Wednesday, October 18, 2017

When A Sociopath Calls

As the nation's government collapses into chaos and despair, a brief pause to document how fucked up the whole thing has gotten (David A. Graham at The Atlantic):

Thirteen days after Sergeant La David Johnson was killed in Niger, and a day after Donald Trump boasted about his actions to console grieving families in contrast to his predecessors, the president called Johnson’s family Tuesday night.
It didn’t go well.
Representative Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat, was with widow Myeshia Johnson when Trump called. “She was crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part,” Wilson told MSNBC.
“He said, ‘Well, I guess you knew’—something to the effect that ‘he knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway.’ You know, just matter-of-factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. That’s the way we interpreted it. It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid.”

I wrote this about the Republicans back in 2014:

The Republican voters - some of whom are genuinely nice in the real world, and hug puppies and feed unicorns whenever possible - have a problem: the Republican Party they're stuck with has the habit of talking and acting like assholes.  There's no other way to describe this behavior...
...How can the American electorate respect or even like a Republican Party that shows no respect to others?  How can there be any empathy or compassion for a political party that isn't even doing a good enough job faking compassion, or any emotions other than spite and hate?

trump's phone call to Johnson's widow echoes back to this problem: That the Republican leadership and the party as a whole simply lacks any empathy or emotional awareness at all...

In trump's case, it is as textbook a case of sociopathy you'll ever see in public. He obsesses over ensuring loyalty, attacks others for political points without even acknowledging his hypocrisy, and shows no respect for anyone he deems beneath him. As Graham noted:

It is not just that Trump claimed, falsely, that his predecessors had insufficiently consoled grieving families of service-members. He also spent most of the last month wrapping himself in the flag while waging a fight with NFL players and other athletes who have kneeled or undertaken other protests during the National Anthem. The athletes say these protests are a way of bringing attention to police violence and racism. But Trump has insisted that the kneeling “has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem.” The president has used his powerful Twitter account to pass along the idea that players who kneel are slighting the American military.
Even as he insists that NFL players are disrespecting the military, Trump did not make any public comment about the deaths in Niger until he was asked about it at a public press conference. Only after this prodding, and his bragging that he called every family he could, did Trump make a call to La David Johnson’s family. And when he did, he botched the call badly enough that he left Johnson’s widow in tears and his mother feeling disrespected. The president cannot be both the foremost patriot and the utmost consoler while at the same time dragging his feet on calls and angering military families.

trump fails at every requirement that the office of the Presidency expects from a leader.

A President needs to be wise, politically savvy, aware of current matters, informed on his administration's actions. We look to a President to be - and I'm going to gender-specific archetypes for this - a Father, or a Brother, or a Son, a Priest, an Educator, a Leader of the Community: in short, a Hero. Someone with charisma and style, a modicum of success, a knowing wink, a glad hand to shake, a dinner table of lively chatter with him as the provider of bon mots and sage advice.

trump is none of these things. His own resume speaks against being a genuine success: relying on the mercy of his father for his business starts, and the mercy of bankruptcy courts to rescue him from failed casinos and condos, and relying on a popular media that can't look away from his excesses and allowed him to revel in that. trump is no priest or teacher, and what he is as a Father or Brother has been clearly lacking in how screwed up his personal life is.

Whatever trump presents of himself as a leader is based on fantasy and lies. His place in the community comes from putting his name in big letters on every ad space he can get. His role in the community is never about serving others, only himself. Even when he shows up at charity events - that he gave no money to - it's all about putting himself at the center of attention, preening for the cameras before stealing off (either figuratively or literally with the charity's money pot).

There is nothing about him that makes trump truly Presidential. he cannot connect on an emotional level to anyone who's not a preening bully like himself.

Expecting trump to make phone calls to grieving families is like expecting Jack the Ripper to send Thank You cards to the British Suffragette movement.

It's just not going to end well. At all.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Trailer Alert: We're running out of Jedi it seems

So, I'm trying to survive long enough to see Episode VIII: The Last Jedi


I'm trying to figure out if the Porgs will be better than Ewoks:


This is what happens when a Porg reaches the Monolith:


And to be honest, I haven't even opened the Millennium Falcon Lego Set I obsessed over back when The Force Awakens came out. Well... I don't have any decent place to put it together right now...

It's Not Going To End Well

There are more and more stories about the trump regime that signals an administration in crisis. With that, I have been seeing more and more stories about how trump's tenure as President Loser of the Popular Vote will end.

None of the options are particularly nice or safe, but let's consider:

The obvious way trump's tenure ends is through the Mueller Special Counsel investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 Elections. Consider how a lot of legal experts and political think tanks - such as the Brookings people - note the likelihood trump Obstructed that ongoing FBI investigation. Just on that alone, trump could be facing criminal charges (and in a sane world, an angry Congress removing him via impeachment).

Thing is, Mueller is finding more and more how trump's campaign - including trump's own sons and son-in-law - interacted with Russian agents, Russian businessmen with ties to Putin, and how Putin gave orders to interfere with the election. The odds are good - not a 100 percent lock, but it's high - that enough people in trump's inner circle are facing criminal charges over this: Which increases the odds that just one of them will flip, breaking trump's entire con game, meaning other nasty secrets come out that would end with trump in handcuffs or impeached.

The impeachment process requires one thing, however: A Republican-controlled Congress willing to put their collective ass on the line to impeach someone from their own party. No matter how or what the GOP leadership tells themselves, trump is insanely popular with the Republican base. Attack him right now and a majority of sitting incumbents will find themselves kicked out during the 2018 midterm primaries.

There remains a chance that trump's base support with wither in the face of actual criminal findings: but considering how every single scandal that would have destroyed other campaigns never hurt trump, this isn't a given. So expecting the Republican leadership to grow a spine when Mueller presents his finding is a fool's hope.

The other likely end is with trump's handlers finally having enough with the chaos and stupidity. The ongoing reports of behind-the-scenes freakouts by trump and the stressful responses by his Chief of Staff and key Cabinet Secretaries are fueling suggestions in the media about the 25th Amendment.

I've mused about this before... and it's taken this long for the mainstream media to get to where I was back in January. Sigh. Anyhoo. We're at a point where the provision in the 25th - Section 4, about the President being "incapacitated" or unable to perform his duties - is applicable (via that Vanity Fair article):

...The conversation among some of the president’s longtime confidantes, along with the character of some of the leaks emerging from the White House has shifted. There’s a new level of concern. NBC News published a report that Trump shocked his national security team when he called for a nearly tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal during a briefing this summer. One Trump adviser confirmed to me it was after this meeting disbanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron.”

