Tuesday, August 29, 2017

For the Seven Readers Of My Blog Who Like Books

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

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

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


and that will make the item half-off.

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

Thank ye.

Now, back to the insane political ranting.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Friday Night Trumpster Fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that was what happened Friday night.

As for the weekend?

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

We are so royally fucked, America.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I Always Start Laughing Nonstop When the Ninjas Show Up

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

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

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



This chart might help:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It Should Be THIS Simple, America

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

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

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

The moral choice is clear, my fellow Americans.

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blood on the Streets of Charlottesville

So. Charlottesville.

Read through this link to Balloon Juice.

Watch this:

We were supposed to get better at this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We need our United States of America back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Goodbye Guam, It Was Nice Knowing Ya

Just to update:

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

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

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

Goodbye, Guam. We love ya.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Another Quick Musing About How This Is All Effed Up

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

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

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

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

Via David A. Graham at The Atlantic:

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

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

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

Let's just consider what we know:

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 07, 2017

Just A Few Words on The Impending Immigration FUBAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Start Placing Your Bets on the trump Investigations...

Shit just got real (via Talking Points Memo):

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

When Label Tags Rise Up Against Their Masters

In yet another round of


I check the calendar.

(long awkward pause)


Yes it is August.