Thursday, May 31, 2018

trump Is Destroying Everything? Must Be Thursday

Oh lord, this was a crazy day.

Trump started the day off with a trade war, not with China not with Iran not with Russia not with North Korea, a trade war with Canada, Mexico, and much of Europe. Basically, pissing off our allies. Via Business Insider:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday said steel and aluminum tariff exemptions for the European Union, Canada, and Mexico would expire at the end of the day. Starting Friday, he said, steel imports from those countries will be subject to a 25% tariff, and aluminum imports will be hit with a 10% tariff.
The US put in place exemptions for key allies after first announcing the tariffs in March. But the exemptions were designed only to be temporary reprieves.
With negotiations going nowhere, Trump decided to go forward with the tariffs...
trump apparently wasn't getting the kickbacks or Quid Pro Quos he wanted, so BOOM goes the economy. Canada is bound to retaliate, Mexico is in no mood to play nice with trump already, and Europe? Well:

The EU is expected to respond with tariffs on a little more than $3 billion worth of American goods including motorcycles, bourbon, and blue jeans.
Considering how our economy has NOT gotten the promised boosts from Paul Ryan's godless Tax Cuts For the Rich - the 2.2 percent GDP this quarter is middling - the hit we're about to receive is gonna sting. Combine that with the fact that these tariffs are raising prices on ourselves on these imports, this is essentially the nation as a person punching ourselves in the face. Back to the Insider:

By increasing the cost of imported steel and aluminum, companies that rely on the metals will be forced to either accept the higher costs and lower profits or pass on the price increase to consumers.
For instance, the Beer Institute — an industry group that represents US brewers — warned that aluminum tariffs would drive up the price of beer cans. The Beer Institute estimated that the increased costs would in turn force brewers to save money in other areas, such as by laying off workers or raises the prices paid by consumers.

Again. We're punching ourselves in the face here.

The stock market - which didn't respond too well to trump's earlier plans to tariff the United States into Third World status - took a noticeable nosedive today much like they did they last couple of tariff announcements. You'd think Congress would notice these things and send up panic flares to their deep pocket SuperPACs to, you know, serve their own economic interests and cut trump's base off at the knees...

And that was just before 10 AM.

trump followed that up with making plans to pardon the likes of Dinesh D'Souza. I dunno if I mention him much here, but D'Souza is a failed academic who keeps selling himself as a conservative intellectual who spends far too much time insulting the ever-loving hell out of liberals like it's his only mission in life, using that reputation to shill himself to the Far Right media outlets needing an ethnic person to deflect accusations of racism that D'Souza himself revels in.

trump's pardoning is not out of any actual injustice - D'Souza was caught and plead guilty on campaign finance fraud - but because D'Souza is a political hack on trump's side of the fence. It's also rubbing this in the face of prominent trump critic Preet Bharara, the federal prosecutor who sent D'Souza to the big house (D'Souza is actually taunting Bharara about this).

But this is more than just trump giving out pardons like candy at Halloween. This is trump sending a clear message to the nation and to his political and business cronies. Via

First and most obviously, by pardoning D’Souza, the president is signaling—and frankly, let’s just call it shouting aloud—to the Michael Flynns and the Paul Manaforts and the Michael Cohens in his world that Everyone in America Who Helps Donald Trump will eventually get a pardon. This is how he has previously deployed his pardon power, and it is not a complicated message when there are several people around you who are contemplating plea deals versus lengthy prison sentences.
And as Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall was quick to point out, by pardoning someone as usefully racist and homophobic as D’Souza, Trump is also winkingly letting America know that this sprawling tribe of conspiracy theorists and racists and provocateurs and misogynists and performers of casual hate will always have a champion in the White House. Solid...
...While Trump’s pardon of D’Souza grows, in part, out of Republicans’ broader war on the fundamental legitimacy of campaign finance law, now is an opportune moment for the president to explicitly hop on that bandwagon. Investigations into his close allies keep centering around possible campaign finance violations in which Trump may have been complicit. By dismissing the prosecution of D’Souza’s illegal straw-donor scheme as somehow unfair and ideological, Trump is pardon-signaling, setting the table for a next round of campaign finance pardons...

The crook in the White House is letting the crooks on his team know they can get away with robbing the liquor stores and banks and pension plans of the nation.

This is all on top of how trump is abusing executive powers on immigration - #WhereAreTheChildren - and failures of leadership - we are now getting estimates that the actual death toll in Puerto Rico is over 4,600 - which have been news stories deserving far more attention than the mainstream media is giving them.

We are so very extremely royally fucked going into June.

Monday, May 28, 2018

We're Over the Cliff. This Is Now a Matter of How Steep the Fall Will Be

So this thought has popped up again:

I think I've argued before about the unlikely scenario of the United States splitting into civil war, especially the disastrous economic implications of such an event. Very few states can stand on their own, and too many Red states - the likely culprits in a secession movement - are too dependent on federal aid to pull it off. Back in 2009, this kind of argument didn't make any sense to me.

But the thought is still out there, we ARE as a nation in the middle of an Honest-to-God Constitutional Crisis, and as the signs of irrevocable differences among Americans are growing this is getting too serious to ignore.

Just yesterday, Balloon Juice had two different articles about this issue, and as I take the commentary there serious then these arguments need to be considered. First, to Anne Laurie marking the Twitter war between Megan McArdle and Reality:

I tweeted McArdle back directly after that "twee cosmopolitan" putdown:

As Sam Houston and William Sherman tried to warn the hard Conservative wingnuts that were pressing for a regressive and racially-motivated war in 1860, the more Liberal left-wingers that made up the Union side of things had the numbers and the willpower to save the nation, give it a month or give it five years. Those same Liberal-leaning types - urban surely, educated most likely - may look weak or indecisive but in truth they have conviction and patriotic devotion (they're just trying to remain polite about it).