...One former official even speculated that (Chief of Staff) Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said...

Granted, there isn't anything specific in the amendment that spells out the definition of "unable to discharge his duties", but the lack of focus from the Oval Office has to fit. The reports of how Kelly is trying to isolate trump from trump's more reckless advisors and wingnut news sources... The fact that former generals like Kelly and Mattis have to consider cutting trump's access to the Nuclear Football (that they might, Gods help us, have to physically restrain him)... the evidence of trump's own behavior and decision-making that fall into legitimate concerns about dementia or psychosis.

Let's put it this way: trump's handlers treat him like a 5-year-old. Considering the Constitutional requirement to serve as President is that you be 35 years or older, trump is emotionally and intellectually unqualified to serve.

This move - using an amendment to force a sitting President Loser of the Popular Vote out of that office - also requires courage from a Republican Party lacking in said courage. While some in the Cabinet - Kelly, Mattis, Tillerson - are clearly exasperated and likely at the point of "fuck it," the other Secretaries - needed to sign off on the office notice - would have to go all in on the move. Enough of them either do not feel the pressure (yet) to care, or even profit from trump's chaos. We're not at a point (yet) where the Cabinet would be forced to act. It would have to be trump ordering a first strike - either at Korea or Iran or Guam or Puerto Rico - to get them to act.

The attempt would also require backing from Congress - as they have to accept the notice of removal per the amendment - and there are no signs that Speaker Ryan or Majority Leader McConnell are keen to support trump's removal (even if they are exasperated with trump's failings as well).

I doubt the military or intel agencies would raise a fuss if trump were removed. If you consider Mattis and Kelly are ex-generals trying to maintain control, there's probably a lot of sympathy among the ranks who share those backgrounds and would accept it as long as it was a legal transfer to civilian control with Pence taking over. I'd wager the NSA, CIA and FBI ranks for the most part would love to see this walking security risk in trump lose all access to stuff they don't want going to Putin.

The risks of this move will come from outside the military/executive Establishment. trump supporters - especially the Far Right media - would view the use of the 25th Amendment as a political coup. These factions would likely take their anger - already at a boiling point - out on Congressional Republicans (again, a reason why Ryan and McConnell won't back it).

There's also the likelihood the trump base could explode into violence: some of the more outrageous outliers in the wingnut media are talking about rising up if trump were removed from office. This has to be taken seriously when you consider trump's supporters include the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other fringe groups known for violence.

We'd be talking about something akin to the 1960s. It won't get as bad as the American Civil War - probably the closest we're at right now in terms of a divided nation - if only because a majority of Americans are not that violent. The wingnuts hoping for an actual war are going to get disappointed when they get only ten or twenty people to show up for their revolution - I kid, the actual number might be 20,000 - and they're facing about 500,000 National Guard troops and 400,000 US Army troops and 300,000 Air Force personnel (and if they're really stupid about getting on boats, they'll face at least 10 Navy aircraft carrier fleets and 180,000 Marines). There might be a civil war but the heavy part of it might be over inside of, oh, a week.

While those numbers might be a mis-match, the caveat is this: All it will take is one wingnut with enough military firepower to take out a school or shopping mall or public gathering to make it bloody for enough Americans to suffer for their rage.

The only other scenario of trump's removal is being voted out in 2020. This is highly likely because 1) even trump supporters can't keep him above 30 percent approval until then, 2) trump's habit of alienating everybody will break the Republican Party well enough that a third party WILL RISE up to pull away enough votes to let Democrats win (in 2018 no less), 3)

The only problem with THAT scenario is, obviously, that's still three years down the road. Can the United States survive three more years of this chaos, this illegality, this bullying and discord by trump's own command?

Either way, we're not going to like the end results.

Friday, October 13, 2017

When You Consider All These Things

When you consider all the acts donald trump did this week:



It seems he's really pissed about getting called a fucking moron.

And he's taking it out on everybody else.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Please Don't Let Him Back Onto The Mainland

What the everloving hell (via The Atlantic):

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”


It gets worse:

During his briefing, he made an apparent attempt at a joke about the cost of recovery. “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said. 



“That’s fine. We saved a lot of lives.” Yet the remark comes in the context of Trump repeatedly mentioning Puerto Rico’s debts as both a reason for the slow recovery and a reason to think hard about reconstruction there. Nor did he make similar remarks after hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

Okay, this is the part where I lose it.



62 million of you voted for this disaster. Happy?

Monday, October 02, 2017

Blood On the Streets of Las Vegas

Here's a simple thing for the mainstream media to do:

Every mass shooting committed by angry white guys should be labeled terrorism.

Because that's what it is. Evoking fear in the victims and survivors.

And the media should pointedly do it for every angry White guy, to underscore that it's not Muslims, not Blacks, not Asians, not Latinos that's the threat here.

It's Angry Guys. Nearly every mass shooter is male, coping with emotional issues of some kind that expresses as rage towards women or towards a society that's supposed to applaud their masculinity but ignores them.

How many domestic violence episodes ends with the angry ex-boyfriend or ex-husband with a family massacre? Too many to count. How many office shootings with a disgruntled male employee pissed off that cute secretary won't return his calls?

How many schools shot up by guys who can't socialize well? How many nightclubs by guys who can't handle gender roles or identity?

The NRA keeps saying "oh no, we have a RIGHT to bear firearms" but at the expense of allowing so many Angry Guys easy access to them?

It'd be nice to think we could do something about the Angry Guys. But let's be honest, 5000 plus years of religion and morality haven't cut it. Anger is a primal emotion, hard to control.

We have to do something about the easy access to firearms. Do we really need that kind of firepower the gunman in Las Vegas just unleashed to uphold an antiquated Second Amendment? That terrorist fired for 4 minutes, killed 50 (so far) and wounded 200 people who were no threat to anybody. That's not self-defense. That's not performing the duty of a well-regulated militia. That's murder and terror.

And it's not going to stop until the NRA stops being paranoid fearmongers trying to convince more people to buy more guns and ammo. It's a hell of a racket, considering the kickbacks they get thanks to owning most of not all of the gun manufacturers.

How many more Angry Guys with Guns will it take before Reason reclaims control of governance?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Crisis

To say that the relief efforts for Puerto Rico after getting slammed by Category 5 hurricane Maria are going far too slow is an understatement.

