Sunday, July 31, 2016

Every Ann Coulter Mystery Ever Written, Before She Threatens To Write One

So, this is out there:

Ann Coulter: "If Trump doesn't win, it's over. I'll be writing cookbooks and mysteries."

Look, I know as a librarian I shouldn't ban books, but I swear to the Old Gods and the New I ought to be able to maintain some standards, people. I don't wanna shelve those books if they ever see the light of day...

I've got a hard enough time living with myself while my library patrons request these Far Right titles on politics and current affairs. They have a right to read what they want, so that's how I rationalize it, and also why I make sure there's a balance on the shelves with sane moderate or Progressive Left works to at least provide a marketplace of diverse ideas.

But an Ann Coulter cookbook?!?! If the title's To Serve Man someone better sue her.

And if you've ever read Ann Coulter's political stuff - where liberals are evil, conservatives are touched by God, and she is the judge of all Earth - you might get a pretty good idea how an Ann Coulter mystery will read:

It's 1952 in Midvale (it's always 1952 in Midvale). The middle-aged widower sheriff overseeing this delightful small town is rocked by shocking news of a young happily married couple - they had just gotten hitched at the Baptist church just last week! - found murdered one morning. Struggling to make sense of the crime, the sheriff teams up with a thin stunningly beautiful blonde reporter to figure out the clues.
Using her detailed understanding of Randian Objectivism, the pair uncovers the murderer as a doctor of Middle Eastern origin who killed the couple because the wife refused to let him abort her baby. The doctor is also a prominent defender of the FDR-era New Deal, which makes the town's mayor - a weak yet politically ambitious Democrat who wants to prove himself to a stern father (retired war hero general that once saved MacArthur's life in the Philippines) who hopes his son could one day serve as governor - unwilling to press charges because it might start a race riot.
When the doctor threatens the life of the token African-American family in town, the sheriff bravely oversteps his authority, forms a posse with his now-girlfriend reporter, and raids the doctor's home to find a coven of Stalin-worshiping Communists about to kill a honest and unyielding US Senator who served as a tail-gunner during The War. There's a clean shootout where all the bad Commie characters die - the Randian reporter gets to sniper-shoot the lead Commie between the eyes - while the good guys don't even get splinters. The evil doctor is forced to make a public confession where he admits the errors of his baby-killing ways before he hangs himself, the town celebrates with a special election to vote out the craven politician to replace him with a well-meaning television actor, and the sheriff and reporter decide to get married and move to the Big City where the sheriff's Small-Town sensibilities as Police Commish will save that city from collapsing into the moral rot of LBJ's Great Society in the coming decade.  

There. Done. Just change the calendar date (although it will ALWAYS be 1952) and the name of the town, and that will be every Ann Coulter mystery novel ever written before she even writes one.

And the sad thing? Publishers will line up for her mysteries because she has a known name, she has an agent on payroll who will line her up. Even if the official mystery publishers refuse her works, she can easily go to her conservative printing buddies and have them start a mystery series imprint just for her, and make arrangements for bookstores and retailers to shelve her crap at the front door of every Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble out there.

Here's a mystery that's worth solving: can someone figure out why universities and public organizations are still willing to cough up $50,000 in speaking fees for this hack writer Ann Coulter?


Trump, Propagating His Character By the Slander

Just remember, Trump has no shame. He can sink as low and vile a human can go all because he doesn't care about anything other than Trump.

How else can we get Trump to respond to the parents of fallen war hero Army Captain Humayun Khan - who died in Iraq (note: I erroneously had this as Afghanistan earlier) warning off his unit from what turned out to be a suicide bomber - by questioning and belittling the parents' grief and rage? (via Ezra Klein at Vox)

...And, yes, the Khan family is Muslim. Under Trump’s proposed policies, they would be innately suspect; had he been president when they immigrated to America, they would’ve been barred from entering, and Humayun Khan never would have served.
"Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?" Khan asked Trump. "Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one."
Trump responded to Khan’s speech. I don’t know what I expected from Trump. Maybe he would show some gentleness. Maybe he would show some empathy. Maybe he would refuse to comment. Maybe he would attack Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy leadership. All of those responses would have been fine.
Trump’s actual response, though, wasn’t fine.
"If you look at his wife, she was standing there," he said, on national television. "She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."
This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. In an interview with Maureen Dowd, Trump took the same tack. "I’d like to hear his wife say something," he said.
Let’s be very clear about what Trump is doing here: as ABC wrote, he’s suggesting "Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim." This is bullshit. It is flatly, verifiably, false. But that’s almost beside the point.
Trump listened to a speech by the bereaved father of a fallen Muslim soldier and used it to slander the fallen soldier’s family. That was his response. That is his character...
...If you would like to see Ghazala Khan speak, you can do so in this interview she gave to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. As Fallows writes, she breaks down sobbing while speaking of her son. It suggests she let her husband give the DNC speech for a simple reason: she remains overwhelmed by grief...

A sane response to being called out by a grieving family over the death of their child - sons and daughters all - on the battlefield is to express sorrow at their loss, and try to deflect their anger with a reasoned yet compassionate reply.

If Trump had any decency, he could have done as Klein suggested and shown some empathy: "I'm so sorry your son had to die like that." He could have said along the lines of "I would think every American should be proud your son saved lives in sacrifice of his own." Given Trump's political stance, he could have easily gone with "I understand you're upset about my wanting to block Muslims from coming to America as immigrants, but I'm looking at a bigger picture of stopping terrorists who come from radical Islamic regions and I'd like to think we can all work towards something that would be reasonable and fair." THAT would have fit exactly into Trump's messaging and he could have trudged on as uncaring as before.

He did none of that.

Trump's response was to ignore their pain altogether and attempt to mock the culture that the fallen soldier's parents come from. Which wasn't even remotely accurate in the first place.

As Klein notes, Mrs. Khan has a voice and has every right to speak it. She chose not to because she's still in emotional turmoil nearly a decade after her son's death.

This is a mother's burden. I've seen it. Any mother whose child dies before she does carries that, it is a blow to her far worse than any direct wound. Did you watch that speech, Mr. Trump? I could see, everyone I was sitting with at the watch party I went to that night could see it: Mrs. Khan was in pain. Anything she could have said would have come out only as tears.


Trump didn't even respond to Mr. Khan's direct accusation about Trump's lack of understanding the Constitution - which as immigrants Mr. and Mrs. Khan had to study to win their citizenship - which could have been acceptable given the challenge. Instead he went straight to attacking the parents' character.

This is the mark of the Politics of Personal Destruction: You can't attack the message so you attack the messenger. You disqualify your opposite and thus disqualify anything they represent.

Trump is the imposter Junius warned us of centuries ago: "The imposter employs force instead of argument, imposes silence where he cannot convince, and propagates his character by the sword."

Trump employs the stance of the bully: his is a history of lawsuits and attacks even on those who worked for him (that he then refuses to pay fair wages). He openly issues statements of violence and intimidation: "I would really like to punch those guys," "I can shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose any voters," and let's include his willingness to pay the legal fees of those who commit acts of violence in his name...

Trump imposes silence: he bans reporters he views as enemies, avoids open and honest debate - he's trying to lie his way out of the scheduled debates vs. Hillary as I type this! - whenever possible, and has openly admitted as President he would rewrite the libel laws to make it easier for him (and not others) to sue the media into quiet submission.

And Trump propagates his character with the sword of slander, slashing and hacking at everyone, critic and supporter alike, without a care in the world.

