Thursday, June 14, 2018

What the Republicans Are Doing To Children

The ongoing immigration issue with trump's aggressive policies is turning into a quagmire of questionable and unethical and inhumane practices.

Offensive above all is how - seemingly beginning under trump's misrule - the Border Patrol and ICE agents are intentionally splitting up families "in order to send a message". This message just happens to be "Hey, Mexico and Central America! The United States is now led by a group of rampaging assholes!"

'Cause only assholes would take a baby getting nursed by her mother.

The situation has gotten enough attention - especially after a reporter did a recent tour of a detention facility (converted from an empty Wal-Mart, how's THAT for symbolic?) - to where the DC Press Corps tried asking the White House Press Room about what was going on.

The answers they got? Shut up and don't question your government overlords.

Specifically, Attorney General Sessions came out and quoted the Bible at everybody: "Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order..."

So Sessions wants to quote the Bible at us to justify inhumane and sadistic behavior?

This is what I thought immediately in response:

This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.” - Jeremiah 31:15

That gets quoted again in Matthew from the Gospels, specifically the part where Herod massacres every boy child in an attempt to kill the Baby Jesus. HOW'S THAT FOR A BIBLICAL REFERENCE, SESSIONS YOU SONOFABITCH PHARISEE.

But that's not the Biblical quote most have been going for. The more common quotes have been:

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." - Leviticus 19:33

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me...” - Matthew 25:35

The proper Christian response to immigration is to be more humane; to improve our system of asylum to allow those fleeing persecution, terror and war; to keep families intact and safe.

The proper American response to immigration should be to realize that ALL Americans come from everywhere - my ancestors were immigrants, we are ALL the sons and daughters of immigrants - by virtue that those who seek our shores WANT to be Americans.

On both counts, trump and his buddy Sessions and pretty much EVERY Republican who revels in bashing immigrants - not just the illegals, but even the ones who are Naturalized and working towards Citizenship - are failing. There are missing children, sacrificed to lapsed mismanagement and neglect and God knows what else. They don't care. Worse, they're enjoying this.

Sadists and Pharisees, the lot of them. Hypocrites and criminals all.

America should be better than this, people. We should be treating children better than this. Goddamn us.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Doubts About Singapore This Week

Just to note that right now trump is in Singapore planning to meet face-to-face with Kim Jong Un, despite all of the earlier bashing, mockery, failure to commit (on trump's part), and scrambling to save face (also on trump's part).

trump is REALLY REALLY desperate to "earn" himself a Nobel Peace Prize. Most Republicans have this insane love/hate/really-hate relationship with that Peace Prize: They argue whenever Democrats receive it - Gore, Obama, others - and belittle it whenever possible, but at the same time they make excessive "nomination" efforts (many of them aren't even allowed to do so, doesn't stop them from acting like idiots in public) to get their warmongering guys like Dubya and even trump to win one because it conveys Statesman status.

Anyway, trump is trying to establish his foreign policy mastery - right after insulting the hell out of Canada and the rest of the G7 allies - by doing his damnedest to suck up to the North Korean dictator to try and get the tiniest concessions he can fake getting. trump has already agreed not to bring up anything that would offend Kim to his face - especially human rights abuses - and there's little else that trump is bringing as incentives for bargaining chips as need be.

Under normal circumstances, I hope for the best possible outcome of any foreign nation negotiations not just for the United States but also our allies in the region who can benefit from peace or stability.

But in this case, I don't want to get my hopes up. trump is going to be way out of his league here, and Kim is likely to walk away from this visit with all these gifts and leaving none behind for ourselves.

You gotta remember, trump's negotiation skills are not all that great: He panders, he bullies, he demands, he tries to wear down his opponent but offers little in exchange worth taking. Against small businesspersons and contractors unable to keep up, it works. Against political peers, well... Just look at the disaster that was this weekend in Quebec. All trump got out of that was the certainty his tariff trade war is going to escalate, and not in our favor.

The best possible outcome out of this is that Guam gets a chance to get out of U.S. protection and switch over to Japan or something. 'Cause right now they're sitting ducks for any Korean missile strikes if trump ever brings up his goddamned "lil Rocket Man" barbs.

Just remember to Duck and Cover, Asia. Duck and Cover...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Wreck in Quebec Falls Mainly On trump's Dreck.

To the seven people who follow this blog, you've no doubt realized I express only the greatest DISDAIN and HATRED towards Loser of the Popular Vote donald trump.

That I knew trump would be a train wreck in the White House, that he would shred every norm, break any law, betray every ally, if it meant filling his own pockets and satisfying his own Id (his Ego too subsumed by narcissism to be of any value anymore).

This weekend trump went to the G7 meeting, a gathering of the top economic powerhouses - U.S., Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada (with UK/France/Germany/Italy as part of the EU) - to coordinate current trade and finance issues and plan for long-term economic stability.