Ahem. Back to BJ:

Megan's thinking of "letting go" would be easy to understand except for the facts that 1) our cultural divisions are not geographic ones (even Texas and Florida and Alabama and yes South Carolina will be split internally by Right and Left factions), 2) such "letting go" will not resolve half the arguments we have, and 3) The side spoiling for a fight (hint: it's the pro-gun anti-gay racist trumpshirts) won't let it go and will turn violent no matter what.

And now Adam L. Silverman's piece, with analysis and insight (aptly titled Megan McArdle Knows Absolutely Nothing About Any Form Of War And Wouldn’t Even If A Member Of The Military Bit Her!):

What McArdle doesn’t understand, because she knows nothing about war – theoretically, conceptually, and/or experientially (sic) – is that there has been a low level insurgency in the US going back decades. We sometimes call this the Culture War. Sometimes it’s referred to as the Southern Strategy, but it involves one of the two major political parties and its supporting movements, including religious movements, in the US refusing to accept the legitimacy of any other ones. It includes frequent use of dehumanizing language and threats of violence ranging from legislatively and regulatorily (sic) directing the power of the state, utilizing lawfare, and actually threatening and sometimes undertaking violence against their opponents or the objects of their dehumanization campaigns when the insurgents don’t get their way. And these people – elected, appointed, voters, supporters, pundits, etc – are McArdle’s fellow travelers! They are part of the larger political, ideological, dogmatic religious, and sub-cultural groups and movements that McArdle has been marinating in since she was an undergraduate.
They also make the mistake that they are the only ones that get to define patriotism and to actually care about the US and its ideals. They have convinced themselves that they are the only ones who can properly interpret the Constitution when in fact they are the poorest of linguistic and political historians of the late 18th Century, which leads to constantly misunderstanding and misapplying the Constitution. And they have deluded themselves into thinking that because their opponents believe in civility that their opponents are also unwilling to actually defend themselves in the political, ideological, social, religious, economic, and/or legal arenas. And those delusions include the mistaken belief that they don’t have the means to do so.
Right now the US is experiencing one of its periodic bouts of growing pains. As was the case in the 1780s and 1790s, the 1830s and 1840s, the 1860s, the late 1870s through the 1890s, during WW I, in the mid to late 1930s, and in the middle 1960s through the early 1970s, a period of imperfect progress is being met with a backlash against it. It is ugly. It is unpleasant. It is damaging. People who do not deserve to be hurt are being hurt. The real question that McArdle should have asked, yet is incapable because she is as the one who does not know how to ask, is what does it really mean to form a more perfect union? And what are the best ways to go about perfecting the union? Those are the real questions of American civic life. Not whether Democrats in urban areas know how to use guns...

With all that as my background, what's MY take on the current downward spiral?

This all depends on the response to the most likely trigger to cause the "civil war": Mueller's investigation into trump's criminal ties to Russia and to Russia's interference with the 2016 elections.

The Far Right (pro-trump) have clearly marked out their line in the sand that Mueller's work is "illegal" and part of a "spygate" conspiracy hatched by the Obama-Hillary Left to steal the election (which, logically, meant Obama-Hillary should have done a better job of actually stealing it back when they needed to). If Mueller completes his Special Counsel investigations finding serious charges - serious enough to warrant directly arresting trump (which would mean breaking a gentleman's agreement to not arrest sitting Presidents Losers of the Popular Vote) - this side will freak out and rage against the "Deep State" that makes up the federal government.

The other side - made up of Never-trumpers, "Rule of Law" conservatives and moderates, progressives, essentially the 65 million who voted Hillary and believe Russia stole enough states to fuck with the Electoral College - have marked out their line: Anything trump does to shut down Mueller's work is full-on Obstruction and that the entire Republican Party will be guilty of selling the nation out to Putin.

From where we're at right now, Mueller and other investigators have found so much criminal misdeeds before, during AND after the 2016 campaigns that trump is going to shut it down as best he can: However, he's noticeably run out of legal means of doing so and he's bound to simply break existing laws to complete his journey to complete Obstruction and dismantling of the Rule of Law.

This all depends entirely on how the Federal agencies and how the U.S. Military responds.

Right now, most of the agencies - getting shredded by trump's corruption and mismanagement - are likely going to oppose trump right out of the gate. The Intel communities in particular - fully aware of how badly Russia hacked us and hurt us - will refuse to back any attempt by trump to shut down Mueller or the Justice Department.

The military is the big wild card here. Granted, most soldiers and officers are personally conservative: However, they are trained and expected to abide by the Constitution and Rule of Law (that is, they answer to their oaths to defend the nation, they do not take loyalty oaths to any one man the way trump expects). The military is also one of our more diverse institutions, with a lot of soldiers and officers made of the minorities - Black, Latino, women, and now LGBT - that would suffer under a trump rule that's unbound by Constitutional limits. If trump does go full Authoritarian by shutting down Mueller and violating the Rule of Law, there is a good chance the military will refuse to obey any further orders from that White House. At which point shit gets really real.

This is where the wingnut fantasies of their pro-gun militias taking out Army units come into play. This is also where those fantasies will get taken out pretty quickly because 1) those Far Right militias do not have the numbers, 2) those Far Right militias do not have air support, 3) we've seen these Far Right militias in action before, and they are so disorganized it's laughable. They only lasted as long as they did during their hissy fits because the Feds wanted to avoid another Waco tragedy.

Still, the military is expected to answer to the presidency as Commander-in-Chief. They could just as easily side with him as the "lesser of two evils" and just wait him out for "saner" leadership to replace trump (he's NOT going to live forever). If the military sides with trump and the Far Right, any resistance by the Progressive/Center Left will not last long either.

Congress, being what it is - owned by cowardly Republicans who refuse to rein in trump's worst behaviors - will likely collapse into factions when trump acts against Mueller. There are signs of rifts in the House already especially over immigration (and the dawning realization that the replacement Speaker following Ryan will be too wingnut even for them). If trump tries to play dictator, there's a chance enough Republicans will flip to Independent/Democrat to give Dems control of the House (and even the Senate): At that point, trump will be the one in serious trouble. If the GOP remains united, then trump remains unchallenged and key Democratic figures - Pelosi, Schumer, Harris, Warren - will find themselves targets of arrests.

