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.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Obligitory trump April Fools Article 2017 Edition

President trump just walked out of an executive order signing without actually signing the executive order. trump was poised to sign a pair of executive orders Friday targeting trade abuses, but a reporter's question distracted him from signing at least one of them.
As trump thanked the press, a reporter jumped in with a question about ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was recently denied his request for immunity in exchange for testifying before Congress about ties between trump's campaign and Russia's presidential election meddling. trump, looking visibly flustered upon being asked about Flynn, responded by walking out the door.
Before trump could get too far, Vice President Mike Pence stopped the president and consulted with him in the doorway. Pence then picked the unsigned order off of the desk and followed trump out of the door.

That's it. How can we have April Fools gags when the biggest gag is REALLY HAPPENING TO US AND ISN'T GODDAMN FUNNY...?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Amateur Hour At the Chaos Club

So, for the month of March what have we learned boys and girls?

Via Michael Gerson at Real Clear Politics:

Republicans got a leader who is impatient and easily distracted -- by cable news on the Russian scandal or by Arnold Schwarzenegger's TV ratings. The content and consequences of his tweets are bad enough; worse is the disordered personality traits they reveal -- vindictiveness, shallowness and lack of discipline. Trump spent a total of 18 days on his health care bill before demanding a vote. And he made no speech to the nation to advance his ideas -- as every other recent president would have done.
Republicans got an administration that is incompetent. The White House policy process has been erratic and disorganized. It has failed to provide expert analysis and assistance to Congress and did little to effectively advocate the president's policy in ways that unite the party.
Republicans got an administration that is morally small. Trump's proposed budget would require massive cuts in disease research, global development and agricultural programs -- just as a famine gathers a hideous strength. The proposed budget practices random acts of gratuitous cruelty.
This is a pretty bad combination: empty, easily distracted, vindictive, shallow, impatient, incompetent and morally small. This is not the profile of a governing party.
It can hardly surprise us. The president had no governing experience. He has no detailed governing agenda. He trashed everyone who tried to govern in the past. And we somehow expect him to overcome the complex governing task presented by the Freedom Caucus?

We have in the White House a man beset by scandal. Refusing to answer to any ethical standard, committing acts of nepotism that serve no purpose other than to profit his own family. Pushing our allies away with childish arrogance and shakedown moves worthy of a neighborhood mafioso. Committing acts of ineptitude that would get people fired from any real job.

Sitting in the center of an ongoing storm connecting him to Russian agents and businessmen tied to Putin regarding possible sabotaging and manipulation of our 2016 General Election. A HORRIFYING BLEND of greed, political machinations, and I am not kidding a growing body count.

trump's mishandling of the Russian investigations has been so inept he's dragged in an idiotic House Republican in a poorly-staged attempt to invert the news cycle to "vindicate" trump's behaviors as well as sabotage the House Intelligence Committee's investigations.

trump polled recently at 35 percent. Obama never polled that low. It took Katrina wiping out half the Gulf Coast for Dubya to poll that low. No President Loser of the Popular Vote never opened an administration below 50 percent and trump has done nothing to convince the Non-Republican polling audience otherwise.

This isn't even getting to the fact that trump's intentionally understaffing his own departments, and the fact that trump's only "successes" his first two months in office has been to energize an Immigration agency into greater bullying and harassing of honest hard-working citizens and residents (and their kids, and whole families, and... ). We've already seen how trump will deal with Congress - foolishly - and we're facing an incoming crisis of a government shutdown that the Republicans aren't even addressing.

This train wreck shows no sign of stopping even as every car piles on top of each other like a stack of broken dominoes.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

The recent failure of the GOP-controlled House to pass their much-desired "Nuke Obamacare" plan - the thing they CAMPAIGNED ON for 7 straight years - is a sharp contrast to how Democrats created Obamacare in the first place.

Republicans this year brought out a plan (AHCA, or Ryancare, or trumpcare, and also DOA) that was pretty much universally reviled, failed to build consensus, rushed it through committee before their own bean-counters could report on how bad the numbers were (and they still weren't fast enough: the CBO told us the numbers were BAD), lied about the elements of the bill that would harm just about anyone who wasn't rich, and alienated major factions between the Far Right - the Freedom Caucus - and the Center Right - The Tuesday Group, and for the love of God I can't recall ever hearing of them before this week, did I ever blog about them? - to where neither side would come to the bill's rescue.

Democrats brought out their plan in 2009 (PPACA, or ACA, AKA Obamacare) that had enough defenders to make it plausible, worked for nine months or so to build consensus within their own ranks, took time to reach across the aisle to get Republicans on board (and was using a Republican model to base it on!), argued in good faith about the merits between the market-control factions of the Center Left - Blue Dog Democrats - and the Progressive Left seeking massive reforms toward universal healthcare, and only rushed the bill into law when it became clear they were losing the window of opportunity to get ANY healthcare reform passed at all.

As such, we can see a clear difference between the two major parties.

Democrats - since perhaps the FDR era - care more about competency and good governance. That even despite the arguments among their own ranks and the mistrust the Progressive and Centrists have towards each other, they still recognize the need to make things - anything, sometimes - work even if the compromise betrays a core ideal they possess (maybe not one they share, but at least they respect) as long as a majority of their constituency can gain from it. They allowed some dissent with individual Party members but made sure the overall Message was one of "getting it done." They would rather make government work than shut it down or destroy it.

Republicans - over the past 25 years maybe more - care more about winning elections and dominating the news cycle. They plaster over any dissent among the ranks, let the fringe Far Right control the messaging and campaigning to the extent that their Moderates are alienated and abused, and press for an agenda that does not reflect the majority's wants or needs. They shut down government rather than make it work.

Nancy Pelosi, once Speaker during the 2007-2011 years that the Democrats controlled the House, was able to build and maintain her coalition, whipping her party to vote. While she lost a few Dem Congresscritters with certain votes, she didn't lose those coalitions by making enough deals and compromises to placate her party, and got legislation passed during an economic crisis - the Great Recession - that required action be done.

Paul Ryan, current Speaker after his predecessor John Boehner was driven out by the Far Right factions, has done little during his tenure as Speaker. He's tried to placate the Freedom Caucus that drove Boehner to resign, but all that's done is embolden that faction at the expense of the rest of the party. Ryan pushed the AHCA vote not because he was confident it could pass, but because he was trying to force his own party's factions to wilt under the pressure of "getting this done" and concede to his will.

Ryan failed where Pelosi succeeded.

Ryan, like much of the Republican Party he ostensibly leads, does not believe that government can work. As a result, he doesn't work as a leader. Ryan is more Messenger, a wannabe Acolyte preaching the word of Ayn than taking the time to secure deals and compromises.

