Sunday, September 30, 2018

Florida Ballot Amendments 2018: These Things Matter, SO VOTE

It's the midterms again, and that means one thing:

Getting the vote out and throwing every Republican out of office!

Well, okay, here in Florida it means TWO things:

That first thing, AND we've got another round of Amendment ballot measures to vote on.

Lemme just link here to Ballotpedia for their easy-to-access listing of items on the upcoming November referendum... If you want a different take on the amendments, here's a link to the Tampa Bay Times' recommendations.

As a reminder, there's normally two ways for an amendment to reach the ballot: Legislative Referred, and Initiated (public) Referred. There's also a third way: a Committee Referred from a Constitution Revision Commission that forms every 20 years. This means there can be a sh-t-ton of ballot measures this cycle. Thank God the courts (try to) weed out the bad amendments before they reach the voters...

Here now for your entertainment are the ballots that may be up for 60 percent approval to pass (some of them are still pending judicial review and may be taken off):

Amendment One: Homestead Exemption Increase

The thing I keep worrying about: cutting back on any kind of property tax that would cut into our cities and counties' ability to raise their own revenue to pay for sh-t.

Whenever there's a tax-related referendum, consider this rule: Who Profits From The Tax Cuts? In this case, the amendment offers to raise the Homestead Exemption for properties valued above $125,000 (that is, for families living in the hint expensive suburbs). This takes a lot of property taxes out of county and city coffers, and shifts the tax burden onto property renters and those properties that DON'T make the value range.

On a personal note, the place I live does not value above $125,000. I will miss qualifying for the exemption. So, yeah, f-ck it I have no reason to vote for this bull. Even the ones who DO qualify, just remember this will f-ck up your county's ability to repair your water and electric utilities and your roads and your parks and libraries and your cultural events and...

For the love of God VOTE NO.

Amendment Two: Permanent Cap on NonHomestead Parcel Assessment

Did I stutter? Back to Rule One of any tax-related referendum: who profits from it?

There had been a ten-year cap on tax assessment to avoid making properties more costly at a time (2008) when property values took a serious hit due to the Housing bubble nightmare (you NEED to see the movie The Big Short, okay?). Now that the recession is over and property values are rising naturally in a growing economy, it would be helpful to city and county governments to regain a solid tax base on the property taxes they raise. Making that cap permanent kills our local governments' revenue-raising abilities.

This is a big NO vote, Florida.

Amendment Three: Casino Gambling

On its face, this amendment is requiring that any further Casino/Gambling legislation in the state of Florida depends on the voters passing amendment referendums like this one to allow it.

Just a reminder, gambling is not a harmless vice. It impoverishes people, puts some into debt. While states could raise revenues from managing it - just look at the Lotto system - it can well be a regressive revenue methid. Making it a requirement for the voters to approve of the matter overall doesn't seem like a bad idea.

It's just - like the Tampa Bay Times editorial notes - this is more a matter of the legislature. Requiring a referendum on gambling all the time means extra footwork and debating at a level that most voters might actually tune out.

Personally, I'm ambivalent about this amendment. I'm not a huge fan of gambling - although I may buy a Powerball ticket if the jackpot is over $150 Million (it is?) - but I don't think making extra roadblocks to the debate is a way to resolve it as a political issue.

Amendment Four: Felon Voter Enfranchisement

This is the big one.

One of the Republicans' biggest tricks holding onto power as a Minority Party has been voter suppression. One of the best weapons they have on that is the current laws that prevent convicted felons from keeping their right to vote even AFTER they've served their time and passed parole. SEE Jeb Bush's voter purge before 2000.

Currently there's a system in place where ex-felons have to petition the Governor's office for reinstatement for voting rights, and that is a system where clear bias will filter out all of one party in favor of the Governor's (which has been Republican since 1998). It's a clearly unfair process.

This amendment makes it automatically restore Right-to-Vote for people with prior convictions, except murder and violent sex crimes (those still have to go through the Governor's office, apparently).

This is, essentially, the key to allowing non-violent offenders - mostly those imprisoned for things like drug possession or burglary - regain their rights as citizens with a voice with their vote.