If things do break down into civil war, the dividing lines are going to be messy, mixed-up, and all over the map. Where the first civil war was easier to map out with clear North-South boundaries, this coming fight isn't as geographically fixed. Yes, there may be solid Red (conservative) states and solid Blue (liberal) states, but within each state there are splits between the urban, suburban, and rural areas. Big states like Texas and Florida may be dominated politically by Far Right Republicans, but they've only achieved that thanks to rigged gerrymandering that ignored actual demographics. Any attempt to secede (if trump fails to stop Mueller) or to enforce their rule (if trump succeeds) will cause mass protests and chaos across every major city and then some. On the same argument, any attempt by California or Illinois or New York to secede (if trump wins) or enforce (if trump fails) will get rioting from the Red parts of their states in the rural and suburban regions (such as New York's Long Island or California's southern coastal Far Right communities).

There are very few regions that are decidedly in favor of one side over the other. If I had to say it, the only solid Red states that would ally with trump if he goes Full Dictator would be West Virginia, Idaho, Oklahoma, and maybe one of the Dakotas. The rest would have serious internal strife issues (yes, even South Carolina and Utah and Alaska). If there were any solid Blue states that would oppose trump, I'd go with Hawaii, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont.

There will be no true safe havens. We will find that out right quick.

Actual civil war will be messy at the street level. Pro-trump forces - being gun-nuts evangelicals - will target what they hate most: Minorities, women, health clinics, gays, schools and colleges. They won't hit military sites - in some respects they won't even really fight to protect trump - because they'll know that's suicide: Instead they'll hit civilians the same way all terrorists would. THIS is why they don't want to give up the military-grade firepower they currently have to wipe out entire unarmed gatherings.

Pro-Constitutional forces - being legal-minded - will target the ones backing trump: Every Far Right media talking head and deep-pocket SuperPAC funder. Given how much of trump's support is based on lying and media manipulation, shutting down the likes of Fox Not-News, Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Drudge, Jones, Coulter, and others would be a necessity. After that, targeting every goddamned coal-roller truck in the nation. Eliminating trump's base of support because honestly there are few places trump can truly hide.

Changes to our nation's habits will be immediate. The electrical grid is vulnerable, our communication network is vulnerable, our transportation systems - highway, trains, airports - are vulnerable. Either side will disrupt each of these things to their advantages. Our schools will close, most places of business may close due to supply cutoffs, most of our common resources available through utilities will be shut down. Not every location will be hit hard - some states and cities obviously will be hurt more than others - but everyone will feel some kind of pinch.

Even the rich will be affected. Our financial systems and markets would have early days of downturn as chaos makes things unpredictable. Foreign trade and business deals will suffer at first, maybe prolonged by any drawn-out fighting. Breakdown of intrastate trade definitely will hurt local and regional business.

If the U.S. divides into civil war, our foreign allies - and enemies - will get disrupted themselves. Without trump to hold them back, Western European nations may reform NATO into a more aggressive front against Putin's meddling into Eastern Europe. Asia will likely slide further under China's influence. Israel may suddenly find that a distracted and divided United States leaves them alone with few allies just as their war against Gaza Palestinians and Iran/Syria gets serious.

All of the problems that led to this moment - immigration, trade, global terrorism - will remain unresolved or actually worsen.

If there's any good news in a trump-fueled civil war, it's that his overseas properties will fall completely to shit and file for bankruptcy.

Everything else will be a bloody mess, and none of us will be able to avoid it.

I thought once we could, that we were going to evolve past the cultural divisions pushed by an increasingly angry Far Right, that we were going to listen to the better angels of our nature.

But the goddamn Far Right doubled down on their madness, dug deeper into their re-enforced Narrative, and rallied around a person in trump who brought them a fake victory, ignoring all the signs that trump is NOT someone you want leading your war effort.

I have been saying for the past few years this was not going to end well. We're at Phase Two of the madness right now, and from what I see - what too many other people are starting to see - the end is more and more looking to be bloody and crazy and terrifying.

This is already out of control. And we will be lucky to live through this. But not all of us are that lucky...

Friday, May 25, 2018

All You Need to Know About trump Right Now, May 2018 Edition

I'm just gonna refer you to two different articles.

First up, David Frum with FIFTEEN Unanswered Criminal Law Questions about trump (I've Bold the questions I think are the most serious):

  1. Trump campaign aides and associates met with Russian agents in advance of the Russian hacks and releases of Democratic internal communications. Did these meetings lead to any form of coordination between the Trump campaign, the Trump family, or Trump supporters on the one hand and Russian intelligence and its proxy, WikiLeaks, on the other?
  2. Russia engaged in large-scale and illegal expenditures on social media to help elect Trump. Did the Trump campaign, the Trump family, or Trump supporters coordinate or assist in any way with these violations of U.S. law?
  3. Trump campaign aides reportedly met with representatives of Persian Gulf governments who offered to violate U.S. law to help elect Trump. What came of those meetings?
  4. How much Russian money has flowed into the Trump family and the Trump Organization since Trump suddenly and mysteriously became cash-rich in 2006?
  5. Did all the foreign funds flowing into the Trump family and Trump Organization comply with applicable U.S. laws on taxation and money laundering?
  6. Did the Trump family and Trump Organization themselves comply with all U.S. laws on taxation and money laundering?
  7. To what extent was Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort beholden to foreign entities? What services, if any, did he provide them?
  8. To what extent was Trump’s first national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, beholden to foreign entities? What services did he provide them?
  9. The same question applies to Sam Clovis, George Papadopoulos, and other figures on Trump’s campaign and foreign-policy teams.
  10. The family business then run by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was in desperate need of funds in late 2016. The record shows he approached entities in China, Russia, and Qatar for aid. What is the exact list of foreign entities solicited by Kushner? What pitch did he offer them in exchange for their prospective investments? Did his pursuit of these investments ever tilt the administration’s foreign policy?
  11. After the election, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen obtained millions of dollars from foreign and domestic businesses in return for his promise to consult with them. Did Cohen share any of those payments in any way with the president, his family, or his businesses?
  12. Since the election, Trump’s companies have received millions of dollars in licensing fees from entities in Turkey, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and other foreign countries. How much have the president’s businesses been paid by foreign persons and what portion of his total income originates in foreign payments?
  13. Is it true that Stormy Daniels’s daughter was threatened in order to coerce Daniels to sign a nondisclosure agreement with Trump? If so, who ordered and delivered that threat? Did any other women sign such agreements? Were any of them threatened?
  14. Was Trump in any way connected to the payment of $1.6 million to former Playboy model Shera Bechard, an agreement facilitated by Cohen—Trump’s personal lawyer—and using the same aliases and structure as the agreement Cohen struck with Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf?
  15. Elliott Broidy, the former deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, told The Wall Street Journal that he had an affair with Bechard, and that she subsequently decided to terminate her pregnancy. He made the first installment of that payment on November 30; he had a private meeting with Trump on December 2, at which he pushed for a crackdown on Qatar, lobbying for which he expected to be rewarded by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. How did Broidy land that meeting—and why did Trump prove willing to follow his advice?

