Monday, April 30, 2018

About Justice For the Poor, As the Good Book Says

You know what they call someone who goes around claiming to be a Christian and yet rejects everything Jesus himself taught and stood for?

You call them AntiChrists Republicans.

Just look at this mess over here (via Shaun Mullen at Moderate Voice):

...It did not seem to be in the same league as Kim Jong-un reneging on a peace deal or Vladimir Putin ordering the poisoning of a defector spy, but for Republicans it was enough to send House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy packing.
It seems that in Republican eyes the right reverend had sinned when, in a prayer last November as the House took up the $1.5 trillion tax “reform” bill, he prayed for the bill’s chief advocate, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and other lawmakers to “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
Although it took awhile, Ryan has now fired Father Conroy because he prayed for the poor. And the hungry, the powerless, the jobless, the fearful, the disabled and the victims of prejudice...

If the priest wanted to stay on Ryan's good side, he needed to preach more from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: "...We have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind...But we have certain customs, which we all observe, because they pertain to the things we need to rest from. So I'll warn you now that there is one word which is forbidden in this valley: the word give." (p.714)

Ryan likes to sell himself as a Catholic to impress the religious Evangelical base, but he's always been a fan of Rand's hatred of the undeserving masses "begging for handouts" from "the great industrialists who earned their wealth."

This is actually a serious problem for Republicans overall. They LOVE to say they walk with Jesus but when push comes to shove they shove Jesus off the cliff in order to shove all the poor and vulnerable as well. Back to Mullen:

...Despite the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state... Republicans in general and Evangelicals in particular have been trying to ram religion down our throats for years in demanding that public school prayer be legalized, faith-based political action groups be tax exempt and employers be permitted to hide behind their religion in refusing to pay for employee benefits that include reproductive health care.
But for God’s sake keep religion out of their own house . . . er, House.

The hypocrisy of their faithlessness - wrecking laws and norms that were set up to help those who needed and deserved such help - exposes Republicans as the self-serving greedheads they are.

These Republicans do not GIVE. They do not give Justice, they do not give Love, they do not give Forgiveness, they do not give Hope, they do not give Charity, they do not give Grace.

These Republicans TAKE. And they don't take anything of true value, they just take money and power and fame and everyone else's lives.

Never call them Christians. These Pharisees spit on everything Jesus represents.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Buying and Selling Mulvaney

What the ever-loving fuck was this (via

Want a favor from a member of Congress? Give him money. That was the advice Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and head of the Office of Management and Budget, gave to a group of some 1,300 bankers and lending industry professionals at a conference in Washington, DC.
Mulvaney, a former South Carolina representative, said he would only meet with lobbyists who had donated to his campaign while speaking at the American Bankers Association conference on Tuesday, the New York Times reported. “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mulvaney said. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

So even if a lobby group needed to speak to Mulvaney on the merits - on an actual issue that impacted his state/district/citizenry - that group STILL couldn't speak to him without paying up a campaign contribution first?


Oh, right. This is why:

The anticorruption interest is not sufficient to displace the speech here in question. Indeed, 26 States do not restrict independent expenditures by for-profit corporations. The Government does not claim that these expenditures have corrupted the political process in those States... A single footnote in Bellotti purported to leave open the possibility that corporate independent expenditures could be shown to cause corruption... For the reasons explained above, we now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption...

I call bullshit, Justice Kennedy. Mulvaney just made it perfectly clear that as an elected official he would listen only to those who Pay-To-Play. Any excuse he has now about "oh, we will listen to our constituents too" is too much ass-covering on his part.

And what the hell would be stopping Mulvaney from playing this Pay-To-Play scam now that he's in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an office he is openly undermining by telling the banks and financial institutions under its review ways they can limit and shut the Bureau down.

Money is not Free Speech, you goddamn Conservative Greedheads. Money is a tool to buy and sell things. And with enough money, you can buy up politicians and sell out our nation. The ones who don't have any money can't play this fucking game.

Citizens United ruling is one of the key factors our nation is fucked up now with the corruption of trump drowning us all in the rot.

We are so very royally fucked.

Monday, April 23, 2018

What Do I Gotta Do On Polling Around Here, Offer Giveaways Or Something?

I don't think I can get an honest response to the question on whether I should even try a GoFundMe to afford a trip to Prague. It's just... three responses?!

Where are my seven readers?! Did four of you just... leave for warmer climes or something?

Sigh. Lack of a healthy response to even a suggestion of an idea tells me this won't go very far if I try it. 

So much for democratic traditions.

Next time I'll just pull a casino heist or something...

Friday, April 20, 2018

Past Present Or Future, Republicans Still Doomed

If we refer to Conor Friedersdorf over at The Atlantic, he's already noting how the Republicans were screwed up long before trump took over, and that they're still going to have these problems once he's gone:

...Yes, Trump beat a big field to become president, he is more popular among GOP voters than any rival, many elected Republicans fear publicly crossing him at the moment, and he is influential in setting the tone in Washington. Still, the conclusion that he has taken over the Republican Party is overstated and premature.
Consider these counter-points:
First, Trump’s position is unusually shaky for a first-term president. His influence will take a huge hit if the GOP loses big in the 2018 midterms. And it could suffer if investigations into Trump or his associates expose a significant new scandal. Neither of those outcomes is assured. But both are very plausible.
Second, if Trump starts to seem like he’s hurting the GOP’s popularity more than he is helping it, he has no reserve of personal goodwill or substantive support for his ideas on which to fall back. Trump’s unpopularity was illustrated most colorfully by an unnamed GOP representative quoted by conservative commentator Erick Erickson. “I say a lot of shit on TV defending him,” the legislator said. “But honestly, I wish the motherfucker would just go away. We’re going to lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose a bunch of states because of him. All his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn’t led. He wakes up in the morning, shits all over Twitter, shits all over us, shits all over his staff, then hits golf balls. Fuck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.” The unnamed congressman even declared of the president he has defended on television, “If we’re going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the motherfucker.”