Relief efforts that should have taken a day to begin took instead almost an entire week. Shipping supplies to the island was hampered by trump's refusal to exempt the Jones Act - necessary to allow cargo ships to deliver the bulk of needed goods - during the earliest days of this crisis. While there are military and FEMA response teams in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, they are too meager a presence compared to the scale of rescue and recovery required.

Compared to relief efforts for Houston (Harvey) and Florida (Irma), the response of the trump administration to Puerto Rico seems intentional negligence.

So, responding to all the harsh criticisms rising up as the national news outlets began covering Puerto Rico's recovery efforts, trump went and tweeted...



Basically accusing the Puerto Ricans of being lazy nobodies unwilling to save their own communities. Accusing Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of partisanship, and accusing the "fake news" of established networks CNN and NBC of "disparaging the first responders" when those news channels are actually disparaging him.

And he's tweeting all this while going on yet another golfing weekend to one of his clubs. He's not on the ground, finding out first-hand how packed the hospitals and shelters are, how much damage needs to get picked up before any rebuilding can happen.

I lived through Irma as it smashed through Florida. I work in Bartow, and even with all of the emergency electrical crews and tree cutters helping out, this small town still has debris to pick up and parts of the surrounding county without power. And this is two weeks after that storm passed through. Try multiplying the damage and recovery of a small town with 20,000 to a large island with 3.5 million people, and then add onto that how Maria was more powerful than Irma.

There has long been this dread, ever since November 9th, of how a trump-led White House would respond to genuine crises. Up until now, most of the disasters of this trump Era have been self-inflicted. But now we're here: an honest to God national crisis of watching our territorial members Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands suffer through the aftermaths of a powerful hurricane season (which isn't over yet), and "trump goes golfing" replaces the "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" meme in the national consciousness.

The reports coming out now aren't good. There may be 16 confirmed deaths, but it is still far too early to know the final death toll because of the lack of power, food, clean water, and air conditioning. Hurricane Maria hit the entire island, and Puerto Rico has 3.5 million residents to account for.

Right now, this dog has done more for Puerto Rico than trump has.


It is clear trump does not care what is happening in Puerto Rico.

62 million of you voted for that.

God help us.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Aid to Puerto Rico

If trump is too busy to tweet about Puerto Rico's financial woes before the hurricanes hit, the rest of us might actually try to do something about HELPING OUR FELLOW AMERICANS (yes, Puerto Ricans are citizens ever since 1917):

Charity Navigator

Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas

All Hands Volunteers

ShelterBox USA

Unitarian Disaster Relief

United for Puerto Rico

National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disasters (supplies)


Do take the time to make sure the charities you're donating to are legitimate and have a history of helping out.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Take A Knee, America. Tell trump to Go F-ck Himself.

So how can we tell donald trump is a racist white supremacist bastard?

he goes to Alabama and makes a public display of himself:

Speaking to a crowd in Huntsville, Alabama Friday night, President Trump said he hoped NFL players who knelt during the national anthem—which they've done to protest unjustified police killings of black Americans—would lose their jobs.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners,  when somebody disrespects our flag,” Trump said, “to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” ...The president appeared to be referring to  former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last year began kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to unjustified killings of black men by law enforcement.
Just to note, Kaepernick is currently out of the football league because NFL owners are refusing - even when the coaches and GMs want to sign him - to hire Kaep because of his Black Lives Matter stance.

Hold on, there's more.
...On Saturday morning, Trump singled out Steph Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, saying he had rescinded an invitation for them to come to the White House. “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” the president tweeted. (Curry had announced in June that he did not want to go, and had recently reiterated that opposition.)
In response, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers tweeted that Trump was a “bum,” writing, “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
The president’s harsh condemnations of Kaepernick and like-minded players, as well as (ESPN pundit Jemele) Hill, stand in stark contrast to his earlier, sluggish reaction to the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, in which a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed, allegedly by a white supremacist.
That protest, the president insisted, had “very fine people on both sides.”

We're talking about a guy in trump who uses these outbursts to stir up HIS voter base, which happens to be mostly White, mostly male, and mostly racist.

Meanwhile, here's hoping the NFL players use this Sunday game schedule to #TakeAKnee in solidarity with Kaepernick and in direct opposition to trump's divisive, foolish, spiteful rhetoric.

We all need to, America. For the Love of GOD, tell this bullying shitgibbon he doesn't speak for you.

Update: I also rant about how bad the Tampa Bay Bucs play from time to time over at BucsNation.com, and this week's observations included this bit:

9) I know I shouldn't use this as a moment to rant politics - I have other places like my own blog to do that - but having donald trump abuse Colin Kaepernick's right to protest this weekend underscores a serious problem our nation still has regarding racism. What Kaepernick - and the Black Lives Matter people - are protesting is a long history of police brutality aimed at Black communities that has exploded in the past decade into the public spotlight. Trying to label it as an unpatriotic protest against the Flag, or the National Anthem, or our troops and veterans ignores that problem of race. When you see trump continue his attacks against Black athletes and Black sports media people like Jamele Hill, you see him doing it to huge crowds of angry, confederate-flag-waving White audiences at his rallies. It's not that he's employing the "dog whistle" of racial politics, he's using a damn sound system from a Ted Nugent concert.
That a lot of players and coaches - and even a few owners - today signaled their solidarity with Kaepernick - either by Taking A Knee themselves, locking arms with each other along the sidelines, or refusing to come out for the National Anthem period - is a good sign that people will oppose trump's efforts at racism and his efforts to silence criticism aimed at himself or his beliefs. Whether or not you believe racism is a problem in the United States is still up to you. Whether or not you believe this kind of talk doesn't have to involve sports, you'll be ignoring a history of sports where baseball was segregated for decades, where Jesse Owens was treated like crap by his own Olympics team leadership, and you've still got rich Black athletes roughed up by cops under questionable circumstances. And that's just three things I can recall off the top of my head.
I know this is going to get people commenting below, as long as the moderators will leave this up. If you do comment, please avoid severe profanity and questions about my parentage. Thank ye.

I may get some heated responses...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Off Topic: Starting a Death Metal/Punk/Dance/Techno Cover Band

Okay, so, during the cleanup from Hurricane Irma, news got out of a Catholic nun in full uniform grabbing a chainsaw and helping clear out the fallen trees around her Catholic school.