These are all legitimate questions that should not be evaded by trump nor his people.

Second, Washington Post's fact-checking by Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly:

Here is a guide to the various “scandals” about the probe that Trump has promoted since he became president — and what happened to them. For context, we will include the actions taken by federal investigators.
March 4, 2017: ‘Obama had my wires tapped at the Trump Tower’ - ...On Sept. 1, the Justice Department said in a court filing that the FBI and the National Security Division confirmed that they had no record that would support Trump’s tweets: “Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets. FBI again confirmed that they do not have any such records by consulting with personnel knowledgeable about Director Comey’s statements and the surveillance activities of the FBI.”
June 1: ‘The big story is the unmasking’ - ...Trump openly mused that Susan E. Rice, President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, was in big trouble and may have committed a crime. “I think it’s truly one of the big stories of our time,” he told the New York Times on April 5. But the story did not have legs and faded from sight. Numerous former national security officials told The Fact Checker that Rice, as national security adviser, had every right to request the identities of U.S. citizens who were incidentally recorded or referenced in surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency. It turned out that Rice had unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan had arrived for meetings with Trump aides, but the UAE did not provide the customary notice about his trip to the Obama administration. Republicans on the committee decided she did nothing illegal.
Aug. 10: ‘The Democrats colluded with Russia’- Trump has repeatedly tried to turn the tables by claiming that the Democrats, not his campaign, colluded with Russia. The allegation never made much sense because the Democrats were the victims of hacking operations that transferred emails and other information to WikiLeaks through apparent Russian connections. ...The president gained some traction for his case when it was revealed that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were the mysterious Democratic donors who paid a research firm, Fusion GPS, to collect information on Trump’s Russia ties... The White House began to argue that because Steele was getting information from Russian officials in part with funds provided by the Clinton campaign, the Russians were helping Clinton. Officials also suggested that the whole investigation was tainted because it started with the dossier. But that was undercut by the revelation that the probe actually started because of a report from an Australian diplomat that Papadopoulos appeared to know about the Russian hacking before WikiLeaks began releasing details...
Feb. 3: ‘The FBI was politically biased against me’ - The Nunes memo suggested that a group of politically biased law enforcement officials set out to sabotage Trump, with the Steele dossier as a key piece of evidence. The memo focused on the FBI application for a wiretap order that targeted Carter Page, a former Trump adviser, after he had left the campaign. The classified memo, which Trump ordered released, claimed that law enforcement officials had abused their powers by failing to make clear that one of the pieces of evidence was the dossier; they claimed it was tainted by political bias because of its Democratic origins... But the memo also confirmed that the investigation of the Trump campaign started with Papadopoulos, not the Steele dossier. The impact of the memo further faded with the FBI’s strong statement that it contained “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” as well as the release of a Democratic memo that sharply disputed the conclusions of the Nunes memo...
March 18: ‘The investigators are hardened Democrats’ - Eleven members of Mueller’s team have made political donations to Democrats, compared with five with no record of such donations. Five of the 16 known members contributed to Clinton’s 2016 campaign. The Department of Justice is legally barred from discriminating against career appointees based on political affiliation, so Mueller, a longtime Republican, is not permitted to ask about political affiliation. Mueller took action against Strzok when texts expressing anti-Trump sentiments were discovered. But he can’t inquire about political leanings before hiring. (unspoken in this tidbit is the fact that among lawyers and other legal professionals that would partake in a Special Counsel investigation, many of them ARE Democrats by choice. You can't find enough Republican lawyers to hire in the first place)

The most current trump excuse - that Obama planted a spy (SPYGATE!) in trump's campaign - is also a losing argument because of various points: 1) the informant (NOT SPY) was inquiring into making contacts with trump's campaign only because of Papadopoulos' big fat mouth, 2) human sources like the informant is a standard FBI practice (remember Donnie Brasco?) when investigating criminal activity such as foreign nations hacking U.S. computers, 3) the Justice Department and FBI are not about to give up the source to trump's Congressional lackeys because doing so sets a precedent of partisanship interfering with the Justice Department's mandate to uphold the law and the FBI's ability to investigate crimes.

If I could combine both articles together under one thought it would be this:

donald trump is a lying crook trying to disrupt the very investigations into his crooked behavior and we as a nation are going to be fucked if he gets his way.

There. That simple.

Gods help us.



Federal officials lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children last year after a government agency placed the minors in the homes of adult sponsors in communities across the country, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee Thursday.
The Health and Human Services Department has a limited budget to track the welfare of vulnerable unaccompanied minors, and realized that 1,475 children could not be found after making follow-up calls to check on their safety, an agency official said.
Federal officials came under fire two years ago after rolling back child protection policies meant for minors fleeing violence in Central America. In a follow-up hearing on Thursday, senators said that the agencies had failed to take full responsibility for their care and had delayed crucial reforms needed to keep them from falling into the hands of human traffickers.



