Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What The Republicans Want to Do When They Kill Off Obamacare

It's really very simple:

Republicans want to give everyone earning over $200,000 annual income a tax cut. So screw the 90 percent of Americans under that income limit.

And Republicans want to kill 22 to 25 million Americans who will lose their Medicaid support and/or their health care coverage.

Try this as a reality check. Go outside to a crowded place, like a shopping mall or grocery store or a summer day's park. Start counting each person. One out of every twenty Americans are going to lose their health care. So when you get to the twentieth person, realize that the person you're pointing at is going to die.

If you think that you aren't affected, that your family or friends are safe, you're wrong. Start counting your family, start counting your friends. When you get to Number Twenty, say goodbye to that person.

And we are all fucking screwed.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Republican Party Bites

I don't think I ever believed the Senate would ever stop the madness.

When the House tripped over themselves trying to nuke Obamacare earlier this year, it had more to do with the GOP being too inept to pull off the stunt. So of course, the Far Right Republicans pressed ahead on another plan to gut the Affordable Care Act, passing a horrifying House bill that granted them their oh-so-precious TAX CUT FOR THE RICH at the cost of kicking 18 to 24 million Americans off health care.

The House did that all in a rush, in secret, unwilling to let it be up for debate or cross-examination.

So why expect the Republican-controlled Senate to be any different?

They too worked on their version of the Kill Americans Act in utter secrecy, avoiding committee room reviews or public debate on the matter. What they came up with was a horrifying Senate bill that grants them their oh-so-precious TAX CUT FOR THE RICH at the cost of kicking 18 to 24 million Americans off health care.

You might notice there is little goddamn difference between the two bills. Merely the wording and the time-delays the Senate built into their ticking time bomb.

And of course the Beltway media will condemn in the softest language, debate using rules only the Far Right will accept, falsify history about how Obama and his Democratic allies passed their ACA, and pretend that this would all somehow work out if only the Democrats in Congress would be more bipartisan about it.

And of course the Moderates in the Senate - the Concerned Corps of Crunchy Conservatism - will roll over and vote for this bill after a hammy performance of "oh we need to tweak just this little bit and ALL WILL BE WELL" so they can campaign on "I fought for you" when they really didn't.

And of course trump will sign whichever travesty of "Nuke Obamacare" reaches his desk, because then he will claim HE'S DONE THE MOST OF ANY PRESIDENT EVER and preen like a jackass pretending to be an eagle.

AND OF COURSE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WILL LOSE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE, EITHER THROUGH MASSIVE CUTS TO MEDICAID OR THROUGH INCREASED PREMIUMS THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO MATCH. Even working Americans are going to find themselves feeling the pinch, not just in three years but in three months when the insurance companies freak out against the changes in law and funding.

All because the Republican Party as a whole no longer gives a shit about any American making less than $200,000 a year.

All because too many voters bought into the decades-long propaganda campaign by the Republicans and their Fox Not-News shills that libruls are the true evildoers who cavort with the Dreaded OTHER.

All because we have a broken electoral system from the gerrymanders all the way up to an outdated Electoral College.

I wrote two years ago that the Republican Party was dead, that all that remains was a soulless shambling ghoul, a zombie whose continued existence was racing to the grave.

Problem with zombies: anything they bite turns into a zombie too.

This nation got bit by the Wingnut plague, and we're at the point it's shambling into that grave along with the GOP.

Gods Help Us All.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hark! I Saw U2 Live

I normally don't go to live concerts. I dread going solo, and I usually can't afford the tickets for the acts I'd like to see.

One such act is U2, one of those crowd-pleasing, epic live performing bands that makes them one of the "Bucket List" bands you HAVE to see. So when they announced their 30th anniversary Joshua Tree Tour for this summer... I sat it out, because I didn't think I could afford it.

Last week, an old friend from high school announced she had an extra ticket to sell. At this point, I *could* afford it - my parents have helped straighten out my budget - so I bartered and got a ticket.

So... for the seven readers who know I'm a huge U2 fan... YEAH I WENT TO SEE THEM PERFORM AND OMG IT WAS A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE I WANNA GO OUT AND SAVE THE WORLD NOW I HAVE TO SHOUT MY EARS ARE STILL RINGING WHAT DID YOU SAY I THINK YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT EARDRUM SURGERY WHAT WHAT NOW

Just to note, since I was going, the Gods deemed it fit to have it rain all day over Tampa Bay. So it was still drizzling getting into the stadium:


There was a weather delay for the opening act One Direction, and when they did come out to perform there was still enough drizzle to have them cover up half the stage and the lead singer's piano. But as they finished, the storm moved on and the sun began to set over the Gulf Coast and the Gods brought forth the most beautiful rainbow:


You could see the double rainbow at one point:

Then the sun set and the rainbow left and then in the darkness they began playing "Sunday Bloody Sunday":


U2 played a handful of their pre-Joshua Tree hits while out on the in-crowd dais, wrapping up with "Pride" before moving onto the main stage to begin their Joshua Tree performance in its entirety.

Remember how I wrote about how awe-inspiring it was to hear "Where the Streets Have No Name" for the first time? Try adding a stark, haunting video backdrop of the Joshua Tree National Park to the stage:


That's me "WHOOOOOO"ing every five seconds.

I didn't video the whole concert on my smartphone because I did not manage my battery power to last (argh), so I took a bunch of photos during the rest of the concert:

My high school friend Kim showed up with her family and friends - the extra ticket was for her husband Sim who had to stay behind at work - and I asked her to get a picture of me with the stage in background.




The video accompanying "Bullet the Blue Sky"

The backdrop of "In God's Country", where they had the screen projection indented in such a way to make that Joshua Tree show as 3D.

As promised, U2 played EVERY song off Joshua Tree which made for an epic night. When they finished with "Mothers of the Disappeared", they took a bow and left the stage... which you're supposed to do so the audience can stand there for ten minutes screaming for the inevitable Encore. :) They then played their greatest hits post-Joshua Tree, including a haunting update of "Miss Sarajevo" only this time focusing on the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing that civil war (has it been SIX YEARS already?).

All in all, an epic night. And yes, my ears are still ringing.

Naked flame
She stands with a naked flame
I stand with the sons of Cain
Burned by the fire of love
Burned by the fire of love

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What If: trump and the Pardon Power

So hey, if it's time for some Game Theory (as Eric Garland would put it), how do we game out this ongoing disaster that is the trump Administration?

Right now, we're in the middle of an ongoing and expanding special counsel investigation into potentially criminal ties between Russia and trump's Presidential campaign.

As it stands now trump himself is "not the target" of the investigation, but so many of his people in his Inner Circle are - Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and more - that there's every likelihood that trump is tied to at least one felony violation. Given trump's history of questionable business deals, that likelihood jumps higher.

