Thursday, November 15, 2018

Sliding Down Into the Darker Days of a trumpian Winter

(Note: this is my 1500th blog posting here at You Might Notice a Trend. Just saying. Been a long strange and on occasion horrifying trip with miles to go)

As the post-midterms shakeup here in the U.S. works out the recounts and backroom backstabbing, there are a few clear signs of how dark a winter we're about to endure.

Above all, trump is facing a well-situated Democratic-controlled House in Congress. Dems are currently looking at a 36 seat advantage over Republicans at 229 (expecting 237) and a clear amount of room to pass majority votes (needing 219 seats).

The immediate real-world implication here is that the House under Democratic control can perform the oversight into trump's political and financial abuses that's been needed since Day One. Under rules set in 1924 for example, the chair of the House Ways and Means committee can request access to trump's tax returns (there would, of course, have to be a reason that can stand up in court). The House will have reasons to make such requests: Best example will be the serious allegations into trump's violations of the Emoluments Clause. The House Oversight and Reform Committee (yes, they have one) will certainly be looking into the amount of money trump has been getting from his DC hotel and other properties from foreign powers, which would require looking at his previous years' income statements to compare and contrast.

The threat of looking at trump's tax records are two-fold: One, they can provide evidence of questionable business practices such as money laundering; Two, they can reveal the fallacy of trump's bragging over his personal wealth (he keeps talking like he's a billionaire but his tax returns may reveal much of that is tied up into loans and debt). The second one would be the hardest on trump because it will be a huge hit to his twisted ego.

Just on exposing trump's tax returns alone, Democrats will strike a severe blow at trump-World's bubble.

If there is any comfort (grrrr, never) for trump, it's that impeachment is an unlikely event this coming congressional cycle. Democrats may see the merits of trying to remove a dangerous figure from the White House, but actual removal is still up to a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the current Republican majority there prevents that no matter what.

What the Democratic House can and will do is expose trump's greater sins: the horrific immigration policy decisions, pushing back against trump's insane tariff EOs, critiquing trump's foreign policy miscues on Korea and the Middle East, trump's continued use of violent rhetoric stirring up white supremacist and antisemitic forces. Some of these fights can sustain Democratic outrage into the 2020 Presidential elections and keep independent voters away from backing trump that November.

Also at stake is the ongoing Mueller investigation: trump can try to get the DoJ to shut it down but the House Democrats can intervene - through funding issues, and through their own oversight investigations - to keep Mueller going. trump may be able to interfere but it won't do much now.

And the reports post-election suggest it may be too late. Per tradition, Mueller put a cap on issuing indictments or other public actions during the two months before the November 2018 general vote - something Comey failed to do in 2016, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr - in order to avoid affecting that vote. With the election done, Mueller can issue the indictments he's apparently been sitting on (via John Schindler at the Observer):

To abide by Justice Department rules, Mueller went silent for almost two months before the midterms, to avoid any appearance of election interference, but the Special Counsel’s office is now renewing the public side of their investigation. Team Mueller is reported to be working on the final draft of their report on the president and his Russian ties in 2016. Whatever that report says, it’s not likely to be flattering to Team Trump.
Worse for the White House, Mueller’s prosecutors are widely believed to be closing in on two people close to the president, Roger Stone and Donald Trump, Jr. Stone, the self-proclaimed Republican “ratf*cker,” has spoken openly of his fears of impending indictment over his links to WikiLeaks in 2016. Don Jr. is reported to be concerned as well, since he appears to have lied to Federal investigators about the fateful June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian intelligence officials.

That June 9th meeting is key: it's physical evidence of Russian interaction with an American political campaign, something that is in violation of serious laws. Nearly every person who is linked to that moment is likely facing indictment (if they haven't flipped already).

When Mueller informs the public of more indictments is an open question. That they are coming, however, is not. And there are lots of them. The Special Counsel has been at work for almost 18 months now. An Intelligence Community official who assisted the Special Counsel’s investigation told me this week that Team Mueller is holding “dozens of sealed indictments” of people associated with the president, his 2015-16 campaign, and his administration. “Nobody who’s close to the Russians is getting out of this,” said the IC official...

