Friday, July 21, 2017

I Find Myself Humming "The Only Living Boy In New York" Right Now

I'll just get to the facts: Sean Spicer resigned as Press Secretary for trump this morning.

Spicey's gone. FLY AWAY, SPICEY, BE FREE. AND DON'T LOOK BACK.

At least we'll have Season 42 of Saturday Night Live to comfort us.


"I had a good run!" - Melissa McCarthy's final line as Spicer

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hold Tight, Wait 'Til the Party's Over

So, what exactly just happened the last 48 hours regarding the Senate's attempt to nuke Obamacare? Via the Tampa Bay Times:

President Donald Trump declared Tuesday he's going to "let Obamacare fail" after the Republicans' effort to rewrite the 2010 health care overhaul imploded in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a vote on a backup plan simply repealing the statute, but desertions by his own party seemed to ensure that would fail, too.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they opposed McConnell's Plan B. That's enough to spell defeat and could send a message to conservative Republicans that it is time to abandon efforts to tear down Obama's law.

There'd already been a bit of grumbling over how the Senate Replace bill had been mishandled, and when Senator McCain's emergency blood clot surgery forced a suspension on the vote, it gave the naysayers enough to time to make their concerns known. Apparently when McConnell tried to promise his caucus that the Medicaid funding wouldn't really go away as feared, he actually lost some of the Far Right members, killing the main plan.

So McConnell switched to a straight-up Repeal bill, bringing back one from 2015 (allowable, I guess) to vote as soon as possible. What THAT bill did was kill off all funding but kept the rules in place, which would have kicked even MORE people off health care coverage - CBO scoring had it at 32 million by 2026, with 18 million in the first year! - while forcing everyone else to pay a 100 percent increase on premiums.

Even the Moderates in the Senate - Collins especially - had to balk at that.

Where the game against Obamacare goes from here is still an open matter: As I've said repeatedly, the Republicans want their goddamn tax cuts - at the expense of the social safety net - at all hazards. But the failure here in the Senate - and the struggles earlier in the House - are highlighting the problems where the GOP have trapped themselves.

By constantly screeching for years to Repeal (and forced to offer a form of Replace), the Republicans can't turn themselves around and compromise on the existing health care system. Every offered plan has a major flaw - kicking people off coverage, which can be lethal - and nobody is willing to volunteer to give up their health care plans.

The Republicans' idea of compromise - where they insist the Democrats cave to their demands and then take the blame when it all goes to hell - is useless. The Democrats may not have explicit power right now in government being in the minority and out of the White House, but they have the ability now to say NO and stick to that. They're forcing the Republicans to deal within their own ranks - which has empowered both the Far Right AND NOW the Moderates who are punching back - and lift their own works... something the Republicans really don't want to do. Enough of them know damn well not to be holding this hand grenade when it goes off.

It does not help that this Republican Congress is trying to cope with a weak President Loser of the Popular Vote in trump. In previous times, when there was a tough piece of legislation involved, the President would make deals or offer alternatives that would placate enough members of Congress to get the job done. Obama had to to get Obamacare passed in the first place. LBJ was a fucking master at it.

But trump has almost no political capital to use. Granted, he's got his rabid fan base to scare the weaker members of the GOP. But when it comes to wheeling and dealing, he holds few favors with the major players. His current legal woes - under constant investigation for not only his Russian ties but also other scandals with his Foundation and elsewhere - doesn't give him a chance to make favors for the future (if he has one).

Making it worse is that trump is failing at reaching out: He's either tried bullying, berating, mocking those in Congress he thinks are stalling his glorious promises, or buttering up those who are not the ones he needs to win over. He's not building the back-room connections necessary between White House and the Capitol. It's not helping that his West Wing is criminally understaffed: if trump had hired enough people to massage the right Congresscritters, we'd be seeing results (granted, NOT the results we'd like...).

Update: It's worse than THAT. trump's dinner invite to "talk about the health care bill" turned into a ego-inflating talk about how France had treated him on his recent visit. The idiot cannot focus.

