Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Kids Are Alright

And these children that you shoot at /
As they try to dodge your bullets /
Are immune to your Fox Not-News punditry /
They're quite aware you're on the NRA payroll...
- Updated version of David Bowie's "Ch-Ch-Changes"

In the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting (via The Atlantic):

What made Parkland different were the people who stepped forward to describe it. High-school students—the survivors of the calamity themselves—became the voice of the tragedy. Tweets that were widely reported as coming from the students expressed grief for the victims, pushed against false reports, and demanded accountability...
...On television, on social media, they were unignorable. Many of them called for legislation to address the violence.
“We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done,” David Hogg, a student who survived the killing, told CNN...
When the conservative pundit Tomi Lahren demanded that “the left ... let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gun-owner agenda,” the same survivors, who knew the victims, responded in kind:

I think the gun nuts just fucked with the wrong high school.

...Those students understand that they live in a country that they have very little power to change—a country where, several times a year, a school for children becomes a charnel house. So when that hideous transformation struck their school, they already knew what they wanted to do. That girl in the closet, talking to her classmate, anticipated the next several days of talking points without knowing whether she would get to see those days at all. These assorted Florida teenagers knew the contours of the gun debate so well that they were rebutting NRA talking points just after emerging from their safe zones. Now, a few days later, their insistence on their own authority has gummed up the works of the otherwise cliched national debate. Their calls for action may not lead to any imminent change in policy. But they have given the country a striking symbol of what—and who—we’re really talking about when we have these debates. And they will not be the last victims to face a loaded assault rifle and think: This IS preventable. I MUST politicize this.

Then there's student Emma Gonzalez, using the aftermath to rail against the people in power (hint: Republicans) who haven't done shit to address the rise of gun violence in our schools, our public places, and our lives:

There's talk of making a nationwide boycott, of students walking out of their school on April 20 (anniversary of Columbine, what had been the deadliest school massacre until Parkland) and refusing to go back until Congress passes gun safety laws such as banning assault weapons used in most of our mass shootings and implementing Universal Background Checks.

This is the generation following us. This is the generation that grew up in the shadow of Columbine, and who were in middle school when the Sandy Hook massacre took place, and who have been living through monthly school lockdown drills their entire lives.

They are sick of it. They are sick of the NRA buying enough politicians to stop common sense safety laws passing, they are sick of angry guys with guns using them for target practice, they are sick of a status quo that has been enforced on our nation based on fear, lies, and ignorance.

And the kids are not rolling over.

And the kids are standing up.

The kids are alright.

Update: I am not the only one noting these kids are alright.

Guardian article

New Yorker article.

NY Daily News article.

P.S. some of these kids are gonna be old enough to vote this 2018 midterms.

P.S.S. ALL of these kids are gonna be old enough to vote in 2020.

You Republicans can throw all the issues at the glass - abortion, tax cuts, immigration, racial fears, what have you - in order to distract people but I guarantee you these kids are gonna be single-issue voters. They got something to rally around. They are gonna be voting against guns, and you lot sold yourselves to the NRA for far too long.

I hope to God it's an electoral bloodbath this November to match the literal bloodbaths filling up our schools.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Past the Looking Glass And Into the Darkest Timeline: February 2018 edition

Well, this Friday night news dump was heavier than expected. Mueller dropped a 16-tonner in fact (via David A Graham at the Atlantic):

A 37-page indictment filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday lays out the most detailed picture of how the Russian government sought to interfere in the 2016 election, meddling with voters to sow division in American society, and encouraging the election of Donald Trump in what the defendants referred to as “information warfare against the United States of America.”

This is one of the key points of Mueller's investigation: Finding out if the Russians actively interfered in our nation's 2016 election cycle, and if they did find out who, where, when, and how badly.

trump and his handlers/ family members/ faithful lapdogs/ toadies kept arguing there "was no collusion" and that the investigation is all a "hoax" and a "witch hunt." Well, Mueller's mic drop says otherwise:

“The conspiracy had as its object impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable the Defendants to interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the indictment states. There are 16 defendants, including three organizations and 13 individuals, who are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing enforcement of election law as well as wire fraud and bank fraud.
The document is the most complete set of allegations offered by the government yet about one subset of Russian interference, going far beyond an intelligence-community report released in early 2017. At its peak, the alleged conspiracy had a budget of more than $1.25 million per month for activities in the U.S. (!!!) and elsewhere.
The indictment also stands as an implicit rebuke to President Trump, who has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the Russian role in the election...