What will happen - outside of trump trying to use his pardon powers in a last-ditch effort to avoid criminal charges on himself - leaves trump facing a dire situation in his political stance. Above all, facing the likelihood he will lose his own family members getting indicted.

trump operates in a bubble, his own comfort zone where the most trusted allies are his own flesh-and-blood (and in-laws). A Bad Boss to everyone else, trump prefers handlers he knows HAS to rely on his own criminal misdeeds to thrive. His children have no other identity outside of being HIS kids: Ivanka in particular - whose unprofitable patents just got approved by a China we're supposed to be in tariff wars against - would have been kicked out of any other West Wing given the fights she's had with other staffers.

Look at how donnie junior was involved in trump's 2016 campaign to begin with. Nearly every other figure between trump and Russia - the ones he trusted most, like Stone and Manafort - will likely be unavailable to help him run ANYTHING once the Mueller hammer comes down.

How do you think trump can operate without trusted people?

This a guy whose management style is conflict: getting people to vie for his attention and favor regardless how it disrupts the jobs that need to get done. trump is going to have to rely more and more on self-serving backstabbers - hi, Bolton! - with fewer and fewer competent people willing to put up with trump's bullshit.

In the short-term, we're likely to see - we're starting to see it now with reports of Chief of Staff Kelly and Homeland Secretary Neilsen on the outs - a massive wave of Cabinet firings and resignations and intense instability of our government's administration.

In the long-term, we're likely to see - and trump's ongoing war against immigrants and Black voters is evidence of it - a political re-election campaign (and an imploding Republican Party) devolve into outright racism and domestic terrorism to bully its way to another illegal victory.

As the Starks kept warning us, Winter was coming. And now a trumpian winter is here, threatening to last well into 2020.

Gods help us.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day: It Rains On Our Soldiers All The Time (w/ Update)

It is, again, the Eleventh Month and the Eleventh Day coming up on the Eleventh Hour when the guns were ordered to stop across Europe one hundred years ago.

100th Anniversaries are a big deal. A full century has happened between the end of World War I to now. It made sense for the nations of the world to pause and gather at the memorials dotted across the battlefields where the fallen were laid to rest, and so many of the nations that fought on the Western Front - the allies of France, Great Britain, United States, the opponents that were Germany, Austria and Hungary - sent their leaders to stand for us in honor of those brave men who lost their lives.

Well, kinda. The United States tried to send our leader, but that just happens to be the Loser of the Popular Vote donald trump at the moment, and well...

President Donald Trump could not attend a commemoration in France for U.S. soldiers and marines killed during World War One on Saturday because rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said.
The last minute cancellation prompted widespread criticism on social media and from some officials in Britain and the United States that Trump had “dishonored” U.S. servicemen.
The president was scheduled to pay tribute at a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 85 km (50 miles) east of Paris, with his wife Melania. But light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site.

If that sounds like a bullshit excuse, because you'd think our Marine One helicopters ought to be able to handle bad weather, or because there's this wonderful option call CARS that could have been used to DRIVE across France - c'mon, the scenery this time of year can't be THAT bad - then you'd be right. The weather wasn't bad enough to stop trump from sending his own Chief of Staff John Kelly in his stead.

A lot of other people pointed out the stupidity of trump's move:

Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Barack Obama, said the excuse about the inclement weather did not stand up.
“I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is always a rain option. Always.”
Despite the light rain, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a moving ceremony in Compiegne, northeast of Paris, to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the World War One armistice.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended his own ceremony to pay tribute to Canadian troops killed at Vimy Ridge, on the battlefields of northeastern France.

Instead, trump pretty much stayed in his hotel room all day and sulked and tweeted his conspiracy nonsense about Democrats "STEALING ELECTIONS ZOMG". trump could have easily done all that from his own worthless country clubs and not wasted everyone else's time and money on this trip.

Gods, what a waste of oxygen trump has been.

Either trump was terrified of standing in the rain - the LEAST any elected official could do to honor our soldiers - or he's completely forgotten how umbrellas work.

Yeah I know, cheap shot. BUT TOTALLY DESERVED.

