Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Republicans In Flight 2018 Edition

"Only Barnes can kill Barnes." - the movie Platoon

While discussing the apt - yet tragic - metaphor of having a train full of House Republicans crashing into a garbage truck, we should consider the real train wreck going on with Republicans coping with a world dominated by their Almighty Shitgibbon.

What's happening is that despite the control the GOP holds over all three branches of federal government - they hold the Executive with trump, they hold the Legislative with control of the House since 2011 and the Senate since 2015, they hold the Judicial with five Supreme Court seats - there are an abnormally high number of vacating and retiring party leaders. In the fashion of rats abandoning the ship.

The latest one looking to get out of Dodge before the bills come due is a familiar name: Trey Gowdy, he of the "We'll Get You to Confess You're a Witch, Hillary" from not so long ago.

To the Talking Points Memo article (via Cameron Joseph)!

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) won’t run for another term, he announced Wednesday, making him the latest GOP chairman to announce he’s heading for the exits in recent months.
“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political elected office,” Gowdy said in a statement. “Instead I will be returning to the justice system. Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system.”

Gotta admit, the "return to justice" excuse is a fresh one, a lot better to buy than the "wanna spend more time with the family" we usually get.

But let's read a little bit between the lines, shall we?

His announcement makes him the ninth Republican committee chairman to announce he’s leaving, the second this week alone...

Joseph is referring to New Jersey's Rodney Frelinghuysen (gesundheit) clearing out from the powerful Appropriations Committee, something you don't walk away from because that's the committee what controls where the spending money goes.

The overall number of departing Republicans is intriguing:

House Republicans have been retiring at record rates this year, outpacing even previous wave elections. There are now 34 GOP lawmakers who won’t be back next year...

And this is still early. The Primaries are a few months away, and there's a likelihood that a number of incumbents are getting in-party challenges that could knock "safe" veteran seats off with more radical Far Right candidates that could lose the General Election in November.

As it stands, there's 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats filling the House. That's a 45-seat difference. All the Democrats have to do is flip more than 50 percent of those seats while retaining their own and they regain control of the House. That's 23 seats to gain.

There's 34 retiring Republican congresscritters. Granted, some of those are "safe" districts, but given the power of incumbency that allowed for a near-lock on those "safe" seats. Many of those "safe" seats are likely going to be toss-ups, where Democrats have a legitimate chance to win because an axiom of American politics is that the party in control of the White House during midterms tends to lose seats due to voter dissatisfaction.

All those toss-up seats. All those chances for Democrats to control the House - the Senate's math is harder to reach since only 1/3rd of that chamber is up for a vote - and break the grip the GOP currently holds on us. It's also a chance - with the chamber that controls the purse-strings and holds oversight powers - to finally force trump to answer for his bullshit.

It's odd, don't you think, for the party in power to start losing so many of their own party leaders like this, especially as the Republicans are working overtime to further suppress voter turnout among Democratic demographics.

There's three key factors: 1) The Republicans just passed their massive Tax Cut gift to the super-rich. Now they need to get out of the way before the economic fallout from that bad idea hits everybody. 2) A number of these incumbents are seeing shrinking support even in their "safe" gerrymandered districts, as the Game of Demographics that favored them is finally slipping. 3) The party has a huuuuge albatross around their necks called donald trump. His constant unfavorable numbers make him toxic to the GOP in the General election polling. Just look at Alabama, where TWICE trump went in that state to campaign for "his" favored Senate candidate only to have BOTH candidates lose (Strange in primary, Moore in general)... in an otherwise solid Red State where trump's current value was zilch.

The pundits are looking at what they're calling another Wave Election - which given the hyperactive state of partisanship in the country now seems to be every 6 years instead of 20 - that favors the Democrats in ways the GOP suppression efforts can't contain.

For all the slavish devotion the current GOP leadership has towards trump, the "sane" members of the Party have to be looking at the polling numbers and running for their lives. trump's leadership - or lack thereof - normally requires a political party to answer either by standing up to his inept and corrupt ways (which some try but then find themselves disinvited from Fox Not-News), or by surrendering to trump's corruption and risk getting sucked into that black hole with criminal charges sooner or later.

The third option is to run. And so they are. In numbers that can well give the Democrats the House this November.

Get the vote out, America. GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT, DEMOCRATS. To all the Indy voters out there, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATS this 2018.

Make more Republican rats flee for their lives.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The State of the Union is Divided. And That's How Republicans Love It.

Things you should know before leading up to tonight's State of the Union address.

We are currently dealing with a federal government where the White House and certain Republican members of Congress are openly attacking agencies like the FBI and Department of Justice, because those agencies have been digging into financial and political scandals caused by the current White House administration before trump entered the Oval Office in January 2017.

There have been signs that the FBI has been digging into the backgrounds of various trump lackeys - such as Paul Manafort and Carter Page - years before trump even announced his candidacy in 2015.

Yet we've got Congresscritters like Nunes tossing around "classified" memos - that he and his staffers created - trying to discredit the Bureau for really only one purpose: protect trump from the oncoming inevitability of Mueller prosecuting him for Obstruction (or worse).

Referring to David A Graham at the Atlantic:

Not long ago, the standoff now consuming Washington would have been unthinkable.  The Trump White House and Justice Department are sharply at odds over releasing a memo prepared by Representative Devin Nunes, alleging misconduct by the FBI and Justice Department. The president seems poised to approve the release of the document in order to seek his own vindication...
Most remarkable of all is the all-out assault by Trump and his allies on the independence of the Department of Justice and the FBI. On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan joined the chorus of critics calling for the release of the Nunes memo. “Let it all out, get it all out there. Cleanse the organization,” he told Fox News.
This crisis may have arrived suddenly, but the conditions that allow for this moment have been building for some time. While there’s great concern about Donald Trump destroying longstanding norms, this is the latest example of how the Trump presidency has hastened the demolition of norms that began eroding long ago.
Consider the Nunes memo. Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, prepared the memo along with staffers. The four-page document reportedly suggests that DOJ and FBI officials relied upon information from Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence official who investigated Trump on the Democratic Party’s dime, in applying for a warrant to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump foreign-policy adviser...

This ties into the trumpian argument that the Steele Dossier is a partisan hoax, getting abused as a source of information that the FBI is relying on to get illegal FISA warrants (and other calamities).