For all that Mueller had done up to this point - charges on Manafort and Gates, plea deals for Papadopolous and Flynn - none of it directly referred to Russia and any ties to trump. No more.

Friday’s indictment contains far more detail, and while its contents are allegations, not claims proven in a court, they are bolstered by extensive documentary evidence, including emails and messages. Much of the material has been reported in various news outlets, but the indictment puts it all in one place for the first time...
The Russian effort to meddle in the election began way back in 2014, long before anyone viewed Trump as a serious candidate for the presidency, much less a likely nominee. The goal was simply to create division and chaos by exploiting existing cleavages in American society—or as the indictment puts it, operators were instructed to create “political intensity through supporting radical groups, users dissatisfied with [the] social and economic situation and oppositional social movements...”

In other words, use Fox Not-News to rile up an anger-driven conspiracy-obsessed Republican base.

Vladimir Putin’s government has long detested Hillary Clinton, and as Trump rose, the IRA seems to have concluded that he was a useful vector for grievances. Employees sought to boost Trump and Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s principal primary opponent, while also attacking GOP candidates who were more hawkish on Russia: “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump...”

The Russians at some point really focused on trump as their primary weapon to shatter the American electoral process:

Even if the conspiracy did not set out to boost Trump, it jumped into the task with gusto once latching on to him. There was a distinctly pro-Trump bent in its social-media presence... Certain ORGANIZATION-produced materials about the 2016 presidential election used election-related hashtags, including: “#Trump2016,” “#TrumpTrain,” “#MAGA,” “#IWontProtectHillary,” and “#Hillary4Prison”" Defendants and their co-conspirators also established additional online social media accounts dedicated to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including the Twitter account “March for Trump” and Facebook accounts “Clinton FRAUDation” and “Trumpsters United.”

Just remember: this is the stuff Mueller and his team can prove in open court. They're still dealing with sensitive national-security level intel, a lot of which they can't share for the next 20-50 years without getting declassified.

One of the more shocking things in this indictment are the bits about how Russia committed criminal acts during the campaign:

The rallies produced criminal activity, according to the government. First, in order to organize rallies, the defendants were required to register with the U.S. government, which they did not. Second, they allegedly committed wire and bank fraud while attempting to move money under false pretenses. On Friday, the government also unsealed a guilty plea from Richard Pinedo, an American who acknowledged selling bank accounts to the Russians to assist them in circumventing financial laws...

These aren't fantastical charges, products of a deluded mind, or fake news. These are actual legal findings, things that have to stand up in a court of law, things that have gone through rigorous scrutiny and can't be denied nor ignored. Guys like Pinedo and Flynn are pleading out as they're caught dead to rights (and one of the indicted, Gates, is reportedly close to getting a plea deal himself). trump and his ilk can't lie about this, no matter how hard they try.

There's still other elements of this investigation - the more direct ties between trump and Russia that have come out focusing on trump's campaign actively digging for dirt on Hillary, such as the infamous June 2016 meeting at trump Tower - that aren't detailed in these indictments. Those elements may be covered in other parts of Mueller's probe... and may yet come out when possible indictments for trump, trump junior, and Kushner get dropped.

That last part has always been one of the serious conundrums of this ongoing scandal. The long-standing realization that trump - having committed acts of Obstruction in firing the likes of Yates and Comey who were digging too close to trump's Russian ties - is bound to try and shut down the investigation before it directly touches him (or those closest).

There's an argument now that by revealing Russia's involvement like this, Mueller and Rosenstein have insulated themselves from any reprisal: If trump tries firing either one of them now, it would be such a blatant act to protect Russia that trump (and his Republican backers) loses all remaining shreds of credibility left to them.