It's deserved because every other President takes it as an act of honor to stand in the rain:

Michael Beschloss' twitter
Obama never went hiding from the rain (and knew how umbrellas work):

President Obama's Memorial Day ceremony at the National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill., was stopped temporarily, and then canceled outright, while a severe thunderstorm passed through Northern Illinois.
As lighting cracked and thunder clapped, the President went to the podium to tell the thousands in the crowd to seek shelter.
Holding an umbrella in a massive rain storm, the President told the crowd, "Excuse me, everybody listen up. We are a little bit concerned about lightening. This may not be safe. So I know that all of you are here to commemorate the fallen and that's why we're here. What we'd like to do is, if possible, have people move back to their cars, and if this passes in the next 15-20 minutes, I will stick around and we'll come up and start up the ceremony again. But we don't want to endanger anyone, particularly children in the audience. So I'd ask everybody to very calmly, move back to your cars. I'm going to move back to mine. We will wait to make sure that the thunder has passed. A little bit of rain doesn't hurt anybody, but we don't want anybody being struck by lightning.
"God bless you everybody. We will be staying here and will make an announcement shortly," he said.
from AP Photo

THAT is what Presidents do.

trump doesn't even TRY.

Not even when we as a nation need to honor and respect those who TRULY served our nation, both our fallen and our living soldiers.

It rains on our soldiers all the time.

from NPR

But trump will never care. For him, it's NEVER been about respecting others.

(Update 11/12/18): And now the coward refuses to go to Monday's Veterans Day observance because of the weather reports claiming it will rain at Arlington National Cemetery.

Absolutely no true courage in him. Absolutely no respect for others at all.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Update On The Madness Midterm

Oh No. Not Again.

(via the Tampa Bay Times) Florida ordered mandatory machine recounts in three statewide elections Saturday for the first time in state history.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner issued a one-page order directing all 67 counties to conduct a machine recount of more than 8.2 million combined ballots over the next five days in the races for governor, U.S. Senator and commissioner of agriculture.

Yes, of course, only FLORIDA could make the 2018 Midterms election cycle THIS MUCH CRAZIER.

It didn't help that the state's election services are still seriously compromised, with broken electronic machines, understaffed county offices, confusing precinct locations, long lines, and struggling volunteers (those are the ones I feel worst about: many of them are honest and capable and dealing with a lot of top-down problems).

We've got reports about the Broward County ballot not showing the key US Senate race for people to vote on, creating a massive gap of unaccounted voters.

Long before I started blogging, I lived in South Florida. I was there for the 2000 Debacle. It wasn't fun, stressful as hell knowing the fate of the entire nation hung the balance...

This election cycle, with all the other things that have happened since Tuesday, there's not AS MUCH at stake at the national level - pretty much the US Senate race between Nelson (please) and Scott (NOOOOOOO) - other than how much of a margin the Republicans control the Senate next term (if it's a 1-vote lead all of a sudden McConnell has to work harder to keep his troops in line, if it's a 3-vote margin he has more leeway). The way things are counting out in Arizona, whether Scott wins or loses becomes a bigger deal.

What *is* at stake is at the state level: whether the Republicans retain control of the Governor's seat with DeSantis or if Democrats can force a power-share getting Gillum into that seat. If Gillum DOES recover and gets the win with the machine count (it all depends on if a lot of missing ballots in Blue counties - hello again, Dade - and the absentees by mail are counted in time) this would be a bigger deal.

Statewide, the Dems will have a say in how the gerrymander efforts by the GOP are done (which bodes well for Dems). Gillum would ensure the felon re-enfranchisement amendment is enforced, improving the odds of higher turnout (which favors Dems a bit more).

At the national level, a Gillum win would revitalize an otherwise down-in-the-mouth progressive voting base. For all the wins that DID happen for Democrats and Progressives - winning back the US House, winning more governorships and state offices in the Great Lakes and Midwest states, more women and minorities in office - most of the big-name races (Beto O'Rourke in Texas, Gillum in Florida, Abrams in Georgia) did not pan out.

Beto's loss was close, but not close enough to force a recount. Abrams' run for the Governor's seat in Georgia is still in question because of the closeness of the results (it may yet - IT NEEDS TO - go to recount), but if she prevails it would be the first true big crack in the GOP Southern Strategy. A Black Woman winning in what was a solid Conservative (and historically racist) state would be almost as big a win as Obama winning the Presidency in 2008.

Gillum's win - if it happens through recount - would be almost as big as an Abrams win. Florida may STILL be a Southern state with its own dark history of racism, but the last 30 years or so has seen this state wobble between its redneck leanings or its East Coast Transplant/International(Caribbean)  leanings. That Florida may be ready for a Black man running Tallahassee (well, okay, running Florida) is a big step but it wouldn't be as Earth-shattering as flipping Georgia.