And let's include the Obstruction of Justice situation over trump's firing of FBI Director Comey.

So let's just say the Progressive/Democrat/Sane Person's Fantasy comes true to the last detail: That Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigations into trump-Russia-Gate prove that trump's campaign actively colluded with Russian spies and hackers to subvert the 2016 Elections (including hacking into electronic voting machines to skew results); that the active collusion not only involves trump but also VP Pence, Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and various other Republican Party leaders and campaign experts in a massive conspiracy (that itself can be a criminal charge); that there were acts of bribery, slush funds, illegal payoffs, and money laundering INVOLVING FOREIGN DONORS (an electoral No-No); that there were acts of extortion involving hacked emails of both Democrats and Republicans; and that trump actively Obstructed the investigations by firing not only Comey but also other government officials such as Sally Yates (who warned the White House that Flynn was compromised).

So there's about five felony charges at the least facing President Loser of the Popular Vote donald trump.

What the hell happens next?

In a sane and just world, Congress would move to Impeach trump (and other high-level officials) to prevent his further abuse of power.

But a Republican-controlled Congress - especially with Ryan and McConnell at the helm - will likely not do so. Even if Ryan and McConnell are dragged off in handcuffs, the remaining majorities in the House and Senate will likely remain Republican. And the Republicans are cowards.

In the meantime, since the investigation would reveal trump's criminal misdeeds, the federal agents authorized to arrest him on those charges - I dunno if it would be the FBI or the US Marshals, what the hell let's make it Gibbs' team from NCIS - are hurrying over to the nearest trump Golf Course to slap the handcuffs on him.

But before Gibbs can get through the door, trump rushes over to a table and fills out official Presidential Pardon papers that he issues to himself regarding those crimes and any others he may have possibly committed beforehand. Essentially giving himself a "Get Out of Jail Free" card (he may include everyone else arrested, but knowing trump he'll likely let most of them hang for "their failure" to serve him).

Can trump even do that? Can ANY President pardon himself?

It's a serious question, and it's come up often during major scandals like Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Whitewater.

It starts off with the question if Presidents can be charged while in office. Given the nature of their duties, there's a likelihood they may violate laws both domestic and foreign - such as war crimes - and if they can be charged on even a minor issue it could prove distracting. However, previous Supreme Court decisions argued that the President is NOT above the law, so if there are felonies involved - especially ones that threaten the Constitutional system - this situation may fall into precedent and trump can get charged.

If we go to Brian Kalt over at Foreign Policy:

I have been writing about presidential self-pardons for years. My position has always been that they would be legally invalid. I have also believed that a self-pardon is unlikely to ever happen because there are too many incentives weighing against it. But I am not sure that applies to Trump, who has proved he has a high tolerance for personal risk and a taste for attempting the never-before attempted.
So what would happen if Trump attempted a self-pardon? First, some pardon fundamentals: Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” Pardons thus can only cover federal criminal offenses and cannot thwart an impeachment (which technically is not a criminal prosecution anyway)...
...If a court ever did consider the issue, the decision could go either way because there are reasonable arguments on both sides. The president (or ex-president by the time he would be prosecuted) would have a very simple case that his self-pardon was valid: There is nothing in the Constitution that explicitly forbids it.
The prosecutor’s argument, while much more complicated, is a stronger one. First, a textual argument: The word “pardon” means something inherently bilateral, something that a sovereign bestows upon a subject. Consider more colloquially that you can beg someone else’s pardon, but you never seek or receive one from yourself. While there is admittedly no explicit limitation on self-pardons, there is no need for one, because a self-pardon is by definition not a “pardon...” 
...The prosecutor can also appeal to the venerable maxim that no one may be the judge in his own case. If a federal criminal defendant feels unjustly accused, he must convince one of the following to back him: the U.S. attorney (who can drop the prosecution), a majority of the grand jury (which can refuse to indict), the judge (who can dismiss the case), any member of the trial jury (which can fail to unanimously convict), or the president (who can pardon). But people cannot prosecute, judge, or sit on juries in their own cases. Like a judge who would have to submit to the authority of another judge if he were being prosecuted, a president must seek a pardon from his successor...

Again, considering trump, his need for self-preservation would still compel him to attempt a self-pardon, but the damage from that move wouldn't be worth it. Again to Kalt:

Besides these legal arguments against self-pardons, there are also some practical reasons why a president would not want to pardon himself even if he thought he could. The most important is that it would look so craven and corrupt that it would greatly weaken the president’s political position with all but his most die-hard supporters. If he were facing impeachment, it would increase his chances of being removed from office. If there were an election anytime soon, he and his party could pay a tremendous price.

The subsequent election after Nixon's resignation and Ford's pardon of him in September 1974 over Watergate was the 1974 Midterms Election (November). Republicans lost seats in both the Senate and the House, and Ford narrowly lost to Carter in the 1976 Presidential. Political experts agree the pardon ruined the Republicans' chances both times.

If trump does this for himself, he may remain in the White House but he'll be terribly alone. Accepting the pardon is an admission of guilt: It's a "Yeah I did the crime, but I won't do the time" move. No matter how he'll sell it to his base, everyone else on the planet will know him for what he is: A crook, and not a very smart one at that.

No sane person will want to work for him (which is already a problem his administration has), fearing the likelihood of getting caught up in other criminal misdeeds. Meaning an already-understaffed West Wing will get worse, and sloppier, with failures and disasters of mismanaging the state of affairs that would harm the nation even more. There would be at least two years of death, war, and mayhem before a Democratic Congress could challenge trump's destructive ways.

It would be possible for a Republican-controlled Congress to turn on trump if he abuses his office with a self-pardon move. They may fear their own Far Right base but they're not all idiots in Congress: They've seen what happens to the Party associated with scandal (SEE 1974 results) and know if they stick with trump throughout the midterms they will lose every Independent non-wingnut voter out there even in the "safe" gerrymandered districts. Impeaching trump would be the only way to save their skins in November 2018 (if they can last that long).

There's even a slight possibility that if the scandal is seriously bad, enough Republicans in Congress will flip parties - it can happen during the congressional sessions - and give control to the Democrats now, who would gladly Impeach trump even if they still end up with Pence in the Oval Office.

Both those scenarios, however, are pretty weak Ifs. The modern Republican Party is craven, dogmatic, and obsessed with their tax-cut deregulation agenda of doom. Even the "moderates" in the Party won't bolt.

This can well go down to the Supreme Court to determine if a President can self-pardon. That could still take years to reach that level of the legal system, and it still boils down to whether the conservative Republican-backed Justices side with the Constitution or with trump.

We are so royally fucked.

The Summer of Our Discontent

How much farther does this train wreck have to careen, O Lord?

