Aftermath (Part 11): It took six years…

Aftermath (Part 11): It took six years…

That’s how long ago I wrote this article:

It’s all right there, if you want to see…

And here we are. Let me take you on a brief stroll through the last 16 days. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 11): It took six years…”

Eighteen years later, I will fly no flag…

On this day, I will not wave my credentials as an American.

Why? Because I am angry and ashamed of what we have become.

Continue reading “Eighteen years later, I will fly no flag…”

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

When you were a kid, did you ever read Dr. Seuss’ book The Sneetches and Other Stories? You know the one I’m talking about. Continue reading “Connecting the Dots, Part 8…”

Aftermath (Part 6): The Enemy of the Good…

Aftermath (Part 6): The Enemy of the Good…

It all starts and ends with this:

Politico: Johnstown Never Believed Trump Would Help. They Still Love Him Anyway.

This is what we face. Not just voter obstruction, but a total divorce from reality. The end of our federal government as we have known it, and maybe the end of the US as an entity. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 6): The Enemy of the Good…”

Aftermath (Part 3): People will NOT SEE this coming…

Aftermath (Part 3): People will NOT SEE this coming…

So, just last week, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump himself admitted it was because of Comey’s investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 US Presidential election. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 3): People will NOT SEE this coming…”

Goodbye, Amazon: A cancellation story in seven PDFs and a phone call…

Goodbye, Amazon: A cancellation story in seven PDFs and a phone call…

“Hey, Amazon.com!”

Sorry, but you don’t get to market HATE objects to me or my kids. I’ll be sorry to see Woot and IMDB go, and Prime was useful for a while there, but it’s time to part company.

(Click the following “exhibits” to see PDFs of the objects in question, and their “suggested” additional items. I’m not going to provide them with free advertising.)

Amazon.com Exhibit A

Amazon.com Exhibit B

Amazon.com Exhibit C

Disgusting?

Yes, but nowhere near as disgusted as I am with the customer service trap Amazon sets for customers who really, truly want to leave.

Seriously.

The last time I had this much trouble canceling an account was way, way back in the dark ages when I had an AOL account for all of 10 minutes. It took almost an hour to cancel the account after I realized it wasn’t going to serve my purposes, like, ever.

See, there’s this rabbit hole called “Help” that’s supposed to answer all your questions. Just for grins, go to this link and type in the word “close” and then type in “cancel” and see what you get.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=nav_cs_help

Notice how many different ways people have asked the question?

There’s a reason.

Now, click through this link and then click the link that actually says About Closing Your Account.

Lots of scare tactics, right? But do you see, anywhere, a place where you can actually close your account?

No?

Good. You’re not blind. It doesn’t exist.

And when you do go down that rabbit hole, here’s where it eventually leads here:

[AMAZON LOGO]
Your Account Amazon.com
Message From Customer Service
Hello,

I want to make sure that closing your Amazon.com account won’t cause problems with any open transactions or other websites you might visit.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

— If you use your Amazon.com log-in on other sites (e.g. Audible.com, international Amazon sites (co.uk/.fr/.de/.es/.ca/.in/.au/.com.br/.nl/.com.mx) except for Amazon.cn and Amazon.co.jp, etc.), you’ll also lose access to those accounts.
— If you’ve placed orders on AmazonLocal, you’ll no longer have access to your vouchers.
— Any open orders you have will be canceled.
— All subscriptions will be canceled (Amazon Prime, Subscribe and Save, etc.).
— If you have a remaining Amazon.com Gift Card or promotional credit balance, you won’t have access to use the funds.
— Returns and refunds can’t be processed for orders on closed accounts.
— You won’t be able to initiate Textbook Rental returns and will remain responsible for outstanding rentals.
— You won’t be able to access digital content (Kindle, Amazon Video, Amazon Appstore, Digital Music, etc.).
— You won’t be able to re-download content from your Games & Software Library.
— Your Amazon Payments account will be closed and can’t be reopened.
— We can’t transfer the history of an account to another account.
–We will delete your customer profile as well as all your reviews, discussion posts and customer images.
— You’ll no longer have access to your Associates, Amazon Web Services, Seller, Author Central, Kindle Direct Publishing and/or Mechanical Turk accounts.
— If you have an Amazon Web Services account, please contact AWS customer support for assistance with closing your AWS account :
https://aws-portal.amazon.com/gp/aws/html-forms-controller/contactus/aws-account…

If you still want to close your Amazon.com account after reviewing the items above, please write back by visiting this link and state that you want to close your account:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/rsvp/rsvp-mi.html?q=acc1

I hope this helps. We look forward to hearing from you.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

[snipped]

Best regards,
[clueless git]
Did I solve your problem?
Yes No
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.*
Thank you.
Amazon.com

[*Emphasis mine. –CT]

About Closing Your Account (Amazon.com Exhibit D)

Contact Us (Amazon.com Exhibit E)

What can we help you with? (Amazon.com Exhibit F)

More Information, Please (Amazon.com Exhibit G)

Nowhere. Not on any of the previous screens, not in the email I received after.