Problems with that argument are:

  1. The report notes that Rod Rosenstein - Deputy Attorney General backing Mueller's special counsel investigation into trump/Russia - requested a renewal on a FISA warrant on Page, meaning there was existing evidence that passed muster for a FISA warrant in the first place.
  2. Steele's Dossier isn't what started the investigations into trump, Manafort, Page, and others in trump's orbit. FBI had received reports from other foreign agencies and contacts about Russian meddling into our elections for years (look at the Dutch giving us heads up about Russian hackers as early as 2014). All Steele's dirt-digging turned up was corroborating evidence...

You don't even have to scratch the surface of this faux outrage to see what Nunes is attempting: He's trying to discredit Rosenstein (at the worst to drive him from office), any high-ranking FBI officials in favor of the investigations into trump/Russia (to purge them out as well), and create any kind of excuse (even a lie) to justify shutting down Mueller before he hits trump with any charge.

This is all causing a Constitutional Crisis where the political partisanship of one party is hampering a federal agency's ability to do its job. Back to Graham:

Seldom has a congressional committee launched such a frontal assault on the FBI and Department of Justice. It’s been more common for oversight panels to be criticized for excessive coziness with the executive-branch agencies they regulate. A rare exception is the mid-1970s Church Committee, which investigated intelligence-community abuses. Yet that committee conducted lengthy investigations following standard procedures; the rush to push out a short memo that seems mostly to serve the president’s political purposes is rather different...
This is not to say that any of these institutions were ever beyond reproach. As I wrote last week, the FBI and the intelligence community make for imperfect vessels for the hopes of those who see them as defenders of rule of law against Trump. The FBI has at various moments in history wielded its powers to persecute political opponents. But the FBI, and the Justice Department, were granted a presumption of some objectivity. This, like the delicate diplomatic concepts that Trump has casually destroyed, was a fiction, but it was a fiction that allowed the system to function by presenting procedures and rules. Institutions provided a framework, and while there might be differences of opinion about the conclusions reached, there was a process for reaching them.
Now, however, the various factions can’t even reach an agreement on what the rules are. The Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence committee don’t agree on the rules, much less the outcomes. The White House is attacking its own Justice Department; Trump expresses puzzlement at why “my guys” in the department don’t care of his dirty work, while the Department of Justice puzzles over why Trump is endangering their procedures and reputation...

We are at the point where one of the major institutions of our government - one responsible for investigating crimes and performing some semblance of justice for our citizenry - is under partisan attack on a scale darker than any previous ones. An attack designed to force that agency - and others - to become partisan wings to a single political party (Republicans) dominated by a would-be dictator eager for such powers to abuse to his whims.

It’s important for Americans to question the FBI and the Justice Department, and to criticize the press. Accountability is essential in a democracy, and none of these institutions has ever been perfect. But in the present case, those leading the assault seem to be doing so for cynical reasons. Trump is attacking the Justice Department and FBI because of an investigation that threatens his presidency; he has repeatedly made charges (remember the “wiretapping” claim?) that proved to be false. Nunes and other House Republicans claim overreaches by the intelligence community, yet just voted against reforms of the surveillance process.

These attacks aren't out of any duty toward reform, or reparation. These attacks are by a criminal president (and his Congressional allies) doing everything he can to stop investigations into crimes he may have committed before (and especially during) his political campaign.

The consequences to these attacks can be devastating. If trump gets his way, he gains full control of an agency in the FBI able to investigate any individual on any charge that trump can aim at them. trump could gain full control of the Department of Justice that could carry out any criminal proceedings on people guilty only of opposing trump. Critics in the media could find themselves in jail. Democrats at the federal and state level could find themselves hounded out of elected office, creating a one-party authoritarian rule.

trump becomes the bullying dictator he dreams of being. And the Republican Party gets to tag along for the ride.

We are at the point where it's clear that the United States is now in another Civil War. It's not like the first one, where it was mostly states vs. states. Today, it's a civil war between Parties: between one party still holding to the rule of law and constitutional norms (Democrats) against a party driven to the extremes of breaking every law in order to seize and keep power (Republicans).

The state of the Union tonight is in tatters. It's Republicans vs. Democrats. It's trump vs. the Constitution. It's Russia, standing on the sidelines laughing their collective asses off at our riven status.

If trump succeeds at breaking the FBI, at turning the entirety of the DoJ bureaucracy to his whims, we are so very royally fucked. Charles I of England won't have sh-t on what trump could do.

People, you need to call now, before it's too late, and let every Congresscritter - Republican and Democrat both - know you will stand up against trump's attempt to save his criminal ass from the rule of law.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Marking Out the trump Criminal Scorecard

So what exactly should we expect from Mueller's investigation into trump's ties with Russia and how that might have affected the 2016 elections?


This is the one where Mueller has trump dead to rights.

This one is so obvious that ongoing revelations of how trump is handling the FBI (then Mueller) investigation into his ties to Russia - he wants to keep firing everybody - that by now even amateur prosecutors - even sideline pundits! - can argue a strong case he broke this law.

To quote William Saletan over at Slate discussing what trump tried to do in June 2017 in trying (and failing) to fire Mueller:

Look back over the Russia investigation, and you’ll see this pattern: Trump constantly sought control. In January 2017, he told Comey that he expected loyalty. A month later, Trump tried to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself. Later, Trump fired Comey and rebuked Sessions for failing to protect Trump from the investigation. In July, Trump drew a red line around his personal finances and signaled to Mueller that he had better not cross that line. And in August, Trump called up members of Congress to derail legislation that would impede him from firing Mueller.
...the Times report shows that when Trump tried to fire Mueller, he did so despite warnings that this might be criminal. By May 22, it was widely reported that Mueller was obliged to investigate—and was, in fact, investigating—whether Trump had obstructed justice by firing Comey. When Trump moved in June to oust Mueller, he was essentially ignoring those reports...
To impeach and remove a president for obstructing justice, you need to show that his intent in targeting investigators was corrupt. The easy way is to find tapes in which he talks explicitly about orchestrating false testimony. The harder way is to show that he has repeatedly lied about his motives and has maneuvered to control the investigation, despite warnings to back off. Trump’s assault on Mueller, coupled with his previous assaults on Comey, Sessions, Rosenstein, and McCabe, solidifies that case. He obstructed justice...

Or referring to Adam Serwer over at The Atlantic:

Obstruction of justice is a crime that depends on a person’s state of mind, and so is difficult for prosecutors to prove. The law on whether a sitting president can be prosecuted, as opposed to impeached and removed from office by Congress, is unsettled. But legal experts say that Trump’s pattern of behavior has made the case against him much stronger, because that pattern shows Trump repeatedly attempting to undercut the investigations into Russian interference and obstruction, and then in some cases misleading the public about it. That Trump was unsuccessful in firing Mueller is irrelevant—obstruction is a crime whether or not the attempt succeeds.
“At some point, a pattern of the same conduct indicates willfulness and intentionality,” said John Q. Barrett, a law professor at St. John’s University and former associate special counsel in the Iran-Contra affair.