The devastation made by the growing trump-Russia scandal spreads by the minute now, not by week or day. There's evidence that Russian-backed hackers cyberattacked our electronic voting machines in key states that flipped for trump.

trump himself has been reduced to accusing fired FBI Director Comey of lying and yet still claiming Comey's testimony vindicates him. Given trump's history of lying, why should anyone believe his claims?

And yet... and yet there's still the trump Voter Base who will side with him on every lie, every con, because it profits them to do so at the cost of their own sanity and safety.

We are still so very fucked.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Anniversary: Storming Those Beaches

Early in the morning of June 6, 1944 a massive invasion fleet made up of American, British, Canadian, and French forces landed at various spots along Normandy beaches for a spot of tea to affirm their commitment to a Western Front against the Nazis.



As such, we honor this day for those men's bravery and sacrifice.


Sunday, June 04, 2017

Anniversary: Tiananmen Once Again

Today is June 4th, which means another reminder that some fights for freedom are not over:

Police detained at least 11 Chinese activists after a pair of small events to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, according to human rights groups and activists.
Meanwhile, thousands gathered in Hong Kong for the annual candlelight vigil to remember the events of June 4, 1989, which have gained added poignancy in recent years in view of a continuing struggle for democracy there.

I still hope Tank Man is still alive. I still want to ask him the question, about what it was like to stand there in front of the tanks.

Part of me worries, however, I will learn soon enough. The way trump is behaving in the Oval Office, my own country is facing its own Tiananmen moment...

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Drowning in trump's Bluster

Today wasn't even much of a surprise. OF COURSE trump would do this:

Donald Trump has confirmed that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, in effect ensuring the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases will quit the international effort to address dangerous global warming.
The US will remove itself from the deal, joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not party to the Paris agreement. There will be no penalty for leaving, with the Paris deal based upon the premise of voluntary emissions reductions by participating countries...
“We will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair,” Trump said. “If we can, that’s great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”

Would it help to note that nearly EVERY OTHER NATION - including oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and RUSSIA (!) - are staying with the Paris Climate Accords?

Would it help to note that every one of trump's excuses to take the United States out of those Accords are verifiable lies?

trump, meanwhile, seems to think he can "re-negotiate" his own climate deals with individual nations, convinced "he" can get deals that would be "fair"... which by his measurements means "deals in which I steal a shitload of other people's money."

As always, he's creating problems by making everything about him.

You see, here's the little secret that most of the Beltway Media won't talk about. The real reason trump is exiting the climate change accords. It's not over facts, it's not even over standard Republican ideology of opposing everything Democrats support.

trump is exiting the Paris Climate Accords out of personal spite.

To Krugman over at the New York Times, he's thinking of this in terms of Republican animosity towards Obama - who did agree to the Paris Accords - as the simplest explanation:

Pay any attention to modern right-wing discourse — including op-ed articles by top Trump officials — and you find deep hostility to any notion that some problems require collective action beyond shooting people and blowing things up.
Beyond this, much of today’s right seems driven above all by animus toward liberals rather than specific issues. If liberals are for it, they’re against it. If liberals hate it, it’s good. Add to this the anti-intellectualism of the G.O.P. base, for whom scientific consensus on an issue is a minus, not a plus, with extra bonus points for undermining anything associated with President Barack Obama.
And if all this sounds too petty and vindictive to be the basis for momentous policy decisions, consider the character of the man in the White House. Need I say more?

But for trump to do this now, so quickly after his disastrous trip abroad, tells me that he's doing this because his tiny little fee-fees got hurt and he's swinging back at Europe in the worst way possible.

See, trump went overseas on his first big trip as President Loser of the Popular Vote, and with all the crazy things he did and the crazier things he said and the insulting crap he attempted to pull off, trump came back in a foul mood knowing full well he'd been made a laughingstock.

Listen to trump's speech. He kept obsessing over being treated fairly, and commented "We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore, and they won't be."

Who's "we," kemosabe?

The world leaders, the other countries, they were laughing at YOU.

And they still are laughing at you: Because like the wounded eight-year-old bully you are, you came back out onto the playground with mud on your face still threatening to beat up the entire school that showed you that mudpit in the first place.

The rest of the world is going to go on with their climate accord deals because 1) they are driven by the empirical evidence that climate change is a real threat, 2) they are able to make money off of switching to carbon-neutral or eco-friendly energy platforms, 3) they aren't idiots.

Meanwhile, the United States is going to drown in the ocean that is trump's Ignorance.

This move hurts US more than it hurts the world. Look at what's happening. Look at the alienation trump is causing with his destructive travel bans. Look at the way trump caused discord over his failure to recognize Article 5 of the NATO treaty. Look at how trump treated allies that have stood with the United States for decades to create a period of remarkable global stability (granted, this covers most of Western civilization, there remains a lot of bad stuff on the fringes).

Forget the Wall trump keeps threatening to put up on the Mexican border. trump has pretty much built a wall of Isolationism around the United States and has brought an end to the era of the United States as a global power. Nobody in their right mind can claim the President is the Leader of the Free World anymore. trump is only leading himself.

He's giving Putin (who wants the United States to fall as a global power) everything he wants to weaken Western Europe. He's giving China (who can now lead on green energy issues) everything they want to become the biggest Superpower on the planet.

This is what you voted for, 62 million Americans: an easily bruised ego-driven monster cutting off our own collective nose to spite the rest of the world.

Damn you.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Follow The Money

(Hello again, Crooks and Liars readers visiting from Mike's Blog Round Up! Thank you again, Batacchio, for the link!)

The Grand Unification Theory of All trump Scandals:

It's about the MONEY. As Charles P. Pierce at Esquire points out:

It simply comes down to money: the Russians, the meetings that mysteriously slipped everyone's minds when they were testifying before Congress or filling out disclosure forms, the vanishing tax returns, the emoluments mess, the bizarre attraction to wealthy overseas authoritarians, the unshakable presence of Michael Flynn. All of it, simple American greed magnified by a culture of celebrity and, through a fluke presidential election, dropped like a dead squirrel in a chimney into the world's greatest democracy—and, as a result, stinking up the entire joint.

There are other motives for why trump is in this game: Revenge against Obama's humiliations of him; Pride and Ego of being a God-Emperor Dictator in the Oval Office; The Infamy of being in the history books as a President Loser Of the Popular Vote. But really, it's all down to his goddamn greed.

He'll still be in this to get the big tax cuts for his income bracket, of course. trump is likely trying to figure out a way of robbing the Treasury as much as possible before he's forced out by the Russia investigations and pending Obstruction charges. And trump - through his son-in-law Jared and the rest of the trump crime family, for God's sake, he STOLE SOME OTHER FAMILY'S COAT OF ARMS - is shaking down foreign countries for political access as fast as the private meetings can be arranged.