They simply do not provide an exit.

It took me a phone call to the supervisor of the first level and a solid 45 minutes to get across to these people that there was no additional activity and that closing the account immediately was the only thing that would satisfy my desire to disengage.

And this is what I disengaged from, when I finally got what I wanted.

THE AMAZON LIST
————

6pm
Score deals on fashion brands

AbeBooks
Rare Books & Textbooks

ACX
Audiobook Publishing Made Easy

Alexa
Actionable Analytics for the Web

Amazon Business
Everything For Your Business

AmazonFresh
Groceries & More Right To Your Door

AmazonGlobal
Ship Orders Internationally

Home Services
Handpicked Pros Happiness Guarantee

Amazon Inspire
Free Digital Educational Resources

Amazon Rapids
Fun stories for kids on the go

Amazon Video Direct
Video Distribution Made Easy

Amazon Web Services
Scalable Cloud Computing Services

Audible
Download Audio Books

BeautyBar . com
Prestige Beauty Delivered

Book Depository
Books With Free Delivery Worldwide

Casa . com
Kitchen, Storage & Everything Home

ComiXology
Thousands of Digital Comics

CreateSpace
Indie Print Publishing Made Easy

Diapers . com
Everything But The Baby

DPReview
Digital Photography

East Dane
Designer Men’s Fashion

Fabric
Sewing, Quilting & Knitting

Goodreads
Book reviews & recommendations

IMDb
Movies, TV & Celebrities

Junglee . com
Shop Online in India

Kindle Direct Publishing
Indie Digital Publishing Made Easy

Prime Now
FREE 2-Hour Delivery on Everyday Items

Prime Photos
Unlimited Photo Storage Free With Prime

Shopbop
Designer Fashion Brands

Soap.com
Health, Beauty & Home Essentials

TenMarks . com
Math Activities for Kids & Schools

Wag.com
Everything For Your Pet

Warehouse Deals
Open-Box Discounts

Whispercast
Discover & Distribute Digital Content

Woot!
Deals and Shenanigans

Yoyo.com
A Happy Place To Shop For Toys

Zappos
Shoes & Clothing

Welcome to the company store. Amazon covers just about everything you could possibly need, filtered through their myopic lenses. And what they don’t have, Wal*Mart does. I wonder whether we will get to the point when we are only paid in Amazon credits or Wal*Mart credits, while real money becomes a thing of the past for the average worker.

I’ve had direct connections to the things above that are italicized. It’s annoying, but I’ll get over it.

 

Your mileage may vary. I’m done and I don’t regret the choice.

Hyperbole…

Hyperbole…

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Hyperbole(ˈ/haɪˈpɜːrbəli/; Greek: ὑπερβολή, huperbolḗ, from ὑπέρ (hupér, “above”) + βάλλω (bállō, “I throw”)) is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. In rhetoric, it is also sometimes known as auxesis (lit. “growth”). In poetry and oratory, it emphasizes, evokes strong feelings, and creates strong impressions. As a figure of speech, it is usually not meant to be taken literally.[1][2]

We are doomed as a society, as long as people use this word to blow off potentially valid views of politics.

Certainly, hyperbole is overused today. Back in November 2015, The New York Times published Jessica Bennett’s article in its Fashion and Style section: OMG! The Hyperbole of Internet-Speak. There’s a lot to be said for her points on the effect of hyperbole on current society and social media. After all, what is hype but a shortened form of the original word, and a sort of nugget of the true meaning in every clickbait article ever posted on Facebook.

The word is used most often today in sports and politics, and nobody embodies the core concept like Donald Trump.

I went searching for articles tonight, determined to pull the first ten that actually related to the US election, and the results are below. Interestingly enough, I’ve been shut down a lot in conversations because the the people to whom I was talking decided I employed too much hyperbole, that my predictions were too unbelievable and over the top.

Still think that today?