Republicans - this modern version - don't believe in compromises. As a Party, they make sure they can only do things as a "Majority of the Majority," meaning they cut Democrats out of the loop when it comes to input and when it comes to backing those bills. Anybody who does otherwise - such as Boehner back in 2014(15?) when he needed to break the Majority rule to get a bill passed - isn't in charge as a Republican for much longer. The Republicans' idea of compromise is "Democrats roll over and vote our way no matter what."

So, that's it. Basically, the big difference between Democrats and Republicans:

Democrats do all the work. Republicans do all the blather.

It used to be better than this, back when there were enough Republicans who cared.

Wonder where they got to, before the party died on everybody?

Friday, March 24, 2017

This Will Cut Deep

So what exactly just happened?

Republicans had campaigned for 8 years on obstructing Obama's Presidency as best they could, and spent 7 years campaigning against Obama's signature Healthcare reform package Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare).

Republicans finally had full control of the federal government. They controlled the House under Speaker Paul "Ayn Rand Is My Goddess" Ryan. They controlled the Senate - slightly - under Majority Leader Mitch "Burn In Hell For Your Obstruction" McConnell. They pulled off getting trump into the Presidency due to Russian involvement voter suppression and a broken Electoral College. Anything they passed in Congress, trump would happily sign off on. No more vetoes from Obama.

Republicans simply had to draft up a Health Care Replacement plan that could give them their desired Tax Cuts, give them their desired deregulation of industry, and still provide some semblance of coverage to make it look effective in comparison to a "flawed and broken" Obamacare they warned was going to make things bad.

Republicans came out with a Replacement bill - the AHCA - that actually kicked millions of Americans off health care coverage, reduced Medicaid AND Medicare funding, forced millions more Americans to pay more costs out-of-pocket, threatened to close hospitals and nursing homes, ruined health care protections for women, and did nothing to fix the dreaded deficits.

Republicans suddenly got an earful from millions of Americans protesting at town halls against their Replacement plan. They found no allies among their valued business buddies, many of whom were facing uncertainty and possible financial collapse with AHCA. They couldn't come up with sufficient excuses about why 24 million - at least - would lose health care.

Republicans could not rally around one coherent plan. When Ryan offered to make changes to the existing bill, the Far Right Freedom Caucus made harsher demands that actually made more Moderate members of The Tuesday Group (really? there's Moderate Republicans still around?!) reject those changes. And the Freedom Caucus wouldn't commit to the new changes either. It got ugly, fast.

Republicans just had to cancel in the House of Representatives their floor vote on their flawed, destructive Replacement plan, meaning they can't go through with their Repeal plan, basically meaning Obamacare remains intact (albeit vulnerable to Executive branch sabotage down the road).

In short:

MEEP motherfucking MEEP.

As I noted often before:

...The other thing Obama leaves behind is a broken Republican Party. Sure, they won the 2016 elections: but they lost every last shred of integrity, honesty, maturity, intelligence, wisdom, and long-term survival in the process. They ran on a platform of destruction: massive tax cuts for the rich a majority of Americans don't support, nuking health care that a majority of Americans are beginning to realize is gonna hurt them if it's taken away, rolling back civil rights gains, and discrediting every foreign policy success of the last 70 years (!) just to appease their new best friend Putin.
And having made this fantasy world of lies - where OBAMA was a FAILURE - the Republicans are going to try to reshape the real world to that fantasy. And they're going to find the real world doesn't work that way (and that Obama was more successful than they feared)...
...We're already watching the Republicans stumble on their attempt to purge Obamacare/ACA, but while they're setting up the first stage of launch they're finding out that "Repealing" is harder than they thought: Obamacare isn't just a layer added onto our existing Health Care laws, it BECAME our Health Care laws meaning any removal is going to leave a gaping hole in our economy that Congress HAS to Replace. Oh they'll still repeal Obamacare because they've made their Narrative and dare not deviate from script, but they're finding out NOW there's a huge price to pay and the Democratic Party is NOT going to be there to cover their asses...
I wasn't exaggerating. All they did was lie about Obama and Obamacare for seven years plus, and when it came time to deal with the Truth - that Obamacare was actually good for most Americans, that any repeal or cutbacks would cause damage to millions of lives - they had nothing.

The Republicans will still lie about this, of course. They'll point fingers, blame the Democrats for being so obstructionist - GEE, WHO TAUGHT THEM THAT, BOYS? - and they'll do everything to try and keep their base angry at the usual suspects. But it's out there, it's public and it's on the record: The Republicans themselves had Majority Control of the House of Representatives and they COULD NOT FULFILL THEIR BIGGEST CAMPAIGN PLEDGE OF KILLING OBAMACARE. This is on them. This is on a dying dysfunctional Party so obsessed with staying On Message for their Fox Not-News appearances - do read Frum's Waterloo follow-up he posted today - that they've forgotten how to do anything else.

This is what's called an unforced error: The Republicans had control of both wings of Congress, control of the Presidency, technically control of the Supreme Court, they had all the pieces in place to pass ANY bills they want... and they couldn't even agree on the biggest target they were aiming at, all because they fractured over the reality that their solutions were more disastrous than the "disaster" they were claiming to replace. For all the reputation Republicans have for being organized and On Message with their Narrative, this is a public display of ineptitude and incompetence that is rarely seen in our nation's history.

All those complaints about Democrats being too moderate, too calculating, too passive at times? It's called competence. They might screw up here and there, and act like cowards when they shouldn't, but the Democrats genuinely want to govern and make things work. When they passed ACA/Obamacare, it was with an eye towards making it work with the right organizations. Obama made sure to include the Health Care Industry as partners on the legislation: It may have pissed off the liberals who wanted socialized universal care, but it paid off long-term because those businesses recoiled from the Republican AHCA plan that created industry-wide chaos.

Like I noted before: Obama had to have known taking on a conservative model like ACA would wreck any future Republican sabotage because it took away any viable alternative the GOP could offer.

MEEP Motherfucking MEEP.

Tomorrow we keep fighting. The Republicans still have an agenda to dismantle every last bit of functioning government they can. Ryan may be wounded by this fight - can he still govern as Speaker if he can't even get his own Party aligned to vote his way? - but he still wants his precious precious TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH.

Tomorrow is another battle.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

So Full of Ugly Sights, of Ghastly Dreams

Now is the winter of our trump con artist/
Made gingrinchy spring by the sons of newt 
- this Shakespeare bloke crying in the corner over Brexit

So here now the madness that befouls the land.