This one is so blatant and obvious that when - not if - Mueller presents his Obstruction charges to the court that handles this case - I think it's the DC district - the judge will insist trump's lawyers work out a plea deal because they ain't winning this one. You gotta grade this one a 100 percent lock.

Money Laundering / Financial crimes

The starting point here is Paul Manafort and his circle of questionable financial practices (and foreign government ties) as part of the trump/Kushner financial "empire".

There's a reason Mueller brought onto his team people experienced in pursuing Racketeering and Money Laundering cases. With trump's history of bad business, bankruptcies, fraud trials, and other financial misdeeds, "Follow the Money" is the best way to find out what trump really did and which laws he broke along the way.

Given how Mueller's already brought charges on Manafort, there's a good likelihood any business deals involving trump or Kushner (Son-in-Law) will lead to similar charges on them. Until Mueller reveals exactly what numbers he has, and which laws apply to trump's fraudulent behaviors, none of us should really say for sure. If anything, Mueller better reveal trump's tax returns just so Americans can find out how much trump's been lying about his net worth... Give this one about 90 percent certainty.

Voter Fraud / Campaign Finance Fraud / Electoral Interference

This is the meat of the matter, and one that needs confirmation of what happened. These are the tidbits that have been floating on the edges of the story, clues here and rumors there, about how Russian hackers played a major role in the 2016 elections. With so many public statements from trump and his Republican allies that exposed those stories as more than rumors.

Where Obstruction and Money Laundering may be the easiest things Mueller can prove, these charges are equally hardest to prove.

Part of what Mueller has to prove is how Russia could have used any voter data information from trump's people (and Republican pollsters) to craft a psych-ops program of manipulating voter turnout via social media. This requires understanding how polling works, and how it crafts campaigns (and their third-party SuperPAC supporters). This is where they can lose jurors who might not comprehend how groupthink / "mob mentality" works (and where the law may be incapable of viewing as criminal).

There are reports of voter suppression in the key states - Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania - where results eked out in favor of trump. While the DHS retracted an early report and claimed in that linked report I added that there was no evidence of hacking, it does leave open the possibility that something happened that Homeland Security can't yet confirm. One possible way of confirming that hackers affected the electronic balloting (or vote counting) would be finding out what trump or his people knew about those hacking efforts, of which trump eagerly egged the Russians on.

There's also ongoing reports from the foreign intelligence agencies - wait, the Dutch have a spy agency??? - that have tracked the Russian hacking teams (Cozy Bear?? Who named these guys?) that our intel agencies believe were the major offenders (Cozy Bear has been identified being behind the DNC email hacks during the election).

If trump and/or the Russians have done any due diligence in clearing out/hiding their paper trail on this, Mueller won't have much to go on. And as I've mentioned, Mueller is likely going to focus on what he can prove - and win - in court. So get this around 40 percent likely.

However. If any one of these cyber attacks by Russian hackers can be proved to have affected our elections, that's a serious crime. If Mueller can prove trump or any of his people had knowledge before or after, there better be charges filed against them. If trump and his people had any active role in these attacks...


This is, in truth, the hardest argument to prove. Not so much because we can't tell if trump betrayed his nation - his eagerness to embrace and trust Russia and Putin over fellow Americans is obvious, not necessarily criminal - but because the Founders intentionally made Treason one of the hardest crimes to prove. (They would know, because they themselves were traitors to the British Crown: they knew what it was like to live on that razor's edge)

There's such a high bar of legality to cross - two or more witnesses, clear actions that go against the national security or well-being of the citizenry - that bringing this to trial requires some serious fucking shit Mueller and his team uncovered (maybe a verifiable handwritten letter from trump to Putin saying "thanks for rigging the election, here's me ending the sanctions and letting you pummel NATO into dust"). It's unlikely Mueller would find something that incriminating, and more likely that Mueller will focus on stuff that will stand up in court (and mollify Congressional Republicans into staying out of the way).

This is up here, because let's be honest a lot of trump-haters - myself included - take one look at trump's eagerness to hand everything to Putin on a silver platter and we recoil with the belief that trump IS betraying us to a foreign power.

This would be pretty to think so, but we should not get our hopes up. I'm not grading this as a possibility of happening, okay maybe 5 percent. Again, Mueller has got to find a planet-busting cobalt bomb of doom in the evidence pile for this to happen.

Mueller's next step is interviewing trump (or else trump's lawyers arguing against it). That's gotta be the last step in this investigation.

We should know soon what Mueller knows.

Gods help us.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Oh Don't You Put Me on the Back-burner

The latest dramatic turn in the ongoing nightmare that is the Russia-trump investigation is one that answered a pressing question: "When is trump going to just say 'fuck it' and try to fire Mueller before Mueller nails him to the wall on Obstruction/Money Laundering/Fraud/Acts of Treason with the Russians"?

The answer was "He already tried!"

Per David A Graham from The Atlantic:

It turns out that Trump wasn’t just rattling his saber publicly: According to a New York Times report late Thursday, the president attempted to fire Mueller in June 2017, roughly a month after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him. But Trump was blocked by White House Counsel Don McGahn, who reportedly threatened to quit rather than make good on the order. The Washington Post confirmed the story.
The episode adds new intrigue to the already transfixing dance between the president and the special counsel’s probe. Mueller is working to interview Trump in the near future, and has already extracted guilty pleas from two former aides, as well as indicting two more. The episode underscores Trump’s volatile temperament and tendency to act impulsively, and it once again thrusts McGahn and his office into the spotlight.
Trump’s desire to fire Mueller was never especially surprising or hidden. Everyone tied to the Russia investigation seems to have been in his sights at one time or another. Mueller’s appointment stemmed from Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, and Trump also raged at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from Russia matters, and at Rod Rosenstein, who he suggested was a random Democrat, rather than a rock-ribbed Republican appointed to his job by Trump himself. The president mused about firing Mueller in an interview with the Times, and in July I wrote that the operative question was not if but when Trump would try to fire Mueller. As it turns out, he already had...