Gods help us should Trump ever get hold of a real sword like our nation's military and our federal law enforcement.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Exponere

That's Latin for "to explain". To wit:

This election cycle for the President of the United States is a simple choice: Between a Republican candidate who has absolutely no experience with running any public office (and if the reports from Kasich's people are right, has no interest in actually doing his job in office), who insults and bullies others, who calls on and aligns himself with foreign dictator-controlled nations at odds with the United States to interfere with our democracy, who has only ever shown self-interest and greed; Or a Democratic candidate who has experience running for public office and performing her duties, who makes the effort to build coalitions within her own party (despite all the BernieBro rage, Sanders was able to deal with Hillary and get things done), who speaks of supporting our allies in our national interest, who has more often than not shown grace in the face of harsh and vocal hatred of her.

We have a simple choice between Ignorance (Trump) and Competence (Hillary).

We have a simple choice between racism and hatred (Trump vs. Mexicans, Trump vs. Muslims, Trump vs. Blacks, Trump vs. Women, Trump vs. Asians, Trump vs. Gays, Trump vs. Transgender) and a woman candidate breaking the ultimate glass ceiling with a diverse coalition of every ethnicity and gender.

We have a choice that ought to transcend the partisan divide between Republican and Democrat. How many honest Republicans are there looking out at EVERYTHING Trump represents and recoiling in horror? How many have already resigned their places - some of them local and state officials - within the GOP?

To be fair, there are a sizable number of Democrats claiming to quit the party because they hate Hillary, but not at the scale and level of disgust the anti-Trump Republicans are at. And many of those anti-Hillary Democrats are calling their support to third-party choice with Green candidate Stein. Many of the anti-Trump officials are backing Clinton: They still hate Hillary, but they all seem to agree they can actually work with her, and they know what to expect because she actually respects them even from the other side of the political spectrum. They know they can't get that from Trump. The only thing Trump respects is himself.

To every registered voter out here in the United States. This is a serious election with everything at stake. Not just Obamacare or Obama's foreign policy deals with Iran and Cuba, not just our positive-growth economy still in need of reforms to ensure better wages and more jobs, not just our roads and schools and parks. This is a serious election between a Trump who does not respect the Constitution or the rule of law or an independent judiciary or the basic civil liberties of us all, and a Clinton who has served the public trust more for the common good than for ill.

Please, to every registered voter: Get the vote out for Hillary Clinton this November. Get the vote out for the Senate and House elections so that we can truly break the gridlock frustrating us all. Get the vote out for Democratic candidates at the state level. Get the vote out for the judicial elections in your area. Get the vote out for your state referendums and amendments (ooh, remind me I gotta post a Florida referendum review ASAP).

In the immortal words of the boss: Don't Boo. Vote.


Update (what's Latin for update? (checks the dictionary)): following links to similar compare-contrast articles.

From Ezra Klein at Vox.

From John Scalzi at his blog.

From John Cole at Balloon Juice.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Personal Observation About Stats This Past Week

Just saying, but during this past week of the Democratic nominating convention, I had one blog article shoot up the charts on views:

RIP Republican Party 1856-2015.

edit: this is nothing like the weird Russia-driven traffic that I and others have been getting the past few days, where the overall views jumped up like a Laffer Curve looking for the proper tax rate of 58 percent on upper incomes. I'm getting direct page hits for "RIP Republican Party" boom and boom. For an article that's almost a year old, this is getting up there with my classic Woodstock Port-O-San Guy article (P.S. Mr. Taggart PLEASE email me!).

Funny thing is, I wasn't advertising it, pushing it on Twitter or Facebook or anything. Just, of its own accord, people have been searching for articles about the death of the Republican Party, and my article has been getting the search results.

This traffic uptick started this past Wednesday, on the third night of the DNC speeches, when Biden and Panetta and Kaine and Bloomberg and OBAMA all came out and nuked Trump from orbit.

The other bloggers I follow - Rude Pundit and Driftglass and Balloon Juice in particular - are all pointing out how the Democrats presented a positive patriotic platform that the Republicans woefully failed to do last week. The differences are stark, and even the conservative punditry is freaking out over it.

It shouldn't be surprising that right about now, people are wondering just what the hell is wrong with the Republican Party as it has (and continues to) fallen apart.

So, thank you readers. Thank you for visiting this humble site.

Now if I can get the traffic to pick up on my political rants book I'm shilling over here on the right column of this blog! --------->

C'mon folks, let's see if we can get this baby on the Amazon.com Non-Fiction Bestsellers list!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Obama Tonight

Holy.

Shit.
(note: I had to update the YouTube clip)



That was a speech.

Everybody who watched it are talking like they've just had the best sex of their lives.

Obama quoted Reagan, and Obama quoted Teddy Roosevelt's "Man In the Arena", and he could do this because the Republican Party has tossed both of those GOP icons to one side so they could follow a con artist like Trump.

Obama gave a speech so good, even Bill Clinton - one of our modern masters of oratory - had to give a standing ovation at one point.

This speech is so epic that the Democrats better get a fucking 20-point bounce in the polls this weekend.

And all the things Obama said was true, and were things I've wanted our leaders to say again and again.

Above all, when the audience started booing Trump's name, Obama said and ad-libbed "Don't boo. Don't boo. VOTE."

YES YES YES YES YES YES.

GODDAMN I WANT TO VOTE OBAMA AGAIN FOR A THIRD TERM. I WILL CHARGE HELL ITSELF FOR THAT MAN.

This night buried Trump. Panetta, and Biden, and Bloomberg, and Kaine, and then Obama all came out with the shovels and buried that con artist on every failure that Trump is guilty of.

Goddamn. I may not get any sleep tonight I AM SO PUMPED FOR THIS I AM AWAITED IN VALHALLA WE WILL ARRIVE SHINY AND CHROME. I HAVEN'T BEEN THIS PUMPED SINCE WATCHING FURY ROAD FIVE TIMES IN THE THEATERS.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Every Trump You Take (Putin Will Be Watching You)

What the hell did Trump just do today? Via Washington Post:

Republican nominee Donald Trump pleaded directly Wednesday with the Russian government to meddle in the U.S. presidential election by finding and releasing tens of thousands of private emails from his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton — an extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented maneuver in American politics...
...Asked whether Russian espionage into the former secretary of state’s correspondence would concern him, Trump said, “No, it gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them.”
The emails cited by Trump are from Clinton’s time at the State Department, where her use of a private server prompted a federal investigation. The FBI concluded that no prosecution was necessary...
Trump is basically calling on a foreign power to actively spy on an American, to actively spy on a Presidential candidate, to actively spy on a former Secretary of State.

How isn't this treason - allying with a foreign power that is at odds with us - right up front and public?

I'm with Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice over this (although she's called it back a bit, I'm still in a rage over this). Let's call this for what it is: Trump calling on a foreign power to spy on any of us is basically Treason.

It doesn't matter that Clinton's email server has already undergone a complete federal investigation, where the worst the FBI found was that it was improper that Clinton was doing this (following how previous Sec of States did their private servers!).

Trump is taking the Far Right Narrative that Evil Clinton is still hiding something, anything, and they want to get at it by hook or by crook. Preferably by crook.

This is insane. This would be like having Richard Nixon asking Red China to wiretap Muskie (didn't have to, he hired his own). This would be like having Teddy Roosevelt asking Canada to intercept telegrams sent by Alton B. Parker back in 1904. This would be like John Adams asking the kingdom of Norway to raid Thomas Jefferson's home for his personal papers.

Or, here, let's say this in a way Trump will understand. This would be like Barack Obama calling on Ukraine to hack the IRS and expose all Trump's tax returns he refuses to show us.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE THAT, TRUMP? You and the Far Right wingnuts on Fox Not-News would be screaming for impeachment and execution if he did that.

And that's exactly what you just said Trump. At what point should we apply what's fair to the crap you're pulling?

Dear sweet God, America. This man does not have the temperament, the intelligence, the awareness to serve as President. This is a man who will bulldoze over every law, every protocol, every liberty to indulge his own twisted fantasies and needs.