So what happens now?

The next major issue - one that Congress cannot avoid - is their planned budget for 2018. The proposal in the House is a massive tax cut, spending cut disaster... that may lose Far Right support from the "Freedom" Caucus because it doesn't go far enough in slashing the safety net. And this time, I don't think the House Moderates are going to accept any excuse from Ryan to back his efforts...

Keep calling, America. Call your Congresscritter, call your Senators. Remind the Republicans they have to answer for their sins, remind the Democrats to stand firm against any cut that will hurt the public.

This party ain't over.

No visible means of support and you have not seen nothing yet
Everything's stuck together
And I don't know what you expect staring into the TV set
Fighting fire with fire...
- "Burning Down the House" Talking Heads

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doctor Who Alert: Yes, SHE Is...

HOLY F-CKSH-T IT'S THE NEW DOCTOR.


BELIEVE IT BRUV.

I'm serious. Jodie Whittaker starred in a cult classic SciFi movie called Attack the Block, which is now required viewing.


Oh yeah. That's Finn from Star Wars teaming up with the Doctor to fight off aliens. This is gonna go off the geek-o-meter, mates. Allow it.

In the meantime, this is great. The show is opening up the gender roles in science fiction more than it's been in ages. We've had strong female roles - Scully, Buffy, Xena - and we've had strong female leads in established franchises - Janeway on Star Trek, Starbuck and Athena on the reboot of Battlestar Galactica - but this is a major step: This will be a strong female lead in an ICONIC role.

Icons exist beyond the stories that birthed them - Sherlock, Bond, Kirk, Spock, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, just to name a few - and icons have a great impact on the cultural trends of the past, present AND future.

As much as a successful Wonder Woman movie is groundbreaking, as much as having movies like Mad Max Fury Road promote positive imagery of women, to open up an existing role and character as important to SciFi geekery as the Doctor will pave the way to equalizing roles between genders for the next generation of shows and characters.

So to all the haters out there, grow up. Women have been into science fiction as long as the men, and they've been writing their fanfic and making their cosplay and pining their dreams of heroic escapes same as you.



Allow it.

These are good times ahead for geekery.

Because the Gods of Death Need Their Pound of Flesh... And a Tax Cut

The pending Senate vote on their horrific, decimating health care bill is on hold while they wait for Senator McCain to recover from his insured, funded surgical procedure.

The irony is potent.

And yet, here we are. Poised again to watch Republicans willfully support a bill everybody knows will kick millions off of health care coverage, condemning thousands to death or massive debt.

All for a goddamn tax cut for the rich.

Even the polls are telling them they shouldn't do this. Solid majorities of American voters - even cutting into Republicans - know that the GOP push - for massive cuts to Medicaid and rewriting the rules to make access to health care harder - is gonna suck.

And yet, here we are.

The Republican leadership are doing this because of how broken our electoral system is. Accountability has disappeared in this age of mass Gerrymandering and "Safe" Districts. The deep-pocket SuperPACs pushing the tax cut agenda hold more sway over Congresscritters than their own residents.

The Republican leadership are doing this to appease the hardcore base that will show up to vote no matter what, making sure they've been satisfied to learn that the dreaded OBAMACARE went away.

The Republican leadership are doing this because they're sadists. They've lost any empathy for people making less than $90,000 a year, and there's enough of them who believe the poor really are slackers and thieves instead of grossly underpaid and unprotected by the law.

We as a nation can still fight this, but it's going to take more than the phone calls and letters to remind Congress and the Republicans that THEY have to answer to US.

It's going to take long memories, everyone. YOU NEED TO REMEMBER THIS TERRIBLE VOTE IN 2018. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT VOTE REPUBLICAN IN 2018.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Digging the trump Hole Deeper w/Update

Update below:
The current status of the Russia-trump Scandal is such a massive turn of affairs - revealing direct acts of collusion with a foreign power - that I'm better off referring you to David A Graham's take over at the Atlantic about it.