That's never an issue with trump, though: His voting base will never accept the facts that Mueller uncovers.

My argument is that trump can't remove Mueller or Rosenstein now because doing so creates a major schism in both domestic and foreign affairs. If he tries to shut this investigation down, he loses any control over the Intel agencies tasked with protecting our nation, and he runs the risk of having large swathes of our military refusing to obey any orders from what they'll view is an illegal Presidency. Another thing to consider: Our foreign allies and neighbors will go from barely-concealed loathing to open hostility, treating trump and his Republican allies as criminal usurpers on the Russian payroll.

trump is in the unenviable place of "damned if he does. damned if he doesn't". He can't shut the investigation down without paying a high price... and Mueller's investigation is getting closer to the point of revealing direct ties with Russia and all the criminal charges that would entail.

Then again, it's his own damn fault he's in this predicament. he's the one who decided to run in order to mock his rival Obama's legacy... he's the one who refused to play by the election rules... he's the one breaking every ethical and legal practice on the books.

trump deserves the punishment - one form or another - aiming his way. It's called KARMA and he's earned every piece of pain and humiliation that's coming.

It's just gonna be messy for all of us when it hits.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Bad News From Florida: Blood On the Streets Of Parkland

I started writing my good news article today this morning.

I just got the word this afternoon about Parkland.

Jesus Christ no.

I lived there, back when I worked in Broward County Libraries. Not exactly in Parkland, but in Tamarac for a few years, then Coconut Creek. I know the neighborhoods, I know those communities.

Jesus Christ.

17 dead.

All because of one angry guy with a military-grade assault rifle.

All because the National Body Count Association owns most of the elected Republicans between here to Alaska. All because the National "Our Guns Matter More Than Your Kids" Association will throw another hissy fit if any sensible gun safety laws even gets mentioned on the floor of Congress.

All because the only thing our elected officials will do is "send thoughts and prayers" as though the last 180,000 times hadn't worked.

We have a national gun death rate comparable to a war zone. We're racking up more kills than the Syrian Civil War this year. I might not even be exaggerating.

We will keep seeing our schools and churches and malls and movie theaters and concert events used for target practice until we do one of two things: Get rid of angry guys or get rid of military-grade assault rifles that make it too goddamn easy to kill.

Good News from Florida, A Reminder to All Voters Opposed to trump

This is happening in my back yard (via the Daily Beast):

Margaret Good won a special election for state representative in Florida’s 72nd district on Tuesday night, the Democratic party’s 36th legislative flip since President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year.
The closely watched race pitted Good against Libertarian Alison Foxall and Republican James Buchanan, whose father Vern represents the area in Congress...

Essentially, this should have been an easy roll for Buchanan: his family is the local political power, able to cash in favors here, promises there... Instead:

The seat opened up after Republican Alex Miller resigned last year, citing her family and business as reasons. Trump won the district by just five points, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by some 13,000 voters.
Good’s final margin was nearly eight points and over 3,000 votes.

What's interesting is that for a non-Presidential cycle, plus midterm, also special election for a small state legislative seat, the turnout for this was bigger than expected (via the local Sarasota Herald-Tribune):

Before Election Day voting even commenced, turnout for the District 72 state House race may have set a record for a state House special election in Florida, another sign of how much interest the race is attracting as both major parties look to make a statement heading into the November midterm election.
Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner researched voter turnout results in the state archives. The turnout figures only go back to 2003, but since then the largest voter turnout for a state House special election was 22 percent in 2008. Turnout in the District 72 race already was at 22.8 percent as of Monday evening, and that’s only from absentee and in-person early voting. By 11 a.m. Tuesday turnout had reached 25 percent, Turner said.
“For the type of election it is, it certainly is strong turnout,” Turner said, adding that the turnout figure “says a lot about the interest and excitement in this race.”

I might actually start smiling again.

This answers some of my ongoing calls for action.

This proves that the key to victory for Democrats is turnout. GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT.