Just to note:

The House Republicans are set to vote on their "Replacement" Plan for Obamacare - ostensibly AHCA but known as either Ryancare, trumpcare or DOA - but they've lost so much support from their Far Right "Freedom Caucus" that Ryan is trying to win them back by stripping out more coverage elements from insurance providers. That the Republicans are trying to save their healthcare package by making it crueler tells you all you need to know about the Party: they honestly have no idea how average Americans are struggling, and they have no empathy for anyone save their millionaire-and-billionaire buddies craving their unjustified tax cuts.

Just to note:

Our sitting President Loser of the Popular Vote is under investigation by our FBI and other intelligence agencies because of his years-long business ties to certain Russian business and political figures that our own agencies have under surveillance. These ties between trump and the Russians may have unduly corrupted our nation's 2016 general election. There's clear evidence that Putin and his Russian cronies preferred trump winning over Hillary, and growing evidence there was foreign influence in the form of fake news and questionable finances.

In short: We're dealing with a White House more beholden to the Kremlin than to the Constitution.

Just to note:

The House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) just yesterday received an intel report that he immediately brought to public attention, then took to the trump White House to brief the President Loser of the Popular Vote to tip him off (this is akin to having a District Attorney take a police report to the head of the Gambino family to warn the mob), failed to inform his other committee members like he's supposed to, then tried to justify it all to a media that had never seen any previous Intel chair do this kind of stunt before.

In short: The leadership of the Republican Party would rather compromise an ongoing investigation into a corrupt presidency than let that investigation serve the nation's interests. They are putting party ahead of country, and putting trump ahead of the Rule of Law.  They would rather work with Russia than work with Democrats, their fellow Americans. It reeks of obstruction of justice, it reeks of treason.

This is how far partisanship and lying and false narratives have brought us.

A broken kingdom ruled by a bent ruler on the verge of collapse.

An entire political party called Republican, placed upon the stage as ambitious Richard, carrying the stains of the blood of innocents and a greed for power, only now on the eve of battle waking to bad dreams of all the sins that brought this party to this place.

I shall despair. There is no creature loves me/
And if I die, no soul shall pity me/
Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself/ 
Find in myself no pity to myself?
- Richard III The modern Republican Party

This blood red day will mark the darkness still to come. There is no House of Richmond come to save us.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Red States Cutting Off Their Own Noses Part CXXIV: The "Who Lives Off The Federal Teat" Paradox

So trump dumped his proposed budget this week, and amid all the wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of hair about how sharp the spending cuts are I am willing to bet a lot of trump-voting Republicans in the Red States are all thinking to themselves "Well, these cuts couldn't possibly affect ME after all. I'm sure the budget-slashing is only gonna hurt the urban poor in Blue States, or programs that I don't ever use, or..."

Yeah, the disconnect is gonna be strong on this one.

Still, just a reminder about how ALL federal domestic spending works:

Usually through grants towards the states, at various levels of funding per state depending on the program. The grants come with certain requirements to ensure each state plugs the money into the appropriate state-level agency and thence to the masses. For those programs not fully funded, the state fills in those gaps with their own revenues.

But where exactly does the federal money go?

Per the Tax Foundation site, a link.

O Irony. Some of the Reddest of states - anti-government, railing against "lazy bums" AKA the dreaded "Other" living off the taxpayers' largesse - are the ones taking most of the federal money.

Granted, there are exceptions like North Dakota which takes the lowest amount of fed money. And for a Liberal hotbed, New York takes a middling chunk (likely due to the financial cornerstone of NYC taking a lot of national security/legal funding).

But four of the Top Five are traditionally Deep South Conservative states (Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky). Missouri's 6th and Georgia's 8th. The only consistently Blue state of the past 5-6 election cycles in the Top 10 is Oregon (wait, maybe Maine, except they still vote in too many Republicans to office).

You'd think Virginia, right there at the hub of government power, would be a major player for federal aid, or at least similar to Maryland. But no, they're not on the hook for a lot of Benjamins.

If there's any consistency between the Dependent States, it might be due to a lack of diversified industries. That is, a lot of the top needy states are reliant on Agriculture/Farming, Ranching, OR Fishing. Georgia still sticks out as an odd duck because of Atlanta being a massive business hub: Mayhaps those businesses are reliant on federal funds as well.

State-level taxation doesn't show any consistency: Louisiana has a high corporate tax rate but Mississippi and Georgia do not, yet they are in the Top 10 for Federal Aid.

Thing is, in the end the neediest states for Federal Aid tend to be the ones with the angriest citizenry screaming for the Feds to stop supporting "the wrong kind" with Federal Aid.

Do you think they'll keep screaming that if trump's Budget passes?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Well Ain't This A Kick To the Ego

Damn, this was a quick turnaround.

Last time I put in for an FBI Freedom of Information Act request - 2004 or 2005 - it took two months for a letter to come back saying "Neener neener we ain't telling."

I put in another request just last week... and the letter was in my mailbox today.

just to note, I blacked out my address, not the FBI.

"...this response neither confirms nor denies the existence of your subject's name on any watch lists."

Well, that's a blow to a political ranter's ego. Not only did they not bother to search the ancient, expansive warehouse for my file, but they're basically denying I'm dangerous enough to warrant even a single page on my nefarious blogging and turnout at various street protests.

C'mon. This is the FBI here. I can see that on the additional paperwork they sent with the letter that the Bureau claims "they don't keep files on everybody." This is the house Hoover built. There's gotta be a file on everybody. That's the whole point of the FBI (well, that and investigating Hillary for what she's ordering for dinner off the delivery menu in Manhattan tonight). I don't mind that they got a file on me. I just want the validation that they do.

Even angry moderate radicals want the attention. Not ALL the time, mind, just enough to make us feel wanted... in the good way, not in the "Top 10 Most Wanted" way. At least tell me I'm Number 68,309,199th on the List, will ya.




Wednesday, March 08, 2017

This Is Why Congress Should Not Have the Right to Name Their Damn Bills (w/ Update)

I know I shouldn't keep blogging, I swore I would stop for this month, I've already broken that promise about twice now, but this... THIS MONSTROSITY... THIS STUPIDITY... THIS... GGGGGGGOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMNNNNNNNNNNNN... augh, here lemme show ya.

Congress posted their insane, lethal alternative to Obamacare at their website, here's the link to it until they freak out and drop it. Just in case, I screenshot it so you can see here what it is that's PISSING ME OFF.


They are titling it "World's Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017."






It's a goddamn disaster.

Everybody other than the anti-Obamacare elitists are shredding it.

And yet Congress is trying to label this package of dogsh-t as though it's prime cut steak with a side of caviar and bread pudding for dessert.


They STILL think governance is all about marketing.

They KNOW GODDAMN WELL people are railing against this.

They have to be SADISTS and CLUELESS MORANS all at the SAME TIME.