Yet with Donald Trump Jr.’s release of self-incriminating emails on Tuesday, the nation learned that the wildest of fantasies was all too real: Granted the chance to take what he believed to be damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian government official, provided because the Kremlin wished to aid his father, Trump Jr. eagerly seized the opportunity. “If it’s what you say I love it,” he wrote to an intermediary. Not only that, but he brought along his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort...
...If Trump really knew nothing about the June 9 meeting, one wonders what it was that he was so eager to suppress in his calls to the intel chiefs and his firing of James Comey. And as the collusion scenario that once seemed so implausible is verified by an email trail, which of the other allegations are true, too?

On a serious note: DEAR SWEET JESUS THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WAS ACTIVELY WORKING WITH RUSSIA TO F-CK WITH OUR ELECTION. THIS IS TREASON.

On a lighter note: Dear Sweet Jesus, these guys are morons.

The way trump jr. handled this entire revelation - by denying, admitting, evading, re-admitting, and then dumping his emails without realizing they contained incriminating proof - showed a complete lack of operational awareness. If anything, utter cluelessness about what was right or wrong. Either he thinks what he did wasn't illegal - it was, under 52 US Code 30121 - or that he's untouchable.

It's that last part that's troubling. Because one of the recurring points about this ongoing scandal is how many unforced errors the trump people have committed since the intel reports started picking up the scent in 2016. Half the people involved in the attempted cover-ups - including the Alpha Dog trump himself - keep blabbing and tripping over themselves in a rush to excuse away an early report, quickly exposing fresh evidence that just piles on the damage.

There's been comparisons about the trump empire being akin to a Mafia family (it doesn't help that being a NYC land developer likely had donald rubbing shoulders with real mobsters his whole career). But each new self-inflicted wound brings up the sorry likelihood that the trump power circle is made up entirely of Fredos. (all apologies to actor John Cazale, who was a brilliant performer whose life was cut short)

We were warned. I warned people. This was going to be an incompetent regime, led by those lacking any political savvy or administrative skill. Who turned out to get where they are through manipulation, lies, and (with Russia's help) cheating instead of any actual talent.

Right now, it's not a question of how criminal the trump campaign was. It's a question of what the hell the rest of our government - the ones who are sworn to serve and protect our nation - is going to do about stopping them.

Update: As always, leave it to a master of snark to point out the obvious WTF stupidity of junior:


Sunday, July 09, 2017

When Being Sober Is A Curse: I Blame trump

How can I cope with my recurring depression when trump keeps ruining the universe like this (via Frum at the Atlantic)?

But the basic story line is clear. It was clear in real time—and it’s clearer than ever after the Hamburg summit. Whatever exactly happened at the meeting between Trump and Putin, the president’s Sunday morning Twitter storm confirms: Trump has accepted Putin’s denials as the final word on the matter.
Why would not Trump accept it? He has insisted that the accounts of Russian interference in the US election are a “made-up story,” a hoax by sore-loser Democrats. Putin told Trump nothing that Trump did not already believe—or anyway, that Trump wanted everyone else to believe. If there was any question before Hamburg, that question was settled at Hamburg: There will be no consequences for Russia. They attacked American electoral processes and succeeded. The president Russia helped to install will not punish Russia for helping to install him.

It's shit like this that would drive me to drink if I ever developed the habit of liking alcohol. But I'm so sober it's a goddamned curse.