Every single person who had a hand in sending those kids into the black hole of darkest humanity should be in JAIL RIGHT FUCKING NOW. YOU DON'T DO THIS TO KIDS! YOU DON'T EVER DO THIS TO KIDS!

This is what the harshness of trump's anti-immigration rage is creating: A system ripe for exploitation and destruction and death. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THOSE KIDS???

Yes, these kids were part of families that were coming to the United States, but these were families looking for asylum and safety, and in rejecting that humane concept our own government pulled those families apart and sent 1500 OR MORE CHILDREN INTO GOD KNOWS WHAT HARM.


Right now, I am totally on board with calls to abolish ICE outright. This is insane, and illegal, and evil.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Long Frustrating Sunday Of Coping With the Shitgibbon

One of the things I hate about this Era of Eternal trumpism (trumpus Horribilis) is how the ongoing scandal that is his damnable corruption makes it IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with a political rant blog like this.

I was going to start out this day writing about the news report that trump's campaign people - through trump ally Erik "Blackwater" Prince - made connections in 2016 with nations Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate where those foreign powers offered to help trump win the election. Which is, by the by, illegal under 52 US Code.

This is serious stuff. As well as linking trump to even more corruption - the implications of Quid Pro Quos in that under trump's administration both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are getting exactly what they want - there is the likelihood Prince perjured himself before Congress when he was questioned about these type of meetings going on during the campaign. And while Russia's connection to all this - especially the interfering in the election itself - is still a part of the investigation, this revelation shows how eager trump and his people - especially his own son donny junior - were to make any lawbreaking deal they wanted.

But then this tweet from the Shitgibbon himself got out there (via Mock Paper Scissors):

I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

As Tengrain himself notes: And game, set, and match: that sounds like Obstruction of Justice right there.

What trump is trying to do is call into question any investigation into the 2016 campaign, convinced that such digging is politically motivated as a revenge plot by Obama (and Hillary). Nevermind the evidence that such investigations began early in 2016 separate from any involvement from Obama's White House. Nevermind the fact that the Department of Justice and the FBI (and other intel agencies) are not motivated by partisan politics and are doing their jobs (which in this case is uncovering financial and political corruption). Read all these tweets collected on Anne Laurie's Balloon Juice article to understand better.

As what might happen tomorrow if trump does send his bullying command to Justice, there's a likelihood they will simply defer the request to their Inspector General (IG) office and let the IG investigate trump's claims (which are mostly based on wingnut conspiracy crap spewed via InfoWars and Fox Not-News). It won't defuse the argument - the wingnuts will never accept any finding that doesn't fit their fantasy Narrative - but it will keep this situation from escalating into a larger Constitutional Crisis.

Unless trump uses the "lack of urgency" by the DoJ to start firing people like Deputy AG Rosenstein to get the results he wants, in which case he IS trying to obstruct the investigation and IT WILL BE open warfare.

Even getting into Rudy Giuliani's claim that Mueller is promising to end his investigation by September is so small potatoes that I'm just going to link it here without comment. Except that WHY should we believe Rudy about Mueller's own plans?

So here's to seeing how Monday rolls out.

I don't want the world to end this week. Jewel Staite is coming to Orlando MegaCon this Memorial Day weekend...

fan art by Adam Withers. If he shows up at a comic-con, HIS SH-T'S GOOD GO BUY SOME.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Blood on the Streets of Santa Fe Texas (w/Update)

So this Friday, at a time in the year of late May when high schools are wrapping up exams and kids are getting ready to graduate, go to summer work, plan for family vacations, all the things you do when you're growing up... some angry guy with a gun showed up in Santa Fe Texas (between Houston and Galveston) and ruined life for the entire community.

Goddammit, gun nuts.

Wanna know how bad the school shooting problem has gotten in the United States?

Watch this:

A video interview with one student, Paige Curry, spread across social media, an artifact of a moment when children have come to expect violence in their schools.
“Was there a part of you that was like, ‘This isn’t real, this is — this would not happen in my school?’” the reporter asked.
The young girl shook her head: “No, there wasn’t.”
“Why so?” the reporter asked.
“It’s been happening everywhere,” she said. “I felt — I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

So immediately the gun nuts rose up to defend their pagan god of death - I am not joking, some nearby gun nut showed up with a big American flag and a piece strapped to his belt just to fucking pose for the cameras - to blame everything BUT the easy availability and access to military-grade rifles.

People blaming violent video games - the same games they play in Japan and Korea and Europe and everywhere else that doesn't have mass shooter incidents every other week.

People blaming social media - despite the fact that millions use Facebook and Instagram and AREN'T violent gun-toting assholes. And you wanna complain about your Second Amendment right to shoot anybody you want? Regulating social media will go against everyone's First Amendment right to share cat videos and podcast about lame episodes of Grey's Anatomy.

People blaming architecture - I SHIT YOU NOT - with the Lt. Governor of Texas openly claiming that schools shouldn't have so many entrances and exits, as though fire safety for buildings is an outdated concept... Not to mention the fact that if we did create just one way in or out of a school just makes it easier for shooters to bottleneck his victims at one location, great way to think that problem through, Mister Lt. Governor sir.


Well, people should be blaming the one thing that is allowing all this gun violence to continue in our workplaces and gathering places and our homes.

Political cowardice.

Our elected leaders - cough Repubicans cough - are doing NOTHING except stand there offering "thoughts and prayers" because the goddamned NRA and other pro-gun lobbyists - all wonderfully financed by gun manufacturers profiting off each mass shooting like those incidents are free advertising - buy them off with campaign funds. Given a choice between doing the right thing and passing sensible gun safety laws that 80 PERCENT OF AMERICAN - gun owners included - are asking for, or kissing the ring of their lobbyist overlords... our Congress and our White House just sit back and pretend nothing is wrong until the next mass shooting.

It's been three months since Parkland, when the current mood of the nation towards guns has turned sour and angered, and despite all the promises by the likes of trump and Ryan and McConnell NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE in our halls of government to reduce the risk of gun violence the way a majority of us wish to be.