I will argue this is necessity: Isn't the whole point of parole and reform to allow criminals a chance - their RIGHT - to rejoin society? They served their time: Denying the vote is just further punishment. This would be positive reinforcement to encourage engagement in community. This amendment also weakens the abuse of a legal system that has a troubling habit of imprisoning the poor as a means of silencing their power to speak out.

This amendment needs to pass, Florida. Our legislature and Governor's office will fight it because it improves the rights of the poor and the minorities who suffer a disproportionate amount under the current system. Who profits from this amendment? Every resident will.

Vote YES.

Amendment Five: Two-Thirds Legislative Vote to Raise Taxes or Fees

If this looks familiar, it's tied into the ongoing wingnut obsession to prevent governments from EVER raising taxes to pay for sh-t.

Thing is, we've SEEN what happens when a state government is unable to break past the 2/3rd tax rule. California had a rule like that - Prop 13 - and for decades they faced ongoing budget woes because enough Republicans squashed any attempt to pass that hurdle.

So California voters turned against the Republicans and voted them out of power. That and their anti-immigrant stance pretty much killed the California GOP.

If this amendment passes, regardless of which party is in control of Florida's government, we will not be able to balance our state's budget through sharing the costs via taxes. Our state would have to cut services, cut school funding, cut environmental support, cut transportation/road repairs, cut family services (which is already an underfunded godless nightmare), cut food stamps, cut everything.

You wanna cap on spending for government services? Force your GOP legislator to man up and get his hands dirty instead of rigging the rules to make it harder no matter what.

This should be the easiest f-cking NO vote on your ballot. This is the Far Right's attempt to kill public services in our state.

Amendment Six: Victims Rights, Judicial Retirement Cap, Agency Deferral in Court Cases

This is one of the Commission ballots, and you're gonna start noticing a weird pattern of... well, dumping different ideas into one container and trying to sell it as a box of gold.

This Amendment actually has three parts: There is a Victims Right part known as Marsy's Law that tries to protect crime victims and their families from harassment and intimidation; There is a part that increases the retirement age of state judges to 75 (to match most others' states); And there is a part that blocks the state courts from deferring to a state agency's expertise on interpreting a law. This is the sticking point: Courts like to get input from the agencies implementing certain laws because the legislatures tend to leave the wording of their laws vague to clear interpretation. By blocking that input, this Amendment would force the courts to rely only on the legislature's intent (which is, again, vague because politicians hate getting nailed to anything).

Just on the third part, you shouldn't consider this Amendment. But the annoying thing here: This is bad law. There's three different provisions to this amendment that ought to be voted on separately.

They're trying to get people to vote for the one thing that matters - the victims' rights - to one thing that the legislature ought to do itself - raise retirement age - and then to one thing that would make our legal system worse - denying courts from getting administrative input.

Just vote NO on this. It's a trap, people.

Amendment Seven: First Responders and Military Survivor Benefits, College Fees, and College System


Okay. Okay, let's look at the provision that makes this a bad amendment: Forcing the state universities to get a supermajority (9 out of 13) vote from their governing board to raise fees. College has been getting costly, yes, but there are reasons for that and like it or not the universities have to raise fees to keep their doors open. Making it harder to do so would force schools to shut down programs or worse close altogether (SEE the near-destruction of LSU a few years back).

Another thing about the Survivor Benefits portion is that it's useless: Military survivors already get benefits from the federal government and what does this amendment even have to do with that?

Just Vote NO. Please. This is a bad idea. Force the legislature to do its damn job.

Amendment Eight: Already blocked.

Ugh. Let's not even look at why...

Amendment Nine: Offshore Oil Drilling, and Office Vaping

This is an amendment making it harder to drill for oil offshore - which can cause environmental catastrophes - and also make it harder to smoke electronically - called vaping - indoors.



Okay, look, I know this is an environmental concern, and workplace air quality concern, BUT YOU SHOULD NOT SANDWICH THESE TWO THINGS TOGETHER AND CALL IT A MEAL. I mean, Christ, just focus on the offshore drilling, THAT'S a serious concern and should pass. The vaping thing should be done separately in an actual legislative law. WTF. WTF!!!!!

