Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Archive for the ‘Trump’ Category

Trump the Election Troll

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An online troll attacks people to evoke emotional responses; activity that is considered online harassment. I’ve never taken trolling seriously; I’ve always shrugged it off and dismissed it. In observing Trump’s behavior since loosing the elections, I identify it as trolling. He uses Twitter to make false claims and to threaten other officials (the example below concerns the Georgia run-off, not Trump’s own loss):

What a fool Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia is. Could have been so easy, but now we have to do it the hard way. Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW. Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th.
12:03 AM · Dec 14, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

He lost the elections and has turned to trolling to evoke his following to be up in arms. Unfortunately, the effect of online trolling may lead to physical altercation and harm. Of course, beyond trolling the elections, Trump has his personal lawyer attempting a reversal of a democratic procedure. But at the moment, I’m more concerned about the trolling and the continued divisiveness that his online and media trolling is having upon the nation.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to merely dismiss Trump’s trolling as I do with other trolls. Yesterday morning an old friend and journalist txt’d me “did you see how trump is sending alternate electors to Congress? He is now full fledged working on a coup. No respect for our constitution or democracy.” Having woken up concerned that the final Electoral College count would not reflecting the states won by Biden – 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 and worried that Biden’s win would not be certified, this txt increased my anxiety. In response to my anxious questioning, she wrote “No. It will fail. But it’s just so disgusting.” So I relaxed, but I was feeling the effects of a troll and I was annoyed at being susceptible to Trumps trolling the 2020 Elections.

Today, Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged Biden’s win and even congratulated Vice President Elect Kamala Harris which helps me put anxieties induced by Trump’s trolling further to rest.

However, what is most worrying about Trump’s election trolling is the gathering of many hundred Trump supporters in DC this past Saturday. Watching the video of that gathering and the way these people applauded a helicopter that took Trump to the Army Navy Game reminded me of images of black and red clad Nicaraguans cheering Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. It is a confounding cult of personality.

The last +4 years, I have been dumbfounded at the spell that this egomaniacal liar has upon a large number of U.S. citizens. I find him so disgusting and yet over 70 million people voted for him. And now his trolling activity only continues the divide in this country.

I expect that Trump will be historicized amongst the most wretched presidents of this nation state, but meanwhile, I have be part of a country divided; division that could begin to calm if the trolling stopped.

Some ten years ago when my ex-spouse was trolled by someone in the midwest (we are based in Brooklyn), because he felt that her research and creative work was his domain and was essentially jealous of all the attention she was getting, she felt threatened and forced us to set up an alarm system. This was an alarm system more commonly found in a home, not really necessary in a fifth floor apartment of a Brooklyn coop. However, his messages were so menacing that my arguing against the necessity of an alarm system was ignored. The alarm system was only a costly nuisance, but this is an example of the power that internet trolls can wield. This is nothing compared to when the troll is the president.

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December 15th, 2020 at 2:36 pm

The Deficit Myth 001

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I recently finished Stephanie Kelton’s book The Deficit Myth and I’m going to create a series of blog entries considering the material of the book. In doing so, I will liberally be quoting the book as part of my goal is to consider and digest my highlights from the text.

Kelton’s goal is to have us understand Modern Monetary Theory and how if embraced, it can help us create a better society. Kelton asks “What would it look like if the government overcame the deficit myths [the concept of having to maintain a household budget] and started budgeting like a currency issuer instead of pretending that it needs to pay for its spending just like the rest of us?” (pg. 42)

Although I think that we should all read this book (though it can be a bit repetitive), I’m going to copy the main points of the United States federal deficit myths that need to be debunked. These points are in the introduction and are given a chapter each:

First Myth:
The idea that the United States federal government needs to budget like a household is pernicious… “MMT demonstrates that the federal government is not dependent on revenue form taxes or borrowing to finance its spending and that the most important constraint on government spending is inflation.” pg. 9