This is all the last big con for trump. His casinos have failed, his steak and wine brands have failed, his hotels are failing, his fake university failed, everything except his inflated celebrity status has failed. Being President was the biggest scam he could hope for.

The Republicans let him play the game because they thought they could control the scam. But trump is better in one regards: he's a better con artist, and he tricked them for all it was worth.

And we're all paying the goddamn price.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What the Actual F-CKSH-T IS THIS?

(Updated below)
This isn't much from me, this is pretty much what I read last night on Balloon-Juice:

(link to Washington Post) Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin.
Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, then President-elect Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.
The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.
Neither the meeting nor the communications of Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials said.
The Post bolded that last. So the information came from…?

Reportedly the Post got an anonymous letter from inside the trump campaign. They've held onto it while verifying it, and apparently got confirmation from other Intel people who were able to dig up related info.

So here's the deal: Kushner went to Kislyak - alongside Flynn, who is already in a world of trouble with his ties to foreign nations - and wanted to set up a super-secret backchannel to Russia (Putin) in a way that our own government agencies wouldn't know about it. Subverting the Hotline that already exists with Russia, avoiding our own State Department, sneaking past the FBI and CIA and Congress. Kushner wanted to use resources at the Russian Embassy to do this, a request even the Russians viewed as crazy.

As a side note, Kushner did not report this meeting with Kislyak on his SF-86 form. He's had several contacts with Russians he failed to report.

The trump people are claiming they were doing this "to work out a peace deal over Syria," but why do it this way? There's a perfectly good STATE DEPARTMENT sitting right there they can use that's DESIGNED FOR DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS.

What this looks like to me, and I admit there's a bit of bias and rage here, is that Kushner wanted to keep himself and trump in contact with the Russian business and political allies they've had since the 1990s.

The same Russian allies they had during their 2016 campaign currently under investigation for Russian efforts to sabotage/subvert our election.

This is, to me, Kushner allying himself with a foreign power, trying to circumvent our own government's rules and organizations to serve his own interests against everyone else's.

HOW THE HELL IS THIS NOT TREASON?

Update: David Atkins over at Washington Monthly tries to think out the reasons:

So what monumental idiocy, urgent imperative and guilty necessity would drive Jared Kushner to reach out to Kislyak to request a secret back channel to the Kremlin during the transition period? Any aboveboard diplomatic explanation defies belief. Even a theoretically legitimate policy disagreement with the Obama White House would have been a non-starter, as there is only one president at a time, and therefore only one foreign policy at a time...
The motive has to be personal, then.
There are really only two possible explanations: that Kushner needed to arrange personal matters with Russian business partners and/or creditors without anyone but the Kremlin knowing (very bad and likely criminal) or that Kushner needed to arrange some sort of political deal with the Russians without the knowledge of the American intelligence services (potentially treasonous.) Or it could be both.
There simply isn’t any other reasonable explanation.
Which means the White House has a whole lot of explaining to do. Not just the White House, but the entire Trump family, including Donald and Ivanka.

This corruption is what 62 million of you voted for. I hope you're thrilled.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Anniversaries: A Long Time Ago In a Clearwater Bijou Far Far Away...

I kinda blogged about my geeking over Star Wars often here, but I blog elsewhere and on that site I went into more detail about how and when I fell in love with a movie:

Somewhere in my mind there is a seven year old boy sitting in a large rocking chair in a movie theater called a Bijou in downtown Clearwater Florida.
It's late summer, just before school. Having taken care of a big event in our family's lives - moving into a new home - the parents relent and take their three youthful boys to see this movie everyone's been gabbing about called Star Wars. The lads are familiar with some elements of science fiction - we've seen this thing called Star Trek on the teevee once or twice - but all we knew about the movie was from an ad campaign that showed spaceships blowing up and robots running around...

...It's archetypal, it's nostalgic, it's futuristic, it's action, it's space opera, it's primal emotional satisfaction. When Luke finishes that trench run and the Death Star blows up (oh shush I'm not spoiling a damn thing), the need among everyone in the audience to stand and cheer in victory is universal.

I'm remembering the good times again because today - May 25 - is the 40th anniversary when Star Wars officially came out. It actually got released to a handful of theaters because 20th Century Fox wasn't too sure it would do well and was just dumping it off into a summer season that tended to be quiet for the industry.

And then the whole thing blew up. Word of mouth spread. Kids, teens, and adults all flocked like mad to see a movie with incredible visual effects, impressive Wagnerian musical score by John Williams, and a faithful archetypal story. Millions went back for repeat viewings (home videotape was still years away from reaching the public, and waiting for movies to reach television took years). They released the movie to more theaters across the nation, where the demand overwhelmed the smaller places that hosted one or two (!) screens.

It rewired the entire film industry. Combined with a previous summer blockbuster Jaws, it convinced Hollywood that summertime was when blockbuster spectacles should be released. Special effects action movies dominated the production schedules. Movies were geared for kids and teens as much as possible. Multiplex theaters blossomed to match the demand (and supply as every studio raced to make their own Star Wars franchise hit).

That all didn't matter much to me at the time. It took awhile - the whole summer - to get to see it, but once my family had settled into our new home in Palm Harbor our parents were able to escort us to the theaters to watch it.

I didn't go completely geeky: my parents would indulge a little in the toys and the games, but they didn't buy every bit of merch that spawned around Lucas' empire. But I kept up with it, spread my interest to other SciFi and Fantasy 'Verses, and refreshed my geekery in the comics/graphic novel world as I grew into an adult.

I still hark back to my fanboy foundation, though, as evidenced by my prized lightsaber and showing up at local comic-cons dressed as a Jedi.

Man, forty years.

That Clearwater theater is long gone. Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker too. But there's another Episode coming out this year, and with luck I'll live long enough to see Episode IX which promises to be the big finale.

The seven year old in me still geeks out.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Go Tell That Long-Tongued Liar

Media manipulator, nation destroyer, obscene form of life Roger Ailes is dead.

I know if you're not able to say anything nice about anybody you shouldn't say anything at all.

But Ailes has many sins to answer for.

Much of the Far Right Noise Machine is his fault. Granted, there were Right Wing pundits for decades. Rush Limbaugh existed years before Fox Not-News did. But what Ailes brought to that whole side of the journalistic spectrum was a foundation and focal point. He gave the Far Right extremists a platform to vent, he hired pundits to corral and promote that extremism, he pitched a safe haven where the Conservative viewpoint could flourish and expand.

There may be the likes of Drudge, and Rush, and Breitbart (his remnant empire), and Coulter, and there are other conservative outlets like National Review and Newsmax. But Fox Not-News made itself the sun around which all others orbit.

He'd been a major player in the media for years, ever since helping Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign. The Selling of the President should be on everyone's reading list: it's where our modern political world got its ugly baptism. And it's where Roger Ailes appeared on the stage.