Just to interject here: It's noteworthy that this Republican elected official is honest enough to recognize how horrifying trump is as a person and as President Loser of the Popular Vote. It's also noteworthy that this coward doesn't have the balls to go public on this and make a stand to save his own Party, not because trump has that much power to punish him but because the GOP's Wingnut Base (the rabid voters AND the dogmatic SuperPAC donors) do have that power. The Republican Party cannot change because the ones who should change it - the elected officials - are afraid of the true powers controlling the GOP now: the deep-pocket ideologues like the Mercers and the Kochs and the Far Right Noise Machine - Fox, Breitbart, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter et al. - that profits from selling their brand of fearmongering and don't want it to change.

Third, the GOP establishment has so far accomplished much more than whatever is supposed to be replacing it. Asked what Trump has achieved, his defenders typically respond that he appointed a Supreme Court justice, passed tax cuts, and got rid of unnecessary regulations. It is easy to imagine Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio doing those same things. Trump’s achievements reflect GOP priorities going back decades, not anything new to his agenda...

Conor is right about this: The Republicans have accomplished what they needed to, regardless of whichever Republican is sitting in the Oval Office. They've got their terrible tax cuts for the rich, they're getting their deregulation agenda taken care of, they've got hopes to get their anti-abortion finally to where they can ruin poor women's lives forever. Paul Ryan is eagerly retiring now because other than nuking Social Security and Medicare (which he found out he's not able to nuke) he's done what he wanted to do. Ryan's dangling his own MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner over his shrine to Ayn Rand as we speak.

Fourth, there is no heir apparent to Trumpism, or even a deep stable of future presidential aspirants like the one that the Tea Party movement provided the GOP...

This is an interesting point, in that so far during the special elections between 2017 to the midterms this year, trump has been an utter disaster as a banner-carrier for the GOP. He's made three high-profile attempts in two different states - one of them Deep Red Alabama! - and has failed all three times to get "his" guy(s) elected.

However, I think Conor is wrong about "no heir apparent." There may not be a specific protege or acolyte in the trumpian mold that stands to rise up and claim the GOP leadership for himself. trump HAS done one thing and that's show exactly how a demagogic racist sonofabitch can campaign on such behavior and win the GOP nomination.

Nothing is going to stop the next trump Wannabe to step up to the mic and drop bombs on hated libruls and in such a way the fervent wingnut base will rise up and claim that Wannabe The Next St. Ronnie who will smite all Democrats and Keep American Great Angry Aging White Male.

Which is the doom of the Republican Party, because if that's all they've got - raging racist assholes - then that's all they'll have, which is not going to win over the growing non-White population of this nation.

But this is what they as a party have been building towards, ever since the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s shifted the dynamics of liberal-conservative alignments and made the Republicans more and more Conservative. Except that their pursuit of ideological purity turned into a closed dogmatic belief system - referring to Frum here - that ironically turned most of the Party - from voting base to elected leaders - into Anarchist Nihilists obsessed with destroying the existing order to build their flawed Utopia.

trump may have been the result, but they've been building towards this ever since Nixon's Southern Strategy, and right through Reagan's administration of deregulation and corruption, and into Newt's Contract On America (where a lot of pundits are now realizing was the Point of No Return for Republican assholery), straight through into Dubya's reign of error, right into McConnell's Damning pursuit of Obstruction Now Obstruction Forever.

Even if trump departs tomorrow, by resignation or by fleeing to a country without extradition, the GOP will simply reload for the next demagogue to come in and claim "I will do everything in my power to make liberals cry into their cappuccinos YEEHA!"

There's no Republican Party to save because this is now a group of people who DO NOT WANT TO BE SAVED. They think they're already flawless perfect jewels in God's Mighty Plan. They not only will refuse to get into the lifeboats, they'll eagerly smash everything with fire axes to make sure nobody else gets on them either.

We are so very royally fucked.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Schadenfreude for Hannity 2018 Edition

Who knew that the Saturday Night Live opener this past weekend - where Ben Stiller comes back to do a spot-on mockery of trump lawyer(ish) Michael Cohen - would reveal that, yeah, Cohen probably isn't all that good a lawyer in real life?

So far, the only things he's shown lawyering has been trying to pay off women who had affairs with guys like trump and Elliot Broidy, an RNC finance deputy until he resigned before the weekend over revelations Cohen paid off a Playmate Broidy was having an affair with (plus the woman had an abortion because of the affair!). This also included someone the warrants referred to as "Client #3".

So today, this Monday, Cohen was in court trying to argue his way through the warrants and seizures of his legal papers and materials from last Monday. The whole thing was going to be a circus anyway, with Stormy Daniels and her lawyer planning to appear (not to testify but to sit there and make Cohen uncomfortable). But another thing that threatened to be a newsworthy event was the possibility the judge would compel Cohen to name his mysterious third client.

Speculation was rampant. I myself was hoping for Mitch McConnell getting named.

Well, read on:

BREAKING: NBC News confirms that, after being forced to disclose the name in court, Michael Cohen says his third client - after Donald Trump and Elliot Broidy - is Sean Hannity. - @AliVelshi


Give me a second.


I dunno if I ever brought the disdain I have for Sean Hannity, the blowhard of Fox Not-News that's NOT Bill O'Reilly. As a journalism grad, I have absolutely no respect for Hannity who struts and preens but lacks even the fundamental skills of journalism having been a goddamn college dropout. (side note: there is a shocking number of non-graduate talking heads on television)

With Hannity, my anger and outrage towards him is based on his failure to apply any amount of objective journalistic practice to what he does: EVERYTHING out of him is pure opinion with little fact, and with partisan bias galore.