Second Myth:
“It is possible for the government to spend too much. Deficits can be too big. But evidence of overspending is inflation, and most of the time deficits are too small, not too big.” pg.9

Third Myth:
Deficits will burden the next generation. Ronald Reagan was one of the wort perpetrators of the myth that we would saddle our children with too much debt, because it’s powerful political rhetoric. “As a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the national debt was at its highest – 120% – in the period immediately following WWII. Yet, this was the same period during which the middle class was built, real media family income soared, and the next generation enjoyed a higher standard of living without the added burden of higher tax rates… Increasing the deficit doesn’t make future generations poorer, and reducing the deficit won’t make them any richer.” pg.9

Fourth Myth:
“…deficits are harmful because the crowd out private investment and undermine long-term investment… government deficits eat up some of the dollars that would otherwise have been invested in private sector endeavors that promote long-term prosperity. We will see why the reverse is true – fiscal deficits actually increase private savings – and can easily crowd-in private investments.” pg. 10

Fifth Myth:
“Deficits make the United States dependent on foreigners [China and Japan as they hold large quantities of U.S. debt]… this is a fiction that politicians wittingly or unwittingly propagate, often as an excuse to ignore social programs desperate need of funding. Sometimes this myth has used the metaphor of irresponsibly taken out a foreign credit card. This misses the fact that the dollars aren’t originating from China. They’re coming from the U.S. We’re not borrowing from China so much as we’re supplying China with dollars and then allowing them to trade those dollars in for a safe, interest-bearing asset called a U.S. treasury. There is absolutely nothing risky or pernicious about this. If we wanted to, we could pay off the debt immediately with a simple keystroke.” pg.10

Sixth Myth:
“Entitlements are propelling us toward a long-term fiscal crisis. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the supposed culprits… Our government will always be able to meet future obligations because it can never run out of money. The money can always be there. The question is, What will that money buy? Changing demographics and the impacts of climate change are real challenges that could put stress on available resources.” pg.11

Kelton ends the introduction with a call to arms:

“The fact that 21 percent of all children in the United States live in poverty- that’s a crisis. The fact that our infrastructure is graded at a D+ is a crisis. The fact that inequality today stands at levels last seen during America’s Gilded Age is a crisis. The fact that the typical American worker has seen virtually no real wage growth since the 1970s is a crisis. The fact that forty-four million Americans are saddled with $1.7 trillion in student loans debt is a crisis. And the fact that we ultimately won’t be able to ‘afford’ anything at all if we end up exacerbating climate change and destroy the life on this planet is perhaps the biggest crisis of them all.” pg.11

“These are real crises. The national deficit is not a crisis.” pg.12

“THE CRIME OF the tax bill signed by Trump in 2017 is not that it added to the deficit but that it used the deficit to provide help to those who needed it least. It has widened inequality, putting more political and economic power into the hands of the few… We should tax billionaires to rebalance the distribution of wealth and income and to protect the health of our democracy.” pg. 12

As the many citizens of the United States need a financial lifeline from the federal government to help make it through this pandemic, Kelton foresees the stalling of a second stimulus:

“The federal deficit, which was expected to top $1 trillion before the virus became a threat, will likely skyrocket beyond $3 trillion in the months ahead. If history is any lesson, anxiety over rising budget deficits will lead to pressure to reduce fiscal support in order to wrestle deficits lower. That would be an unmitigated disaster. Right now, and in the months ahead, the most fiscally responsible way to manage the crisis is with higher deficit spending.” pg. 13

My Wild Ride with NVAX

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NVAX on December 1st 2020 from Yahoo Finance

Yesterday, November 30th 2020, I sold my remaining shares of the biotech Novavax Stock at $143.53. I had previously sold shares of the stock in July at $98.29 and then regretted that sell when the stock rose to over $170 a month later. Although I expect the stock to once again rise, I decided that I was satisfied with the gains and did not want to monitor a company that had never brought a vaccine to market in its 33 year history, but received $1.6 billion dollars from the Trump Administration’s shady Operation Warp Speed.