This proves to me on an emotional level that there are a lot of angry voters - 65 million worth - who watched the 2016 elections go against their interests and put into office people - trump especially - they didn't vote for.

This proves that the voters are NOT going to slack off for 2018 midterms like they usually did, when turnout in 2014 and 2010 dropped because they weren't Presidential cycles.

This proves that if Democrats challenge every seat, if they refuse to let Republican get into elected offices without a fight, they've got better than expected chances to win in even "solid red pro-Republican" districts. They won't win every race: But the way things are trending they CAN win enough seats to matter.

This year it means everything to get the vote out.

Work on this, Dems. You've got a mission: Stop trump. You've got the numbers: 65 million voters nationwide. You've got the odds: A majority of Americans are WITH YOU, not the GOP.

Get the vote out, people. Vote for every Democrat you can, throw Republican you can out into the trashbins.

February 14: Introverts Shamefest Day

When you get older, and you stay lonely all these years, Valentines' Day just loses its appeal, if it ever had any.

I'll just go over into the corner and cry my eyes out, like always.

To the rest of you: honestly, how do you do it? What do I keep doing wrong?

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


I'm not underwhelmed at the moment, I can tell you that.

There's about ten-twenty things I gotta do, and for all the outrage I currently have about our trumpian state of misdeeds I'm lacking the time to get focused on even one anger-inducing stupid thing.

Although I'll take a moment and say that trump insisting on a military parade for his own bruised ego is the height of hypocrisy coming from a draft-dodging coward with bone spurs who still golfed without a goddamn care.

Meanwhile, pray to God we're still here in a week or two from now.

AND GET THE GODDAMN VOTE OUT. You have voter registration for state/congressional Primaries coming up! GET EVERYONE SANE YOU KNOW OF SIGNED UP AND READY TO VOTE REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE.

Good Luck. We're all counting on you.

Monday, February 05, 2018

As Now trump Sees Himself as Above All, And To Oppose him is Treason

So while the stock markets were tanking, Loser of the Popular Vote donald trump took the time to call Democrats a bunch of traitors for being mean to him (via Splinter):

During a speech in Blue Ash, OH, on Monday, President Donald Trump—a man who once described neo-Nazis as “some very fine people”—said that the Democrats who didn’t stand and applaud for him during his first State of the Union were traitors.
"You’re up there, you’ve got half the room going totally crazy wild....they love everything, they wanna do something great for our country. And you have the other side—even on positive news, really positive news like that—they were like death. And un-American. Un-American. Somebody said treasonous. Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not."

Never mind how trump ignores the simple fact that opposing Parties have a Free Speech right to NOT applaud you, never mind that trump doesn't even admit to how Republicans behaved far WORSE when it was Obama speaking to the nation - remember Joe Wilson shouting "You Lie!"

Never mind - that of the two groups of Americans divided today into partisan factions - trump and his people are the ones OPENLY bragging about being in league with a foreign power in the Russians, and that trump and his people are under investigation for working with those Russians to subvert our nation's 2016 election.

Never mind the growing evidence trump himself is the traitor.

Never mind the standard Republican rulebook to accuse their Democratic opponents of committing crimes they themselves commit and expect to get away with.

Here is where we are now, as a nation.

To oppose donald trump is to be treasonous.

This is the hypocrisy of the Republican Party laid bare. They've been like this since the days of McCarthy: accuse their opponents of "hating America" in any way shape and form. A mixture of projection (of the sins they commit) and defensive posturing so that when they DO get caught the Republicans can complain "it's all part of the game and the Democrats are just sliming us the way we slime them."

This is an open declaration by trump that he is above criticism, above reproach, above the laws and rules that have guided our nation for generations.

This is the next step in his authoritarian fantasy, the one right before he grants himself judicial powers to decide who sucks up to him and who goes to jail.

And so here comes trump, playing the role of Charles I, offended by those who question his divine right to rule, marching his way into Parliament like a bully to arrest any and all who oppose him.

It didn't end well, considering the English Civil War started that moment.

It didn't end well for Charles I either.

As Patrick Henry declared, "If this be treason, make the most of it."