Why is this report coming out now? Graham considers one possibility:

News of the attempted firing comes as Trump’s lawyers negotiate the terms on which the president would offer testimony to Mueller. While the president has long said he didn’t think he’d need to testify, he changed his tune on Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to it, actually,” he said. “I would love to do that—I’d like to do it as soon as possible.” This was followed by the unusual spectacle of the president’s lawyer contradicting him and saying he’d follow legal advice; on Thursday, another Trump lawyer said no decision had been made. Given the president’s previous pretextual justifications for firing Mueller, it would not be surprising to see him argue that Mueller is now irrevocably compromised because he knows that Trump tried to fire him...

That option seems a little too convoluted: that trump would argue "well, I tried firing him so now he's got it out for me" as an excuse to avoid getting interviewed by him, that kind of argument is hard to pull off against prosecutors, special or otherwise. I'm sure a lot of defendants argue to the judge "well you see, the prosecutor hates my guts..." but not a lot of them get any sympathy that way.

The reason I think we're hearing this now is because Mueller has gotten to the point in the investigation where trump is the last person he can interview. As I've noted before, these cases work from the outside in: get the fringe or minor players who were caught, work your way up the chain of the criminal enterprise to key hangers-on, pile up the evidence on the Inner Circle major players, and then nail the Big Bad at the center of the whole crime.

That Mueller wants to interview trump now means the special prosecutor's got enough items on the plate to question the key figure of the investigation. It's not always necessary, but it helps because whatever trump says will - not may, because this is a constantly lying SOB we're talking about - contradict his own earlier words and likely the words of the others that Mueller's already interrogated.

This means we're at the point where trump's defenders are going to try and find any half-baked excuse to paint Mueller in the worst possible light. They've been trying, but not much else has stuck. Even the recent chatter about "secret society" FBI agents on a witch-hunt against trump hasn't panned out.

But this is the interesting thing: Either trump's defenders are leaking this story now to try and argue that Mueller is on a vendetta, or people opposing trump's efforts to Obstruct the investigation into Russia's meddling in US Elections wanted to reveal how the federal agencies are refusing to bend to trump's orders.

I think it may be the latter: on this specific issue, it's likely coming from McGahn's people trying to show McGahn abiding by the Rule of Law (in case trump tries firing him now). But there's the other story about current FBI Director Wray - appointed by trump! - threatening to resign if trump and Attorney General Sessions tried to fire Deputy Director McCabe, who filled in for Comey after Comey's firing and who was a key player in making sure Special Counsel Mueller was able to take over the FBI's investigation into Russian hacking and links to trump's 2016 campaign.

That trump's own hires - who are in positions requiring they abide by the Rule of Law - are forewarnings of how the Federal Government - in particular the FBI, CIA, NSA, and 16 other Intelligence Agencies! - would react if trump tries to Obstruct Mueller by firing him.

These stories are getting out there, not just to trump but to a Republican Congress still refusing to hold trump accountable for the acts of Obstruction and collusion he's already been caught committing. These are warnings: Congress and trump aren't going to get very far if agencies sworn to uphold the Constitution begin refusing to answer any order by Republicans when those agencies can rightly claim every order is illegal.

This is getting close to the end.

This is getting close to an administrative civil war.

Stay aware.

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Thoughts On the Democrats Dealing Away the trump Shutdown

Shouldn't say I was surprised by this, but yeah the Democrats in the Senate decided to make a deal to end the current shutdown (via Washington Post):

Congress voted late Monday to reopen the government after a three-day shutdown, sending President Trump a short-term spending bill that passed after Senate Republican leaders pledged to act on immigration policy next month.
The House joined the Senate in passing the bill to fund the government through Feb. 8, reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and roll back several health-care taxes. It passed 81-18 in the Senate and 266-150 in the House.
“I’m glad we can finally get back to work here,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the vote. He called the shutdown a “manufactured crisis” characterized by “damaging partisan theatrics.”


In the meantime, my Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of Dem voters decrying the fact that their own party's leadership seemed to fold like origami paper.

We are going to have to recognize some sad truths:

  • As much as the Far Left wants it, the main leadership of the Democratic Party genuinely believes in actual governance. They don't play the Republicans' extremist game of Chicken to see every car get smashed to hell going over cliffs. The Congressional Republicans had forced a shutdown, threatening the basic functions of government, and the Congressional Democrats knew that meant minor and major offices weren't going to be doing the Public any good. So yeah, Dems will tend to blink first in these Shutdown showdowns.
  • The Dem leadership did get at least one thing good out of this: CHIP should get funded now for six years, which takes one hostage out of the equation.
  • The remaining hostage in all this - DREAMers, relying on a DACA bill - may be facing hell over the next few weeks, but there's supposed to be a deal on the table where McConnell agreed to bring a DACA bill to a vote before this Continuing Resolution ends some time in March. This still puts the onus on Republicans, who are divided on the immigration issue to where ANY serious attempt to fix things will collapse on A) trump's wall obsession and B) the wingnut base's hatred of immigrants nullifying any proposal.

It hurts, in truth, to see the Democrats fold this quickly on a fight that they had every reason to play out longer than this. For all the rationales for keeping government working, they are doing this by sacrificing the current well-being of 800,000 or so Americans whose only crime was being brought here as kids by their illegal alien parents. They are seeing this - rightly - as a betrayal, with no guarantee that they are going to get to stay in the country they grew up loving and serving.

And this all still depends on McConnell, a man whose personal honor died years ago when he decided to condemn the nation to his partisan bullshit. As that Esquire article I linked to asked, Can you trust Mitch McConnell? His years of obstruction and manipulation make him one of the most evil men on the planet, and his track record of breaking deals and ignoring rules make me think of the only argument why you should NEVER deal with the devil.

Because a Deal with the Devil is no deal at all.

McConnell is bound to cheat, bound to stall, bound to lie, and do everything in his power to put the blame on Democrats again, who've shown a terrible willingness to shoulder such burdens at the expense of disillusioning their own voter base.

Despite all this, I have to argue that Democratic voters need to step up this midterms. Don't get bummed by this. Look at the bigger picture. Look at the son of a bitch sitting in the White House right now.

NOTHING is holding trump accountable to the law, certainly not the Congressional Republicans who are supposed to do their job maintaining Checks and Balances. On this one point alone, you NEED to show up and vote for EVERY DEMOCRAT on the ballot. With Democrats in charge of Congress after this midterms, you can be assured that they will hold trump and his cronies responsible for the laws they are breaking right now.

On that alone, Democrats, GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT. Don't hide, don't despair. Keep fighting.

Otherwise, McConnell keeps winning, and the Republicans keep destroying everything we love.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What Matters Anymore?