To quote a saner, hopefully sober Betty Cracker from Balloon Juice:

I don’t expect to like any Republican president’s policies. And Trump is a person of exceedingly low character, so I expect him to behave in an embarrassing manner. But sometimes I wonder if my antipathy toward the man distorts my view of his performance. Is it possible that, while he routinely fucks up and brings shame upon the country, Trump’s presidency isn’t the unmitigated disaster I think it is?
Then I watch something like this summary from an Australian analyst, and I think, nah, it’s not just me...
A compromised, incompetent, deranged buffoon is the president of the United States. The president is surrounded and enabled by amoral, unpatriotic, power-hungry people who will paper over his gaping deficiencies and corruption to pursue their own agendas.
That’s bad, obviously. But the normalization of the situation poses its own dangers.
To pick on NBC for a moment, how could a “top-5 takeaways” piece fail to mention Trump’s insane assertion that “everyone” at the G-20 was talking about John Podesta, which also indicated Trump has no idea what role Podesta played in 2016 or, more alarmingly, the CIA’s role in investigating crimes against U.S. citizens? How could a round-up piece not include the weird and unprecedented insertion of Trump’s knockoff bag and shoe peddler spawn into the conference? Or his capitulation to Putin on an attack on U.S. sovereignty?
My complaint isn’t just about the sorry state of Beltway coverage. We’ve been kvetching about routine hackery for decades and will for decades to come, I suspect. But living in a country run by a madman and his accomplices warps reality for everyone, including the people whose job is to provide facts that help shape our perceptions. It’s probably easier for news sources outside the U.S. to frame the Trump menace accurately. But this interminable national crisis will require all of us to keep a grip on what’s real and what’s an illusion...

Ye Gods. Lemme bring up that Australian reporter's rant:



This is what a power vacuum looks like, America: We have a preening, self-absorbed and self-deluded con artist running things. trump wants to keep selling his agenda of being cozy with Putin and Russia, that "there's no collusion" and no conspiracy to subvert our electoral process... even as the real-world evidence piles up that collusion happened.

trump wants us to believe Russia didn't hack our elections, and even wants to team up with Russia on a joke of a "joint" Cybersecurity project that would likely expose our nation's own security protocols. He's doing this even as Russia is hacking our nation's electric power grid.

I'm with Abed on this: We've gone down the Darkest Timeline in this Multiverse, where a vain madman is in control of the United States, aided and abetted by a partisan Congress and a blind mainstream media.

I want to find the portal back to the Normal Timeline, please.

So Many Different Ways The Republicans Can Make Things Worse

Trying to figure out how the endgame of the Republican War on Obamacare will go. As David Atkins over at Washington Monthly notes, the normal rules of politics no longer apply:

The setup is actually fairly simple: would the Republican desire to pass massive tax cuts for its donor class overwhelm its fear of being punished at the ballot box for taking healthcare away from millions of Americans, including their own voters? Under normal circumstances fear of electoral consequences would prevail. But we live in an age of unprecedented partisanship and big money influence, which leads many Republicans to feel insulated from the consequences of even openly cruel actions that damage their loyal constituents. That Republicans would actually destroy Obamacare went from remote possibility to very real.

What that means is anyone's guess, so I'm trying to plot out the scenarios just to determine how fucked we are.

Scenario One: McConnell is somehow able to push through the horrendous Senate version (BCRA) of trumpcare.

By making tweaks to the Senate package, McConnell will try to keep the "moderate" Republicans from bolting - gifting possible holdouts with small relief funding - while giving the Far Right more reason to vote for the bill. While the Democrats could use various procedural rules to delay or hold the bill, given McConnell's track record of bulldozing through his agenda this could also mean those procedures will get napalmed into ash.

Because the Senate bill differs from the House version (AHCA), this means the hot potato goes back to the House for a new vote, and this is where the scenarios can really diverge.

Scenario One-A: The House - despite the griping from the Freedom Caucus (Far Right) that it doesn't go far enough, and the worries of the Tuesday Group (Moderates) fully aware of how the voters hate the bill - passes the Senate BCRA and trump signs it, essentially dooming 18-24 million Americans having their healthcare taken away.

Given the delays written into the Senate bill, most of the damage from it won't be obvious until 2020. But early shifts in Medicaid funds, the loss of maternity care, and the loss of regulatory control protecting pre-existing conditions will be clear early on. The CBO score rated that 11 million could lose their health care by 2018. That's even before the hard cuts to Medicaid kick in.