Trump is a man who is right now ignoring laws and the realities of foreign policy just to scare his voting base and bully everyone else. Trump distorts and destroys everything he touches, everything he lusts for. We are watching our nation's entire political system crumble into ash.

Dear Republican Party: any claim you have to being a serious party on foreign affairs is long over. This is just the final fucking nail in the coffin.

You need to denounce this monster in your midst and you need to denounce him by name and you need to denounce his deeds. Common decency and common sense DEMAND that you do this.

God help us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What Just Happened This July 26 2016

Why is this night different from all other nights?

Because this night, a black man is playing professional ba... wait, we've done this bit.

Because this night, I caught a Squirtle on Pokemon GO. Okay, okay, settle down peeps.

Because this night, Hillary Clinton was officially nominated for the Presidency of the United States by a major political party. There have been women nominated by third parties before, and often. But let's be honest: you have to be a Democrat or a Republican candidate to have a solid shot at the Oval Office.

If things hold, if the voter turnout is like 2012 only better, we can look forward to an historic night in November much like that night in 2008.

That means - HINT FREAKING HINT - you people need to stop polling for Trump and dump his sorry corrupt Russian-owned ass into the dustbin of history.

Sigh.

Anyway, I need more Squirtles to evolve one up. Where's a good spot to catch more?

Have You Gotten It Out Of Your Systems Yet, People?

I surprised myself finding a "Settle the Fuck Down People" tag already in my Labels. I lost track of that. Anyway I digress.

Just putting my two cents here regarding the raucous caucus that is Philadelphia at the moment. Of course, the BernieBros were out in force as Boo Birds in the back benches, but I think by the time Michelle Obama came out and did her plagiarism of Beyonce, it sounded like they've settled down.

Since this is Day Two, when the delegates are counted in, we'll probably see another round of upset holdouts crying that somehow Bernie won despite, you know, having fewer delegates than needed. At some point the convention is going to have to accept that Trump and Putin are the real enemies from here on out (more on that later).

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Honest Bumper Stickers Part XII: For Your Cries Only

Now that we've got the Vice Presidents figured out, we can see a few more bumper stickers on the cars piling up on the mean streets of Yeehaw Junction.

in the real world, every other word on this sticker would say TRUMP... 


Too wordy, I know. But accurate.

Yeah, had to get the WWE gag out of my system.


Okay, what's next?


Well, Now This Week Is the Democrats' Turn at Conventioning. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Compared to that questionable, divisive, what-the-hell mess the Republicans attempted in Cleveland... I doubt the Democrats' show in Philadelphia will be as chaotic, clumsy, poorly vetted, or poorly attended (when a Republican convention fails to finance the local strip club industry, you know there's something wrong).

Still, there's a lot of things that can go wrong that could make for terrific ratings for Fox Not-News - and provide a distraction away from the Ailes firing, more on that later - and terrible heartburn for every sane anti-Trump voter on the planet in the United States.

For starters, thanks to an infodump by Wikileaks of DNC emails (hacked by Russians, with all that suggests), the BernieBro faction is enraged by the implications that the party leadership was all in for Hillary and had been looking for ways to sabotage Sanders' primary efforts. Nevermind that the email plotting never came to life - that it was all brainstorming conjecture that got rejected by higher-ups - any excuse to hate on Hillary and her peeps will do. There's already been some backroom in-fighting...

...that led to significant reforms to the Superdelegate rules to make them more reflective of the state-by-state Primary results, something Sanders pushed for. So is there any real reason to be running around on a rampage?

In terms of the speaker lineup, it's mostly going to be familiar faces: Sanders and Michelle Obama speak Monday, Bill Clinton and a collection of Mothers of the Movement (an anti-violence group) speak Tuesday, Biden and Obama speak Wednesday night (when was the last time a retiring President spoke at the convention?), and then Chelsea Clinton introduces her mother Hillary for the Thursday night big speech. This is odd because there's no up-and-comer freshman politician who can profit from a night in the spotlight...

...wait a minute. Where's Kaine? As Vice President nominee doesn't he get a slot?

RIOT! RIOT!

...then again, it's Philadelphia. Who's gonna notice...?

Okay, okay, I'll settle. Let's stay friendly, people. Unity... unity and competence and what what.

Update: So of course there's enough of a conniption about the emails that Debbie Wasserman Schultz - never all that popular among the Democratic faithful to begin with - had to resign just before the convention starts.

So we're going to get a lot of media bashing and faux concern-trolling about this instead of focusing on the real issues, like Trump being a completely unacceptable candidate who deserves to have his ass kicked in the general election.

Dammit.

Never underestimate the Democratic Party's ability to f-ck up an easy win.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Good Lord, That's Tim Kaine's Music

Insert plethora of Tim Kaine/WWE Kane puns here.

So, Hillary has made her ticket selection, and decided on a person considered a "safe" or reliable choice in Virginia Senator Kaine. I know a good number of Democrats were pining for a more... risky pick, something a little more stunning or more stringently Progressive, maybe someone female for an all-woman ticket or someone ethnic for an "Up Yours White Guys" ticket, but in a world filled with Left-Centrist white guys you sometimes got to go draw from the well.

I've ranted about the need for Vice Presidents before, but we're still using that system so let's work with it.

The biggest thing people should take away from a Veep pick is how it signifies what the candidate is going to do as President to select all the other people to fill important roles in his/her administration. This is the first big decision, and the candidate has to nail it. A bad pick - say, McGovern tabbing Eagleton or Mondale tabbing Ferraro or McCain tabbing Palin - indicates bad people skills, poor decision-making, what have you.

This means evaluating Kaine's record (back to the Post):

Kaine comes from a swing state (note: in Electoral value, a popular pick can garner you a slight boost in the Veep's home state and maybe neighboring ones). He has executive and legislative experience. Before going to the Senate, Kaine was governor of Virginia from 2005 to 2009 and mayor of Richmond prior to that. He has a strong Catholic religious background: He was a missionary out of college. He speaks fluent Spanish. He had been vetted favorably by then-Sen. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
And, most importantly, Kaine is a steady presence. He has been in the national spotlight -- both during the 2008 vetting and during his stint as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2009 to 2011. He knows how to handle the media, the scrutiny and the attacks that come with a high-profile perch. He's even-keeled amid chaos.
One word to describe Kaine favorably? Competent. He knows how politics works, he's run successful campaigns, he's been a team player, and he can work the halls of Congress and the back rooms to broker deals as needed.

And to be fair, another one word to describe him is Boring. Kaine does not attract much media attention, he's not a brilliant or charismatic orator, he's not a guy the news channels think of to invite onto their shows, he's not going to get voted Prom King any time soon. On the bright side, that also means he's scandal-proof.

His voting record shows a consistent Liberal bent. He may not be full-on Far Left but he's no Blug Dog.

By selecting Kaine, Hillary is showing that she'll value competency and a strong yet not overwhelmingly Liberal lean to her office. Kaine is essentially another Biden: someone stable and reliable for a job that demands (edit: originally had the wrong word there) stability and reliability.

Personally, I'd have gone with Perez, or searched a little harder for a younger Progressive from the Midwest or Pacific coast. I may be damning with praise here, but there's nothing wrong with Kaine as the Democratic Veep nominee.

Now, onto the Democratic convention.

Friday, July 22, 2016

To Be So Close To History and Yet So Far...

Hillary Clinton has to announce very soon - because the Democratic convention is NEXT WEEK - who her Vice Presidential pick is going to be.

She's scheduled to be in Tampa THIS AFTERNOON at 4:30 PM. At the Florida State Fairgrounds.

She's expected to announce who her running mate is going to be at the event.

OH MAN THAT IS LIKE RIGHT DOWN THE INTERSTATE FROM ME.