Saturday Night Live finally nailed it on the head:

As the sketch with guest host Jessica Chastain reveals, the last two weeks - of trump dumping on non-Eurowhite nations as "shitholes", of trump getting caught paying off a porn star he had an affair with less than a year after his third wife Melania gave birth to their son, of trump destabilizing government to where nobody in Congress could avoid the #trumpShutdown of 2018 - would otherwise have devastated any other Presidency, shamed the political party of that President into action to rein in such abuses and scandal, or driven most of the nation into rioting in the streets.

But nope. Nada. As Chastain rightly points out, the crazier and reckless trump behaves and the worse he does at the job as Commander-in-Chief, the more his rabid voting base will approve of him.

And the rest of us are stuck because the Rule of Law is relying on the other half of government - the Legislative branch - to do something about it. But the Republicans control the Legislative branch and they are not going to do anything that threatens their chances of getting re-elected by that rabid pro-trump base they rely on as well.

We've entered into the realm of political nihilism, where nothing matters because the ones in power don't fucking care what ethics or rules really mean. The ghosts of 19th Century Anarchists must be roiling in their graves in sheer envy.

And when Chastain raised that bottle of wine to drink it straight, I sympathized. I know that sentiment. Alas, I am unable to drink hard cider as I had hoped. I am stone cold sober. I am so depressed.

We are so royally fucked.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

So the Republicans Get Their Shutdown 2018 Edition

It's after midnight. Do YOU know where your United States federal government is?

Oh, right.

It's on shutdown.

Republicans in the Senate couldn't agree on the House bill sent their way, and with the fate of DREAMer immigrants and CHIP childcare health funding being held hostage, there was no way Democrats would come to their rescue on any kind of funding or Continuing Resolution.

Meanwhile, that keen Negotiator world-renown for his art of the deal donald trump went to bed blaming Democrats for the fact that *he* blew up a proposed bipartisan deal on immigration a few days ago when he insulted Haiti and all of Africa.

This is an historic first. This *is* the first time a political party (Republicans) held control of both branches of Congress AND the Presidency and FAILED TO PASS ANY KIND OF A BUDGET TO KEEP THE U.S. GOVERNMENT OPERATING.

This takes a certain level of incompetency AND malice. Some things the modern Republican Party are best at anymore. They're certainly not any good at ACTUAL GOVERNANCE.

This is not going to end well.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

In Sadder News, I Did Not Receive Even a Nomination in the Fake News Awards

It turns out that trump and his people did not look to bloggers for their "fake news" documenting trump's many lies, failures, and stumbles.

Which is a damn shame. I'm sure I would have received a nomination for "Most Gratuitous Use of the Word Shitgibbon In a Long-Form Blog Entry".

Just think of all the coverage and attention that nomination would have garnered me. I would have at least gotten three or four more people buying my underwhelming Surviving the Age of Obstruction book off of Amazon or

I'm just gonna have to go over to the corner here and cry my out, hoping beyond hope that more people talk their libraries at least into buying my books.

Insert tears here. (Wailing and gnashing of teeth)

I Gots Me More Government Shutdown Blues 2018 Edition

How can you tell there's a federal government shutdown pending?

The Republicans are already trying to blame Democrats for not surrendering to them over it.

It's not as though Republicans control both houses of Congress, which should simplify the GOP's ability to get shit done.

It's not as though Democrats have any influence over the Far Right factions of Congress that are refusing to give their own party some wriggle room with Continuing Resolutions. THAT'S entirely Paul Ryan's fault for not getting his own to agree to vote on another CR to extend their budgeting deadlines a little further down the road.

The budget fight this time is over DREAMers - a way to grant citizenship to those who were brought here as children by illegal immigrants, who grew up as Americans and many of whom are honest hard-working citizens in heart if not by law - and over trump's insistence for massive taxpayer funding for his Godawful Wall (guess what, trumpshirts: Mexico's not ever paying for your shit, YOU ARE).

Democrats are not going to budge on getting DREAMers their citizenship. Whatever compromises the Dems are willing to make to keep government open they're thinking long-term on the matter, and even then it's gonna be a hard sell to the whole party.

This means this is all on the Republicans: A Party that hasn't held itself accountable since Watergate. And yet blaming Democrats for their own failures to govern is all the Republicans can do at this point.

There are a lot of reasons why we've been suffering through one of the Worst Congresses Ever in American history. The failure of genuine bipartisanship out of the McConnell/Boehner/Ryan leadership - if not outright obstruction of Obama's Presidency - since 2010. The failure to rein in the worst racist impulses of their current banner-carrier trump. The failure to recognize their party are governing in the minority, ignoring the polls that show the GOP tax-cut, budget-slashing agendas are woefully unpopular with most Americans.

It all comes down to this: Republicans simply can't govern. Oh, they can win elections, but winning elections doesn't mean you can make hard decisions that elected officials are expected to make. Elections are won based on emotional drives, on bias and impulse: Republicans can sell themselves to their base on fear and anger, but those impulses are useless when it comes time to make Honest-to-God decisions that actually benefits people.

So this is why we're facing the third - or fourth? I lost track - Government Shutdown in modern memory since the 1990s. A trend of Government Shutdowns that happen ONLY when Republicans are in control of Congress, and this is the first time it's happening when they also control the White House (to get past the presidential veto power).

This is how bad it's gotten for us, America. Even when they're in charge of EVERYTHING, the Republicans screw up.

And we're the ones who have to pay for it.



Monday, January 15, 2018

Some Thoughts On Martin Luther King Jr. 2018 Edition

(Update: Thank you Batocchio for the link to Mike's Blog Round-Up on!)

"...The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes.  ...Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that..." - from Where Do We Go From Here speech (1967)

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice" - a saying attributed to Reverend King, based on sayings from a speech by Unitarian minister Theodore Parker. King says it in one line where Parker took a whole paragraph, and King says it better. (this is kinda like how Jimi Hendrix's take on "All Along the Watchtower" is waaaaay better than Bob Dylan's original)

Never forget King spent his last years fighting against poverty and income inequality, seeing that as a universal problem for everyone's civil rights:

We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands it does not eliminate all poverty...
The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available...

MLK essentially argued for guaranteed basic incomes before it came into vogue a few years ago.