Sister Margaret Ann
So it hit me: Chainsaw Nun. BEST NAME FOR A ROCK BAND EVER.

I created a band logo:

And made some half-serious comments on Facebook about what songs the band would cover, like "Communion Breakdown" "Benedict and the Jets" and "Hells Bells" (well, straight covers would work too).

But I dunno. It's in my head and won't go away. Part of me wants to grab a bass guitar, learn the basics, and form a real band to at least try making one crazy album. Just to say I did.

It'd be fun.

Thing is, it'll cost money (even filing a trademark cost about $275 minimum). So if I want to pursue this, I'm going to start up a GoFundMe page. But that's a serious step. No turning back if I go that far.

Should I? Should I start a GoFundMe page, start up Chainsaw Nun as a real act (need to find a lead guitarist who can make the guitar rev like a chainsaw, plus a drummer and a singer)?

Please leave a comment, Yes or No.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

World's Darkest Punchline

In another round of "He said WHAT" today, when Loser of the Popular Vote trump spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations (via Washington Post):

The president warned of growing threats from North Korea and Iran, and he said, “The scourge of our planet is a group of rogue regimes.”
He praised the U.N. for enacting economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But he emphasized that if Kim Jong Un's regime continued to threaten the United States and to destabilize East Asia, his administration would be prepared to defend the country and its allies.
“We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”
So basically trump just publicly insulted a military-backed dictator perfectly capable and willing to attack our regional allies like South Korea and Japan, as well as our territorial places like Guam.

In a place where diplomacy is the religion, and showing public decorum and manners is important.

trump is basically spoiling for a fight in the one place you're NOT SUPPOSED TO PUBLICLY SPOIL FOR A FIGHT.

Saturday Night Live was not kidding about this:


via GIPHY

Man bursts into tears. "But doctor, I *am* Pagliacci."

Laugh all you want. But it's a deep bleak laugh at the joke we've pulled on ourselves.

And the whole world is going to have to make a choice: Save themselves by ostracizing a major power, or let themselves sink into the black hole that is trump.

We are so royally fucked.

Republican Congress Trying to Kill Health Care. AGAIN.

It's the circus that never ends, kids.

Even after three failed tries while in majority control of both wings of Congress, the GOP Senate is pushing one more plan to gut the everloving shit out of Obamacare (via Jeffrey Young at HuffPost):

For what feels like the 1,000th time this year, the Republican Senate is looking to ram through a hugely consequential health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and “replace” it with ... a lot less.
The GOP Congress only has until Sept. 30 to advance health care legislation with a bare majority in the Senate, because that is when the special procedural rules enabling them to avoid a Democratic filibuster expire. That deadline seems to be motivating Republicans to line up behind a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). This could mean a vote next week.
That’s despite the fact that this legislation has never been the subject of a public debate or the normal congressional committee process. The Congressional Budget Office also won’t have time to analyze how many people would have health insurance as a result of the bill, or how much the premiums would cost.
In other words, Congress would be passing a bill with major ramifications for many millions of people without first finding out exactly what it does...

You'll notice the Republicans in charge of the Senate do not care about procedure. They do not care about the costs of what they're trying to pass. They do not care to debate this in public.

They only care about the goddamn tax cuts for the rich they'll get out of this move.

I've said this before: Republicans can't help themselves. There's this terrible mix of sadism and greed that drives the party leadership to repeat themselves on achieving their obsessive goals towards tax cuts and deregulation and privatization. Even after decades of evidence that shows every promise they make about all that never pans out, and even after their efforts make things worse with collapsing economies and collapsing (or exploding) infrastructures.

So it's back to the phones, everybody. Call the Senate, call your Senator's local offices in-state, and register your horror and anger that Congress is trying to gut health care coverage. Again. And again. And again. AND AGAIN...

You wanna stop making these phone calls, America? STOP VOTING REPUBLICANS INTO OFFICE.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Survived Hurricane Irma With This Realization

Either we need to upgrade our electrical grid so that we NEVER lose power in any community; or we push our engineering industry to develop a durable, reliable solar-powered air conditioning system that will keep us Floridians chill while we recover from passing storms.

The woman who invents that solar-powered air conditioner becomes a GODDESS in the state of Florida, I kid you not.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma Report Sunday September 10 2017

The winds are here now. It's been raining since 10 AM. The streets aren't flooded but there's still hours more for rain to fall.

This may be my last blog update. Irma's eye is aimed for Tampa Bay and I will be in that path. I just want to say one last thing.

I hope the Southernmost Shed in Key West survived.

Wait, also, one more thing. Impeach trump.

And I hope Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good movie. I hate to miss it.

And Thor: Ragnarok! I don't wanna miss that either!

And Hugh Jackman should get nominated for an Oscar for his final role as Logan. Also Sir Patrick Stewart for Best Supporting. And Robin Wright for her supporting role in Wonder Woman.

I don't want to go.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

America's Original Sin, Given Human Form

For all my rage against donald trump as a con artist, a failure, and a horrifying mockery of a human being, I don't have the eloquence or skill to describe him the way Ta-Nehisi Coates does in his latest essay for The Atlantic.

You REALLY need to follow this link and read the whole thing.

Coates gives precise historical context how trump came to rise atop the Republican hill as a fearmongering white supremacist, giving form to 250-plus years of racial politics:

...To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible...
...Trump’s white support was not determined by income. According to Edison Research, Trump won whites making less than $50,000 by 20 points, whites making $50,000 to $99,999 by 28 points, and whites making $100,000 or more by 14 points. This shows that Trump assembled a broad white coalition that ran the gamut from Joe the Dishwasher to Joe the Plumber to Joe the Banker. So when white pundits cast the elevation of Trump as the handiwork of an inscrutable white working class, they are being too modest, declining to claim credit for their own economic class. Trump’s dominance among whites across class lines is of a piece with his larger dominance across nearly every white demographic...

Here's the bit that should force every White trump voter to hang their heads in guilt (and to the non-White trump voters, what the hell were you thinking???):

The focus on one subsector of Trump voters—the white working class—is puzzling, given the breadth of his white coalition. Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump’s presidency is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism. To accept that the bloody heirloom remains potent even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony—even after a black president; indeed, strengthened by the fact of that black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of this country’s political life. The idea of acceptance frustrates the left. The left would much rather have a discussion about class struggles, which might entice the white working masses, instead of about the racist struggles that those same masses have historically been the agents and beneficiaries of. Moreover, to accept that whiteness brought us Donald Trump is to accept whiteness as an existential danger to the country and the world.