(Update 3/20): I've been informed that this particular bill is NOT the RyantrumpCare Bill Of Doom, but a competing Bill of Doom from Rep. Jeff Sessions. (takes a look at the Sessions bill) OH CHRIST ON A BIKE THIS IS WORSE, GOD PLEASE I INVOKE YOU IN ALL SINCERITY TO SMITE THESE FOOLS FOR THEIR HUBRIS.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Yet Another Attempt to Penetrate the Bureaucracy

I know I shouldn't be blogging again, but I just wanted to put this out there.

Just for shits and giggles, I put in for a Freedom of Information request to the FBI to see if there's anything new in my files.

I did a request more than a decade ago, back during the early days of the War on Terror, just out of curiosity. I got a letter back about two months later that claimed I didn't have an FBI file. I didn't buy it - this is the agency Hoover built: EVERYBODY'S got an FBI file - but I figured it was probably too thin to have anything of merit for the FBI to share back.

It's been ten years or more, and I kinda wonder if my blogging has done anything to spike their interest.

Anyway, I want to make sure I don't have any business ties to Russia. I think we all should worry about that.

If anybody wants to do theirs, just follow that link above to the online request page and go through the prompts as best you can. Just be aware that this is now trumpWorld: every agency is understaffed at the moment so the requests will take longer to fill.

P.S. If you FBI peeps can get Gillian Anderson to autograph any of the paperwork you send me, that would be sweet.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Bully's Need to Make Enemies and Scapegoats

So, trump (lower-case from now on) threw a hissy fit on Twitter again, this time accusing Obama of "illegal" wiretapping of trump Tower to SPY ON him and make him cry.

So, just a couple of quick observations here:

1) trump believes everything he reads in Breitbart and not the daily briefings.

2) The "wiretap" trump is likely worried about was legally obtained via a warrant. trump has no grasp of how FISA warrants actually work. According to reports, the FISA court actually denied the warrant twice because the FBI was focusing too much on trump's US associates, so the FBI re-worded the request to focus on the Russian contacts instead.

3) trump has clearly been the focus of some kind of investigation for months into his ties with foreign financial groups, specifically with Russia. trump's biggest problem the past month - alongside his administration's complete ineptitude - has been the nagging accusations of collusion with Russia to rig the 2016 elections to trump's favor.

4) if trump is complaining about anything, he's complaining about an official, legally processed investigation that's still outside of his control. a lot of which was happening without Obama giving specific orders to spy on trump.

And yet, trump went there in his accusations: Blaming Obama and accusing him of illegal misdeeds that trump can't prove.

So why even go there?

Other than the obvious blow to the ego trump has to be suffering with this Sword of Damocles hanging over his throne, trump is doing what all bullies do. He's trying to game the refs into seeing things his way.

And by refs I mean Congress.

The weekend tweets were a large red flag (no pun intended) signalling to trump's wingnut supporters to stir up a shitstorm against Obama and scream to their congressional puppies to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT RADICAL KENYAN MOOSLIM IN THE WHITE HOUSE now on vacation. That part has worked, as the Far Right tweeters and pundits are all up in arms about Obama's "illegal wiretapping" that "should land him in jail".

What trump seems to be doing is two-fold: Get Congress to force the FBI and the rest of the Intelligence Community to stop investigating his ties to Russia (because he can't do it himself: that would be Obstruction), and to get Congress to force a faux investigation on Obama as a means of keeping their coalition - fraying under the struggles to repeal Obamacare - rallying around an external focus of anger and outrage.

Nothing kept the Far Right focused like their hatred of Hillary and their ability to investigate her over and over - like, 11 times wasn't it? - for Benghazi and her emails and her servers and her poor choice in MP3 players. Nothing kept the Far Right riled up like having Obama in the White House for eight years serving the public trust.

So here's trump, railing against a perceived injustice that is an actual legal investigation into his sins, trying to turn the focus away by faking an injustice that doesn't exist.

Makes himself the victim and everybody else the fools.

I wish more Americans would see that.

Motivational: To Run For Office

There is more to stopping Trump and the Far Right than being a caustic critic on the sidelines:

There is always a need for honest progressive people to run for office.

The most meaningful thing you can do in the age of Trump, for your community, for your country, is run for office. Across America, Republican politicians stand ready to do their part in the implementation of the Trump and GOP agenda. Beat them. Across America, Democrats blind to the stakes of the moment, comfortable in their positions or too timid to fight effectively against the Republican Party, stand, like bowling pins, ready to be knocked down again. Replace them. Not with some milquetoast professional or former lobbyist groomed by the state party. You. You, with the undocumented parents; you, who remembers when your town was a steel town; you, PTA regular; you, professor; you, concerned citizen, should run.

I'm going to look into this.

There are ways to set up funding as well. Try GoFundMe first, and look for other online funder sites that might work better for political organizing.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Sabbatical 2017

this place & the trump seem to have got the better of me - Walt Whitman, mostly

The dread and anxiety surrounding our current political situation has hurt my ability to sit and write out short stories and finish up other writing projects I'd like to get submitted & published.

I get distracted by the latest turmoil and feel compelled to blog about it, but at the cost of getting other shit done.

So I need to take this month off from blogging.

I know if something monstrously insane happens with this Trumpsterfire I will jump back in here to comment, but I need to force myself away from this for some time.

Just know this:

Anything and everything coming out of the Trump administration is a self-serving lie designed to make more people suffer.

Good luck.

Stay sane.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guessing The Republican Repeal Gameplan

There's been a leak or three of various Republican plans to follow through on their "Repeal And Replace Pray Nobody Notices There's No Sane Replacement" of Obamacare, and there's now reports of the GOP House leadership just deciding on a kamikaze do-or-die bill to see if it passes (per the Talking Points Memo):

The movement to repeal the Affordable Care Act appears to be approaching a do-or-die moment for Republicans, as the clock ticks on dismantling Obamacare in time to also tackle tax reform before Congress's summer recess. Many of the differences that dogged Republicans about repealing and replacing the law remain. But GOP lawmakers, particularly in the House, seem intent on moving forward, if a leaked a draft of legislation is of any judge...
Republicans have had seven years to coalesce around an Obamacare replacement, during which GOP lawmakers took dozens of vote to repeal the ACA, but in the months since Donald Trump’s surprise election, have only inched a little closer to settling on a plan moving forward. GOP lawmakers were able to pass an Obamacare repeal bill that then-President Obama vetoed in 2016. But now that they have a President Trump in the White House who will sign it, they’ve raised concerns about the timing, funding and general shape of an ACA replacement. According to the Wall Street Journal report, leadership is ready to move forward right away with a replacement strategy that resembles the previous proposals put forward by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rather than fully litigate all of the differences within the House GOP conference. The risk of such a strategy is that it takes only a few defections -- about two dozen members in the House and three Republicans in the Senate -- to torpedo the repeal bill...
Already House conservatives -- including the leaders of the influential groups the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee -- are objecting to some of the ideas being floated, and particularly the proposal to offer refundable tax credits for individual insurance...