Scenario One-B: The House Republicans split on the vote. The Tuesday Group were angry about how they were told to vote for a bad bill with the promise that "the Senate will fix it" only to have the Senate pass the buck back to them. They've had months to watch the public outcry against any Repeal-Replace and can refuse to support this next step. Ryan may not have enough favors in his pocket to get enough of them around to support it... while coping with a Freedom Caucus that would never accept any moderate changes to their Repeal-Replace desires.

As a result, the entire Repeal-Replace effort collapses for good. This does turn into a serious problem with Congress, because the real reason the Republicans were so eager to get rid of Obamacare first was to clear the table for bigger issues such as their overall Tax Cut Budget of Doom. They can't push that massive tax cut if there's still a big federal healthcare mandate like Obamacare in the way. The GOP hasn't even looked at a serious budget proposal this session despite several on the table, and the budget is due by September I believe. They're running out of time.

The delay in legislative action is having a cascade effect on everything else: The debt ceiling vote in particular is coming up fast, serious political infighting with the hardcore Freedom Caucus poised to block any debt hike. The Republicans can't afford to let their Repeal-Replace effort wither away, as it would signal a serious rift among their ranks preventing anything from getting done. That lack of effort will discourage their voting base, another midterm woe they'll have to cope with.

Scenario One-C: This goes a little farther than One-B in that the Republican split turns into a party civil war. Failure by Ryan and the House leadership to keep the factions in line leads to a public falling out, where either the Freedom Caucus quits the GOP (likely) to form a third party, or the Tuesday Group quits (unlikely, 'cause they're cowards) and throws in their lot with the Democrats.

There's currently 240 Republicans to 194 Democrats in the House. It would take 47 Republicans quitting the GOP and forming a third party to get them down to 193, giving Dems a plurality. Better still, any Republicans flipping party to the Dems - allowable during the sessions - would boost Democratic numbers into a majority of their own: That would need 24 Republicans switching the aisles.

By numbers, there's 33 official members of the Freedom Caucus: Not enough to form a third party unless they convince - or the SuperPAC deep pocket funders convince - enough regular Republicans to flee with them. They definitely will not flip to the Democrats, so that part of the scenario won't happen. A serious move for this scenario would have to involve enough of the moderate Tuesday Group - 48 in their roster, so either way they can do this - flipping sides or going third party.

Once the Democrats are in control of the House, the whole effort to Repeal-Replace stops.

This is pure fantasy, of course. I'd personally love to see the moderate factions grow a spine and tell the wingnuts to go fuck themselves, but that's not how elected moderates roll. It's possible the Freedom Caucus could pull off a revolt of some kind that would force the Tuesday Group to flee no matter what, or pull off a split with enough members to give the Democrats minority-majority control, but that's next-to-impossible with the current math.

Of the three variances, One-B is the one we can hope for... but don't be surprised if we get One-A. After all, with the Republicans in charge we're all screwed.

Past all this, we move on to Scenario Two: Unable to pass a Repeal-and-Replace package, the GOP Senate - then the House - opts for a straight-up Repeal and let the whole thing crash until people beg for their bad bill(s).

This is the Shoot-The-Hostage strategy. The Far Right factions in both House and Senate would view this as a winning move, because it clearly destroys Obama's signature achievement AND it validates their worldview that government regulations are bad. The logic for this move is that once they reset the nation's healthcare system to how it was in 2009 - which is, shitty - and let the nation stew in horror for six months, the Republicans could force the Democrats to agree to ANY Replace package the GOP would put on the table.

There are several faults in this logic. One, there is nothing the Republicans can do to force the Democrats to cave on this issue. The Dems may genuinely care that millions of Americans need healthcare coverage, but they are competent enough to know that any GOP plan will be a disaster compared to what Obamacare - or a Medicare/Medicaid For All - offers. The only thing Democrats will ever vote on is keeping Obamacare the way it is (or at best fixing its gaps with a Public Option). Plus, the Democrats are smart enough to know that any deal with the devil is no deal at all.