So why is this a huge deal?

Because 1) Cohen's legal practice seems to specialize entirely on covering up sex scandals, 2) Hannity's network Fox News has a sordid history of sexual harassment claims, cover-ups, and worse, 3) Hannity is currently trying to deny any kind of legal connection to Cohen, and then saying he talked to Cohen about property issues, and then asserting that there's still attorney-client privilege even if there's no lawyering going on so shut up and look away why don't ya?

Let me repeat.


Hannity himself seemed to be a little blindsided by today's revelation, as an observer of Hannity's radio show noted:

The Sean Hannity Radio Show so far:
Background rock music.
More music.
Clip of Trump/Hannity show promo.
Another Hannity show promo.
Clip of Comey interview.
So far, Hannity has not yet spoken. - @ZackFord
Hannity eventually spoke up, spent much of his show blasting Comey, offered an excuse of "simple consultation," never received an invoice, WE WERE JUST GOOD FRIENDS, CAN'T A GUY HAVE MORE THAN ONE FRIEND, YOU KNOW, AN AMIGO?

Can I just repeat myself under the trope of Rule of Three?


If this were a gangster movie, the entire trump empire is looking less like Vito Corleone's operation and more like an army of Fredos, tripping over each other in the worst possible ways.

This would be funny if the fate of the entire planet wasn't under dire threat of these Fredos mismanaging everything into a fireball of doom.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Prague on My Mind

I admit it: I am envious of criminal lawyer Michael Cohen being able to travel to Prague.

I haven't ever traveled out of the U.S. before, and gods I want to travel to see the world, but my librarian wages cannot afford such luxuries.

But if Cohen got to go, I *wanna* go. sniff

It's just it's looking like around $1,000 for a five-day visit on a budget, with the round trip flight being $1,700. Plus emergency funds in case something happens and I get involved in a car chase between spies or some such.

So... serious question here: Am I allowed to start up a GoFundMe drive to raise funds to make such a trip to Prague? I will make it a working trip, blogging from the locations where Cohen went on his meetings (maybe also get a run-in with my guy the Golem). I hope to make the trip in August which may be out of season and hopefully not too hot or cold (Europe is farther north on the map than I keep imaging).

Should I try a GoFundMe?

Edit: Poor response to the Survey Monkey poll tells me a GoFundMe attempt would be equally futile. Damn. Congratulations Prague, you are safe for another year...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

No Safety Or Surprise, The End

It hurts to set you free
But you'll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die...
-- "The End," The Doors

This has been offered up on Twitter as a must-read article from Adam Davidson at the New Yorker:

(after a lengthy introduction of Adam's experiences with two recent political disasters, the Iraqi Invasion and the CDO Meltdown) In Iraq and with the financial crisis, it was helpful, as a reporter, to be able to divide the world into those who actually understand what was happening and those who said hopeful nonsense. The path of both crises turned out to be far worse than I had imagined...
I thought of those earlier experiences this week as I began to feel a familiar clarity about what will unfold next in the Trump Presidency. There are lots of details and surprises to come, but the endgame of this Presidency seems as clear now as those of Iraq and the financial crisis did months before they unfolded. Last week, federal investigators raided the offices of Michael Cohen, the man who has been closer than anybody to Trump’s most problematic business and personal relationships. This week, we learned that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months—his e-mails have been read, presumably his phones have been tapped, and his meetings have been monitored (this means if trump or his inner circle had any conversations with Cohen about anything shady (very likely) the Feds already have it)...
Trump has long declared a red line: Robert Mueller must not investigate his businesses, and must only look at any possible collusion with Russia. That red line is now crossed and, for Trump, in the most troubling of ways. Even if he were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and then had Mueller and his investigation put on ice, and even if—as is disturbingly possible—Congress did nothing, the Cohen prosecution would continue...
This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth...

What Davidson is talking about here is, regardless of what trump can do to save himself - firing Rosenstein in order to fire or stop Mueller, forcing the Justice Department to counter-investigate Dems like Hillary and Obama for purely partisan reasons, shutting down Justice completely to stop the New York offices from indicting Cohen - trump's Presidency will become a wounded duck, lacking the prestige of office and respect by others through the Rule of Law trump himself no longer respects.

Granted, trump's fan base among the Far Right will become even more convinced of his wounded cries of "witch hunt!" and trump's haters will become even more convinced of his guilt, what will happen is the loss of political capital and goodwill any Presidency needs to survive in DC (and the world). What will happen with the Cohen investigation - not the Russian one - will be a public reveal of all the nasty secrets trump's been trying to hide for decades, as Davidson lists here:

...I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations. (personal note: Notice how most of trump's crimes involve foreign businesses or persons with their own criminal pasts? It's like he seeks them out to do business with...)
...It has become commonplace to say that enough was known about Trump’s shady business before he was elected; his followers voted for him precisely because they liked that he was someone willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, and they also believe that all rich businesspeople have to do shady things from time to time. In this way of thinking, any new information about his corrupt past has no political salience. Those who hate Trump already think he’s a crook; those who love him don’t care.
I believe this assessment is wrong. Sure, many people have a vague sense of Trump’s shadiness, but once the full details are better known and digested, a fundamentally different narrative about Trump will become commonplace. Remember: we knew a lot about problems in Iraq in May, 2003. Americans saw TV footage of looting and heard reports of U.S. forces struggling to gain control of the entire country. We had plenty of reporting, throughout 2007, about various minor financial problems. Somehow, though, these specific details failed to impress upon most Americans the over-all picture. It took a long time for the nation to accept that these were not minor aberrations but, rather, signs of fundamental crisis...