The usual practice in the House is to Whip - organize - your votes on a bill by getting your party members in line and on-message. Funny thing is, they've had months six years to rally around a planned "Repeal and Replace" package, and yet they STILL can't rally around one because the party's factions - The Freedom Caucus that wants to watch it all burn vs. the Establishment incumbents that like to keep their cushy seats until more lobbyists need to fill no-show jobs - remain divided on how sharp they want their knives to be when they gut Obamacare like a fish.

So the new plan is to play what David Anderson at Balloon Juice calls a game of chicken: Ryan and his leadership team are daring their Republican foot soldiers to either go big or go home.

Given how the Republicans tend to fall into line when it gets to be do-or-die time, this is likely a done deal: Few House Republicans have the nerve or strength of character to test their "safe" gerrymandered districts (because those gerrymandered districts are ONLY safe for those who whimper before their wingnut voter base). The Senate may be a different matter - they have to win statewide voters and thus in practice can appeal to more moderate sensibilities - but the House is IMHO 95 percent (Okay, I'm not THAT absolutist about this) ready to vote Ryan's Repeal deal. They have to before they move on to what they want to pass, their "cut taxes for the rich and kill the federal budget forever" plan.

So what does this mean? What will we see as the results of this Repeal (and no real Replace) bill?

The universe will dance down one of these four paths:

1) The Republicans pass their Repeal plan, and somehow their Replace plan isn't as devastating as the budget offices predict it will be. Thousands may lose their health care plans but there's no noticeable uptick in health-related deaths (and a possibility the states in dire straits pass their own state-level programs). Job losses to the health care industry and health provider industry are minimal. This frees up the Republicans to pass their massive tax-cut / slash-and-burn federal budget... which actually works after TWO PREVIOUS FAILED ATTEMPTS at tax cuts, and with Congress holding down on any excessive spending like they did in 2001-2006.

This is known as the "Monkeys-Fly-Out-Of-My-Ass" timeline. Every Republican budget plan since 1980 that revolved around tax cuts created massive deficits and economic hardships. Because Republicans don't care about deficits at all: they just want tax cuts ALWAYS, and to hell with the consequences.

In short: This will never happen. The Repeal plan kills one part of the economy while the follow-up Ryan Budget kills the rest. And the Republicans will do their damnedest to pin the blame on Obama, Immigrants, and the Librul Poor. But people are gonna remember who passed all this crap, who campaigned on these lies about taxes and bad economies... and still vote Republican because they're f-cking hard-wired that way.

2) The House Republicans pass their Repeal plan, but the Senate Republicans balk at the poor Replace elements and it stalls out. The bill goes back to the House for fine-tuning, but the factions still can't agree on what stays and what goes. This stymies the entire budget process for the year and the government staggers on up to the point where the Freedom Caucus, wanting to burn it all down anyway, forces a budget shutdown that creates a constitutional crisis and economic meltdown.

Faced with an obstructionist faction of 40-plus wingnuts, the remaining House Republicans are forced to deal with the Democrats to pass any kind of budget at all to save the nation, but at the cost of their own electoral safety because the wingnuts will stir up a primary shitstorm in 2018 against the Establishment GOP. I doubt the Republicans can come up with anything for a budget that would satisfy the wingnuts AND the Senate at the same time... and any budget plan HAS to do something with Obamacare anyway, which makes this still a huge mess to figure out.

In short: This could happen. The Senate has already voiced enough opposition to the House's Repeal plan to make this likely. The random factor to all this is how the House reacts to that rejection: Implosion - the party splintering and eating itself - or Explosion - pursuing an agenda that makes things worse.

3) The proposed Repeal plan can't even pass through the House because the Freedom Caucus opposes it to where the Republicans don't have enough votes to make it through. Ryan could then pursue just his tax-cut budget plan without dealing with the ACA at all - ignore it and just let it suffer through the massive spending cuts his budget already doles out - and hope that the party faithful decide to let it slide as well.

The Freedom Caucus will make noises about it in the wingnut media, but will adjust their anger towards libruls and immigrants anyway. The Republicans stumble on as a united but backstabbing party, complaining about how Obama rigged the health care system against the American people and trying to keep the Repeal rallying cry fresh for their 2018 midterms.

In short: The actual compromise situation for everyone on the Far Right to accept. It won't be pretty, and it will still cause severe harm to the nation's economic well-being, but it would be a best-case scenario for the health care system to at least on paper chug along until someone with political will fixes it.

4) Aliens appear in orbit around the Earth and beam up every sane person to transport us to one of the habitable planets orbiting Trappist-1. Also, every needed fruit and grain plant as well as enough livestock to ensure a proper food supply. And soap. We'll need toothpaste too. Access to fibers for clothing. Also our pets and companion animals. Everything we need to make good chili or the best pizza. We might need several colony ships for this.

In short: I've got to focus on finishing up my sci-fi short stories. I'm facing a shit-ton of deadlines.

I don't see many other variables here. If anyone else figures out how the GOP Repeal gameplan works out, leave a comment. Danke.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Leak

Thing about the halls of power, it's that for all your need and desire to maintain a tight focused West Wing administration you are going to get leaks in your White House.

It's unavoidable, and it happens for several reasons:

1) Lower-rung proles in the organization feel a need to show off, that they're part of a powerful organization, and so they'll blab - "hush hush" and off the record of course - about some meaningless little piece of trivia that actually angers enough people over in Congress to make it an embarrassment. It's usually minor, partisan or political posturing stuff that never compromises national security (often because the leaker in question doesn't have clearance for the serious shit anyway). You still see somebody losing their job over this once the higher ups figure out who could have been in the loop for that tidbit.

2) There's a possible shift in how the federal government will do things, so the West Wing issues a deliberate leak - often through a trusted reporter, and done through an informal chat - to see what the response would be. You can tell how "official" the leak is by how the unnamed source is ranked: Senior Advisor for example will outrank Senior Spokesperson. The rank will flag Congress' notice as to how serious the White House is pursuing the policy change.

3) There is a likely shift in how the federal government will do things, but there's a faction within the White House - one of the agencies - concerned about its direction (or even its legality). This is where the whistleblowing comes in, and this is where it gets serious. At this point, you have to worry about national security - especially if the leak involves foreign policy or military actions - and how high both the dissenting leaker and the policy advocates are on the chain of command.