There's still a lot to worry about: there's no guarantee the recounts mean a Gillum or Nelson victory (although both would be a huge relief to me personally) here in Florida. There's every chance the Republicans still in charge of a lot of things - and every chance Rick "No Ethics" Scott tries to shoot the recount down - will mess things up to where the Supreme Court interferes AGAIN with this mess.

But after the blues of Tuesday, this bit of Hope this weekend keeps me going.

P.S.: GOD, I know as a Unitarian you don't listen to me much, but PLEASE for the LOVE OF YOU make sure the recount favors Nelson and Gillum. Please. PPPPPLLLLLEEEEAASSSSEEEEE (gives the Almighty that pleading kitteh-eye expression)

Friday, November 09, 2018

Blood On the Streets of Ventura County

Do you wanna know how bad gun violence has gotten in the United States?

We just had a mass shooting at yet another crowded bar, this time in Thousand Oaks, CA where some of the people getting killed at this shooting had survived the biggest mass shooting of our time in Las Vegas just one year ago.

That's right. Gun violence has gotten so commonplace that people are starting to rack up repeat appearances like frequent flyer miles.

The NRA can start a goddamn giveaway. Survive ten shootings, get one shooting free.

This is where our nation is right now. We're almost to one mass shooting a day.

The gun nuts are starting to run out of fresh victims, and are getting to the leftovers.


Must Read Post-Election Article NOT Written By Me

I warned Ed. I warned them ALL.

I said I was gonna steal this from Gin And Tacos.

I KNOW WHY YOU'RE SAD. About the post-2018 Election Blues.

Click the link.

Read in full.

Don't forget to check my LINKS tab above to follow other Reasonably Sane blogs across the Intertubes.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

In Case You Need More Witty Librarian (Golf) Balls.

It's been awhile since I've said anything about this, but my WittyLibrarian shop of items - mugs, mousepads, shirts, and more - is still up at CafePress (and I think you can purchase through now).

In case anybody's in need of a mousepad or librarian-themed golf balls.

Yeah, you gonna need a lot of balls.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Night 2018: I Am Loathing My State Right Now

I just got home from work, starting to tune in to the results, and...



I am surrounded by evil fcking people.

I know it is early right now and the results for Gillum and Nelson aren't resolved yet, but JESUS EFFING CHRIST it shouldn't even be like this. DeSantis ran a terrible openly racist campaign. Rick Scott is a GODDAMN MEDICARE FRAUD.

Making things worse is that the state amendments - a lot of which were BAD LAWS that would cause chaos and mismanagement throughout our legal system, and especially the Amendments that fcks up our tax revenue methods - are passing the 60 percent threshold tonight. The worst of them Amendment 5, the one that requires a SUPERMAJORITY vote to pass ANY tax increase, looks like it'll pass. Florida is about to run into the brick wall of massive spending cuts to social aid in order to balance the budget. We're already facing serious funding problems with Child and Family Services, with our schools, with our environmental cleanups. What the hell is gonna happen when all that sh-t gets WORSE?

The results in 2014 bummed me out. The results in 2016 broke my heart.

This? THIS SHIT? I'm gonna start thinking about revenge.

I am not in the mood right now. More angry than anxious now.


Election Day 2018: I AM NOT ANXIOUS AT ALL

Heck, no! I'm pretty sure the nation is going to do the RIGHT THING and VOTE BLUE across the board! I'm really... really... NO, REALLY... certain that there's going to be a huge turnout of young voters and women voters and Black voters and Latino voters and happy shiny voters all telling trump to STFU.

Yeah, totally. I'M NOT NERVOUS! REALLY...

Okay, seriously, here's my #IVoted Face:


(Not to be woken until Liveblogging later tonight)

Monday, November 05, 2018

Midterms 2018: Anxiety? YES

This weekend's SNL midterm ad is pretty much how I'm feeling about this Tuesday.

After the nightmare that was the 2016 results, and given the sad history of Democrats snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I'm not going to feel any semblance of relief until after watching the results Wednesday morning and making GODDAMN CERTAIN DEMS AT LEAST TAKE THE US HOUSE, GILLUM WINS THE GOVERNOR'S RACE AND NELSON CREAMS SCOTT FOR THE SENATE SEAT! PLEASE VOTERS! DON'T F-CK US UP NOW! PLEASE!

(Insert painful scream here)