With trump already issuing tariffs aimed at Canada and Europe, the threat of escalating a trade war was a major topic. With trump going to these meetings with open disdain for certain discussions and a refusal to respect anyone else's opinions, this was looking like a bad weekend for the global economy.

Well, yeah. It may have actually gotten worse.

Let us refer over to this other Paul, fellow by the name of Krugman with a noted reputation for knowing economics. Hey, Paul, this is Paul here, alright if I quote you right now from your New York Times piece? Thanks, Paul:

...Still, there has never been a disaster like the G7 meeting that just took place. It could herald the beginning of a trade war, maybe even the collapse of the Western alliance. At the very least it will damage America’s reputation as a reliable ally for decades to come; even if Trump eventually departs the scene in disgrace, the fact that someone like him could come to power in the first place will always be in the back of everyone’s mind.
What went down in Quebec? I’m already seeing headlines to the effect that Trump took a belligerent “America first” position, demanding big concessions from our allies, which would have been bad. But the reality was much worse.
He didn’t put America First; Russia First would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.
Trump started with a call for readmitting Russia to the group, which makes no sense at all. The truth is that Russia, whose GDP is about the same size as Spain’s and quite a bit smaller than Brazil’s, was always a ringer in what was meant to be a group of major economies. It was brought in for strategic reasons, and kicked out when it invaded Ukraine. There is no possible justification for bringing it back, other than whatever hold Putin has on Trump personally.
Then Trump demanded that the other G7 members remove their “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on U.S. goods – which would be hard for them to do, because their actual tariff rates are very low. The European Union, for example, levies an average tariff of only three percent on US goods. Who says so? The U.S. government’s own guide to exporters...
Was there any strategy behind Trump’s behavior? Well, it was pretty much exactly what he would have done if he really is Putin’s puppet: yelling at friendly nations about sins they aren’t committing won’t bring back American jobs, but it’s exactly what someone who does want to break up the Western alliance would like to see...

I doubt our own economic leaders - business CEOs, Wall Street, major investors - are going to be thrilled that the economic system they've known for the past 50 years or more is about to go into the dumpster fire. Any advantages trump and his handlers think they have trying to bully other nations into serving their (not ours) whims aren't there. Yes, the U.S. economy is too massive to wage war against. Yes, a trade war would hurt the other G7 members more than it would hurt America.

But don't forget Machiavelli's maxim about Fear and Love: The real trick for a Prince is to avoid being HATED, because once your opponents and underlings reach that stage they will pay any price driven by that hate to destroy you.

Our staunchest and longest-serving allies neither fear nor love trump at this moment: They Hate him now. If they fear anything, it's the likelihood of kleptocrat/dictator/real victor of the trade wars - Putin - getting everything he wants including the dissolution of a united Europe.

Getting into a trade war with the United States is one thing: All of Europe has to be wary now that Russia will escalate their manipulations of local "populist" movements to disrupt their elections and destabilize their governments. Any of which is possible when economic downturns caused by the trade war make most nations turn on each other in rage and confusion.

Still, for all Putin is getting out of this chaos, the one truly enjoying all of this has to be trump. This fulfills his sociopathy. Convinced that the world is his to own and destroy, he will now take his pleasure in burning it all down.

trump: "Everything burns."

We as a planet are so royally fucked.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Florida: Where Republicans Tout "Safety LAST"

What the ever-loving hell was this? (via Steve Contorno at Tampa Bay Times):

For more than a year, the state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits, potentially allowing drug addicts or people with a mental illness to carry firearms in public.
A previously unreported Office of Inspector General investigation found that in February 2016 the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using a FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that ensures applicants who want to carry a gun do not have a disqualifying history in other states.


The employee in charge of the background checks could not log into the system, the investigator learned. The problem went unresolved until discovered by another worker in March 2017 — meaning that for more than a year applications got approved without the required background check.

THE PASSWORD? THE EMPLOYEE LOST THE PASSWORD?! AT WHAT POINT DID ANYONE THINK "Hey let's call the IT guys and have them reset the login"???

Was this going to be a problem for Florida while this lapse took place? In case someone may have noticed the background checks weren't happening?

During that time, which coincided with the June 12, 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 50 dead, the state saw an unprecedented spike in applications for concealed weapons permits. There were 134,000 requests for permits in the fiscal year ending in June 2015. The next 12 months broke a record, 245,000 applications, which was topped again in 2017 when the department received 275,000 applications.


Department employees interviewed for the report called the NICS checks "extremely important." Concealed weapons licenses "may have been issued to potentially ineligible individuals." If it came out they weren't conducted, "this could cause an embarrassment to the agency," the report said.

AN EMBARRASSMENT TO THE AGENCY?! HOW ABOUT "Oh my FUCKING GOD we may be letting more people get shot and killed!"