Ahem. I know people wanna block the offshore drilling and I'm tempted to vote YES myself, so most voters will look past the vaping thing. But seriously people, don't encourage this sh-t.

Amendment Ten: County Agencies and Executive Offices Reforms, Change of Legislative Dates

This is another odd one of mashed-up ideas.

  • Requires the state to form a Department of Veterans Affairs (?) and a Department of Counter-Terrorism (???),
  • Require the State legislature to convene on the Second Tuesday of January every even year (I think the legislature is a part-time job but do they even show up for odd-numbered years???),
  • Prevents county governments from removing certain agencies like the Sheriff's Department and require those departments are elective offices.

My mind boggles at the problems that would arise from a Department of Counter-Terror, something that ought to be and IS handled at a FEDERAL Level. It may help for a retirement state like Florida to have a Veterans Affairs office but how much of it would be overlap with the Federal VA? This just seems like bureaucratic overreach... and I am terrified of the implications of what a Republican-led government would think of as a terrorist group (those a-holes still haven't explained why they spy on Quakers all the time!).

The second part about requiring a different starting date to open the State Lege ought to stand on its own.

What I see happening here is the third part of this bad amendment: What this is doing doesn't make the local governments more responsive to voters, this is making those governments more dependent on state intervention. The state will force certain counties to keep open agencies that they may need to close (if even temporarily) should those agencies go bad or corrupt (hello, problematic Sheriff's departments).

The first two parts of this amendment cannot cover up how much the third part looks and smells like a bad deal. Vote NO on this.

Amendment Eleven: A Catch-All Amendment for Repealing a Lot of Junk?

There's three weird things here as well:

  • Getting rid of a constitutional prohibition for "foreign-born persons ineligible for citizenship" from owning or inheriting property;
  • Clearing out an obsolete provision for high-speed trains in Florida; 
  • Ending a confusing provision that "an amendment to a criminal statute does not affect the prosecution of a crime committed before the statute's amendment."

The first part gets rid of aged legal terminology for an Alien Land law that's racist and already proved unconstitutional in other states, so it's something the courts could well take care of on its own. The rest of this looks like it's weeding out bad amendments from earlier eras... but again this is stuff that needs to be done in separate amendments, not one goddamn package of junk.

On this one, I'd vote YES to get rid of the racist stuff in the first part, but I'll be holding my nose when I do so.

Amendment Twelve: Compensation for Public Officials

On the face of it, this amendment "prohibits public officials from lobbying for compensation during the official's term in office and for six years after the official leaves office, and prohibits public officials from using the office to obtain a disproportionate benefit."

It doesn't look wrong, but when you consider it's by the Commission that's offered up a bunch of junk amendments, you need to take a closer look.

This makes it a constitutional limit on lobbying that in most respects should be an Ethics law the legislature should pass and enforce. Putting it into the constitution makes it harder to reform or fix it should unexpected consequences turn up.

I'd hesitate on voting YES on this, if only because - again - this may not need to be so set in stone.

Amendment Thirteen: Dog Races Betting Prohibition

This one again is something that the State legislature could pass as a law, but they're handing it over to the voters because the Lege couldn't be bothered.

The effects of this amendment would likely end dog racing as a sport in Florida, and all things considered I don't think it's an industry that's been doing well lately (the mistreatment of greyhounds is a major problem). On that as a moral issue, I'd vote YES, but again the Lege should be doing this, not the voters.

So that's the amendment ballot for Florida this November.

One troubling thing I'm seeing this year is a mashup of both reform ideas and reactionary sabotage being shoved together in Amendments that would otherwise be treated as separate issues. It's as though the Florida Legislature and the Commission are trying to plug bad laws into the system by using reform ideas that would appeal to an increasingly progressive voter base in Florida (note that a lot of Floridians are pro-marijuana, pro-schools, and pro-environment against the desires of the GOP leadership).

So all in all, PLEASE stay focused on Amendment Four, and probably consider and vote YES on Nine and Thirteen: Make sure those pass. Of the ones to reject, PLEASE reject Amendments One, Two, Five, Six, Seven, and Ten. Seriously, make damn sure One, Two and Five DIE DIE DIE because those will kill our state's ability to raise revenues when we NEED to.