4) The leaks are coming during a period of mismanagement and misdeeds within the administration. There's so much chaos and stress within the West Wing that people are spilling their guts to their Beltway media friends in order to A) cover their ass to deflect any blame for incoming disasters, B) point the blame towards rivals (and sometimes even the guilty party) elsewhere in the office, C) vent their frustration about the idiots in charge, AND/OR D) add to the chaos and anarchy to make their bosses' lives more miserable.

Guess where Trump's White House falls on the list? Yup. Fourth. On the list. The chaos one.

Per the Balloon Juice daily roundup of schadenfreude (which actually links to a Politico article):

Last week, after Spicer became aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting with about a dozen of his communications staffers, he reconvened the group in his office to express his frustration over the number of private conversations and meetings that were showing up in unflattering news stories, according to sources in the room.
Upon entering Spicer’s office for what one person briefed on the gathering described as “an emergency meeting,” staffers were told to dump their phones on a table for a “phone check," to prove they had nothing to hide...

The irony that Spicer's witch-hunt among his own staffers to find leaks was itself leaked to the press should not be lost to history.

Spicer is likely to find some of the less competent leakers, but he's not going to succeed on cutting off every outlet because he's dealing with others in the White House - in other offices and agencies - outside of his control who are still able to whisper stuff out to people, and using methods well-honed over decades of interoffice backstabbing that can't be easy to track.

Like it or not, Washington DC is a company town and rather insular: too many people are connected to too many sources. Kind of like the Six Degrees game: you can link Jake Tapper to someone in the State Department command structure by three people, you can link Rachel Maddow to someone in Justice by two, that sort of thing. Cutting off those kinds of communications is next to impossible not without shutting down everybody's social lives. Even threatening to do so can backfire by driving the whisperers into dishing out bigger tales of interoffice ineptitude - and maybe criminal behavior - before they get the boot.

All Spicer - Spicey? Spices? I'm keen on making him the next Spice Girl and labeling him Yelly Spice - is going to do with this leaks investigation is give Saturday Night Live more material for the next fresh episode.

It'd be funny except for the fact this is our federal government sinking like the Titanic. This is not pretty, and it's gonna build up to something explosive...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Killing the Gerrymander With Math: Yes, the Geeks WILL SAVE DEMOCRACY...

(Update: hello again, Crooks and Liars readers! Thanks for linking in via Mike's Blog Round-up, and thank you again Batocchio! P.S. please check out the rest of this blog, including my Writings tab and Links tab above. P.S.S.: I had nothing to do with the card-reading at last night's Oscars. I was rooting for Rogue One all the way...)

Saw this on Twitter, jumped into the article at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Meet the Math Professor Who’s Fighting Gerrymandering With Geometry

And we're not talking about the polyhedral dice used in Dungeons & Dragons, oh no. Although rolling a d20 for critical would really make Killing the Gerrymander SOOOOOOOO WORTH IT.

Moon Duchin is an associate professor of math and director of the Science, Technology and Society program at Tufts. She realized last year that some of her research about metric geometry could be applied to gerrymandering — the practice of manipulating the shape of electoral districts to benefit a specific party, which is widely seen as a major contributor to government dysfunction.
At first, she says, her plans were straightforward and research-oriented — "to put together a team to do some modeling and then maybe consult with state redistricting commissions." But then she got more creative. "I became convinced that it’s probably more effective to try to help train a big new generation of expert witnesses who know the math side pretty well," she says...

Due to the Supreme Court ruling Selby County v Holder that gutted the district enforcements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, there's been an uptick in court cases fighting the extreme gerrymandering that's kicked in over the last 10 20 years.

What Duchin is attempting to do is clear up one of the more confusing elements of congressional districting: what the actual shape of the district should be:

(Duchin direct quote from interview) In redistricting, one of the principles that’s taken seriously by courts is that districts should be compact. The U.S. Constitution does not say that, but many state constitutions do, and it’s taken as a kind of general principle of how districts ought to look.
But nobody knows exactly what compactness means. People just have the idea that it means the shape shouldn’t be too weird, shouldn’t be too eccentric; it should be a kind of reasonable shape. Lots of people have taken a swing at that over the years. Which definition you choose actually has stakes. It changes what maps are acceptable and what maps aren’t. If you look at the Supreme Court history, what you’ll see is that a lot of times, especially in the ’90s, the court would say, Look, some shapes are obviously too bizarre but we don’t know how to describe the cutoff. How bizarre is too bizarre? We don’t know; that sounds hard...
...I was surprised to see that even though there were different mathematical attempts at a definition, you don’t ever see mathematicians testifying in court about it. So our first aim was to think like mathematicians about compactness and look at all the definitions that already exist, and compare them and try to prove theorems about the relationships between the definitions.
What courts have been looking for is one definition of compactness that they can understand, that we can compute, and that they can use as a kind of go-to standard. I don’t have any illusions that we’re going to settle that debate forever, but I think we can make a contribution to the debate...

From what I'm getting from the interview, the goal of Duchin's efforts seems to be getting rid of some of the more egregious spread-out districts, of trying to get more districts placed in actual population density centers like major cities/metro areas, rather than carved out as pieces to the edges of large sprawling districts made up of underpopulated rural zones (look at how cities like San Antonio and Orlando are divided between 4-5 different districts without a single district actually dedicated to that metro).

As long as this achieves a viable goal: Getting Congressional districts set to places where people actually live, and fully reflective of the population percentages between party identifications. I'm tired of the Republicans representing about 45 percent of the people and yet controlling 60 percent of the districts...

Monday, February 20, 2017

President's Day 2017

On this day we honor the Presidents who served this nation with honor and distinction.









As for the current job-holder, I refuse to name him here. That bankrupt con artist does not belong on this list.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Only Number That Matters

Keeping track of Trump's polling numbers isn't as important as keeping up with - and fighting back against - the terrible actions of his administration, but it's the canary in the coal mine that can tell us just when Trump is truly doomed.

That Trump is already underwater on the polls - starting off his tenure below 50 percent, something NO President has done in the era of modern polling (Eisenhower onward) - does nothing. Everybody knew coming into this that Trump was the least popular winner of the Electoral College loser of the Popular Vote of all time. That he's polling at 38-39 percent now doesn't mean much either.

Right now, the only way Trump leaves office - barring a full four years of his madness, or Gods Help Us he steals the re-election - is through impeachment or the 25 Amendment.

But impeachment only happens through Congress... and Republicans control Congress.

The 25 Amendment removal process only happens through the Cabinet and the Vice President... and Republicans control that.

And the Republicans are cowards.

For all the storm and fury that comes out of the Beltway media, that the party Establishment despises Trump and are just poised to toss him overboard first chance they get, the Republicans are STILL not doing anything about him.

Because for all the bad polling there is on Trump, there is only one number that matters:

How many Republican voters approve of Trump.