You should really read the whole thing. The whole history of the United States brokering on slavery and racial divisions, the stuff that the Lost Causers would rather ignore while defending their Confederate statues, is what you need to read to understand just how fucked up our political system is: so desperate for White Power to stand above all others that it would risk the worst human being on the planet in our White House, destroying every institutional norm with his greed and stupidity, with his equally greedy and ill-informed lackeys adding to the inferno.

We should be better than this, America. That enough of you sided with trump is a horrifying reality that needs fixing.

Looking For Cover With an Oncoming Storm

I mentioned in an earlier post I was looking at a hurricane hitting Florida by the end of this week.

Well, it's still coming: say Hello to Hurricane Irma!

It's the most powerful hurricane to come along (I think) since Andrew. It's currently at a Category 5 (there is no 6) and at power and size that hasn't been seen in years.

It's already wiped out Barbuda in the Leeward Islands.


That video is a clip of Irma's winds hitting Puerto Rico. It's currently at 180 MPH (sustained). By comparison, the hurricanes I sat through while living in Gainesville FL in 2004 - Charley and Frances - had 150 MPH and 145 MPH winds. The winds can be lethal: They blow buildings and forests apart and then turn the debris into weapons. Granted, by the time Irma hits Florida it could downgrade to a Category 4 at lesser winds, but the way things are going

I have two options: get in a car with my kittehs and drive out of the path of the storm, or hunker down and wait it out. I've got enough food and water for now to wait it out, but if it stays at Cat 5 when it hits Miami, I might consider getting the hell out of Polk County.

We're already looking at the damages and lives lost from Harvey over in Texas. We're now facing something worse here in Florida.

And there's another hurricane - Hi, Jose! - in Irma's wake.

Just saying here: it's not that climate change makes more hurricanes, it's that the climate change makes these hurricanes more dangerous...

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

What Republicans Do: Killing The American Dream

Our nation hasn't always been a beacon of liberty and acceptance. As James Fallows noted over at the Atlantic:

That is, immigration has always been disruptive, from the time of the Germans and Irish in the mid-1800s to the groups I was seeing a century-plus later, or their counterparts today. And periodically this disruption has led to political and legal responses that looked bad (and racially driven) in retrospect, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1880s to the nativist restrictions that essentially shut down most immigration for almost a generation after World War I.

And as Fallows notes, we as a nation was able to adapt, able to accept because it was in our national character to do so:

But—I argued 30 years ago in The Atlantic, and have come to believe more strongly over the years—the United States differed from most other societies in its greater absorptive ability, and the resulting imperfectly open society enjoyed powerful economic, cultural, creative, diplomatic, actuarial, and simple human benefits from becoming a nation-of-nations.
So that’s my starting point. E Pluribus Unum is a real thing, and it is the fundamental American advantage...

So what do the Republicans do when they're in political power? Destroy that fundamental American advantage for the short-term gains of appeasing an angry Nativist base.

trump's call to end an Obama program DACA - which allowed for the children of illegal immigrants (nicknamed DREAMers) to remain in the US for education and employment, since many of them were mere babies when their parents came here - isn't serving any legal or national security purpose, despite what a grinning AG Sessions says. Every argument Sessions made during his announcement yesterday - that DREAMers took away jobs, that they were violent criminals, that they were living off the government dole - were provable lies, and yet he threw them out there because the Far Right anti-immigrant crowd would scoop it up like caviar.

What trump and Sessions hope to do - purify the nation by blocking the dread Other as immigrants - may appease the hater base, but it will do serious harm to our economy and to the United States' global standing. Worse, it will punish a set of Americans - yes, they are - whose only crime was that they are innocent - yes, they are - of their parents' coming here as illegals. DREAMers are those who grew up in the USA, learned English, pledged allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, worked part-time at service jobs, made friends with other Americans, moved on to college to get better educated and better work. Kicking them out of the United States would be like kicking white guys like me out of the country: because like me those kids would be strangers in lands they don't know, coping with loss of livelihood and identity.

This is sadistic. This is cruelty. What trump is doing is blatant racism.

And why is trump able to do this. Because the Republican Party he represents has no problem with him attacking Latinos (and Blacks, and Women, and Asians, and Transgenders, and...).

The Republicans have opposed sensible immigration reform for decades. When their own party leaders Bush the Lesser and Karl Rove tried to push an immigration platform in 2005 - looking at the long-term reality that the GOP needed to right themselves with Hispanics - the Congressional Republicans voted it down. When confronted with doing either 1) the humane, profitable thing by legalizing illegals and restructuring our immigration policy or 2) refusing to fix a collapsing system and making it worse by deporting genuinely effective and hard-working Americans - yes, they are - just to make sure they win their midterm primaries... Republicans consistently go with 2).

Which isn't crazy.

Just racist.

When you combine this with the overall Republican agenda of massive tax cuts for the rich, massive deregulation of worker and public safety, massive slashing of the social safety net, you get a political party that has no love or respect for the American Dream. The idea that any one person can improve his/her lot in life, pursue a meaningful career, and enjoy the benefits of friends and family.

Everything the Republicans want to do will make it harder for Americans to get educated, for Americans to get good jobs at good wages, for Americans to take pride in their accomplishments. They are pushing an agenda of the rich, for the rich, to the exclusion of everyone else.

And to accomplish that, Republicans have to lie and bully and deny, to hurt Americans simply because of the color of their skin, or the form of their gender, or the beliefs they hold. They sell racism to their voter base to keep them angry and motivated and voting even against their own best interests, because that hatred burns out any kind of compassion or empathy.

What trump is doing isn't weird or abnormal. It's just the Republican playbook on steroids, bulldozing down entire communities all so the rich can buy the ashes.

And it's racist as hell.