Also, this:

I know this kinda goes against Rev. King's admonitions against violence,
but never let a white guy in a bowtie speak for what King stood for.
Also, I really think if Reverend King were alive today (ducks to avoid Huey's thrown chair) he'd be under arrest for beating the everloving hell out of trump.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

That trump Is Racist Should Not Surprise Us Anymore. IT SHOULD ANGER US NOW.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Thursday questioned why the United States would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to some as “shithole countries,” according to two sources familiar with the comments...

To the 62 million who voted for trump. You knew.

...The lawmakers were describing how certain immigration programs operate, including one to give safe haven in the United States to people from countries suffering from natural disasters or civil strife.
One of the sources who was briefed on the conversation said that Trump said, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries ... We should have more people from Norway.”
The second source familiar with the conversation, said Trump also questioned the need for Haitians in the United States...

As a side note, most Norwegians are Socialists, far Left of any home-grown librul you find here. And I'm pretty sure Norwegians are going to be appalled that trump is abusing their culture like this. But I digress.

Many Democrats and some Republican lawmakers slammed Trump for his remarks.
Republican U.S. Representative Mia Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values” and called on Trump to apologize to the American people and to the countries he denigrated...

That's the thing about racism when it becomes personal for you, isn't it, Republicans? Otherwise you're fine with it.


How many other times have I pointed out on this blog how racist trump behaves on the national stage? How often does trump come to the defense of Neo-Nazis and known bigots? How many times does he get caught disparaging entire nations because of their skin color or religion or culture?

To quote Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice:

And now this:  Trump, uttering out loud the hate soundtrack that loops constantly through his lizard brain.  This time, he was so obvious as to make it clear even to the meanest comprehension (not implying anything about CNN).  There’s no hidden meaning, no subtext in his words.  This ain’t eleven dimensional chess or brilliant electoral strategery.  January 11, 2018 ain’t the day that Donald Trump became President.
It’s the one on which he reminded us exactly what kind of president he is, what kind of leader the GOP accepts, welcomes, follows.
And thus the test: every single GOP member of Congress, every cabinet official, every White House staffer who fails to condemn this statement, owns it — along with all the sentiments and intentions behind it. They become the bigots, aiders and abettors of the worst impulses in the public sphere. They are to be named and shamed; small children should grimace to see them and each of us will spit on the sidewalks as they pass...

62 Million fellow Americans had no problem with trump's racism when they voted for him. YOU OWN THIS, Republicans. YOU trump VOTERS OWN THIS FOREVER.

Some things remain unforgivable. Supporting racism is one of them.

Damn you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Killing the Gerrymander: 2018 With the Best News Yet

Again, not a huge fan of the gerrymander.

Which is why the latest news out of North Carolina heartens me. Per David A Graham at The Atlantic:

Federal judges have yet again struck down North Carolina’s congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander, dealing Republicans a blow and throwing the state’s maps into chaos just months before a pivotal midterm election.
A three-judge panel, including one circuit-court judge and two district-court judges, ruled Tuesday evening that the Old North State’s redistricting plan relied too heavily on partisan affiliation in drawing constituencies, violating citizens’ rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution. The decision is the first time a federal court has ever struck down a redistricting plan as a partisan gerrymander...

As Graham notes, there are two other gerrymander cases on similar arguments in other courts, so we'll likely have to wait for this to get to the Supreme Court (where it could well die for partisan reasons /headdesk).

But this ruling is a huge fcking deal because unlike previous gerrymandering rulings - which focused on minority representation - this focused on Party representation: Between the difference of Republican, Democrat, and Independent/smaller Third parties. As Graham noted, earlier gerrymandering efforts based on race was shot down by the courts, so the Republican-controlled North Carolina state legislature "proudly used partisanship as their primary criterion in drawing new maps." They intentionally drew state and congressional districts to serve Republican needs:

“I acknowledge freely that this would be a political gerrymander, which is not against the law,” said Representative David Lewis, the chair of the state House redistricting committee. He also said, “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” And he suggested the committee draw maps that would produce 10 Republican and three Democratic U.S. House districts, on the basis that he didn’t think it would be possible to come up with an 11-2 map...

The court came back and told Lewis and the other Republicans that guess what IT WAS AGAINST THE LAW:

Common Cause and the League of Women Voters both challenged the law, and their two suits were consolidated into one. The plaintiffs argued that the plan violated the Equal Protection Clause, because it discriminated against non-Republican voters; the First Amendment, because it discriminated against voters based on previous political expression; and Article I, because it interfered with the right of the people to elect their representatives...
“A partisan gerrymander that is intended to and likely has the effect of entrenching a political party in power undermines the ability of voters to effect change when they see legislative action as infringing on their rights,” Judge James Wynn, an Obama appointee, wrote for the court. “We agree with Plaintiffs that a wealth of evidence proves the General Assembly’s intent to ‘subordinate’ the interests of non-Republican voters and ‘entrench’ Republican domination of the state’s congressional delegation...”
Wynn was joined in full by Judge William Britt, a Carter appointee, and in part by Judge William Osteen Jr., a George W. Bush appointee who accepted the Equal Protection and Article I arguments but rejected the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim...

This last bit is important. The judges did not split on two of the three arguments, meaning those arguments can work at the higher appellate (and Supreme Court) levels. The First Amendment argument is open to interpretation, but the Equal Protection and Article I arguments are etched deep into the legal underpinnings of voters' rights.

This partisan gerrymandering on the part of Republicans - in fairness, Democrats have been doing this in states like Illinois as well - is one of the big reasons why we're struggling against a federal government where the Party in power does not actually represent the majority of voters. Most Americans vote Democratic: However, the nature of geography and demographics (which is affected by gerrymandering) gave Republicans more seats in Congress.

If we can get rid of gerrymandering - if we can as a nation make it so that the House AND the Senate reflect the actual voter turnout and the issues they want resolved - we should get a Legislative branch of the federal government that genuinely reflects - and serves - the nation's interests. Only the geographic limitations - on the Senate, where small states are disproportionately represented - would be a problem from that point.

We'd still have elected officials who actually earned their electoral wins, not based on "safe" districts carved out to decimate the opposing party(ies).

Here's hoping.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Letting the Viper Bite Them

So what is with all the recent groveling by the Republicans in deference to the Almighty Shitgibbon?

Why are Republicans - who have to be aware that trump is toxic in the polls, and that they're facing angry voter turnout in the general midterms this November - tying their fate to someone who's proven over the last year to be a disruptive force capable of ruining their own chances?

Part of it has to be the recent Wolff book Fire and Fury that chronicles how everyone circling around trump are not-so-privately complaining about how he's a childish moron. There's a level of embarrassment for the party to have their own administration's handlers dissing their own boss like that.