Pity I got to work until 5 PM.

Thing is, you usually make the announcement in the Veep pick's back yard for the locals to hoot and cheer 'em on.

The buzz about it being someone from the area - Crist? - is big.

I doubt it's Crist, though. He's honestly not as popular among Florida Democrats as he ought to be (his tenure as an ex-Republican is gonna hurt him). He's doing far better running for the revamped Congressional district covering St. Pete, his stomping ground.

I'm wondering if it's Kathy Castor... or someone else from Florida like Senator Bill Nelson (GO GATORS).

We'll find out today.

Update: well, dammit. Because of the mass shooting in Munich - dammit NRA, stop exporting this sh-t - Hillary held off making an official announcement at the speech. She announced via email afterward... and... it's Kaine.

(tries to find appropriate WWE entrance music)

YouTube's not giving me a lot of options here...

Update Revision: Betty Cracker from Balloon Juice was at the Tampa rally. I envy her. She's got pics, real good ones close to the stage.


The Rank Smell of a Great Sorrow Lies Over the Land

There is a great and harrowing despair in my soul today.

We are living in a land where fate supposes the possibility of a con artist like Trump could become President of the United States.

In spite of his many sins. In spite of his open hostility to minorities and women. In spite of his failures regarding foreign and financial policies. There is still going to be enough of our fellow Americans who will buy this con game. Worse, there are enough of our fellow Americans who KNOW - who have whispered among themselves in dark dreary corners away from the cameras - how dangerous and reckless this Trump could be but who STILL close their eyes and blind themselves all because they cannot accept any alternative: Because of their partisan habits to back Republican ideology at all hazards, because of the likelihood they themselves could profit from a Trump victory, because of their foolish hope that "maybe" Trump could be controlled.

But have we ever had a Presidential nominee be so openly toxic?

Yoni Appelbaum, on Trump's narcissism:

In 2016, Donald J. Trump mounted the stage, and told America that the nation is in crisis. That attacks on police and terrorism threaten the American way of life. That the United States suffers from domestic disaster, and international humiliation. That it is full of shuttered factories and crushed communities. That it is beset by “poverty and violence at home” and “war and destruction abroad.”
And he offered them a solution.
I am your voice, said Trump. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order. He did not appeal to prayer, or to God. He did not ask Americans to measure him against their values, or to hold him responsible for living up to them. He did not ask for their help. He asked them to place their faith in him.
Does that not echo the cults of personality that have haunted nations scarred by dictatorships and tyrannies? Trump did not appeal to a broad, optimistic view of the nation that nearly every other Presidential nominee has offered on that stage. He did not appeal to the party, actually. Trump appealed to the fears, he appealed to the anger, he appealed to the delusions. And he offered himself up as the Great Savior for all these problems he claims besets us, as though no one else can do this.

Does not Trump's speech ignore the real world? He claims the United States is suffering at home and abroad despite evidence to the contrary. From Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee at the Washington Post:

The dark portrait of America that Donald J. Trump sketched in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention is a compendium of doomsday stats that fall apart upon close scrutiny. Numbers are taken out of context, data is manipulated, and sometimes the facts are wrong.
When facts are inconveniently positive — such as rising incomes and an unemployment rate under 5 percent — Trump simply declines to mention them. He describes an exceedingly violent nation, flooded with murders, when in reality, the violent-crime rate has been cut in half since the crack cocaine epidemic hit its peak in 1991...
Throughout Kessler and Hee Lee's article they pick apart each of Trump's accusations and claims, spotting anecdote for what it is, and highlighting how Trump is getting the numbers on tax rates, immigration, and employment wrong. But Trump won't care. He will keep shilling those statements because he needs to keep convincing voters that things are worse than they are and that HE can save us.

It's been said before that the Republicans do not live in the real world. In RepublicanLand, the liberals are destroying everything and Obama is a Secret Muslim selling us out to terrorists and corporations need tax cuts and deregulations before they can hire everybody back (without any healthcare benefits or minimum wage requirements). Now, they have Trump putting his trademark name on that property, without caring how Trump's brand never really sells and collapses into bankruptcy before any buildings are even started.

And this isn't even getting into the shitshow Trump threatens to bring to our foreign policy needs and what he threatens to do with our existing alliances that have STABILIZED - in spite of the War on Terror - our world for more than a half-century. Adam Silverman's article linked here should wake people up to the danger Trump presents.

And of course, the media elites will swarm and applaud because they have to, lest Trump and the Far Right throw another conniption about how "biased" and "unfair" the "liberal media" will be. So of course the pundits will line up and say "well that wasn't TOO EVIL a speech" or will argue that Trump has finally pivoted to the Center and can actually win in Nove... cough cough BLLLAARRRRRGGGG... Jesus, I can't even write that without vomiting in disgust.

No. Just no. Not ever. Not Trump. NOT TRUMP.

How the HELL is Trump even polling above 35 percent? How the HELL IS TRUMP EVEN POLLING ABOVE THE CRAZIFICATION MARK AT 27 PERCENT?!?!

/despair

GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT, DEMOCRATS. Every single registered Democrat in the nation needs to show up this November 8th and VOTE against Trump. I don't care if you've got a grudge against Hillary. Half that shit about her isn't even REAL, so why the hell are those lies bothering you? JUST VOTE FOR HER DAMMIT.

GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT, NO-PARTY AFFILIATES. Every single one of us in the nation needs to show up this November 8th and VOTE against Trump. I'd prefer it was a vote FOR Hillary, but the key thing here is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT VOTE TRUMP.

GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT, LIBERTARIANS. Christ, I can't believe I'm asking you guys to show up. But damn, your guy Gary Johnson is at LEAST reasonable and sane compared to Trump.

GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT, GREENS. I'd rather you vote for Hillary, because your demographic pulls away votes from Dems more than Republicans, but the key thing again is DAMMIT DO NOT VOTE TRUMP.

And Republicans? I'D RATHER YOU STAY AT HOME THIS NOVEMBER 8TH. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING, VOTING THIS CON ARTIST INTO THE RACE?! DAMN YOU. If you have the nerve to show up to vote, fine, so be it. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SANE AND HOLY AND REAL PLEASE DO NOT VOTE TRUMP. Vote Johnson, if anything. Just please NOT TRUMP. Not ever Trump.

This shit is insane and scary and wrong.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tonight

Don't forget this, Americans:

Tonight, this bloated, narcissistic, preening, arrogant, ignorant, sexist, racist son of a bitch was the BEST the Republicans can offer to this nation as our potential Leader of the Free World.

Why the hell is even polling above 27 percent?

I mean, seriously, time and again I railed against this guy. And I'm not the only one who has.

Donald Trump is going to be a disaster if he gets even within ten feet of the Oval Office.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

One Small Step for Man... One... Giant Leap For MTV

July 20. The pinnacle of humanity's engineering endeavors.


Too bad MTV stopped being a music video channel. What happa, you used to be beautiful...

Oh, the other thing. Yeah, we launched men to the moon and brought them back. We stopped going because the costs of traveling there were too high and the benefits too few. But once we get feasible artificial gravity generators and a working warp drive, shouldn't be a problem...

Just remember, the moon landing also gave us one of the most mind-blowing, wistful, funny moments in modern television history:


The best things in life are free. /handwave

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

No Eternal Reward Will Forgive Us Now

I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft/
We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping/
For this is the land where the Pharaoh died...
- The Doors (Jim Morrison) "Texas Radio & the Big Beat"

Welp. It's official and nobody can take it back.

The Republican Party officially nominated Donald Trump - without argument the least qualified human being to ever run for the highest office of the land - to run for President of the United States.

We are now running a great risk that Trump - a con artist with no genuine political skill, running on impossible and vague promises - could actually win in November. As of today, Nate Silver and crew at the 538 website have Trump at 38 percent chance of winning. That's not good.