And again a reminder: STOP F-CKING VOTING REPUBLICAN. We've had 25-30 years of their sh-t dominating the Florida State legislature and we've got poisoned waters, collapsing understaffed schools, and an ongoing healthcare crisis that THEY are making worse. It is TIME for different leadership, one that DOES support better education, cleaner environment, and affordable health (hint: DEMOCRATS, YOU PEEPS).

Sigh. Just let me be 100 percent in the right this year, O Lord...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My Two Cents On Kavanaugh's Performance

With regards to Mrs. Ford, I think she did the best she could and will still get pummeled by the Far Right for - seriously, going after her fear of flying as a character flaw??? - what she said today.

What really mattered was Kavanaugh's response, which summarizes pretty well here. My two key takeaways from him was:

1) When finally confronted with personal failings, Kavanaugh lashed out with unprofessional rage and poor temperament. Exposing himself as the kind of Angry Guy who WOULD lash out at women and others who would question his behavior or try to hold him to account. I posted a Twitter thread starting here about it.

It is the kind of temperament we dare not risk having on the highest court in the land. On that alone, Kavanaugh has disqualified himself.

2) I have to seriously ask, given how quickly he turned into a yelling and almost incoherent tyro, was Kavanaugh drunk at the beginning of this hearing?

I've seen angry drunks in action. I've had someone close to me get five beers into him and pretty much turn into a rage monster yelling at me about a slight still remembered from years before. He was still high-functioning enough to drive home without me.

This is who the Republicans on the Judiciary Hearing are going to vote for tomorrow.

Gods help us.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

There Is No Bottom To How Low Republicans Will Sink

It's now up to three accusers fingering SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh for sexual assault, drunken behavior, and sheer privileged rich white boy evil.

And now the Republicans, instead of cutting their losses and getting a replacement nominee, have doubled down on defending Kavanaugh as a virtuous saint despite all the eyewitness testimony that proves just maybe he was a drunken lout from his teen years until Gods help us NOW.

The Republicans now feel the imperative to force - against a growing majority's wishes - a suspected sexual predator onto the Supreme Court not because of the issues - there's ten other judges who will overturn Roe just as easily as Kavanaugh could - but out of sheer pride. How DARE WOMEN AND LIBRULS TELL US Who Can Be A Justice. How DARE Democrats accuse us of lacking morals or empathy. How DARE the Reality of the World Stand Against US.

They are defending the indefensible now. In order to protect Kavanaugh they have denied, ignored, refused, insulted, defamed, and shamed every woman who has stepped forward to claim what Kavanaugh did to them years ago even matters today.

But what Kavanaugh did to them DOES matter today.

He assaulted young women out of anger and lust and arrogance, driven by a sense of privilege that protected him from ANY accountability. He's lying about all that today, trying to protect himself from ANY accountability.

This is a man who is fighting to gain a seat on a judicial bench that will pass not just legal judgment but also moral and social judgment on others. A man who will do ANYTHING to avoid legal and moral and social judgment on himself.

This is not a man we should trust with that power.

And yet, the Republican Party as a whole is poised to grant him that power and privilege.

Because THEY want that power and privilege for themselves.

The rest of us are fucked.

Just like Kavanaugh's alleged victims.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Personal Notes

It's gotten a bit hectic in the Real World for me. There was a sudden resignation at work last month, and that job's duties ended up getting sorted out to the remaining full-time staffers to handle until a new library director can be hired.

As such, I'm really really distracted and the political ranting is kinda taking a back seat for me. I can barely correct fools on Twitter right now as is.

I am working on a blog entry for the midterm voting for Florida, especially the always-popular Ballot previews, but until further notice I am not going to...

what the hell...?

What's all this about Mario Kart?

(reads up on it)


It's a good thing I never got into Nintendo games...

Friday, September 14, 2018

The First Rule of trump's Lying

Always consider this rule whenever reading a tweet or statement from donald trump:

trump will change his story at any given moment - even after making a statement he will immediate contradict himself with the next - just so the narrative of what he's talking about makes himself appear smart, informed, rich, powerful, and winning at everything. As an aside: this is why trump's lawyers are terrified of him taking the stand in Mueller's grand jury investigations: even *if* trump is actually innocent (insert author's eyeroll here), trump's inability to stick to a story would make him seem guilty. trying to cover up for something, and/or mentally unfit (in trump's case, it's honestly all three, but I digress).