Ailes' influence reached far. Political campaigns and elected officials knew to bow in his general direction, and cower when he got angry. Rather than report the news, Ailes tilted his channel to focus on the opinion, filling the cable signals with pundit after pundit pushing agendas instead of the facts. Troubling enough, his approach worked: it appealed to the white and male audience Ailes wanted to reach, injecting them with anger and aiming that rage towards the Democrats and Liberal Left.

Where Ailes could not argue with conviction, he pushed with false narratives. His network would offer up half-baked conspiracies, twist reports to accent the negatives, confuse the issues by denying facts. He perfected the act of malicious reporting while avoiding the hazards of Libel and Defamation laws, by skirting the edge of fuzzy journalism to where if anyone fought back they would get attacked for "destroying free speech."

Ailes is the reason why most of our nation's attention towards political and social issues is driven by vitriol.

Ailes is one big reason (out of several) why we have trump in the White House.

There is no pit of hell deep enough for Roger Ailes.

You may throw a rock, hide your hand
Work in the dark against your fellow man
But sure as God has made the day and the night
What you do in the dark will be brought to light

You may run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
You may run home for for a long time
But let me tell you God Almighty's gonna cut you down

Go tell that long-tongued liar
Go tell that midnight rider
Tell the gambler, rambler, backbiter
Tell them God Almighty's gonna cut him down...

-- Written by Willie T. Johnson, Henry L. Jr. Owens, Clyde Riddick, and Orlandus Wilson (with thanks to Johnny Cash for a brilliant cover version)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Above All, A Machiavellian Master Must Be Competent

As of now, nearly every scandal with this trump Administration have been self-inflicted. That is, none of this would be happening if the people in charge - from trump on down to his handlers to their meager overworked staffs - had 1) general competency to do their jobs, 2) a genuine willingness to learn their jobs, 3) respect for the institutional norms that have done this nation well for 200-plus years, 4) basic goddamn common sense that you shouldn't fucking do things that will blow up in your face.

There is no sign that anybody at that White House can plan ten minutes ahead of themselves much less five days, eight weeks, six months, four years. They are bouncing from incident to incident, from mishandled staged events to botched executive orders to disorganized Congressional outreach to outright acts of corruption and illegality.

To quote Stephen Stromberg over at Washington Post:

At the opening of his presidency, Trump’s unforced errors were embarrassing — but, one could argue, at least the botched rollout of his immigration executive order rendered it vulnerable to legal attack, his poor negotiating skills complicated the passage of his slipshod health-care bill and his inattention to detail enabled his surprisingly capable foreign policy staff to limit the damage he could do...
...Now The Post reports that the day after he fired Comey, Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador. U.S. officials apparently obtained the material, which concerned Islamic State plotting, from a foreign ally and did not have permission to share the information with Russia. Though few specific details could be reported, there are a variety of dangerous potential consequences. Not only could the information’s disclosure imperil an intelligence relationship with a helpful government, but it could also reveal a secret intelligence asset to a foreign adversary working at cross purposes to the U.S. and its allies.
Compounding the insult, the accounts in The Post suggest Trump may have revealed the information in order to boast to his foreign visitors about the quality of the intelligence briefings he receives, as if they would not have known that the president of the United States has access to impressive amounts of secret material. The picture is not so much of conspiracy or malevolence, but of unfathomable carelessness...

I am fond of quoting Machiavelli about "Whether it is better to be loved or feared?" In that question, there is an underlying acceptance that the Prince in this scenario be someone competent. Incompetent leaders quickly lose the respect of others, at which point being loved or feared is useless.

Now to David Frum over at The Atlantic:

The president can never be cut out of the information loop altogether. But consider how little information Trump wants in the first place. He is satisfied with single pagers dotted by colorful bullet points. If that is all he uses, maybe it’s better for everybody to hold back information he could possibly misuse?...
It’s understandable why conscientious professionals would take such measures. Yet consider the troubling consequence of that decision. The security aspects of government would slip away from political control—for reasons that might seem necessary in the short run, but could be hard to reverse in the longer term. Donald Trump promised to shake up Washington. And what is being shaken is the trust of those who must carry out his orders. Someone has to be ultimately in charge of the national-security portions of the U.S. government. After this week, it may become a lot harder to identify precisely who that someone is...

It doesn't help that trump is playing this game as one of the most hated "leaders" in modern history, starting off his administration in an Unpopularity hole NO MODERN PRESIDENT ever had. He's already lost a majority of Americans who simply will never accept him.

The only thing keeping trump and his Republican allies in government - many of whom are showing the strain of supporting this clueless shitgibbon at every downturn - afloat is the epistemic bubble of the Far Right Narrative, where 80 percent of the GOP voting base loves trump precisely for the chaos and emotional turmoil he inflicts on all the non-believers outside that bubble.

But the Real World does not exist in that bubble. The Real World respects competency and effectiveness in governments being able to work together to maintain stability.

The Real World has ways of making those incompetent would-be dictator god-emperors doom themselves.

Unfortunately, everybody else has to pay the bills when that doom comes.

We are so very royally fucked.

Added: An additional note or twelve from Jon Finer at The Atlantic:

...Taking a step back, it is increasingly clear that Trump’s wrecking ball approach to the traditional norms of the presidency, praised as “disruptive” by his supporters, is exposing the limitations of a political system ill-equipped to handle someone operating  so recklessly. There may be few legal restrictions on the president related to, for example, disclosing classified information, or ethical breaches, or interfering with a law enforcement investigation into the campaign that brought him to power, but there has always been a basic presumption that a president would operate within certain bounds of good faith.
With a Republican-led Congress so far unwilling to hold the administration to account and few remedies available, short of nuclear options (impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment), the system is largely left to discipline itself. That isn't working...
...This incident is among the first, or at least most visible, costs of a person with this president's temperament occupying the Oval Office. Yet again, the administration is fighting a five-alarm fire of its own (and, as is often the case, of its president's) making.
It's been said and written frequently, but it bears repeating, that the day will come, sooner than anyone of us wants, when there will be a major external crisis for this administration to address. Anyone who isn't concerned about how that will play out isn't paying much attention.

...yup. Royally fucked.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Clear And Present Danger That Is trump

Jesus.

President donald trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former U.S. officials who said that trump's disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

If there's any bright news, trump is killing the spy industry. Why should Putin pay anybody to spy for him when all he has to do is call up trump for tea time in the Oval Office?

Remember how the Far Right yelled and screamed about Hillary and her private email server? They pushed about, what, eleven different investigations to find out that she never really revealed classified intel through that server, that she was never a national security risk. Can you imagine her doing something this clueless, this reckless, this blatant a disregard for our own intel? Hillary is Ambitious, yes: Stupid, no.