Sunday, September 03, 2017

Going Into September With a Lot On My Mind

Just a few notes:


  • We still have a sadistic prick in the White House, ruining people's lives.
  • Houston is still flooded, struggling to climb out of the damage Hurricane Harvey left behind. The environmental impacts aren't fully confirmed, but there's a likelihood of mass toxic spills and health hazards in the months/years to come.
  • We have another hurricane aimed for Florida sometime at the end of this week.
  • Congress is coming back after Labor Day, for a session that will likely see a push towards a budget that slashes billions in exchange for the GOP's obsessive need to cut taxes on the uberrich.
  • trump's mishandling of foreign affairs is still making a mess of Asia, as North Korea launches more missiles and trump is showing signs he'll let South Korea (and Japan, also Guam) burn if it means getting himself a cozy little war.
  • A possible vote on raising the debt ceiling to where the wingnut GOP caucus might gum up the vote to force a shutdown and default.
  • There's even a slim chance McConnell will bring back a voting motion to kill off Obamacare before the parliamentary rules of Congress block him from doing so.
On the bright side, Mueller's investigation into trumpian misdeeds is keeping pace. Although it'd be nice if he wraps it up soon and, you know, arrest everybody from trump on down who betrayed our elections using Russian help. Just sayin', sometime this week would be great before trump does something like knock over liquor stores in Anacostia or something.



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

For the Seven Readers Of My Blog Who Like Books

You might notice I have a few stories published here and there, and right now there's a special deal on one of the anthologies.

Okay, thanks to the publishers at Mystery & Horror LLC, there's a 50 percent off code for the anthology Strangely Funny III.

All you have to do is go to the Createspace market at http://www.createspace.com/6210217 and type in this code when you get to the Checkout:

7LSEAM9S

and that will make the item half-off.

If you do purchase the book, please take the time to read my story "Minette Dances With the Golem of Albany" and please leave any reviews of the book because the authors who contributed to these anthologies need the uplifting motivation (well, if you liked the story, if you didn't at least make note of our proper grammar and use of punctuation).

Thank ye.

Now, back to the insane political ranting.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Friday Night Trumpster Fire

Fridays at 5:00 has turned into the Infodump Hour in American politics. Government agencies or officials would just throw out there some scandalous tidbit or perform a questionable act before rushing off to hide until Monday. Let's be honest, most people just shut their brains down for the weekend and when they have to go back to work they'll get distracted by something else.

This particular Friday August 25th was noteworthy because that day the Texas coastline was getting slammed by Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 storm that promised to linger over the eastern half of the state for the entire weekend, which anyone with any experience with storms will tell you was going to cause massive floods, serious damage, and loss of life.

So what does Loser of the Popular Vote trump do before he heads out for yet another golf holiday?

he drops the mother of all Infodumps, with the knowledge that most of America is going to be focused on the Texan catastrophe.


  • trump issued an executive ban on transgender troops in the military, causing untold havoc. he's intentionally kicking out those who would WILLINGLY SERVE THIS NATION WITH HONOR all to placate the religious wingnuts who can't handle gender identities. This also underscores how trump - who begged out of the Vietnam War and got a deferment for bone spurs no one has ever verified - is a goddamn gutless coward not fit to lick a transperson's marching boots.
  • Just after that, trump pardoned convicted ex-sheriff Joe Apraio, who was facing six months for ignoring federal court orders trying to stop him from violating Hispanic Americans' rights.


The transgender ban will likely get delayed: organizations like the ACLU are already heading to courts to stop it. The most shameful and horrifying act was the pardoning of Arpaio, for two key reasons. First, referring to guest columnist Charles Kaiser at the Moderate Voice:

Here is the most logical way to view his pardon of Sheriff Arpaio: It is the latest and gravest step he has taken in his continuing efforts to undermine the rule of law. Obviously Trump delighted in fueling the racism of Arpaio’s supporters by pardoning this convicted criminal — he made that clear earlier this week during his repellent speech in Phoenix. But I am certain that is not the main reason for this heinous act.
For many weeks, Washington has been swirling with rumors that Mueller already has secured the cooperation of Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort in his investigation of the president. And Trump undoubtedly is more vulnerable to the testimony of these two men than he is to that of any other players in this fearful drama. Therefore, Trump must feel compelled to send this message through Arpaio’s pardon: The president is eager and willing to do the same thing for anyone who might be pressured into testifying against him...

Second point: Arpaio is one of the worst persons in American history in terms of his racist and criminal misdeeds as a county sheriff in Arizona. How bad was he?

The Phoenix New Times ran a list. It's horrifying:




THIS was the piece of shit trump pardoned. This is a guy who gives John Chivington a run for Worst American Ever. And trump pardons him to appease the hater base.

Because as a like-minded bully, trump didn't see anything Arpaio did as wrong. Because trump wants to do exactly those things to everyone of his own critics and targets.

So that was what happened Friday night.

As for the weekend?

Everyone's pissed about Arpaio. Everyone's horrified by the mass flooding that's wiping out Houston. trump is busy bragging about a book getting published by one of his sadistic buddies.

We are so royally fucked, America.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

I Always Start Laughing Nonstop When the Ninjas Show Up

Ahh, the 1980s, when MTV showed up and all of a sudden EVERY single release needed to have a video clip with it... whether it even made sense or not.

Ergo, the infamous Bonnie Tyler video for "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Basically a song about a woman falling in love with a vampire, the video for it turned into a twisted metaphor for boarding schools filled with possessed choir boys and dancing Fonzies.

In fact, the only SANE way to watch the video is with the Literal Song Lyrics:

SPIN AROUND... NINJAS!!!

/headdesk

This chart might help:



The only reason I'm even thinking about this is because tomorrow is the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE WAL-MART... across half the United States, although the totality will be a narrow band of OMG THERE'S NO PARKING HERE because 50 million Americans are getting there ahead of you.

NASA has a website dedicated to the eclipse. Even if you can't get within the band of totality, you can at least enjoy the partial eclipse within your zip code. As long as it doesn't freaking rain in the early afternoon where you live (mutter grumble freaking Florida weather grumble).

As for getting within the Band of Totality, you have to know a musical instrument and have a decent sense of melody and rhythm. /owstophittingme

Remember kids, don't stare right at the eclipse: let your parents do that for you instead!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It Should Be THIS Simple, America

Every American has a moral choice. One or the other, can't be both.

That moral choice is this. To be a Nazi, or to Punch Nazis.







Okay, I don't condone SHOOTING Hitler, but hey if he comes back as a demon or something,
you might have to.

The moral choice is clear, my fellow Americans.

You should not stand with Nazis, you should not agree with Nazis, you should not march with Nazis.

Punch a Nazi. It's what Americans have been doing since 1941 (ehhhh, maybe 1933 but not officially).


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Normally On This Day I Would Be Posting an Anniversary Note About Woodstock

But given the insane bullshit that is the trump Era, I am finding it hard to say anything good about a moment in American History where people did their best in a chaotic situation to pull off one of the most memorable rock festivals of all time.

