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Hibernation

I’ve been publishing Political Irony since May 2008, during the run up to the election of Barack Obama as president. I started this blog for several reasons.

Primary was my frustration with the US political situation under George W Bush (my wife and I moved to New Zealand for almost 5 months when he was re-elected after lying us into a terrible war). I knew I had to do something for the 2008 election or risk regretting my inaction for the rest of my life. In addition to the blog, I volunteered for the Obama campaign (even got to shake his hand) and did other political work.

A secondary reason was that I make my living programming computers, which I’ve been doing since I was a child. I had started several companies, so I had done some marketing for technical products, but I was really curious how one goes about marketing a popular blog. And the best way for me to learn is to do.

And finally, I’ve always believed that people tend to live up (or down) to other’s expectations of them. I’m a friend of Ward Cunningham (I often have lunch with him), who invented the wiki. This was in the age where the term “internet troll” became popular. Who would have thought that crowdsourcing entire websites would result in anything better than screams and obscenity, but somehow most wikis survived and even prospered. Why?

At the time, most political websites were inundated with insulting and obscene comments, so websites in general were cracking down on viewer participation; at worst turning off comments, but even at best requiring people to log in and prove who they are. I was determined to allow people to leave comments anonymously, and without providing their email address or other personal information. I even ran the blog under a pseudonym “iron knee” (a pun on “irony”), as a way to reinforce the point that it is the ideas that are important, not who they come from. I worked hard to establish a culture of respect for other people’s opinions, and intolerance of personal attacks. And it worked.

During the almost 10 years I have been running this blog, I have only needed to delete a small handful of comments. In most cases, other readers let flaming newcomers know that they were welcome to join in the conversation but not welcome to attack others. Some people whose first comments on PI were outright flames have evolved into thoughtful readers whose insights have changed my opinions about things. I am grateful for them having the courage to stick around a generally progressive website, and pleased that they felt comfortable expressing their opinions here.

So why am I posting this? What’s my point?

Several things have happened pretty much at the same time. The first one you have probably noticed. I’ve been working at Google for over three years now, and my new role is keeping me very busy. I love my job, and I want to spend more time on it. I just got back from a trip where I spent almost 6 weeks giving a dozen talks in 7 countries. It was fantastic but exhausting, and I had almost no time to post in PI.

Second, I have come to the conclusion that blogs (including mine) that are giving Donald Trump all the attention he so clearly craves are only making the political situation worse. I find myself getting tired of reading about him, let alone posting articles about him. I wanted to try to post articles that were only about political things other than Trump, but he is very good at sucking the air out of every situation. It may be that he purposely wants to exhaust his opposition, so I am embarrassed that he seems to have succeeded in accomplishing that with me.

Two more things just happened, and I think they are the straws that broke the camel’s back. First, I got a notice from my hosting provider that (once again) my website has been hacked into. This used to happen from time to time, and always took quite a bit of work to clean up after and to take measures so it would not happen again. And secondly I got a notice from Google (how ironic) that PI seems to be something of a click-bait site, so they turned off my ads. I don’t know if this is because of being hacked into again, or if it is just that companies like Google and Facebook are trying to crack down on all the propaganda and misinformation they are hosting or supporting, and are a bit overzealous just now. I can appeal to them but that too would take time. Besides, the payoff from my one ad a page was barely covering my hosting fees and isn’t worth fighting for.

What am I going to do? I don’t know. I have announced in the past that I was shutting down the blog, only to find later (soon later in some cases) the time to resurrect PI. But for now I really want to focus on work, and I really want to ignore US politics for a while. It was quite wonderful to be out of the US for over a month and not hear the latest stupid thing or daily outrageous lies from our president.

Of course, things change, and I may have more spare time and more inclination to do something about US politics in the future, so I reserve the right to jump on this again. Just not now.

In case you are curious, the project I am working on at Google is called Flutter. It is a new platform for building mobile apps. You can read about it on flutter.io.

Meanwhile, I will leave the site up (but might disable comments for a while, depending on what got hacked), so you can always find links to most of my sources. I encourage everyone to read Electoral Vote to keep up with things (I just wish they allowed comments).

And in case this is good-bye, I really want to thank all of my readers, even the ones who never commented. And thank everyone who commented and challenged me, and made me think. I never expected to do this past the 2008 election, but you have made it all worthwhile.