Why worry about trump's emails? trump will just call over the Russian ambassador and hand all the Daily Briefing folders in person.

Remember Alger Hiss?

Remember the Rosenbergs?

Remember Aldrich Ames?

Remember Robert Hanssen?

You'd better. Every single one of them are currently being outclassed by the biggest leaker of them all.

And 62 million Americans voted this goddamn national security risk into the White House.

Every Republican in Congress is defending this crook in the White House, either by silence or eager proclamation.

We are so very fucked.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

WE SHALL RIDE TO TRUMP TOWER SHINY AND CHROME

Thank GOD for Saturday Night Live:


The streets were filled with onlookers:

And the skit did not disappoint:

We're still incredibly f-cked, but at least we're able to mock our tormentors as they demolish the landscape...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Obstruction of Justice

It has its own chapter in the US Code: 18 USC 73.

The relevant matter may be under section 1505:

...Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress
Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

trump is using Comey's firing as both threat and promise of force: anyone who keeps investigating his and his campaign's ties to Russia will lose their jobs.

Obstruction is a serious matter. Just ask Scooter Libby. Just ask Richard Nixon.

trump is openly admitting to it now. His recent interview with Lester Holt revealed he'd wanted to fire Comey for weeks, that he questioned Comey three times about the investigations into the possibility Russia hacked the 2016 election, and that "the Russia thing" was on his mind.

Jesus FUCKING Christ, Congress.

This is what you're defending every time you curl up into a ball, roll over, and play dead.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Time to Start Counting the Cars Getting Derailed Off the trump Train

Welp.

I hadn't really been writing much about the Russia-trump scandal because too many details were coming in too many directions, and a lot of it was pretty much only going to get me riled up without any honest solutions (reason why is later).

But today a major bomb dropped.

President Loser of the Popular Vote donald trump fired embattled FBI Director Comey.


And trump's excuse for it? Oh, it's not because the FBI and other agencies happen to be investigating Russia's ties to trump's political campaign handlers and advisors. According to the firing letter, trump is claiming he's dumping Comey for mishandling the investigation into Hillary's emails.

The very same email "scandal" in late October that had a part in weakening voter turnout for Hillary, essentially gaming the election FOR trump.

Remember what I said about that non-scandal?

And then people started asking just WHAT was in these new emails to begin with, and how they could tie into the questionably overblown scandal of Hillary's Secret Sec of State Server. Reporters like Pete Williams at NBC started digging - and started hearing from sources in the FBI and Department of Justice - and found out the "new and shocking" emails were in fact tied into the ongoing investigation into disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner's habit of sexting (including the recent allegations he went after a 14-year-old girl online), and that it had more to do with Hillary's personal advisor Huma Abedin - Weiner's rightly angry ex - than with Hillary herself. There's no evidence Hillary has anything to do with these new emails.
In other words, this is just another goddamn Nothing-burger the Far Right are twisting into another anti-Hillary conspiracy.
The story quickly turned on the fact that Comey overstated the value of the new revelations as they related to Hillary, and that he misrepresented which investigation was actually being pursued. He also - according to former FBI personnel - violated various departmental protocols with the FBI and DOJ. The one who's really in trouble now is Comey...

A lot of follow-up stories between now and October painted Comey in unflattering ways. He jumped out too early on the Hillary emails, for example, while saying NOTHING in public about the then-growing investigation into trump's Russian ties. He kept trying to make himself into a hero - that he was trying to warn voters, that he was trying to be nonpartisan - but more and more evidence cropped up that he caved to Republican pressure to leak anything embarrassing about Hillary if he could.

But this really, HONESTLY, doesn't have to do with Hillary's emails.

This has everything to do with trump. And how scared he is that the FBI - among others - are digging too close to his Russian allies.

A lot of Twitter chatter has been comparing this sudden firing to the infamous Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon - realizing the special prosecutor investigating Watergate could gain access to his tape recordings - panicked and fired the Attorney General, drove the Deputy AG to resign in order to force the investigation to close. It backfired. Public outrage - and political anger in Congress even among Republicans - forced Nixon to backtrack and hire another special prosecutor... and eventually had to turn over the "smoking gun" tapes anyway.

What trump just did - firing a government official in the middle of overseeing a legal investigation involving the same White House firing him - is a very Nixonian, Active-Negative, "save my ass" move. All it does is give your political opponents more ammunition that you're trying to kill that investigation, which falls under very serious charges of Obstruction.

The troubling matters now are 1) trump will try to hire an FBI Director who will shut down the Russia probes, 2) fire additional agency employees and officers who may threaten his hold on power, and 3) how quickly the Republicans in Congress roll over and play dead.

That's the reason why I'm not blogging about #Russiatrump every day yelling my head off about the clear criminal wrong-doings of the likes of Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and Carter Page and GODS KNOWS how many other people (including trump himself). We're talking election tampering, computer hacking, questionable business deals, shady money transactions... These are things where if a Democratic President was doing ONE of these things the Republican Congress would be gleefully filing impeachment papers on an hourly basis.

But it's trump. It's one of their own. Republicans were oh so eager to investigate the shit out of Hillary for nothing-burgers like her emails and BEHGHAZI ZOMG, but where trump is involved the House and the Senate leadership turn into a bunch of cowards.

Already that "sane veteran" of the Senate Lindsey Graham is rolling over on the Comey firing on his damn tweet feed. I guarantee you the "moderates" among the GOP are running for the hills.

As long as we have a Republican-controlled Congress TERRIFIED OF THEIR FOX-NOT-NEWS HATE-DRIVEN VOTING BASE THAT WORSHIPS trump, this nation is not going to see one iota of law and justice resolving these matters.

This train wreck is going to keep piling up until the Republicans get their damn tax cuts passed. And THAT becomes another disaster altogether.

We are so fucking screwed.

To the 62 million who voted for trump, Иди́/Пошёл в жо́пу!


Update: Rude Pundit's take is concise and accurate and truthful. We are so fucking screwed.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Cake

First I will get baked, and then there will be cake.


The cake is not a lie.

So now I'm 47. Where do I go from here...

Friday, May 05, 2017

Cinco De Mayo 2017

To be fair, there's not much to celebrate this year.

Having that anti-immigrant Hater in the White House is enough to put a dour mood on any celebration.

...

What the hell, let's do this!


Thursday, May 04, 2017

A Dark Night Full of Republicans Drunk On Their Hate

I noted earlier, the modern Republican Party is so hate-driven, so obsessed with its Utopia tax-cut world, that they would keep coming after Obamacare because they can't think any other way.

Because Republicans hate Obama this much, they voted to kill off your health care coverage. They did it with a bill so screwed up that they didn't even have the language for it ready for people to read it. They rushed it to the floor without the Congressional Budget Office grading it. They just wanted to crow that they had "their victory" killing off Obamacare.

