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.