There is every likelihood that Trump's numbers are improving because there's traditionally a bounce in the polls surrounding the nominating convention week, but we can't take anything for granted.

It'd be nice to see who Hillary selects for her Vice Presidential pick as the Democrats head into their Philly convention next week, and see if she can regain her momentum.

It'd be nice to see American voters try to realize the severity of what Trump represents: racist misogyny driven by ignorance and desperate to sell fear. The punditry have noted that so far the Republican convention has been so overwhelmed by the Far Right narrative - BENGHAZI! Hillary should be in jail! Obama's a Secret Muslim! All of that has been openly said at the podium this week - that it's unlikely that anyone's opinions have changed so far. But the pundits are one thing, the voters are another.

God, I hate feeling like this. The dread of a potential disaster of a Trump Presidency.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Oh Man, They Didn't Even Wait for the Animated Short That Opens the Show

Day One of Cleveland Con(servative) Con(Artist) Con(Vention):

Everyone hugged each other and they all got along FABULOUSLY.

...nah, I kid. They basically threw the best public conniption at a party convetnion since 1968.

To wit (via Salon.com):

Before the Republican National Convention officially began on Monday, #NeverTrump forces attempted to force the Republican National Committee into allowing a roll-call vote on Donald Trump’s nomination as the GOP candidate for president.
They failed, according to the presiding official, Representative Steve Womack, who asked those in attendance to voice an “aye” or a “nay” and declared that the “ayes” won and that the rules would not changed — meaning that there would be no roll-call, despite 9 states having challenged the rules.
Womack returned to the stage minutes later, amid shouts of “U-S-A” and “SOUR GRAPES” by Trump supporters, and said that it was possible he misheard the results — but announced after the second voice vote that the “ayes” had won again.
He also informed the assembled masses that three of the states that had challenged the rules had withdrawn their appeals. According to unconfirmed reports from Fox News, they did so after being personally lobbied by Paul Ryan or members his staff.
Utah Senator Mike Lee told CNN that “I have never in all my life, certainly in six years in the United States Senate, prior to that as a lifelong Republican, never seen anything like this — there is no precedent for this in parliamentary procedure. There is no precedent for this in the rules of the Republican National Convention. We are now in uncharted territory. Somebody owes us an explanation. I have never seen the chair abandoned like that. They vacated the stage entirely.”
“It is,” he added, “coercion masking as unity.”

That doesn't even cover the reports that during the kerfuffle that two of the state delegate groups - Colorado definitely, maybe Virginia or Pennsylvania I'm not sure - simply walked off the floor in disgust.

This is how they're opening the day, folks.

There's still the evening speeches and presentations, and there's three more days of delegates attempting other acts of disruption and disunity.

Who's to say if more state delegates join Colorado in walking away? Utah has to be thinking about it (that state went entirely for Cruz, and the Mormons have NO LOVE for Trump). The other state delegates trying to force a rule change to free themselves from nominating the tiny-fingered Cheeto(tm)-faced ferret-wearing sh-tgibbon (thank you Hamish McBunVendor you not-Scottish genius) may stage a public walk out as well.

The Party leadership may want to present to the world a face of unity, but they're not giving the dissidents any reason to buy into that plan.

And the Party has no one else they can blame (although they'll try): they were the ones who made these rules, and allowed this morally and financially bankrupt con-artist play their game. And now they're stuck with him.

We're stuck with him.

If it wasn't for the fact that our entire nation's safety is at stake here, I'd be enjoying the schadenfreude so much more.

And don't even get me started on that racist SOB from Iowa. I hope to GOD Steve King gets voted the f-ck out of whatever gerrymandered shelter he's in. Here, Kim Weaver is running against him, please help out.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why Trump Still Worries Me

We're heading into a chaotic and potentially broken Republican convention in Cleveland within 24 hours, and these thoughts still plague me:

We are dealing with the fact that a major political party in the United States - the Republicans - willingly and in some cases happily voted for a known bankrupt-burdened, ego-driven constantly-lying con artist with no political experience at all to run for the highest office in the land.

This is something I've seen here at home. Here in Florida, our Republican neighbors happily voted for a confirmed Medicare Fraud in Rick "No Ethics" Scott to run our state as governor back in 2010, picking him over a staid but reliably conservative politician. And because of that, and because not enough Democrats and NPA voters showed up to do anything to stop him - TWICE - we've been stuck with a corrupt, crony-empowering, regulation-cutting, budget-slashing coward who has allowed our waters to turn toxic and our communities to turn into hellholes.

I mean, Christ honestly, this is what I wrote about Scott in 2010:

I've spent more than a few posts yelling and screaming about how the Republicans have failed in their leadership: about how they provide us with con artists, snake-oil salesmen, egomaniacal freaks, borderline racists, and outright liars.  But in previous cases the Republicans at least tried for a pretense of choosing 'sensible,' or least publicly clean candidates that don't have billion-dollar-sized damages trailing in their wake.  With Scott?  Dear fucking God, they're not even trying to hide it anymore.  This guy - responsible for the largest fine in Medicare Fraud history - is openly trying to buy himself an office ($40 million of his own money and counting), and for what purpose?  What do you honestly think Scott is trying to do achieve?  All I can think of is that he's hoping to get into office so that he can use the shield of "Public Trust" to avoid any culpability in the private sector he may have generated...

Just trade out Scott's name for Trump's, and take out how Scott was using his own money to win because I doubt Trump really is spending anything on his run, and what I wrote in 2010 is the exact same thing I'd be writing RIGHT NOW.

Only now it's not just the state of Florida at risk, it's the entire United States of America, and God Help Us the whole fucking planet.

This is why, despite all the stuff I read on other blogs and even in the national media punditry commentary that "it can't possibly go wrong", I am absolutely terrified that something is going to go wrong. That voter suppression efforts in key states might actually work on a large enough scale to flip Democratic states to Republican... That Democratic voters might not show up to vote, either disgusted by Hillary being too Centrist or convinced by the Far Right media that she's pure Evil (like they've been screaming about for 25 years and NEVER proven right)... That enough Far Left voters pull a 2000 Nader and keep Hillary from winning one too many swing state... That like it or not you should never underestimate the Democratic Party's ability to screw up an easy win...

Trump may be so terrible and horrifying and inept a candidate that it seems impossible that he could actually win in November... but if he's on the ballot, he has every legit chance even if it's .0001 percent of a chance when the time comes in November. So it's not really impossible: you cannot deny there is a likelihood however slim of a President Trump.

That we've actually allowed this to even get this close to happening should create nightmares for every sane person outside of the 27 percent Crazification Factor for the rest of the year.

And this is why I have been screaming - will keep screaming - at the Democrats and Moderates and Independent voters and Sane voters to make sure they get the DAMN VOTE OUT this November and that they DO NOT for the LOVE OF GOD VOTE REPUBLICAN... AND DO NOT for the LOVE OF GOD VOTE TRUMP.

In all regards, I won't be paying too much direct attention to the Cleveland convention (I can't believe Tampa's convention was four years ago already...). It's promising to be a hater-fest of epic scale, where the party is openly planning themed nights around "BENGHAZI EMAILS ZOMG" and "Clinton's Penis" (I am not making this up). This is what they've got to offer America: nothing about education, or jobs, or immigration reform (other that BUILD THAT WALL), or an informed discussion on the role of government in modern society. They're not even bringing out a positive, friendly version of their "God and Guns" platform to pull in the moderate faithful. They're not going to do much to promote a party platform - "No Porn" is the more cringe-worthy part, but the entire thing skews so far Right that even Goldwater would have choked on it - they seem embarrassed to discuss.