Gratefully,
Wm Leler (aka, Iron Knee)

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Niger = Benghazi?

One of the few things we know about what happened in Niger a few weeks ago is that four American soldiers died. We don’t know why those soldiers were there, what mistakes were made that led to their deaths, why one body was left behind (requiring it to be retrieved). We also don’t know why Donald Trump remained completely silent about the deaths for almost two weeks, and didn’t send any condolences, despite the fact that the White House staff had them prepared and ready to send.

Doesn’t this sound like there is a cover-up going on? Even a fellow Republican and chairman of the Senate armed services committee, John McCain, doesn’t think the administration is being up front about the attack.

So what’s the difference between this and the Benghazi attack, where four Americans also died, and there were accusations of a cover-up (but only from the opposing party)? As far as I can tell, the only difference is that there were 33 separate congressional hearings and 7 full investigations into the Benghazi attacks. Doesn’t Niger deserve any similar scrutiny?

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Doing the Time Warp Again!


© Tom Tomorrow

Everything is speeding up so fast that in the near future, everything might happen at the same time!

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Wow!

SNL doesn’t pull any punches!

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Morality


© Steve Kelly

How much bad news can we take? Either caused by man or nature?

Meanwhile, I had hope that we had heard the last from Michele Bachmann when she lost her seat in Congress, but then Donald Trump decided to become the first sitting president in history to talk at the Values Voter Summit (a meeting hosted by the Family Research Council, a designated hate group).

Bachmann decided it was time to inform everyone that our president, who has never been religious in the least and seems to be trying to violate as many of the 10 commandments as he can, is a “committed believer” of Jesus Christ and a “man of faith”. How does she know this? Because vice president Mike Pence told her.

But apparently Bachman isn’t the most nutso person at the summit. Another attendee claimed “If there were twitter then, [Jesus] would have used it in a similar way, I think.” I guess he thinks that Jesus would have been tweeting about how Puerto Rico deserves having their island destroyed by a hurricane. Or that NFL players should be fired for “disrespecting our flag”. Or threaten to nuke North Korea. You know, all those things that come to mind when someone asks “what would Jesus do”.

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Counter-Earth!


© Ruben Bolling

This comic is brilliant. I just hope he does more like it.

For example, how Republicans are repeatedly and desperately looking for election fraud for which there is absolutely no evidence of existence in order to make it much harder for poor people and students to vote.

At the same time ignoring the evidence of the trivial ease at which electronic voting machines can be hacked. Or even worse, ignoring the large amount of evidence that voter roles were actually hacked into (including by Russia) for some nefarious purpose. You know, like canceling the voter registrations of thousands of people in key voting districts in order to throw an election.

I wonder how they handle this over on counter-earth?

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Disrespect

[from Margaret and Helen]

Margaret, last week six football players knelt during the national anthem. This week it was 200. And just like Colin Kaepernick, they weren’t making a statement about the flag. I swear this president is so stupid, he couldn’t find his ass if both hands were in his back pockets.

Lord help me, but I’ve taken a knee and I don’t want to get up. Maybe I can’t get up. I’m not sure which. Three and a half million American citizens are in crisis in Puerto Rico, North Korea is threatening Armageddon, Russia used Facebook to influence our elections, Nazis are running over young women, Congress wants to take healthcare away from poor people… and our president has nothing better to do except name calling to get a cheer at his Klan rally.

As the widow of a veteran, I have no issue with any player taking a knee to protest during the national anthem. He has every bit as much right to do that as Donald Trump had to say that McCain wasn’t a war hero because he had been captured. Protecting that right is what my husband and McCain fought for. And all those Trump supporters calling for a football boycott lost their moral high ground when they put that man in the Oval Office.

A black football player peacefully protests well-documented inequalities that exist within our legal system and a bunch of crackers in Alabama cheer when the President calls him a son-of a-bitch. Are we really surprised? After all, those same hillbillies had no problem when the President called a bunch of protesting Nazis fine people. If we should be outraged about anything, it’s that we have a President who seems to be more comfortable in a white hood than the White House.

The “sons-of-bitches” in question were protesting social inequalities. The fact that Trump and his supporters equate that to protesting America is telling if you ask me. But what is even more telling is how Trump insults the players’ mothers rather than the player.

You know what’s really disrespectful to the American Flag and the men and women who fought to defend it? The Confederate flag. I mean it. Really.