It doesn't help trump or the Republicans that polling still shows a majority of Americans believe the investigations should continue (roughly 69 to 25 for-against on the Russian probe). A little over 40 percent of Republicans support the investigations, assuredly overlapping any trump supporters who may love him but recognize the need for legal investigations to continue. IF Mueller does come out with substantial evidence of Russian meddling WITH trump's help, how many of those voters will make the moral choice to drop trump like the plague?

Davidson doesn't refer to it, but a historical analogy would be to Nixon and Watergate. While the scandal broke during 1972, many voters did not know the details well enough to realize how bad it was, and even the ones who did know still did not realize how deep the rot was. Nixon won a ton votes in 1972 in a rout: People didn't realize the scope of the scandal until Nixon's Oval Office tapes went public in 1974 and most found out just how corrupt and nasty a lifeform Nixon was.

We are facing the same situation with trump. For all of those out there - myself included - who hate trump exactly for the crimes he's already committed, there are still a lot of fellow Americans who just can't see it yet. Public exposure of trump's sins - the likely possibility of fraudulent business deals, the rampant misogyny, the crass ignorance he barely conceals already - would go a long way towards waking up more Americans - especially those Republicans who can't yet accept the facts - to the dangers of trump's misrule.

The thing that Davidson can't address, what most of us don't have an answer for, are the exact details we're going to be getting during this period of the trumpian Downfall. Just how bad is this all going to get?

As guessed at earlier, trump will try to come up with some excuse to fire Rosenstein, except the departmental bureaucracy may merely shift the oversight of Mueller's investigation towards other careerists in Justice instead of an appointed trump lackey. trump may try a straight-up coup, ordering the military or National Guard in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area to shut down the nation's capital "for security purposes"... but that may lead to a mutiny among the guards. Either way, trump loses any respect (and most likely any control) of the Intel Community from the FBI to the CIA through the NSA and all the rest. Those are the ones who really know just how bad trump and Russia are tied together, they just can't tell us because it could compromise their intelligence gathering methods.

We can't consider the Republicans in Congress to do anything except huddle on the sideline and quietly whisper for everyone "just settle down and don't look at what's happening, everything is fine, all is well." At every point of this nightmare, the Republicans avoided the hard decisions they needed to make: they never stopped trump from entering the primaries even when it was clear he was a racist loose cannon; they never cut off the SuperPACs who were funding trump; they never tried to rally around one candidate who could inspire the not-crazy factions in their own party to show up and vote; they never got onto Fox Not-News and bitch-slapped the taste out of Hannity or O'Reilly's mouths to get them to shut up and stop riling their base into madness.

Even if Mueller presents to Congress a detailed list of federal crimes, of trump and his people - his own family - actively working with a foreign power to subvert our elections, we've already seen the House Intel committee close their own investigation (without ever really investigating) and give trump a "clean bill of health" that nobody else even in the Beltway media takes seriously. In the chaos of the GOP-held House as Speaker Ryan shuts down his part of the government with intent to retire, will any Republican take the leadership reins in opposition to a corrupt President? (short answer, no: long answer, are you fucking kidding?)

This is one very big reason the 2018 midterms has far too much Democratic enthusiasm: every anti-trump American knows nothing will happen until Democrats regain control of either part of Congress...

And don't forget those polling numbers. If the 69 percent in favor of Mueller's probe accurately reflects the American population, then any action by trump to stop Mueller should cause 224 million (out of 313 mill or so) or more Americans to rise up in protest. Granted, not all will because this would be a risky and potentially harmful move for anyone to make. But if even half that number rise up, that's still 112 million angry Americans in the streets. There aren't enough pro-trump army units willing to crush a revolt of that size.

The only rational conclusion - if trump's fraud and criminal acts come to light - would be to resign, and there are enough trump observers who think trump would cut and run when the going gets tough. Thing is, trump only cuts and runs when he knows his current con game is over but that he's got another con game to jump to in order to keep his scam going.

This is it for trump. The biggest grandest con game he can get. It's fueling his property empire as the expense of the Emoluments Clause he openly violates. It's getting him fealty and payoffs from foreign businesses trying to use trump to get into the U.S. to make more money. This is it for him. trump HAS NOWHERE ELSE TO GO WHEN THIS CON ENDS.

trump will not resign, no matter how much he hates the prison that the Presidency is known to be.

Problem is, for all that Mueller can uncover, for all the other investigations into Cohen and more, there is a rule in place with the Justice Dept. to not indict a sitting President. While the DoJ could overrule that if the situation got dire, that would be so partisan a move it would cripple their reputation - which isn't all that clean in the first place - for decades at the least. They would be compelled to pass their findings onto the one branch that could do something... that just happens to be Congress, which again are led by a bunch of Republican cowards.

That means trump has to leave either through Impeachment - hard to achieve even if the Blue Wave gives Dems control of House AND Senate - or 25th Amendment - unlikely as there are few Cabinet members willing to remove trump for his unstable behavior - or worst of all waiting until 2020 for him to either lose in a Primary challenge or lose the General election to Kamala Harris (one hopes).

The last scenario is the most likely. We are, GODS help us, stuck with trump for two more years causing damage from his broken and half-staffed West Wing.

Davidson may think we're seeing the beginning of the end for trump's rule.

Problem is, this is an end that can take a long time to reach. And GODS forbid, too much damage will get done as we try to get there...


Unless we get the damn vote out and flip both the House and Senate far enough to ensure an early exit by trump. It's the only way right now.

GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT. Get everyone you know to vote. Get everyone aware of what's at stake and how they need to vote. VOTE DEMOCRAT EVERYWHERE AND ANYWHERE.

We gotta fight for our own survival now. This is it.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Where Do I Even Start With This Day?

Just to top it all off, right now trump is trying to distract everyone from this whole week's worth of scandals by calling air strikes into Syria. As though starting a war would help him.