The Trump convention is going straight to the mudslinging: they're going to pull the Eastwood Chair stunt but multiplied by eleven.

Cleveland is coming up next. God Help Us.

Friday, July 15, 2016

So How Bad Is Pence?

Update: Tengrain, no. I am so sorry, but you got the link at Crooks & Liars wrong. I never met Pence. RUDE PUNDIT did, which is why I opened the article quoting him. Ack, please please please change the Mike's Blog Round-up link to reflect Rude Pundit's actual article. I am so so sorry about this to anyone coming from the Round-up link. Just, you know, hey here's my blog, just hang out, I update from time to time with moderate, left-leaning views, and hey buy my books and stuff, and... ahhh, so sorry. :(


Okay, so...

Probably this bad. The Rude Pundit actually met the guy once:

See, he was this blogger's Congress member for a brief, horrible period when the Rude Pundit was slowly watching his life seep away in that hellhole of flat land, cold winds, and backwards ass people, Indiana. So he has met Pence, spoken briefly to him, looked into those beady, sleepy eyes and realized, "Holy (bleep), this guy is so (expletive) dumb that he could hammer a nail in with his head and it wouldn't do any damage." No wonder Donald Trump chose him (although, hilariously, it looks like Trump was trying to back out of it at the last minute, possibly realizing that touring the nation with an tight-assed evangelical Christian with the personality of a corn-speckled turd wouldn't be a nonstop party).

Okay, so I curse often on my own blog, but I occasionaly filter it out to tone down the anger just a smidge... Anywho, I digress. Back to Rude Pundit:

Back in 2009, while in Congress (where he squatted and dumped until 2013), Pence was ahead of the curve in trying to defund Planned Parenthood... Or maybe we can look fondly back to when he declared that the Affordable Care Act was antithetical to the ideals of the American Revolution...
And, in 2010, in a preview of the kind of leadership we could expect from Veep Pence, he set the tone for the House of Representatives in telling President Obama and his agenda to go f-ck itself: ..."Look, the time to go along and get along is over...Look, there will be no compromise on stopping runaway spending, deficits and debt. There will be no compromise on repealing Obamacare. There will be no compromise on stopping Democrats from growing government and raising taxes. And if I haven’t been clear enough yet, let me say again: No compromise..."
Yes, yes, yes, Mike Pence, who, at the time, was harboring illusions that he might be president hisself one day, was one of the people responsible for the congressional f-ckery that stalled virtually any legislation in the House...

As for myself, my first direct confrontation with Pence came with his sadistic push as Governor to make Indiana a home for "religious freedom" by essentially mandating private businesses discriminate against gays:

The governor who signed this, Mike Pence, has spent the past few days trying to defend this law.  He keeps saying that the law is about "protecting religious liberty," but when asked about whether the law discriminates, or asked if it's wrong to discriminate, he avoids giving a straight answer.
It's telling that this "great and wonderful and Christian law" for religious liberty had to be signed behind closed doors and with only a handful of religious leaders - some of them known for their rabid brand of hate - rather than a broad range of church pastors and fellowships.  That's probably because a lot of the larger Christian denominations - Presbyterians, Episcopalians and most Lutheran churches in particular - support gay rights.  And a lot of other Christian churches such as the Methodists may oppose homosexuality on principle due to Leviticus and other books, but they refuse to make it a public stance to openly discriminate. 
The thing is: this law does not protect religious freedom at all.  It has nothing to do with ensuring our churches stay open, it has nothing to do with protecting people who gather in public to pray, it has nothing to do with making sure that God remains in Heaven while the flock tend to their affairs within the world.
It has everything to do with letting haters use religion as a weapon to hurt others.  It has everything to do with twisting the words of love and forgiveness from Christ himself to justify rash and reckless judgment of others.  It has everything to do with those few so-called Christians who want to persecute and punish a very small minority group in the name of other Christians who do not want to hate at all...

You can see why Trump saw value adding Pence to his lineup. Pence has inroads to the Religious Right that push their social conservative agenda on the Republican Party - so much so that the party's official platform favors their faction to a disgusting degree - that Trump wants to double-down on keeping that faction - the biggest part of his Nativist base - satisfied.

"It has everything to do with letting haters use religion as a weapon to hurt others." Trump's been campaigning on hate ever since his opening speech against Mexicans and Asians, he's been campaigning on misogyny and racism throughout his primary run, and he's campaigning on that so strongly that he can't "pivot" lest he lose that hater base.

This is the starting lineup for your 2016 Republican Party, America.

For the Love of God, for the Love of Love, do not vote Republican.

Why Turkey Changed It I Can't Say... (w/ Update)

(see Update below):

Oh man, this is crazy beyond crazy:

For the Sixth Time in Its Modern History the Turkish Military Has Seized Control.

OH SHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIII---

Istanbul had just suffered a serious terror attack a few weeks ago when their airport was shot up. I don't know if the situation around that, along with the ongoing fighting against ISIL and fractuous dealings with the Russian military, had pushed the military to turn against Edrogan.

From The Atlantic:

The Turkish military says it is taking over Turkey in order to restore democracy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was on vacation, said those who attempted the coup would face the “highest price.”

The situation is so fluid at the moment that posting anything more than this - that Erdogan called on the mosques to rise up and the military called for a curfew - would be foolish. Your best bet is to click on those two links and keep up with the official news channels.

As for my two cents:

Never a huge fan of coups. Uprising by the populace, I'm mostly in favor of that because it's the people who are having their say. Military coups have a nasty habit of killing too many innocent people. Unfortunately, in some situations where the political situation has logjammed, a coup could be the only sane response by people in those straits. Could, not always...

This is tricky, and messy, and you don't ever want to encourage this sort of thing.

The key to this is Erdogan. He's been an autocrat in power: Pushing out rivals at an alarming rate, violating various civil liberties, and establishing a more theocratic government that was at odds with a secularized military.

Back to that Atlantic article:

Erdogan served as mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s as part of an Islamist party, but was barred from politics and imprisoned in 1998, a victim of the periodic crackdowns on religious parties that have characterized the Turkish state since its founding. He returned to politics with the AKP, or Freedom and Justice Party, a more moderate party that melded Islamism with modernizing impulses. Erdogan became prime minister in 2003. The rise of the AKP initially fed speculation that the military, a staunchly secular institution loyal to the precepts of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, might launch a coup, as it had done many times in the past.
But Erdogan managed to strike a middle path, drawing in some liberals who applauded his modernizing steps, as well as more conservative and religious voters. He kept the military at bay, in some cases prosecuting generals for alleged coups. His “Turkish model” was highly lauded abroad, with Western leaders and analysts hoping it might represent a successful fusion of Islamist politics with liberal democratic principles—a fusion that came to be seen as ever more necessary as Islamism became entrenched across the Middle East. President Obama in particular grew close to Erdogan, holding up him as a model.
But Erdogan’s liberalism only went so far. As his tenure lengthened, he broke with the enigmatic religious leader Fethullah G├╝len, a longstanding ally who is now exiled in Pennsylvania. It soon became apparent that his goal was not a liberal democracy but a sort of revival of Ottomanism. Erdogan grew increasingly autocratic, cracking down on the media and drawing power to himself, working to transform the Turkish presidency—traditionally a relatively weak position, compared to the prime ministership—into a strong one. He became president in 2014, but the civil war in neighboring Syria and increasing tensions with Kurds encouraged him to grab even more power. By earlier this year, reporters were referring to Erdogan as being “on a march to dictatorship.” Even if Erdogan is able to survive the coup and reassert control, the Turkish model is dead—and so are any hopes that Erdogan might be a liberalizer or a democrat.