Hope You Invested In Manure Futures...

This may not be the kickoff of the recession that Pinku-Sensei warned was coming, but am willing to bet this is the tsunami alarm going off: The Stock Market has dropped sharply both on Friday and today (via CNN):

Stocks went into free fall on Monday, and the Dow plunged almost 1,600 points -- easily the biggest point decline in history during a trading day.
Buyers charged back in and limited the damage, but at the closing bell the Dow was still down 1,175 points, by far its worst closing point decline on record.

Percentage-wise, it was about a 4 percent loss - not as bad as the 1987 crash or the 2008 crash - but the optics of seeing a huge wave of red (losses) dominate the screens has to hurt.

I'm seeing other people online say this is merely a "course correction," that the markets can't ALWAYS go up like they've been doing the last 18 months. But you rarely see a course correction this steep.

I'm also seeing the argument about the crash happening because of inflationary fears and/or concerns about interest rates going up, in responses to the "strength" of the American economy when it comes to employment numbers (which isn't as sound as it looks either).

When you consider a lot of pension plans - city, county, state, private - tie their revenues to stock portfolios and mutual funds, there's a lot of money getting lost for people right now. So this is not good news.

The long-term implications for this are beyond my meager understanding (I got a C in economics: the best I can tell you is "buy low, sell high."), but when I consider Pinku's early warning about the recession, and the fact we've got a federal government led by morons who create economic chaos wherever they go, I am not looking forward to the coming fiscal year.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Yo Memo Jokes

So, to consider the release of the Nunes Memo that supposedly would reveal that the FBI investigation into trump's dealing with Russia during the 2016 elections was an anti-trump hit job?

Yeah, big huge nothingburger... Again.

This is never about the Republicans' actually wanting government to work properly. If you're thinking Nunes and his Congresscritters will use this as a starting point to reform FISA's warrant process, you're wrong.

This isn't about the civil rights of every trump campaigner - Manafort, Carter, Kushner, trump junior, and trump himself - getting trampled on, because that doesn't show up in the memo at all. If it's in the actual warrants, that's all still hidden from view.

This isn't about the facts of the matter, which all point to the FBI and Mueller both going by the book and getting their warrants done proper and legal.

This is about the Republicans wanting to retain their tenuous hold on power. This is about the Republicans looking to dismantle every last aspect of effective government in order to secure their own one-party rule at the expense of everyone else's rights.

This is about giving trump a weapon he can use to shut down a legitimate investigation into his (possible) misdeeds ranging from Obstruction (which he's ADMITTED to and has been caught doing over and over) to criminal interference with our elections with the aid of a foreign power (bordering on treason). Not against Mueller, but against the Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein who is the one person standing in trump's way.

This is about giving the talking heads on Fox Not-News - in particular Sean Hannity - a way to compare this to Watergate but in reverse, where the FBI is illegal and the poor president a victim of partisan librul hacks (?!) inside the Bureau.

This is about giving the conspiracy-driven GOP voting base their red meat, to keep feeding them the fiction that Hillary/Obama are the heads of a vast librul criminal enterprise to ruin 'Murrika. And to fuel the growing anti-government hysteria the Far Right's had for decades.

This is about driving the rest of America crazy. As Nunes and Hannity and the wingnuts collectively aim middle fingers in every direction, the rest of us are clinging onto the twin pillars of Despair And Satire.

It's not that Humor is the only defense we've got left - we still have the Rule Of Law no matter how hard trump and co. are trying to break it - but it's the best weapon we have to let the Far Right know we view them as the hapless clowns they truly are.

So, tweet away every #YoMemoJoke you've got.

And keep fighting to get every Democratic candidate elected to office this 2018. Start making the Republicans feel the despair they've earned.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Republicans In Flight 2018 Edition

"Only Barnes can kill Barnes." - the movie Platoon

While discussing the apt - yet tragic - metaphor of having a train full of House Republicans crashing into a garbage truck, we should consider the real train wreck going on with Republicans coping with a world dominated by their Almighty Shitgibbon.