The Guardian: ‘This is not hyperbole’: Rick Perry says Hillary Clinton jeopardizes gun rights

Paste: Beyond the Hyperbole: What Really Happened at the Nevada State Convention

AP Fact Check: AP Fact Check: Trump Uses ‘Truthful Hyperbole’

The New York Times Magazine: How ‘Everything’ Became the Highest Form of Praise

Fox News: Delegates in hand, Trump says he’s got GOP nomination

Florida Politics: Michael Richardson: When Truth Is The Loser

New York Daily News: Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are huge liars, so let’s stop pretending we really value honesty

Chicago Sun Times Opinion: Friday Letters: Beware false equivalence between Clinton, Trump

Every single one of these articles promotes either the hyperbolic communication from Trump or the reactions to the election in general. False equivalency, indeed.

Earlier today I compared the issues with Hillary Clinton and those of Trump to an ant hill and Mt. Everest. She’s friendly with Wall Street. He’s Hitler.

Six months ago, my comments were considered outrageous.

Now? Well, just look at the articles above and you’ll see that I’m not so outrageous after all.

The documentation I’m building for this election cycle is disturbing to say the least. Looking not at the percentages, or at the final outcomes, but at the raw votes in 2000 and 1992 as well as 2008 and now, I’ve got a documented theme. If the Democrats outnumbered the GOP in the primaries – in popular votes, not in percentages – they won the general. If the numbers were reversed, the opposite was the case.

Sometime between 2000 and 2008, there was a shift in the reporting of Primary statistics, and a dramatic jump in the number of voters who showed up at the polls. How much of this had to do with the genuine enthusiasm President Obama’s run for the White House against Senator (and former First Lady) Hillary Clinton I couldn’t say.

In the intervening eight years, the Supreme Court’s conservatives, led by Antonin Scalia, damaged the Voting Rights Act and enacted Citizens United, and the effect (which may or may not be considered causation in hindsight) is that the numbers have reversed themselves, and now the Republicans are up by some 4 million votes to date over the Democrats, but more like roughly 10 million over 2008, whereas the Democrats are down by over 6 million so far, and the chances are good that come November, we will have President Trump unless something changes.

I started documenting these numbers way back in the beginning of March (see: Connecting the Dots, Part 4) to prove my point. There’s no way to know if I’m right until we get to November, but based on an educated guess, and not in any way hyperbolic at all, I say the chances are excellent that we are witnessing the end of American Democracy as we know it, with this election.

After all, we’ve been fed the moral equivalent of the Colosseum in sports, on television, in our news, and online for so long, we can’t tell the difference between truth and Reality ™. And now we have a  Reality Star headed for the White House, unless someone can figure out a way to stop him. The eventual goal, installing an actual Big Brother to lead the country while the rest of us scrape by with what little we’ve accumulated, the biggest deception of all (that we have retirement in our futures because we have IRAs and Social Security), it’s all an enormous lie.

I want to believe that we still have a choice, but every day I see evidence that there are no choices left. I lie and tell myself it will be okay, even as I spend the time on Google looking for the avenue out of this country in the event my worst nightmare comes to pass.

The American Experiment is over. It had such promise. But just like Walt Disney World’s Carousel of Progress needed updating to bring it in line with reality and the future, we need to adjust our thinking and come to grips with what our reality will be in January, if Trump wins in November.

 

And another thing…

And another thing…

I’m going to riff off the post I made earlier on FB, because it summarizes the problem we’re facing today. If you already read my post, feel free to share it. I’m following on from my last post, Connecting the Dots, Part 4, where you’ll find the current stats for the 2016 Primaries and Caucuses. Continue reading “And another thing…”

What’s at stake…

What’s at stake…

Presidential elections are different from all the other elections we have in this country. If you aren’t familiar with the process, you’d better get familiar, and fast.

After Monday’s Iowa caucus, we have nothing but caucuses and primaries between now and summer, when the political parties get together for a week and then settle the question of which candidate(s) will represent their interests best. We’re done with pure speculation, though the media in general might think otherwise. Folks are finally exercising their right to vote. That is, as long as those rights haven’t been infringed.

While I could trot out all the ways in which campaigns smear candidates in service to proving their worth, I am only going to post two links and then I’m going to ask a lot of the questions I’m getting from Millennials on one hand and conservatives on the other.

With the demonizing of Muslims, backlash against African Americans and Central American refugees recast as “migrants,” Afghanistan, Iraq and (if the GOP get their way) Iran and Syria, we are in our own Wiemar Republic-style Liberal/Conservative war, bringing us to the Election of Exhaustion.

First, from Mother Jones: Here Come the Crazy Clinton Conspiracies of the 1990s

Second, from Amazon.com: The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

Now that I have those things out of the way, let me make my own position clear: I support Bernie Sanders in the Primaries, including my own in Maryland, where I am a registered Democrat. And I support the winner of the nomination when the Democrats select their candidate in late July this summer. It will be hot as hell in Philadelphia, and oh, so appropriate for the election this time.