And then the motherfuckers celebrated with a beer.

I am not joking.
Despite all the phone calls, despite all the angry town halls of people terrified of losing their coverage, despite all the polls saying how Americans were realizing just what Obama's Health Care plan meant... these Republicans are a bunch of sadists.

They don't deserve your votes. They never did.

Do you see why I kept screaming the last ten years "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T VOTE REPUBLICAN?" This is why.

To every Democrat, get candidates in EVERY Congressional district NOW. Start campaigning. Make this the issue. Hit the Republicans every fucking day on this until 2018 and beyond.

To every Independent voter, this is your wake-up call. There is only one side of this fight that is fighting for the people to survive. Start supporting Democrats across the board, dammit.

To every registered Republican about to lose their family's Medicaid funding, to every registered Republican about to find out your hospital visit for a bum knee twenty years ago counts as a pre-existing condition disqualifying you for any help, to every registered Republican who voted for these liars and hypocrites and evildoers who cut your health care just so their billionaire buddies can keep a million more in their pockets... You deserve every hellish health-care moment that awaits you.

To the worthless cowardly Tuesday Group, you so-called moderates showed no power or willingness to stand up against a terrible health care bill. No wonder the Far Right wingnuts bully their way into party leadership roles.

And to the goddamn Republican Congresscritters getting drunk while the rest of us die, I hope to GOD YOU ALL GET CIRRHOSIS OF THE LIVER.

It's May 2017. It's Summer Blockbuster Season!

And as always I keep an eye out for AMONymous' annual Blockbuster Trailer!


A mash-up of all the action-packed movies to expect between April through September!

He does a cool job of it.

I am totally stoked for Wonder Woman, and Guardians of the Galaxy v2. The rest, I'm kinda keeping an eye on my budget for the summer.

Monday, May 01, 2017

I Award You No Points trump, And May God Have Mercy On Us All

So this happened (via The Atlantic via other sources):

In an interview with Salena Zito for Sirius XM radio, Trump discussed the nastiness of the 2016 campaign... He was told that the 1828 race between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson was the most similar, he said...
Direct quote from trump: I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

Give me a second.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

"There's no reason for this?" Actually, there was. SLAVERY. The Southern states did not want to compromise on the issue, and confronted with the Northern states dominating the 1860 national elections they freaked out and declared civil war.

I've discussed this before: The Civil War wasn't really avoidable. The cultural, economic, and political divisions over slavery made it a certainty.

Andrew Jackson, by the way, knew it was coming. When he fought with John C. Calhoun and South Carolina over the tariff issue and Nullification, he noted "the tariff was only the pretext, and disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question."

And Jackson was a slaveowner, and a nasty one to boot.

And Jackson had no heart (save for his wife Rachel and his profane parrot). Andrew Jackson was a sonofabitch. He made so many enemies they formed a political party (the Whigs) to oppose him. He left thousands of Native Americans to suffer and die. He charged into duels to the death so often he had a f-cking body count even Generals (and he was one) couldn't match before he got into the White House.

trump's statements on this showcase a level of idiocy, failure of knowledge, and outright ignorance that even this movie scene cannot be harsh enough:


My mom was a history teacher. I had her for AP European and she was disappointed I only scored a 4 on the exam. She also hated that I fell asleep in class: dammit Mom, the air conditioner was busted, I kept passing out! Even with me sleeping through half the class, I learned more history than this imbecile pretending to be the President Loser of the Popular Vote.

If trump had been in one of Mom's history classes, she would have flunked him out.

And this idiot is in the White House. And 62 million of you voted him there! How idiotic were YOU?!

God help us.

Loyalty Day

there's one reason why trump declared this Loyalty Day: to make people swear fealty, and to try and make it like they're swearing fealty to HIM.

No. No I won't.

I'm with Cap.

My Loyalty is with the United States and to the American Dream.

But there has been also the American Dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
- From historian James Adams in Epic of America (1931)

All Of Us, United (Norman Rockwell's The Right To Know)
To hell with trump.

Save America.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Only Detail You Need To Know About ANY Republican Tax Plan

For all the chatter about trump's tax plan proposal, for any chatter about Ryan's tax plans, just remember one thing:

Republican tax plans are NOT reforms: Republican tax plans are attempts to enrich the greedy, cause massive deficits, and kill government effectiveness all in one single blow.

Republican tax cuts do only one thing well: destroy. The rest are merely details.

They won't admit it, but they're close to realizing how dangerous it is for themselves. It's why they've begun punting the fiscal spending deadlines down the road for a week to avoid shutdowns they know they'll get blamed for.

Welcome back to the Era of Oh God We're Going Over a Cliff.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Having Gone Radio Silent

I know I haven't been blogging much.

There's only so many times I can write "Jesus Fucking Christ, America, What the HELL DID YOU VOTE FOR?"

Any attempt to focus on just one thing trump is doing wrong is next to impossible. I'd be writing five to twelve different articles every day.

There's a chance once I get some of my fiction writing projects completed I'll be back to full blogging outrage. But one thing at a time.

Good luck, and don't let the bastards get you down.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Everything Is Broken. Burn In Hell, Mitch McConnell

(Update: Good morning, everybody from Crooks & Liars! Thank you again Batacchio for the link to Mike's Blog Round-Up! Just a note to visitors, I'm currently distracted from blogging due to a severe case of "I GOT TO FINISH MY NOVEL" project, so please don't worry about the lack of new content here. And if there's any of you from Albany GA, I hope to see you in August at Epicon)

So let's list the various sins of Mitch McConnell:


  • He plotted from Day One of Barack Obama's Presidential administration to hinder, delay, and obstruct any agenda Obama had. McConnell did this while as Minority Leader using Senate rules of Cloture and Filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on almost everything that came to the floor. You wanna know how Congress stopped working? This is one major part of the problem (the other part is goddamn Far Right Wingnuts)


Look at how it DOUBLED when McConnell became Minority Leader (chart provided by The Week)



  • There have been reports - more of them coming out now as investigations into trump's dealings with Russian businessmen and trump handlers' dealings with Russian AGENTS get serious - that the Intelligence agencies informed Republican leaders in Congress as far back as October (maybe even in August) that trump's campaign was actively engaged with Russian hackers and other forces to manipulate the 2016 Elections. Word is, McConnell refused to do anything about it, accusing Obama of playing politics with the intel. As it becomes clearer that trump DID deal with the Russians to mess with the elections, it becomes likely that McConnell allowed treasonous acts to occur just so he could stay in power.


The deepest pit in Hell is not enough for McConnell.

And worse, every evil act he committed was rewarded by an American electorate who bought into McConnell's kabuki theater. Every time the Republicans obstructed and blocked Obama and the Democrats, they won more elections. Any attempt at accountability got flushed down the nation's toilet.