In 2018, fresh from a divorce and having to meet new financial responsibilities of child support and thinking ahead about my son’s college fund, I opened an account with Robinhood. After all, the trading app allowed me to open an account with next to no money, unlike my experience with Vanguard with which I needed a base $3k to start investing. So I needed to generate more money and felt it was time to learn about the stock market beyond the safety of Vanguard indices.

Amongst my most speculative investments was Novavax as I know nothing about biotech, but the stock was a penny stock and I figured, why not take a small gamble. Of course, I considered the company’s long history dating back to 1995 and looked at the rise and falls of the stock. I thought to myself – it’s been around a long time, it has 500 employees, I’ll buy over hundred shares at an average of .56 cents and see what happens. Again, I was new to investing and did not have substantial funds to gamble with so I only buy small amounts, hoping that little by little, I can buy more.

On May 10th 2019, NVAX had a 1 for 20 reverse split, so for each 20 shares of NVAX that I owned pre-split, suddenly became 1. I watched my 120 shares that I had spent $72.21 become 10 stocks (yes not a 1 to 20 and I don’t understand this). Although the dollar amount remained the same, I hated seeing my over a hundred shares become 10. I was so annoyed with the stock, but oh well, nothing to do but let it sit. (The math here doesn’t add up, according to my Robinhood history, I bought 100 shares at .62 cents and then 20 shares at .51 cents and then those 120 shares became 10 following the reverse split. However, the dollar amounts below are correct.)

In the end, I spent $72.21 and sold for $1344.84 for at total gain of $1272.89. Now, I’ll take that gain and buy perhaps Apple or Google or Amazon – a stock that I expect will be around for at least ten years – this is my friend Greg’s advice – buy shares of companies that will stick around. (I’ve already bought Tesla and have only gained, but keep expecting that to entirely disappear at any moment.)

I understand that I’ll never become wealthy at this rate of playing it safe, but I elected to not be greedy and instead to be happy with this gamble, while walking away from Operation Warp Speed nonsense. By the way, yesterday, I sold NVAX at $143.53 and today it is at $125.32; after today, I’m not looking at this stock again. After spending way too much time looking at stocks over the last two years, I’m ready to stop speculating, hang up my dreams of getting rich quick and just invest in relatively safe companies, while also getting back to more meaningful use of my time.

My take away: It took a pandemic and a dirty president to turn my $72 into $1200. The money is dirty and we need to be transparent about how stocks rise and fall to help reign in financial disparity.

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December 1st, 2020 at 9:39 am

Biden Absent as Trump Rails

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I’m bracing myself for another four years of chaos. Four more years of lies, manipulation, hate, nepotism, self-interest, tax dodging, racism, tax cuts for the rich (who are better at saving than giving), market deregulation, white empowerment, pussy grabbing, virus magically gone by Easter, the phrase “shit hole countries,” separating families, putting children in steel cages, forking over millions of dollars for faulty three-mile border walls, opening precious forests to oil drilling, funding dirty energy like coal mining instead of presenting a better future, climate change denial, civil unrest, hatred…

The reason that I’m bracing myself is because the New York Times mentions Trump at least twice for any mention of Biden. I saw this during the 2016 elections – mainstream media obsessed with Trump whether positively or negatively, mentioning and covering Trump over and over. It’s like feeding the Slime Monster – whether it’s critical news or not, when only one name is mentioned, that name grows and sticks. I’ve often wondered why liberal, one-sided media channels don’t just go on a “he who must not be named” approach. We all know that any news is good news and Trump knows this better than anyone, his entire life has thrived on it. He doesn’t care if it’s negative news as any news can be spun. Most importantly he is mentioned; he who must not be named is named and his power grows.