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Material


© Tom Tomorrow

According to the Fact Checker at the Washington Post, Donald Trump has made 1,318 false or misleading claims over 263 days. How’s that for material?

I don’t think I could lie that much even if I tried. Really hard.

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The Nuclear Option


© Ruben Bolling

Leave it to America. In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, when the news came out that the shooter had used “bump-stock” devices to turn semi-automatic rifles into effectively automatic weapons (like assault weapons), how did America respond? By buying more bump-stocks. Sales of these devices has spiked, and in some cases even selling out.

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Mother of all Storms!


© Ruben Bolling

Batten down the hatches! Run for cover! The denialists won’t be denied! Raining and flooding will just cause them to flood the airwaves. Not to mention sticking their heads in the ground, which will probably be full of water. Will they drown in their own pronouncements? Or will they weather the storm?

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Alternative Facts


© Tom Tomorrow

And the best part is that you don’t even have to wear them. You can get the same effect from TV or the internet if you look at the right things (and when we say right, we mean right wing!).

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More Problems!


© Jen Sorensen

Trump supporters say they hate immigrants, but they only hate immigrant workers. They seem to be blind to immigrant companies, such as multinational corporations. Even US companies (including those owned by our president) are outsourcing jobs by the truckload, not to mention entire industries. But while the right wants to deport immigrant workers, they are fine with giving immigrant corporations tax breaks. I wonder if any of them have figured out that their beloved Fox News is owned by immigrant Rupert Murdoch.

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No Problemo!

Republicans claim to be the party of self reliance and personal responsibility. But they don’t hesitate to blame any problems on someone else. They even blame their problems on children.

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Fake Weather?

There is an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about the right-wing media.

You know how the right (including Donald Trump) have been claiming that climate change is “fake news”. Now that the US is being battered by severe storms, fed by increased ocean temperatures, they might have some ‘splaining” to do, but they are just doubling down on their claims.

Rush Limbaugh is claiming that the media is purposely trying to make the storms sound worse than they really are, in an effort to push their liberal agenda. Limbaugh says:

you have people in all of these government areas who believe man is causing climate change, and they’re hellbent on proving it, they’re hellbent on demonstrating it, they’re hellbent on persuading people of it. … hurricanes are always forecast to hit major population centers because, after all, major population centers is where the major damage will take place and where we can demonstrate that these things are getting bigger and they’re getting more frequent and they’re getting worse — all because of climate change.

Limbaugh also says that local media exaggerate the danger from storms in order to get advertising dollars from local stores. The stores benefit as people stock up with storm supplies like water and batteries.

Infowars founder Alex Jones takes it one step further. He claims that the government actually manipulates the weather. Just last week Jones was talking about Hurricane Harvey battering Texas, and was questioning why the government didn’t “use the technologies to kill [the storm] out in the gulf.” Jones’s contention is that the government — or, more precisely, the “deep state,” now that Trump is president — uses its “weather weapon” to stoke fear of climate change and promote a liberal agenda.

Meanwhile, Limbaugh, who lives in Palm Beach, is evacuating. But what happens to the suckers who listen to him and Jones and don’t take these storms seriously?

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Late Night Political Humor

Last night President Trump said of his critics, “I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment. And I live in the White House, too.” Then someone handed Trump a fidget spinner and he quieted right down. – Conan O’Brien

Last night President Trump spoke at a rally in Arizona and really fired up his supporters. He opened his speech by saying, “Our movement is a movement built on love.” In other words, he started with his best joke. – Conan O’Brien

In her new book, Hillary Clinton calls Donald Trump a “creep” who “made her skin crawl.” When he heard, Trump smiled and said, “I still got it.” – Conan O’Brien

At yesterday’s Trump rally, the crowd was chanting “CNN Sucks!” And man, you do not want to hear what they had to say about the Science Channel. – Conan O’Brien

It is being reported that President Trump is no longer speaking to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Upon hearing this, Melania went to McConnell and said, “Teach me, Master.” – Conan O’Brien

In Saudi Arabia, a 14-year-old boy was detained for dancing to the Macarena. You know, I don’t say this often but I’m going to side with the Saudi government on this one. – Conan O’Brien

Some parents in California are mad that a kindergarten teacher read their kids a book about transgenderism. It was the Dr. Seuss classic, “Cat in the Hat Who Identifies as a Dog.” – Conan O’Brien

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