All that's left us is an America under the control of a wingnut-driven party that can't even compromise with itself.

All that's left us is an America under the control of a Congress that can't even unify under one party to get anything done (even the stuff that could make things worse).

All that's left us is an America under the thumb of a goddamn bankrupt con artist bully breaking constitutional rules and executive office ethics - and likely committing TREASON working with a foreign power against our country - all in the glory of his goddamn brand name.

Let me repeat: The deepest pit in Hell is not enough for Mitch McConnell.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

They Can't Quit Hating Obamacare, Baby

Jeez. Just when you thought the Republicans learned their lesson not to fuck with Obama's legacy, they're right back on the "Repeal" bandwagon trying to nuke Obamacre from orbit for, what, the 97th time?

To reference David Anderson (previously Richard Mayhew when he needed a pseudonym as he worked in the HC industry) on Balloon-Juice:

In simple terms, a carrier can’t deny a hemophiliac coverage but they can charge an actuarial fair premium of $90,000 per year. A carrier can’t deny a young woman who either is or intends to become pregnant. They just don’t have to cover the prenatal or labor and delivery costs.
It is effectively a slightly modified option 3 of Cassidy-Collins where states can return to the 2009 status quo if they so actively elect to do so. If we combine a single state choosing this route and sell across state lines, it would lead the entire country’s individual market back to 2009...

From what I can tell: The Republicans in Congress are basically going to kill any coverage in health care, and they're going to try and shift the blame onto the states to get away with it.

The way David Anderson describes it, the Replacement-to-the-Replacement Bill (AHCA 2.0) is worse than the original AHCA.

Why are the Republicans even bothering?

Because somewhere in that shared reptilian brain of the party is the evil desire to wreck ANYTHING with Obama's name on it, and they want to prove they can actually do this without the party falling apart like it did two weeks ago.

Frances Langum at Crooks and Liars is in agreement:

And here's the background: the current Congress (and especially the Freedumb Caucus) is chock full of Class of 2010 and later numbnuts who have NO congressional experience when Obama wasn't president, and NO platform other than "repeal and replace" that Obamacare.
They don't know what else to do.
And this latest incarnation is just. terrible.
They are getting rid of preexisting conditions, people. Because who wants to cover sick people?
By the way, it's always been about getting rid of preexisting conditions and yielding a big tax cut for the rich...

According to Langum, the current follow-up on this is that the Freedom Caucus is stepping back from any deal on AHCA 2.0. Still, this is worrisome. The Republicans are not learning from their mistakes. They never had to before. Every time they caused damage to the nation since 2009, they've been rewarded with election wins (sans 2012). But now they don't have the excuses and scapegoats to point at anymore: they can't rely on the Democrats - Obama in the White House - to stop themselves from driving over that cliff.

Keep calling, America. Keep resisting. Make damn sure the Republican Congresscritters realize this time there are consequences for their bullshit.

And start getting worried about that fiscal cliff too. That Debt Ceiling problem is coming back and this lineup of Jokers to the Right are not focusing on a solution for that at all...

Monday, April 03, 2017

You Got What You Voted For, America. Con Artists Among the Conservatives...

Part of my frustration over the current national crisis of incompetence, cronyism, and treason is how the media keeps treating the "trump Voter" with any sympathy or value.

No. No they shouldn't.

They keep covering the 62 million who voted for a well-documented bankrupt con artist all the while ignoring the 65 million who voted for a vetted US Senator and Secretary of State who had the misfortune of being an oversized bullseye target for a slime campaign that's lasted 25 years.

I'm getting sick of the skewed media coverage here.

And I'm not the only one (per Charles P. Pierce at Esquire):

A while back, I ran out of patience with the endless provision of cookies to the people who looked at the United States of America and decided that just what we needed was to have it run for a while by a Manhattan real-estate grifter and career public nuisance because he was going to bring jobs and money back to a bunch of states he very likely couldn't find on a map. But, in a continuing act of self-criticism that would do the Cultural Revolution proud, ever since the results rolled in last November, America's elite newspapers and news divisions have offered up linespace and airtime as a kind of penance to the "overlooked" and "forgotten" real Americans.
After the first several of these, I was on the verge of recommending that the people running the newspapers and news divisions simply stand themselves up in the town square of Bug Tussle and flog themselves for being educated as well as they are. The sub rosa tone of apology in most of these exercises was revolting.
Holy mother of god, I'm tired of reading quotes from people who live in places where the local economy went to hell or Mexico in 1979, and who have spent the intervening years swallowing whatever Jesus Juice was offered up by theocratic bunco artists of the Christocentric Right, and gulping down great flagons of barely disguised hatemongering against the targets of the day, all the while voting against their own best interests, now claiming that empowering Donald Trump as the man who will "shake things up" on their behalf was the only choice they had left. You had plenty of choices left.
In Kansas, you could have declined to re-elect Sam Brownback, who'd already turned your state into a dismal Randian basket case. In Wisconsin, you had three chances to turn out Scott Walker, and several chances to get the state legislature out of his clammy hands. And, now that the teeth of this new administration are becoming plain to see, it's a good time to remind all of you that you didn't have to hand the entire federal government over to Republican vandalism, and the presidency over to an abject loon on whom Russia may well hold the paper.
You all had the same choices we all had. You saddled the rest of us with misrule and disaster. Own it...

Every person who voted trump crossed a line. You had every warning, you had every clue there. He even bragged to your faces that he could and would abuse your trust the second you gave it to him, and you treated that like trustworthy leadership. You failed in your primary duty as citizens of the United States: to take an honest look at what you were voting for. You put your votes to a man whose only skill has been to shout at people on a fake "reality" show, and now you're wondering why that skill-set doesn't work in politics. And why a guy who claimed he'd "drain the swamp" of DC politics instead filled it up with Wall Street greedheads like himself.

You don't deserve one lick of sympathy.

The only ones who DO deserve the sympathy are the majority of Americans who DIDN'T vote for trump, because they did their damnedest to stop him and couldn't because of a broken Electoral College system.

I have sympathy for the millions of teachers and students whose schools are about to get turned into hamburger franchises disguised as unregulated charter academies.

I have sympathy for the millions of families - legally here in the US as citizens and immigrants - now all of a sudden targets of a bullying immigration police force pushing a "papers please" roundup that's arresting community leaders and not the "bad hombres" the Far Right keeps fearmongering about.

I have sympathy for the millions of Americans who are going to see worsening wages and job security under a wave of deregulation of protections and rights that won't bring back jobs but will boost the profit margins of short-sighted CEOs.

I have no sympathy for the fools who voted for all of this to happen, out of whatever blind ideology or sadistic glee that compels you.

You're gonna get screwed just like the rest of us. I just hope it hurts more for you.