How the HELL do you NOT do your job for a full year?
How the HELL do you NOT call in IT if you've got issues with your logins?
How the HELL do you allow safety requirements to lapse like this for a full year?
How the HELL did anyone NOT NOTICE these background checks weren't being done?

I work in libraries. I have job duties I perform on a daily and weekly basis. If I miss even one job function by just a day or two my co-workers are on me to make sure it gets done.


Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has made it a priority to speed up the issuing of concealed weapons permits since he was elected in 2010. In 2012, he held a news conference to celebrate the state's one millionth concealed weapons permit, noting the time it took to process an application fell from 12 weeks to 35 days on his watch. There are now 1.8 million concealed weapon permit holders in Florida.
Now running for Florida governor as a Republican, Putnam's campaign touts his expansion of concealed carry permits as one of his top accomplishments.

Oh, that's right. The guy in charge of the Department - Putnam - doesn't give a rat's ass about public safety when it comes to firearms. Anything to make the NRA's life easier to get more guns into the hands of dangerous people.

This is how he supervised the Agriculture (and Consumer Services, which is an odd blending of two separate government functions) Department. Without a goddamn care for procedure and safety. With more concern for his NRA and corporate buddies profiting from his FAILURE to do his damn job.

And now this sonofabitch is running this midterms to be Governor.

Putnam will run this state like he ran that Department. That is, he won't do his goddamn job.

Putnam will pander to the gun nuts instead of the millions of Florida residents who are begging and pleading now - after wave upon wave of mass shootings - for better gun safety laws and enforcement.

This expose is a horrifying revelation. It is shameful, if not criminal negligence.

Every person in that Department who had a hand in this failure should resign or get fired with cause.

Putnam should apologize for his failure to do his job. Putnam should resign from it if he's still working as the commissioner. Putnam should drop out of the governor's race and flee the state of Florida in shame.

Pity of it is, Republicans no longer have any shame. Just look at who they vote for anymore. I bet Putnam is going to campaign on his making it this easy for gun nuts to buy firearms. "Under my governorship, we won't do ANY background checks at ALL! Why bother? We've done it already!"

This makes me sick.




The Republicans cannot be trusted to uphold their oaths, cannot be trusted to do their jobs.


Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Republican Crook Operating In Broad Daylight

And no, it's NOT trump I'm talking about. It's his sleazy buddy Scott Pruitt (via Martin Longman at Washington Monthly):

Three months after Scott Pruitt was sworn in as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, his executive scheduler emailed Dan Cathy, chairman and president of the fast food company Chick-fil-A, with an unusual request: Would Cathy meet with Pruitt to discuss “a potential business opportunity”?
A call was arranged, then canceled, and Pruitt eventually spoke with someone from the company’s legal department. Only then did he reveal the “opportunity” on his mind was a job for his wife, Marlyn.
“The subject of that phone call was an expression of interest in his wife becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee,” company representative Carrie Kurlander told The Washington Post via email...

The deal ended up not happening, but can you imagine the gall of a government official pushing such a nepotistic act so blatantly? Over a freaking Chick-Fil-A franchise?!

At least when Teapot Dome happened, it was over something like oil, you know, actual commodity value. This is penny ante stuff. Back to Longman:

...Chick-fil-A is not Harvard University. They will accept you if you have the dough and a decent business plan. But, I suppose it can’t hurt to throw your influence around a bit if you have some. Making the EPA director happy probably isn’t either here or there to the people who run Chick-fil-A but it can’t possibly hurt. All Pruitt had to do is to make this call himself on his own time. Most likely, they would have told him where to download the application and maybe offered some tips for getting approved, much like they would for anyone else making that call. But, who knows, maybe he could have greased the skids a little bit. That’s how things often work, and it’s not a big problem.

I dunno if Longman's being sarcastic on that point, because trying to influence a corporation into doing something for your wife seems unethical as hell.

Instead, Pruitt uses his staff to make the call and thereby crosses a bunch of ethical lines. It’s such a lazy form of corruption...

And here we get to the nub of the problem. Pruitt's corruption is blindingly lazy and trivial and wasteful. It'd be funny except that it's costing taxpayers every time he indulges in this shit. Just look at this from Huffington Post:

  • A bizarre and insanely cheap rental agreement with an oil lobbying firm.
  • Trying to fly first class instead of business/coach, and spending on expensive luxury hotels in violation of government travel guidelines.
  • An obsessive and paranoid spending spree over security, millions of dollars towards armored cars, extra security (20 guards, almost triple the number the previous EPA chief hired), and some weird super-secure phone booth for his office (that ended up costing double what the original invoice was set for).
  • Firing or demoting agency staff who questioned his spending. Also booting scientists off of various committees for clearly partisan reasons. And giving raises to personally-loyal staffers far above what other pay raises have been in the agency.
  • This is not on the HuffPo list, because that came out in April and this stuff is new (via Washington Post): Sending staffers out to do menial services such as pick up his laundry, take him shopping for his favorite brand of hand lotion (!), and buying a used trump Hotel mattress (?). 

