“Trump, The Courts, and the World” in LTO Online

I wrote a little something on the legal implications of Trump's victory on Legal Tribune Online:

In a deeply riven America, the only point about which all Americans can agree is this: The election of Donald Trump is the most stupendous political event Americans have seen in our lifetimes. He is the first US President with no previous political or military experience. His campaign was run by a bare-bones staff and was ludicrously amateurish. The general verdict was that he lost all three debates with Hillary Clinton. He spouted a seemingly endless series of falsehoods, racist and sexist rhetoric, and offensive remarks, any one of which would have destroyed an ordinary candidate.

Yet these supposed flaws were simultaneously the key to his appeal. He came across as abrasive, decisive, direct, and rude – but genuine. Against Hillary Clinton's scripted, poll-tested soundbites, he offered tirades against the evils of the system which were as blunt as they were vague. Both his charisma and his policy positions motivated millions of less-educated white voters to switch their votes from Obama or to go to the polls for the first time, defying all forecasts. He also attracted surprising support from white voters with college degrees, and even outperformed Mitt Romney among blacks and Hispanic voters. Trump was also assisted by Clinton's safe, lackluster campaign, which sparked little enthusiasm and left her vote totals millions short of what Obama achieved.

I look at how Trump might affect the federal judiciary and how the courts might look at some of the foreign policies he says he supports. Go over and read the whole thing if you're interested.

Right now I'm working on a piece about how the US could be transformed into a multi-party system. It seems to me the process of shoehorning all the political tendencies in the US into two broad coalition parties is now causing more problems than it solves (i.e. by providing stability). But first, to catch up after a long election binge.

Election Open Thread

A few half-baked observations which I took over from Facebook. Consider this an open thread:

+ Trump is a venal, empty chiseler and narcissist, but other countries have elected cretins before and survived (I'm lookin' at you, Italy).

+ The fact that Trump said some rude things didn't matter. Both because his message overwhelmed them, and because ordinary people (1) say words like 'bitch', 'fuck', and 'pussy' all the time; and (2) find Hillary's pre-masticated euphemisms boring and condescending.

+ Most of Trump’s campaign bluster was just that. He won't be able to actually do those crazy things, and knows this. He lies to get what he wants, and that's what his campaign rhetoric was.

+ He will quickly get bored with the tedium of actual governance, and delegate. Much will depend on whom he picks.

+ To the extent that his election thrusts a big fuck you finger to smug, insular elites inside their self-congratulatory filter bubbles, it's a good thing. Those people could profit from a bracing lesson in humility.

+ Identity politics is a dead-end. It elevates race, gender, sexual orientation and other aspects of identity to virtues in and of themselves, and views everything reductively through that narrow lens. Once you open that Pandora's box, you realize that white people can do identity politics too. Hillary’s anti-Bernie speech in which she repeatedly pointed out that ‘breaking up the banks’ would not eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia (those modern heresies) etc. was a perfect example of this worldview. As we've just found out, this sort of posturing leaves a lot of people cold.

+ Trump has promised to reduce America’s needless military presence abroad and let other countries regulate their own affairs with minimal US interference. If he actually follows through on this, the results would be positive. Hillary's hawkishness would have been more dangerous than Trump's isolationism.

+ Trump doesn’t care about climate change, but then again that genie is out of the bottle and can’t be forced back in. The world is already getting warmer, and all the various climate accords would have done little to change this. Now’s the time to look into other solutions.

+ Everyone take a deep breath. The US will survive, the world will survive. There will be a referendum on Trump's first two years in 2018, and a chance to kick him out two years after that.

And who knows? Maybe he'll mature in office. Nah, that ain't gonna happen.

New York: The City That Never Cares

I'm visiting relatives in the USA and decided to make a stop in New York City, since that's usually a fun thing to do. After living in Europe for so long, seeing any New York airport is a reminder of just how shitty they are. America's public infrastructure really is crumbling. Three separate long lines at customs and passport control, which snaked far beyond the barriers and ended up haphazardly curling back and forth into the corners of the rooms. All the pens had been ripped away from their holders, so you couldn't use the tables to fill out the customs forms. 

No personnel to tell you where to line up. When you did encounter someone official, they usually spoke worse English than the foreign visitors. The luggage pickup displays directed us to the wrong carousel, where hundreds of people waited patiently as their luggage was delivered elsewhere. Since nobody was there to pick it up, the workers just stacked it into random piles. Most of the ceiling tiles were stained, some were missing.

The line for the cab was also 100 people long, snaking along a narrow concrete median with traffic on both sides. Since the area to line up for the cab was the same area for passenger pickup, you couldn't tell if people were in line for the cab or waiting for a car to pick them up. Tense confrontations resulted. Touts patrolled the cab line offering jacked-up rides to the inner city; nobody did anything about them. There was a strong stench of urine wafting along the line. A couple in front me of from Australia were chatting among themselves, incredulous that this malodorous, chaotic dump of an airport was the gateway to one of the world's great cities.

Finally got a cab after a 40-minute wait. The cab was falling apart, couldn't do over 50 miles per hour, and the driver had night vision problems which led him to constantly bleed into other drivers' lanes. He had no idea where the destination was and no GPS system. The Van Wyck Expressway has to be one of the ugliest roads I've ever seen. On each side is a pile of garbage and dead leaves, and the only barrier between it and the modest Queens neighborhoods on either side is a rusty chain-link fence. All the houses seemed to have burglar bars on all windows and doors.