If we refer to Jonathan Freedland at The Guardian:

What did you think would be the Republican reaction to the latest revelations about Donald Trump? Did you expect the party’s luminaries to drop their collective head into their hands, or to crumple into a heap in despair at the state of the man they anointed as president of the United States?
They’d certainly have had good reason. In the book Fire and Fury, which on Thursday received the greatest possible endorsement – namely a “cease and desist” order from Trump’s personal lawyers – the journalist Michael Wolff paints a picture of a man whose own closest aides, friends and even family believe is congenitally unfit to be president...
 ...Instead, the official campaign account for Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, tweeted a GIF of McConnell grinning mightily. And that smirk captured the mood of many of his colleagues. What do they have to smile about? They’re pleased because they believe Fire and Fury marks the downfall of Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to Trump and source of some of the book’s most scathing lines...

In this regard, the Republican leadership views Bannon's downfall weakens his ability to challenge the incumbents during Primaries as once feared.

There's also the overall Republican delusion that they can control trump, or curb his nastier impulses:

But the more enduring delusion is that Trump is poised to moderate. Republicans predicted he would change once the primaries of 2016 were under way. Then they said he would change once he’d won the party nomination. Or when the presidential election campaign proper began. Or when he’d won the election. Or once he’d taken the oath of office. They were wrong every time. He won’t change. Trump is Trump...

Republicans have enabled trump ever since he jumped into the race in 2015: They tried humoring him, then were forced to placate him when it turned out the Far Right voter base were in his pocket. Even with the revelations that trump's handlers are fooling themselves, they're STILL deluding themselves in order to push yet again for the extremist parts of their agenda not yet passed.

The GOP will eagerly turn a blind eye to the reality that trump remains dangerously ill-informed, recklessly self-serving, and showing every sign of aging dementia in the psychology handbooks. They will pretend that "all is well" and will campaign as such, even as trump commits more atrocities driven by his anger and his folly.

This isn't so much the Farmer ignoring all the signs that the Viper is a viper. This is a political party ignoring all the signs that their banner-carrier is a drooling moron desperate to prove himself a god. They are letting trump bite them over and over, the poison shredding every muscle and bone of their party's corrupted body, and they're happily singing about how every sting is a kiss of the divine.

The Republicans are taking the coward's path of expediency and of least resistance. Rather than confront reality and fix the problem, they're letting the problem dominate every corner of their fantasy world.

We are so very royally fucked.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Next Recession: Not A Matter of When But A Matter of How Soon

It's been awhile since I've linked to Crazy Eddie's Motie News - if Pinku-Sensei can pass along a good hard cider recommendation for me to get drunk to, that would be nice - but he recently posted an article about the impact of the tax cuts would have on the economy and it looks like he's got a better handle than I do on how the coming recession is gonna look.

If I might quote from the parts of his analysis that stand out to me:

Three things could trigger the next recession.  The most likely would be an inversion of the yield curve, which means that short-term interest rates would rise higher than long-term interest rates.  The Federal Reserve has been raising short-term rates for the past two years while long-term rates have been rising much more slowly.  If present trends continue, short-term rates will rise above long-term ones within a year or two, which always signals a recession within a year...
The second is a rapid rise in oil prices, which has occurred either slightly in advance or concurrently with every recession since 1973...
The last, which the U.S. saw along with both of the above during the last recession, would be a crash in housing prices.  However, that is not as reliable an indicator of contraction, as it took nearly two years between the bursting of the housing bubble and the onset of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, barely happened before the recession of 1990-1991, and it didn't happen at all before the 2001 recession...
...I want my readers to notice the timing of recessions.  They range from seven (2001 to 2008) to eleven years (1990 to 2001) apart.  That range is exactly consistent with the Juglar Cycle, an economic cycle that lasts seven to eleven years, the downturns of which correlate to U.S. recessions since 1980.  The Great Recession technically began in December 2007 and adding eleven years to that means the next one should start no later than December 2018.  We're due...
...In fact, I expect the next recession to be somewhere between the 2001 recession or the 1990-1991 recession in its effects, probably closer to 2001.  Before then, the extra disposable income runs the risk of overheating an already booming economy, never mind that the fruits of that economy are very inequitably distributed.  That will increase demand for oil and other energy sources, making their prices go up.  That will cause inflation to rise again as energy costs become distributed throughout the economy.  Higher inflation will prompt the Federal Reserve to raise short term rates, eventually inverting the yield curve.  Viola, recession!
Now, I won't blame the tax cuts for this.  All of this is going to happen anyway; the tax cuts might marginally speed up the process and make it more acute.  It might make the difference between the recession starting in November or December of 2018...

In short: I think he's telling us we're gonna be screwed by November 2018.

Good timing, Republicans, if you can make that recession happen by November 1st before the midterms. It should give us voters additional incentive to vote you fuckers out.

One of the things I note about these recessions is how they seem to coincide with Republican control of the Presidency (and usually control of Congress). If Pinku-Sensei is correct about how the Juglar Cycle ties into the recession cycles, wouldn't Republicans with any economic backgrounds recognize the pattern and do something to change it by committing to programs that wouldn't exacerbate the recessions the way their current policies seem to do?

Then again, I fear most Republicans with economic backgrounds focus too much on their Randian fixations of greed and self-interest. /sigh

Anyway, Pinku-Sensei does a good job putting his arguments together on this. Go read his work, and then GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT FOR DEMOCRATS TO GET THE DAMN REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE. Thank ye.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A Punchline That Was Never Funny

For all the brouhaha over Michael Wolff's tabloid-esque reveal of the trump administration's first year in office error, it's not the ridiculousness or the folly or the back-stabbing between major players or the idiocy of the Shitgibbon-in-Chief.

It's that we knew it was going to be this bad.

Wolff's book is merely validation. We've been getting stories of dysfunction and ineptitude all through 2017. All he does is confirm how bad it all is. And all this revelation does is underscore just how failed a political party the Republicans are for letting it go on.