This is what you wrought, Republicans. A madman in the White House and Nazis fist-bumping each other because they've got a guy in trump who'll let them run wild in our streets.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blood on the Streets of Charlottesville

So. Charlottesville.

Read through this link to Balloon Juice.

Watch this:



We were supposed to get better at this.

We were supposed to answer to the better angels of our nature.

We were supposed to fight Nazis, and the Klan, and hate.

Instead they flourish in a right-wing stew of fear-mongering and anger.

Instead the worst of us sit in the White House, in Congress, at high seats of power, using that fear and anger to propagate their own and deny everyone else our citizenry and humanity.

These Nazis, Klansmen and White Supremacists marching through Charlottesville this past weekend were ostensibly there to protest the removal of Confederate statues and memorials, claiming right of "heritage". But they were really there to incite mobs to acts of violence. And they got what they wanted.




Look at their turnout. Mostly male, entirely white, carrying guns and wearing body armor, spoiling for a fight.

And now people are dead. The ones who came out in greater numbers to stand against the Nazis and haters were attacked, beaten, and killed.

Heather Heyer died when one of the White Supremacists drove his car - he sped up for impact - into the street march rallying against his side. Remember Heather's name. Consign that murdering driver to the forgotten hellhole he deserves.


This isn't hard, Republicans. This isn't a case of "Both Sides". One side is violent, angry, ill-informed, and dangerous, beholden to failed ideologies of slavery and genocide like the Confederacy and Nazi Germany. The other side are Americans of all colors and faiths working to build America and keep it strong.

We need to turn back to our better angels. We need to cut off the oxygen to the Far Right racist radicals seeking to tear America down.

We need our United States of America back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Goodbye Guam, It Was Nice Knowing Ya

Just to update:

North Korea will develop a plan by mid-August to launch four intermediate range missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam before presenting it to leader Kim Jong Un who will make a decision on whether to proceed, the North's state media said on Thursday.

So, a few things to note about Guam before everything goes to hell:

  • It's been a US Territory since the Spanish-American War.
  • Its value as a naval station and stopping point to the Philippines made it an invaluable island to U.S. interests in the Pacific up to the beginning of World War II.
  • Japan invaded during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and held Guam until 1944. The islanders - Chamorros - had a rough occupation, but remained loyal to the United States until its liberation.
  • The native population argued successfully for self-determination by the 1950s, getting their own civilian government and by 1952 received American citizenship rights as an unincorporated territory. They gained the right to elect their own Governor by 1968. In modern times there's been efforts at either full Statehood (like Hawaii) or remaining a territory, with most residents preferring the status quo.
  • Guam hosts two major US military bases - one Naval, one Air Force - which deploy air surveillance and saber-rattling bomber flights over North Korea. Which is why North Korea wants to launch four missiles at Guam.
  • North Korea currently doesn't have nuclear capability with their missiles, so it's likely going to be conventional warheads that can blow up city blocks or airfields depending on how bad their aim is. Still, it's not going to be happy fun times if/when that happens.
  • The local Chamorros population may be currently putting up a brave front, but they're not going to be thrilled if those missiles start raining down on their coconut farms. They've got enough problems with the Brown Tree Snake and Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle already.
  • Guam was one of those places Americans should visit as part of understanding the vast stretch of our national heritage and culture. And also helping out get rid of the Brown Tree Snakes. Call it a working vacation, people, just as long as you get there before the bombs fall.


Goodbye, Guam. We love ya.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Another Quick Musing About How This Is All Effed Up

Even on vacation to his third-rate golf clubs, trump has the ability to fuck up immigration and world peace.

Just a Few Words on the Impending Nuclear War With North Korea, Thank You Republicans...

(Update: So of course all morning I've been in committee meeting, and I find out that Batocchio listed me on Crooks & Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up for today! I had no time to bake anybody any cake. I feel awkward, man...
I kid. Thank ye, Batocchio, and to everyone visiting please check out the blog!)

So it's gotten out that North Korea has designed a nuclear warhead that can fit onto missiles. With the United Nations issuing tougher sanctions to let North Korea know the world isn't happy with them, North Korea issued a threat to send "packs of wolves" to defend itself.

Via David A. Graham at The Atlantic:

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” (trump) said. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement, and as I said they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

This was followed up with North Korea making noises about launching strikes at the US territory - and key airbases there - of Guam.

And we're pretty much looking at a modern day Cuban Missile Crisis, but with ego-driven crazy people driving both cars over the cliffs of Armageddon.

Let's just consider what we know:


  • This is the Cold War update of Brinkmanship, which is a variation of the pre-World War Balance of Powers theory. Both sides rattle their sabers to garner concessions, making their side more reckless to make the other side more compliant. Neither side actually goes to war as long as deals are made.
  • We're at a point where deals can't be made. North Korea has too much invested into its status as a nuclear power, the United States is currently led by a person in trump who is reckless to the point of stupidity.
  • Secondary players such as China are limited in what they can do to stave off conflict. China has a use for North Korea as a loose cannon on the Asian political stage. Japan and South Korea - the nations most likely damaged by this war - are caught between a North Korea regime that has no qualms attacking them and an American regime that won't care much as long as US areas remain safe.
  • trump has been talking about a preemptive strike on North Korea just to be done with the 70-plus years of stalemate there.
  • A preemptive strike on North Korea may not succeed in taking out their missile sites and nuclear program.
  • North Korea would likely respond to that as an act of war, and retaliate with a massive artillery barrage across the DMZ into South Korea. Which means Seoul is in the crosshairs.
  • China, having arrangements with North Korea, will get drawn into the conflict in some form. Not a direct involvement against the United States or our allies there - Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Southeast Asia - but something to tie down our military focus. Something like starting a blockade around Taiwan or making a military claim for the South China Sea oil fields.
  • trump will likely escalate from there with a full invasion of North Korea. He would have to address Congress and get a vote affirming the effort, and there is a likelihood even Republicans in Congress would balk at the threat of full war. trump will likely ignore them.
  • At BEST in this scenario we end up in a Constitutional crisis where trump is removed via the 25th Amendment and let cooler heads prevail.
  • If there is a land invasion of North Korea, it won't be quick or clean. Korean terrain is notoriously bad, the regime had decades fortifying everything since 1953, and they'll have enough technical know-how to stymie American and South Korean forces early on.
  • This brings up the possibility - like it happened in the Korean War - of China sending in their troops to save their Korean allies (again). This will be another bloody mess.
  • If the US is successful enough, and if North Korea still has at least one bomb left, the North Koreans will use it. It's unlikely they can strike the mainland US, but Guam is notably in range. It's more likely North Korea will strike South Korea/Japan targets as a major Fuck You to the rest of the world.
  • If North Korea launches even one nuke, trump will use that as an excuse to nuke North Korea into a radioactive wasteland.
  • If the US launches nukes at North Korea, China may be compelled to launch an equal number of nukes at the US. And they can reach Mainland US.
  • And why would China respond like that? Because in this crazy game of Brinkmanship AKA Mutually Assured Destruction, nobody wants to be the one to pussy out. 