From the NBC News/Gallup poll recently done:

Notice the polarized numbers between the three factions of Democrats to Independents to Republicans. Of course the Republicans disapproved of the Democrats - harshly so after 1992 when the partisanship started its avalanche - for Clinton and Obama, and of course the Democrats disapproved of the Republicans from Reagan onward, and while they approved their own guys with high marks. That's not surprising.

It's interesting to note the Independents, how they tend to be approving with only Bill Clinton at 49 percent to start his tenure, and even then that's pretty solid close to 50 percent. Trump is terrible among Independents at 35 percent, that is honestly unheard of to get among the voter bloc that tends to be the less partisan and more optimistic.

But that's unimportant for this argument. What matters is that 87 percent approval Republicans have for Trump.

As long as Trump has that much support among the party base, there is not a damn thing the Republicans in Congress or in the Establishment can do to toss him overboard.

That level of popularity - most likely inflated as a reaction the base has towards the public hostility towards their boy Trump - translates into a lot of angry primary voters come 2018. And that means angry primary challengers (remember Eric Cantor?).

Even those Senators like McCain and Graham who won't have to worry about facing any primary challengers any time soon are wary of directly attacking Trump, lest the voter base - riled up by Fox Not-News and the whole REAL Fake News Breitbart Army - turn against the whole party and risk throwing the midterms to the Democrats.

The GOP will risk the chaos and destruction of the Trump regime because A) they need him to be the scapegoat to the oncoming budget disasters they themselves know their plans are, and B) they honestly fear his - not theirs - base.

They're still cowards. They are delaying the inevitable, and unable to fix their own house of petty angry voters they've unleashed on the electorate these past 25 years.

If they're waiting for Trump's Republican numbers to drop below say 70 percent, they'll have a long wait to endure: the Far Right voting base loves Trump exactly because he pisses the right people off, which includes the Republican Establishment. It's one hell of a Catch-22: The very reason to dump Trump - that he's insane, unstable, incapable of rule, alienating our allies, punishing entire families because of their (Mexican, Arab, and/or Asian) ethnicity, unable to moderate himself to do what the NATION needs out of a President - is the very reason his followers will never abandon him.

It's going to take a disaster worse than Hurricane Katrina - at this point, I doubt a terror strike would even help, because enough Dems and Indys were burned by the fallout of Bush/Cheney's miscues after 9/11 to fall for that again - to drop Trump's Republican approval to a level where he loses enough party support for the GOP to impeach or remove him. And by then, thousands will be dead, hundreds of thousands will be suffering, and it will all be too late.

For the rest of us, the Democrats and the Independents clearly opposed to Trump, the best we can do is keep the pressure up, and run for office. Every seat must be challenged. Every office needs be flipped to those who will fight Trump and his Far Right wingnuts every minute of every day.

Our numbers need to matter more.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Trump the Imposter

I always come back to this quote, as the villains on the Far Right keep proving it true:

An honest man, like the true religion, appeals to the understanding, or modestly confides in the internal evidence of his conscience. The imposter employs force instead of argument, imposes silence where he cannot convince, and propagates his character by the sword.
- Junius (Letter 41, 1770)

And how are the villains on the Far Right proving it true?

Due to their leader, Donald "Lost the Popular Vote By 3 Million" Trump.

Due to what Trump said yesterday at a mind-blowing mess of a rant (via The Moderate Voice):

...From there, the president’s criticism of the media went from barbed to personal in a cutting assessment of what he viewed as unfair coverage of his first few weeks in office – a period that has seen a succession of crises.
On a day when he ceded a loss over a signature policy in a federal appeals court, had to replace his labor secretary pick and faced questions over the resignation of his national security adviser, Trump chose to make the media a central focus of an unusually long and combative presidential news conference.
When asked by journalists of contacts between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives, he deflected the questions and put the focus instead on what he described as “illegal” government leaks and “dishonest” media coverage...
“...Tomorrow, they will say: ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press,'” Trump said. “I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it.”

Hint: when a guy tells you as he's ranting and raving that he's "having a good time," no he's not. Guys having a good time hoot and holler, they do not rant or rave. But I digress...

In one unusual exchange near the end of the news conference, Trump called on a questioner, asking if he was “a friendly reporter.”
When the journalist asked about recent threats to 48 Jewish centers across the country and signs of rising anti-Semitism, Trump appeared to take the question personally, replying: “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” He added he was also the “least racist person,” told the reporter to be “quiet,” accused him of lying and then dismissed the question as “insulting.”

The reporter in question was Jewish Orthodox, and the reporter's query tried to lay out that he wasn't accusing Trump of anything - that Trump's got Jewish grandkids for example - other than trying to get Trump to admit there's something wrong with the uptick in bomb threats to Jewish centers and day care schools.

But Trump couldn't handle that. He quickly made it a personal attack on himself, and tried to bully the reporter by telling him to shut up and accusing him of lying.

Refer back to Junius' quote: This is Trump imposing silence where he cannot convince.

And Trump proved Junius again today, when he tweeted out this (via Balloon Juice):

Check out the framing, how he sets his position: he is accusing "FAKE NEWS media" - which happen to be some of the oldest, more reliable news agencies in the United States - of being "the enemy of the American People!"

He is setting them up as boogeymen, witches, Dirty Reds, Willie Hortons, black thugs in hoodies, scapegoats. Never offering actual proof of his claim that they are fake, but insisting that "we" his audience of "the American People" buy his word.

This is the bullying child in middle school who, when caught lying to the teachers and to the parents and unable to answer for his terrible performance with schoolwork and playing with the other kids, blames everyone but himself.

This is the con artist who, when caught setting up a job to trick a businessman out of everything, will accuse that businessman's associates of being the real crooks trying to stop him from a sweet deal.

This is the wannabe dictator who, when floundering in an administration wrapped up in foreign scandal and waning polls, attacks those who reports his regime's failures in a desperate attempt to keep his imperial robes and golden trinkets.

This is Trump proving Junius correct 250 years or so ago. Nothing has changed between the tyrants of the 18th Century and the would-be tyrant of today.

Trump is already trying to impose silence where he cannot convince. It's not going to be long before Trump uses force over argument by propagating his character by the sword...

And 62 million of you voted for this Imposter.

Gods help us.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Remember, This Is Just Within Trump's FIRST MONTH IN OFFICE...

Dan Rather, veteran of many a political scandal from the 1960s until today, quoted in the UK Independent:

“Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now,” former CBS news anchor Dan Rather said, in a post on Facebook. “It was the closest we came to a debilitating Constitutional crisis, until maybe now.”
His comments come after the White House admitted the President was told several weeks ago that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had not told the truth about a telephone call with a Russian diplomat—and chose not to fire him immediately. The news has fueled broader concerns about Mr Trump's closeness to Vladimir Putin and the role Russia may have played in helping him get elected...