Second, for all the attempts the Republicans will try to pin the blame of losing healthcare on the Democrats, a majority of Americans are fully aware which party - the one yelling and screaming and lying their asses off about Obamacare - will deserve the blame (hint: it ain't Obama). The sudden turnaround of pro-Obamacare support is a clear sign of that. This is what David Frum warned the party about: Once a public benefit is out there - Social Security, Medicare - you can't take it away without getting punished for it.

The Republican leadership may think themselves protected via gerrymandered "safe" districts and via their growing voter suppression efforts, and given the recent history of midterms - 2010, 2014 - going their way they may be right. However, the conditions the GOP are setting up - massive social trauma, the likelihood of economic chaos when the health care industry takes the hit - could make this coming election cycle similar to 2006 when the disasters of Katrina, rising gas prices, and the failing Iraq occupation led to the Democrats flipping the House and Senate with historic gains.

A full Repeal without a Replace would also betray the Republican Moderates who are keen on genuine replacement, and that might lead to the One-C scenario.

Scenario Three: The Senate can't agree on a path forward on their version of trumpcare, and since they'd already pissed on the House version that ends any effort to Repeal. Instead, a genuine effort to Reform the existing Obamacare system (ACA) gets a bipartisan deal in the Senate done. And it goes - with some grumbling - to the House for passage just to get it out of the way.

This is from the noise coming from "moderate" Senators - Collins in particular, with harrumphs from Murkowski, Cassidy and Heller - who are openly opposed to the current Senate bill. Their plan(s) range from just minor cuts of Medicaid funding to changes of the tax model to shift the revenue burdens and placate both sides (mostly), with an eye towards making sure they keep the healthcare loss to a minimum - say, just a million or two Americans - while avoiding the bad optics of kicking children and elderly to the curb.

Whatever they come up with, the plan would have to appease either the Democrats in both the Senate and the House, or the Far Right Republicans.

In short: This could never happen. Not with the existing dogma choking the Republican leadership. The Far Right wants their goddamn tax cuts at all hazards - which would be about $750 BILLION out of ACA - and in order to justify that cut from Obamacare they HAVE to cut spending somewhere - which is why Medicaid is seeing cuts to around $744 BILLION when it's all said and done. Unless the moderates find a revenue source that can cover $744 BILLION - which means a tax hike somewhere in the economy that no wingnut can accept - that one step alone blocks all compromise.

Scenario Four: Aliens show up that can provide free health care to all, making the entire matter moot.

Problem with this is, no sentient lifeform in the universe is going to want to deal with that goddamn con artist sitting in the White House.

So you can kind of see the trouble we're in. The only scenario that looks even remotely possible is One-B where the attempt to Repeal-Replace fails again and Congress is forced to move on to other pressing matters. But knowing the wingnut nature of the modern Republican Party, they are going to get their goddamn tax cuts come hell or high water, which means we're all getting One-A.

At which point our nation DOES go to hell and we all drown in the flood.

Thanks, Russia. Thanks, 62 million trump voters. Thanks, Grover "Drown 'Em In My Bathtub" Norquist. Thanks, spineless moderate Republicans.

We are so royally fucked.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

This Is Why I Always Book Hotels Through AAA

So, trump's gone back to Europe for the G-20 Summit, and what new way has he figured out to embarrass the ever-loving hell out of himself and the entire United States?

President Donald Trump apparently forgot to book a hotel room in Hamburg, Germany, for the annual Group of 20 summit of key global leaders, and was stuck scrambling to find somewhere to stay, BuzzFeed reported Thursday.
Oops.

And they can't even use the punchline "No but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

Of course, other arrangements have been made and trump will sleep in somebody's guest bedroom while his staff crash in the living room somewhere, but this still begs the question "just how fucking incompetent is trump's White House going to be?"