Pruitt is showing the sad sign of a rich man whose business philosophy has been "Other People's Money": why waste your own wealth when you can waste someone else's? Here, he's wasting ours.

There are a few reasons why you don't put a person with a business background in a political office: Above all, where behavior that would be "normal" in the private sector becomes flagrantly unethical and stupid in a public sector where all actions have to fall under public scrutiny.

Let's be honest, people: Pruitt's behavior is at a level of gross corruption we haven't seen since the Harding administration. Not exactly the stuff of Teapot Dome, but more along the lines of Charles Forbes, Secretary for the newly developed post of Veteran Affairs whose personal corruption involving kickbacks was one of the more publicly known scandals before Teapot Dome got out.

Pruitt's behavior is the kind that in a more honest - or more accountable - administration would have led to resignation within days of the first breaking news reports. Instead he's been allowed to continue under trump's aegis, with the Shitgibbon himself singing Pruitt's loyalty to his own greedy self.

Say hello to the new normal, where the scandals that would get you booted from the White House would be if you took trump's second scoop of ice cream.

We are so very royally fucked, America.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Remember D-Day: To Boldly Go

(update: Thanks again to Crooks And Liars for linking me to Mike's Blog Round Up! Three huzzahs and wassups to my boss Tengrain over there)

When remembering the Normandy landings, we Americans need to remember that our Allies of World War II stormed the beaches alongside us. The French landing at Sword alongside Polish, Nordic, and British forces. The British led additional allies at Gold. Americans fought at Utah and Omaha.

Taking on Juno Beach were the Canadians, eh?

It gets overlooked in World War II narratives but the Canadians were a vital part of the War Effort to stop the Nazis. While part of the British Commonwealth and thus under British generalship, the Canadians on their own were a fearsome and dedicated army that impressed - okay, terrified - the Germans more than any other fighting force.

So anyway, the Canadians were assigned their own beachhead - Juno - out of the Commonwealth nations taking part in D-Day, and for the most part they handled some of the toughest fighting of the landings save for Omaha.

Among the Canadians was a Captain in the Royal Artillery by the name of James Doohan.

You might know him better as Scotty.

He was part of the landing that was able to fight their way inland, but by nightfall they were forced to press onward and he ended up getting hit by friendly fire during a patrol. He nearly got shot through the chest but a cigarette case in his pocket saved his life. Doohan DID lose a finger.

So when you watch Star Trek episodes, you might notice once in awhile on his right hand the middle finger is missing. Doohan mentioned later if he had ever gotten asked about the missing digit he'd note that an engineer is bound to lose a finger by accident.

Regarding the war, Doohan couldn't return to battle but he did switch over to being a pilot in the Canadian Air Force, during which he got tagged as the craziest pilot in their roster by flying a plane between two telegraph poles just to prove it could be done. When the war ended he went home, and then got into acting, starting in radio and then moving onto television. He picked up guest roles here and there before winning the spot on this science fiction gig that lasted... well, forever.

Doohan did a lot in his life: flew planes, fought on D-Day, punched Klingons while giving them their language (!), and probably told fellow Canadian William Shatner more than once to get bent. All in all, a Man's Life Lived Well.

So to donald trump, taking the time this week to insult our Canadian allies, ye might wanna rephrase that laddie.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Anniversary Again for Tank Man

It's been so crazy with the ongoing madness of a trump administration that I almost forgot about this.

We all need the reminder that we NEED to stand against the tyranny of political bullies, be it the Chinese autocrats or the trumpian sociopaths.

Dear NFL Owners

So the current news flurry - other than the shocking revelations that Manafort was trying to suborn perjury - was how trump tried to cancel the expected Philadelphia Eagles appearance at the White House to honor their Super Bowl win when it turned out that, well, nearly every Eagle player refused to hang out with a lying adulterous cheating scuzbucket.

trump ended up hosting a dismally attended affair filled with government staffers to make it look like football fans showed up, with trump trying to mock NFL players for unpatriotic motives before failing to even sing "God Bless America" correctly.

All in all, an embarrassing display by the President Loser of the Popular Vote, a clear sign of how trump has politicized even the most trivial act of a nation's leader, and underscoring how precarious the professional sports leagues are dealing with this maniacal self-service sonofabitch.

Dear NFL Owners who succumbed to trump's insane ploy to belittle NFL players who were kneeling in protest against police brutality towards unarmed Blacks:

Once you agree to be trump's bitch, you will ALWAYS be trump's bitch.

And you're finding out right now that being his bitch is not a smart move at all.