In short: trump will ALWAYS lie when it makes himself look better than everybody else.

This is an issue now because of his recent lashing out over criticisms about his administration's failures to respond to Puerto Rico's need for disaster relief after Hurricane Maria.

trump had made statements earlier - during the buildup towards evacuating and securing the Carolina coast for incoming Hurricane Florence - where he bragged about getting "an A+ grade" for his handling of previous hurricane relief efforts (this is including Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida, both of which haven't been completely recovered).

Apparently there were followups by the media pointing out that the massive death toll in Puerto Rico - more than 2900 lost - doesn't necessarily equal an A+ grade, so trump got on Twitter to blast a conspiracy-addled excuse (via Steve M. at Crooks and Liars):

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000...
.....This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

No one had even suggested before this that the investigation had been faked or staged. trump's excuse came across as similar to the Sandy Hook narrative of "staged event" and "crisis actors".

And now, rather than argue about the size of the tragedy being overwhelming, rather than admit even in part that "things could have been handled better," trump would argue the whole thing is a partisan lie.

It doesn't help one damn bit that the Republican Congress refuses to open hearings into Puerto Rico's situation and the relief efforts. Back in 2005, when Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the Republican-led Congress did hold investigations into what went wrong (because God help us we don't want those disasters happening again). This year's model? These Republicans know damn well they have to play along to trump's lies, otherwise their whole house of cards collapses on itself.

Because this is the Second Rule of trump's Lying: trump lies to force his underlings to prove their loyalty to him. They have to accept and defend his lies, at which point he owns them as co-conspirators in those lies. (Rule 2B: Once you become trump's bitch, you will ALWAYS be trump's bitch)

The first thing - LITERALLY the first thing - that happened with trump's administration is that he sent Sean Spicer to exaggerate the inauguration turnout as "the biggest ever" when photographic and video evidence proved it was less than half the turnout for Obama's in 2009. This was for two reasons: 1) trump's Id had to be satiated with the belief he is more beloved than his enemies, 2) trump wanted to test Spicer's loyalty. That Spicer didn't do a good job of it was why trump soured on him and forced him out. It didn't matter that reality refused to conform to trump's will because most of the media and the nation either ignored or mocked him on this grandstanding: All that mattered was trump's bubble remained happily closed.

For all the Republican grousing in the shadows - the disdain the long-standing membership has for him has already been well-documented, it's just NONE OF THEM WILL OWN IT PUBLICLY - that "nothing sticks" to trump, the only reason that shit doesn't stick to trump is because NOBODY who can hold him accountable will. Too many of those grousing Republicans profit from trump's misrule and so they won't do anything to disrupt that.

The sad truth about lies, however, is that no matter the lie it will never fit into the reality of the world around us. trump can say 1000 lies a year and none of it will change the fact that thousands died in Puerto Rico. trump can lie about tariffs, and the economic reality of price increases will eventually force businesses to lose profits and close. trump can lie about immigrants, but it doesn't change the fact that many coming to our shores and borders are doing so to find better lives for themselves and are willing to be law-abiding citizens. trump can lie about the dangers of foreign powers, but invading them isn't going to make the United States stronger or safer (we've learned THAT lesson from the lies that led us into Iraq in 2003).

Lies eventually defeat themselves. You can't lie about the waters flooding your home as the hurricane hits. You can't lie about the failures of high tariffs when too many nations oppose them and starve your own businesses out. You can't lie about separating families at the border and shoving 5-year-olds into baby jails and call yourself honorable. You can't lie about war and walk away with clean hands.

The First Rule of Lying: Sooner or later the bill for that lie comes due.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Storms of September Stay With Us

Right about now, the outer bands of Hurricane Florence are covering the coastline of North Carolina.

If there's any good news at the moment, it's that the storm weakened on approach down from a Category 4 to a Cat 2.

The rest of the situation, of course, is a disaster for the East Coast.