This is pretty much why 65 million Americans are screaming at the 62 million who voted for trump "ARE YOU FUCKING HAPPY NOW?"

I swear, in 1992 it felt like the world was gonna be safe from The End Of All Things. The Soviet Union collapsed, ending the Cold War. China wasn't interested or capable at the time of being a global threat even with their nuclear capability. Iraq was pacified. If there were wars going on, they were brushfires in Third World regions where global destruction was impossible. Even India and Pakistan - the two nations most likely to start nuclear war in the 1990s - weren't crazy enough to go there.

And yet here we are in 2017, with two knuckleheads in donald fucking trump and Kim fucking Jong fucking Un oh so eager to host a dick-measuring contest to see who can leave the most radioactive craters.

If this does all come down to a nuclear war between the US and China - because it won't stop with North Korea - I hope China has the decency to launch a few nukes right at Putin as a nice little "Thank you" note. That bastard is probably enjoying this with a bag of popcorn.


Monday, August 07, 2017

Just A Few Words on The Impending Immigration FUBAR

'Cause railing against illegals is how trump got to here, and By Golly he's gonna keep pushing that fear on his audience to keep them on his side.

But this is trump we're talking about. So the plan he's backing is obviously fucked up to begin with. Via Tom Gjelten at the Atlantic:

The bill’s proposed changes are certainly significant, but their consequences may not be easily predicted. The key lesson of the 1965 reforms is that social engineering through the adjustment of immigration policy is no simple matter—and almost any such effort will produce dramatic, unintended consequences...
The 1965 Act overturned a longstanding policy of allocating immigrant visas on the basis of national origin, whereby people from northern and western Europe were given highly preferential treatment over those from southern and eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, or Asia. Once people of all backgrounds were given a roughly equal opportunity to move to the United States, the flow of immigrants changed dramatically.
At the time the Act was passed, arriving immigrants were almost entirely white and European. Fifty years later, nine of 10 newcomers were from outside Europe, and—to the consternation of Miller and other immigration critics—their share of the American population was nearing an all-time high...
The legislation introduced by Cotton and Perdue and enthusiastically supported by the White House would aim to cut legal immigration to the United States by half, mainly by severely restricting the allocation of legal permanent residence status (green cards) on the basis of family ties...
The priority instead would be immigrants who score “points” as a result of their ability to speak English, their income prospects, and their marketable job skills. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to select immigrants “based on their likelihood of success in U.S. society” and their ability “to successfully assimilate...”

For starters, how does any of this improve our situation with illegal immigration? What is happening here goes against the LEGAL kind, which is, you know, supposed to be a good thing.

By cutting back on the number of legal arrivals, this merely shifts the burden back onto illegals getting into the country, something that had been decreasing over the past decade. People are coming to the United States because of better opportunities and relative safety, and that's not going to stop by making the rules harder.

Second, the standards trump and the other anti-immigrant Republicans want to set up are impossible to meet. Requirements such as fluency in English AND a Master's Degree in STEM (Science/Engineering) AND a paying salary that puts you in the upper income bracket would winnow out the vast majority of under-educated immigrants we already get.

But being under-educated isn't a problem for immigrants: In fact, studies show that immigration overall boosts the economic conditions - and education access - for native Americans (um, not the Native natives, sorry, but the long-standing Euro-Caucasians). So weeding down the number of immigrants would have a chilling effect.

Just try to remember one other thing: Everything trump touches turns to shit. His obsessive anti-immigrant push can easily collapse on itself... especially since Congressional Republicans know full well that most Americans support improvements to immigration not restrictions.

This is still a scary situation. We're still a nation under the whims of a fearful uneducated White Republican voter base. This is one more thing to add to the daily phone calls to Congress to stop any erosion to the American Dream.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Start Placing Your Bets on the trump Investigations...

Shit just got real (via Talking Points Memo):

Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, recently impaneled a grand jury as part of the probe, several news outlets reported on Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, that the Washington, D.C. grand jury “began its work in recent weeks” and is separate from the one assisting with the probe into President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The impanelment of that jury predated Mueller’s appointment as special counsel.
Reuters confirmed, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, that Mueller convened a grand jury.
The empanelment of a new, separate grand jury reflects the scope of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election and whether any members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
Reuters also reported that grand jury subpoenas were issued in connection with a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., the President’s eldest son, and a Russian lawyer.
Trump Jr. attended the meeting after he was promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s campaign. It was not clear whether those subpoenas were issued by the grand jury Mueller impaneled.

From what I'm gathering on the Intertubes, going to a Grand Jury means Mueller found something that requires direct testimony, hence the subpoenas.

The trump supporters and the Far Right conspiracy nuts can scream "Hillary's Emails" and "Seth Rich" all they want, but this is an actual legitimate investigation into trump's misdeeds with more and more evidence of this all going on for years.

This is no longer a hypothetical. Mueller is calling in the major players in trump's Inner Circle. Anything and everything - the decades-long bad business deals with Russian mobsters, questionable finances, the still-hidden tax returns, direct collusion with Russian agents to disrupt the 2016 elections - is going public.

It's now a question of how desperate trump will get to save his own ass. he's already publicly complaining about getting rid of Mueller's investigation despite the Congressional Republicans' admonishments that he has to leave it alone. Any attempt to pull a Saturday Night Massacre-type purge could well devastate the Justice Department (with trump firing EVERYBODY from Sessions on down until he gets someone willing to end Mueller's authority as Special Counsel).

trump is already looking at serious Obstruction of Justice charges over his firing of Comey. Shutting down Mueller will not only confirm that Obstruction, but make it clear to everyone but the hardest of supporters that trump's entire administration is a lawless sham.