What's happening is that despite the control the GOP holds over all three branches of federal government - they hold the Executive with trump, they hold the Legislative with control of the House since 2011 and the Senate since 2015, they hold the Judicial with five Supreme Court seats - there are an abnormally high number of vacating and retiring party leaders. In the fashion of rats abandoning the ship.

The latest one looking to get out of Dodge before the bills come due is a familiar name: Trey Gowdy, he of the "We'll Get You to Confess You're a Witch, Hillary" from not so long ago.

To the Talking Points Memo article (via Cameron Joseph)!

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) won’t run for another term, he announced Wednesday, making him the latest GOP chairman to announce he’s heading for the exits in recent months.
“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political elected office,” Gowdy said in a statement. “Instead I will be returning to the justice system. Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system.”

Gotta admit, the "return to justice" excuse is a fresh one, a lot better to buy than the "wanna spend more time with the family" we usually get.

But let's read a little bit between the lines, shall we?

His announcement makes him the ninth Republican committee chairman to announce he’s leaving, the second this week alone...

Joseph is referring to New Jersey's Rodney Frelinghuysen (gesundheit) clearing out from the powerful Appropriations Committee, something you don't walk away from because that's the committee what controls where the spending money goes.

The overall number of departing Republicans is intriguing:

House Republicans have been retiring at record rates this year, outpacing even previous wave elections. There are now 34 GOP lawmakers who won’t be back next year...

And this is still early. The Primaries are a few months away, and there's a likelihood that a number of incumbents are getting in-party challenges that could knock "safe" veteran seats off with more radical Far Right candidates that could lose the General Election in November.

As it stands, there's 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats filling the House. That's a 45-seat difference. All the Democrats have to do is flip more than 50 percent of those seats while retaining their own and they regain control of the House. That's 23 seats to gain.

There's 34 retiring Republican congresscritters. Granted, some of those are "safe" districts, but given the power of incumbency that allowed for a near-lock on those "safe" seats. Many of those "safe" seats are likely going to be toss-ups, where Democrats have a legitimate chance to win because an axiom of American politics is that the party in control of the White House during midterms tends to lose seats due to voter dissatisfaction.

All those toss-up seats. All those chances for Democrats to control the House - the Senate's math is harder to reach since only 1/3rd of that chamber is up for a vote - and break the grip the GOP currently holds on us. It's also a chance - with the chamber that controls the purse-strings and holds oversight powers - to finally force trump to answer for his bullshit.

It's odd, don't you think, for the party in power to start losing so many of their own party leaders like this, especially as the Republicans are working overtime to further suppress voter turnout among Democratic demographics.

There's three key factors: 1) The Republicans just passed their massive Tax Cut gift to the super-rich. Now they need to get out of the way before the economic fallout from that bad idea hits everybody. 2) A number of these incumbents are seeing shrinking support even in their "safe" gerrymandered districts, as the Game of Demographics that favored them is finally slipping. 3) The party has a huuuuge albatross around their necks called donald trump. His constant unfavorable numbers make him toxic to the GOP in the General election polling. Just look at Alabama, where TWICE trump went in that state to campaign for "his" favored Senate candidate only to have BOTH candidates lose (Strange in primary, Moore in general)... in an otherwise solid Red State where trump's current value was zilch.

The pundits are looking at what they're calling another Wave Election - which given the hyperactive state of partisanship in the country now seems to be every 6 years instead of 20 - that favors the Democrats in ways the GOP suppression efforts can't contain.

For all the slavish devotion the current GOP leadership has towards trump, the "sane" members of the Party have to be looking at the polling numbers and running for their lives. trump's leadership - or lack thereof - normally requires a political party to answer either by standing up to his inept and corrupt ways (which some try but then find themselves disinvited from Fox Not-News), or by surrendering to trump's corruption and risk getting sucked into that black hole with criminal charges sooner or later.

The third option is to run. And so they are. In numbers that can well give the Democrats the House this November.

Get the vote out, America. GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT, DEMOCRATS. To all the Indy voters out there, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATS this 2018.

Make more Republican rats flee for their lives.