So, before New Hampshire’s primary next week, let’s have that conversation.

How does the President win an election?

Every state does it differently when it comes to primaries. Some states, like Iowa, hold caucuses, others have elections. Some of these are open–meaning a voter can cross party lines–but most are closed. No matter how the candidate is selected, at the party convention, where the candidate gets the official nod, we discover the running mates (Vice Presidential candidates) and from then on, the campaigns are all about which candidates will win. But here’s the thing. If you think you’re voting for your candidate, you’re not. You’re voting to select the members of the Electoral College, who will THEN vote for your candidate, assuming they do the job they were sworn to do.

This artifact of the original founding fathers and the first Constitutional Convention in 1787 is destined for retirement eventually. Until that happens, you’d better understand what your vote actually does, or you’re likely to regret your choice, come November.

If I don’t like a candidate I can just write in my own choice, can’t I?

Well, no. It’s not that simple. Sorry. If your write-in candidate isn’t registered in the state that way, your vote goes into the trash. Nice try, but that’s not how it works.

What else am I voting for in November?

Members of the US Senate serve six-year terms and are elected in thirds. One third of the Senate is up for election each two year cycle. In 2016, from (http://www.periodicalpress.senate.gov/reelection-2016/) these senate seats are up for grabs:

DEMOCRATS   

Michael Bennet (Colorado)
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut)
Barbara Boxer (California) retiring in 2016
Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland) retiring in 2016
Patty Murray (Washington)
Harry Reid (Nevada) retiring in 2016  (may go Red)
Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Charles Schumer (New York)
Ron Wyden (Oregon)

REPUBLICANS

Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)  (may go Blue)
Roy Blunt (Missouri)
John Boozman (Arkansas)
Richard Burr (North Carolina)
Dan Coats (Indiana) retiring in 2016  (may go Blue)
Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
John Hoeven (North Dakota)
Johnny Isakson (Georgia)
Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)  (may go Blue)
Mark Kirk (Illinois)  (may go Blue)
James Lankford (Oklahoma)
Mike Lee (Utah)
John McCain (Arizona)
Jerry Moran (Kansas)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Rand Paul (Kentucky)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Marco Rubio (Florida)
Tim Scott (South Carolina)
Richard Shelby (Alabama)
John Thune (South Dakota)
Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)  (may go Blue)
David Vitter (Louisiana) retiring in 2016

To take back the majority, Democrats need to win five seats (four will only tie the GOP). A further ten seats are required to give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority. (We haven’t seen that in the Senate since 1976.)

The House of Representatives is selected during every even year election. If you wanted to, you could replace every one of your House representatives every two years. Democrats need 218 seats to gain a majority again, and that’s a total of 30 additional seats to take control back from the GOP. (Democrats presently hold only 188 seats.) http://www.270towin.com/2016-house-election/

The following seats are at risk (according to 270towin.com):

AK-AL  Don Young
1973 22th

AZ-01  Ann Kirkpatrick
2013 2nd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

AZ-02  Martha McSally
2015 1st

CA-07  Ami Bera
2013 2nd

CA-10  Jeff Denham
2011 3rd

CA-21  David Valadao
2013 2nd

CA-24  Lois Capps
1998 10th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

CA-25  Steve Knight
2015 1st

CA-49  Darrell Issa
2001 8th

CO-03  Scott Tipton
2011 3rd

CO-06  Mike Coffman
2009 4th

FL-07  John Mica
1993 12th

FL-13  David Jolly
2014 2nd

FL-18  Patrick Murphy
2013 2nd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

FL-26  Carlos Curbelo
2015 1st

IA-01  Rod Blum
2015 1st

IA-03  David Young
2015 1st

IL-10  Robert Dold
2015 1st

IL-12  Mike Bost
2015 1st

IN-02  Jackie Walorski
2013 2nd

IN-09  Todd Young
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

KS-03  Kevin Yoder
2011 3rd

ME-02  Bruce Poliquin
2015 1st

MI-01  Dan Benishek
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

MI-07  Tim Walberg
2011 3rd

MI-08  Mike Bishop
2015 1st

MN-02  John Kline
2003 7th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

MN-03  Erik Paulsen
2009 4th

MN-08  Rick Nolan
2013 2nd

MT-AL Ryan Zinke
2015 1st

NE-02 Brad Ashford
2015 1st

NH-01 Frank Guinta
2015 1st

NJ-05  Scott Garrett
2003 7th

NV-03  Joe Heck
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NV-04  Cresent Hardy
2015 1st