And wasn't this a goddamn movie plot point from the Clinton years?!

But this all follow-up to the ongoing news about trump's criminal lawyer Cohen (both meanings apply right about now) and the fact he traveled to Prague without reporting it to anybody because that trip involved a meeting with a key Russian official. Damn, everybody can afford to travel to Prague except me. *I'D* love to go to Prague, but then again I'm honest enough not to work for a scuzbucket like trump...

It's not helping that federal investigators likely got to Cohen's taped conversations with people. Considering that the warrants to search his materials - and that it's officially a criminal investigation on him now - any of those conversations relating to trump AND Russia and/or Manafort and/or anyone else under investigation opens up a can of worms where the worms are from Arrakis (the spice MUST flow...).

Throw in the roiling turmoil that is the Republican Party, where another rich white guy connected to Cohen had made arrangements with a Playmate (NOT the one who had an affair with trump by the by) to cover up their affair, covered up that she got pregnant, and then covered up that she had an abortion(!) which kinda violates a lot of things the goddamn evangelical base is supposed to care about.

Not to mention the fears that trump is one temper tantrum away from firing Deputy AG Rosenstein in another attempt to shut down the criminal investigations into Russia's interference with our 2016 elections and their questionable business ties to trump and his partners.

Also consider how trump is reacting to the guy he fired to commit Obstruction, smearing former FBI Director Comey over Comey's latest tell-all book that describes just how unhinged and dangerous trump is behind the scenes.

So yeah, this WAS Friday the 13th after all.

We are so very very VERY royally fucked, America.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Bill Is Coming Due For Republicans, So Of Course Paul Ryan Is Fleeing Before He Has To Pay

There are a lot of reasons why Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is retiring from Congress uh um refusing to face voters for re-election ah um running for the hills like a terrified ideologue who knows his shtick ain't selling no more.

1) Ryan has actually gotten one major thing done during his brief tenure as Speaker: Pass an insanely massive giveaway to the uber-rich with a Tax Cut Bill that gave billions to the billionaires and not-to-subtly raised taxes on everybody else. While he might count that as a success, even he has to notice that the public polling on that tax cut is weak. If the big thing - maybe the only thing - you passed in a year where you held incredible control of the legislation is unpopular AND you have nothing else to campaign on, even the most die-hard pol is going to think "time to quit."

2) Ryan is stepping down while his other obsession - to kill off social aid programs like Medicare and Social Security - remained unresolved, and while there's little right now in public about why he's leaving before even making a serious strike at those programs I am guessing he's finding out few other Republicans want to touch those Third Rails. Ryan wasn't about to waste what little political capital and media goodwill he had inside the Beltway.

3) Ryan is refusing to run again even though as an incumbent to his Wisconsin district he has every reason to expect an easy re-election. He's more than likely to face again the guy he beat in 2016 by a 60-to-35 percent blowout. The only thing regarding his district is if his own internal polling - the parties run more detailed and exacting polling data that the public polling services don't delve into - is showing a serious 2018 primary challenge that the rest of us haven't seen yet.

Republicans only retire from their incumbencies for two reasons: A) they've got a cushy no-show job at a think tank finally lined up or B) they're facing defeat and don't want to go away looking like a loser. (Ryan's predecessor John Boehner quit for something along those lines: facing a party schism over the Debt Ceiling and spending bills, he used his retirement for a parliamentary trick to get those matters resolved long enough for him to flee).

3a) What Ryan is facing this 2018 is a clear Blue Wave Election. Special election after special election over the past year have pointed to serious gains by Democrats. Even when they don't win the seat, the voter shift plus to Blue has been striking. That 538 article I linked to showed a +14 shift in 2017, and the recent 2018 special elections have shown a greater shift. Even if there's a +10 shift Democratic in this year's midterms this November, take every close Republican win that was under 10 percent and flip them Blue (while every close Dem win becomes a rout).

Democratic voters are pissed. There's 65 million Hillary voters angry that the Republicans - with help from Russia, their voter suppression efforts, and an antiquated / broken Electoral College that disfavors the majority of voters - stole the White House in 2016, and they're going to take it out on the GOP this year.

Independent voters are flipping Democrat right now. There's little reason this year to vote Republican since the vaunted Tax Cut Bill isn't helping (and is actually hurting middle-class voters this year, anecdotally I've heard from three different people that they didn't get refunds this time), the GOP keeps threatening to hurt their healthcare (now that people have it, they like it), and the Republicans are going further Right on issues that most Indy voters don't want to go.

Speaking of why Democrats are so motivated to head to the polls this cycle...

4) donald fucking trump.

While Ryan has to carry the blame for making the modern Republican Party what it is today - a party obsessed with winning over governing, a party fully willing to lie about its agenda, a party that panders to their wingnut base's darkest impulses against immigration, minorities, women, and now kids - there's every sign that having trump lead the GOP is a broken bridge too far.

In terms of what trump brings to the table for the midterms, let's be honest trump is... actually not that toxic in the deep Red districts. When he's shown up at certain special elections, he doesn't hurt the GOP candidate there. It's that trump doesn't help either: Worse, trump shows up and makes the rally more about himself than about the special election, and that doesn't give the boost the local candidate needs.

Where trump is toxic are the more moderate, less "safe" Districts where the odd dynamics of any special election - quixotic (slightly insane) candidates, single-issue voters, wild campaign spending - won't be in play. In those places, Democratic turnout is bound to go high. Being unable to campaign on the issues, people will vote on their emotions.

And right now, far too many people... far too many voters hate trump. His Approval/Disapproval spread is around 12 points this point of the year according to RealClearPolitics, and their polling on "Right Track/Wrong Track" shows too many Americans think we're on the Wrong Track, never a good sign for the party controlling all three branches of the Federal Government.