It's not that Florence will be a monster storm with deadly winds, deadly floods, and deadly power outages.

It's that Florence is predicted to overstay its visit. Most times, these storms move past within a day, no more than two days, and pulls itself away from its source of energy - the oceans - to where it disappears over the land.

Florence will be different. The weather models are all predicting the hurricane will get stuck hovering over the middle of North Carolina - right along the South Carolina border, soaking both states - for three straight days. It could still feed off the Atlantic coast to retain its shape and strength as a Tropical Storm, meaning high winds preventing any repair jobs to downed electrical wires... and especially meaning constant rainfall that will get measured in feet not inches.

The context is last year's Harvey: a standard hurricane that slammed into Houston TX but then stayed put for days unleashing so much rain the entire city flooded. What had happened: Both the city and the state failed to observe natural flood zones, overdeveloping neighborhoods into places that would turn into rivers and lakes. A lot of these places built into wetlands or riversides, ignoring the need for water to flow away in case of massive rains. We paved over a lot of places with concrete and asphalt, preventing the ground from absorbing rain and forcing the water to flow in ways we didn't expect.

This is a horrifying reality of the last 30 years or so where the suburban expanse of metro areas did not plan well or outright ignored warnings. Developers are gonna develop, and state legislators across the country are usually more than happy to let rich developers build fancy big neighborhoods in the most scenic of places...

New Orleans was the first big warning. With Katrina in 2005, it wasn't the hurricane itself that was the killer, it was the aftermath of aged out levees breaking and flooding half the city that no longer had wetlands or canals to manage the overflow. They built into areas they shouldn't have built.

Harvey last year was the reminder: The city failed to build highways away from flood zones, allowing roads to turn into rivers trapping residents and delaying recovery efforts.

Florida is a constant threat to collapse. We're dealing with coastal cities facing flooding issues even without hurricanes blowing in. All it will take is one powerful hurricane to wash this all into the sea...

And yet, we're still not learning. We're still at the mercy of developers who want to keep putting up condos along our beaches, shopping malls in our wetlands, and highways connecting everything without care of how roads become rivers in a hurricane.

September is usually the worst month for hurricanes: while June-November is the schedule, September is where all the conditions for Atlantic-based storms are just right to cause these types of nerve-wracking nightmares. This is fast becoming a month of dread for the East Coast anymore.

Well, when the levee breaks...

P.S. and things might be tolerable if we had a government that knew what it was doing when handling these crises. But it's clear from trump's mismanagement of Puerto Rico relief - DEAR GOD what the HELL happened here? - that we're in for Katrina-style disasters for now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Whither Now the Withered Nation

A personal note: I am running into high school students born after 9/11. An entire generation that has grown up in the shadow of the War on Terror. They're writing term papers on what happened this day 17 years ago. (Poorly researched term papers... /headdesk)

A War on Terror that has devolved into an ongoing and seemingly unending siege in Afghanistan.

A War on Terror that has failed to resolve even half of the conflicts that bedevil the Middle East and does nothing for the painful refugee crisis surrounding Syria, Yemen, North Africa. A crisis now spilling into Europe fueling a harsh rise of Far Right anti-immigrant sentiment that may have been a key factor in Brexit (a separate nightmarish issue of its own right now).

A War on Terror that put the United States on its own path of Far Right paranoia against immigrants - not just illegals but also legal immigrants suddenly getting punished - to the point where the United States is separating kids from families and shoving babies into jails.

An argument can be made that the attacks on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon using passenger aircraft is a direct link between Osama Bin Laden and donald j. trump. That Bin Laden's attacks were so traumatizing that a large portion of the citizenry is willing to lash out in anger at everything they fear, eagerly accepting the leadership of any conman offering salvation through brutal repression of the dread Other.

If only one could hop into a time machine and go back to 1999, to find Bin Laden, and let him know that the results of his planned attacks would lead to a donald trump presidency.

Would Bin Laden recoil at the horror of even THAT level of madness?

...nah, probably not. Bin Laden was a dick just like trump.

We are so royally screwed.

Remember your loved ones, America.