The overall impression you get landing in New York is worse than in most developing countries I've been to. I am already looking forward to returning to Europe, where countries still at least try to make sure their public amenities are interesting, pleasant places to be.

An American in Berghain

Schlecky Silberstein stumbled upon this instant Internet classic — an American from San Antonio decides on the spur of the moment to visit legendary Berlin nightclub Berghain and, as his Yelp review indicates, is scarred for life. I'm putting it after the fold because, well, this is Berghain we're talking about. You've been warned.

Here's the text of the review, link to original below:

Please excuse the long review, but I'm going to share with you my experience at Berghain. I was in Berlin a couple weeks ago and I was sitting in my hotel bar. I started chatting with a couple guys from London. They seemed normal and told me they were getting ready to head to the worlds coolest night club. I figure it's Saturday night…what the hell. So I ask them if I can tag along. They said no problem. One of them informs me that I should probably change clothes because this place is hard to get into, but they had a connection. They recommended that I go change into black, simple clothes. No buttons on the shirts and no hoodies. They said if I had a black scarf, that would be awesome. Said the door guy loves scarves and black clothes. So I go change and come back down to the lobby. We hail a cab and are now off to this place called Berghain.

Upon arriving…I see this super long line that's leading into what looks like a commercial building of some sort. I'd liken it to a warehouse. It's not inviting at all. The guys from London tell me we are going to cut in line. While we are standing there looking for the spot to cut, I take out my phone to check Facebook. One of the London guys goes into a rage and starts cussing me out and grabs my phone. Yelling…"DON'T LOOK AT YOUR PHONE. DON'T USE IT!" "THEY WON'T LET US IN!"…Anyway…we get to the front of the line and there's this creepy looking, older guy with ear rings–face tats and spikes in his lips. Supposedly he's some type of guru in the club scene. He's a weird guy and yes he had a scarf on. He looks me up and down and then waves us in using his pinky…Now things are about to get really weird.

Once inside, the music is blasting too loud. You could feel it in your chest. I thought the bass was going to set my heart off rhythm. I tell the two guys from London…"Let's go get a beer!"…They look at me like I am crazy. They offer me these strange looking little pills and I pass. No drugs for me. They both pop them and then start making out! I'm not talking about a little kiss or a peck, I'm talking open-mouth, tongue kissing. It was very aggressive/disturbing kissing. I didn't even know these dudes were gay! I look around and there are 3 or 4 naked guys dancing all crazy with erections. I decide to go get a beer and I tell myself—maybe I'm in the wrong part of the club? Maybe this is the gay section. Nope. The whole club is the gay section!

On the way to grab a beer, I pass in disbelief, a bearded guy butt fucking the crap out of another bearded dude. You could smell feces and sweat. I take my eyes off of that situation and it only gets worse. There's another guy, and I kid you not…he's got his arm, almost to his elbow, up another guys ass! I thought it was a magic trick or an illusion. It WASN'T! The guy that's basically getting impaled is enjoying it! I saw one guy getting tag teamed (double penetration style) by 2 guys! I said to hell with this…I'm out of here! As I'm leaving, I remember that one of those Londoner's has my phone. So I need to go to find him.

Now there are naked guys everywhere! Sucking each other off. Fisting each other. There was one dude that was riding another guy (cowgirl style) and yelling "Balles Tief!" "Balles Tief!"…I ask the dude next to me…"What's he screamin?!"…He informs "Balles Tief" is German for "Balls Deep"…

This Nazi looking guy comes up to me with a syringe and acts like he's going to stick me with it. I jump back and think about beating the shit out of him and he starts laughing and in very bad English says "You vant chemical to keep wake and make you high?"…As I'm saying "NO!"…a loud siren/whistle starts blowing and the whole club starts going bananas! I ask this guy who looks like a vampire…"What the hell is that? Is there a fire or terrorist or something?"…He does this weird  giggle and say's the siren means it's "Slip and Slide time!"…100's of guys, the ones that aren't already naked, drop there pants and start masturbating on the dance floor. Evidently, you are supposed to ejaculate on the floor and make it slippy and then naked guys go sliding through it! WTF! I look back and that vampire looking dude is jerking off in my direction. I throw a beer bottle at him and start hauling ass out of there.

I run past this one guy that seems to be injured and he's asking for help. I'm a pretty nice guy, so I ask what happened. He bends over and you can see this silicone/rubber looking object barely protruding out of his butt. You could barely see it. He then explains that he had shoved a rubber arm with fist up there and it was stuck! This guy thinks I'm going to help pull it out?!? Get the fuck out of here!

I finally get to the exit and I yell to that weirdo door man "YOU SICK BASTARD!"…I hail a cab and make it back to my hotel. That was my experience at the "worlds coolest night club"..I can handle a lot of stuff, but this place was WAY over the top. I will not be back. Never.

Read Kyle W.'s review of Berghain on Yelp
https://www.yelp.com/embed/widgets.js

Alcohol and Socialism

From a display at the Stasi Museum in Leipzig:

Stasimuseum leipzig

Translation:

3. Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse occurs when alcohol consumption leads to a contradiction between socialist moral requirements and a socialist lifestyle, on the one hand, and actual behavior, on the other.

Since most of us now drink and live a life in contradiction to fundamental socialist principles, we are all alcoholics. I find that strangely reassuring.