There's something else to note regarding what he's running away from. In this era of political chaos, there is a distinct opportunity for the 25th Amendment to kick in: for trump to be removed from the Presidency somehow, and for Pence to be removed as well (related to certain allegations surrounding Mike Flynn, Russians, and other campaign matters), leaving the Speaker as Third in Line to the White House.

For Ryan to walk away from THAT possibility - and in the current climate, you can't discount it - means he either knows it's not happening (that trump could well survive the Russian - and now other - scandals)... or that he's facing similar legal woes due to his involvement in the transition and overall party campaign efforts that got compromised by Russia and trump.

It's also important to note Ryan is not the only Republican rat fleeing the HBS trumpanic. In my own Florida backyard, Congresscritter Dennis Ross won't run for re-election either. We are seeing this midterm a sizable number of "retirements" to where I'm thinking this may be a record. It's rare for a majority party to see so many of their own drop out: It only happens during a clear Wave election (Dems retired like mad in 1994, GOP retired like mad in 2006).

All of this shouldn't distract from what needs to be done, of course. Just because the Republicans are fleeing doesn't mean they're automatically losing their elections this November.

We Americans need to show up. Voter turnout has to be higher than any previous midterms in ages. Every Democrat has to show, every Indy voter horrified by the bad leadership of the GOP has to show, every disillusioned Republican (and yes, they are out there) has to show.

And everyone single one of us NEEDS TO VOTE for the Democrats to ensure we toss the GOP crooks out of power.


They sure as hell are proving they are not willing to run for you. They are running AWAY from you.

Make them keep running for their lives.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Crossing trump's Rubicon

We're getting to that unavoidable point of no return.

As the investigations into trump's world of vulgar behavior and questionable financial practices widen, he's making noises (again) about ending the primary investigation led by Special Counsel Mueller (overseen by Deputy AG Rosenstein) into Russia's interference with our 2016 elections.

I've discussed this before - and the likelihood that if he tries anything to shut that investigation down he will get hellfire from the Intel Community about it - but it's time to let someone else say Zachary Fryer-Biggs over at to provide some input:

President Trump may think he can end all his growing legal problems by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He can’t.
A pair of federal prosecutors in New York are now working on cases tied to two of Trump’s closest confidants. The FBI raided Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s office on Monday for a case the prosecutor in Manhattan is handling. Last December, meanwhile, the US attorney in Brooklyn requested bank records tied to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
Those cases are separate from Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling in 2016 and potential contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
That means that if Trump fires Rosenstein and Mueller, those other investigations won’t just go away. Trump would have to fire the other prosecutors and a host of other Justice Department officials...

There's a good chance trump would drive out a solid number of high-ranking officials in the process, disrupting our chain of command in key national security departments.

This will also affect our legal system, as the judges who've signed off on these warrants will likely face retribution from a vengeful trump and his lackeys.

Whomever in the White House that's been holding trump back from making this dumbass move - I get the vibe it's Chief of Staff Kelly and most of the remaining sane people left, which is prolly about 23 17 people by now - will likely use his Saturday Night Massacre moment to jump ship to retain whatever integrity they think they have left.

Whatever ethical standards are left among the Republican ranks, open warfare against the nation's legal system is one. Even some of the corrupt SOBs among the Congresscritters know if they try to knock that down, they lose half their home support of the GOP base that isn't batshit crazy.

Thing is, while trump CAN'T get away with making this move, he's still damn well gonna TRY.

And he will break vital parts of our federal institutions to do so.

We knew - those of us who warned the nation, warned the world - this day would come. trump's history of corruption and ineptitude guaranteed a Constitutional Crisis that would either require his removal (angering his rabid wingnut base) or mean an end to our Republic (with him casting off all restrictions becoming the dictator he dreams to be).

There's been a question floating around "How can you tell you're in the middle of a Constitutional Crisis?"

Take a look around you. You're in one. You've been in one since 2015 when the damn Republicans refused to adhere to common goddamn sense and block trump from their ticket.

Welcome to trump-World.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Breaking News This April 9th: OH MAH GAWD

Lindsey Buckingham got kicked out of Fleetwood Mac this weekend.

Oh, and the lawyer of trump's who had been making questionable nondisclosure deals with porn actresses just got raided by the FBI with search warrants for his shit (via Talking Points Memo):

Agents reportedly seized materials related to the $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election to prevent her from speaking out about the alleged affair she had with President Donald Trump. The FBI, the Times reported, seized “records related to several topics.”
The law firm where Cohen had an office issued a statement regarding the raid. “The firm’s arrangement with Mr. Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” said a statement from Squire Patton Boggs LLP. “We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr. Cohen. These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation...”
Last month, Daniels sued Trump and the company Cohen set up to make the payment, saying that the nondisclosure agreement she signed for the money should be nullified since Trump never signed it.
She appeared on CBS News’s 60 Minutes to tell her story at the end of March.
Trump spoke out about the case for the first time last week, telling reporters on Thursday that he didn’t know about the payment. He referred questions to Cohen...