Also, for the peeps I know in the Carolinas and Coastal Virginia. Stay dry and get out of the flood zones, Hurricane Florence is going to be a drencher.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Crooks Or Cowards? In the Age of trump for Republicans It Is Both

There was a bombshell today when the New York Times - still the "official paper" of record despite their many sins against journalism - issued an Op-Ed written by "A Senior Official within trump's White House," arguably someone within the inner circle (or on the Orient Express train during a snowstorm, if you want the list of suspects figured out) venting about the damage control the "sane" Republicans have had to do since Day One of the Shitgibbon Era.

To refer to the sanity patrol like Cheryl Rofer over at Balloon-Juice:

While I take a measure of relief that we now appear to be closer to the beginning of the end than to the end of the beginning, I have some big concerns about that New York Times op-ed by “a senior administration official.”
My concerns are very much like David Frum’s...
But the author is trying to preserve his/her reputation: I am being a good Republican, helping to execute good Republican policies. I am keeping the country safe from a dangerous president.
That’s a lot of responsibility to take on. The president is elected; the author has been appointed by that president and tells us that he is undermining that president. In the telling, the president is further undermined.
What did the author expect to be the next step? Donald Trump is reported to have freaked out over the Woodward revelations and have started searching for the leakers. This will turbocharge that search. James Jesus Angleton became convinced that there was a Russian mole in the CIA and practically destroyed the agency. Can the author of the op-ed protect us from a storm a couple of categories stronger..?
I'm with Cheryl on this regarding the Cover-Your-Ass aspect of this article: The person writing it is not doing so out of concern for the nation's well-being, it's a signal to other Republicans that there are people in trump's White House making sure the madman doesn't go on a Nuke Tirade. This isn't serving the Republic: This is protecting the Republicans.

While the Handlers in the West Wing keep trump under control (barely), the Republicans in Congress can happily continue their own agendas of tax cuts, filling judicial seats with arch-conservatives who can serve for another 30-40 years, and suppressing voters rights to ensure gerrymandered control of the House for another decade. Neither the House nor the Senate ever have to fear facing the political consequences of doing SOMETHING to investigate trump with their oversight powers.

This is where the cowardice of the Republicans hiding in the shadows become criminal. The Republicans indulge as crooks with unearned and unjustified political power they do not deserve to wield. Like all crooks, they're taking for themselves and leaving the suckers (U.S. voters) in the dust.

And in this cowardice they are committing the greatest crime of all: violating their Oaths of Office to serve the public trust and save us from unfit leaders.

Referring to Frum's article in The Atlantic:

If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand. That duty may be risky to their careers in government or afterward. But on their first day at work, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution—and there were no “riskiness” exemptions in the text of that oath.
But what the author has just done is throw the government of the United States into even more dangerous turmoil. He or she has enflamed the paranoia of the president and empowered the president’s willfulness.
What happens the next time a staffer seeks to dissuade the president from, say, purging the Justice Department to shut down the Mueller investigation? The author of the Times op-ed has explicitly told the president that those who offer such advice do not have the president’s best interests at heart, and are, in fact, actively subverting his best interests as he understands them on behalf of ideas of their own.
He’ll grow more defiant, more reckless, more anti-constitutional, and more dangerous...

There is an honest debate right now if that was the writer's intent: Force trump into a rash action, create a crisis beyond anyone's control...

What would be better?
Speak in your own name. Resign in a way that will count. Present the evidence that will justify an invocation of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, or an impeachment, or at the very least, the first necessary step toward either outcome, a Democratic Congress after the November elections...

Until a Republican leader - one with genuine gravitas and political power that can withstand the ruthless attacks of the trump voter base that is bound to hit him - steps up like that and FINALLY calls out not just trump but every GODDAMN ENABLER responsible for the disaster we are now in, this is not going to help.

For all the times I dreaded a full meltdown and never really got one, I think this time... this is it.


Saturday, September 01, 2018

First Day of September

It's also Labor Day weekend.

I got nothing to write about for the moment, except that trump's administration is still a black hole of awfulness, punishing Latinos for simply existing right now. Who the fuck dreams up banning people with documented proof of citizenship status? Oh, yeah. Assholes.

Punch every single fucking one of them this weekend.

And vote Democrat across the board this November.