So here's the solution to gun violence in America, everybody. It's a very simple process.

1) Find out which elected officials and which candidates for office at the Federal and State and even County/City levels are getting campaign funds from the NRA. Since this is a 2018 Midterms for Congress and a lot of state offices, this should be easy to do.

2) MAKE GODDAMNED SURE YOU DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE WHO RECEIVES NRA BLOOD MONEY. You might agree with that candidate on perhaps every other issue, BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ANYONE IN THE NRA'S POCKET DESERVES TO GET KICKED OUT OF OFFICE NOW AND FOREVER. (considering the massive number of candidates in the NRA's pocket are Republicans, now might be a good time to remember my constant call to NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN)

3) Make damned sure the officials you DO elect into office know the key reason they're there: YOU want effective and sensible gun safety laws - starting with Universal Gun Background Checks - passed as soon as possible (Day One would be nice).

This is on us, America. If anyone is going to save our schools, save our malls, save our concerts, save our movie theaters, save our public places, save ourselves it's going to be the voters. All of us need to stand up with this single purpose to stop gun violence. All else that is essential - our prosperity, our education, our economy, our happiness - flows from this single issue.

Get the vote out, America. Vote AGAINST the NRA. They made their choice, long ago. The NRA chose to worship their guns.

WE need to choose now to protect our families and our friends and our communities from their false idols.

Update: As always, Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station brings the big hammer to the argument, going after the cowards who refuse honest responsibility for gun control. Read every word, and add Stonekettle to your blogs worth following.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

And Like All Bad Liars, trump and His People Are Trying to Erase The Truth

This part of the ongoing investigation into trumpWorld ought to scare the crap out of everybody (via the New Yorker):

...Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.
The payments to Cohen that have emerged in the past week come primarily from a single document, a “suspicious-activity report” filed by First Republic Bank, where Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, L.L.C., maintained an account. The document detailed sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Cohen by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the telecommunications giant A.T. & T., and an investment firm with ties to the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.
The report also refers to two previous suspicious-activity reports, or SARs, that the bank had filed, which documented even larger flows of questionable money into Cohen’s account. Those two reports detail more than three million dollars in additional transactions—triple the amount in the report released last week. Which individuals or corporations were involved remains a mystery. But, according to the official who leaked the report, these SARs were absent from the database maintained by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. The official, who has spent a career in law enforcement, told me, “I have never seen something pulled off the system... That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”

Consider who has access to that enforcement network, maybe Treasury, maybe Justice Department, maybe the White House. Someone in one of those offices - now under sway of donald trump and anybody else tied to Cohen - was actively scrubbing evidence out of a database nobody should be tampering with in the first place.

Remember the words from All The President's Men - the line itself was never directly spoken by Mark Felt, AKA Deep Throat, but Woodward condensed the warnings from Felt into a coherent phrase - about "Follow the Money." The one constant in every real scandal is the money. In trump's case, it's money coming from his questionable ties to foreign businesses and oligarchs looking to launder money and buy favors.

This is serious criminal shit here, folks.

Whine all you want about whether or not trump got help from Russia to steal the 2016 elections - by the by, HE DID - but you can't hide from the reality that trump and more and more of his fellow Republican toadies are selling themselves and this nation out to corrupt powers on a global scale.

We are so very royally goddamn fucked.

Update (5/19/18): Apparently the disappearance of those two SARs didn't mean they were deleted, they were placed under more restrictive access. This is still troubling as this may be an attempt to hide these documents from investigators. I may have jumped the gun about the possibility of trump's people destroying evidence, but the threat is still there...

Monday, May 14, 2018

Short Answer: Too Late, Already Gone Mad

Just saw this title on, an article by Dahlia Lithwick that says

How to Survive Trump’s Presidency Without Losing Your Mind

My response?

Too late.

When the Electoral College broke down and the haters kept crawling out of the woodwork, I sank into a deep and terrible and angry depression.



Just buy my books, especially the upcoming Strangely Funny V anthology published by Mystery & Horror LLC due out later this month!


Friday, May 11, 2018

But For Supporting Robbers

(Update: Thanks again to Batocchio for providing a link to Crooks & Liars' Mike's Blog Round Up this Tuesday May 14th. I wanna thank all of checking in here, and if any of you are up for some summer reading I am part of an upcoming humor/horror anthology Strangely Funny V that should be out later this month! (I should be crowing aboot it when it gets released) Also, take a moment to - okay, maybe a month of reading by now - check out the rest of the blog! Now, back to the grindstone...)

It's hard to write something other than just a screaming rage at the Gods both Old and New about the ongoing revelations into trump's malignant racism, corruption, incompetence, and greed.

It's a little easier to link to articles like Conor Friederdorf's shaming of Republicans who applaud or ignore the train wreck that is trump:

This betrayal of the American public warrants more attention. Trump voters who wanted to rid Washington of sellouts should be most upset, but no one wants to admit that the person they voted for was misrepresenting his intentions. And those who rely on commentators like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, and Tucker Carlson for information lack many relevant facts.
Here’s what Trump voters should know. Michael Cohen was the president’s personal attorney. He stepped up when someone was needed to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the election, even using a shell corporation created under a pseudonym to hide the matter.
But that corporation wasn’t just for paying off the pornography actress. He also used it to receive huge sums of money from folks with powerful interests in influencing the U.S. government...
Remember when Trump told you that he would release his tax returns and then never did? Remember when he said that if he won the election he would put his business interests aside? “Ever since Trump and his family arrived in Washington they have essentially hung a for-sale sign on the White House by refusing to meaningfully separate themselves from their own business interests,” Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien notes. “That’s certainly not lost on the companies that do business in or with Washington. They know that in Trump’s swamp, you pay to play.”
Much of this will surprise folks who get all of their news from Fox commentators and talk-radio hosts, with whom they are in a dysfunctional relationship.
The GOP base is drawn to media figures who support their president and quickly turn on those who criticize him as if they are guilty of a betrayal; for that reason, many populist-right pundits are reluctant to criticize the president or to delve deeply into the behavior of the swamp creatures he has enabled. Instead, they pander to the GOP base, keep them in the dark about important corruption—and so fail to keep the president and his associates accountable...