If Erdogan wins this fight, it's more than likely he will crack down even further: a guy on the path to dictatorship rarely backs up and lessens his need for control. If the military coup wins, there's every likelihood they won't relinquish control until they've stabilized their own issues regarding the Syrian Civil War, ISIL, and Kurdish separatism (which will be particularly messy as the Kurds in Iraq are one of the U.S.'s staunchest battlefield allies versus the very dangerous ISIL).

Just one more Gordian Knot re-tying itself back into an unbreakable mess again.

I really really don't like this year 2016 right now.

Update (7/16): The coup failed within hours of the attempt, although there's still reports of resistance and there's still people missing. The death toll is in the hundreds - 161 so far, with thousands wounded - and the cleanup process will likely reveal more casualties.

This coup and the aftermath will have adverse effects on the war effort against ISIL, the ongoing Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, and Turkey's relationships with NATO and their attempt to join the EU.

For myself, I'm still conflicted over this. As I said above, Erdogan was already turning himself into a dictator, and he's going to be in the mood to assume even more control and punish far more people than he needs to... which basically ensures there'll be another attempt because people who know it's possible will inevitably push back.

That Guardian update is already reporting Erdogan has dismissed nearly every judge in Turkey. There's no evidence the judicial system was involved in the coup - all the news reports has only a faction of the military committing it - yet Erdogan is striking out at any group in an attempt to establish who's loyal or disloyal no matter what. There are news reports Erdogan was pushing to dismantle an independent judiciary back in June, so this move stinks of autocratic power-grab.

A Quick Post For Laughing Insanely at Trump's Pick for Vice President (w/ Update)

A more serious post will follow.

So today, in the middle of Friday (traditionally a news dump day in the United States), and after weeks of indecision that could no longer be delayed because the CONVENTION IS NEXT MONDAY, and after the evening where Trump said he would delay his announcement in honor of the tragic terror attack in Nice, France during Bastille Day...

Without much fanfare, the Trump campaign announced they were going with Governor Mike Pence of Indiana as Trump's Vice Presidential nominee.

As part of the announcement, the campaign revealed their brand new bumper sticker logo of doom, thusly:

They REALLY didn't think this one through, did they?

Because I swear, first thing I realized when I saw that logo was "why does it look like Trump's T is inserting itself into Pence's P?"

Put it another way:


(I would love to get a downloadable GIF of it someday...)

And to think, the Republicans are the party putting the "NO PORN" policy on their platform, those naughty boys...

Sigh. That's pretty much the only thing to laugh about. More on the horror story aspect of this later.

(Update): Annnnnnnnnd, the Trump people pulled the logo from their websites within less than a day.

We're gonna miss it now it's gone.

Somebody's gonna get fired for this. Induce satisfying wave of Schadenfreude... ahhhhhhhhhh...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This Is How Bad It's Gotten In The Republican Senate

You would think that the Republicans in our U.S. Senate could make an easy job of advising and consenting on a relatively non-partisan federal position as Head Librarian of the Library of Congress.

Nope (via the Washington Post).

It seems even a job as uncontroversial as librarian of Congress isn’t immune to congressional infighting.
Librarian of Congress nominee Carla Hayden — the chief executive of the Baltimore public library — breezed through a Senate committee hearing in April, and, within weeks, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Senate approve her nomination to be the 14th librarian of Congress.
“The nominee, in my opinion, brings a wealth of experience to the position and it is my hope that this experience will lead the Library of Congress in a way that . . . meets the demands of the 21st century,” Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said of Hayden, who would be the first woman and the first African American to lead the agency.
But not all Republicans agree, and as a result Hayden’s nomination has been held up. There has been no public explanation for the five-week delay, although privately some conservatives have been critical of the positions Hayden took as head of the American Library Association, including her opposition to parts of the Patriot Act and a law requiring libraries to install Internet filters to block pornography. Others decry her lack of academic heft, saying the position is a scholarly one...
Trust me, public librarians can handle reference research requests as well as the college librarians! /rage

Any excuse would do in a storm of their own making...

The most likely reason is that at least one Senator wanted to throw a conniption at ANYTHING that could get passed during an Obama administration, so said Senator placed yet another "secret Hold" to delay the floor vote.

This is, after all, a Republican-controlled Senate that has refused to fill the largest number of vacancies our government's seen in modern times.

Just remember these GOP Senators can easily avoid even TALKING to a Supreme Court nominee like Garland without punishment, while legal decisions are stuffed into limbo or sent back down to appellate courts woefully understaffed.

While lacking a Librarian of Congress wouldn't have brought the entire world collapsing, it's a sign of how lazy and ineffective these Republicans have been in some of the worst underperforming legislative sessions we've seen since 1948.

My professional emails the last four-five weeks had been packed up with pleas by fellow librarians to call our Senators to push for a vote. I dunno if our calls had much effect, but they FINALLY held a floor vote today... and Hayden passed 74 to 18, making her the first woman and first African-American Librarian running our nation's largest library.

It wasn't even a close vote because there wasn't much scandal or controversy involving Hayden or the Library of Congress itself (although the LOC is under calls to upgrade aging tech to improve its archival and copyrighting responsibilities). And yet her vote was on hold because someone wanted to be a jerkass.

Government isn't really broken, America. Government just has one branch under the whims of a political party - Republicans in both House and Senate - that wants to act like it's broken.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Two or Three Things

1) This is going to be a crazy week leading up to the Trump Convention. With the ongoing protests on the streets over the escalating violence between cops and citizenry, Obama making an appearance in Dallas for the memorial services there, Bernie lining up to endorse Hillary (much to the outrage of the BernieBros who feel betrayed), and the unsettling feeling that there's just something amiss with the rebooted Ghostbusters movie. Just sayin'.

2) I don't think I can afford going to this year's Tampa Bay Comic Con. :( Even though that promises to be a saner, happier, healthier convention than the one in Cleveland :shudder:

3) Last I heard from Infidel753 he was coping with impending surgery for something, and I'm just wondering if there's been any word on that and if he's okay.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Cycle of Violence, Unending

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... - Reverend Martin Luther King Jr (1967).

What are we doing to ourselves?

This past week we had two questionable, honestly horrific situations where police used lethal force to kill two black men, Alton Sterling one day and then Philando Castile the next, in situations that begged the question - yet again - at what point should lethal force even be considered? In Castile's case, it was over a minor traffic stop - over a busted tail light? - that for a white guy - like myself - would have meant a warning from the cop and the chance to drive home and fix the tail light by tomorrow. But for a black guy like Castile it was a death sentence.

And then things got worse last night when - during a peaceful street protest in Dallas regarding Sterling and Castile's deaths - a gunman with an assault rifle took a sniper's position overlooking the protest and opened fire on the cops working the security detail. The shooter wounded twelve officers and civilians, killing five.

Every account about the protest up until then was that it was by the book, nobody causing problems, a genuinely peaceful protest that by all definitions our Constitution encourages. Word is, Dallas is one of those cities than has been effective in maintaining professional relations dealing with the public, had been avoiding the militarization of the police that took place in Ferguson and Cincinnati and a hundred other cities, that had been reducing the kind of bad confrontations that led to last night's protests in the first place. 

There is horrifying irony in this, that a place where policing was actually working right had to suffer the loss of four police officers and a transit officer to another angry guy with a gun. All because one angry Black - a military veteran of Afghanistan with no previous police record, and "upset about the recent police shootings" - decided to take his "revenge" on the cops who had nothing to do with those other deaths.

We're still not over what happened in Orlando last month, home to the worst one-shooter gun massacre in our nation's history. Given how bloody that history is, that fact ought to upset every single American. The fact of that shooting - like every other mass shooting our nation's seen - involved yet another angry guy with access to military-level assault rifles ought to stir up action to prevent such guys from easy access to weapons that can kill in a heartbeat with the pull of a trigger finger. And yet...