Biden is a senior citizen who I think would like to stay alive and is not self-obsessed, so he acknowledges the pandemic. Whereas Trump is so self-obsessed that he considers himself a demigod, immortal, perhaps a god, perhaps the Almighty himself who has been so well informed on COVID-19, that he knows that as long as he allows his germophobia guide him, he can show up in-front of large audiences in enclosed spaces without a worry. After all, his minions on an individual-basis don’t matter, so let them be dumb enough to expose themselves while Trump enjoys their adoration of him and gets headlines for brining the minions together, unmasked and inches from one another. All news is good news.

Trump is also incredibly talented at projecting cheesy, televisual images of grandeur. From disgustingly furnished home interiors to way too many flags in front of the White House topped off with very polished golden eagles. Trump’s motto – “if it’s gold, polish it, cause it’s mine…”

Leni Reifenstahl would be proud of this image.

Trump is effectively capturing the ignorant, televisual imagination of the United States, while Biden Zooms to no audience. And I’m not even mentioning Pence flying around with the racist, pre-Civil Rights “Make America Great” message while Harris tries to not choke on toxic air. We are soooo screwed.

Written by ricardo

September 14th, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Trump Chases Out Kids

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Following travel, Iggy had a week off from summer camps, so we got to enjoy the week together. I proposed that we make an animation. He was game. I gave him a drawing pad, showed him Richard Williams’s The Animator’s Survival Kit and he started drawing. After a few minutes, I look over at the drawing pad and say “That looks like Trump! Are you drawing Trump?” Iggy: “Yes, a naked Trump. Lets make an animation of naked Trump chasing immigrants…”

Over the following few days, Iggy drew each of the characters: Trump, a female immigrant, a male immigrant and lastly decided to add ICE police. Iggy was firm on having the ICE police shuffle along. He drew each of the steps of the run cycles for each of the characters and I did the coloring. With the art work done, I took over setting up the timeline with tweens and finding various backgrounds to reflect the United States. Iggy made the call on the background sequencing.

I had two audio clips of Trump flip flopping on treatment of undocumented kids to give the animation a soundtrack. Lastly, I found a sound clip of Homer taking a fall which seemed like a fitting culmination.

Written by ricardo

July 22nd, 2018 at 9:20 am

The Problem With Trump

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Is that he doesn’t give a shit. He doesn’t care what you think. He doesn’t care what the law says. He doesn’t care about the history of the United States. Trump could give a flying shit about the constitution as well as the Haitians.

The problem with Trump is that he constructs his own reality at intervals. He could give a shit about reality, because he’s never had to live in reality. This is a golden spoon child, given $10 Million dollars to kick off an NYC real estate developer’s career without any clue of how the overwhelming vast majority of people live.

The problem with Trump is that WE ARE ALL SHIT HOLES.

The problem with Trump is that he has gotten the highest public service office in the United States of America without any experience or care for public service. He could give a flying fuck about public service, after all it’s work for shit holes to serve shit holes.

The problem with Trump is that he’s never had to work, he’s never had to earn a living, he’s never had to struggle.

The problem with Trump is that he has no political career to ruin as a shitty president, so he can give a flying fuck whether or not he shits on everything that this country has been built upon such as immigrants.

The problem with Trump is that he made his career as a real estate developer. He made his career as a TV producer and reality TV personality and an ego-maniac.

The problem with Trump is that he could give a flying shit about anyone other than himself and his own. He doesn’t understand public service or governance or the middle class or women or poverty or history or struggle or global citizenry or activism or ethics or morality.

And to all the white supremacist, America First, racist fucks who voted for Trump, if you are not a millionaire, you are a SHIT HOLE and he’s going to make you pay.

Written by ricardo

January 13th, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Trump Administration Is The Hangman

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Watching this 1964 animation by Les Goldman and Paul Julian of the 1951 poem “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden, I couldn’t help to think about the current sweep of undocumented immigrants by federal agents. Most recently 98 7-Elevens stores across the country were raided by ICE leading to 21 arrests. With 21 arrests, I have to wonder if such an effort is worth time and cost. It actually seems a bit silly, but now I’m getting off point. These are 21 individuals working, residing and paying taxes in the United States who now face deportation. I understand that the goal is to instill fear in businesses that hire undocumented immigrants, but at this time the economy is such that these workers are actually needed regardless of their citizen/resident status. More importantly undocumented immigrants are not criminal in the sense of presenting any danger. In a country built by immigrants, they are asset.