The White House apparently waited too long before making a reservation for Trump and his traveling staff for the summit, which begins on Friday. All the luxury hotels in the city were completely booked by other world leaders, leaving the US president — who made his name in business building, uh, luxury hotels — without a place to stay.

This is a perfect time to point out the word Schadenfreude is German for "laughing at morons" uh "malicious joy at another person's suffering".

So why does this keep happening? It might have to do with the fact that the State Department is currently understaffed and unorganized. Only nine key positions out of 124 have been confirmed at the State Department.
No one has even been nominated as the director in the Office of Foreign Missions, which is responsible for planning and providing security for US missions when diplomats and other top officials travel abroad.
This is seriously a major problem for our nation: The Executive offices necessary to represent us abroad and to ensure a functioning government at home aren't working at all. And sooner rather than later this void of organization is going to get people killed.

Meanwhile, remember how trump is not a huge fan of other world leaders laughing at him? Yeah, he's about to get more of the mockery as this weekend progresses.

This trip is not going to end well.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Going Four for the Fourth!

Because NO ONE ASKED FOR IT, here I am anyway!!!

...

So, hopefully the fireworks shows didn't scare the crap out of your pets.

In the meantime, here's some patriotic porn:


Now, ROCK OUT TO JULY 5th, AMERICANS! 'Cause it's all downhill this year to Christmas.

Where We Stand As a Nation This 4th of July

It's getting close to fireworks time across the East Coast as the sun sets and the families gather to the city parks.

It's an annual tradition, this Independence Day, to celebrate the many things the United States represents: Freedom, Democracy, Justice, the American Dream, Mom, Apple Pie, Baseball, the hearty consumption of beer and hot dogs, and blowing shit up with fireworks that scare the crap out of dogs now hiding under beds.

This year is a little harder than most, given the current situation in our political and social spheres, with a likelihood our economic sphere getting hit hard with an incoming trade war. In the face of such concerns, what is there still to celebrate about our independence from British tyranny as trumpian tyranny rises before us?

We still have a few things worth fighting for.

Our friends and families, about to face the horrors of a Republican repeal of Obamacare, need our support.

Our communities need fresh leadership focused on justice, on improving our schools, on fixing our roads and infrastructure.

Our nation needs to remember the American Dream as an inspiration to all cultures, all ethnicities, across the globe, to every man woman and child who cherish the idea of a better life for themselves and the generations that come after us.

On this 4th of July, I want to celebrate the Idea of America. The hope. The spoken guarantee to pursue life, liberty, and happiness for all.

Let's get to it.

Stand up for America this 4th of July.

Basic Observation of the Ongoing Venezuelan Crisis

There's been a major economic and political crisis in Venezuela since 2014 (actually, for years longer) that has turned into a massive constitutional crisis. So much so that to describe the problems overall would take a team of economists and foreign policy experts writing a book for publication by a university press.

Since I'm not fully qualified, I'm just gonna boil this down to the simplest explanation I can:

A dictatorial government over-reliant on a single industry (oil) is consuming itself in a wave of corrupt self-serving habits that fail to give the majority of the citizenry the fundamental resources (affordable food and housing) needed to live.

And because the people in power cannot admit to failure or allow others who can resolve these problems to enter into power, the only possible response by the majority of the people is to rise up.

At some point, and horrifyingly soon, Venezuela is going to explode in mass violence between the angry mobs and the heavily-armed military.

This won't be pretty.

Independence Day 2017 Style

I'm posting FOUR FOR THE FOURTH TODAY, beeches!

That's right. I'm gonna write four blog entries today, at least one long serious muthaf (you shut your mouth!) in honor of our nation's birth!

Starting off with as always a YouTube clip showing my favorite bit from the musical 1776!



And Hamilton's reply!



Oops.

Get to work, people, it's the Schuyler Sisters (and Peggy)!

And because I can't let it go:


Lesson: Never eat peanut butter on the 4th of July. Stick to hot dogs.