And yet you tune in to listen to the rallies trump still holds to keep his enraged base hooked, and yes they are still obsessed with the fantasy that Hillary and Obama are the "real" crooks. The trump crowd boos Obama and cheers Kim Jong Un. They hoot and holler as they mock John McCain for daring to speak against the Cheney torture regime that's staging a comeback.

The goddamn wingnut voter base doesn't care for the facts. They only care to kick libruls early and often as though that solves all ills.

The horrifying truth is that even if Mueller is able to complete his investigations, and even if he proves on a legal level that trump sold the nation out to Putin by teaming up with Russians to hack and subvert our elections, and even if the New York District's investigations into Cohen prove massive money laundering and bribery, all of that will never convince the Far Right. They'll buy the fantasy narrative from the conspiracy blowhards like Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh that this is all a "Deep State" revenge coup against a "noble and honest" trump who's defending them from godless baby-killing Fascist Liberal un-American Muslim Hill-bots.

Never mind trump using his political office to pull off financial scandals on a scope not seen since Teapot Dome. trump's voters knew he was a viper when they voted for him. That's WHY they voted for him, because he was the giant middle finger to the rest of the world for them.

Even if we can get trump out of the White House before he can cause more damage than he already has, this nation is already lost to a civil war between the Reality Based Community and the Far Right Narrative. We can't deal with a segment of the population that refuses to deal, ever.

We are so very royally goddamned fucked.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Summer Blockbuster Season 2018

It's May. That means one thing: SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SEASON.

Although technically it started in late April because of the early release of AVENGERS INFINITY WAR OMG YES I SAW I HAVE FEELS AND KAREN'S BLAND-ASS POTATO SALAD CAN'T COVER IT.

So anyway here's AMONymous with his Annual Trailer Mash-Up of Summer Blockbusters!

I am psyched for Deadpool 2, Incredibles 2, and while people are looking to diss the Star Wars prequel Solo I have hopes that Danny Glover as Lando will fucking rock.

Where Zero Sum in Breaking Treaties Leaves The United States At Zero

So for my birthday today, the Shitgibbon decided to shit on international relations by having the United States drop its commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that severely limited Iran's capability to build nuclear weapons.

This is in spite of lack of evidence that Iran is cheating on the deal (whenever they came to a point of breaking one of the rules, they reported the problem and complied), in spite of the evidence that trump and his hard-line foreign policy "experts" (cough Bolton cough) want war regardless of the facts or the cost, in spite of how our nation's most prominent allies (France, Germany and the UK) are against this move.

From my perspective, this is really happening because:

1) trump is obsessed with destroying Obama's Presidential accomplishments. Not just by eliminating Obama's executive orders and turning back regulations set by Obama's administration, but by decimating every foreign policy success Obama gained. The JCPOA deal Obama worked out - despite heavy Republican interference - was an international accord that signaled America's strength and the nation's commitment to reducing nuclear conflict, and did so sharing our stance with our allies in a way to keep those alliances healthy.
2) trump despises any deals made that he thinks he can get a better deal out of it. he's convinced by making this move it could force Iran back to the table with him, at which point he can bully out of them a sweet deal for himself - trump Towers in Tehran! - and make himself look good for the Nobel Peace Prize at the same go.
3) trump got talked into this - either directly or indirectly - by his Russian handlers working for Putin. Because getting trump to balk at international cooperation and deal-making gives Putin more political sway and prestige on the global stage. Who do you think Iran is gonna deal with now? Everybody BUT the United States, and in terms of military and foreign aid that means getting it from the likes of Russia and China more than the Western European nations struggling to get out of ties with a U.S. that's no longer sane.

Don't listen to me on this. Here's Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice providing better foreign policy insight:

Iran’s stated strategy here is to continue to comply with the agreement, keeping it in place with the other signatories – China, France, Russia, the UK, Germany, and the European Union. By doing so Iran intends to isolate the US. As future IAEA reports of compliance are reported, and as Iran maintains the deal with the other signatories to mitigate the reimposition of US sanctions and the imposition of any new ones, Iran will have positioned itself as the good citizen of the global system and the US, under the current President, as the rogue nation...
The US withdrawal from the JCPOA, despite the IAEA certifying Iran’s ongoing compliance because the President and his enablers don’t understand the agreement and how it works or because they’d rather go their own way and threaten military attacks and war, is another example of the devolution of the US from a superpower, the diminution of its power and influence within the international system, and the end of the American century. Here America First clearly means America Alone...
Despite the President’s zero sum, hyperbolic style of negotiation, the Trump Doctrine isn’t in play with the Iranians. They don’t care if the President feels as if he, and by extension the US, is being treated fairly. They’re not going to invite him for a summit, roll out the red carpet, and schedule a military review for his edification. They’re also not going to empower someone close to the government to do business with his companies... The Iranians are not concerned with a reimposition of US sanctions because they’ve decided that if they stay in compliance with the JCPOA that France, German, the EU, China, and their strategic partner in the region Russia will not reimpose their own sanctions or go along with reimposed US sanctions. Moreover, because the leadership of our British, French, and German allies personally intervened to ask the President to stay in the JCPOA and he disregarded their entreaties, he has further isolated the US from its traditional allies...

This is the end result of today's move: The United States can't be trusted to keep its deals, especially under a deal-breaker like trump. As a result, few if any nations will actively deal with us on any foreign policy or trade issue. We're already getting kicked around Asia for ignoring earlier trade pacts, and China's rebuffing any outreach because of trump's earlier tariff war maneuvers.

The United States is no longer a superpower nation. We used to be the only one standing after the end of the (First) Cold War in the early 1990s. Now we're crawling in the gutters screaming "America First" and wondering why no one's taking our calls.

