military spending, and sell the American public the idea that socialist policies (or regulating anything) was some sort of social evil or anti-American. The naked pursuit of wealth and defeating the Soviets during the Cold War was all that mattered. In the intervening decades, from the 1970s to the present, governments at the behest of conservative politicians and corporations clawed back social programs; conservatives gained more and more control of both state and federal level government. This corporate influence reached its apogee in America with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010. This court decision removed any limits on how much a corporation/billionaire could spend to support a particular candidate running for political office. This decision benefited both Democrats and Republicans; and it also compromised the independence of the Congress. The members of the House of Representatives and the Senate pay back billionaires for their support through the granting of political favors. This is why Donald Trump is correct when he observes the “system is rigged.”

The political system is rigged making this presidential election an important one: the two parties are so clearly bought and paid for, and the decision-making process so clearly partisan, the American electorate is willing to support anyone (even a man as unsuitable to lead as Donald Trump) to change things up. Both Trump and Sanders offered alternatives to the status-quo. Regrettably, Sanders never had a chance to win the nomination for the Democrats because of in-party intrigues; and equally regrettable is the fact Hillary Clinton, if she wins the presidency, will likely be nothing more than a caretaker president.  Considering the alternative—like Trump becoming the leader of the Free World—the best outcome in the short-term is to support Clinton and the status-quo. There have been third party choices—Libertarians Ross Period (1996) and Ralph Nader (2000)—but at the end of the day people vote for the major party candidates. So don’t expect much from either Johnson or Stein in 2016.

Americans appear to like a divided government, e.g. in 38 of the last 60 years presidents have had to work with legislatures controlled by the opposing party. If this is the case, then it is likely Clinton will be declared the 45th president of the United States. Yet, the emergence of the Tea Party movement, the recent importance placed on populist leaders like Obama, Sanders, and Trump, etc. seems to point to a future where people are more interested in grass roots, anti-systemic movements. The Democrats and Republicans will have to change things up significantly if they want to avoid a challenge to their traditional influence (like Sanders and Trump presented).

If you thought the 2016 election was historic, or even just a little volatile, just wait for 2020. If nothing significant changes in the intervening years, and if the economy happens to go into another major recession (which is being predicted by many economists based on the new financial instruments introduced by Wall Street using risky car loans), the 2020 election will be a hell storm by comparison. People will look back at 2015-2016 with fondness saying “those were the good ol’ days. Where’s the anal probe at?”

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might be interested in related stories or podcasts. Explore the list below:

Part 1: Donald Trump: The Problem of Relying on Men Instead of Principles
Part 2: Donald Trump: Why Reasonable People Vote for Him
Part 3: Donald Trump: Where’s It All Heading
Elections 101: Kang and Kodos on Clinton and Trump
Trump Makes Promises He Can’t Keep
Podcast (audio): Why You Should Vote for Trump