Well, it looks like Mueller is going to refer questions to Cohen. (Actually, I take that back. Adam Silverman at Balloon-Juice is noting the warrants are coming out of the New York district office, which may be investigating Cohen's matters separate from the Special Counsel. Mueller *did* forward his recommendation through the Justice Department)

Someone on Twitter suggested this Reason article, and it brings up a few points why this is a big fucking deal in the nightmare that is trumpWorld:

1. According to Cohen's own lawyer, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York secured the search warrants for the FBI, based on a referral from Robert Mueller's office. Assuming this report is correct, that means that a very mainstream U.S. Attorney's Office—not just Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office—thought that there was enough for a search warrant here.
2. Moreover, it's not just that the office thought that there was enough for a search warrant. They thought there was enough for a search warrant of an attorney's office for that attorney's client communications. That's a very fraught and extraordinary move that requires multiple levels of authorization within the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney's Manual (USAM)—at Section 9-13.320—contains the relevant policies and procedures. The highlights:
The feds are only supposed to raid a law firm if less intrusive measures won't work... (personal interpretation: they know if they ask for it odds are it'll get shredded before the afternoon coffee is finished off)
Such a search requires high-level approval... This is not a couple of rogue (DAs) sneaking in a warrant... (interpretation: this is gonna be so legit even a conservative Supreme Court can't knock it down)
Such a search requires an elaborate review process. The basic rule is that the government may not deliberately seize, or review, attorney-client communications. The USAM—and relevant caselaw—therefore require the feds to set up a review process. That process might involve a judge reviewing the materials to separate out what is privileged... (interpretation: HOLY FUCK THIS SHIT JUST GOT REAL)
3. A magistrate judge signed off on this. Federal magistrate judges (appointed by local district judges, not by the president) review search warrant applications. A magistrate judge therefore reviewed this application and found probable cause—that is, probable cause to believe that the subject premises (Cohen's office) contains specified evidence of a specified federal crime...

I'm not a lawyer but even from this distance I can see Cohen is in a lot of trouble. I'm talking Mount Denali amount of trouble.

I don't think I've commented much on the Stormy Daniels reporting, mostly because I said all that needed to be said about this tiny vulgar lifeform we call the Shitgibbon. But the Stormy stuff points to a key habit of trump relying so heavily on his team of lawyers to brute-force any lesser peon into submission. There is bound to be a lot of questionable and unethical legal behavior involved to the point where any lawyer close enough to trump to pull what he allegedly did - use campaign funds to silence possible witnesses to trump's adulterous behaviors just after the Access Hollywood tape and just before the general election - probably didn't even realize he was breaking laws doing so. He'd been doing it for years. Just never got called on it.

Well, Michael Cohen. You're getting called on it.

And I don't think Fleetwood Mac is hiring at the moment (I doubt Cohen can play the lead guitar on "Hypnotized" anywho).

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Things That Should Worry You: April 2018 Edition


The trump trade war against China is escalating, and while Wall Street is doing what it can to send up the red flags - by sliding into the red ink for most of last week - it looks like trump is going to keep pushing this agenda as far as he can take because he genuinely believes "trade wars are good and easy to win".

Try telling that to the farmers who export billions to China (via CNBC):

If China follows through on its plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on soybeans, it would make global suppliers like Brazil even more attractive to Chinese buyers. It also would encourage those suppliers to add more acres of soybeans, and then negatively impact the price American farmers can get for their crop...
The lion's share of the U.S. agribusiness trade to China involves soybeans, which are grown in many farm states where Trump received strong support during the 2016 presidential election. Top soybean growing states include Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and the Dakotas...
Experts say that if China cuts agricultural exports, it could impact a wide swath of the farm economy — from small to large farmers. It could reduce profits for farmers and make them more willing to delay large purchases, such as new machinery, and encourage them to cut back in other places...

This isn't three-dimensional chess, people: it's TEN-dimensional chess, and trump can't even figure out how the horsey pieces move.

Let's look at the other foreign policy nightmare that trump can't handle: Syria.

President Donald Trump is sounding off about an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Syria, according to multiple news reports published on Thursday (via Business Insider).

But the president reportedly faced some strong opposition from top military officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford, who warned Trump of the consequences of a rapid withdrawal, during a meeting on Tuesday...
During the meeting, Dunford reportedly said Trump's plan was not productive and asked the president for clear instructions on what to do, The Associated Press reported.
Mattis chimed in and argued that a quick pull-out would not only be detrimental to the US, but doing so in a responsible manner would be logistically impossible. Mattis reportedly suggested a one-year withdrawal timeframe instead.
Trump then countered and gave officials five to six months to destroy the Islamic State and then withdraw, officials told The Associated Press.
Trump also indicated that he expects the military to succeed in destroying ISIS by October...

Cadet Bone Spurs seems to think this is a World War II video game where the targets are easy to spot, the bad guys are all in one contained area, and all we have to do is use the God cheat code to reach the final cutscene.

trump shows no sign of understanding logistics - even our military with all its experience has to pace itself - and post-war rebuilding. One of the reasons why our military stayed so long in Iraq - and why we're still in Afghanistan - is because we had to commit to nation-building efforts to give the country an infrastructure to live off of. Without those reconstruction efforts, you leave the region to stew in its own rage and allow the bad guys like the Taliban and ISIL to seep back into the mess and start over.

Meanwhile, abandoning Syria like this reconfirms the hold Assad (and Russia) will keep on whatever is left standing of Syria while the terrorist factions claim all the broken parts. America (and the Middle East) loses in the short term and we will pay the price again in the long term.

This is what you voted for, 62 million Americans. You voted for the guy with NO foreign policy experience and TERRIBLE business history to manage this nation.

We are so very fucking screwed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Anniversary: A Voice That Will Not Stay Silent

Sleep, sleep tonight
And may your dreams be realized
If the thunder cloud passes rain
So let it rain, let it rain
Rain on him - "MLK" U2

What you thought I was gonna quote "Pride (In the Name of Love)"?

Well, I can do that too.

Early morning, April Four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your Pride...

Uh, yeah. Bono found out later that Reverend King was killed in the evening, around 6 PM Memphis time. Oops. Still it's the thought that counts.

But if you want a quote that matters, here's one from the man himself:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." - Letter from  Birmingham Jail (1963)

To the Black Lives Matter movement.

To the Stoneman Douglas students.

To the women in the streets marching for their lives, to the teachers striking for better pay and better schools, to every protester across the globe.