I know I'm wary of making scandal comparisons to Watergate and I'd love to find the time to be able to rank scandals objectively and accurately, but there is a seriousness and severity to this. These accusations about Flynn - and about Trump's unsettling relationships with a autocratic, kleptocratic nation like Russia - fit the criteria of scandal regarding Corruption (extortion, bribes, financial quid pro quos) and Political (rigging or altering elections, procedural misconduct) that make for serious offenses. Throw in the fact that what Flynn was doing - what Trump's campaign was doing - falls under "substantive" (meaning this is shit that can get you arrested and charged with federal felonies) more than "salacious" (merely exposing the dark, nasty soullessness of Trump and his circle).

Making this worse is that the only ones who can do anything about this - political leadership in Congress - are not in the mood to do a damn thing about it.

We're talking about bastards like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Jason Chaffetz who were all ready to investigate the shit out of a President Hillary over unproven rumors and the SAME shit they'd investigated for the last four twelve twenty-five years.

We're less than thirty days in on Trump's administration and he's already at a scandal level of an Iran Contra, one big leak away from full-blown Watergate/Teapot Dome, and Congress refuses to do its job of oversight or to force an independent special prosecutor to take over an investigation. Shameful.

Thirty days. We've had one President die in 30 days and even he didn't commit as much damage to the nation's security status or psyche as Trump has.

If we had a Congress with any balls (to hell with spine, let's call these cowards on their collective manhood), we wouldn't have another month of this disaster.

Man up and end this shit, Congress. It's not funny anymore. It's not SAFE anymore. There is every serious possibility our national security is compromised by a foreign power that is not allied to our domestic and global interests.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Nowhere To Go For Trump But Down

It's noteworthy that since the advent of national polling, no President started their administrations under 50 percent approval. It's due to several factors:

1) The President usually won a majority of popular votes, and still has those voters backing him,
2) There is a bipartisan desire by voters on both sides to wish an incoming President well and to hope for effective leadership,
3) Americans tend to be optimistic, forgiving and hopeful under most circumstances.

So how does any of that apply to Trump?

1) Trump did not win the majority of voters. He wasn't even close, with 3 million more for Hillary and when you throw in the Third Party voters Trump was under by 9 million voters with 45.9 percent (Hillary had 48 percent).
2) Trump (and the Republicans) ran such a bitter and divisive campaign - with Trump himself the most hated candidate in recent memory - that there is no bipartisan desire to support him.
3) The election result - where a broken Electoral College awarded the Presidency to someone a majority of voters didn't want - has created a numbed, shocked, angry response out of a majority of Americans (including non-voters) suddenly fearful and worried about our nation's present and future. This is anecdote on my part, but I can attest to a number of writers I know who are suffering depression and writer's block due to Trump.

We are three weeks in to Trump's administration and he's straddling 40 percent approval in the Gallup poll. His disapproval number is at 55 percent, and it's gone up nearly every 3-day gap in the polling.

Obama didn't sink to 40 percent approval until August 2011, three years into his first term. Dubya didn't sink to 40 percent approval until August 2005, his second term. Bush the Lesser was actually well in the 50s during his first year coming off a contested 2000 election. The response after 9/11 artificially bumped him to 90 percent for a week, but that was under terrible circumstances.

And if Trump has anyone to blame about his poor numbers compared to his two predecessors, he's only got himself to point at in that fancy gold-trimmed mirror of his.

We are living with a Presidential administration that's adept at one thing: Causing unforced errors that creates more problems than solves, and creating more headaches for a federal bureaucracy that has to clean up this mess.

By unforced errors I'm referring to a lot of the bad things - and things that haven't even happened yet - going on in Trump's White House:

The biggest unforced error was his Week Two attempt to placate his anti-immigrant supporters, issuing an Executive Order that banned refugees that had already been vetted from seven Middle Eastern nations as well as blocking the return of green-card-holding legalized residents from those nations.

This was a major mistake from start to (near) finish. The Order itself is a mess. It wasn't vetted with any White House lawyers, leaving it riddled with vague irregularities. As a result, it conflicts with existing law and - as the courts are finding - conflicts with the Constitution itself (flip to page 25 of the 9th Appellate Court ruling).

The Order made life miserable not just for American legalized residents but also Muslim residents from other countries, caught in the middle of travel to the U.S. for business or family reasons. That turned this into a major international scandal, with our supposed-to-be earnest allies like the United Kingdom - whose Commonwealth incorporates many Muslims and cultures affected by this disaster - publicly debating blocking Trump from official visits. The international outrage still hasn't ebbed.

The outrage here at home was immediate: thousands rushed to the major airports where Muslim travelers were being detained and protested like crazy. Lawyers offered pro bono services to those affected. If you look at that Gallup poll, you might notice the Disapproval numbers for Trump went UP after that weekend. If Trump thought he was going to get a lot of public support for his Muslim ban, he failed.

But that's a sign of how Trump is going to rule: Entirely on impulse, focused on brutal satisfaction to hurt others, and relying on his overwhelmed handlers to clean up the mess.

This is not effective leadership.

This is exactly what 62 million morans voted for when they backed an ill-informed, impulsive, ignorant bankrupt fraud of a failed businessman whose only success had been to trademark his name.

The reasons he hasn't been impeached yet are because the Republicans in the House need him around long enough to sign their impending disastrous tax-cut legislation, and those same Republicans are terrified of angering their party base still in love with this failure.

This means Trump will continue to misbehave. Even in the wake of losing his National Security Advisor Flynn to a major - and ONGOING - scandal, Trump won't learn. Trump will keep bulldozing across the landscape, whining about everybody else making his own poll numbers go down as he pulls off more outlandish and illegal stunts.

Who the hell is going to corral Trump from turning his weekend home Mal-A-Laugho into Spy Central? Who the hell is going to stop Trump's administration from constantly lying its collective ass off? Who the hell is going to keep Trump from insulting more of our allies and ruining more of our businesses to improve his own bottom line?

He's not going to win anybody over. He's losing whatever undecideds are left. He's already lost the 65 million who voted for Hillary. He's bound to start losing Republicans who actually care for things like competence and coherency in policy. He's polling right about where Dubya started losing people during the epic disaster that was Katrina... and Trump hasn't had his own Katrina yet. That is not a question of IF concerning this West Wing, it's a matter of WHEN.

This is going to keep going in a downward spiral.

This is not going to end well.

Update (2/16): Saw this on Twitter. Pew Research Center has this chart on how poorly Trump is doing with the general public:

Trump is double Clinton's unfavorables. And Bill still had 56 percent approval.