And yet we dare not talk about any attempt at sensible gun safety laws lest the NRA throw yet another hissy fit. I don't even know why they bother to throw one: they're too busy raking in the dough as more gun nuts race out to the armories to buy up more weapons and ammo out of fear that "Obama's gonna take our gunz."


/headdesk

We cannot gather in peace in public to protest or celebrate or dance or learn. We cannot assemble in our churches or our schools or our shopping malls without fear of the angry guy wielding the almighty gun. We cannot calm down our police forces, who fear every traffic stop and street protest for the likelihood of violent escalation, who overreact and kill those who didn't deserve to die.


Meanwhile, we keep making this nation a safe place for angry guys to get guns, and to use those guns, even on the good guys like cops doing their jobs, to keep the cycle of anger and violence going.

...Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - King

We are all part of that darkness, all because of a few who live for - who love - that hate.

Where are we going that we cannot see in this darkness?

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Trump Veepstakes: Or, Guess Who Has To Bring $500 Million to the Interview? (w/ Update)

Considering how strapped for cash the Trump campaign now is for the general election part of the cycle, I wouldn't be surprised if Trump is asking for a "franchise fee" just to even get through the door for the one-on-one chat.

After all, that's how the sports leagues do it, and we know how bad Trump wants to be a sports owner (and how terrible he is at it).

Anyhoo, the buzz is that Trump has narrowed down his Vice Presidential selection to three main choices (there may be others, naturally), although the New York Times has added a fourth name I don't hear much about: New Jersey Governor and former Primary opponent Chris Christie, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and Senator Joni Ernst.

So here now are my evaluations for each pick, and why we're all still screwed:

Chris Christie: New Jersey, Governor

Pros: Has governing experience. Retains high profile within the Republican party and some popularity among the ranks. Has his fans among the Far Right media establishment. Can debate well. Can fund-raise well, having ties to Wall Street and corporations that would otherwise not do business with Trump.
Cons: Is still undergoing a criminal investigation into Bridgegate, which will make the campaign an easy target for accusations of corruption and incompetence (even from fellow Republicans). Actual performance for the state especially the economy has been... terrible. His public profile depicts him as having been turned from a big bully into Trump's lackey, with reports of him sent out to get cheeseburgers for his boss once. Is not that popular with the general electorate (being a jerkass to teachers can do that to a reputation), and not popular enough to flip New Jersey for the Electoral College. On a minor note, he does not diversify the ticket in any way, especially for geography: tradition is that the VP has to come from another region of the country to balance things, and New Jersey is too close to New York. Granted, that's an unwritten rule and has been broken once or twice before (Clinton/Gore the most recent), but it will stick out.
Odds: He's likely the fall-back option in case the others say no.

Newt Gingrich: Georgia, former US Speaker of the House.
Pros: Has the political experience with nearly two decades in the House and at least four years as Speaker. Is considered a party Establishment figure. Far Right media treats him as a "wonk" expert on issues, which counters Trump's lack at everything. Takes care of geography, coming from the Deep South and from a state (Georgia) that could become a toss-up if Trump keeps declining in the polls. Is a noted Clinton rival from the 1990s. Has been a vocal defender for Trump during the Primaries, so he's brown-nosed well for this (and unlike other party leaders, he actually wants this).
Cons: For all his experience and position within party ranks, is still viewed as a liability and a troublemaker. Does not play well with others. Was back-stabbed and left to rot by his own House allies when he faltered at his Speakership job in 1998. Last campaign attempt - in 2012 for the Presidency - flamed out. Best-known for having gone after Bill Clinton for extramarital affairs in the Oval Office... while committing the same sin on his second wife (with the woman that would become his third wife) at the same time. And what he did to his first wife was worse. Had been caught and fined for ethics violations while serving as Speaker. Essentially a bigger hypocrite than philandering Trump. While Gingrich may prevent Georgia from flipping, there is no guarantee he can secure the rest of the Southern toss-up states like Florida and North Carolina. Does nothing to repair relations with minorities or women voters. Oh, and he writes really bad alternate-history novels.
Odds: Newt is - hilariously - the glamour pick among the finalists simply because of his constant media profile. But Newt highlights all of the sins that Trump possesses - Ego bordering on Id, adulterous behavior, scandalous habits, insulting comments towards others - with none of the strengths needed to make the ticket acceptable to general election voters. Considering Trump doesn't care about all that, Newt may have a solid shot at getting this.

Mike Pence: Indiana, Governor
Pros: Has the governing experience. Well-known among Republicans as a Social Conservative who defends "religious freedom". Comes from a Midwest region that the media always portrays as "small town Americana" and takes care of the geographic balance. Simply doesn't have the baggage that Christie or Gingrich carry.
Cons: If he is known at the national level, it's for pushing an anti-gay law that pretty much forced businesses to discriminate. The fallout from that law hurt his popularity at home and led to serious push-back from a lot of angry business owners. While his "religious freedom" stance plays well with the Far Right, it will not win over general election voters. Overall record as governor hasn't been flashy, and economic performance of the state has been minimal under his watch. Brings little to the ticket except a lack of unethical behavior.
Odds: Pence is considered the "safe" pick, if by "safe" you mean "pandering to the extremist moralists who don't respect 60 percent of Christians who ARE pro-gay". Has none of the national presence that Newt and Christie have... and yet none of the sins. I just don't see him as fitting Trump's environment all that well.

Joni Ernst: Iowa, Senator
Pros: Freshwoman Senator from the heartland (Iowa). Wildly popular with the Republican base. Social Conservative. Comparatively youthful (mid-40s) who can project as a future Presidential candidate herself. Although elected to office, still presents herself as an "Outsider" that would fit Trump's Anti-Establishment message. Served in the military during the Second Gulf War, which counters Trump's background as a draft-dodger of Vietnam. Female candidate for the Veep spot to counter Hillary's "woman card".
Cons: Comes from the Steve King Wingnut faction of Iowa. Her fights against Planned Parenthood and social services will not win over women voters, which hurts Trump more with a voting bloc already despising him. Putting her on the ticket does not guarantee Iowa will flip to Red (it voted Blue for Obama in 2008 and 2012) nor will it flip many other Dem-leaning states in that region. Does not have enough elective experience to balance out Trump's entire lack of experience.
Odds: There's a solid possibility here that Trump will like her for the optics - war vet, motorcyclist, anti-government rhetoric, eager to shill the outrage - but there's more risk with her as a still-unknown player on the national stage. If I had to grade her chances, it's right behind Newt and just ahead of Pence.

So that's how I'd scale it:
1) Newt (50 percent)
2) Ernst (30 percent)
3) Pence (15 percent)
4) Christie (5 percent)

And if the Veep pick comes out with, say, Rick "No Ethics" Scott, let's just break out the schadenfreude and shout all "Let 'Em Crash."

And why are we all still screwed? Because Trump is still at the top of the ticket, and the Republicans are campaigning on a bad tax-cut, no-immigrants, no-social-aid, bomb-em-all platform despite how vaguely they try to word it.

We should get a decision soon. The convention's two weeks away.

(Update 7/10/16): We're still about a week away and the timer's ticking down... and for what we know Ernst and Pence have dropped hints neither of them will accept. Right now the buzz is that Trump is liking one of his foreign policy advisors, retired Gen. Michael Flynn. It's not that unusual a pick - military officers have run for the Presidency after all, and there's been a handful of campaigns that made the Veep pick a military guy - but Trump is going for someone who does not counter his own lack of elective experience. The biggest reason Flynn is on Trump's short list is the retired general's insistence that jihadist radical Islam is the biggest threat to the United States, fitting Trump's world-view. The scary thing about this is Flynn seems more confrontational about this as a scary neocon "always at war" mindset. There's also no evidence Flynn would be effective enough on the stump or versed in other domestic and economic issues to impress the general electorate.