To quote James Fallows at the Atlantic:

But what Wolff is describing is an open secret.
Based on the excerpts now available, Fire and Fury presents a man in the White House who is profoundly ignorant of politics, policy, and anything resembling the substance of perhaps the world’s most demanding job. He is temperamentally unstable... He is aswirl in foreign and financial complications. He has ignored countless norms of modern governance, from the expectation of financial disclosure to the importance of remaining separate from law-enforcement activities. He relies on immediate family members to an unusual degree; he has an exceptionally thin roster of experienced advisers and assistants; his White House staff operations have more in common with an episode of The Apprentice than with any real-world counterpart...
This is “news,” in its detail... But it also is an open secret. This is the man who offered himself to the public over the past two-and-a-half years...
...Who is also in on this open secret? Virtually everyone in a position to do something about it, which at the moment means members of the Republican majority in Congress.
They know what is wrong with Donald Trump. They know why it’s dangerous. They understand—or most of them do—the damage he can do to a system of governance that relies to a surprising degree on norms rather than rules, and whose vulnerability has been newly exposed. They know—or should—about the ways Trump’s vanity and avarice are harming American interests relative to competitors like Russia and China, and partners and allies in North America, Europe, and the Pacific.
They know. They could do something: hearings, investigations, demands for financial or health documents, subpoenas. Even the tool they used against the 42nd president, for failings one percent as grave as those of the 45th: impeachment.
They know. They could act. And they don’t. The failure of responsibility starts with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, but it doesn’t end with them. Every member of a bloc-voting majority shares responsibility for not acting on their version of the open secret. “Independent” Republicans like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski share it. “Thoughtful” ones, like Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake. Those (in addition to Flake) who have nothing to lose electorally, from Bob Corker to Orrin Hatch. When they vote as a majority against strong investigations, against subpoenas, against requirements for financial disclosure, and most of all against protecting Robert Mueller and his investigation, they share complicity in the open secret...

The Republican Party signed away any accountability when they surrendered their ethics and their norms to an increasingly loud, bullying Far Right faction that hounded out all Moderates and forced elected officials to bow and scrape to wingnut pundits whom nobody elected.

Ryan and McConnell could do something, if they had any integrity and sense of history. But they don't. Even if they had any sense of ambition, they'd have to know letting trump drive this bus would be a disaster for the GOP in the long-term. But their only ambition has been to pass a massive tax cut for the uber-rich that they hope the Democrats can never undo.

Just look at the number of Republicans jumping ship (such as Flake) refusing to face re-election. You'd think with their party in control of all three branches they'd stay on, maintain their incumbency and dominance in office. But they're fleeing like rats from a sinking ship, because they know the United States is gonna suffer sooner rather than later and they don't want to be caught carrying the loot when the mobs show up with the tar and feathers.

No one has the nerve to step up and publicly confront trump on his lies, his failures, his ineptitude and his greed. Anyone who does gets marked for termination by the wingnut base.

Just look at Steve "Guy Is More Out-of-Shape Than I Am" Bannon, one of the major wingnut media pundits who had contributed to the more venomous parts of Wolff's book. By betraying trump's confidence - and by opening hinting that trump and trump's inner circle are neck-deep in Russian hackery - Bannon has suddenly lost a lot of support among his once-supportive wingnut allies. His deep-pocket funder (the Mercers) have cut him off after one angry phone call from trump. Conspiracy nut Alex Jones - one of trump's sources of misinformation - is starting a flame war on Bannon's sorry hide.

If the Far Right wingnut voting base is going to side with anyone in a fight between trump vs. The Establishment, they will clearly side with trump (even if it takes out one of their own).

That has the entire Republican Party terrified of trump. Not trump himself: the trump Voters.

And we're stuck.

Because the Republicans hold reign in Congress, there will be no hearings, no interviews, no impeachment proceedings. They are even attempting to hinder the DoJ/FBI investigations into trump and his criminal sidekicks because they fear the backlash the voters will aim at them if they just stand there and let Mueller do his job.

This was one hell of a practical joke we've pulled on ourselves as a nation, isn't it?

The Republicans allowed the biggest clown in American culture to run for the highest political office in the land, and enough voters bought into the snake oil to let a broken Electoral College system (and likely Russian interference) trick out an unjustifiable "win" that feels more like the biggest loss our nation's ever suffered.

Wolff's book merely shows just how bad a joke this all is. And nobody I know is laughing about it.

Monday, January 01, 2018

It's 2018. Get To Work

Happy New Year.

Now get to work.

Find your local Democratic candidates for these levels of elections:

  • State House
  • State Senate
  • State Governor (where applicable)
  • U.S. Congress House
  • U.S. Senate
  • Any special elections or offices where party identity matters

Make sure you know what your district(s) are, especially at the state level, because gerrymandered districts make that confusing.

A good place to find your candidates is this site ActBlue: It has a directory of fundraising for U.S. House and Senate seats, Governors, and the State House and State Senate seats.

Go and meet or listen to the candidate(s) in your district/state. Make sure they match well with your interests and concerns, and their willingness to clean Republican corruption out of every level of government. And yeah, make sure they're not batshit crazy (elections can bring out the whackos, as trump clearly demonstrates).

Figure out how much time and effort you have to volunteer. Campaigns are still about footwork, paperwork, phone calls, passing out car stickers, and heavy lifting. If you can't volunteer, at least donate and at least show up for events. At the most: Spread the word about the candidate(s) to your friends, co-workers, fellow students, the news media (via letters to the editor), everyone you know to ensure people have an interest in getting the vote out for them.

Above all, do this:


Midterms have been disasters when it comes to voter turnout. It's gotten to where only the obsessive voters, the hard-line voters, the wingnut voters are the only who vote. Which is how we've gotten into this mess.


And make sure you all remember this:


Don't let my personal apostasy convince you. Look to their actions, America, and despair.

The Republicans are the ones who just passed a tax cut bill despite a majority of US citizens- including a large number of Republican voters - begging them not to. They do not listen to their OWN CONSTITUENTS when they gleefully pass unpopular bill after unpopular bill. Because they don't care about voters. You're just cannon fodder who show up and vote partisan because they've hardwired the nation's psyche to be partisan.


The Republicans are the ones who threaten to "go after" Medicare and Social Security, claiming reforms when in fact they plan to destroy those social safety nets that help our elderly retire, our families healthy, and our futures assured.

For the LOVE OF GOD, Republicans hate things in government like Medicare and Social Security that work for those making under $100,000 a year. Why should any of us who are under that income bracket - that is 75 PERCENT OF AMERICANS - ever vote for THAT (if economic anxiety is truly our concern)???

The Republicans are the party that voted for trump.


On this point alone, the entire party is unforgivable.

I hope more than my seven regular readers see this article.

This is it. No more moping, no more dreading.

Fight back.

Vote Democratic. Vote Blue. Vote to change Congress from cowardly Republicans to country-loving Democrats who will hold trump accountable for his crimes and fix the damage McConnell and Ryan have done.

Get to work.