As citizens of the United States, it is our responsibility to stand up against human harassment and bullying, against the destruction of others’ lives by the authorities. Otherwise, this administration and government will turn against its own citizenry, actually, I already feel that it has through the passing of the new tax reform.

We can all act on a personal level as there are many resources to help immigrants. If you know an undocumented immigrant pass along this information – Know Your Rights In Case of Immigration/Police Raid. The source is The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Written by ricardo

January 11th, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Defend Net Neutrality

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Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE FCC.

Trump appointed US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai has spearheaded an FCC vote to end net neutrality rules. It was just in 2015 that the FCC with support of the Obama administration introduced new net neutrality regulations that put internet service providers (ISPs) such as Verizon, Comcast, AT&T in the same category as other telecommunication companies. ISPs currently are not allowed to favor the speed of some sites over others, all data on the internet moves at the same speed.

The FCC was first created to protect radio from commercialization and to ensure that it remain a public service. Given that on FM non-commercial stations have been shoved to one side in favor of powerful commercial media corporations, it seems merely a matter of time that the same occurs to the internet. However, perhaps at least for now, due to the nature of the internet as a social medium, net neutrality may be temporarily protected. Since the Clinton administration, the FCC has favored deregulation and corporate monopolization of the media, can this course of increasing corporate control of our media content and in general our culture be slowed down? SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE FCC.

Written by ricardo

July 12th, 2017 at 7:14 am

Trump Talk

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Donald to Donald: “I am the most famous man in the world. I AM THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN THE WORLD. I CAN DO ANYTHING! I have OVER 25 MILLION TWITTER FOLLOWERS. I AM THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN THE WORLD! I need to have another rally!”

Steve Bannon enters the room.

Steve to Donald: “Donald, we’ve got to turn back the clock! This country is in total disarray. It’s our job to clean things up. We’ve got to stop people from illegally pouring in to our country and taking away our resources. Stealing the welfare from hard working Americans!”

Donald to Steve: “Steve, you write it up and I sign it! 100% agree! I’m here to make America great again. This is why I won by a landslide!”

Donald to Donald: “I am AMAZING!”

Steve to Steve: “My dreams will be realized! White Christian Right America once again! Ours for at least the next 50 years, perhaps a 100 years when we get the second and third terms!”

Donald to Donald: “I love this office! I need an escape to the Southern White House! I need a rally! The people need to adore me!”

Steve to Donald: “I’ll get to work and have something drafted by the morning. Oh and we need to do something about the gays. People can’t just be going into any bathroom they want! The perverts can harm the innocent.”

Donald to Steve: “Draw it up! I’ll sign it!”

Donald to Donald: “I am amazing. The people love me! RALLY!”

Written by ricardo

February 22nd, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Constructing a Christian Right White Nation

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Not My President hashtag with Trump portrait

Not My President

The underlying narrative to the many promises that Trump made to his following during the long presidential campaign was a return to the idyllic and fictive whiteness of post World War II America. This is a socially conservative and materialistic culture obsessed with modern appliances, ease of life, conformity and the centrality of white privilege… This is Trump’s America First.

So how can the current administration divert the progression of the browning of America, the progression of religious diversity, the progression of the diversification of race and gender identity?

The Trump administration hopes to do so by sealing up the border by adding to the existing wall to keep the Latinos out and by instituting the Muslim Ban. In order to veil the America First racist agenda, Trump deals in fear, because these presidential executive orders are enacted in order to protect the United States from terrorism and crime. It is well documented that no terror attacks have been enacted by citizens of the 7 targeted nations. In Trump’s America First Brown equals Terror and Whiteness equals Safety, Normality and Privilege

Written by ricardo

January 31st, 2017 at 9:16 am