NY-01  Lee Zeldin
2015 1st

NY-03  Steve Israel
2001 8th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-19 Chris Gibson
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-21 Elise Stefanik
2015 1st

NY-22 Richard Hanna
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-23 Tom Reed
2010 4th

NY-24 John Katko
2015 1st

PA-08 Mike Fitzpatrick
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

PA-16 Joseph Pitts
1997 10th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

TX-23 Will Hurd
2015 1st

UT-04 Mia Love
2015 1st

VA-05 Robert Hurt
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

VA-10
Barbara Comstock
2015 1st

WI-08
Reid Ribble
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

Note: Court-ordered redistricting has led to many Florida and Virginia congressional districts being redrawn for the 2016 election. The map and Representative data on this page reflect the current district boundaries, which will remain in effect until the new Congress is seated in January, 2017. However, the election ratings in the table reflect the new boundaries, as these determine where people will vote in November.

Why should I care?

The Presidency is only one branch of government and the President doesn’t write law. He can ask for law to be enacted or, with strict limits, make executive decisions regarding legal interpretation, but it’s the House that writes the budget and only in cooperation with the Senate. If the House and Senate agree with the President and he sides with corporate interests (Oligarchy, Plutocracy), the people lose their rights to Democracy.

Theoretically, both the House and Senate should be providing laws that enhance or clarify the Constitution. In reality, there’s a wide margin of interpretation regarding what is and isn’t Constitutional, and a majority of law is now written to protect the wealthy and screw the poor and lower middle classes. And there is presently nothing to stop them from adding whatever riders (commonly known as “pork”) they want to bills that must pass, like the NDAA, which also pays our service members’ salaries.

So what? What does that mean to our current government?

Well, if the House and Senate disagree about what the President thinks will help the people of our country, they can stop legislation from reaching the President or, through a series of tacked on amendments, push through their own agenda by adding riders to bills that force the President to do things that aren’t in the best interests of the people. Without a majority on the side of the President, nothing gets done.

Some people are fine with that, but they’re generally not the ones who need help the most.

Well, if it’s not Constitutional, who fixes the problem?

Theoretically that’s where the third branch comes in. That’s the court system, led by the Supreme Court. And here’s the biggest problem we face today, in February, just as the 2016 election year gets underway.

Why is that a big deal?

The Supreme Court consists of nine lifetime appointments. It’s the Justice’s decision to retire if he or she doesn’t die in office first. While there is an impeachment process outlined, no Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached.

At present, the following justices are over the age of 67 (legal retirement age):

  • Clarence Thomas (age 67)
  • Stephen Breyer (age 77)
  • Anthony Kennedy (age 79)
  • Antonin Scalia (age 79)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 82)

Five Four of the nine eight are old enough to retire from ordinary service. Three of these are on the liberal side of the courts. And there is virtually no chance whatsoever that the next President won’t be required to appoint at least one new member. The general age range of new court justices appointed is 50-55. They tend to serve at least 20 years on the bench, but Scalia is was just 8 months shy of his 30th anniversary.*

While the President can appoint a justice, the Senate has to agree on the appointment. So chew on this: If the Senate retains their GOP majorities, but the President is a Democrat, approval will be difficult at best. If the GOP wins the presidency, and the Senate retains its majority, there is no chance whatsoever that the court will see another liberal appointment. Possibly ever.*

[Now that one of these is gone, how will it work in practice instead of theory? I can’t predict the future, but this might be the year the Senate suspends the summer recess.]

What else is going on?

Well, now that you mention it, there’s that little matter of a Constitutional Convention. Remember when I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago? Did you know we are somewhere between two and five states away from having enough states to call one? True. It only takes 34, and Texas’ declaration is the most recent. Imagine the Constitution without any of the amendments beyond the Bill of Rights. That’s 17 additional amendments some conservatives would dearly love to see abolished.

So what does all this mean?

It means that if you choose to throw your vote behind any candidate except the one that wins the Democratic nomination, you are voting for the GOP. And if that happens, and they get control of all three branches of government, this could be the last time you get to vote on anything. Imagine what this country would be like under President McCain or President Romney. Now imagine President Cruz. It’s not terribly far-fetched.

Considering what the court system has done to eliminate voting rights protection, women’s rights to health and work, fair wages and so much more, what are you prepared to risk, to support your passion?

[* Edited to fix inaccuracies regarding the approval process (2/15/2016), and to correct grammar (2/29/2016).]

 

Theme: Elation by Kaira.