Stay safe. Stand Tall. Speak for Justice.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Anniversary: Still a Mountaintop to Climb

Tonight, fifty years ago, a preacher got up to give a speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis TN. The Reverend had spent some years fighting for civil rights for Blacks in a United States that had been segregated for decades, that had been violent towards minorities, that had been keeping down the poor and the poverty-stricken.

He spoke about the fight he was leading at the time for sanitation workers in the city, how it was not only for better wages but for better lives. He spoke about the need to confront poverty not just for Black families but ALL the poor. He spoke about the importance of standing up and speaking out. How boycotts were necessary. How the voices of the many were necessary to make those in power finally listen.

He talked about the brush with death he had years earlier, about how it woke him up to the importance of living now and fighting for life. He talked about all the threats he received, not just from Whites angry and driven by race hatred but by those in power who feared the changes he called for, not just against the racial dynamic in our country but the sharing of wealth that could break the cycle of hatred and violence that kept the poor down.

He spoke of hope, knowing that he himself might not live to see such a day.

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the Mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen... the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
...we killed him the next day.

For a brief while - 40 years later - we had a Promised Land. We had Obama, trying to fix a broken economy and end two bad wars, we had an end to hatred against gays, we had chances to fix our immigration system to keep those who wanted to live here and be Americans, we had an opportunity to listen to the better angels of our nature.

I'd like to think a time traveler met with Reverend King the hours before he gave his speech, and took him to see Obama and his family celebrate his electoral win in Grant Park in 2008. I'd like to think King wasn't told about the rise of trump, and the hatred that rose with him and stains our nation today.

King spoke about the long arc of the moral universe, bending towards justice. Right now that arc is a pretzel. But justice is real it's there, and it's worth protesting for, standing up for, praying for, living for.

We ALL still have that mountain to climb to a better nation, one that's not driven by fear, riven by hate.

He saw the Promised Land. He saw the hope that is justice in a moral universe.

Keep climbing.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Trade War 2018 All In Red Ink

Lemme see if I can show you how today's stock markets are looking right about now (1 PM EDT):

Granted, the markets can still rebound towards the end of the day, but we're already 500 points in the hole on the Dow Jones, the S&P is in the red, Nasdaq is in the red, and I have no idea what that fourth one is but it's in the red too.

This is what it looks like, donald trump, when you start a trade war with China (via Business Insider):

US stocks tumbled Monday as President Donald Trump doubled down on his criticism of Amazon, sending technology and consumer discretionary stocks lower.
The selling also comes ahead of the Trump administration's plan to unveil this week the list of Chinese imports targeted for US tariffs. The list of $50-60 billion worth of annual imports is expected to target "largely high-technology" products.
The more tech-heavy Nasdaq 100— which has been a lightning rod for market volatility in recent weeks — plummeted as much as 3.3% to lead all major US indexes. Meanwhile, the benchmark S&P 500 dropped as much as 2%, and the 30-company Dow Jones industrial average slid more than 2.1% at one point.
Among the technology firms worst hit were chipmakers, including Lam Research, Micron Technology, Nvidia, Intel, and Cisco, which all dropped at least 3.7%. Note that due to their position in supply chain, these firms are more vulnerable to geopolitical turmoil, particularly as it pertains to China...

If you remember the last time the stock market nose-dived like this about a month ago, that related to trump's announcement to place tariffs on steel and aluminum. This is merely Phase Two, where the other nations start responding to trump's stupidity on trade, meaning we're about to see a lot more red on the stock tickers. To CNN for this part:

The Chinese government said that tariffs on about $3 billion worth of US imports are going into effect Monday, hitting 128 products ranging from pork, meat and fruit to steel pipes...
...China's commerce and finance ministries said in statements late Sunday that authorities are imposing tariffs of 15% on 120 American products — such as fruits, nuts, wine and steel pipes — and 25% on eight other products, including pork and recycled aluminum.
Those products make up just a tiny portion of the hundreds of billions of dollars of goods shipped between the two countries each year. But the tariffs are alarming news for the affected industries.
The US National Pork Producers Council warned last month that the measures would "have a significant negative impact on rural America." It said the US pork industry sold $1.1 billion worth of products to China last year, making it the third largest export market...

I think a lot of pork-related farming communities are about to regret voting for trump in the next thirty days...

Also, trump's war against Amazon - because CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post - isn't doing the stock market any favors, adding onto the growing economic imbalance that is going to affect the national (and global) economy for the worse.

Don't forget how much of a "genius" this trump guy is: "Trade wars are good, and easy to win."

All that red on the spreadsheets. Even a C-student in Econ 1101 from UF can tell you that's not winning.

Right about now, I would encourage the Wharton School of Business to revoke trump's degree in Economics, because he has clearly not earned it.

Welcome to the Trade Wars.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

April Fools 2018 Edition

This is no April Fools prank this year, kids:

Enter the Motor City Madman, musician Ted Nugent, perhaps the National Rifle Association’s most outspoken board member.
In a Friday interview mostly focused on Gonz├ílez’s and Hogg’s criticism of the NRA, Nugent and radio host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo discussed how the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., have navigated media appearances and their belief that the teenagers have been manipulated by left-wing ideologues.
“These poor children, I’m afraid to say, but the evidence is irrefutable. They have no soul,” Nugent told Pagliarulo on the radio show on WOAI in San Antonio...

Of course, Mr. Nugent - possible pedophile and possible draft dodger - has no moral authority to attack teens who survived a mass shooting and are doing what they can to prevent any more of those.

Mr. Nugent also should look to his fellow conservative wingnuts who tried to take on the Parkland teens. Laura Ingraham tried to mock student David Hogg for failing to get into various California schools (that have rigorous enrollment regs anyway). She's now "on vacation" while her Fox Not-News show has advertisers dropping her like Third Period French.

You wingnuts better understand this: you just fucked with the wrong high school.