And let's hear from David Frum. You know, the guy who NAMED the "Axis of Evil" that included Iran as a major threat in Dubya/Cheney's Global War on Terror. He's not happy about trump at all right now:

President Trump has just pushed the plunger on a sequence of crises...
...China has emerged as Iran’s largest trading partner. Its trade with Iran jumped 30 percent in the first six months of 2017. China has extended credits to Iran totaling some $35 billion, a significant sum for the shaky Iranian economy. Who will make China stop?
America’s European allies have been more cautious about expanding trade with Iran. Yet will their publics allow their governments to follow the despised and distrusted Trump administration into an escalating confrontation with Iran? Fifty-six percent of Germans describe relations with the United States as bad or very bad...

trump was going into this with bad footing to begin with: On bad terms with an angry China and on worse terms with European nations we used to rely on. And the insane thing, trump won't care:

Trump has never valued allies or partners. The only relationship he understands is one of power: He commands; others obey. But on Iran, the most relevant partners are precisely those who cannot be compelled to obey. Perhaps he imagines he can blackmail them: Join me in imposing new sanctions or else I’ll start a war that you will like even less. That is a bluff at serious risk of being called...
Frum also points out that Iran's no longer as isolated as it was, by having complied with the treaty on their own terms they have become a greater risk in the Middle East, but one that can't be stopped by bullying anymore:

The second is a crisis with Iran itself. One bad consequence of President Obama’s 2015 deal is that Iran is now a better-armed, better-financed adversary than it was then. Thanks in great measure to Trump’s own decisions, Iran has also gained a big victory for Assad’s client regime in Syria. It can retaliate against U.S. interests in all kinds of ways. It can escalate its terror campaign against Israel by using Hezbollah and Hamas. It can green-light a hot war against Israel in Gaza. It can also accelerate its drive for outright nuclear-weapons-state status...

While noted earlier that Iran promises to stick to the JCPOA - it profits them better as a public relations coup to stay away from nukes at the moment - if things do get dicey they can rebuild their weapons program... and with Russia and China as trading partners at this moment they can rebuild faster than expected (and in ways any bombing attacks by the U.S. or Isral can't stop). I don't think Frum's fears of a nuclear Iran is a major concern: What's more dangerous is just more instability in a region that's been unstable since the fall of the Ottomans.

The third crisis—the most ominous of them all—is a potential crisis with North Korea. Trump admirers are debating whether he should display his Nobel Prize at Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower. On the evidence of his Twitter feed, Trump has convinced himself that the Kim regime has been subdued, ready to surrender its nuclear weapons at a grand summit with Trump. He may soon face the rude shock of discovering that the Kim regime believes instead that it has bested him...

This is a side story I hadn't been mentioning often because it was too unstable to get any hopes up. Recently, North Korea has opened up to the possibility of stopping its nuclear buildup altogether, something that has gotten all the pro-trump hardliners crowing about their big stick of bullying tactics to get Kim to the table. Thing is, so far all the deals have been between North Korea and SOUTH KOREA, and it has more to do with South Korea terrified of the fallout (literal) of any U.S. plans to invade the NK. And where Kim Jong Un is talking about "denuclearization", some observers note he's talking more about "getting the U.S. out of Korea altogether" instead of unilaterally quitting his nukes. That means trying to get trump to agree to something - troop withdrawals from a war zone his hardliners feel they can win - that would play bad back home.

And that's just one possibility. Jong Un may be willing to talk, but for all intents it'll be hot air and making jokes at trump's expense while he sits there without a Korean translator to help him out. And it'll catch trump in a situation where he'll be forced (by his own twisted Id) to wage two wars - against Iran and North Korea - at a moment where the United States can't afford to wage even one.

And it'll be at a moment when the United States will have few if any allies to come to our aid. Western Europe won't help in either case. Japan and Asia will refuse to back an invasion of North Korea (and South Korea might balk fearing NK reprisals). The only nations we could count on against Iran would be Israel and Saudi Arabia, and even then those nations would likely get tied down by uprisings at home. We could even face dire reactions across the globe - at the U.N. level - of having nations impose sanctions on us for trump's transgressions.

What the hell happened to a nation that twenty years ago was the most powerful on Earth? We squandered it all, chasing demons in the Iraqi desert we had no sane reason to chase. We succumbed to a massive military budget demand that spent and spent on junk that won't work while wasting our manpower on lousy pay and soul-breaking endless battles between Iraq and Afghanistan.

We let our jingoism and fear of Other drive half our nation into a drunken rage against the rest of the world.

And now that drunken rage is lashing out in ways that even our allies find repugnant and dangerous.

We're no longer a superpower. We're a wrestling has-been, tossed over the ropes onto the announcers' table, forcing Jim Ross to scream BAH GAWD at the devastation collapsed onto the floor.

This is definitely not going to end well.

I once noted the Republican Party was dead. Well, here's the zombie, come back for the United States, and we're getting bitten and there's nothing stopping us from becoming a shambling ghoul ourselves...

Monday, May 07, 2018

Heads Up, Peeps. Getting Published in Strangely Funny V

As some of you know, I try my hand at writing and I've gotten a handful of stories published in anthologies. So right now I've got good news about the latest volume of Strangely Funny:

It should be coming out late May with my story "The Pumpkin Spice Must Flow", so keep your eyes open, I will post links for it as soon as possible.

And someone checked out my "Surviving the Age of Obstruction" at the library so it's all good (and pssst it's still on sale online and stuff).

Previous volumes of Strangely Funny - "I Must Be Your First" in Volume One and "Minette Dances With the Golem of Albany" in Volume III - that include my stories are on sale as well.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

A Quiet Time To Reflect and Repose

Just on a personal note, there gets to be a time when I can't really keep up with blogging and I need a minute or twelve to step aside. Granted, I'm doing this at a moment when the trump Train Wreck is getting close to mass explosion, but that's part of the reason why. There's about thirty different things angering me up to where I can't focus on just one.

I will post a time or two, especially since I've got good news about another anthology publication of a story I wrote. Stay tuned. Follow the LINKS I have tabbed on the site, thank you!